Monday Open Thread

Christmas Candles 57This Christmas” is a well-known Christmas song originally recorded by R&B singer/songwriter Donny Hathaway and released as an Atco single in 1970. Hathaway co-wrote the song (it is credited to Nadine McKinnor and “Donny Pitts,” the stage name Hathaway used as a young rap singer). Since Hathaway’s original version, it has become something of a modern holiday standard, covered by a wide range of artists:

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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24 Responses to Monday Open Thread

  1. rikyrah says:

    Obamacare Roars Back as Errors to Insurers Near Zero

    Monday, December 23, 2013 | Posted by Spandan Chakrabarti at 12:06 PM

    In his final press conference of the year on Friday, President Obama noted the enrollment surge at and state exchanges. But as the president’s team has worked day and night to fix the website problems, and succeeded in doing so – thus retiring GOP’s “ZOMG the website is slow, now everything is ruined” hysteria, right wing detractors of health reform have focused on a different part of the system: the part that follows the completed application.

    After an application is completed through the exchanges (state or federal; web, phone, paper or in-person), eligibility is determined, and the applicant choose a health plan, the insurance company providing that plan needs to be relayed that information so they can begin deducting the premium and providing coverage. Republicans, and their media mouthpieces have been focusing their fire on this piece: pointing out that it was experiencing flaws and glitches that resulted in insurance companies not having on rosters some people who signed up through

    Well, it seems that talking point too has come to an fast but deserving death. The form the exchanges transmit to the health plans is called the 834 form, and the errors on those forms are now down to less than 4/10-ths of 1%.

  2. rikyrah says:

    GOP faces possible backlash over jobless aid
    12/23/13 09:45 AM—Updated 12/23/13 01:36 PM

    By Steve Benen

    In just five days, federal emergency unemployment benefits will expire for 1.3 million struggling Americans, and with Congress having left town, there is no doubt that we’ll go over the so-called “unemployment cliff.” Senate Democrats intend to renew the fight in the new year, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Dec. 28 deadline will go unmet.

    In terms of the economic impact, if Congress ignores President Obama’s call for action and allows jobless aid to lapse despite high unemployment, independent estimates suggest the policy will cost the nation upwards of 300,000 jobs over the next year.

    But for many policymakers, most notably on the right, this may not seem especially alarming. Perhaps they’ll be more concerned with the electoral fallout?

    An overwhelming majority of voters are opposed to cutting off extended jobless benefits for the unemployed, a poll revealed on Monday.

    The left-leaning Public Policy Polling surveyed voters in four key congressional districts, as well as House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) district, to gauge support for extending unemployment benefits. The poll, funded by the liberal advocacy group Americans United for Change, showed that voters across party lines were overwhelmingly in favor of extending the benefits, with 63 to 68 percent of voters in each district expressing support for preserving jobless benefits.

    Voters in the four districts surveyed said they were less likely to vote for the Republican incumbent in 2014 – by at least a 9-point margin – were he to vote to cut off extended unemployment benefits.

    The polling memo is available online here (pdf). The specific wording of the question was, “Congress is considering whether to continue or cut off federal unemployment benefits for workers whose state unemployment benefits have ended but cannot find a job. Do you think that Congress should continue or cut off federal unemployment benefits at this time?”

  3. rikyrah says:

    Appeals court allows Utah marriages to continue
    12/23/13 08:00 AM—Updated 12/23/13 10:39 AM
    By Steve Benen

    Late Friday, a federal district court ruled that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. Judge Robert Shelby found that the statewide law, approved by Utah voters in 2004, violates gay and lesbian couples’ rights to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment, and “demeans the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason.”

    Shelby did not issue a stay with his decision, which meant that on Friday afternoon, marriage equality was the law of the land in Utah – a reality that many same-sex couples were eager to quickly take advantage of.

    Over the weekend, state officials sought emergency relief from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. That didn’t go well.

    A federal appeals court on Sunday declined to stop officials in Utah from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples following a judge’s ruling last week that overturned the state’s ban on gay marriage.

    Utah Governor Gary Herbert asked for an emergency stay to prevent marriage licenses from being issued to same-sex couples after U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby on Friday ruled the ban unconstitutional.

    In this case, state officials basically tried to move things along more quickly – they went to the 10th Circuit over the weekend so they wouldn’t have to wait until this morning to try again with Judge Shelby. The 10th Circuit effectively told the state that there was no actual emergency so there’s no reason to short circuit the normal procedure.

    In practical terms, that means marriage equality is still the law of the land in Utah, at least as of this minute, and same-sex unions can continue this morning.

    So what’s next? The state will go back to the district court this morning – Shelby scheduled a hearing for 9 a.m. local time – to ask that Friday’s ruling be put on hold while the appeals process continues. Barring a surprise, Shelby seems likely to turn down that request.

    At that point, same-sex marriages will continue, while the case goes back to the 10th Circuit.

  4. rikyrah says:

    ‘Personal relationships’ can only go so far
    12/23/13 09:15 AM—Updated 12/23/13 01:37 PM
    By Steve Benen

    It’s a fact of contemporary domestic politics that many in Washington resist, but there’s a limit to the power of presidential schmoozing.

    The President’s failure to build friendships with lawmakers has damaged his chances of finding bipartisan support for legislation, a senator from his own party said Sunday. “It’s just hard to say no to a friend,” Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

    “When you build that relationship and that friendship, you’re looking for ways to try to work things out and find a compromise and, you know, that friendship means an awful lot. When you don’t build those personal relationships, it’s pretty easy for a person to say, well, let me talk about it, you know, and not really make, you know, that extra effort.”

    I wish this were true, because it would suggest the underlying problem would be fairly easy to solve. If Manchin were right, and President Obama’s “personal relationships” with lawmakers could lead to more responsible governing, a concerted effort could be made to turn the White House into The Friendliest Place on Earth.

    Regrettably, though, Manchin’s remedy is deeply flawed.

    Let’s put aside, at least for now, the fact that Obama has gone further than any modern president in bringing members of the opposing party into his cabinet and incorporating ideas from the opposing party’s agenda into his own policy plans – only to find that Republicans oppose the very ideas they used to support once they learn the president agrees with them.

    Let’s instead focus on this notion of “building personal relationships.” I’m reminded of an anecdote from a year ago, when Obama invited several GOP lawmakers to the White House for a private screening with the stars of the movie “Lincoln.” The president extended the invitation in secret, so congressional Republicans wouldn’t face any lobbying to turn Obama down.

    How many of the invited Republicans accepted the invitation? None.

  5. rikyrah says:

    Uninsured Skeptical of Health Care Law in Poll
    Published: December 18, 2013

    Americans who lack medical coverage disapprove of President Obama’s health care law at roughly the same rate as the insured, even though most say they struggle to pay for basic care, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll

    Fifty-three percent of the uninsured disapprove of the law, the poll found, compared with 51 percent of those who have health coverage. A third of the uninsured say the law will help them personally, but about the same number think it will hurt them, with cost a leading concern.

    The widespread skepticism, even among people who are supposed to benefit from the law, underscores the political challenge facing the Obama administration as it tries to persuade millions of Americans to enroll in coverage through new online marketplaces, a crucial element of making the new law financially viable for insurers.

    There are several reasons the uninsured appear to be as wary of the law as the insured, including opposition to the requirement that most people have insurance. Still, nearly six in 10 uninsured said having insurance would make their own health better. And 56 percent said they were more likely than not to get insurance by March 31, the deadline to enroll in coverage or face a tax penalty under the law. Thirty-five percent said they were more likely to pay the penalty.

    Over all, support for the 2010 health care law has improved since November, when it dropped to an all-time low of 31 percent in a CBS News poll after the flawed rollout of the federal online insurance exchange. The new poll showed approval of the law at 39 percent and disapproval at 50 percent among the general public.

  6. rikyrah says:

    Good Poor, Bad Poor
    Published: December 19, 2013 325 Comments

    On Sundays, this time of year, my parents would pack a gaggle of us kids into the station wagon for a tour of two Christmas worlds. First, we’d go to the wealthy neighborhoods on a hill — grand Tudor houses glowing with the seasonal incandescence of good fortune. Faces pressed against the car windows, we wondered why their Santa was a better toy-maker than ours.

    Then, down to the valley, where sketchy-looking people lived in vans by the river, in plywood shacks with rusted appliances on the front lawn, their laundry frozen stiff on wire lines. The rich, my mother explained, were lucky. The poor were unfortunate.

    Dissenting voices rose from the back seat. But didn’t the poor deserve their fate? Didn’t they make bad decisions? Weren’t some of them just moochers? And lazy? Well, yes, in many cases, my mother said, lighting one of her L&M cigarettes, which she bought by the carton at the Indian reservation. But neither rich nor poor had the moral high ground.

    As the year ends, this argument is playing out in two of the most meanspirited actions left on the table by the least-productive Congress in modern history. The House, refuge of the shrunken-heart caucus, has passed a measure to eliminate food aid for four million Americans, starting next year. Many who would remain on the old food stamp program may have to pass a drug test to get their groceries. At the same time, Congress has let unemployment benefits expire for 1.3 million people, beginning just a few days after Christmas.

    These actions have nothing to do with bringing federal spending into line, and everything to do with a view that poor people are morally inferior. Here’s a sample of this line of thought:

    “The explosion of food stamps in this country is not just a fiscal issue for me,” said Representative Steve Southerland, Republican from Florida, chief crusader for cutting assistance to the poor. “This is a defining moral issue of our time.”

    It would be a “disservice” to further extend unemployment assistance to those who’ve been out of work for some time, said Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky. It encourages them to sit at home and do nothing.

    “People who are perfectly capable of working are buying things like beer,” said Senator James Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, on those getting food assistance in his state.

    No doubt, poor people drink beer, watch too much television and have bad morals. But so do rich people. If you drug-tested members of Congress as a condition of their getting federal paychecks, you would have most likely caught Representative Trey Radel, Republican of Florida, who recently pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine. Would it be Grinch-like of me to point out that this same congressman voted for the bill that would force many hungry people to pee in a cup and pass a drug test before getting food? Should I also mention that the median net worth for new members of the current Congress is exactly $1 million more than that of the typical American household — and that that may influence their view?

    For the record, the baseline benefit for those getting help under the old food stamp program works out to $1.40 a meal. And the average check for those on emergency unemployment is $300 a week. If you cut them off cold, the argument goes, these desperate folks would soon find a job and put real food on the table. They are poor because they are weak.

    I met a wheat farmer not long ago in Montana whose family operation was getting nearly $300,000 a year in federal subsidies. With his crop in, this wealthy farmer was looking forward to spending a month in Hawaii. No one suggested that he pass a drug test to continue receiving his sizable handout, or that he be cut off cold, and encouraged to grow something that taxpayers wouldn’t have to subsidize.

  7. Ametia says:

    Beyonce surprises Wal-Mart customers by paying for holiday gifts

    Saving your holiday shopping until the last minute can have benefits, particularly if Beyoncé is in the store. The singer visited a Wal-Mart in Tewksbury, Mass., on Friday and made 750 shoppers very happy while wishing them a “Merry, merry Christmas.”

    Target; guess who gone be buying Bey’s music, BOO?

  8. Ametia says:

    President Obama signs up for Obamacare

    President Obama has enrolled in the federal health care insurance exchanges, selecting a bronze-tiered insurance plan on the D.C. marketplace, the White House announced Monday. In advance of Monday’s key enrollment deadline, Obama signed up for coverage over the weekend during the start of his holiday vacation here in Hawaii in what a White House official described as a “symbolic” act to promote the Affordable Care Act, his signature legislative achievement.

    Read more at:

  9. rikyrah says:

    this whole Let’s Save Miss Ann thing is tiring.

    Black Twitter is quite clear: don’t start none, won’t be none.

    But, if you start something, understand Black Twitter will finish it for you.


    Hey Kennymack…how dare you destroy poor wittle Justine Sacco. She is a total privileged douche with a long history of disparaging comments (even one about having sex with a person with Autism), but that gives you no right to take delight in her public flogging…we should all be afraid of the “lynching” that has taken place before our eyes..shouldn’t Affluenza serves as an an antidote to this treatment? She didn’t even get to explain her racist and insensitive tripe and unfortunately people made such a big deal about it, even though they should not have…..because what really matters is that she’s white!??

  10. Ametia says:

    22 Year-Old Black Student Elected to Mississippi House of Representatives

    Jeramey Anderson, a 22-year-old African American college student, was sworn in Dec. 6 as a member of the Mississippi House, becoming the youngest person in history to be elected to a House seat in the state.

    Anderson, a Democrat and senior at Tulane University, defeated Aneice Liddell, the former mayor of Moss Point, Mississippi. Voters in that southern Mississippi town of about 14,000 were selecting a replacement to fill the unexpired term of incumbent House member Billy Broomfield, who left the House to defeat Liddell in a earlier race for Moss Point mayor.

    Anderson won a runoff election Nov. 26 with over 61 percent of the vote while Liddell polled less than 40 at percent. The runoff was triggered when none of the five candidates in the Nov. 5 general election won a majority.

    Anderson told a WLOX reporter that he believes his social media push provided the edge that got him elected.

  11. Did you know about 3000 tons of aluminium foil will be used to wrap Christmas Turkey? Don’t forget to put foil on your list.

  12. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

  13. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everyone! Ah, Mr, Hathaway; He’s my favorite singer of “This Christmas.”

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