Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 266

Last week I wrote this: Numerous southern families support flying the Confederate Battle Flag because they have ancestors who fought under that flag. OK … so why isn’t the Nazi flag flown at the cemeteries for World War II German soldiers? I know that Nazi analogies are often in poor taste, my statement was by no means equating the Nazis to anything in the US Civil War. Flags are symbols, and my intention focused on the flags. I apologize to anyone offended by the question.

Statues of Confederate soldiers in public places are getting scrutinized and even defaced. To me, that’s absolutely absurd. Here’s an interesting Washington Post article about Confederate symbols.

Burning African-American churches? Hey South Carolina – you have a problem!

The recent court rulings offered more examples of Republicans proclaiming a return to the Constitution except when they want to change it. Meaning, the recent rulings have also provided many the opportunity to demonstrate that smart people can say and do stupid things – especially when pandering for votes.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (aka The Truth Teller) may be the King of Hyperbole. As the US Supreme Court went against his views twice in a short span, Cruz stated, Today is some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history. Meanwhile, he describes (in his book) fact-checking as yellow journalism. Here’s an article from USA Today.

Speaking of Texas, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the top law-enforcement official in the state, is encouraging clerks, magistrates, and other officials who object same-sex marriage to not issue the marriage license.

The New York Times did this outstanding 13-minute video about the story that led to the US Supreme Court ruling. (Thanks Lame)

Given some conservatives are squawking about Chief Justice Roberts, this read is about Roberts’ consistency.

In my opinion, and time will tell, the recent ruling says nothing or even implies that churches are required to perform a marriage ceremony involving LGBT. Some have, some will, and some won’t.

Gov. Chris Christie became the 14th Republican seeking the presidency. (I foresee at least 2 more.) He’s a good example of it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Yep – the importance of speaking with conviction can cause others to not notice what is said. No profile from The Onion … Yet!

President Obama announced the intent for Cuba and the USA to open respective embassies. The next step is up to Congress – Oh boy! Given the 2016 election, this could be interesting.

The economic situation in Greece is troubling, yet complex. The heart aches for the Greek people.

Congratulations Missy Copeland on her accomplishment … and cheers to the American Ballet Theater for the historic decision.

I enjoy Enya’s music. I stumbled across this pleasing video to one of her songs. For other Enya fans, enjoy The Memory of Trees (which is good waltz music).

Desserts is the theme for Act 7 of Meals: The Musical. One note of caution: Because they had their own act, beware of using “fruits” or any fruit as they had their own act. (EX) Blueberry Hill is not acceptable because the dessert is not identified; but Blueberry Pie or Blueberry Ice Cream would be acceptable. Curtain time is this Wednesday, 7:30 pm (Eastern US)

For those who will post the entire story on their blog (with their ending), the revised story (without an ending) is on the Challenge page to copy. The Dance Challenge date Sunday, July 12th, 9:30 pm (Eastern US). … Feel free to promote the challenge!

This is a holiday weekend in the US, so no Saturday post from me. Happy Fourth of July, America.

To lead you into The Onion, here’s their mass extinctions timetable.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Boss’s clout evaporates after he’s seen in shorts at company picnic
Study: U.S. wastes 2 million hours annually figuring out where tape roll begins
Man commits to new TV show just hours after getting out of 7-season series
Family enters crisis talks after discovering restaurant has 45-minute wait
Only predictor of happy marriage is if husband won wife big stuffed animal at amusement park

Interesting Reads
Slavery, states rights, civil rights, and a flag
A year as a nudist
How the turtle got its shell
Endangered places is America
Mushrooms and weight reduction
Yes, photos of a crow landing on an eagle

To send you into the weekend, here’s a touch of Motown from years gone by, Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 263

I wonder about the similarities between the following presidential campaigns: Hillary Clinton (D-NY) 2016, Jeb Bush (R-FL) 2016, and Mitt Romney (R-UT) 2012.

Wow … Unbelievably, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who is seeking the Republican nomination for president, said global warming is not a hoax and the primary cause is human action increasing the carbon dioxide level. I’m sure the GOP base is excited and the other candidates are thanking him for paving the way.

Amazon is now collecting sales tax on purchases by Ohio residents, and I’m OK with that.

The transition away from posting daily has been good for me because 1) I don’t feel rushed preparing, and 2) I’ve been visiting other blogs more. Then again, I tend to get behind on weekends.

I added a new page – Hear Ye – to serve as a place for announcements, such as information about the next act of Meals: The Musical. (Yep – it’s there now, but I will announce again next week.)

There will be an Explore post on Saturday.

For those interested in jello shots, this creative recipe is worth checking. 

Carrie Rubin is looking for help with your quest to be published by Amazon. Here’s her post on how you can help her.

Last week Democrat Lincoln Chafee (D_RI) announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. As a sign that his candidacy is in trouble, his name cannot be found in The Onion’s archives.

The Onion’s profiles of presidential candidates: Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX)

June is the most popular month for weddings in the US. To lead you into this week’s satire, The Onion captured the latest wedding trends.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion (Combos welcome)
More US children being diagnosed with YTD – Youthful Tendency Disorder
Idiot zoo animal with zero predators still protecting young
New Claritin flamethrower incinerates whatever causes allergies
Automakers asks nation if it still wants handle above car windows
Laid-back company allows employees to work from home after 6 pm

Interesting Reads
Raising money: political campaigns vs. new-business startups
Building the Clinton Foundation
Powering the future car: hydrogen or electricity?
Is Pope Francis a Communist?
Six mysteries in biology
(Photo Gallery) National Geographic Traveler Contest

Here’s a 2-fer to send you into the weekend. First, a video from the early MTV days (do you remember the song) and a bigger hit from a 80s. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 262

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) loves to imply that the NSA gathering meta phone data is unconstitutional. Two points: 1) Only courts declare constitutionality (not senators, interest groups, or citizens) and 2) the panel of judges ruled the collection was illegal based on the limits of the law because the law didn’t authorize the NSA collection – so, the court did not rule the data collection unconstitutional. (ACLU vs. Clapper). Yes, another example of a politician pandering for votes with incorrect and misleading information that people believe.

For the record, I have no problem with the NSA gathering meta phone data (including mine) if it would have been in the original law. In the end, a rare bipartisan agreement got something done to replace the old Patriot Act with the USA Freedom Act, which clarifies the data collection.

Bush (FL), Jindal, (LA), Christie (NJ), Walker (WS), Kasich (OH), Huckabee (AR), and Pataki (NY) are current or former state governors and have either announced or are expected to announce their candidacy to seek the Republican presidential nomination. All but Bush and Kasich denounce the Common Core education standards. Three interesting points:

  1. Most previously supported the Common Core standards before they were against it
  2. Federal intrusion/overreach is a common reason
  3. These standards were not developed by the Feds, but were driven by governors and state leaders (and the majority of states are controlled by Republicans) … and now you know.

After hearing the news about the recent Biden family news, I was wondering which Republican would make a stupid comment. Congratulations to Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). I maintain he planned it, practiced it, and purposely said it to a base that will laugh, and then it backfired. After all, politicians do that all the time. To be fair, at least he apologized. But come on, he or none of his advisers thought of the situation?

Given the wide swath of current and potential Republican candidates and the dilemma that causes around the debates, I say put them in groups of 4-5. After all, should the people get a fair chance to see all of them? Besides, this field has much more to offer than the 2012 group.

ESPN is giving their Arthur Ashe Courage Award to Caitlyn Jenner, not Lauren Hill.

I applaud Jennifer Lopez’s support for the Children’s Miracle Network. In the commercial below, I find something quite odd near the end when she says, Put your money where the miracles are (while raising her hand.) Watch below, but seeing the still is enough. What do you think?

If you were given the Stupid Test, would you rather pass it or fail it? Why?

Even though I didn’t expect much this season, following my Cincinnati Reds has been painful.

For those who need a touch on the retired Monday Morning Entertainment, this one from Weird Al Yankovic cracks me up. Thanks Cayman!

Earlier this week I realized that with the post about June was my 12th in the series, (whereas I thought it was my 10th). Therefore, I doubt they will continue, so maybe I’ll move on to saluting the days of the week.

It’s time for a drink as Meals: The Musical returns next week, so all song titles must include a nonalcoholic drink in the song title. (Hmmmm … Any idea about what Act 7’s theme?) One caution: Make sure no alcohol is also in the title. (EX: Rum & Coke is not acceptable) Curtain time will be Wednesday, 9:30 pm (Eastern US).

I updated the Schedule page to reflect the latest changes, which include weekdays Monday/Tuesday and Wednesday/Thursday.

The Explore series continues this weekend.

This week gave us two new presidential candidates, thus The Onion provides their profiles: former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Former governor and senator Lincoln Chafee (D-RI) and Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) also declared, but no profile yet. Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) will announce on June 15th.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Heartless monster walks out of local small business without buying anything
Parents worried children old enough to remember family vacation
Man at party comes crawling back to conversation he thought he could do better than
Pigeon that flew into subway going to need all his wits to get out of this one
Nation’s single men announce plan to change bedsheets by 2019
College allowing students individual commencement speakers to make ceremony acceptable for all

Interesting Reads
France honoring the Resistance heroes
Human migration
Genetics, breeding, and cows
Suspected spy pigeon
Death penalty in the US
A look at war from an insightful veteran and blogger who visits here 

To to send you into the weekend, a toast to June being Accordion Month – not with a polka, but actually a good version of a Lady Gaga hit for the ballroom floor. Which ballroom dance can you picture? Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 261

I know there is a long way to go, but for whatever reason, I have an uneasy feeling about Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Just a perfect time for Vice President Biden to sit on the sidelines.

Although the Republican presidential field is many and growing, how these candidates pander to the right will continue to be a problem in a general election.

I wonder if the television ads by former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) warning of economic have any effect on his son’s candidacy, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

Given the situation in Iraq , here’s the question I’ve asked before and one that I haven’t notice anyone else asking: Would ISIS/ISIL be a problem if Saddam Hussein was in power?

We recently saw D-Day: Normandy 1944, an Omnimax film at the Cincinnati Museum Center. It’s very well done, so I encourage everyone to see it if you get a chance. To learn more, here’s the film’s website, which includes Find a Theater on the Menu.

The On Satire Bits finale was a lot of fun. Many thanks for the chuckles you gave me in the 134 posts. After all, I’m probably the only person who read every combo! One more series finale to go.

Meals: The Musical – Act 5: Ingredients provide many ingredients. Well done … but no eggs, mustard, ketchup, butter, barbecue sauce, peppermint, chili sauce, cheese, hot sauce, mayonnaise, flour, or coriander … and (as of this time), no buzzers from the producer!  Act 6 should be in two weeks – which means I will announce the theme in next week’s Opinions in the Shorts.

This week has had some unexpected turns, so no Explore or cartoon feature this Saturday, but I’m hoping to toast the new month next week. After all, two more months to go (June and July), and then all 12 months will have a tribute – which is something I didn’t intentionally try to do.

To lead you into this week’s headlines from The Onion, here’s their profile on newly announced presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Complete idiot forgot to shave between mouth and nose
Toyota recalls 1993 Camry due to fact owner really should have bought something new by now
Amusement park adds sleeper cars to its roller coaster for passenger who prefer more restful ride
Wedding guest blissfully unaware she barely made the cut
Long-time coffee shop employee thought customers would care more about his last day
Toddler adjusting to society after serving 2-minute timeout

Interesting Reads
Negative views of Congress crossing party lines
Changing size of bathing suits
Europe’s next cheap travel destination?
New ancient human species found
An inspired inventor
Gases We Emit

For the last time in OITS, here are Your Weekend Celebrations
(Fri) Gnocchi Day, Put a Pillow on Your Fridge Day, Day of UN Peacekeepers, Learn About Composting Day, Hug Your Cat Day, Bats Day, Paperclip Day, Coq Au Vin Day, Heat Awareness Day, Pink Flamingo Day

(Sat) Mint Julep Day, Water a Flower Day, Macaroon Day, Wicket world of Croquet Day, My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It Day

(Sun) Save Your Hearing Day, What You Think Upon Grows Day, No Tobacco Day, Speak in Sentences Day

Here’s a 2-fer to send you into the weekend – two classics, including an unused song from Act 5. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 260

Generally avoiding questions by Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is an interesting strategy. I wonder if it will cost her votes in the long run. Then again, there is plenty of time.

At least three more Republicans could very soon be joining the fray of seeking the nomination: Sen.Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), and former Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) … and more are on the way. It also appears former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md) will be announcing on the Democratic side.

Fox News and CNN recently announced their selection criteria for the early Republican presidential debates. Although CNN has a Segment B for additional candidates, I would like to see a debate with the top 5 candidates being excluded.

Politico is a popular and reputable online news source about US politics. They recently expanded into Europe at politico.eu.

Speaking of Politico, here’s a gallery for political junkies about political guests with David Letterman.

This is interesting: A conservative economist and member of the Reagan White House explains how he believes Fox News hurts Republicans. For those wanting to know more, click here.

Here’s an excellent report by CNN about surveillance over the South China Sea.

Speaking of China, I want to know if one can read this blog in mainland China. Do you have any connections that can answer my burning question?

Attention bacon lovers. US bacon prices are 25% lower than a year ago.

It’s Memorial Day weekend – a 3-day weekend – the official start of summer vacation season- the Indianapolis 500 – parades, ceremonies, 21-gun salutes, pools open, picnics, outdoor activities, and more.

I thought the Dancing With the Stars Finals show was very entertaining … and Sharna Burgess was on every week. Cheers to Season 20!

Meals: The Musical returns next week, so I’ll announce the theme on the next Monday Morning Entertainment.

There will be a Saturday post as the Explore series resumes.

To lead you into this week’s headlines from The Onion, here’s their pros and cons about raising the minimum wage.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Anthropologists discover Ancient Greek Super PAC that helped shape first democracy
One year old still waiting for father’s first words
God realizes he forgot to put souls in humans
Child visits Ellis Island to see where grandparents once toured
McDonald’s reintroduces Hamburgler as attractive suburban dad

Interesting Reads
Cyber-archaeology saving relics
Islam and feminism
Photo gallery honoring BB King
Trains: driven by drivers or engineers
Columnist Roger Cohen’s thoughts about living in Italy
Smartphones and personal medicine

Your Weekend Celebrations
(Weekend) Mudbug Madness Days, Polka Weekend, Old-Time Player-Piano Days

(Fri) Toothpaste Tube Day, Buy a Musical Instrument Day, Don’t Fry Day, Vanilla Pudding Day, Canadian Immigrants Day, Harvey Milk Day, Heat Awareness Day, Biological Diversity Day, Maritime Day, Goth Day, Title Track Day, Wig Out Day, Maritime Day

(Sat) Lucky Penny Day, Jazz Day, Polka Day, Pickle Day, Crohn’s & Colitis Day, Turtle Day, Heritage Breeds Day, Taffy Day, Day to End Obstetric Fistula

(Sun) Scavenger Hunt Day, Escargot Day, Judgment in Paris Day, Brothers Day, Tiara Day, Mary Had A Little Lamb Day

The start of a 3-day weekend in a USA is a good reason for a 2-fer to send you into the weekend .. one from 1981 and one from today (which happens to be a Cincinnati band) … and both are timely. Which did you watch? Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Businesses and the ACA

I appreciate the basic premises of the Affordable Care Act: the mandate for individual coverage and an insurance company inability to deny coverage to individuals with a pre-existing condition. Therefore, I look for these two points in any amendment or replacement.

There’s no question about the following:

  • Rising cost of health care insurance to all – including companies and individuals
  • Given a global economy, the company’s expense burden of healthcare insurance for employees is a burden many non-US competitors may not incur
  • The ACA requires employers (based on the number of employees) to provide healthcare insurance to employees
  • Over the past 10+ years, US employees have accepted an increasing cost burden of healthcare insurance

To me, the ACA’s employer mandate is an example of an unnecessary mandate and government overreach. Then again, given the Democratic majority that passed this law, I see it as another example of Democrats trying to do too much.

I offer a suggestion, and one that employees won’t like – but businesses would love. The Republicans won’t like it either because they couldn’t accept the two key points that I stated at the beginning. It’s also doubtful that Democrats would embrace the idea because it would amend what they created and they are less likely to pass the burden to individuals. In other words, it’s time to look outside the box.

Note: For the sake of this post, employees refers to full-time employees, which I define as those working 35 hours per week or more.

  1. Congress passes legislation to remove the employer mandate, thus companies have no obligation to provide healthcare insurance to employees.
  2. Therefore, given the ACA’s individual mandate, it is each individual’s responsibility to get healthcare insurance.
  3. In collective bargaining situations, the union and employer may negotiate coverage. If so, the burden of the negotiated coverage on the company and the employee is only with the employees covered by the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) (which is existing labor law).
  4. Outside of theCBA, employers would be
    1. under no obligation to provide healthcare insurance or Health Saving Account (HSA) benefits
    2. If the company provides any benefit of healthcare insurance or HSA to any employee, all employees not covered by the CBA receive the same package without exception. (That is, if the CEO gets something special, the same goes to all employees.)
    3. If the company decides to provide a fixed amount to all employees to go toward the cost of the employee’s healthcare benefits, that’s OK as long as the amount is the same for all.
  5. If a person chooses not to purchase healthcare insurance, they are fined at a price that is higher than the cost of insurance.
  6. Determining how to fund a tax credit for individual purchases would be a noble cause.

Yes, this would level the playing field for US companies in the global marketplace – and smart companies would boost salaries. On the other hand, the action amplifies another problem – the people of the US would be carrying a burden that other citizens in primary markets throughout the world don’t have – thus, a dilemma remains.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 257

This past Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard a case regarding gay marriage. The case not only involves a Cincinnatian, but I also got to know him while working on a project about 8 years ago. Here’s a short series from the SCOTUS Blog about the case. (Part 1 and Part 2) … plus an article from the Cincinnati Enquirer about Jim in Washington for the Court.

Welcome to another edition of It’s Time for Truth with Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Here’s the explanation from PolitiFact.

CruzSenPresidents

A very large, diverse local high school was going to have a Covergirl Challenge, a day when female students would voluntarily wear a hijab for a day as a diversity event. Some parents complained, and the principal reconsidered, thus cancelling the event. A student wrote this in her editorial published in the Cincinnati Enquirer. (The full text)

Some complaints from parents were that the event would make them or their kids uncomfortable. Getting rid of prejudice isn’t going to be comfortable. It’s going to be very uncomfortable and awkward and unfamiliar for people who are innately biased.

Cheers to Jeb Bush (R-FL) for going against the Republican flow regarding citizenship. Jeers to Rep. Steve King (R-IA) for wanting to change the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution to accommodate his view.

Strength to the rescue workers in Nepal and comfort to those who lost friends and family.

The Blogging Blues post was well received. Like a fool, I thought it may be Freshly Pressed. Oh well. To me, the comments made by the regulars here were even better, which could turn into another post. Many thanks … and in blues post, I mentioned not worrying about stats … and during that post this blog surpassed a quarter of a million views. :D Thanks to all!

Attention Costco customers: Check the ice cream section to see if they have Cincinnati’s finest – Graeter’s (past post explains). I know it selling in my state for half the price as in grocery stores, so if you find it, tell me where (because I’m curious).

Act 3 of Meals: The Musical delivered a bountiful collection of sides including broccoli, butterbeans, cornbread, collard greens, eggplant, potatoes, vegetables,  quiche,  tomatoes, onion,  spaghetti, bread, butter, nuts, pork & beans, yams, and all topped with frim fram sauce … plus, (and to my surprise, a song with side dish in the title. The producer was pleased with only buzzer.

Because we’re beginning a new month, no Saturday Morning Cartoons or Explore this weekend, – so the next post features May. Meanwhile, Happy May Day.

To lead you into it’s headlines, The Onion offers important tips for going green.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Baby has sinking feeling he left home without oversized multicolor plastic keys
Delusional man turning off laptop as if he’s done with it for the night
Ex-con hanging out with hallucinating voices that got him in trouble in the first place
Pharmaceutical rep assures doctor he personally tries every drug he promotes
Man proud of food he ordered

Interesting Reads
The Sultana: The anniversary of a shipping tragedy greater than the Titanic
Congressional effectiveness from the Bipartisan Policy Center
Responding to the Doolittle Raiders
A slideshow of the best British political insults
World Happiest Report (an article) (the report)
Shakespeare, women, and love
(Photo gallery) Animals for the Washington Post

Your Weekend Celebrations
(Weekend) Dandelion Days, Toad Suck Daze
(Fri) Tuba Day, No Pants Day, Mother Goose Day, Bubba Day, Batman Day, Loyalty Day, Chocolate Parfait Day, Law Day, Space Day, Lei Day, Save the Rhino Day, May Day, Amtrak Day, Global Love Day, Purebred Dog Day, New Homeowners Day, School Principals Day, Silver Star Day, Stepmothers Day, Mariachi Day

(Sat) Homebrew Day, Beer Pong Day, Play Your Ukulele Day, Naked Gardening Day, Baby Day, Brothers & Sisters Day, Bombshells Day, Truffles Day, Life Insurance Day, Scrapbook Day, Rule of Order Day, Free Comic Book Day, Join Hands Day, Bladder Cancer Awareness Day, Mayday for Mutts Day

(Sun) World Laughter Day, Two Different Colored Shoes Day, Lumpy Rug Day, Garden Meditation Day Hug Your Cat Day, Baby-Lost Mothers Day, Lemonade Day, Blessing of the Bikes Day (Motorcycles), Special-abled Pets Day, Raspberry Popover & Tart Day, Infertility Survival Day, Paranormal Day, Public Radio Day, Press Freedom Day, Chocolate Custard Day, Kite Day

The Association opened Act 3 with Broccoli, so two of their hits should also send you into the weekend. There are two hits, so take your pick, including both. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.