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WHAT, NO DEATH PANELS? DANG!

President Obama finally addressed Congress and the nation Wednesday night on the topic of health care reform. He gave a good speech, very powerful and passionate, and finally outlined the basics of what the bill would contain. Outside of one section of the room where a bunch of Republican Representatives tried to turn the Capitol building into an unruly town hall meeting by acting like junior high school cutups, he got a good reception, with most members of Congress acting like grownups. Obama was his usual lucid self, well-spoken and even tempered, even getting a little pissed off at times, which was actually very refreshing. He directed a lot of his sharper comments to the misbehaving knuckleheads in the peanut gallery, sort of like a professor unamused by the snide frat boys.

The health plan he outlined was somewhat complex and broad but he did a good job outlining its basics, while also refuting a lot of the widespread misconceptions about it. The biggest disappointment by far had to be Mr. President telling us there would be no Death Panels to eliminate senior citizens. What? No Death Panels? That was the only cool thing about all this tedious claptrap! Who wouldn’t want to be on one of those? Talk about instant respect! That little punk paperboy wouldn’t dare launch your newspaper into the bushes, not ever again. Your neighbor with the 9,000-Watt stereo system, the attitude and the all-night barbecues? Say hello to Mr.Buddhist Monk! And a set of Death Panel license plates would pretty much eliminate parking fines and moving violations from your life.

But wait, maybe not all is lost. The president only promised that there would be no Death Panels for seniors! And what the hell, that would be pretty much a waste since they’ve got one foot in the grave anyway. Not much fun shooting fish in a barrel, is there? A real Death Panel would have the power of life and death over people who are in no danger of dropping dead any minute, not being God’s little helpers shoving wrinkled old Gramps off the bus. Hell, some of these old people are so damned demented they won’t even know the difference, further depleting the glee in being able to dispatch our fellow citizens to their maker. But Obama did leave the door open to Death Panels for the Healthy But Irritating (HBI).

Looking around America, there is no shortage of HBI. They breathe our air, clog our highways and line our sidewalks, saying the most idiotic things, wearing ugly clothes, behaving like louts and even in some cases being fans of soccer! Clearly these people have to be held accountable, and some of them have to go! Of course they’ll be given a semi-fair trial (don’t confuse the Death Panels with courts of law!) and be given a chance to defend their continued existence. They will have to do so on their own, however, without the benefit of a smooth talking attorney. Death Panelists will want to hear for themselves why fat guys with hairy backs who insist on wearing a Speedo, flip flops and nothing else to the supermarket should continue to count themselves among the living.

Let all the annoying newscasters explain exactly why they smile as they speak, even when describing gruesome scenes of carnage and death. Try winking at the weather lady or using your smiley-speak in front of the Death Panel, hairdo-boy! The Death Panel will be all ears when the lady that works at the Department of Motor Vehicles who shaved her eyebrows and painted in new ones to achieve an accusing, dismissive facial expression when she tries to explain the fact the the sign at her booth saying “Next Window, Please” is permanently welded to the counter. No one will bother to ask her mother’s maiden name as she is led to her fate!

And what sort of death should the Death Panels mete out? Hanging, electrocution and lethal injection are already taken by the criminal justice system, and firing squads are too military. There’s always the old trap door into the pool full of hungry sharks trick (thank you, Hollywood!), with the only question being which Death Panelist gets to pull the lever. One supposes they could always take turns, but that might become problematic when one of them starts to hog the lever-pulling, making himself a Healthy But Irritating candidate for an appearance before the Death Panel, then the whole thing would start to degenerate into another French Revolution, where the original head-choppers soon became the head-chopped. That wouldn’t do at all.

So that leaves the issue of the proper composition of the Death Panels, too. How many members? Obviously, the more the merrier, but not so many as to render the proceedings overly long and tedious. Entertaining is the watchword here, and there’s a whole lot of irritating people out there, so you wouldn’t want too long of a wait. There should be a Chief Death Panelist on every Death Panel, just to ensure order and to see that each Death Panelist gets his rightful turn at the trap door lever, and of course an odd number of Panelists to ensure a majority vote on the thumbs-up or thumbs-down vote for each case. Seven seems about right, nine tops. Juries are out of the question, since they tend to get all weepy and acquit people with a good enough sob story. No, thanks!

The beauty of Death Panels is that they won’t cost the taxpayers a red cent! Admission will be charged to the proceedings, with perhaps a pay-per-view cable TV option for prominent cases like celebrities practicing politics or politicians practicing entertainment. Football stadiums could be filled for the Death Panel Hearings of bank CEO’s and job-exporting billionaires, with additional billions in tax revenue raised by raffling off the right to pull the lever to the shark tank for the likes of Donald Trump or Nancy Grace. So don’t say that Wednesday night’s speech was all grim government business. There is still some slim hope left for Death Panels. This optimist views this as the trap door being half open. HBI, beware!

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