Monday, September 30, 2013

Post No. 188b: BREAKING NEWS: Possible Government Shutdown is Taking Its Toll on Obama

Prior to making some possible progress on the foreign relations front in connection with Syria's chemical weapons arsenal, and the warming of relations with Iran, many Washington insiders suggested that the President stood to have destroyed the only arguable success during his presidency, namely his signature health care legislation.

Many welcomed the Tea Party-led threat to shut down the federal government, and argued that it was a repudiation of the President’s efforts to transform our nation into a socialist state during a period of global economic stagnation, brought on solely by his Administration’s economic policies.

According to anonymous sources, despite the prospects for success in Syria and Iran, the President is showing the strain of the Obamacare fight, and that he has resorted to cruising various D.C. bars.

According to Tim Teetotaler, at The Speakeasy in DuPont Circle, this was not the first time that the President visited his bar late at night. Confirming rumors, he said the President is typically accompanied by a female ostrich. The bartender went on to relate his first encounter with the President.

On that occasion, the President said, "I'll have a beer; in fact the same brand of beer that was sent to the White House for the Harvard Professor – Cambridge Cop Beer Summit a couple of years ago.” The bartender then turned to the ostrich, and asked, "What about you?"

"I'll have a beer too," said the ostrich, while the Secret Service detail surveyed the room, concerned about what observers might think about the President hanging out with a bird not native to America, and other than the American Bald Eagle.

The bartender claims that he served the pair and the tab was $6.40. The President turned to his trusted military aide carrying the “Nuclear Football,” and said, “Willy, reach into the side pocket of the satchel and pull out whatever money is there.”

Pursuant to the President’s instructions, the aide retrieved all of the money, which amounted to exactly $6.40.

The bartender claims that he next saw the President and the ostrich on the night when US forces successfully located and eliminated Osama bin Laden. The President ordered Champagne this time - a glass of 2010 Armand de Brignac.

The ostrich said she would have the same. After they completed their drinks, the bill amounted to $47.83. The President once again turned to Willy, asked to him to reach into the side pocket of the satchel, and pull out all the money. Willy, according to the bartender, pulled out exactly $47.83.

After the bin Laden mission, this became a regular, nightly routine, and whenever the bartender saw the two approaching, he simply asked, "The usual?" On each occasion, Willy took care of the tab by simply reaching into the pocket. Even when the price of the Champagne increased, the aide still pulled out the exact amount needed, even though he was not informed of the increase.

According to Teetotaler, last night following a week of back and forth between the House and the Senate, a despondent President came in, and ordered Sauza Blue Reposado.

"Same for me," said the ostrich, with a subdued tone and a Southern drawl.

"That will be $29.20," said the bartender.

Once again the aide pulled out the exact change.

The bartender thought that since the President’s guard might be down, it might be a good time to address his curiosity about the President having just enough money in the pocket to match the amount of the bill.

"Excuse me, Mr. President, but may I ask perhaps an impertinent question?” “Sure,” replied the President.

“How does your aide manage to always come up with the exact change for your bill out of the side pocket of that satchel, every single time?"

“First of all, let it be clear that although the taxpayers pick up the tab for my drinks, they do not pay for the ostrich’s. But to get to the crux of your question, several years ago I was cleaning the attic with Michelle and the girls, and found an old Middle Eastern lamp. When I rubbed it, a Genie appeared and offered me four wishes, three of which I made in a family, group setting.”

“My first wish was that I be elected President when the nation was in a perilous state, so that I could prove how effective a smart guy could really be as President.”

“My second wish was that I be re-elected for a second term.

"That's fantastic!" said the bartender. "It’s clear why they call you 'The Anointed One.'”

“Not so fast my friend. My third wish was that I locate and eliminate Osama bid Laden during my first term.”

The bartender said, “Sir, obviously you are on a roll. But you’ve been more than generous in sharing with me things which are obviously personal in nature; consequently I would not dare ask about the fourth wish, which you did not share with your family.”

“But there's one thing I still don't understand. What's with the ostrich?"

According to the bartender, the President replied "I was afraid that you would ask that. For my fourth wish, I had to decide between ensuring that Obamacare passed and was ultimately funded, or a chick with long legs."

The bartender commiserating with the President, and in an effort to change the subject said, “I'm sure that your health care initiative will ultimately be funded. You need not resort to drowning yourself with this very potent tequila.”

“That’s the least of my concerns," the President responded. “I’m getting smashed because I can’t figure out how to explain the ostrich to Michelle, and Bill Clinton has been absolutely no help at all.”

© 2011 and 2013, the Institute for Applied Common Sense (Well sorta, some of this is in the public domain).


  1. Seems to me that the person unwilling to compromise is the guy trying to fund his signature legislation. But that isn't what I read in the media. I understand the president was caught on a hot mike saying he quit smoking because he was afraid of Michele. Maybe he's a smart guy after all.

  2. Your question about what amount he should compromise on is pointless since he has stated, numerous times, that he will not negotiate at all. Has he compromised at all? Why yes, he has. He has backed off the employer mandate, he has given a pass to unions, and he has given Congress and its aides the same subsidy they had under their old plan. But has he budged an inch on anything the Republicans want? No, because he will not negotiate with them.
    I would answer your second question as soon as you tell me why it should be changed. And perhaps you can tell me why mandating that people purchase health insurance will fix whatever it was that was broken.
    You already know my stance on a Constitutional Convention, we have discussed it before. I do not believe, by the way, that the polarization is the fault of the Constitution but perhaps you can explain that to me.

  3. Douglas:

    Is it your position that the President has not compromised on one single issue which any Republican member of Congress has supported?

    As for a reason for a change from the current system, I would simply offer that there are some people who are uninsured, or can not afford health insurance at current prices. We're not suggesting that Obamacare is necessarily an improvement, because we do not know, nor do we suspect that anyone knows. Are you suggesting that the current healthcare system we have in this country adequately addresses the needs of 30%, 60%, 80%, or all of the citizens?

    As for the Constitutional Convention issue, the current dysfunction is most likely a result of the system as currently structured, the elected officials who govern as result of the system, or a combination of both. Why shouldn't any entity or system examine ways to improve itself on a daily basis?

    Isn't that what we expect out of humans as they go through their daily lives?

  4. Douglas:

    We are sitting here in our conference room watching the countdown to the government shutdown on Fox News. It is our view that both sides are equally at fault. It is our view that the leadership of both parties should share the blame. Those are the individuals, the people to whom we attribute fault.

    However, there is also a systemic problem. That a system exist, whether it be referred to as rules, procedure, or tradition, where such gamesmanship, posturing, poker playing, and references to conferences and caucuses which we suspect 90% of Americans do not understand and cannot explain, is just plain ridiculous.

    Our governance mechanism has become too cumbersome and unwieldy. No matter who's in charge.

  5. IC, you suspect below that "90% of Americans do not understand " the system (how government works?) Surely no individual understands this, not one. Thinking about what 'the people' understands takes us into the realm of advanced philosophy, and, in any case, is not supposed to matter since democracy does not need understanding by voters to operate. Is that not so?

  6. Of course the system is capable of operation no matter the number of people who understand what is going on. The question is whether the operation is for the benefit of the masses of people who are middle class or below socio-economically. We, as ordinary citizens, know how we fare from day to day, but it makes it difficult to identify the true culprits and come up with solutions when nothing is quite what it appears, and is shrouded in complexity.

    Instead, the average citizen is left to listening to the rants and raves of disingenuous politicians who spew whatever sound bites advance their agenda, and the ideologically driven talking heads of the particular media outlet we happen to follow.

    (Let it be clear that our criticism had to do with Senate and House rules, procedures, filibusters, conferences, caucuses, and other features of our legislative bodies which are not intuitive and are used primarily for political purposes, not to solve society's issues.)

    We Americans are generally disgusted with Congress, en toto, although if you ask us, we are slightly less disgusted with the party whose philosophy we embrace. However, both parties bear some degree of blame, just like both parents bear some degree of blame when they neglect the interests of their offspring.

    One final comment: We'd venture to guess that not one single one of the members of Congress was a plumber, a mechanic, a garbage person, a waiter, a secretary, a carpenter, a health care caregiver, or a food service worker, immediately prior to taking office. Attention should also be directed to the net worth of each federal elected official, and their lobbying income after they leave office.

    Contrary to what some contend, something is seriously wrong with this system, and the people in whom we place our lives who manage to get elected.

  7. Ah yes, I have seen this bit of argument of late. I like to call it "the CEO's excuse." Unfortunately, we do not recognize it in the case of actual CEO's. No, we blame them anyway, just as we do certain presidents. The excuse goes... "the organization is too big, too complex, for the guy at the top to know everything that is going on, or has gone on." Yet, we vilify the CEO of BP, a guy who obviously had no direct influence or part in that big spill. And, of course, George Bush took the brunt of the blame for the mess after Katrina yet we know he could not have any direct control over events there. Apparently, that "CEO's excuse" only works for certain individuals.
    How would possibly scrapping a functioning governance model fix a problem in governance? How would scrapping parliamentary rules help?
    Whenever I discuss/debate politics it seems I hear (or read) "the system is at fault" or "both sides are at fault" (the latter very often followed by the former). Much like the dad blaming the instructions for his inability to put his son's bicycle together in the wee hours of Christmas morning.

    The is nothing wrong with our governance model (the Constitution)that I can see. And you have not illuminated any specifics... just repeated that vague charge (the system is at fault). Frankly, I tire of such tactics and thought you could do better. After all, you have been an advocate of a Contitutional Convention for some time now, surely you have some specifics?

  8. It is my contention that politicians play politics. That is, they do their best to point fingers and assign blame without regard to truth or facts.
    Let's take your statement: "I would simply offer that there are some people who are uninsured, or can not afford health insurance at current prices."
    And how would adding requirements such as "allow pre-existing conditions" or expanding coverage of procedures or treatments reduce the costs? The obvious answer is that this would increase costs (and, therefore, premiums) thus making health insurance less affordable, not more affordable. How is that an improvement? The simplistic (to me) strategy is to force everyone to purchase health insurance in order to "spread the risk" but, by adding coverage requirements, it negates the potential savings. It did not work for car insurance and is not, therefore, likely to work for health insurance. But it sounds good... in a populist sort of way.
    I do not know agree that "the current dysfunction is most likely a result of the system as currently structured" but rather the people we elect more often look for ways around the system rather than adhere to it. In other words, our choices have been poor and guided by a kind of selfishness. That is not the system's fault, it is our fault for not voting based on issues but on name recognition, party loyalty, and image (which is manipulated by each side in an election).
    I had a friend who offered that the Republicans are at fault for not nominating more "moderates" for president. He ignores Dole, McCain, Romney, et al. I say moderates do not rouse the people or bring them to the polls. Moderates lose important elections because they lack passion. No changes to a Constitution will change that dynamic. I have examined ways to improve the system. Unfortunately, I have not found any that would work that I would mind living under. Perhaps, if you gave me specific facets of our system and how you would change them, I might be more receptive to the idea.

  9. I appreciate this reply, and when its wisdom becomes wider spread among the people things might improve.

    Of course the very well-off don't find much wrong with the system, and never will as long as the poor are kept down, and uneducated. A compliant labour pool, and expecting no better.

  10. Enjoyed the story - it should be on YouTube, where people would believe it as fact.

  11. We're going to step away from this discussion for a few moments, and address some other issues which bear on the heath care debate and the government shutdown.

    We seriously doubt that any rational American person, even a politician, would not agree that a healthy populace is a good thing, in the long-term. We also recognize that there is a concern about fraud, corruption, and who pays for the program.

    The real issue is, from our perspective, is one of timing. President Obama picked the wrong time to pursue the healthcare agenda. Here's why:

    If someone had advanced the healthcare agenda
    during the last couple of years of the Clinton presidency (when there was a surplus), it might have theoretically gotten through. (We recognize that his wife could not pull it off during the first couple of years of his presidency, but part of that was because she lacked any political clout or credibility.)

    The problem here is multi-fold:
    (1) There is a global recession, and a weak, fragile U.S. economic recovery;
    (2) Our middle class is hurting significantly because of our Chinese folly and the
    loss of jobs, and somewhat connected to the next issue;
    (3) We spent a ton of money on two exhausting wars;
    (4) Elected officials are getting ridiculous amounts of money from huge corporations and rich folks thus influencing their attitudes more so than in the past;
    (5) The technological advances in Internet social networking and new media vehicles permit more
    exchange of information (both good and bad) about our economic status and the
    waste and corruption associated with the government, and permit more people to
    complain through an economic megaphone, thus stimulating comments by like-minded thinkers; and
    (6) corporations, which are flush with cash, can act with impunity, and threaten the government and push it around by telling the government what they are going to do to decrease jobs further if the government takes certain steps or enacts certain regulations.

    President Obama will not be President when the U.S. economy, if ever, comes back sufficiently to justify the pursuit of good health care for all of our citizens. Many economists suggest that we will not see the level of economic growth that we saw during the Clinton era (and which we feel had nothing to do with his leadership whatever; just serendipity) during our baby Boomer lifetimes.

    Bad timing can just as negative an impact as bad government.

  12. The class war is destined to continue as long as there is humankind. Seem will deem themselves as special, that their positions are sacrosanct, and that they are deserving...., and that others are not.

  13. You are right. Obama was assisted by Harry Reid, most (if not all) Democrats, most of the media, and countless sympathetic bloggers... pounding the notion of only Republican fault into the populace's heads. Doesn't alter the fact that he (and others) did nothing except refuse to negotiate... Just as Obama wanted. So it could be used as a political weapon against the Republicans in 2014.

  14. CorfuBob:

    Any decent human being cannot quarrel with the idea of good health for all the citizens of a nation. In the long-term, it inures to the benefit of the country.

    However, the U.S. government is broke. It is not generating sufficient revenue to meet its continuing expenses. Will there be an up cycle in the future? We hope so.

    However, pursuing the the greatest social net program in 50 years during a global economic recession, following two foreign wars, along with sending our manufacturing jobs to China, have not created the most receptive environment for the rollout of this massive change in American society. It really doesn't have anything to do with whether it is a good or bad thing, from a theoretical perspective, to have a healthy populace.

    We simply can not afford it in the short term. In the long term, we would be foolish as a nation not to pursue something improving health care accessibility for the masses.

  15. You could not 'afford' the bail-out, but it was made anyway.

    Do you not accept that affording things is set to get more difficult, even in the long term?

    You were 'foolish as a nation' to (help) squander fossil fuel reserves. Politics does not reward long-term thinking, as you know better than i do.

  16. "you wiped out the entire population once..."

    When was that, Bob? I must have missed that somehow.

  17. That fell somewhat short of "wiping out [an] entire population" though I suspected that was what he meant. Genocide (true genocide, or I should say, complete genocide) is very difficult, maybe impossible.

  18. Good guess Douglas!

    Lets agree that complete genocide is 'impossible' but the 30 million quoted is enough to be in denial about, even if it's exaggerated (like the holocaust).

    Time to make poor people's health a priority - whether they are to blame or not (IC), and whether rich people say it can be afforded or not. Anyone disagree?

  19. It was before your time Douglas, but not pre-history. Of course I know they were only blood-thirsty, backward 'indians' and lived in funny tents, but some silly foreigners think they might have been human beings.

  20. That's odd, the several full blooded Amerinds I have known make me question that they were entirely wiped out. I still don't know what to call them since they are no more Native than am I (2nd generation), they just came here first. "Some silly foreigners" were the ones who came to this land and took it away from them. Mostly British, as I recall, but also French, German, Irish, and lots of others...

  21. Do you really think the Holocaust was exaggerated? How about the total civilian dead of WWII? Yes, quite a few of the First Americans (Obama calls them that and I have to agree with him) were killed by immigrants to this land. Before that, they often killed each other over land and resources. Don't know how many, of course, since they didn't keep count but whole peoples were wiped out. But that's just real history. I'm sure you won't care about that.
    Poor people's health... you do know that no one is turned away for treatment (by law now, for many decades). But you are right, regular health care is only readily available to those that can afford it and those who fall below the poverty line. It is the working poor who struggle in that area... As I once did when I was young and poor.

  22. Oh, you might want to read this: It suggests that there were 30 million First Americans when the Europeans first came to what became the U.S.


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