Pander bears.

The first story that kicked up in my health-care searching last night was this, about the GOP’s “seniors’ health care bill of rights.” Taking a page from the Contract with on America playbook, Michael Steele has evidently found what he thinks is the key to elderly America’s heart.

I finally saw Jon Stewart’s takedown of Betsy McCaughey last week (parts one and two), although I’m sure she wouldn’t describe it as such. At the end of it, I couldn’t help but share Stewart’s frustration (and yes, I’m sure it was engineered to elicit just this response): It’s possible — maybe — to have an honest discussion about health policy reform. But it’s impossible when lying liars like McCaughey and her BFF Sarah Palin hog the spotlight with death panels and death books and SAVE MY DOWN SYNDROME BABY OH MY GAW.

The NYT has a profile today on Ezekiel Emanuel, Rahm’s brother, a physician and bioethicist, who is advising the Obama administration, or trying to:

Largely quoting his past writings out of context this summer, Betsy McCaughey, a former lieutenant governor of New York, labeled Dr. Emanuel a “deadly doctor” who believes health care should be “reserved for the nondisabled” — a false assertion that Representative Michele Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota, repeated on the House floor.

Former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska has asserted that Dr. Emanuel’s “Orwellian” approach to health care would “refuse to allocate medical resources to the elderly, the infirm and the disabled who have less economic potential,” accusations similarly made by the political provocateur Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr.

In fact, Dr. Emanuel has written more than a million words on health care, some of which form the philosophical underpinnings of the Obama administration plan and some of which have enough free-market elements to win grudging respect from some conservative opponents.

The debate over Dr. Emanuel shows how subtle philosophical arguments that have long bedeviled bioethicists are being condensed, oversimplified and distorted in the griddle-hot health care debate. His writings grapple with some of the most complex issues of medical ethics, like who should get the kidney transplant, the younger patient or the one who is older and sicker?

Yes, who? Because of course now every single person who needs an organ transplant gets one. No one dies or pulls the strings available to a very rich person with a private plane idling on the tarmac and unlimited resources. The system is perfect now. Let’s keep it that way. Let’s pass a constitutional amendment, in fact — call it Trig’s Law.

Have none of these gasbags heard of the QALY? The quality-adjusted life year is a means for assessing the value of health interventions in the big picture of a patient’s long-term outlook. It’s been around a long time, and it tries to analyze, more or less numerically, whether it’s smarter to give a liver transplant to Steve Jobs or a 70-year-old end-stage alcoholic. It doesn’t consider that Jobs gave us the iPod and has a lot of dough, only who is more likely to get more productive years of life out of the procedure. It is a tacit acknowledgment of what no one, including Michael Steele, seems willing to admit: Life is a terminal disease, and sometimes it makes little sense to spend a few more hundreds of thousands of dollars extending it for one more week.

I think they know this. What makes them uncomfortable is this: There are no firm answers. What works for one patient might not work for the next. It changes from year to year; I’m old enough to remember when Mickey Mantle got his liver transplant, and the debate then was whether he “deserved” it, having destroyed his factory-issued liver with a lifetime of drinking. Livers were scarcer then. In another 20 years, they may be grown in labs from your stem cells, and be the equivalent of expensive hothouse tomatoes. But more to the point: Does anyone think it — QALYs, money, how good your insurance coverage is — isn’t a factor in thousands of health-care decisions made every single day?

Even more to the point: What’s their alternative? And we’ve already heard “allow cross-state competition between insurers.” What’s the second item on the list? P.S. We’ve heard “tort reform,” too, a total red herring — malpractice costs amount to about 1 percent of total health-care expenditures, and I’d like to see the hands of those who believe drug-addicted doctors who make mistakes in surgery shouldn’t be punished. OK, then.

Sorry to start off on such a sour note, but I was still thinking about this hours after scraping the top of my skull off the ceiling. I think this graf, deep in the WSJ story, says it all:

The Republican statement highlights an irony in the health debate, as illustrated during some of the emotional town-hall meetings this month: Many Americans say they fear a government takeover of health care, even as they resist any cuts to Medicare, the federal government’s largest health program.


And now I have a meeting — best thing about meetings for hyperlocal journalism? you can get there on your bicycle — so no real bloggage today. Besides, all I want to talk about is Ann-Margret’s awful singing, and you “Mad Men” fans know what I’m talking about.

Back later.

Posted at 9:37 am in Current events |

80 responses to “Pander bears.”

  1. moe99 said on August 25, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Two things from the prior thread.

    First, the 1017 pages of the HB really amount to much less. They are like a deposition transcript, double spaced with very wide margins. The word count on the bill runs to 3000 or so words which is a far smaller sized regular novel. At any rate, those who bitch should remember, I posted a summary, a non partisan summary on my blog site and repair there to read it.

    Second, Jeff tmmo and others offer single payer vs public option as discrete alternatives when, if you look at how the health care systems of other countries are organized, you will find that there are a wide variety of just one of those. Take Canada vs. Britain for example.

    Very briefly, citizens of both countries are covered for their health care, but in Britain the doctors are paid by the government. Not so in Canada. etc. etc. etc. Read the cited article, google for some more.

    PS: ROGirl had a cite to a WaPo article by Reid that I think think should be reposted here because it is very good, on point and compares far more countries’ health care systems:

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  2. coozledad said on August 25, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Those livers grown from stem cells will likely originate in a country where “innovation” isn’t managed by a bunch of Bible belt hucksters. If you really want to talk about the downsizing of research into treatment options, you needn’t look any farther than the previous administration, with it’s Falwellian anti-research predelictions.
    I think what the Republicans are pushing is a way for their MBA wielding spawn to grab a bigger share of the dollars generated by something they are as clueless about as ethics or how mightily they fucked up when they were in charge. A shorter version of the Republican stance on these issues might be read as “Let us stick it in one more time…just a couple inches.”

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  3. Danny said on August 25, 2009 at 10:53 am

    So Mary, this In House Brit being upgraded to S.O. status, does this mean that you’re going to affect a British accent like Madonna?

    Brian from yesterday: I didn’t see any cleavage, I just saw the face on the brunette and thought, wow! I’m a face man. … Don’t take that the wrong way, anyone.

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  4. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 25, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Moe, that’s why i’m asking for links about the French plan, not saying there’s only two ways, just that i’m not finding much to outline “middle ways.” I’ll read the Reid piece when i have haf’ a mo’, gov’ner. (can we all adopt a British accent for today, shall we, i say?)

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  5. Danny said on August 25, 2009 at 11:16 am

    That’s a cockney accent, Jeff. What do you think, that this is a Dickens novel? Cooz’s comments will disabuse you of that idea.

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  6. LAMary said on August 25, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Some folks in Prague having a good time:

    The in house Brit been the SO for a few years, Danny. He’s catching more of my hybrid NJ/CO/CA accent than the other way around.

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  7. Danny said on August 25, 2009 at 11:20 am

    Cooz’s retelling of “A Tale of Two Cities” by Danny:

    “It was the best of fuckin’ times, it was the worst of fuckin’ times. And it’s all the Scrooge Republicans’ fuckin’ fault.”

    The Fuckin’ End

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  8. MarkH said on August 25, 2009 at 11:23 am


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  9. mark said on August 25, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Steele’s statement is bad policy and unnecessary politics. Medicare has to be changed because it is actuarially unsound and going broke. As the baby-boomers move on to the roles, the problem will become much worse. Raising the eligibility age and means-testing the benefit availability are the solutions that will have to be embraced eventually. It is immoral to take from the modest income thirty year-old, who may be trying to start a family or a business, to give an unneeded benefit to a wealthy seventy year-old.

    Obama claims that “hundreds of billions” in waste could be cut from Medicare, but he refuses to provide details or start eliminating the waste until we first agree to a trillion dollar expansion. And the people are either too stupid or too self-centered to accept his obvious wisdom.

    Republicans need to just shut up. They got fat and happy while in power and that hasn’t been forgotten, and the democrats are falling apart just fine on their own.

    Conservatives are defeating Obamacare, not Republicans. They know the country has too much debt, and the projections grew by 2 trillion (over 10 years) today, before Obamacare. That’s an extra $3-4000 per year per American family in increase. They are tired of bank bail-outs and auto company bail-outs and cash for clunkers and $500 million in luxury jets for congresspeople and 800 billion stimulus programs that fund more feel-good programs than roads or sewers or electrical grids.

    And conservatives don’t want government telling them what to do. Create new programs for those who need and want them, with strings attached if you choose to take it, ok. Ask people to pitch in to pay for it to take care of those in need, ok. But don’t tell those who don’t need or want help, and like what they have, that government is going to change things for them anyway. They don’t have the right and they don’t have any record of success.

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  10. velvet goldmine said on August 25, 2009 at 11:27 am

    A final thought about antibiotics, and making it easier to get them without making them abused — the middle ground would be that you do have to brave the doctor’s office/clinic in order to evaluate whether the condition merits it. But why can’t the antibiotics be distributed there, or at least why can’t the doctor’s scrip be taken over to the drug store and exchanged for free meds?

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  11. coozledad said on August 25, 2009 at 11:27 am

    If this thread were a novel, it’d have to be a sort of late German absurdism. The Trial, perhaps. Or Street of Crocodiles. There are a few touches of Osby Feel and Brigadier Pudding here and there so it’s also got a little Gravity’s Rainbow going for it.
    Here’s a little pick me up essay in the Irish vein:

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  12. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 25, 2009 at 11:30 am

    I’m a Republican, and i vote to retire Steele immediately, with extreme prejudice (the Apocalypse Now kind, not the racist kind). Put that man out of our collective misery.

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  13. brian stouder said on August 25, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Regarding antibiotics – read the book Demon Under the Microscope.

    Danny – indeed, both women looked beautiful to me….and cleavage never hurts.

    And here’s the Republican Platform – short version:

    I. I got mine

    II. To America’s have-nots: Go to hell

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  14. Elaine said on August 25, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Enough with health care. I can’t believe Ann Margret ever made it as a singer-actress. Not only was her voice terrible, but my daughter had to ask me what she was singing (Answer: “Bye, Bye Birdie). Hard to understand when it came out as “Bye, bye Bird-He.”

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  15. coozledad said on August 25, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Pale Turd.
    I was the shadow of the party slain
    By the leeches hanging on the gravy train
    I was the smudge of Enrons past, and I
    lived on, thrived on
    up Lieberman’s ass.

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  16. Danny said on August 25, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Yeah, she sang in “Tommy” also. But then so did Jack Nicholson and Oliver Reed. It was surreal. In a bad sense.

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  17. LAMary said on August 25, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Until you’ve heard Pierce Brosnan singing in Mamma Mia, you have no perspective on bad singing. It will make you pine for Ann Margret.

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  18. Danny said on August 25, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Mary, I DID hear that. You are so right!

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  19. brian stouder said on August 25, 2009 at 11:54 am

    But Mary – I LOVED that movie, Pierce Brosnan’s singing to the contrary notwithstanding!

    In fact, I’ve watched it twice, and we own a copy, so I’ll surely watch it again.

    Hard to say precisely why* – but it’s just marvelous

    *Meryl Streep leaps to mind, as well as the actress/singer who playes her daughter

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  20. moe99 said on August 25, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    The French healthcare system? Googgle:

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  21. Julie Robinson said on August 25, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Mama Mia is a guilty pleasure in my house too. And I never even liked Abba. It’s just good escapist fun. Pierce Brosnan is pretty bad. Is there anything Meryl Streep can’t make us believe?

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  22. beb said on August 25, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Moe99 @1, I think you dropped a few zeros when you said the healthcare bill’s wprd count only comes to around 3000. That’s not novel length, that’s closer to a short-short story’s length.

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  23. 4dbirds said on August 25, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    “Cre­ate new pro­grams for those who need and want them, with strings attached if you choose to take it, ok.”

    Ah there’s the money shot. Poor people (or those in need) aren’t deserving and therefore must pay for any crumbs thrown their way. We must have control over this underclass. We have so many programs that benefit the rich and middle class (homeowners tax deductions, energy credits, farming credits, etc, etc) and we don’t put any strings on them.

    I once heard someone say that we need to start saying “the problem FOR the poor” instead of “the problem WITH the poor”. That really struck a chord with me.

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  24. moe99 said on August 25, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    beb, you’re right, what I misstated is that using the word count, it comes out to the size of a 300 page book. See the comment to this Matt Yglesias post:

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  25. Sue said on August 25, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Re mark’s comment about baby boomers – anyone else think it may not play out as projected? First-wave baby boomers might – might – begin the retirement onslaught, but most of the people I know, mid-fifties and younger right now, have no illusions that they’ll be able to retire much before 70. They’ve lost buckets of money in their retirement accounts, they’re taking care of their own parents and helping to put their kids through college and they’re losing their jobs and benefits along with the rest of the population. And they’re not getting the jobs that are out there because age discrimination is a fact of life.
    I think boomers will get screwed either way. Already viewed as selfish, we’ll be condemned if we retire (lazy and clueless as to what a drain we are) and if we don’t (not giving up jobs to younger folks who need them).

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  26. Judith said on August 25, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    So, Brian, #13, such clarity in few words. Are you going to attend Mark Souder’s Town Hall this Friday?

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  27. Rana said on August 25, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    What makes them uncom­fort­able is this: There are no firm answers.

    I think this is it in a nutshell. We are talking about a group of people who prefer clear rules, are uncomfortable with anything or anyone who doesn’t fit into tidy boxes (gays, for example), believe that people can and should be sorted into deserving and undeserving, approve of authoritarian figures who tell them what to belief, and so on.

    The problem? Life is messy. People are complicated. There is no consistent set of rewards and punishments for behaving in specific ways. There are no clear answers, only suggestions and possibilities.

    Personally, I am not only comfortable with this complexity and uncertainty, but reassured by it. (Not that I like being uncertain – but rather it is that I expect life to be so – because it is – and if not happy when the ball bounces not in my favor, I’m not really surprised, either.)

    So I don’t know how one speaks to the fear that is evident here – a fear that the world isn’t something that can be controlled by following and enforcing some clear, specific rules.

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  28. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 25, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    I can’t quite see how this tracks with HR 3200, but it’s an elegant approach —

    The middle class has no strings put on their benefits? Ah, well. It’s always fine to call conservatives poor hating exploiting thugs; is there no way in which i am allowed to question the motivations of the left? Which i’m not wanting to do, anyhow; i think that leftism tends to be moonily idealistic and obstinately obtuse about means and ends and average, everyday human intentions, while the right tends to be pragmatists beyond any moral justification and success worshiping idolaters. There’s usually much less malign manipulation behind the scenes than there is power-seeking willfulness, on both sides.

    But the right doesn’t hate the poor any more than the left hates the rich . . . wait a minute, what did i just say? Hmmmmm . . .

    Anyhow, if anyone can find a legislative anchor for the Daily Kos graphic, which i’m not finding and i have a 1:30 hearing, i’d appreciate it. Looks intriguing — am, if nothing else, open to possibilities.

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  29. brian stouder said on August 25, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Judith – sorely tempted.

    If I DO go, and if I make it into the venue, you can bet your sweet bippy I’ll be weaing one of my Obama tee shirts

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  30. LAMary said on August 25, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    My theory is that Pierce Brosnan is trying to sing while inhaling rather than exhaling.

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  31. LAMary said on August 25, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Speaking of movies I’ve discovered on cable, have any of you seen “Elizabeth, the Golden Age?” I caught the last third of it last weekend and I’m searching for a time when I can see the whole thing. What I saw was amazing.

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  32. Rana said on August 25, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Speaking of greys… why the issue of sorting athletes by sex isn’t as easy as it looks:

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  33. Julie Robinson said on August 25, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Agreed, LAMary, and you can get it on Netflix, which we dearly love. It brought us two great movies this weekend–Bottle Shock and Outsourced. Both are funny and touching and enlightening.

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  34. 4dbirds said on August 25, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    I can’t speak for the left only for me but I don’t think the right hates the poor, only that they’re better than the poor. I also don’t hate the rich. I am suspicious of them because I don’t think very many of them got there ‘cleanly’.

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  35. coozledad said on August 25, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Pragmatists? In the Sarah Palin fan club? I suppose if neo-secessionism and the endorsement of the chromosomally challenged wing of the Republican party floats your boat. The only pragmatism I see at work there is how to score a six figure shopping spree on the backs of a few credulous rubes. Hell, otherwise it would just go to some schmuck handing out prayer handkerchiefs in return for an “offering”.
    But you’ve got a point. There’s something about your party that cuts directly to the bone, and gets past all that unnecessary rubbish like sentiment, creativity and altruism, and gets straight to the nexus of the human enterprise, which is the adrenaline rush of power. Like threatening to rape a detainee’s wife, or what the hell, just raping the detainee. Good times.

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  36. Danny said on August 25, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    …all wounds that can only be healed by the embrace of the ever-loving, all-altruistic, singularly-selfless interests of liberals. Eh, cooz?

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  37. moe99 said on August 25, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Danny, you saying that the detainee torture either neither occurred, or that it should not be punished?

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  38. Rana said on August 25, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    the ever-loving, all-altruistic, singularly-selfless inter­ests of lib­er­als

    I must admit I never get the logic behind leaps like this.

    Pointing a finger at someone and saying “That man is a criminal” is not the same thing as saying “I am a saint and perfect.” Maybe it’s implied – but it’s just as possible that one is inferring that without evidence, too.

    It’s especially disturbing when, as moe99 points out, the reaction to “That man is a criminal! He tortured people” isn’t “Yes! I also disapprove of what he has done” but rather “Why are you calling other people names? After all, you aren’t a saint yourself, are you?”

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  39. coozledad said on August 25, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    No. Only people with demonstrable skills at governance as opposed to flacks for insurance companies and holdovers from the Nixon administration. Not a pack of screaming tits on television crying for blood to “water the tree of liberty” or the otiose spawn of Lucienne Goldberg conflating Fascism with the left. Your party actively abetting the trotting out of one batshit fiction after another.
    Whipping up those old standby allies, the McVeighists.
    I don’t see your folks doing anything but ripping new wounds in the body politic, and then stepping back periodically to say: Oh. but that ain’t us. Not really. We nice.

    Here’s a little more Anglo-Saxon for you:
    This be the verse

    They fuck you up, your mum and dad
    They may not mean to, but they do.
    They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you.

    But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,
    Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats

    Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
    Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.

    Philip Larkin

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  40. LAMary said on August 25, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    It’s insinuated that countries like UK and The Netherlands want people to die if they’re too old and expensive to care for. Really? Do people really think that UK and The Netherlands are less humane than we are? They value life less? Is providing healthcare for someone’s entire life less humane than what we do here? I’ve been without insurance and making a crappy salary. It sucked. It means you do nothing until you get so sick there is no choice.
    Somewhere between forty and fifty million of us have no health insurance. Working people are a large part of that group. If we are so morally superior, why are we not taking care of them?

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  41. moe99 said on August 25, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Sen. Coburn reflects some of the twisted thinking of the right wing here.

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  42. mark said on August 25, 2009 at 2:56 pm


    Strings sre strings and they come with all government programs. I don’t like them, but I don’t like most all government programs/subsidies.

    Yes, if you seek benefits based upon poverty, you have to offer some evidence you are poor, and update that from time to time. I’d be inclined to just hand out cash, and let the poor do what they think best with it. But I’m heartless and don’t insist upon instructing the poor by doling out a little for food, a little for utilities, etc.

    You want a mortgage deduction. Well, first you have to buy a house with a mortgage, then you have to file a tax return, and actually owe taxes, prove what you paid on the mortgage, etc. Repeat annually. Can’t be a rental property, can’t be a third home. Maybe a boat if you sleep on it occasionally. Those are some of the strings.

    I want government to leave me alone, but if I que up for a benefit I accept it with the rules attached. That’s different than telling people who don’t need or want a benfit that government is going to order them to rearrange their lives anyway so they can be made healthier or happier or whatever.

    Obamacare is going down in flames because a majority of the people don’t want to cede that much authority over their health to government and know that costs will be triple any estimate, as with SS, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.

    LAMary- Crafting a solution for those without insurance may require me to contribute through taxes. There is no reason for it to require the government to outlaw or change the terms of my agreement with my insurer. This is about grabbing power.

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  43. Sue said on August 25, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Nancy, why didn’t you tell us that Ted Nugent is a journalist? He’s been fired from the Waco Tribune.

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  44. Danny said on August 25, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    The point is that there is a number of you here who are real fairytale enthusiasts and in denial about that. Like all of these bad decisions happen in a vacuum of causality only inhabited by Republicans and for no other reason than that they are “evil.” For all of your appeals to “shades of grey” and nuance, some of you have a decidedly simplistic view of the world where little or nothing bad happens under Democratic rule and all this reflection and hand-wringing on “twisted thinking of the right” is absolute truth. No spin.

    Lollipops and rainbows. Right? That’s unreasonable.

    If having a Democratic president and congressional super-majority isn’t enough to console you, then you are inconsolable.

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  45. LAMary said on August 25, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Mark, you do realize that in UK, where everyone pays into the NHS, they pay less than most people contribute on their employer provided health insurance, right? We spend more on healthcare and get a lot less.
    My taxes pay for a lot of things I don’t use or support, as do yours. There are things that as a society we are better off all contributing to, like education, roads, prisons. Can we look at health the same way? Can we consider that it’s better for everyone if all kick in to help each other if we’re sick?

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  46. 4dbirds said on August 25, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    I must have misunderstood you Mark. You meant that people should meet the requirements of certain programs, like income, owning a house etc. I apologize. In that case, I agree. Yes, to get a tax deduction on your mortgage you should own a house and make interest payments on it. I took your statment to mean that if you took advantage of a program, then one was one the hook to pay back that program or to meet some other extra requirement to get the benefits of that program. I see strings differently as if you qualify for aid then you have to document that you’re on birth control, or if you get a grant for college you have work in rural bumfrack for a year or two. The kind of strings that we don’t ask of middle class homeowners or rich agribusiness folks. I have no problems with those kind of strings as long as everybody who gets federal money has strings.

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  47. Sue said on August 25, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    We have a Democratic president and a congressional majority, yes, but as an independent voter for many years, I know one thing about Dems and it’s that you can’t be consoled by their numbers alone. The only thing they ever do en masse is shoot themselves in the foot.
    Seriously, can anyone even THINK the words “permanent Democratic majority” without laughing? That’s the difference between the two parties. Dems barely need the pile-on they’re getting from Republicans/conservatives right now since they’re doing such a bang-up job of killing healthcare reform by themselves. A president known for his organizational skills can’t get a coherent explanation out effectively and suddenly doesn’t understand why a public option is a big deal. And those of us who feel that a public option is a big deal did not come to that conclusion because we live in a lollipops and rainbows world, it’s because we understand that insurance companies need to make a profit and sometimes that profit comes at the cost of hard and frequently merciless decisions about who gets insurance and who doesn’t. Given that insurance companies need to make a profit, we’re willing to look favorably at that public option thing for people who are not profitable to commercial interests. This public option thing appears to be similar to that other system that is failing our senior citizens so badly that two weeks ago my father-in-law was able to get medical treatment for a heart condition within 24 hours of noticeable symptoms.
    Why not? Why not cover those people the companies are turning away? What does it say about us that we can’t understand that most of us are one job loss away from being “those people”?
    The Republicans are hurting themselves badly right now by limiting their membership to the loudest and least inclusive. They’ll straighten out eventually. Democrats should be at their theoretical strongest, and this is what we’re getting.
    Hand me a couple of those lollipops and rainbows, Danny. I could use a fairytale world right now.

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  48. 4dbirds said on August 25, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    ” Dems snip since they’re doing such a bang-up job of killing health­care reform by them­selves. ” lol Sue. I agree. I’m so mad at the democratic members of the hill and Obama. I’m so mad I could spit (I love that expression) so if a pollster called my house I would say they’re taking this country in the wrong direction. The pollster will spin that to mean I won’t support or vote for Dems in 2010. Oh I’m mad at them, I’ll give money to their primary opponents but I will never vote Republican.

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  49. coozledad said on August 25, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Senator Coburn, from the cloaca of pragmatizzm to God’s ears.

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  50. Rana said on August 25, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    If hav­ing a Demo­c­ra­tic pres­i­dent and con­gres­sional super-majority isn’t enough to con­sole you, then you are inconsolable.

    One, I’m not a Democrat, so I don’t quite follow the logic of this either. Some body’s team won! Oh, yay?

    Two, for me, getting majorities of any party into governance isn’t the goal. It is the means. Democratic majorities are tools for achieving goals that I feel are important to me, such as improved environmental protections – and, yes, a better health insurance system.

    A majority all by itself means bupkis. It’s what that majority can be used to do – and IS used to accomplish – that is of interest to me. If my priorities and goals could be met by some other distribution of political parties in Congress, that would be great – because my goals are not “get one party into office, then go rest on my laurels.” My goals are aren’t about winning the game of Politics, but about addressing needs and solving problems.

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  51. coozledad said on August 25, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Sorry Moe. I just came in from repairing a fence the mules have twisted into a ball. Should have read back.

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  52. moe99 said on August 25, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Since when has leading the Democrats meant anything more than herding cats? I seem to remember a quote from Will Rogers 75 years or so ago that he was not a member of an organized political party, he was a Democrat. This was always an issue if the Dems get back in power. Not so, the Republicans. They’ll drink the kool aid and go off the cliff for their party, no matter how completely bogus and insane they are. I’d prefer to be with the group quarreling under the big tent, thank you very much. Even though I grouse about it. A lot.

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  53. Jeff Borden said on August 25, 2009 at 4:30 pm


    From your lips to God’s ear. I think this is a crucial failing of the left on the health care debate. After mobilizing for Obama, we sat back and fell asleep again. Right-wingers never do that.

    On the happy side of things, however, I read on the firedoglake site that Sean Hannity said while being interviewed by a fellow conservative radio host that he would consider a run for the presidency if directed by God. And, as a liberal Democrat, I now see why the Republicans will soon return to power.

    They have God managing their team.

    Hannity, Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann all have tied their potential candidacies to whatever dictate Jehovah whispers in their ears. Newt Gingrich converted to Catholicism and, apparently, has been cleansed of the sins he committed against his first couple of wives. Mike Huckabee is an ordained minister. Willard Romney probably has some kind of LDS thing going with the Lord.

    All we’ll have is a Kenyan-born, Muslim-loving, Caucasian-hating, granny-killing, anti-capitalist Nazisocialistfascistboogereater who likes spicy mustard.

    Hardly a fair matchup.

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  54. mark said on August 25, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    LA Mary-

    You ask: “Can we consider that it’s better for everyone if all kick in to help each other if we’re sick?” I’ll not only consider the statement, I’ll agree to it if you modify it to “…if we’re sick and NEED and WANT help.” If you are sick and have the resources to get help, it seems to me to be immoral to demand strangers, many of whom may have fewer resources than you do, to pitch in for your care. And it strikes me as equally immoral to use the mere possibility that even the currently wealthy and fully insured might not be when they get sick to dictate their choices on these matters.

    I know that I will get hungry three or four times each day. Luckily, at present, that means only that I will have to prepare or purchase a meal. Bettter yet, I get to decide, within the limits of my means, what I will eat. I am willing to kick in for those who do not have food to satisfy their hunger. I am not willing to take the possibility that I will one day be one of those with no food and use it as the justification for the government to assume responsibility for feeding everyone and the authority to decide what foods will be sold and at what price.

    I like making my own decisions and setting my own priorities. It’s a big part of being a free, responsible person. If I give the collective “you” responsibility for the essentials of my life, what I receive will reflect your priorities, not mine. Helping “the least of these” does not mean dictating to or limiting everybody.

    4db- Yes, I think we are in agreement about strings. And I agree that the programs for the poor go a lot further in dictating behavior, and I don’t like it. We assume the worst behavior will occur, or that the recipients are all stupid, and bind them up with restrictions. I prefer letting people, even the poor ones, make decisions for themselves. It’s not for me to decide whether another man should put a new tire on the car, repair the leak in the roof, or buy a computer for the kids to do schoolwork. He knows his life better than I do.

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  55. 4dbirds said on August 25, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Jeff B. Don’t forget that he is uncut therefore unclean.

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  56. LAMary said on August 25, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    In UK you can get whatever private care you want if you can pay for it. No one is stopping you. And while you can predict that you’ll get hungry every day, you can’t predict that your child will get leukemia or that you might get MS. Or like Stephen Hawking, ALS. He says he would not be alive if it were not for the NHS, and praises the quality of the care he received.
    What we now have doesn’t work. We are rationing now. We are being told now what care we can get. I’m guessing you’re not in an HMO, are you?
    “I pre­fer let­ting peo­ple, even the poor ones, make deci­sions for them­selves.” What decision? If you have no option to get any sort of healthcare, there is no decision.

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  57. moe99 said on August 25, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    the stupid, it just keeps on coming:

    Bachmann repeated the myth, adopted early by Sarah Palin, that the health-care plans being debated in Congress would set up “death panels” to determine which old folks are entitled to health care. “Thank God that Sarah Palin said that,” she told the callers. “These are true.”….

    She also suggested that it might be some kind of religious destiny that hardy souls such as herself are in Congress at this time.

    “We all need to consider that in God’s timing that he may have allowed us, as members of Congress, to be in the position that we’re in just for this specific issue right now,” she said. “Everything that all of us have worked together and labored for over the years, all of it could be undermined with this one bill. President Obama realizes that. The radicals that are on the pro-abortion left, they realize that. They could win it all. And the unborn, and the vulnerable, the disabled and those at the end of life could lose it it all.”

    But it was Bachmann’s fervent call to utilize prayer and fasting to beat back health-care reform efforts that was the true highlight of the call.

    “That’s really where this battle will be won — on our knees in prayer and fasting,” she told the listeners. “Remember: faith without works is dead. So we’re asking you to do all of it: pray, fast, believe, trust the Lord, but also act.”

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  58. brian stouder said on August 25, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    It’s tempting to call Michelle Bachman a mental Munchkin, but that’s unfair to the Lollipop Guild and the Lullaby League (et al)

    I suppose she’s more of a flying monkey….and here’s a GREAT article, for y’all

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  59. mark said on August 25, 2009 at 6:17 pm


    My reference to the poor and decision-making was to 4db, with reference to the conditions imposed on “poor relief” generally. And no, you can’t get whatever care you want in the UK. All the docs and nurses are government employees. And why do people (of means, obviously) come here when they need or want extraordinary care?

    My elderly parents have been advised that two health care policies they have will close or wind down should the current legislation pass. They are quite distressed, as these were non-cancellable. Unfortunately, they will become illegal as well.


    Was Ann margaret singing? I didn’t notice.

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  60. alex said on August 25, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    Lollipops and rainbows. Right? That’s unreasonable.

    Well, sorry Danny, but guns and Bibles already had their turn and got voted out. You can keep clinging to them, though, if you like.

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  61. moe99 said on August 25, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    So, insurance companies are blackmailing their policy holders over this. I am not surprised.

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  62. LAMary said on August 25, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    Not all doctors and nurses are government employees in UK. There are private doctors, nurses and hospitals for those who want to pay for them. Not everyone who wants some special procedure comes to the US. You may have Fox News giving you your info, but I’ve got the In House Brit as well as quite a few friends in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

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  63. coozledad said on August 25, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    LAMary: It’s just another unadulterated talking point.
    I recall Steve McQueen shuttling down to Mexico in his last days to avail himself of alternative therapies. eye surgery
    Thailand is treating quite a few international patients, and so is India, in medical outsourcing made more attractive by skyrocketing costs in the US.
    Fairly recently, the most advanced corneal surgery was only available in Russia.
    Glenn Beck was captured on camera on the verge of hysterics because his US performed asshole surgery made the baby Jesus cry. But he wishes you would forget that.
    If prices continue to escalate at the rate they are projected without a significant systemwide overhaul, Bill O’Reilly will be travelling to Burkina Faso to get an upgrade on his deep colon massage device.

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  64. MarkH said on August 25, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    mark, did you mean, literally, illegal? If that is the case, moe, how can it be blackmail? I’d like to know more about those policies.

    Back to Ann-Margret for a sec: I have not yet started to watch Mad Men this season, but apparently, in the background of the most recent episode was a partial soundtrack from the era, namely the opening (or closing) of the movie, “Bye Bye Birdie”. Wherein, Ann-Marget dances, jiggles and sings it rather poorly. Do you honestly think she sings that badly without doing it on purpose? She was told to perform it that way. According to a Vanity Fair article a few years ago, Director George Sidney became completely enamored, smitten or what have you, with her during filming, and commenced to change it around to become a showcase for her. This was much to the chagrin and anger of the other cast members, particularly Dick Van Dyke and Paul Lynde, who were in the original Broadway show. Ann-Margret had some songs added, while other had them taken away. Six months after the film wrapped, Sidney concocted and added the opening and closing number, which were never in the stage musical. It featured Ann-Margret playing it full on to the camera as what her character was, an emotional, impetuous high school girl with no polish in the singing voice. She actually does quite well in the showcase songs within the film. She has two oscar nominations, a successful Vegas revue and if you think she can’t act, rent Carnal Knowledge and watch one of those oscar nominated performances. I couldn’t find the Vanity Fair article online, but here is wiki’s take, and james wolcott’s take on the Mad Men episode in question (he didn’t mention the singing quality):

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  65. 4dbirds said on August 25, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    I thought Steve McQueen went to Mexico in a last ditch effort to treat his terminal cancer. He was chasing the woo (Laetrile) and was getting fleeced by quacks. Money doesn’t always get you the best care.

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  66. coozledad said on August 25, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    4dbirds: Exactly. He was advised by his US doctors (or as some would say, death panel) to “go home and die”. He chose ultimately to die by grueling elective surgery in Mexico (unapproved in the US) that stopped his heart.
    But ultimately, the sacred bond between doctor and patient was preserved. And that’s what’s important.

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  67. nancy said on August 25, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    I believe Coretta Scott King died in similar circumstances, surrounded by Spanish-speaking nurses.

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  68. 4dbirds said on August 25, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Coretta Scott King also chose to go to Mexico to die a horrible death.

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  69. 4dbirds said on August 25, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    ha ha I owe Nancy a coke.

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  70. ellent said on August 25, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    I can back up LA Mary on public/private health care in the UK. I also have an in-house Brit, and I used to live in the UK as a legal resident, paying into and using the NHS. Private medical insurance is available in the UK, often offered (through one’s job, for example) as a supplement to the NHS. You may use your private insurance to have procedures performed by non-NHS physicians who are in private practice. Or you can just pay a private doctor for performing a service (fee-for-service). Harley Street, in London, is one location where many of the private docs have set up shop, if you would like to Google for verification. Many people come from overseas, especially the Middle East, to seek medical treatment by private physicians in the UK. I know people who have done this for cancer treatment or heart surgery, for example. With regard to the public option, if the NHS is such a horrible thing , then why does my mother-in-law, a disabled pensioner who lives in the UK equivalent of public housing, get housecalls from her local GP on the same day that she calls the practice to request an appointment?

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  71. 4dbirds said on August 25, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    How does one get an in-house Brit? All I got was a first generation Irish guy.

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  72. Sue said on August 25, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    Dibs on Alan Rickman or Colin Firth for my in-house Brit. Am I required to inform my husband?

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  73. moe99 said on August 25, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    Mark H:

    May I direct you to my website where I posted a summary of the House bill prepared by a very, very smart ERISA attorney?

    Subtitle A

    –contains the grandfathering provisions for current health insurance plans and policy holders; current policies and policy holders will not be subject to all that follows, as long as the current arrangements continue in effect

    Now if the current policies are grandfathered in, how is it that mark’s parents were threatened with losing their policies?

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  74. mark said on August 26, 2009 at 1:30 am

    Well, moe, I haven’t read the letters, but I will tomorrow when I visit my parents. They were read to me.

    I, too, wondered if they might be designed just to gin up opposition to Obamacare. Could be, but that’s a very dangerous thing to do in a letter to a policy holder, at least under the laws of this state. And the reasoning, as I understood it, made sense.

    One policy is for extended, “premium” care in a skilled nursing facility. Basically it pays to keep you in a pretty nice nursing home or modern variation thereof. They signed up twenty-five years ago and faced very stiff-underwriting at the time. If it looked like you might need it, you didn’t get it.

    The premiums took a pretty hefty chunk of their disposable income, but it’s what they wanted for their peace of mind. It was (is) non-cancellable, with a level premium that allows only minor cost-of-living adjustments. I suspect later issued policies allow adjustments that more closely reflect increases in medical care costs.

    So the short version of what I heard is a) their buiness model can’t survive under the new rules if applied to them (that seemed to be an issue of some uncertainty) because they very much exclude coverage based upon pre-existing illnesses and differentiate based upon age (much more than the 2 to 1 high-to-low age based premium difference allowed under the proposed law) and these factors are critical to the actuarial assumptions that make the plan work, and b) the “grandfathering” clause of the proposed law only applies for 5 years and it prohibits them from adding any new insureds during that time. While they claim their reserves are well in excess of state requirements, they basically need to keep adding some new 50 year-olds (who aren’t likely to need the care soon) in order to fully meet their obligations to the 80 year-olds (who may qualify at any time) under all of the scenarios they are required to consider (including a substantial increase in claims).

    They weren’t announcing a cancellation. They announced a concern and an intention to seek guidance (from lawyers, undoubtedly) as to how to best fulfill their legal obligations to existing policyholders.

    Personally, I don’t see how any plan can survive under the grandfathering clause if they can’t add new insureds. Age of the insureds is always a factor in cost, and if you can’t add new insureds, your pool just gets older. That impact is greater, I think, with a specialty plan geared for the fifty and up crowd.

    On a positive note, my 80+ parents are independent, active and reasonably healthy. They purchased true insurance, where you bet against yourself and then pray like hell you lose the bet.

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  75. moe99 said on August 26, 2009 at 1:39 am

    Senator Ted Kennedy passed away tonight. He was 77. Younger than yours or my parents, mark.

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  76. mark said on August 26, 2009 at 1:47 am

    I hope he rests peacefully in heaven. And I’m glad I’m going to visit my folks tomorrow. Mom’s birthday is Thursday and we’re taking her to the King Tut exhibit in Indianapolis, which she wants to see.

    It is a blessing that they will both be able to amble through under their own power, if somewhat more slowly than a decade or two ago, see things through pretty good eye-sight, and comprehend even the bad jokes at dinner afterwards.

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  77. Hattie said on August 26, 2009 at 2:12 am

    Hey, we can’t afford health care. America is a poor country. Not like rich Cuba.
    Seriously, folks, this zero sum game should be pretty obvious. Playing the young against the old is such a transparent ploy. And it’s crap, too. I’m old, but I’ve got kids who are struggling to care for themselves and their kids. You think I don’t care about that????
    Now: are we a crappy country that can’t take care of its people, or are we AMERICANS who have what it takes? Who can provide the best health care in the world to all our citizens?

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  78. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 26, 2009 at 7:50 am

    Love him or loathe him, you have to give Teddy this — he has one of the most effective bipartisan records in Senate history. I hope he realized he was much better used by history (and will be better recalled in history) as a Senator than he would have been in the White House.

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  79. beb said on August 26, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Last night, Tuesday evening, MSNBC announced that they would run a program on how the three Kennedys affected our country. This sounded like a Eulegy, which I thought, at the time, was in bad taste. This morning I read that Ted kennedy lost his battle with cancer. I wonder if MSNBC knew that his death was imminent and scheduled this program as a way of saying so?

    In the end I think Ted Kennedy with his 40 years in Congress has had as much or more impact on Amerca as his two brothers combined. He pushed to make our country a better place and despite being born into a rich and entitled famly, always care for the poor annd powerless. Where are we going to find a man like him again?

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  80. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 26, 2009 at 8:31 am

    Nope, Chris Matthews said last week it was largely part of “we’re all on vacation” padding, and that he’d produced most of it weeks ago — when Ted looked like he was stabilizing. This week and next everyone from Matthews to Stewart & Colbert are all on vacation . . . and now are calling in on sat phone from Montana if they can’t stroll over to the Hyannis streetscape for a standup.

    Jon Meacham on MorningJoe has the word, and the word is “Shakespearean.” That’s a fair summary of Teddy Kennedy’s life. Tragedy, comedy, self-inflicted tragedy, redemption unearned and renewal hard-earned, a festive, placidly married & politically frenetic fourth act, and then a poetic, poignant reversal of expectations in the fifth with a new young prince embodying long-faded hopes under his wing, exeunt laughing.

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