Ad from India - Showing those who leer what they look like.
As Democratic office holders recover from near panic over Obamacare, some are becoming cautiously optimistic about their chances in November.
To be sure, there is reason for caution. The initial Obamacare rollout was a disaster that careened toward hilarity. If there is anything politicians hate more than being hated, it is being laughed at. Just ask Dan Quayle.
Before the Obamacare crash, voters preferred Democrats by 8 points. Right now, Republicans have the advantage by 5 points. That's a pretty big switch.
Most Americans think the Affordable Care Act will increase the cost of their medical care. A good portion, not a majority but over a third, think Obamacare will prohibit them from seeing their own doctor. Altogether, 58 percent are opposed to the new health coverage law.
Even without Obamacare, off year elections are usually horrible for politicians in the same party as whatever President is in office. If the President is in a second term, the election is especially awful. Bill Clinton in 1998 was an exception. Voters didn't like the idea of Republicans peering into bedroom windows. Up to then, the latest exception was 1822 when James Monroe was President. So, since 1822, you've got Bill Clinton and that's it.
The President is now at a low point in popularity. One poll showed Americans preferring President George W. Bush over President Barack Obama. If you were from outer space, you'd quickly be able to find how bad that is by how many Republicans use Bush milestones as comparisons to show how bad they think President Obama has turned out to be.
Republican Kevin McCarthy interviewed on Fora TV about the Gulf Oil Spill (In your view is the Gulf spill Obama's Katrina?)
You know, it very well could be.
Republican Lindsey Graham characterizing Obamacare:
Enron accounting techniques. Everything that people were upset with about Washington has gotten worse.
Republican Strategist Ryan Girdusky explains why Obamacare will bring Republicans to victory:
Americans loved it when we took over Baghdad in the Iraq War. But they hate it when we're stuck in the minutia of that war for 5 years. And that's why Republicans lost in 2006. Democrats are set on a gigantic loss in 2014.
Former George W. Bush communications director Nicolle Wallace and Republican pundit Ron Fournier debating what past events match the Obamacare rollout debacle.
Wallace makes her comparison:
Katrina was a storm. The healthcare law was Obama's creation. I'm not defending my White House's handling of Katrina, but it was a natural disaster. This was a disaster of Obama's creation and imagination.
And Fornier makes his:
Maybe the Iraq War is a better analogy.
So one Obama emergency is so horrible, it compares with the way President Bush handled Katrina.
Obamacare is so bad it compares with the way President Bush handled the criminality at Enron.
In fact, Obamacare will hurt Democrats because it's almost as much a misjudgment as the Bush invasion of Iraq.
Republicans debate just how terrible healthcare reform is. Is it as bad as the Bush ineptitude during Katrina, or is it as dismal as the decision to invade Iraq?
Partisan Republicans view their own President as a way of comparing how bad some policy or event can be viewed. This is so bad it's like President Bush. Yet Americans would rather have President Bush than President Obama. Yikes.
That's why, when Democrats are cautiously optimistic, they are cautious, very cautious.
So why the optimism to begin with? You have to wonder if it's like the military commander finding his forces outnumbered, with the enemy on every side, who tells his troops to prepare for victory: "We've got them surrounded." Some folks could see the bright side of a plague. We've got those Republicans right where they want us.
Well, there are a few reasons to think things might look up.
For one thing, the unpopularity of Obamacare is a little distorted. Of the 58% who don't like health care reform, 14% think it should do more. Grouping those who think health reform does too much with those who think it doesn't go far enough seems a little unrealistic.
The 44% who think Obamacare should be abolished compose a significant minority, but they are still a minority. The fervor of that minority is based on, to be blunt, falsehoods. When actual experience replaces the horror stories we're seeing on television, Americans may notice that their premiums are not rising. They are still seeing their own doctors, the doctors they were seeing before. The cost of seeing those doctors for preventative care is vanishing as Obamacare is outlawing co-pay requirements for doctor's visits to prevent illness.
Many of the scare ads, televised Republican predictions, and anecdotal stories of lost coverage will lose their effectiveness. A media blitz based on distortions is always more effective when immediate experience is only a future prospect. If the public finds that they are getting better care at lower or similar cost, the anti-reform campaign may devolve into a don't-believe-your-lying-eyes story. Not as compelling as "look what doom awaits."
The story of the rollout wreck is being replaced by better news. The number of new enrollees in the federal site is now reported using seven figures over a span of a few days. This is an omen of success in participation. The volume is also a significant milestone for the site itself. The stress test has been successful. High enrollment, no breakdowns.
After some of the lost coverage stories have turned out to be misreported, media outlets are becoming a little more careful in fact checking what they present to viewers. Opposite reports, people getting care they could not get before, people finding premiums dramatically reduced, are beginning to get the coverage they deserve. Those benefiting from Obamacare will vastly outnumber those who had dominated news stories.
And there are other portends:
Fourth quarter figures show much more economic growth than had been generally anticipated. This gives economists reason to think 2014 may be a pretty good year for ordinary Americans. This generally boosts the popularity of the political party of the President. And polls from the last couple of days do show an Obama rebound.
We can't expect working people, middle class voters, to become excited about enrollment numbers, or third quarter trends. Most folks pay more attention to daily concerns. But over time, the effects will become noticeable in everyday life.
It isn't hard to find improvement when there is no direction but up.
The one election factor that has been dependable over the last few years, the one that may have grown enough to have a decisive impact in 2014, has been demonstrated as a powerful potential in Missouri, Connecticut, Indiana, and other states.
It is the increasing propensity of Republicans to go a little nuts during the primary season. This tendency has increased with each successive election. So far, there is little reason to think the trajectory won't continue.
The greatest obstacle to Republican success is turning out to be Republicans.
Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault. The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.
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Pick Your Ducks?
Can Sarah Palin, ardent defender, explain this?
From NBC2News, Fort Myers, FL:
A Punta Gorda waitress found $1,000 on a seat at a table she just cleared.
After running after the person she believed it belonged to, she handed over the money without knowing she gave it to the wrong person.
The man took the money and left. The entire encounter was caught on camera.
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It was sudden life and death.
Some of us occasionally try to imagine what we would do if confronted by sudden danger, a van driven recklessly speeding near a school. But this was actual, the vehicle swerving out of control on Main Avenue. A teacher caught sight of it as it careened toward a dozen students. She screamed for them to get out of the way as she ran toward them. She got close enough, quickly enough, to push two of the youngsters out of the way just as the van slammed into her. The other kids scattered in time.
Her name was Alissa Ploshnick. The injuries were the sort doctors usually associate with motorcycle accidents, riders unprotected by any surrounding cocoon of metal. Her ribs were broken. Her wrist was fractured. There were injuries to her pelvis. Glass had penetrated one eye. Her body was broken but she was alive.
It was 1997 in Passaic, New Jersey.
After getting out of the hospital, she achieved some well deserved fame, at least for a while. The Passaic County Board of Freeholders gave her a plaque. She was named Teacher of the Year. Local news outlets gave her some well deserved prominence.
The problem with heroism is that such rewards are brief. News fades. Recognition does not last. But injuries do. She still bore the scars and pain of her encounter with that van. After the award ceremonies were over and honors had been bestowed, after the fame had died out, she went back to toiling quietly in the vineyards of education.
Over the years, she developed a history of dedication. She bought supplies for students that restricted school budgets did not provide. The costs went into the thousands. A University singled her out for praise for teaching other teachers in special education. Another cited her for her work with their program for dyslexia. The family of one student asked her to be godmother to a newborn.
Life can be a lonely for a single person, still hobbled by the scars of a years-ago accident. A teacher can take some comfort in burying herself in devotion to her students. And there are those moments. Sometimes a life's direction can change, purely by chance.
At a leadership conference, she found herself talking with an attractive young man. He was attentive and interested. In a hotel bar in the evening after the day's events, a mutual attraction began such a life-changing moment. The conversation went on and on.
It was later that the nightmare began. She was accosted in a parking lot by a man with a video camera demanding details about the routine use of racial epithets by teachers in classrooms. She recognized the references. She had embellished gossip for the entertainment of the friendly young man in the bar. Part of that had been a tall tale about a teacher berating a black student and how the teacher couldn't be fired. Now a different man in the parking lot was demanding answers.
A video came out. Her name was used. She was misidentified as an official in a teachers union. The video began to appear on conservative websites.
Just a few days later, as she listened to news reports, she heard the governor use her as a punching bag. He condemned teachers unions generally and pointed to her specifically as an example of what was wrong with education.
This video is about the things they say about themselves, about themselves! And if you need an example of what I've been talking about for the last nine months, about how the Teachers Union leadership is out of touch with the people and out of control, go watch this video. It's enlightening, it's enraging.
- Governor Chris Christie, October 26, 2010
She was suspended from her teaching job. She described her feelings later as akin to having been raped.
Governor Christie is currently under fire. Two of his aides are accused of deliberately ordering the blocking of two access lanes to the busiest bridge in the world. The lanes just happen to service a town whose mayor refused to endorse the governor in his last political campaign.
The excuses have amplified suspicions. A traffic study is cited. There is no documentation of a study. The politically uncooperative mayor is said never to have notified state officials of any traffic issues. Documentation is obtained that proves the mayor screamed early and often to numerous officials.
The morality of any public official, any politician, is a matter of debate. There is usually no proof beyond the degree of voter cynicism that prevails at the moment. But incompetence is something more visible.
It is possible that Governor Christie was so mind bogglingly foolish as to order that constituents be kept on highways for hours, that ambulance service be crippled, that school children be kept on buses as classes go empty.
It is not believable unless a much higher degree of evidence is produced. Investigations are now underway that may eventually produce that evidence, although I doubt it will ever go beyond those two officials.
The scandal that demonstrates a pattern, that shows the unfortunate dark side of the character of Governor Christie, is not to be found in the traffic patterns of the George Washington Bridge.
Instead, we can look to Main Avenue in Passaic where students were nearly killed, to a classroom nearby where students learned, to a bar in a hotel where a teacher was secretly taped by a conservative activist. We can look to the platform on which Governor Christie stood while he piled on, making the humiliation of a teacher a national news story.
We can go to the video, as a gleeful Governor slams a lonely teacher still in pain from an accident years ago.
I'm not the least bit surprised. This Is what I've been talking about. This is another exhibit of what I've been talking about. The arrogance, the greed, the self interest, the lack of introspection, the lack of standards.
- Governor Chris Christie, October 26, 2010
In this case, I actually do wish we were just talking about a few thousand commuters losing hours of work.
Arrogance, self interest, lack of introspection, lack of standards. I guess that covers it.
Chris Christie, the Bridge, and a Canterbury Indictment (5:51) - Click for Podcast
For Original Text
Why do we have to do this, Sir? gives a Christmas sermon based on his crazed conversation with ever-creative adolescents as he explains the difference between advent and nativity (Are we there yet? Are we there yet?). He finds a lesson on the power of tradition.
Mad Mike's America looks into efforts by some of my brothers and sisters in Christ to ban books with ideas they don't like. We do not need to look beyond our own actions to discover how others often see us.
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite takes the vocal defense of Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson by conservatives to heart and presents 10 Culture War Heroes Not Afraid to Talk About Jesus and the Bible and God.
Phil Robertson rags on gays and longs for the good old days in Dixie before bothersome civil rights, when all the black people he knew in the south smiled a lot. Max's Dad responds to yet another reaction from the Palin family.
Why do serious news people even pay attention to Darrell Issa anymore? The folks at News Corpse hold their noses and look into the latest. Issa charges the Obama folks with releasing the Obamacare website with known security risks. He releases selected portions of documents to prove it. Sure enough, they say there were security risks before the release. Further investigation by skeptics reveals that Issa forgot to include that the security problems were listed for fixes, all of which were completed early on, before the release. Oops. Oh well. On to the next flim flam.
boskolives at Dog Bless Us One And All, brings us a free online program of 25 questions on your preferred word choices and pronunciation that reveal your geographical origin. It's based on Harvard research into regional dialects. I took it. Amazingly accurate.
PZ Myers, writing for Pharyngula, looks into recent brain research, and a scholarly review, and finds the review humorous, and the research little more than warmed over theories from the past. Pretty pictures, though.
- Tim McGaha at Tim's Thoughtful Spot finds an old Mad magazine and spins off a parody of We Three Kings as a cautionary rhyme on drinking and driving. Let's be safe on the road.
You know you see these bums ya know blowing up the campuses. Listen, the boys that are on the college campuses today are the luckiest people in the world.
- President Richard Nixon, May 1, 1970
I was one of the protestors against the Vietnam war, taking part in several marches. I worked with the local police chief of the small college town where I was going to school, negotiating one permit to march against the war. I journeyed to Washington, DC, for the largest of the anti-War rallies. I carried a homemade sign that my little brother had made that said "Peace, Brother." I remember a police officer sternly looking over the crowd. He caught sight of my sign, broke into a semi-smile, and called to me "Peace, brother."
When four students in a protest at Kent State University were shot and killed by members of the Ohio National Guard, there was widespread speculation that Richard Nixon had provoked the killings by characterizing student protestors as bums.
One of the things I want to try to figure out is who gave what orders to send police on campus, and were they thinking about "campus bums" when they pulled the trigger. If the President's and Vice President's statements are killing people, I want to know that.
- Joe Rhodes, member Commission on Campus Unrest, June 15, 1970
Evidence shows that President Nixon was guilty of many things that hurt or endangered the Republic. Before becoming President, he made secret deals with South Vietnamese officials. If they would block peace efforts then being made by the United States government, and prolong the war until after the coming Presidential election, Nixon would see to it that they got a better deal. New revelations about Watergate are becoming part of the historical record. The dangers to civil liberties were much more immediate than anything done by any President before or since.
I believed then, and I believe now, that of all the accusations against Richard Nixon, this was the least substantive. The connection between the Nixon "campus bums" statement and the Kent State killings were less than tenuous. They were non-existent.
I thought of it as the Canterbury indictment. In the year 1170, King Henry II of England lamented that none of his subjects was loyal enough to silence Archbishop Thomas Becket. A couple of his knights took it as a command and assassinated Becket while he prayed in Canterbury Cathedral. Henry took a lot of blame for the killing.
But Nixon was not King Henry, and he had not articulated a wish for student protestors to be killed.
More recently as the renegade Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Darrell Issa, investigated the IRS for denying tax exempt status for Tea Party aligned groups. He eventually found his accusations against President Obama falling apart. So we went back to King Henry and the Canterbury accusation.
For years, the President bashed the Tea Party groups. He was very public against these groups. And on his behalf, perhaps not on his request, on his behalf, the IRS executed a delaying tactic against the very groups that he talked about.
- Darrel Issa, Chair of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, June 27, 2013
Actually, President Obama had never raged against Tea Party groups. The appetite of media outlets for such thin accusations diminished quickly. Darrel Issa's weak tea eventually evaporated.
We are seeing the Canterbury Indictment issued again in New Jersey.
Appointees of Governor Chris Christie, one of them a friend for many years, closed two access lanes to the busiest bridge in the world. The closing just happened to mainly affect commuters from a town whose mayor had decided not to endorse the Governor for re-election. The jams held up traffic for hours on successive days. Police officers were ordered to tell waiting commuters that the closings were because of a decision by the mayor.
Both of the officials who ordered the traffic backup have resigned. Both have lawyers.
Did Governor Christie order the closings? Well, let's look at the strongest evidence so far.
Every organization takes its cues from the leadership as to what’s acceptable and what’s not, and this governor, in his public appearances, has made thuggery acceptable. For the governor to say, "I knew nothing about this"? He created the atmosphere in which this is acceptable.
- John S. Wisniewski, (D-NJ) the Assemblyman holding hearings into the closings
Chris Christie has a pattern of bullying individuals. Mostly they have been other politicians. Occasionally they have been private people who just happened to fall in his sights. In one case, he piled on after a school teacher with a history of selfless physical heroism, having saved the lives of several students at great personal cost, was entrapped on tape in intemperate conversation with an undercover conservative operative. Her humiliation was amplified by the delighted governor, who made her a national punchline.
It seems implausible that the Governor of a major state, even a governor with a history of hard nosed bullying, would be so phenomenally foolish as to create a problem that was bound to produce world-wide headlines. It is especially implausible that he would expect no blowback from it.
It is implausible enough to require much more evidence than a Canterbury Indictment.
My three year old daughter and I play a lot of old games together. Her favorite is Donkey Kong. Two days ago, she asked me if she could play as the girl and save Mario. She's played as Princess Toadstool in Super Mario Bros. 2 and naturally just assumed she could do the same in Donkey Kong. I told her we couldn't in that particular Mario game, she seemed really bummed out by that. So what else am I supposed to do? Now I'm up at midnight hacking the ROM, replacing Mario with Pauline.
From Vice: (Photos are hilariously sad)
Dear Hollywood Wax Museum,
I recently visited your Los Angeles location and was exceptionally disappointed with what I saw.
Upon entering, I was greeted by your Tom Hanks in Castaway waxwork. It was not very good. Scary, even.
I have never seen Castaway, so there may actually be a scene in which Tom Hanks becomes blind in one eye, but I doubt that is the case.
But it wasn't just your Tom Hanks that was awful. It was all of your waxworks. They look like something from the nightmares of a person who has been blind since birth and has no real concept of what human beings look like.
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|So it was then and so it is now.|
|Our spiritual wilderness, cold and barren,|
|where sojourners still seek a hopeful star.|
|Our spiritual home where we,|
|as shepherds, stand guard,|
|as we unknowingly wait...|
|In so many forgotten corners of the world,|
|a small infant born in poverty,|
|without a home, without a place.|
|The still, faint hope for the future of the world.|
|Harshness carries in the air, the fields lie barren,|
|the trees themselves are bare|
|as they reach out toward a frozen sky.|
|But we have been given hope,|
|and the sure knowledge that the world will turn.|
|And we herald the spring.|
|How can we keep from telling the world,|
|Jesus is in our lives once more?|
|When even the rocks would cry out,|
|for all to hear, tidings of cheer.|
|Listen to what whispers in our hearts.|
|Listen to the suffering. Listen to the hope.|
|A single hope for a hopeless world.|
|A ray of light in the deepest dark.|
|A window to our inner soul.|
|An infant so small.|
|A promise so great.|
|Christ is born today.|