they didn't even scurry into the woodwork when the camera flashed

Satirical cartoon from the Democratic weekly, The Verdict, 1890's

There's a revealing photo on page A20 of the NYTimes print edition this morning showing Tommy Thompson, Bush's Secretary of Health and Human Services, being congratulated by Arthur Lifson, President of the insurance giant, CIGNA. The occasion was the Senate's passage of the Republicrats' corporation-friendly Medicare bill on Saturday. The location was the "lobby" of the Senate.

Where's William Novelli, the AARP's chief executive? Probably next in line, if he had not in fact cut in front of Lifson.

The picture doesn't appear anywhere on line, so far as I can determine right now, but Barry and I are both shocked that photographers were allowed to record the encounter in the first place. I guess nobody really cares about observing the proprieties any more. The [more and more only theoretical] voters sure don't seem to mind.

Actually the Times article which seems to accompany the image of Lifson and Thompson thanking our Senate for its toadiness doesn't refer to either man, but is instead a short discussion of the budget implications of the bill.

For a useful commentary, see Paul Vitello in Newsday, although he admits that like everyone else, except for 17 very privileged people in Congress, he doesn't understand the 90-page bill so hastily passed yesterday but not to be put into effect until three years from now:

It is a Gordian knot of promises that seem designed to entice and befuddle and send millions rummaging in the junk drawer for the calculator - while Congress rushes to adopt the thing in time for Thanksgiving.

Go figure your way through this plan, then. It makes few unconditional promises except one - and that is to the drug companies. They are promised no price controls; no limits on how much they can charge or how much they can keep spending on television advertising for those remedies they make to combat all of life's ills except old age and poverty.

Viagra, Nexium, Lipitor, Celebrex, Zoloft, constipation, reflux and depression will remain your companions in TV-viewing for the foreseeable future, rest assured.

In his conclusion, Vitello shows us the bottom line: ". . . by the time people figure out whether this is more good than bad, the Republican presidential re-election campaign - complete with a prescription drug benefit - will be over."

[image from Ohio State University, Department of History]

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Published on November 25, 2003 11:17 AM.

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