The Sure Fix for Obama’s Healthcare Stalemate

February 26, 2010

By Yul

If Obama’s bipartisan healthcare summit yesterday accomplished nothing else, it should have erased any doubts that Republicans are out to sink him and they don’t care how many Americans go down with him. I heard a lot of grousing, but precious few better ideas out of them.

So Obama still needs support, and here’s the simplest way to get it:

Ban all employers from providing health insurance.

Obama could even legislate that employers rebate a portion of the savings back to their formerly insured employees to help them buy new individual coverage, which would cost the government nothing.

How could Republicans disagree? They always want to help big business boost the bottom line. They also claim Obama’s plan would raise costs so much that many employers would drop health insurance anyway. OK, so let’s do it right now and level the playing field going forward.

Businesses should love having this monkey off their backs. Health insurance is an enormous expense and hassle for them.

Private health insurers will be over the moon because it will put millions of new, unsuspecting suckers within their grasp.

Granted, the workers who have been opposing reform will be the only ones screaming bloody murder. That’s because they have no clue what healthcare really costs. After they get a taste of the reality of trying to buy individual coverage and discovering they can’t get it because of pre-existing conditions, they can’t afford it because it’s outrageously priced, or the policy they buy is crap and covers next to nothing, they’ll be screaming to Washington…


That’s when Obama will have free rein to stop insurers from discriminating against everybody, getting away with 39% rate hikes, and yanking coverage away from people when they get sick.

It’s a no-brainer and a win-win, so why hasn’t anyone suggested it?

A Fix for Dogs Who Nosh on Dead(ly) Iguanas

February 25, 2010

By Adele

This winter, Florida’s iguanas are again freezing and falling out of trees like lizard-cicles. When I wrote about this problem 2 years ago, I called them rebels without a cause because they’re not native to Florida and they have no purpose in the U.S. except to be a nuisance.

Well, it seems they’ve found a cause.

Dead, they stink to high heaven and their carcasses spawn an organism called Clostridium botulinum, which causes botulism.

Dogs apparently find dead iguanas irresistible, so they’ve been munching and rolling all over the corpses. Then the dogs develop paralysis in their hind legs that can spread and prove fatal unless they get quick medical treatment.

This bacteria in the iguanas is the same one used to make Botox, so I’m thinking there may be a divine master plan at work here. Think about it: The only thing more plentiful than iguanas in Florida is wrinkly people. They could be recruited to gather dead iguanas for processing into Botox, being paid by the tail for their catch to supplement their Social Security benefits.

Botox would then be so plentiful, seniors could get injections dirt-cheap with their iguana profits. By spring, the population of Florida would look so incredibly youthful, the state would lose its reputation as God’s waiting room.

It’s not exactly the Fountain of Youth Ponce de Leon had in mind, but it would keep the iguanas from dying in vain and protect the dogs.

The Truth Behind Oscar, the “Death Kitty”

February 23, 2010

By Cole

Oscar is a 4-year-old calico in Providence, Rhode Island. He’s got a book, Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat by David Dosa, the doctor who observes Oscar in action at Steere House, the nursing home where Oscar lives with 5 other cats.

Dr. Dosa and Oscar (Photo - Janet Teno)

Oscar’s “extraordinary gift” is that he’s the only cat there who cozies up to patients about to check out — permanently.

In the cat world Oscar is nothing special. All cats can do what he does. We just choose not to, and we have very good reasons.

Oscar lives in the advanced dementia unit, where people are usually in no condition to be chummy with anybody. For Oscar to curl up on their beds in their final few hours is considered a supreme kindness to them and their families.

Now let’s imagine a cat acting like Oscar in a regular household. Suddenly the cat decides to cuddle with Grandma, a woman who has always hated cats and swats them with brooms.

A few hours later, Grandma is history.

Do you think the family would be cooing, “What a good kitty!” or running around in a tizzy?

Say the cat next turns his attention to Grampa, who thinks swinging cats by the tail is fun. Then Grandpa takes off for the Great Beyond and leaves the cat sitting there, purring.

I can promise you this is a cat who is 1) about to become strictly outdoor, or 2) will be permanently banned from sleeping on the bed.

Oscar lives in the perfect place to be a furry Grim Reaper, and his humans seem to appreciate it, so I wish him the best.

But trust me, you’re usually better off not knowing what secrets cats keep. Most of us are not about to tip our paw and reveal too much. All it takes is being right just once with the wrong person to end up in a carrier on a one-way trip back to “the joint.”

SAD NOTE: Cats Working extends sincere condolences to Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan, who lost his beloved 16-year-old pit bull, Daddy, on February 19. Rest in peace, Daddy. As dogs go, we think you were one of the best.

Bourdain Does Kiddie TV

February 22, 2010

By Karen

Perhaps as an early birthday present to daughter Ariane, on March 10, Anthony Bourdain guests on Yo Gabba Gabba as Doctor Tony. If you needed any proof that fatherhood can unhinge a guy, watch this:

I tried to watch Yo Gabba Gabba some time ago when Bourdain first mentioned it as a favorite, and it had me screaming for mercy after about 10 minutes.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did a phone interview with Bourdain recently and printed the highlights, but there’s a link on the page to the whole 15-minute audio version.

Tony and Eric visited Martha Stewart’s TV show on February 16 to promote their new Sirius radio show, Turn & Burn, which premiered on the 18th, and to prepare coq au vin.

Cats Working reader Cindy provided a link to the highlights of their first gab-fest, with guest Mario Batali. I wish I got Sirius!

Dicey Venison writes about his/her “better half’s” weird brief encounter during the Q&A at Tony’s Milwaukee appearance on January 22.

MSN TV got some good Raw Talk with Tony, and then almost ruined it with WAY too much clicking required — quelle agonie! (Sorry, I just watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s). Thanks, MSN!

Tony does mention that he likes Samantha Brown, describing her as “nice, and not painfully sweet.” I always wondered about that.

Janet Napolitano Needs to GO

February 19, 2010

By Yul

Now Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has blessed the TSA to read palms. Under the fancy name of “Explosive Trace Detection,” or ETD, they’re swabbing random passengers’ hands to see who forgot to wash after playing with bombs.

How many shoe bombs have they found since they made everybody remove their shoes? NONE.

Combustible jackets? NONE.

Exploding laptop computers? NONE.

Incendiary lip gloss? NONE.

In January, Karen, traveling with her parents, was subjected to the naked body scan “at random” in the Richmond airport. Random my phantom tail! The woman wears a DD bra. You know they singled her out hoping she’s an A cup trying to smuggle cannonballs onto the plane.

They found no explosives, but the guy watching the scanner got his big jugs fix.

Yet it’s OK for passengers to stuff their checked luggage with guns, sabers, and meat cleavers. The TSA doesn’t give a damn what murder and mayhem people intend to commit at their destination.

Karen’s father has an implanted heart device that TSA agents could easily feel under his skin. Yet they subjected this 70+-year-old man to the naked scan, wanding, frisking, and even feeling the bottom of his stockinged feet.

What’s the thinking there? He’s got a bum ticker so he’ll probably want to skip his vacation and blow up the plane?

Instead of honestly evaluating and discontinuing their pointless procedures, Napolitano just keeps piling on more layers of bullshit. What next, Janet? Armpit sniffing gerbils?

Having a “Heckuva job, Janet!” moment, Obama earmarked $39 million to buy more ETD devices, on top of $15 million already spent.

Obama, do you remember where you buried your common sense? It’s probably near the finger you refuse to point and the blame you never assign. Rather than buying her more new toys, you need to fire Janet Napolitano NOW and appoint someone who’s serious about finding real threats.

Susan Boyle & Pebbles Have Split

February 17, 2010

By Cole

In case you’re deaf or have been living under a rock, Susan Boyle is that middle-aged woman who came in second on Britian’s Got Talent, driving everyone crazy incessantly singing that song from Les Miserables until someone offered her a CD deal so she’d have to learn some new tunes.

Previously, Susan lived alone with her cat Pebbles in a little village called Blackburn.

Pebbles, the cat who knew Susan Boyle "when." (Photo - LiveJournal)

Susan’s new CD did well, and now she’s traveling the world. Bringing Pebbles along wasn’t practical, and Pebbles probably would have hated life in a carrier anyway.

So the 11-year-old pedigreed Turkish swimming cat has been shacking up in London with a 76-year-old retired accountant named Pamela, who already had 2 cats, Truffles and Sapphire.

(Anyone know why Brits name their cats after small objects?)

Pamela was told the boarding was temporary, but Pebbles has been there since July 2009. Susan has only visited Pebbles 3 times, and Pebbles hid from her the last time.

Pamela is paid 4 British pounds a day for Pebbles’ upkeep, but says it barely covers Pebbles’ pricey wet food, Royal Canin dry, and people chicken and fish.

Since it seems unlikely Susan will be giving up celebrity to retire in obscurity, it seems that big-city life for Pebbles may be purr-manent.

You could have done a lot worse, Peb. At least you didn’t end up in “the joint,” like I once did.

Bourdain & Ripert Pioneer Oral Food Porn

February 15, 2010

By Karen

We have to wait until March 1 for the next new installment of No Reservations, when Anthony Bourdain visits Ecuador, but there’s something new in the meantime: On February 18, he and Eric Ripert are launching 5 live weekly radio shows called Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert: Turn & Burn on Martha Stewart Living Radio, 7:00-8:00 p.m. ET, Sirius channel 112 and XM channel 157. They’ll discuss food (sometimes lasciviously) and take listeners’ call-in questions. Market Watch has more on their topics and guests.

Tony’s trip to the Hudson Valley on NR last week was his best in a long time. He had me hooked from the opening, with the unfamiliar voice describing discovery of the Hudson River. I was checking to see if I’d taped the right program when the first joke hit me. Then it kept getting better. Tony and Michael Ruhlman wokking at Tony’s alma mater, the CIA (Culinary Institute of America). CIA Chef Pardus’ precocious 10-year-old daughter at a cookout taking Bourdain down a peg, then giggling with delight to see him riding her rope swing.

And then Bill Murray. Though Bourdain said Murray was a last-minute addition, he seemed totally plugged in to No Reservations and clearly wowed Tony (i.e., showed teeth a LOT).

Bourdain was relaxed and funny and a delight to watch. Cats Working gives Hudson Valley three tails up! (Our highest honor, since there are only 3 cats, and one has only an imaginary tail.)

Ruhlman blogged about it back in September 2009 when it was shot, but Bourdain didn’t come across in the final cut as the creepy, haunted soul Ruhlman described.

Tony gave a good interview to Inside TV for AOL, and it sounds like he won’t be visiting Cuba after all. BONUS: YouTube video of Sandra Lee’s Kwanzaa cake train wreck.

Also on AOL, Maggie Furlong got audio of Bourdain discussing his favorite reality TV show, Jersey Shore. The Bourdain segment begins at 1:10.

Tarot and Incense posted a strange account of dining with Bourdain at some undisclosed location sometime in January, and then said he was heading from there to Hong Kong and Melbourne. Among other things, she (I think) said he comandeered the ordering, really focused on the food, and tipped “vigorously.” The blog seems to be written by someone called Liquifier who lives in India. Was it all real or a dream?

Tony contributed to a book available March 2 called A Visual History of Cookery edited by Duncan McCorquodale. It appears to be a stunning collection if you’re into culinary lore. It retails for $55, but is discounted on Amazon.

Rachael Ray’s Dog Goes Ape

February 13, 2010

By Cole

What made the dog snap? Being forced to shill for Nutrish dog food, though she secretly thinks it’s garbage? Being saddled with the putridly insipid name “Isaboo?” Whatever the cause, Rachael Ray’s pit bull almost tore off another dog’s ear recently while on a stroll with a handler in Greenwich Village.

Fortunately, Isaboo’s victim’s ear could be mostly saved, and the Rays offered to pay all the vet bills, but Rachael’s now afraid that Isaboo will graduate to people and have to be put to sleep.

So why the heck did the stupid woman adopt a pit bull if she didn’t want a blood-thirsty attack dog?

Personally, I think Ray’s vicariously asking for trouble using Isaboo to market her dog food. She’s just encouraging more people to own aggressive breeds, or at the very least, subliminally implying, “Feed Nutrish to your Bichon Frise and he’ll be taking chunks out of the mailman in no time!”

Rachael says, "Turn your dog into a potential killer like mine with Nutrish!" (Photo - Jim Wright, Nutrish/AP)

I think Isaboo’s only hope is prompt intervention by the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan. He’s the only man up to the task of jerking Rachael Ray out of the red-zone state of mind that compels her to incessantly annoy man and beast alike. Otherwise, she’ll end up Isaboo’s lunch, for sure.

We don’t like to see bad things happen to animals, even dogs, so I hope Ray gets on the phone to Cesar and gets help pronto. It wouldn’t hurt to give Isaboo a name befitting her powerful breed, either. Even “Sammie” would be an improvement.

Happy Birthday, Sarah Palin

February 11, 2010

By Adele

Sarah Palin turns 46 today, proving beyond a doubt that wisdom doesn’t come with age.

Unless you write your wisdom on your hand.

The scary part is that everything she knows FITS on her hand. (Photo - Ed Reinke/AP)

Palin began celebrating early — on February 6 in Nashville — with a $100,000 gift to herself for speaking at the first Tea Party convention, a for-profit event that charged $549 a head, and $349 just to hear Palin.

She was introduced by Andrew Breitbart, the founder of who embodied the group’s cluelessness by describing Palin as “the first person to tell us about the death panel.”

Reportedly, the crowd cheered, probably thinking they’d just shelled out hundreds of bucks to hear Palin debut another original fairytale.

Instead, she delivered a rousing speech utterly devoid of fact but full of witty zingers on Obama, describing him as “a charismatic guy with a teleprompter,” and asking, “How’s that hope-y, change-y stuff workin’ out for ya?”

Palin has claimed her $100K is “going back into the cause,” but characteristically failed to give specifics. I’d bet my treats the “cause” she’s eying is SarahPAC, counting on the Tea Party to draft her as their presidential candidate for 2012.

If you still need convincing of Palin’s innate emptyheadedness, read her recent opinion piece in USA Today. I dare you to find one substantive idea in it. Instead, she says things like…

“We want a government worthy of the fine Americans that it serves.”

What the hell does THAT mean? Which fine Americans? The ones so mentally bankrupt they think forking over $349-549 to listen to vacuous blather is wise spending?

Fortunately, the latest polls show 71% still don’t think Palin is qualified to be president, so she still has a long way to go in fooling all of the people all of the time.

But I think Stephen Colbert described Palin best. And people cheered.

Coming Out of the Closet

February 9, 2010

By Yul

Lorenzo is a Maine Coon in Miami with humble beginnings. He was born on Halloween, stuck in a shoebox with his three sisters, and thrown in a trash can. His sisters, sadly, didn’t survive, but Lorenzo was adopted by a writer named Joann Biondi.

Besides living with writers, Lorenzo and I have other things in common. He likes to chase rubber bands. I like to steal rubber bands. He has written on his MySpace page about Obama, my favorite black cat in Washington.

Lorenzo has his own Web site and has been photographed extensively by Biondi while enjoying a peculiar fetish he seems proud of. Seeing him has given me the courage to come out and say…

I like to wear clothes.

At least, I would if I had any.

Karen tried to get me a sweater for Christmas but she couldn’t find one that complemented my rugged good looks. Most of what’s available off the rack for cats is pink and girly. Karen even checked into dog clothes, but they were made like crap.

So I indulge myself with shopping bags. This started years ago when I first put my head through the handle of a bag and realized that it made a dandy Super Kitty cape. I wore it around the house for hours, and then carefully removed it so Karen could fold it for me.

Super Kitty peruses the paper for crimes to avenge.

But what I really want is a real cape. Or a shirt or a jacket. Lorenzo’s clothes are handmade by Mr. Luigi in Tuscany, his personal tailor. I know Karen would never go for that, so if anybody knows where I can find decent duds closer to home, please write and let me know.

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