Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 333

The aFa Short Story Challenge (Footprints in the Sand) is on final approach. Thanks to those who reblogged the challenge in their blog. I will publish my story on July 10th at 12:15 am (Eastern US). Participants will link to that post (NOT the Challenge post). For those who didn’t see the challenge, click here.

Cheers to the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra for another wonderful Fourth of July concert. Interestingly, a three-quarters moon was displaying itself directly behind the fireworks.

We are watching the latest season of House of Cards. Through episode 9 was slow – very slow! … but the pace is starting to pick up as the house seems to the ready to tumble.

I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of the Seychelles Islands (in the Indian Ocean), and I don’t think I’ve encountered a Seychellian blogger … but I know two people who are currently here. From the views from this video, it appears to be a paradise.

So far, I’m comfortable with my random posting schedule.

I wished I would have saved it, but last week I read an article that mentioned the Democrats top two strategies, which caused me to shake my head.

The previous I displayed the letter I sent to my representative (an R) regarding the health care & insurance issue in the U.S. Last week I wrote the following to one of my senators, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).

Senator Portman,
On Twitter you stated. “Let me know what you think.” about the recently proposed Senate health care. Your dilemma lies in this predicament. If you are representing your party, you should vote YES because partisanship and political gain is of utmost important. If you are representing the best interest of the people, you should vote NO because health care and health care insurance is a very serious issue that demands more than a frivolous attempt based on partisanship and political gain. Because of the importance of health care and health care insurance, doing what is best for the people requires a bipartisan effort. That is the challenge.”

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides the pros and cons of artificial intelligence.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Woman rearranging condiments in refrigerator door like puzzle in ancient tomb
Queen Elizabeth kicks off Wimbledon by serving ceremonial first ace of tournament
Man on internet almost falls into world of DIY mustard enthusiasts
Housefly drops everything to go stand on watermelon slice
Dolphin spends amazing vacation swimming with stockbroker
This stool shall pass

Interesting Reads
Understanding the latest fossils of human origins
50 things about the US Founding Fathers
Humans aren’t nutritious eating
3-D printed ovaries fight infertility
(Photo Gallery) Empty railways in America

For your weekend entertainment, here’s a fun song that you may not know that comes from my cousins. It’s an Italian classic from 1972. Although not in Italian, it’s meant to sound like English, but actually the lyrics are pure gibberish – except for two words. Enjoy! In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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On a Ruling

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court surprised many people with their ruling regarding the Affordable Care Act (more commonly called Obamacare). As liberal Democrats responded predictably with glee, conservative Republicans also predictably responded with anger, doom, and gloom. Amidst all the rhetorical responses dominated by taglines, campaign slogans, and misinformation, I (on the other hand) have taken the time to ponder the situation.

In my opinion, Justice Robert would have voted no, but as the leader of the court, Chief Justice Roberts chose to his path based his long-term view of the court. Meanwhile, here is my opinion of what Chief Justice Roberts did.

He constricted the Commerce Clause

He kept the high court in its own jurisdiction, and out of the political arena

He passed the issue back to the people and their elections, especially this November

He assured governors the ability to opt out their state

I see more than a handful of governors will opt out, which means 1) fewer people will go into the Federal system – thus screwing up the numbers and the design so the program costs the Federal government more than projected; 2) elected officials will continue to politicize the issue, which includes using misinformation to gain political advantage

Meanwhile, the issue will divide the public more than ever, and the public will become more confused and angered than it already is. Because the public will want solutions and officials will continue to fail to deliver solutions, more people will become disillusion with government and participate less in elections – and when a political party gains total control, they will force something onto the public that the public doesn’t want. In the immortal words of pop music artists Sonny and Cher, and the beat goes on.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 145

On Politics
“The private sector is doing fine.” President Obama, that was a poor, poor, poor downright pathetic choice of words.

Mr. Romney’s responded to the above of saying President Obama “is out of touch”. So here we are today, unemployment is still high, yet corporate profits have returned to pre-crash levels. Mr. Romney, it’s reality check time!

If Ron Paul said he has a difficult time differentiating Republicans and Democrats, I ask this question: Then why are you a Republican?

Very soon, the U.S. Supreme Court will announce its decision regarding health care. This USA Today article provides some possible outcomes.  Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal provides a look at the potential Republican fallout of a ruling.

Regarding the upcoming decision, given this court is an activist court, I only see it going in one direction with the question being how far.

On Headlines from The Onion
Eco-Conscious Marketing Firm Developing Alternative Source of Synergy
U.S. Improves Infrastructure with Transnational Power Strip
Group of Hunky Cardinals Appeals to Pope to Relax Celibacy Requirement
Weather Channel Opens Las Vegas Casino
Breaking Story So New, Reporter has No Information
Nation’s Cotton Candy Crop Ravaged by Carnival Weevils
Teen who Cleaned-up Party Before Parents’ Arrival Totally Forgot about Overdosed Kid on Dining Table

Interesting Reads
Ruth Marcus on two faces of Republicans
E-readers in Africa
Tax Exceptions and religious organizations
Some berry recipes for dinner
The wine blends from Paso Robles
Fossilized Turtle Sex

On Potpourri
Lately, my stats resemble a downward staircase. 😦 … which is pathetic for someone approaching 1,000 posts in almost four years.

Sorry some of you didn’t see me as much this week. Simply said, I’ve got an important presentation to lead very soon.

This weekend we host our dinner group for a night of Scarborough Fare: parsley (appetizer), sage (soup/salad), rosemary (entrée), and thyme (dessert). Because we host, we have the entrée, so it will be interesting to see what the others bring.

Cincinnati is in final preparation for being the first U.S. city to host the World Choir Games, July4-14.

A classic cartoon post will go up for your Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, here’s a classic quirky musical video to send you into the weekend. Have a safe weekend everyone. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 89

On Political Shorts
As our politicians muddle and haggle their way through budget decisions and handling the government’s deficit, I remind everyone that both major parties are not in fiscal order. In fact, the Republican National Committee has a greater debt than the Democrats National Committee.

This past Wednesday, potential GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that the first thing he would do is repeal the healthcare bill. Hmmm … hey Mitt! What about that Massachusetts plan?

The battle between the state house and public employees in Wisconsin is well known. We’ve also seen similar situations in Ohio, Indiana, and others. An action by Maine Governor LePage caused a “huh?” Read this interesting post from former cabinet member Robert Reich. Thanks to Don in Mass for the heads up. Then see this post from Nonnie.

If you didn’t see this interview with Veronica de La Cruz about health care, it is worth your time. Thanks WriteChic for making me aware of this interview.

On a Streetcar
The debate by the city of Cincinnati officials regarding a streetcar project is over a year old. Regardless of the condition of federal and state budgets, the reason I’ve been against this $128 million dollar project is simple. Today, most downtowns are centers of commerce, so most investments should center on increasing (or at least keeping) employment.

On DTWS
As noted on these pages before, we take ballroom dance lessons and enjoy Dancing with the Stars. A reminder, I thought that having Bristol Palin on last year was a mistake, and my worst fears almost happened. Shortly before the announcement of the latest cast, the decision makers asked former Delaware senator candidate Christine O’Donnell to participate. Fortunately, she declined – but if she would have accepted, I would not have watched this season until she was off.

On a Water Bill
Over the past year or so, we purchased a water-efficient clothes washer and replaced two original, 23-year-old toilets. Interestingly, we have seen a decrease in our water usage. Our choices were the GE WHRE5550 and a Kohler Cimarron.

On a Sheen Tactic
Charlie Sheen has been in his share of news in recent months – actually too much. By never mincing words in his posts, Beeze says that Sheen’s antics are an act – which I admit, is something I didn’t consider.

Have a good weekend everyone. Here’s a music sendoff for you, which also is well synced with the animations. Besides, Z likes this group.

On a Health Care Prediction

The situation – A conversation with a friend, who is a self-proclaimed political pundit

The timing – Approximately a month ago, but it was before Congress passed the health care bill

My Series of Predictions

  1. The Democrats will pass a health care bill.
  2. Republicans will campaign to repeal it.
  3. Republicans will gain control of Congress as Independents back them because Democrats did not listen.
  4. Republicans successfully repeal the bill, and then replace it with what they think is best.
  5. Independents vote out the Republicans because they did not listen either.

Analysis

  • My friend (the self-proclaimed political pundit) said it would not happen because the Democrats did not have the votes to pass the bill.
  • For me, two check marks.

On Renewing the Health Insurance Debate

As Democrats unsuccessfully ramming their health insurance plan through and while Republicans remained obstinate to changes, the situation of citizens remains the same: people with pre-existing conditions cannot get coverage, people using health insurance still face rising premiums, many employers continue to shift more health insurance responsibility to employees, and many people are lack employment.

I know health-insurance Darwinists are out there – meaning they see insurance only for those who can afford it – of  course their tune changes with their situation – so they only get these few lines. Nonetheless, the majority of Americans still want something done. (USA Today poll).

Before mentioning my ideas, members of Congress must pledge to stop lying and distorting information. All truths and nothing but the truths! Since the pledge, lying, half-truths, and distortions is beyond their grasp, thus won’t happen, here are 10 ideas (in no particular order).

1) A national program without tort reform is quite stupid; however, national leadership must clearly inform the public that such tort reform would only affect litigation involving federal law through the federal courts – thus do not effect cases based on state laws in state courts. Currently, some states have already done tort reform, while others have not.

2) Denying insurance because of pre-existing conditions and raising premiums because of using insurance must stop.

3) No pork and no sweetheart deals as in Nebraska or Louisiana. Nada, none, zilch!

4) Remove the tax on the luxury plans. If employers want to offer better plans, so be it – well, as long as they offer to every employee. In other words, a luxury tax on exclusive plans within a company is acceptable.

5) Dramatically reduce the number of uninsured. The numbers I’m seeing from both sides of the aisle are too high. However, I appreciate USA Today’s thoughts on removing the requirement for purchasing health insurance.
“If someone refused to sign up but later got sick and sought coverage (which insurers would have to provide), that person might have to pay a year’s worth of premiums to get covered.”

6) Offer a three-ponged government option.

  • Allow states to opt out, thus offering their own solution if they so choose. However, no opting-out state who does not offer options may prevent its residents from buying into the federal plan
  • Allow insurance companies to cross state lines in order to participate in the federal plan that should offer a cooperative of private insurers competing against one another.
  • Allow the ability to purchase into the same plan provided to those in Congress. It not, Congress should eliminate their current plan and use the cooperative. To the pompous roaming the Capitol Hill halls, this is your chance to shine!

7) Many pro-choice voters will not mind excluding abortion funding from government-backed insurance. If the move gets more votes, so be it.

8) Stop blaming the health insurance companies because they are only one part of the issue. Since they are part of the equation, they may have some useful insight at controlling costs. Although one does not have to agree, here is an interesting WSJ article based on an interview with the WellPoint CEO.

9) Do not move people from Medicare into another program. Now is the perfect opportunity to examine the Medicare system to find wastes, abuses, and duplicate/conflicting programs that, if eliminated, would produce cost savings to the government without reducing coverage.

10) Develop a way to maximize use of tax-favored health saving accounts (HSAs) for everyone who wants one.

Oh well, let Washington get back to the rhetoric and self interests.

On Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 39

On a Longer School Year
President Obama and others want to lengthen the school year by 40 days. Although I favor such a move as part of educational reform, let me pose these questions.

  • Should the Feds mandate something that is primarily controlled by state and local entities?
  • How much the public and the travel industry will fight to retain the status quo?
  • Why more time with the same outdated curriculum and industrial age standards?

On the Noble Peace Prize
I will admit that last week’s announcement struck me as surprising and confusing. Then again, after listening to the initial (especially the immediate) and continual criticism from the partisan opposition, I am more convinced than ever that they will mock anything and everything about President Obama – thus further alienating me and my moderate, independent vote. Meanwhile, and again I say – Congratulations Mr. President; plus, the Noble committee can do whatever – after all, it’s their award. This Thomas Friedman column is interesting on the matter.

On the Health Care Debate
Since the Congressional Budget Office seemingly declared the Bauchus proposal as deficit neutral, it’s been interesting to watch both parties and special interests apply their spin. I continue to be wary of the current Congress and their attraction to special interest needs and pork – therefore worries about the effectiveness and the efficiency of any bill – let alone one of this magnitude. In other words, will the final health care bill really and truly attack the problem? History says no. Here are three interesting columns: David Brooks and Nicholas Kristof’s first and second.

On Car Buys
I’m a long-time Cincinnati Reds fans, but the fact that Cincinnatians lead the nation in red car sales caught me by surprise. Although I don’t believe in a correlation between car color purchases and favorite sports teams, human behavior is a statistical goldmine. Here’s an article with lists.

On a Personal Note
I’ve taken on a major project in my work life that will decrease my writing and reading time. I’ll try to do what I can, but I know my blogging will suffer. Meanwhile, I’ll probably post in the evenings and try to keep going. Hope everyone has a good and safe weekend.

Before going, here’s a very short video demonstrating speed and agility.