Heard on the Fly

You know how close I am to Washington, DC, don’t you?  Yup, I’m right across the river — it’s right outside my window.  So naturally, I have my finger on the very pulse of the Nation’s Capitol.

Sometimes, I have inside information.

Sometimes, I know what’s going to happen in advance.

Sometimes, I overhear the people at the heart of the day’s most important events.

That’s what happened this time.  Yes, I knew what was coming.  I just couldn’t tell you or I would have had to kill you.  You know how that goes.

Because on March 28, 2012, moments after the end of the Supreme Court argument on the Affordable Care Act, Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito came to my offices.

They flew in unexpectedly. Most of our staff members were surprised and watched them from a respectful distance.  But not me.

Nope.  I sucked up to them big time.  I offered to let them pick my brain, so they let me in real close.  Close enough to hear them discuss the oral argument and listen to their opinions.  You know, the opinions on which so many people like me with chronic diseases depend.

Justice Scalia was the first to arrive.

Then, Justice Alito joined his colleague on the balcony.

And just like Alan Shore and Denny Craig on Boston Legal, Antonin and Sam just kicked back on the balcony and chatted about their day.

“Wasn’t that debate a hoot, A-man?” said Justice Alito  “How we gonna vote?”  Sam always defers to Scalia when figuring out how to think/vote.

“It was boring,” responded Scalia.  “I hardly had any opportunities to show how brilliant I am.  Three days of being just like everybody else.  I don’t know how I managed.  Besides,” Antonin added, “I decided to vote to repeal it before Congress even passed the law.  Healthcare for everybody?  Even for people who don’t have lifetime judicial appointments or coverage from serving in Congress?  Yeah, right.  Over my dead body.”

“Of course you’re right, pal,” responded Sam.  “But do you think we’ll be able to get the chicks to go along with us?”

“What are you scarfing?  Didn’t you hear those ‘girly-girls’ talking?” scoffed Scalia.  “‘Chronic conditions,’ ‘Judicial activism’ ‘Medicaid expansion.’  Bah!  They shouldn’t let chicks on the Court.  Especially not these feminista types.  They have no ‘judicial restraint.’  They shouldda all been Borked.”

“You got that right, A-Man.  But I think we’re stuck with them for life.”  The Justices were quiet for a moment, and then Alito expressed his deepest fear in a barely audible whisper:  “I’m worried about the Chief, though.  You think he’s with us on this one?”

“He is getting a bit uppity these days.  Independent-minded.  He won’t even let me peck at corpses first any more,” responded Scalia disdainfully.

“And what about Kennedy?  He is so damn wishy-washy, you never know what he’s gonna do.”

“Oh, he’ll vote with me.  With us.  And Thomas will too, of course.”

“Uh, A-man?  What if we lose?”

“We’ll hide behind our robes.  And our awesome healthcare coverage.  Oh, and our lifetime judicial appointments.  And maybe we can get CNN to announce the decision our way.”

*   *   *

I am absolutely delighted that I had to rewrite this entire post, because the Supreme Court just voted 5-4 to uphold the Affordable Healthcare Act, even though it was way funnier when I expected the ACA to be overturned.

These two vultures, voted, as predicted, to overturn the law, and were joined by Justices Thomas (no surprise) and Kennedy (a surprise to me at least).

I post this in celebration.  It is a victory for folks like me with chronic health conditions.  It is a victory for everybody but the GOP, who was for the mandate before they were against it.

These photos of two black vultures/supreme court justices were actually taken at my company’s offices immediately following the oral arguments on the Affordable Health Act before the U.S. Supreme Court.   Photoshop was not used.  All photo credits belong to my friend and colleague, Ruby, and were used with her permission.

No vultures were harmed while creating this post.


Filed under Health and Medicine, Humor, Hypocrisy, Law, Politics, Stupidity, Voting

84 responses to “Heard on the Fly

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  3. HA! this made me chuckle out loud. Vultures indeed.


  4. Even here in Tasmania it plays well. Loved it. I did a similar piece many (!) years ago–before the internet–in which I “interviewed’ John Ehrlichman re the Watergate mess–and ‘he’ likened various characters in the drama to Muppet characters… satire is such fun!!


  5. That was the best read I’ve had in a couple of days!


  6. cooper

    the (turkey) buzzards are circling DC, eh? Hmmm. I guess that apropos. and the fact they are turkey buzzards is even more fitting…


  7. Too funny! Sorry I’m so late commenting. My inbox flooded worse than Florida. Hope you weren’t too badly affected by the damaging storms this weekend.


  8. I couldn’t wait to see your take on things, Elyse. Well done!


  9. Wow! Vultures! Thanks for sharing these photos!


    • Hi Alex, welcome.

      Ruby’s pictures were so brilliant, and the coincidence of the guys landing on our balcony right after the oral argument, well, I couldn’t resist. I waited impatiently for the ruling — only to have to totally rewrite it because I expected it to go the other way. A price well worth the effort.

      Thank you for stopping by!


  10. I’ve been on cloud 9 since the news. Not even a single scrap left for the vultures to make off with — oh, happy days!


  11. Lol yea it happens but when you have to make a point you have to make it. I love how you managed to catch the birds at the right moments. Now if only we could stop SOPA, I’d like to see your post on that one.


    • I can’t take credit for the photos — my friend Ruby took them; she’s an amazing photographer. And the vultures really were just hamming it up.

      SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) is, for now anyway on hold. And since the Republican-led House is not going to actually work on legislation anyway, I think that one is dead in the water. For now at least. When it comes back during the 113th Congress in January, we’ll see. I think they were educated by the opposition. What they will come up with next time around should be vastly different.


  12. I just knew you had the scoop on DC and then I see these vultures. How fittingly appropriate. Must;ve been premonition that your friend would happen to have these photos.

    I don’t get why there are minds out there that persist in reversing this decision. And that Clarence Thomas…Imagine the shame of southerners with him on the Court representing us. He even jumped on the Birther bandwagon, though he’s been riding the idiot wagon since we came to know about him.


    • The photos were actually taken the afternoon of the final day of the oral argument, I didn’t make that up. I immediately dubbed them Scalia and Alito, but thought that it was a very bad sign that they visited!

      Clarence “no questions” Thomas is, as you imply, a piece of work. I don’t think of him as a southerner, or as a black man or even as much of a justice. He is a fool on his own and doesn’t have to take anybody with him.

      And have you read about his wife? She’s a big Tea Partier: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0710/39426.html. Where to they pick these guys?

      Thanks for the comment Totsy. Hope you are well!


      • ‘He is a fool on his own and doesn’t have to take anybody with him.’

        You sure don’t mince words do you? My kinda girl…


        • I once met, very briefly, met Thurgood Marshall, who was a gem of a man. To think that Clarence Thomas sits in that seat makes me sick. I could easily have used Clarence in Alito’s role, but then it would have had racial overtones that I didn’t want (and that aren’t me at all). Oh, and besides, this vulture spoke. Clarence doesn’t.


  13. I agree. It’s horrible to have to worry in addition to having to treat/heal. And it’s about DAMN time, too!


  14. Pre-existing conditions prevented my husband from getting healthcare for years. The condition was from his childhood and was completely 100% taken care of – no problems, nothing. Yet, he was denied again and again. I hope no one has to deal with that anymore.


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  16. Rachael Maddow covered this last night, her take was interesting regarding Justice Roberts. I tend to agree with her, he doesn’t want to go down on the wrong side of history.

    This was absolutely wonderful Elyse!

    I think we, as a nation have many hurdles with this legislation and the vote from the House yesterday, but at least this one fell on the ‘Left’.


    • Glad you liked it, Val. And I’m more glad the ruling turned out the way it did.

      I heard some of Rachel’s take on it. It is similar to that of my husband who basically feels that this was Robert’s offering so that Obama can’t run against the supreme court. It also throws taxes up into the mix again (can’t have taxes, now, can we Grover?)

      But it is a start. The elimination of pre-existing conditions means a whole lot to me, and I know to you too. That is a huge, huge victory!!



  17. Ditto Gold Star 🙂 🙂 🙂


  18. I agree wholeheartedly, Jots! And thanks for the kind words.

    I am so happy about this ruling. I’m sure there is a dark underbelly, but for today, I’m just going to enjoy! Hey, it’s almost time for Rachel Maddow!!!


  19. NPR has been quietly dancing ALL day! I’m at the turn table…playing the tunes. What a great day…………………for ALL. Your piece was GOLD STAR!


  20. Hi,
    I just love the way you have done this post. 😀
    We have been getting a bit of news about this here, not much just more or less in passing sort of thing.
    The vultures on the rails outside the office, I never realized these birds went anywhere near a built up area, I was amazed. Your friends photos are great.


    • Thanks Mags.

      I really think they are amazing shots. We’ve seen Red Tailed Hawks on that balcony before (only one at a time, though). Scalia and Alito hung around for quite a while, so Ruby was able to get these great shots. And even nicer, she let me use them!


  21. I’ve been on line reading posts/articles/tweets about the decision all day long! This was by far the BEST! Thank you for your timely and sharp humor.
    Oh, and I would have recognized those two anywhere…..!


  22. Three things to admit … 1) the pics were an unexpected surprise … 2) the decision surprised me …. 3) and Justice Roberts being the deciding vote. Meanwhile, I know we can count on Congress improving the law …. I say in jest because that’s not going to happen anytime soon. Well done Elyse.


    • Thanks, Frank.
      I too was astonished by the decision, and the fact that Roberts was the deciding vote. I am sure he has some sinister reason for doing so, but nevertheless this is the correct decision.
      And I HAD to use those pictures, Frank. I had to. What else could I do with pictures of vultures that really did come to visit minutes after the oral argument of the year?

      Kudos to my friend Ruby and her incredible pictures.


  23. Yea! I am esctatic that you had to rewrite this post.


    • Me too, Nancy. Me too. I’ll go a long way for a joke, but I am so glad that I had to revise this completely. The country is better for it!


      • I have a ten-year-old nephew who is a cancer survivor. There is a significant problem with the ‘old’ health care system in that adults who had childhood cancer may be denied insurance coverage because of their ‘pre-existing’ condition. But adults who had childhood cancer often have serious health issues as adults. Imagine facing your adulthood knowing that you will have medical costs and that you may not be insurable.


        • As if having such a horrible illness isn’t enough for anyone. Makes me crazy.

          Everybody gets sick and everybody dies. Whether illness destroys you life, your life savings or your livelihood should not be determined by how much money you make for an insurance company.


        • Oh, and just after I hit “Post Comment” I remembered this speech from the debate. And Grayson is absolutely right. Fortunately, sanity ruled:


  24. bigsheepcommunications

    Wow, I can think of so many many ways to use those vulture photographs, even though they really creep me out. The ONLY downside of the decision is that we will now have to endure the pundits and the campaign ads go on about it ad nauseum. I guess it’s worth the price!


    • Aren’t they amazing pictures. These two really did land on the balcony of our offices within minutes of the end of the oral argument. I, naturally, immediately dubbed them Scalia and Alito. I did not think it was a good sign.

      Ruby’s pictures really are amazing!


  25. Thank vulture-kissing, it was upheld! Was it a just a few days ago I read some story about a poll where the majority of Americans were against the health care act, but a majority where for the provisions of the health care act? Those are the days I want to make out with a vulture because I have no idea what else to do. Today is a day where I don’t.


    • That may be the reason that Roberts did not go with Scalia and Alito — he knew they were gay vultures. That is the only thing that makes sense.

      Don’t french kiss with a vulture, Speaker7. That’s really nasty.


  26. I’m in my office suppressiing my joy because my boss is not a happy camper. I can’t wait for 3:00!! You should be able to hear my sheaks of happiness in D.C. around 3:00. Great Post!


    • I would be listening for your shrieks of joy, only I’m not there to celebrate with you. It is such great news, though. And I am still in shock!


  27. Michelle Gillies

    I’m glad it went the way you needed it to. I love your reference to “just like Alan Shore and Denny Craig on Boston Legal” although they were never as slimy as these guys.
    Denny Craig!!


    • Ah, I loved that show.

      I think life will be better for millions of people. It was the right decision; I am just astonished that this Supreme Court made it.


  28. This is sarcastic satirical humor at it’s straight razor edged sharpest. Scalia and Alito as vultures is brilliant and your dialogue for them was great. Bravo Elyse, Bravo!!!

    As far as the 5-4 decision by the Supremes to UPHOLD Obama’s healthcare reform legislation, all I have to add is this:


    This is the best I can do to recreate here the much LOUDER version of my real “yell at the top of my lungs” jubilation when I first heard the news!!! I was so loud that I think I cracked our bay window, and that’s gonna cost some bucks to replace. But I was also SOOO LOUD that I think those rich and selfish GOP A-holes in South Needham could hear me, and that makes it all absolutely worth it!!!

    I think I’ll go watch Fox News for the next hour, while laughing like a pack of wild hyenas! 😀


    • I was coming back from a hike (I’m on vacation) and got a CNN News Alert!!!! that the Court had overturned the law. SEVEN MINUTES later, there was a correction! Oops! No they UPHELD IT!

      Today might be the best day to watch Fox News EVAH!


      • Are you SERIOUS about CNN getting their news alert bass-ackwards??? Even if for only seven minutes, still – What a bunch of turkeys! But at least CNN is not Fox, although they were somewhat Fox-like, until they finally sent Lou Dobbs to Fox where he belongs. No, check that – actually Dobbs belongs in retirement… in Mexico City. Hahahaha!

        And ohhh yes… it’s a VERY good day to watch Fox News! I’m recording Fox News all day on my DVR, so I can then edit it down into a highlights video of the very best and most satisfying moments of Right Wing Nut petulant baby crying, and outraged sore loser tantrum throwing by the “Fair and Balanced” crowd. I’m sure that the GOP propaganda mouthpiece pretending to be a news station is in a state of furious hysteria right now, and they’ll be saying even far more laughably ridiculous things than they normally do.

        Now… if we can just do something about that minor detail of keeping a guy named Romney out of the White House…


  29. I’m with you Elyse. When we lived in Colorado and my son was born 3 months premature and with chronic lung disease he ran through our (personally paid for since we were self-employed) $1300/month health insurance caps pretty damn quick.

    A good part of the reason we moved to Oz was his rush to the PICU one day not long after his 5th birthday, and merely weeks after he was dropped from health coverage and we were unable to find anyone to cover him. That 4 day stay in PICU cost us a little over $25k if I remember correctly. I swore I would never watch my very ill child, while having thoughts of the cost of his treatment and how it would affect our lives running through my head ever again.

    It is an absolute shame of the American system that good people with health problems need to live in fear of their finances being decimated. Bravo to those that upheld the Act, and may they have the courage and decency to keep it that way. And to you? Congratulations!! 😉


    • I’m with you, Karen. Illness, especially in our country, shouldn’t impact folks the way it does today. Or actually the way it did yesterday :)!!!


  30. Loved the Boston Legal reference and the news update and I must confess I didn’t think the law would be upheld either.


  31. Thanks, Guap! I feel a bit like I am picking at their corpses so there is a bit of guilt. But not a whole lot.

    Now I need to see if i still have the original … thanks for the suggestion!


  32. Well, if you had harmed the vultures, they at least would be covered now for their care. 😉

    Great piece! Hope you post the original too at some point. Maybe in the bloopers section of your blog compendium?


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