Monday Open Thread

Christmas Candles 44Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree is a Christmas song written by Johnny Marks and recorded by Brenda Lee in 1958 on Decca9-30776.

Although Decca released it in both 1958 and again in 1959, it did not sell well until Lee became a popular star in 1960; that Christmas season, it hit #14 on the Billboard pop chart and turned into a perennial holiday favorite. It continued to sell well during the holiday season, hitting #5 on the Christmas chart as late as 1984. Brenda Lee’s recording still receives a great deal of airplay. Despite the song’s title, its instrumentation also fits the Country genre which Brenda Lee more fully embraced as her career evolved. Despite her mature-sounding voice, she recorded this song when she was only 14 years old. The recording featured Hank Garland’s ringing guitar. For decades, Brenda Lee’s recording was the only notable version of the song. Radio stations ranging from Top 40 to Adult Contemporary to Country Music to Oldies to even Adult Standards played this version.

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About SouthernGirl2

A Native Texan who adores baby kittens, loves horses, rodeos, pomegranates, & collect Eagles. Enjoys politics, games shows, & dancing to all types of music. Loves discussing and learning about different cultures. A Phi Theta Kappa lifetime member with a passion for Social & Civil Justice.
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108 Responses to Monday Open Thread

  1. vitaminlover says:

    Father, in the Name of Jesus, thank you for keeping and protecting the President and First Lady Obama and their traveling companions on the trip to President Mandela’s funeral. Guard, guide and protect them completely in every way. Let them all have peace in their hearts. Let Your Love help them and shield them and comfort them and all those who are mourning during this time. Thank You, Sir! Amen.

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  2. rikyrah says:

    photo/1

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  3. rikyrah says:

    Nixing Mandela funeral as too costly, Bibi shows world what he’s truly made of
    Israel’s prime minister proves he is not the smug, petty, vindictive, waffling, in-your-face insulting man he seems. He’s something worse.
    By Bradley Burston
    Published 14:39 09.12.13

    In his eleventh-hour decision against attending the funeral of Nelson Mandela, Benjamin Netanyahu proved that he is not the smug, petty, vindictive, waffling, in-your-face insulting man he seems. He’s something worse.

    The problem is not so much that the prime minister had first informed the South African government that he would, in fact, attend the ceremony, alongside Presidents Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, French President Francois Hollande, and scores of other world dignitaries, among them Iranian President Hassan Rohani, in what is expected to be a world gathering unprecedented in scope.

    Nor is the basic problem the fact that the decision was made so abruptly and with such lack of consultation, that the office of President Shimon Peres was thrown for a loop, and it was unclear if arrangements could be made to have Peres represent Israel in Netanyahu’s stead.

    The problem is the reason Netanyahu chose to give: Money. The trip would cost too much. The problem, then, is the message Netanyahu has chosen to send:

    My Israel, which so craves and demands legitimacy and recognition as a full partner in the community of nations, does not consider a man like Nelson Mandela, or a nation like South Africa, or the sentiment of an entire world, worth the price of a plane flight.

    http://www.haaretz.com/mobile/.premium-1.562552?v=12AF99EAF04CD4FBDE3AF193EBF1FE32

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  4. rikyrah says:

    Exclusive: Black Girls Rock! Founder Hits Back at Insulting #whitegirlsrock

    Your Take: Beverly Bond responds, for the first time, to the controversy over the hashtag and racial commentary that sprung up online.

    By: Beverly Bond
    Posted: Dec. 9 2013 1:00 AM

    When I heard about the “#whitegirlsrock” hashtag that trended on Twitter, my immediate reaction was, “Well, duh! Of course white girls rock. Are they unaware?” White women’s beauty, talent, diversity and worldly contributions are affirmed everywhere: on billboards, on television, in magazines and in textbooks.

    However, the breadth and depth of the beauty, intellect, work and legacy of black women is often marginalized. The cultural, intellectual and social contributions made by women across the African Diaspora are a part of human history and should be valuable to all people. The participants in the #whitegirlsrock hashtag, who heralded accusations of reverse racism, fail to acknowledge the history of racism in media including the perpetual absence of diverse stories and representations of black women. They also fail to recognize that this absence impacts the way women and girls of color, around the world, see and value themselves.

    As a humanist, I believe that we all rock. My issue is that the commentary that followed the “#whitegirlsrock” hashtag was not even about affirming dynamic white women. Instead, it was about critiquing or even punishing black women for having the nerve, the audacity and the unmitigated gall to love and affirm ourselves!

    ……………………

    Like Cole, I also think the anxiety that people have about Black Girls Rock!-ing reveals the blind spots associated with white privilege, including the inability to acknowledge that the privilege actually exists, a lack of accountability for prejudices and an overwhelming deficit in cultural competency. So whoever is offended by Black Girls Rock!-ing and whoever thinks that black empowerment threatens their own power should confront their own racism.

    I started Black Girls Rock! to honor the many amazing women of our past and present whose unique leadership, strength, resolve, wisdom, talent and spirituality has catalyzed the advancement of humanity, yet who are often left uncelebrated or have gone under the radar in mainstream media and history. The affirmation Black Girls Rock! does not mean other girls don’t rock, nor is Black Girls Rock! an ornamental phrase used to cloak ourselves in vanity. Saying that we rock is a response to the tremendous neglect that black girls feel when they grow up in a society, or, as Mara Brock Akil said in her 2013 Black Girls Rock! acceptance speech, “where they grow up in a home where their picture is not on the wall.”

    It’s insulting and quite nervy for a social media mob to attack a platform that affirms positive images of black women and girls in an attempt to belittle a movement that uplifts and celebrates our lives and legacies—yet to also remain silent about the plethora of damaging media messages directed toward black women and to blatantly ignore the social issues that black people endure.

    http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2013/12/_whitegirlsrock_called_out_by_black_girls_rock_founder.html

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  5. rikyrah says:

    One of my guilty pleasures is returning to tv soon:

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  6. rikyrah says:

    Idris Elba was on Rev. Al’s show today.

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  7. rikyrah says:

    Fox News Paid Fired Executive $8 Million to Keep Quiet

    Roger Ailes’ secrets command a heavy price. Last week, the New York Times reported that Fox News had reached an out-of-court settlement with Brian Lewis, the former Roger Ailes aide who was abruptly fired in late July. A Fox News executive with knowledge of the negotiations told Gawker that Lewis was paid approximately $8 million in hush money.

    “The big talk at work, especially today, is the settlement number,” the executive said on Friday, explaining that the exact figure had been filtering through the channel’s rank-and-file since early November.

    The settlement came after an extraordinary, months-long confrontation during which Fox News accused Ailes’ former right-hand man of vague “financial irregularities,” and Lewis’ attorney angrily responded that Ailes had a lot to lose if Lewis ever spilled the beans on their 17-year-long partnership at the right-wing network.

    http://gawker.com/fox-news-paid-fired-executive-8-million-to-keep-quiet-1479130678

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  8. Yahtc says:

    Now that MOST of us have snow:

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  9. Like

  10. Like

  11. rikyrah says:

    A ‘sordid’ approach to the uninsured
    12/09/13 01:04 PM
    By Steve Benen

    Even if the Affordable Care Act is implemented perfectly, and the system works exactly as planned, millions of Americans will go without access to affordable health care. Is it due to a flaw in the law? Not exactly.

    The problem is Republican opposition to Medicaid expansion at the state level. If your income is between 100% and 138% of the poverty line, you can qualify for Medicaid and get covered – unless you live in a “red” state where GOP officials have rejected Medicaid expansion. If so, you can (a) move; (b) figure out a way to make more money; or (c) go without.

    Just in recent days, we’ve seen reports reinforcing how inexplicable these states’ policies really are. Refusing Medicaid expansion will not only cost states billions, but it will also severely undermine state hospitals, all while hurting struggling families.

    Kevin Drum today called it “one of the most sordid acts in recent American history.”

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/sordid-approach-the-uninsured

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  12. rikyrah says:

    Obamacare Will Prevent Millions of People From Being Gouged by Hospitals
    —By Kevin Drum
    Sun Dec. 8, 2013 3:11 PM GMT

    When President Obama said that if you like your health insurance, you can keep it, he was clearly taking some liberties with the strict truth.1 But as Ezra Klein points out this weekend, the reason he pressed this point so hard is that Americans have an understandable fear of losing their health insurance. And why not? You can lose it if you lose your job. Or if you lose access to Medicaid. Or if your insurance company decides to effectively eliminate your plan by jacking up its price. And that’s not even counting the millions of people who don’t have health coverage in the first place.

    So, yes, it’s true that Obama was wrong when he guaranteed that every single person could keep their current plan if they wanted to:

    What Obamacare comes pretty close to guaranteeing, though, is that everyone who needs health insurance, or who wants health insurance, can get it.

    It guarantees that if you lose the plan you liked — perhaps because you were fired from your job, or because you left your job to start a new business, or because your income made you ineligible for Medicaid — you’ll have a choice of new plans you can purchase, you’ll know that no insurer can turn you away, and you’ll be able to get financial help if you need it. In states that accept the Medicaid expansion, it guarantees that anyone who makes less than 133 percent of poverty can get fully subsidized insurance.

    Health insurance isn’t such a fraught topic in countries such as Canada and France because people don’t live in constant fear of losing their ability to get routine medical care. A decade from now, that will be true in the U.S., too. But it’s not true yet, and paradoxically, that’s one reason health reform is so difficult. The status quo has left people rightly fearful, and when people are afraid, change is even scarier.

    Yep. I want to add one more point to this that doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves: Hospitals routinely charge uninsured patients rates that are 3-4x higher than those paid by insured patients. A heart attack that gets billed—profitably!—to Blue Cross at $50,000, can end up costing you $200,000 if you’re unlucky enough to suffer that heart attack while you’re uninsured. Think about that: for decades, the health care industry has deliberately taken ruthless advantage of the very people who are the weakest and most vulnerable—those who are poor or unemployed—and seems to think that this is a perfectly decent and moral way to conduct business.

    It’s not. It’s shameless and obscene. It’s like kicking a beggar and stealing his coat just because you know the cops will never do anything about it.

    This is something that Obamacare goes a long way toward fixing. If you’re covered by private insurance through an exchange, you’re not just protected against catastrophic illness. You’re also protected against being charged outrageous rates for non-catastrophic problems—broken legs, asthma attacks, etc.—just because hospitals have the brute power to do so.

    Because of Obamacare, you no longer have to fear being shut out of the insurance market. But that’s not all. You no longer have to fear being gouged and possibly bankrupted because you’ve been shut out of the insurance market. Access to reasonable rates2 is one of the key benefits that Obamacare delivers to millions, and it deserves more attention.

    http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/12/obamacare-will-prevent-millions-people-fr0m-being-gouged-hospitals

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    • Ametia says:

      Go Mother Jones! You’d think by now folks would know that when the GOP yell and scream NOOOOOOOOO, they’re not yelling in their best interest, but the GOP’s.

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  13. rikyrah says:

    Members of Congress shocked to discover health care system sucks
    By Ryan Cooper
    December 9 at 11:45 am

    Right now, one of the primary ways Congressional Republicans are attacking Obamacare is to cite the sob stories of Congressional staffers — and lawmakers themselves — who are having a bad experience with the law. Thanks to a bit of Republican legislative trolling that forced Members and their staffs onto the exchanges to make a political point, some are discovering that premiums are higher than they would have expected, having previously enjoyed the protection of government benefits that essentially shielded them from reality.

    But if anything, the fact that Members of Congress are now having an unpleasant brush with the American health care system is a good thing. These Members are experiencing the same American health care system that the uninsured and people with preexisting conditions have been experiencing for many years. They are being forced to face the fact that American health care costs a lot, which, of course, is one of the reasons reform is so hard.

    The health care system is already deeply unjust. A good article in the New York Times sheds light on this, and on how Obamacare is changing things for the better:

    More than 243,000 have signed up for private coverage through the exchanges…and more than 567,000 have been determined eligible for Medicaid…For many, particularly people with existing medical conditions… the coverage is proving less expensive than what they had. Many others are getting health insurance for the first time in years, giving them alternatives to seeking care through free clinics or emergency rooms — or putting it off indefinitely.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2013/12/09/members-of-congress-shocked-to-discover-health-care-system-sucks/

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  14. rikyrah says:

    EXCLUSIVE: Meet the Love Child Rev. Sun Myung Moon Desperately Tried to Hide
    How the family values crusader made the publisher of the Washington Times raise his secret son.
    —By Mariah Blake
    Mon Dec. 9, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

    When the Washington Times threw its 20th anniversary gala in 2002, conservative luminaries lined up to pay tribute, including Ronald Reagan, who addressed the packed ballroom via video. Afterward, the paper’s enigmatic founder, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, took the podium. “Even before the term ‘family value’ became a popular phrase, every day of the week the Times was publishing articles highlighting the breakdown in values and what must be done to return to a good, moral society,” he said, through a translator. “Today, family values have become an essential piece of the social fabric in America, even becoming part of the political landscape. We can be proud of the Washington Times’ contribution that promoted and elevated family values to an essential part of society in America and the world!”

    Moon, the founder of the South Korea-based Unification Church, which had hundreds of thousands of adherents at its peak, claimed to be on a divine mission to salvage humanity by rebuilding the traditional family. Before his death last year at age 92, the self-proclaimed messiah—who was known for marrying off his followers in mass weddings—presided over a multibillion-dollar business empire. And he plowed huge sums of money into politics, launching a vast network of media outlets and front groups that promoted conservative family values and left a lasting mark on the modern-day GOP.

    But this family values crusader harbored a secret. While he was promoting marriage as the solution to society’s woes and inveighing against “free sex,” his personal life was full of philandering—including at least one adulterous relationship that produced a son. To hide the boy’s identify from his followers, Moon instructed his right-hand man, who was also the founding president and publisher of the Washington Times, to raise the child. Moon’s illegitimate son, Sam Park, who is now 47 years old and lives in Arizona, also helped guard his father’s secret, by staying silent. Until now.

    Park, who has shaggy salt-and-pepper hair and a mellow demeanor, resides in Phoenix with his 77-year-old mother, Annie Choi. Their story, which I touched on in a recent article about the unraveling of Moon’s empire in The New Republic, casts a spotlight on the hidden history of Moon’s church, a strange but influential institution that has maintained close ties to the Republican Party since the Reagan era.

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/12/reverend-moon-unification-church-washington-times-secret-son

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  15. rikyrah says:

    Morning Plum: Sequester will be lifted, but unemployed likely to be left behind
    By Greg Sargent
    December 9 at 9:09 am

    Multiple reports this morning tell us that Dems and Republicans are close to a deal to replace the sequester with spending at slightly over $1 trillion in fiscal 2014 and 2015. Unfortunately, it looks increasingly like an extension of unemployment insurance will not be part of the compromise.

    “The odds of it being in the budget deal are slipping away,” one senior Senate Democratic leadership aide told me, in reference to the extension of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which is set to be cut off for 1.3 million people just after Christmas.

    Democrats had pushed for the extension, but encountered GOP resistance, and after Dems initially threatened what looked like a real stand on the issue, multiple Dem leaders came out and said a budget deal is not contingent on a UI continuation. As Senator Dick Durbin put it yesterday: “I don’t think we’ve reached that point where we’ve said this is it, take it or leave it.”

    The original idea was that since House conservatives are certain to oppose anything that raises spending levels, Republicans would need Dems to pass any final deal through the House. This should have theoretically given Dems leverage to insist on the extension. But according to the senior Senate aide, Dems are wary of killing a deal that lifts spending levels — a major progressive priority, given the sequester’s drag on the recovery and the impact of spending cuts on government – even if it means the fight over UI won’t be resolved in immediate budget talks.

    “Of course we’d want to have the extension in the budget deal,” the aide says. “But we’re dealing with Paul Ryan here. We’ve negotiated with Ryan to increase spending for the next two years in exchange for savings over the next 10 years. Replacing as much of sequestration as possible will be far better for families and the economy than the alternative, another CR at sequester levels — and we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

    The aide stresses that Dems continue to push for the extension, and that Dems are trying to leverage the GOP need for Dem votes to push for other priorities, such as whittling down Ryan’s demand that federal workers pay more for retirement benefits.

    The discussion, I’m told, is also focused on the possibility of renewing the push for a UI extension in another way. The emerging budget deal sets spending toplines, but appropriators still have to write spending bills before the January 15th deadline — so Dems could push for the extension to be written in then, with benefits being made retroactive by two weeks.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2013/12/09/morning-plum-sequester-will-be-lifted-but-unemployed-likely-to-be-left-behind/

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  16. rikyrah says:

    Speakers Named For Nelson Mandela Ceremony
    Dec 9, 2013
    By Associated Press

    South Africa says United States President Barack Obama and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be among world leaders speaking at a mass memorial service for Nelson Mandela.

    South Africa’s government released the list of speakers for the Tuesday memorial, expected to last four hours at stadium at Soweto Township near Johannesburg.

    Beyond Obama and Ban, the government says the following leaders will speak:

    – Brazil President Dilma Rousseff;

    – Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao;

    – Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba;

    – Indian President Pranab Mukherjee; and

    – Cuban President Raul Castro.

    South African President Jacob Zuma will give the keynote address.

    Mandela’s family and friends also will speak at the ceremony, which will include a sermon.

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  17. Ametia says:

    Melissa Harris-Perry: ‘Obamacare’ a ‘Derogatory Term’ Conceived by ‘Wealthy White Men’

    http://www.mediaite.com/tv/melissa-harris-perry-obamacare-a-derogatory-term-conceived-by-wealthy-white-men/

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  18. Like

  19. rikyrah says:

    Jameis Winston Walks Off ESPN Interview After Persistent Questioning on Rape Investigation
    by Tommy Christopher | 11:56 pm, December 7th, 2013

    Earlier this week, the Florida State Attorney’s decided not to file sexual assault charges against Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, and that investigation is probably the last thing Winston wanted to talk about following FSU’s 45-7 ACC championship victory against Duke University. When ESPN sideline report Heather Cox interviewed Winston after the game, he hung in there for several questions related to the investigation, but when she persisted to about the fourth question, he simply turned and walked off.

    http://www.mediaite.com/tv/jameis-winston-walks-off-espn-interview-after-persistent-questioning-on-rape-investigation/

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  20. South Carolina Sheriff Deletes Facebook Post About Refusing To Lower Flags For Mandela

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/south-carolina-sheriff-urges-people-to-read-about-mandela-after-refusing-to-lower-flag-for-him

    Pickens County, S.C. Sheriff Rick Clark said this weekend he was ready to be done with the flap he created by refusing to lower his office’s flags in honor of late South African leader Nelson Mandela.

    Clark appears to have deleted a Facebook post in which he said he would refuse an order from President Obama that flags be lowered. In its place, hewrote a new post referencing widespread media coverage of his refusal and advising people to “read about President Mandela.”

    “Well the news/Facebook cycle has run its course,” Clark wrote in his post on Saturday. “Time to move onto the next subject because I have work to do for my community and need to devote my time elsewhere. Thank you for your support and comments. I urge you to read about President Mandela over the next few days of mourning and be inspired for public service for your community and the nation as he was. It Pearl Harbor Day and thank a veteran today if you can.”

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  21. rikyrah says:

    Al Sharpton Slaps Revisionists on Mandela. We chose The Wrong Side (VIDEO)

    December 8, 2013 by Egberto Willies

    Great tributes and exaltations were given to Nelson Mandela on ‘Meet The Press’ today. However, there was an attempt to give the implication that America as whole was supportive of this man.

    President Obama’s remarks glossed over how vehemently the government of the United States, specifically Conservatives, for a long time was against Nelson Mandela and the ANC. Was the African National Congress (ANC) any different than our founding fathers, who picked up arms for freedom?

    Al Sharpton silenced the Meet The Press round table for a few seconds as he placed into context America’s role in South Africa’s liberation. America was not a supporter of Nelson Mandela. Many are attempting to rewrite history. Al Sharpton ensured that all the people around that table got the truth. He ensured that all of those listening were well aware that Conservative stalwarts like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher did not embrace freedom. They uttered the words but it was just for a select few.

    “I think it is a betrayal of history to act as though as Nelson Mandela evolved the world embraced it. There was a real battle in this country,” Al Sharpton said. “So when Randall Robinson and Maxine Waters and Reverend Jackson led that fight … there was major contention. They were attacked for supporting communists. Let’s remember the ANC that he refers to, they were pursuing freedom. Many of the communist nations embraced them. This country did not. So it is not like they were born Marxist. They were born people seeking to be free. Some of the Marxist nations, either genuinely or in a self-interest way, tried to embrace that. This country did not, and fought that, and denounced them, and denigrated them. And I think that for us now to sugarcoat that is a betrayal of history. We chose sides. We chose the wrong side”

    Later when the Conservative panelist tried to sugarcoat Ronald Reagan’s role in the eventual liberation of South Africa, Al Sharpton would have none of it.

    “Let’s be clear. Reagan vetoed, supported vetoing bills. Reagan denounced Mandela, called him names. He evolved after a protest movement here turned the tone and public opinion,” said Al Sharpton. “But let’s not act like Reagan was a major supporter of Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement. It’s just not true.”

    http://egbertowillies.com/2013/12/08/al-sharpton-mandela-meet-the-press/

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  22. Yahtc says:

    DECEMBER 9, 2013
    Grier gives voice to health disparities

    http://www.hartfordbusiness.com/article/20131209/PRINTEDITION/312059915

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  23. Yahtc says:

    Where It Hurts: Steve McQueen on Why 12 Years a Slave Isn’t Just About Slavery

    http://www.vulture.com/2013/12/steve-mcqueen-talks-12-years-a-slave.html

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  24. Yahtc says:

    Bill Turner: Engage minorities in community building
    U.S. economy was hewn from Ky.’s mountains

    http://www.kentucky.com/2013/12/09/2978686/bill-turner-engage-minorities.html

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  25. rikyrah says:

    CNN Asks Carney How Mandela Influenced Obama Even Though They ‘Only Met One Time’
    4:35 pm, December 8th, 2013182

    Thursday’s sad passing of world civil rights iconNelson Mandela was a frequent topic of discussion at Friday’s White House daily briefing, as several reporters asked Press Secretary Jay Carney to elaborate on Mandela’s influence, and on details surrounding his funeral. CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta asked about “this great impact” that Mandela had on the President, while repeatedly stressing thatPresident Obama had only met Mandela once.

    http://www.mediaite.com/tv/cnn-asks-carney-how-mandela-influenced-obama-even-though-they-only-met-one-time/

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  26. rikyrah says:

    Issa takes his show on the road
    12/09/13 10:00 AM—Updated 12/09/13 10:19 AM
    By Steve Benen

    As a rule, if a member of the public wants to attend an official congressional hearing, he or she will have to travel to Capitol Hill, wait in a modest line, and find a seat in a committee room. But occasionally, federal lawmakers will hold “field hearings,” which are effectively the same thing, and follow the same rules, but are held outside D.C.

    Lately, House Republicans have held quite a few field hearings on their favorite subject: their contempt for the Affordable Care Act. Take a wild guess what these hearings have in common.

    Several Arizona residents criticized the Affordable Care Act at a hearing Friday in Apache Junction, telling members of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that they will be forced against their will to change health insurers.

    Only Republican congressional members took part in the hearing, titled “ObamaCare Implementation, the Broken Promise: If You Like Your Current Plan You Can Keep It.” The only four witnesses invited to testify were residents who said they have been negatively affected by the new federal health-care program.

    Audience members were not permitted to speak.

    At least in theory, the point of a congressional hearing is for lawmakers to get additional information so they’re better able to craft sensible laws. That’s not, however, what Issa hopes to achieve – this was “an official congressional hearing” in which lawmakers effectively told the public what to believe, inviting hand-picked witnesses who agreed to tell Republicans what they wanted to hear.

    And what about those in the audience who wanted to let federal lawmakers know that the law is working well for them and their families? They were not permitted to speak.

    The local report added, “Issa said the committee is interested in hearing from those who have had positive experiences with the Affordable Care Act. He said anyone may submit testimony via e-mail.”

    I’m sure Issa will eagerly look forward to reading those emails, which will surely influence his perspective, right?

    This was not an isolated incident, either. Issa also held a hearing in North Carolina two weeks ago, where Republican lawmakers would only consider testimony from those who agreed with Republicans. House GOP lawmakers pulled the same stunt the week before in Georgia.

    Carolyn Reed-Smith told Reuters she drove from South Carolina for the hearing in Georgia, hoping to speak about the benefits of the health care law. “They gave only one side of the story and were not looking for the other side,” she said.

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/issa-takes-his-show-the-road

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  27. rikyrah says:

    Americans Discover They’re Trapped In GOP’s Medicaid Expansion Gap
    Dylan Scott – December 9, 2013, 6:00 AM EST8022

    With HealthCare.gov working better and the first deadline to sign up for health coverage that starts in January approaching, Obamacare’s so-called navigators — the people and organizations receiving federal funds to help people enroll — are seeing more and more people come through the doors and out to their events.

    Navigators are community organizations, higher education institutions and government agencies. They keep offices and phone hot lines open and go out to community events, handing out flyers and giving presentations so people know how they can get insurance under the health care reform law. If somebody needs help navigating the insurance websites, they provide it. And with HealthCare.gov finally functioning, this has been their busiest time since the Oct. 1 launch.

    But in 25 states, that robust interest has a downside: Navigators are forced to tell more and more people that they probably won’t be able to get covered because their states, all of which had a GOP-controlled legislative chamber or governor, have refused to expand Medicaid. Lynne Thorp, who is overseeing the University of South Florida’s navigator program in that state, told TPM that about one in four people who contact her team fall into that Medicaid gap.

    “Those are hardest phone calls because it doesn’t make any sense to them,” Thorp said. “We have to explain that they fall into this gap where this program can’t assist them.”

    It makes sense if you look at the numbers. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 38 percent of the U.S. uninsured have an income that’s below the poverty line — the population that won’t qualify for either Medicaid expansion or any financial help to purchase private coverage through the law in non-expanding states. About 5 million people fall in that gap in those states.

    But these people probably don’t know that when they walk into a navigator’s office or attend an outreach event. They just want to find out what options are available to them — though it turns out the answer is not many.

    So how are the navigators handling it?

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/obamacare-navigators-medicaid-expansion

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  28. rikyrah says:

    National Journal: Is the Republican Advantage on Obamacare Eroding?

    With HealthCare.gov finally working, Democrats are able to fight back in the Obamacare anecdote war.

    The White House and its outside allies are already ramping up a massive effort to emphasize the personal stories of people getting coverage under the health care law — ground that Democrats were largely forced to concede to the GOP during the uproar over canceled insurance policies.

    Collecting constituent stories has been a focus of the Republican strategy against the health law for several weeks. But now, with HealthCare.gov working better and enrollment beginning to surge, Democrats are prepared to launch a deluge of pro-Obamacare anecdotes as they try to promote enrollment and make a political sales pitch for the Affordable Care Act.

    …. This week, Enroll America and some of its partner organizations — including Families USA and Planned Parenthood — is launching a major new initiative to highlight positive experiences of those enrolling in coverage. The push will involve a coordinated weekly theme that highlights stories of certain demographics

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/daily/is-the-republican-advantage-on-obamacare-eroding-20131208

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  29. rikyrah says:

    NYT: Amid the Uproar Over the Health Law, Voices of Quiet Optimism and Relief

    Since his chronic leukemia was diagnosed in 2010, Ray Acosta has paid dearly for health insurance: more than $800 a month in premiums, plus steep co-payments for the drug that helps keep him alive.

    Mr. Acosta, 57, owns a small moving company in Sierra Vista, Ariz., which he said had barely made it through the recession. He was thinking about dropping his coverage, but the insurance company beat him to it, informing him recently that it would cancel his policy at year’s end.

    He sought advice from an insurance agent who had used his moving company. She connected him with an application counselor at a community health center, who found — to Mr. Acosta’s astonishment — that he qualified for Medicaid under the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, which gives states the option of expanding the program to include more low-income adults.

    “I’m kind of in a disbelieving fog,” Mr. Acosta said last week, two days after completing an application. “I’m just hoping, keeping my fingers crossed, that this might really help me out.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/09/us/amid-the-uproar-over-the-health-law-voices-of-quiet-optimism-and-relief.html?smid=tw-share&_r=2&

    Like

  30. rikyrah says:

    Koch Brothers Illegally Funnel Millions Into Campaign to Eliminate Pensions and Sick Pay
    By: Rmuse more from Rmuse
    Saturday, December, 7th, 2013, 12:00 pm

    Greed is the inordinate desire to possess wealth, goods, or objects of abstract value with the intention to keep it for one’s self, far beyond what one needs for basic survival; for the wealthy it is in excess of any reasonable definition of luxurious comfort. Typically it is applied to those with a dangerous desire for, and pursuit of, status and unrestricted power that includes enriching oneself at the expense of others. There is a movement in America that transcends the normal definition of greed and selfishness, and not only do they desire to possess all the wealth, they are driven to impoverish the population with no apparent gain for themselves. It is not enough that they are rich beyond imagination, they subscribe to a philosophy that no-one in America except a certain class should have anything, and they are launching a nationwide campaign to eliminate public sector workers’ wages, pensions, sick pay, workers’ compensation because if they cannot have it no-one can.

    It is no surprise that the funding mechanism behind the 50-state crusade to create a nation of peasants is headed by the Koch brothers, tobacco giant Phillip Morris, and Kraft Foods with model legislation provided by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The groups’ $83 million seed money is being funneled through various 501(C) tax-exempt “social welfare” organizations intent on illegally using dark money to lobby legislators and convince voters that no-one in America deserves anything other than a poverty existence. The purely libertarian-driven group, State Policy Network (SPN), describes itself as “free-market think tanks” and will initially targets six different states to eliminate public sector pensions, cut government wages to the federal minimum, privatize public education, and eliminate Medicaid. As an extra affront to the people’s rights to clean air, the seek to end regional efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

    The 501(C) social welfare groups are staying out of election campaigns, and despite restrictions on their lobbying efforts, they will launch media campaigns to change state laws, advance ALEC model legislation, and “brief Republican candidates” in strategies necessary to achieve SPN’s goals; it is the definition of lobbying. One of SPN’S affiliates denied they engaged in lobbying and said, “There is never any lobbying, lobbying consists of convincing legislators and other policymakers to get a particular result on a particular issue, and we never do that.” The groups’ lobbying efforts are to achieve their stated goals that go beyond “a commitment to free enterprise” and include: “reforming” public employee pensions, eliminate taxation, promote private and home schooling through a voucher system, end worker and union rights, and eliminate Medicaid in Republican-controlled states.

    http://www.politicususa.com/2013/12/07/koch-brothers-illegally-funnel-millions-campaign-eliminate-pensions-sick-pay.html

    Like

  31. rikyrah says:

    A ‘pathetic’ spin on the war on women
    12/09/13 09:15 AM
    By Steve Benen

    You’ve got to be kidding me.

    Congressional Republicans on Saturday said that ObamaCare is part of a “war on women” administration. The attack came as part of the GOP’s weekly address and was voiced by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), a nurse who serves as the chairwoman of the Republican Women’s Policy Committee. […]

    “If you want to talk about a ‘war on women,’ look no further than this healthcare law,” Ellmers countered in the weekly address. “After all, it’s often women who make the healthcare decisions for our families. We put a lot of time and thought into these choices and how they’ll affect our budgets. So by canceling your insurance – despite a promise to let you keep your plan – the Obama administration is essentially saying it knows what’s best for you and your family.”

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office called the rhetoric “pathetic,” which is charitable under the circumstances.

    First, Ellmers’ characterization of the cancelations is so wildly misleading, it’s hard to believe the chair of the Republican Women’s Policy Committee would repeat this rhetoric out loud. The Affordable Care Act is canceling anyone’s insurance; some private insurers are dropping individual plans, which consumers can replace under the law – usually with a cheaper, better plan.

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/pathetic-spin-the-war-women

    Like

  32. rikyrah says:

    photo/1

    Like

  33. rikyrah says:

    photo/1

    Like

  34. rikyrah says:

    Ed Gillespie Mulls Challenge To Sen. Warner, Cuccinelli Rules It Out
    Catherine Thompson – December 9, 2013, 7:41 AM EST

    Former Mitt Romney advisor and Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie is floating a challenge to Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) in 2014.

    “It’s safe to say that there’s people talking about it here, and I’m listening to them,” Gillespie told Politico in a Saturday interview. “I’ve been flattered to have it raised. There’s plenty of time to give it some thought.”

    The former RNC chairman, who has never run for public office, said he was confident a GOP candidate would have a real opportunity to win the Virginia Senate race. But he cautioned that three months remain until the Feb. 1 filing deadline to enter the race.

    Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) briefly seemed to consider a run against Warner last month after losing the governor’s race to Democrat Terry McAuliffe. He said the idea of challenging Warner was “tempting” because of the senator’s support for Obamacare, an issue he credited with closing the gap between him and McAuliffe on election day.

    But Cuccinelli specifically ruled out a run against Warner in a speech Saturday.

    “I don’t mind not having an elected role in about a month or so. I’ve been in office 11 years,” he told party activists, as quoted by Politico. “I look forward to a little bit of a break. … but I’ll be back with you. I’m not talking as a candidate, but just fighting for these principles because I believe in them.”

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/ed-gillespie-mulls-challenge-to-sen-warner-cuccinelli-rules-it-out

    Like

  35. rikyrah says:

    Poll: GOPers The Only Group To Prefer Automatic Spending Cuts Over Tax Increases
    Tom Kludt – December 9, 2013, 8:35 AM EST

    A poll released Sunday showed a majority of Americans are in favor of partially replacing the scheduled automated spending cuts with an increase of taxes and fees, while most Republicans take the opposite view.

    According to the latest McClatchy-Marist Poll, Americans by a 52-41 percent margin support replacing some of the across-the-board cuts scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 15 with an increase of fees and taxes. Sixty-four percent of Democrats and 52 percent of indepedents share that position, placing GOP voters well outside the mainstream on the issue.

    The poll found 55 percent of GOP voters preferring the automatic cuts, known as sequestration, while just 38 percent said they would rather raise taxes and fees.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/poll-gopers-the-only-group-to-prefer-automatic-spending-cuts-over-tax-increases

    Like

  36. rikyrah says:

    Obamas To Depart For Mandela Funeral Today
    Tom Kludt – December 9, 2013, 6:17 AM EST

    President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are scheduled to depart for Johannesburg on Monday to attend the national memorial service for the late South African President Nelson Mandela.

    They are expected to depart at 8:20 a.m. ET.

    Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura Bush, will join the Obamas aboard Air Force One. The memorial service is scheduled to be held Tuesday.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/obamas-to-depart-for-mandela-funeral-today

    Like

    • Liza says:

      This is so funny. I don’t have a cat, but I’m pretty sure that my border collie would have a cat running for its life. My sheltie would act like the dogs in the video.

      Like

  37. rikyrah says:

    photo/1

    Like

  38. rikyrah says:

    THE SYMBOL OF EVERYTHING THAT IS GOOD ABOUT HUMANITY

    How Nelson Mandela used sport to transform South Africa’s image

    ———————————

    The picture of him presenting the World Cup to Francois Pienaar, wearing the Springboks jersey, remains one of the most enduring images from his presidency. It’s hard to believe now but at the time the green and gold shirt was still deeply associated with the racial struggle in South Africa.

    Mandela defied his advisers to wear it, knowing in an instant how the gesture could do more for harmony and equality than years of talks.
    .
    .
    And yet after meeting him in the dressing room before the final and that presentation on the pitch at Ellis Park, Pienaar described him as the “symbol of everything that is good about humanity.”

    http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/25262862

    Like

  39. rikyrah says:

    Obama warns of ‘unemployment cliff’ consequences
    12/09/13 08:00 AM
    By Steve Benen

    In just 19 days, federal emergency unemployment benefits will expire for 1.3 million struggling Americans, and in the hopes of raising the issue’s visibility, President Obama devoted his weekly address to the subject over the weekend.

    “For many families, [temporary unemployment insurance] can be the difference between hardship and catastrophe…. Last year alone, it lifted 2.5 million people out of poverty, and cushioned the blow for many more,” he explained. “But here’s the thing: if Members of Congress don’t act before they leave on their vacations, 1.3 million Americans will lose this lifeline…. If Congress refuses to act, it won’t just hurt families already struggling – it will actually harm our economy. Unemployment insurance is one of the most effective ways there is to boost our economy.”

    The rhetoric certainly sounded compelling and had the added benefit of being accurate. But the decision isn’t up to Obama; it falls to Congress to approve an extension before the Dec. 28 deadline. And on Fox News yesterday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) helped encapsulate why progress appears highly unlikely.

    “I do support 26 weeks of unemployment that they’re paid for, if you extend it beyond that you do a disservice to these workers,” Paul said.

    Got that? Paul believes cutting off aid to jobless Americans during a period of high unemployment is doing those folks and their families a favor.

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/difference-between-hardship-and-catastrophe

    Paul said that business surveys indicate a reluctance to hire workers who have been on unemployment insurance for lengthy periods.

    Like

  40. rikyrah says:

    Rand Paul Tells Millions He’s Doing Them a Favor By Cutting Off Unemployment Benefits
    By: Sarah Jones more from Sarah Jones
    Sunday, December, 8th, 2013, 10:58 am

    Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was on Fox News Sunday to continue his minority outreach to African Americans, by saying we shouldn’t extend unemployment benefits set to expire momentarily because he knows one black businessman who wants tax cuts.

    Paul said, “I do support unemployment benefits for the 26 weeks that they’re paid for, but if you extend it past that you do a disservice to these workers.” His reasoning is that when you “allow people” to be on unemployment for longer, you are causing them to be “perpetually unemployed”. Don’t forget about his one black businessman.

    See, it’s not that there are no jobs, it’s that employers don’t like to hire people who have been out of work for very long. Thus, by taking away the “incentive” to stay unemployed, Paul thinks he can solve the unemployment problem. It’s the “firmer hand” theory, also used as an argument for slavery.

    There can be no other explanation for Paul’s reasoning other than people want to stay unemployed, otherwise he wouldn’t think that taking away unemployment benefits creates job opportunities. This veers dangerously close to the “lazy urban” narrative that Republicans favor. It is not accurate to suggest that starving will create jobs. So this is not a good plan for jobs or for the unemployed.

    Paul said that African American unemployment hasn’t budged under this President, implying that he thinks he can get the African American vote by criticizing this president and blaming him for higher unemployment among African Americans, as if this is a new phenomenon best addressed by letting a white Southern man make decisions for African Americans and this president. Some things just shouldn’t be said by certain people, especially not people who employed a white supremacist. It’s bad optics.

    http://www.politicususa.com/2013/12/08/sen-rand-paul-unemployment-benefits.html

    Like

  41. rikyrah says:

    Chris Christie’s traffic jam?
    12/09/13 08:39 AM
    By Steve Benen

    There’s been a simmering controversy in New Jersey, which initially appeared a little too outlandish to take seriously. But late Friday afternoon, the story took an interesting turn.

    A Port Authority official with close ties to Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey is resigning after state lawmakers questioned whether lane closings on the George Washington Bridge that led to extensive traffic backups in September were politically motivated.

    The official, David Wildstein, will resign as the director of interstate capital projects at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on Jan. 1, according to a letter he wrote to the agency’s deputy executive director, Bill Baroni. The resignation was first reported by The Record newspaper, of northern New Jersey.

    In Fort Lee, New Jersey, there are three lanes onto the George Washington Bridge, and in mid-September, Wildstein, a close Christie ally, closed two of them, causing several days of worse-than-usual gridlock. Local Democrats raised a question that seemed outrageous: did Christie’s ally cause the traffic jam on purpose to punish Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor, who balked at endorsing the governor’s re-election?

    Christie’s office characterized the allegation as “crazy,” which was my initial reaction, too. The governor was already cruising to an easy win, and his administration didn’t have any incentive to seek retribution against anyone. Christie may be thin-skinned at times, and his most spirited backers can be overzealous, but the underlying accusation seemed to deserve little more than eye-rolling.

    That said, the editorial board of the Star-Ledger, New Jersey’s largest newspaper, published a piece that called for a broader investigation. Note, for example, that Wildstein, Christie’s ally, said he closed the lanes as part of a “traffic study” that doesn’t appear to exist and the Port Authority’s own traffic engineers never heard of.

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/chris-christies-traffic-jam

    Like

  42. rikyrah says:

    Michael Hiltzik: Fiscal Idiocy: What States Refusing Medicaid Will Cost Their Citizens

    Sherry Glied and Stephanie Ma of the Commonwealth Fund have done the math to show how this calculation is affected by the refusal of 25 states to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. (Thanks to Brad DeLong at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth for the tip.) The bottom line is that as a pure fiscal and budgetary matter, refusing the Medicaid expansion is insane. The cost is $57 billion a year. The Act provides for federal funding to expand the state-federal healthcare program to residents earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level. The federal share will be 100% of the expansion cost through 2016, and stay at 90% or above through 2020.

    The Supreme Court made the Medicaid expansion optional, and 25 states have turned down the deal. This is entirely the handiwork of Republican governors or legislatures determined to take a dramatic stand against Obamacare. Of the 25 refusenik states, six have governors who support the expansion over the legislature’s objection; four are Democrats, including the governor-elect of Virginia, and two are Republicans. It’s already been established that the failure to expand Medicaid will deprive 5 million residents in those states of the improved access to health coverage provided by the Affordable Care Act.

    http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-mh-citzens-20131206,0,7229746.story#axzz2mjlNNt9q

    Like

  43. rikyrah says:

    Ametia,

    I had to unpack my Eskimo coat…

    you understand what I mean….

    SG2…not so much…LOL

    Like

    • I see you, Rikyrah!

      Like

      • rikyrah says:

        SG2….

        we’ve had this conversation…

        Ametia understand my joy when the temperature hits 25 degrees. She understands that there IS a difference between 10 and 25, where as you have a space heater at 50 degrees..

        LOL

        Like

      • Ametia says:

        LMBAO You know I love you, SG2, but the temps here in the midwest AIN’T.NO.JOKE.

        IT’S ZERO… ZERO. That’s as high as it goes today here in the Minn-apple. LOL

        parka-images

        Like

      • Y’all see how they poke fun at SG2? I got my eye on them.

        Like

      • Liza says:

        I tell people there is a difference between 100 degrees and 105 degrees, and then 110 degrees is just brutal even if it’s a “dry heat.” But 90 degrees in the desert is actually pretty nice as long as it’s dry. But, yes, we freeze at 50 degrees.

        Ametia, a lot of people from Minnesota and some of the other states that are way north retire in Tucson. They can’t wait for 105 and they love it, they never leave here.

        Like

      • Ametia says:

        @Liza. I know all about the dry Soutwest heat, Liza. I lived in New Mexico for a bit. MN’s the coldest place I’ve ever lived, but I love it here.

        Like

      • I could not survive in Minnesota or Chicago for a day with those temps.

        Like

      • Liza says:

        I’ve never been to Minneapolis but everyone says that it’s a really beautiful city. One of the few shows I watch on TV is “Rehab Addict” on DIY and HGTV and that is filmed in Minneapolis. They show footage of the city. Looks like there are a lot of lakes, tall trees, greenery, etc… everything we don’t have in the desert.

        Like

      • Ametia says:

        @Liza. Yes; greenery; I missed that kind of green in NM. We have the best parks, biking trails, and theater, second only to NYC.

        Like

  44. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everyone! Happy Mun-dane. :-))

    Like

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