Dogged laughter

BY BEAU ELLIOT | AUGUST 25, 2009 7:05 AM

Some August, huh? Who knew that death panels were staked out in every corner of the land, drooling that hideous socialist spittle and itching to kill grandma and Sarah Palin’s child?

(Who knew this country had so many corners?)

For that matter, who knew that the British (read: “socialist”) health-care system would have offed famed physicist Stephen Hawking had he been British?

And who knew that exercising your freedom of speech involves angrily shouting down anyone and everyone who appears to disagree with you? Not to mention exercising your Second Amendment rights involves attending town-hall meetings in the company of your firearms.

(And no, I am not one of those liberals who recoil, so’s to speak, at the mere mention of guns; I have owned a firearm in the past. I do, however, believe that anger and guns is about as bad a combination as drinking and driving.)

So yeah, some August.

It would appear, just at first glance, that the people who don’t believe in dinosaurs have become dinosaurs. How cute.

Cute in a Kafka-esque sort of way, which seems to be the journey cute has followed in these postmodern times. Along with just about everything else, we might add. (If we were in the business of adding; people tend to do so little arithmetic these days. Have you noticed?) Kafka, by the way, invented Twitter one gloomy evening when he was shunning arithmetic, all alone in the dark castle above the foaming Vltava.

Well, of course, there are no death panels lurking in this country, socialist or non-socialist, in the corners or otherwise, even though Sarah Palin contends she can see them from Alaska. There was, but no longer is in the Senate version of health-insurance reform, a provision allowing voluntary counseling about living wills that right-wingers and others jumped on as “evidence” of death panels.

Curiously enough, when she was governor of Alaska (Remember those days? Me, neither.), Palin championed living wills.

Those others included our own Sen. Charles Grassley. Charles Grassley? Didn’t he used to have a brain?

Well, death panels were pretty humorous, in a flat-Earth society sort of way, but my personal high point of August was Investor’s Business Daily declaring in an editorial that the British National Health Service would not have allowed Stephen Hawking to live had he been British. Or, as Investor’s Business Daily put it: “People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the UK, where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.”

This is great slapstick, because, as most of us know, Hawking was born in the UK, has lived there all his life, and has enjoyed the services of the British health-care system. As Hawking wrote after the editorial surfaced: “I wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for the NHS. I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived.”

Of course, it’s not just that Investor’s Business Daily got Hawking’s citizenship and geographic location wrong, in trying to make a point about the evils of “socialized medicine,” it got the facts wrong; “socialized medicine” saved Hawking’s life.

Then, after realizing its rather massive error, Investor’s Business Daily revised the editorial, deleting all references to Hawking and adding this: “Editor’s Note: This version corrects the original editorial which implied that physicist Stephen Hawking, a professor at the University of Cambridge, did not live in the UK.”

More hilarity. The editorial did not “imply” Hawking did not live in Britain, it flat-out said so.

Oh, well.

Usually, August only brings us the Dog Days and the collapse of the Red Sox pitching staff for our amusement (and for us Red Sox fans, the pitching-staff collapse is amusing only in a Terry Southern sort of way). So we can thank the conservatives for making this August one long laugh.

I can hardly wait to see what September will bring. Maybe we can revisit Barack Obama is not an American citizen. Or Barack Obama is a secret Muslim.

And the laughs just keep on coming.

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