Friday Open Thread

Busy day at work for me, here's an open thread for you. All topics welcome.

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    Right to work (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by smott on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 09:06:18 AM EST
    All that freedom  in Michigan is taking a bunch of pepper-spray and padlocks to pass!

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/12/06/michigan-police-pepper-spray-arrest-protesters-opposing-right- to-work-law/

    If I can get a special dispensation for (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Anne on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 09:44:05 AM EST
    name-calling, I would like to say this: Jonathan Chait is an idiot.  No, wait - he's a f-ing idiot.

    He has an article in NY Magazine in which he provides some of the worst reasons and rationales ever for why it might be a good idea to raise the Medicare eligibility age.

    But, I don't know - maybe it's just me.  Maybe I'm the one who's the idiot.

    The first sign that idiocy is approaching is that Chait sees the increase in the eligibility age as a "bone" to throw to the right.  A bone.  Millions of people between 65 and, say, 67 are now bones to be thrown to the deficit scolds.  He sees it as something the likes of McConnell and Bowles will take as a sign of "serious belt-tightening," never mind that the real belt-tightening would have to come from seniors who, instead of being able to enroll in Medicare - which might allow them to retire and make way for younger people in the workforce - will have to continue to shoulder high premiums, and continue to work in order to be able to afford them.  But, what does Chait care about that?

    Then, he decides that the higher age requirement would actually be a good thing for the ACA.  I am dead serious - he really thinks that.  

    Here's that little gem:

    ...What's more, raising the Medicare retirement age would help strengthen the fight to preserve the Affordable Care Act.  [snip]

    The political basis for the right's opposition to universal health insurance has always been that the uninsured are politically disorganized and weak. But a side effect of raising the Medicare retirement age would be that a large cohort of 65- and 66-year-olds would suddenly find themselves needing the Affordable Care Act to buy their health insurance. Which is to say, Republicans attacking the Affordable Care Act would no longer be attacking the usual band of very poor or desperate people they can afford to ignore but a significant chunk of middle-class voters who have grown accustomed to the assumption that they will be able to afford health care. Strengthening the political coalition for universal coverage seems like a helpful side benefit -- possibly even one conservatives come to regret, and liberals, to feel relief they accepted.

    Perfect, right?  We have to get more middle-class types into the ACA so Republicans can't reject is as being a giveaway program for the poor and desperate - never mind that it means making people have to keep buying private insurance for a couple more years and delay enrollment of younger and presumably healthier individuals into Medicare. - which, it would seem to follow, isn't going strengthen Medicare at all.

    Someone needs to tell idiots like Chait that it's not bones they're throwing, it's bodies.  And then I think it would be entirely appropriate, and long past time, really, to tell people like this to f**k off.

    Agreed. The foolishness (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by KeysDan on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 10:40:48 AM EST
    of Chait's idea is only surpassed by his reasons.   The Kaiser Family Foundation studies have shown that raising the eligibility age shifts costs to employers and younger people, not to mention the previously eligible seniors (based on age, insurers can charge three times as much) and  affecting the remaining pool of Medicare beneficiaries that loses the relatively healthy 66 and 67-year old cohort.  

    Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, in my view, should be off the table at this point.  The focus should be on negotiating the elements of the Senate bill, passed last July--the bill for which Leader Pelosi is presenting a discharge petition.  That bill, and only that bill, is what needs to be considered.  After all, it represents the most urgent matters.  In addition to extending the tax cuts for the "middle class" ($200,000/250,000) it returns the top two rates (33% to 36% for above 250,000 and 35% to 39% above about $400,000).

    These rates and limits are candidates for negotiation.  The senate bill also raises top rates on capital gains/dividends from 15% to 20%; estate taxes return to a top rate of 55% (from 35%) and the exemption returns to $lM/$2M, single/opposite sex couples, from $5.l M/$10.2M.

    Other matters included are the alternate minimum tax, earned income tax , child and education credits.   There is much in this bill that should permit negotiation and "face saving" that will save us from that imaginary cliff , protect the safety nets, and prevent an inordinate drag on the recovery.


    digby on Erza Klein (5.00 / 3) (#33)
    by MO Blue on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 07:53:04 AM EST
    I had missed this broadcast of the Rachel Maddow Show on Friday with guest host Ezra Klein. But it was brought to my attention today and I think it's important for the people who think the Medicare eligibility age trial balloon is a figment of dirty hippie imaginations to see it.

    Ezra is many things and one of them is well connected with the Obama administration. He's not a member of the conservative cabal, he's a member of the mainsteam political establishment. He didn't dream this up on his own (and neither did the rest of us who've been following this closely and could read the tea leaves.) And to his credit, he did take the time to spell out why this is a bad idea, which is more than others have done. But he says this very clearly in the following segment:

    "The White House is open to it. They were open to it in 2011 and they're open to it now." link-digby

    In any case, I just wanted to point out that Ezra reported this as a real possibility, not just in the paper but on television as well. He's not the only one --- it's been all over TV this morning as well. It may be a trial balloon, it may be a false flag designed to misdirect the rubes while they hammer out something less obvious, but it isn't something that was just made up out of whole cloth.

    Starting at 3:10 in the highlighted video Erza Klein goes into the deal becoming clear on the fiscal cliff negotiations. At 7:29 he highlights the changes that will be made to Medicare to "satify Republicans": more cost sharing, a unified deductible, decreases made to Medicare providers and raises the age of Medicare eligibility to 67. Peter Orzag at 11:10 discusses the Medicare eligibility age and briefly why Democrats should be in favor of entitlement reforms on Medicare and Social Security. Watch the entire video.

    IMO Chait and Orzag are merely the advance guard selling the idea that these changes are no big deal and a good progressive move.


    Yes, when I saw (5.00 / 2) (#34)
    by KeysDan on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 09:06:53 AM EST
    Ezra Klein (guest of host of Maddow show) I was initially impressed.  Klein, in two minutes, gave a decent explanation and concluded that raising the eligibility age was terrible policy, with a cost twice the savings across the economy.  Then Ezra left this planet by saying that this terrible policy is really a good idea, because it does not matter, and it "throws a bone" to the Republicans who, astonishingly, would relish cutting Medicare.  Just a good bone to throw to Boehner.

    All kinds of bones being thrown to Boehner (5.00 / 4) (#35)
    by MO Blue on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 11:37:51 AM EST
    At 7:29 he highlights the changes that will be made to Medicare to "satify Republicans": more cost sharing,

    Starting in 2017, the proposal would increase income-related premiums in section B (which covers doctors visits and similar services) and D (which covers prescription drugs) by 15 percent. Those higher premiums currently are required of taxpayers with income over $85,000 ($170,000 for couples filing joint returns). Obama proposes keeping the income threshold stable (not adjusting for inflation) until one in four beneficiaries are paying extra premiums

    a unified deductible,

    ..start charging co-payments for home health-care services, and penalize patients who buy Medigap policies to take care of Medicare co-payments and deductibles ...

    decreases made to Medicare providers and raises the age of Medicare eligibility to 67.

    Source of quotes: Kaiser Foundations analysis of Medicare/Medicaid cuts in Obama's 2013 FY Budget

    Krugman on Erza's deal in the making:

    First, raising the Medicare age is terrible policy. It would be terrible policy even if the Affordable Care Act were going to be there in full force for 65 and 66 year olds, because it would cost the public $2 for every dollar in federal funds saved. And in case you haven't noticed, Republican governors are still fighting the ACA tooth and nail; if they block the Medicaid expansion, as some will, lower-income seniors will just be pitched into the abyss.

    Second, why on earth would Obama be selling Medicare away to raise top tax rates when he gets a big rate rise on January 1 just by doing nothing? And no, vague promises about closing loopholes won't do it: a rate rise is the real deal, no questions, and should not be traded away for who knows what. Krugman

    I'm ready to start (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by Zorba on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 12:39:54 PM EST
    pounding my head against the nearest wall.  Throw a bone to Boehner and the Republicans, while throwing seniors under the bus.  {{Sigh}}
    Can we not just join the rest of the Western world and have some type of Universal Health Care that does not depend upon private health insurance (unless you're willing to drastically restrict what they can charge, as is done in Switzerland)?  I guess we can't.  
    At the very least, the ACA should have offered an affordable and easily available public option.  {{Double sigh}}

    Seniors thrown into the abyss (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by MO Blue on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 01:29:27 PM EST
    even when Obama's insurance legislation becomes effective.

    On the flip side, there are some seniors who would have no access to the law's insurance expansion: Those who earn less than 133 percent of the poverty line and live in states that do not participate in the Medicaid expansion (seven states, at this point in time). link

    IOW they would have NO affordable health care options.

    Update on Medicaid Expansion Scorecare: 17 states have said yes, 9 states have said no and 24 states are undecided.

    Good article on Reluctance in Some States Over Medicaid Expansion and affect to insurance coverage for poor people.


    I've been pounding my two U.S. senators (5.00 / 3) (#39)
    by shoephone on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 01:30:03 PM EST
    Calling them weekly and vowing that if they vote to screw me over on Social Security and/or Medicare, they will find me causing a near riot outside their Seattle offices -- which will be more convenient than you can imagine, since they are both in the downtown federal building.

    Jon Walker on what to keep in mind when (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by MO Blue on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 04:02:27 PM EST
    judging any possible "fiscal cliff" deal.

    Most of the things Obama is publicly saying he wants will either happen automatically, can be accomplished through executive action, or would be all but politically impossible for Republicans to deny him. Since Obama will never face re-election again (but most Congressional Republicans will), he is in better position to hold out in a game of political chicken.
    This should in the forefront of people's minds when judging any deal Obama may or may not reach with Republicans. By simply being intransigent, Obama could get much of what he claims to want without giving anything to the Republicans in return. What Obama "gives up" should only be weighed against what he couldn't have gotten eventually. Things like accepting a tax increase on the wealthy or raising the debt ceiling should not even be counted as a real concession by Republicans because they would be forced to accept those anyway. link

    The worry, from my perspective, (5.00 / 3) (#53)
    by KeysDan on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 05:13:01 PM EST
    is that the suspect Peterson mind-set is the prevailing one, and cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security is the hallmark of a courageous politician.   And,  an historic act by a president to save these programs--but not so courageous as to do so without the cover of avoiding a cliff, albeit a bipartisan, imaginary one.

    My guess is that (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by KeysDan on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 12:43:20 PM EST
    increasing the age eligibility will not happen on this go-around; but the means-testing and other cuts will.  Everyone will sigh with relief that the eligibility-age remained unchanged owing to hard bargaining and miss  the other steps that will undermine Medicare.  

    Medicare should be expanded, not contracted, but the Peterson-followers are determined to privatize social security (they took a little set-back this round) and shift health care to the private insurers.  


    Well, of course (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by Zorba on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 01:42:39 PM EST
    Medicare should be expanded.  Medicare For All should be the ultimate goal.  Start by covering everyone 60 years old and over, and children under 18.  Then every year, lower the rate of eligibility by eight or ten years until everyone is covered.  (Of course, the ideal would be just to cover everyone within a year or so.)
    However, it does not seem as if that's going to happen anytime soon in this country.  Unfortunately.

    An unintended consequence (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by KeysDan on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 02:27:27 PM EST
    of the states colored red that are refusing to participate in state-run ACA exchanges is potential for movement toward a Medicare-like system.  In the absence of state exchanges, according to the ACA, the federal government will organize and manage them, which may set- up a workable national model for the future.  At least, a boy can hope.

    Well, a girl (none / 0) (#44)
    by Zorba on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 02:49:32 PM EST
    can hope, too.  From your keyboard to Whoever's eyes!  ;-)

    My guess aligns with yours, KeysDan (2.00 / 1) (#40)
    by christinep on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 01:36:36 PM EST
    The hit on "means testing" is acceptable to many more people than the age-raise.  A new survey released today (@politico & the Battleground Survey of Tarrance Group, R, & Celinda Lake, D) suggests a majority would support adjusting premiums on individuals with greater economic means. The question would be "What level triggers the higher 'means' application?".

    Levels and results of Obama's 2013 FY (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by MO Blue on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 02:52:14 PM EST
    budget recommendations on increased means testing per Kaiser Foundation analysis PDF:

    Individual earning 107k - 160k would pay 57.5% of the entire Medicare Part B & Part D. premium.

    Individual earning 160k - 214k would pay 74.75% of the entire Medicare Part B & Part D. premium.

    Individual earning 160k - 214k would pay 74.75% of the entire Medicare Part B & Part D. premium.

    Individual earning 214k and above would pay 90% of the entire Medicare Part B & Part D. premium.

    The income levels would remain frozen not increased due to inflation until 25.6% of the Medicare population paid the increased income related premiums. Any cost of living adjustment would push more seniors into paying higher premiums.  

    Low income seniors who earn less than 133 percent of the poverty line and live in states that do not participate in the Medicaid expansion (nine states, 24 states undecided at this point in time) would have no access to the law's insurance expansion. link



    Yes, well, (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by Zorba on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 03:03:58 PM EST
    I love the part about
    Low income seniors who earn less than 133 percent of the poverty line and live in states that do not participate in the Medicaid expansion (nine states, 24 states undecided at this point in time) would have no access to the law's insurance expansion.

    Not.  That's still a whole he!! of a lot of seniors who have paid into Medicare their whole working lives.
    I'm getting a headache over this.   :-(

    Whoops I did not correct my cut and paste (none / 0) (#48)
    by MO Blue on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 03:13:02 PM EST

    Duplicated one level and left out the lowest level. It is listed below.

    Individuals earning 85k - 107k would pay 40.25% of the entire Medicare Part B & Part D. premium


    Agreed. The means-test (none / 0) (#47)
    by KeysDan on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 03:07:46 PM EST
    is more acceptable, including to me.  However, not means-testing on premiums.   The financing of Medicare through payroll tax has been the historic pathway  (l.45% employer and employee, each on all wages) until premium means-testing was introduced as a part of the new Medicare Part D during the Bush administration--financing that undermines the social insurance concept.  

    Starting in January, the ACA will require workers (not employers) to pay an additional tax equal to 0.9% of wages and 3.8%  on net investment income, including interest, dividends and capital gains--for incomes over $200,000/$250,000, single/opposite sex married couples.  

    And, for the married, the new Medicare payroll is levied not on individuals, but on the combined earnings.   The "unearned Medicare contribution" is not money that is deposited in a separate trust fund, but can be used for any government purpose.


    Dan could you clarify your statement for me? (none / 0) (#49)
    by MO Blue on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 03:42:53 PM EST
    The means-test is more acceptable, including to me. However, not means-testing on premiums.

    I'm a little confused as to what type of means testing is more acceptable to you.  


    Sorry, Blue for my (none / 0) (#51)
    by KeysDan on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 05:03:11 PM EST
    lack of clarity.  What I intended to convey is that  means-testing of Medicare should continue to be through the  progressive taxation of wages without a cap during the working  period.  But, not means-testing of premiums upon retirement.    This is consistent with the concept and covenant of social insurance.  And, politically the best way to keep Medicare strong.

    I thought that was what you meant (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by MO Blue on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 05:09:37 PM EST
    but wasn't sure. Thank you for clarifying it for me. I agree with you on means testing on the front end and not on the premiums.

    Okay after my (none / 0) (#55)
    by sj on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 06:47:48 PM EST
    previous diatribe I've thought about what you just said.  And I guess I can agree with you.
    ...is more acceptable, including to me.  However, not means-testing on premiums.
    Provided, means testing is applied to private insurance as well.  Including for members of Congress.

    That's not MY question (none / 0) (#54)
    by sj on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 06:43:31 PM EST
    The question would be "What level triggers the higher 'means' application?".
    My question is: are you saying means testing is acceptable?  

    If so, do you think that private insurance premiums should cost more if the insured has greater means?  If so, why isn't that implemented in private sector industry?  If so, why does that not extend to members of Congress?

    It's very, very difficult (intentionally, I suspect) to get this information WRT Congress folk, but why are some of them making approx $200,000 in wages, paying less in health care costs than I am.  As in, about one sixth of what I'm paying.  If they're so gung-ho on means testing then they should put their own money where their mouths are.

    And those who support it (you?) should be demanding that Congress submit first and then the policy could -- maybe -- trickle down.

    I can't believe how many people think it's okay to f^ck over our retirees.  

    "Acceptable to more people" my @ss.  As if that should be the determining factor.  All that means is that marketing works.  And repeating the Big Lie ad nauseum makes it conventional "wisdom".


    Don't fly off the handle, ok? (none / 0) (#56)
    by christinep on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 07:38:18 PM EST
    I don't support undermining Medicare.  But, I do read the handwriting, and try to assess openly what might be the "give" in the give & take of any negotiation.  That's all.

    The only way people can really talk in a venue like this or otherwise is to be allowed, and even encouraged, to speak openly and without shut-down.  


    That's fair (none / 0) (#57)
    by sj on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 08:53:56 AM EST
    I read your comment about "acceptable to many more people" as including yourself among those people.  

    I can't find it in myself to be either passive or philosophical about being part of what's given away while those giving me away have no skin in the so-called "shared sacrifice".


    It is my understanding that even (none / 0) (#43)
    by MO Blue on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 02:32:14 PM EST
    in Obama's initial proposal it was to be a two stage process.

    Obama on Obama

    Obama, warning of "prolonged negotiations," used a campaign-style appearance yesterday in Pennsylvania to appeal for help from voters to put pressure on Republicans in Congress to pass an extension of tax cuts for middle-income Americans as a first step toward resolving the impasse. That would leave decisions on reworking the tax code and cutting spending until next year.
    Obama has proposed a framework that would raise taxes immediately on top earners and set an Aug. 1 deadline for rewriting the tax code and deciding on spending cuts, according to administration officials.

    I agree that the means-testing and other cuts outlined in Obama's 2013 FY budget may be included in the fiscal cliff agreement or stage 1. Regardless of the exact timing, all the cuts to domestic and safety net programs will be included by completion of stage 2 which will include tax cuts under the guise of tax reform.  

    "What we also want to do is engage in a process of tax reform that would ultimately produce lower rates, even potentially for the wealthiest," he said, referring to benefits from corporate tax reform.

    Plouffe added that while the White House wants to engage in comprehensive tax reform, they know they must also "carefully" address the "chief drivers of our deficit": Medicare and Medicaid. link

    How committed is Obama to his Grand Bargain?

    Ezra Klein:

    The White House wants a deal. Administration officials want one because they think passing more stimulus and reducing the deficit is important, and they want one because they think the scheduled austerity would be devastating to the economy. They want one because a budget deal is a necessary precursor to moving onto other priorities like immigration reform, and they want one because a big budget deal is seen as a key element of the president's legacy.

    The White House is firmer on its red lines in this deal than I can remember in any other negotiation. Administration officials don't want a deal so badly that they'll accept one that doesn't raise tax rates, or that leaves another debt-ceiling crisis around the corner. But if Republicans will give on those issues, the White House has always been clear that it is willing to put a lot on the table. "We've had conversations where [President Obama] told me he'll go much further than anyone believes he'll go to solve the entitlement problem if he can get the compromise," Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) told me back in May. "And I believe him. I believe he would."

    Good post Anne and (5.00 / 4) (#13)
    by fishcamp on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 03:22:55 PM EST
    what you youngsters may not know is how much the private insurers jack up the rates the last year before you become eligible for Medicare.  It damn near doubles since they know they have you by the short hairs.  If they increase the age much more then those private rates will go even higher because you will be a greater health risk...that's IMHO.

    Looks like today is going to be the (5.00 / 11) (#6)
    by Anne on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 11:29:27 AM EST
    day I become a grandma for the first time!  Daughter's water broke about 10:30 and she and my son-in-law are just arriving at the hospital.  Waiting to hear from them before I head over there.

    Keep her and the baby in your thoughts for an uneventful delivery and a healthy baby!

    Will keep you posted as I can -I can't believe how excited I am!!!

    Good for you, Grandmother (5.00 / 6) (#7)
    by easilydistracted on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 12:00:37 PM EST
    And your daughter and son-in-law. Here's hoping for an unenventful delivery, healthy baby and joyous Grandmother.

    Aw, bless you all (5.00 / 4) (#9)
    by NYShooter on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 01:53:32 PM EST
    I, recently became a grand-dad for the first time. And, I can tell you the excitement and anticipation is exceeded only by the actual event.

    After raising my son and daughter I never thought becoming a grandfather would be such a big deal. Well, I was sooo wrong. It is a big deal, and I just love it!

    Buckle up, Grams.


    How exciting for you! (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by sj on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 02:08:29 PM EST
    Have you decided on your name yet, or are you going to let it happen organically?

    How very exciting, Anne. (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by caseyOR on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 03:03:07 PM EST
    All good thoughts to the young mother and the new babe.

    We await your update with the joyous news.


    Mozel tov! (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 03:25:23 PM EST
    Congratulations Granny Annie... (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by fishcamp on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 06:36:11 AM EST
    Happy to report the arrival of (5.00 / 8) (#22)
    by Anne on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 11:50:59 PM EST
    my grandson at 10:06 pm; he weighed 8 lbs, 15 oz.  They won't measure him until they take him to the nursery for a bath and general clean-up.

    Mom and baby are doing great; my daughter did it without any drugs - not an easy thing to do.  Baby is alert and calm and already starting to nurse.

    And, oh, is he gorgeous.  Will have pics in the next couple days - and will post when I get it together; it's gonna be awhile before I come down to earth!


    Congratulations, Grandma! (5.00 / 5) (#23)
    by caseyOR on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 01:03:12 AM EST
    This is the sweetest news I've had all day. OMG, nearly 9 pounds! You have a very strong daughter. :-)

    Sending good thoughts to the new parents and a big welcome to the wee lad.


    Congratulations, Grandma! (5.00 / 2) (#24)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 01:10:54 AM EST
    Babies are God's natural high. Glad to hear that mother and son are both doing well, so please revel in the moment. You deserve it.


    P.S.: That's a rather big baby for a first-time mother, isn't it? My nephew's wife had a baby boy three years ago who weighed 11 lb., 9 oz., and she was having such a difficult delivery -- almost 32 hours in labor -- that they ended up deciding to do a C-section. I'm happy that your daughter coped so well.


    I was 9.5 lb and my mother's first child. She (none / 0) (#31)
    by vml68 on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 12:36:30 PM EST
    weighed about 100lbs at the time. It was a drug free birth too. I can't imagine that I would ever be able to do that.

    LOL, Anne (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by NYShooter on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 03:00:11 AM EST
    You know I've always had a problem keeping up with you in some of your posts. (Remember "Dr. Anne?")

    Anyway, I was so excited for your grandson's arrival that when you wrote,"Baby is alert and calm and already starting to ..........I swear I read "walk & talk"  at the end.

    I know you come from a smart family, Anne, but "walking & talking" at ten mins. old is a stretch, even for you......LOL!


    Congratulations (5.00 / 4) (#26)
    by lentinel on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 05:11:42 AM EST

    Thanks for keeping us posted.

    I wish you and your family enduring happiness.

    Looking forward to the photos.


    Mazel tov! (5.00 / 3) (#29)
    by Zorba on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 12:21:58 PM EST
    And Να σας ζήσει!

    Congratulations, Grandma Anne!! (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by vml68 on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 12:29:12 PM EST
    And Congratulations to the new mom and dad,too.

    What a great gift during the holiday season (5.00 / 3) (#32)
    by MO Blue on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 07:04:40 AM EST
    Glad to hear that both Mom and baby are doing so well. Can't think of a better reason to celebrate by flying high.

    Nurse pranked by Aussie DJs dies. Suicide (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by caseyOR on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 04:22:37 PM EST
    is listed as the probable cause. The nurse who was fooled by a pair of Australian DJs who, posing as the Queen and Prince Charles, called the hospital where Kate was being treated for excessive morning sickness, has died of an apparent suicide.

    Jacinta Saldahna, a 46 year old mother of two, was found unconscious at her apartment this morning. Emergency workers were unable to revive her, and she died.

    This is so incredibly sad. The DJs stupid prank call went viral around the world, and this nurse was subject to all the cr@p that the internet kicks up.

    No, I cannot say for certain that the idiotic prank is what pushed her over the edge. Still, it is interesting timing and I am not much of a believer in coincidence. And whatever drove her to this, she leaves behind family and friends who loved her. It's sad, so very, very sad.

    Yes, this is indeed very sad (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Zorba on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 05:35:06 PM EST
    The woman may well have had other problems, but I do wonder, as you do, about the timing.  And I think that the Australian DJ's went way, way beyond the pale.
    May Jacinta rest in peace.

    Joe Scarborough demands this morning (none / 0) (#1)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 07:56:29 AM EST
    That Democrats completely get rid of the filibuster or they can never again complain about Republicans filibustering like I guess Mitch did yesterday filibustering his own legislation.  I think my teenage out of control daughter made such demands too if I remember correctly.

    In truth we all know that Joe would once again demand that Democrats find a way to shield voters from dealing with the fact that the Republican Party is absolutely stark raving nuts.  And it is embarrassing Joe that the party that claims to be the party for responsible adults is pubescent and lunatic :)

    Funniest first moment (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by Amiss on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 10:43:36 PM EST
    In history, Mitch McConnell filibustering his own bill that he himself introduced.

    Paging Coral Gables... (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 11:17:01 AM EST
    How'd you like the Knicks v. Heat game last night?

    No 'Melo, No Problem!

    Awful! (none / 0) (#8)
    by indy in sc on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 01:42:53 PM EST
    I realize you weren't paging me... :)

    However, my Heat losing to the woeful Wizards and then losing to a Carmelo-less Knicks team at home is not cool.

    On a separate note, I'm glad the Knicks look like the real deal this season.  The NBA is better when its marquee teams do well.  

    One last thing--P.J. Brown flipping Charlie Ward is my favorite Knicks/Heat rivalry moment (including Van Gundy hanging on to Zo's leg in the ensuing brawl).  


    All good indy... (none / 0) (#11)
    by kdog on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 03:01:25 PM EST
    I'll gloat with whoever is around;)

    It sure is nice to have the classic rivalry mean something again after the NYK lost decade.  We'll see what happens when Stoud comes back, but I think we're for real too.  Carmelo is playing the best ball of his life, we've got shooters galore, and my main man Tyson shooting 70 percent from the field.  

    Greatest moment...1999 Round 1 Game 5, 8 seed Knicks v 1 seed Heat...Allan Houston's miracle runner to win it in Miami.  


    BREAKING: The U.S. Supreme Court has ... (none / 0) (#15)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 03:48:34 PM EST
    ... agreed to consider the case of Perry v. Brown (Schwarzenegger) and rule on the constitutionality of California's controversial Proposition 8, in which voters approved a state constitutional amendment limiting the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, thus rescinding the previously -- if briefly -- recognized constitutional right of same-sex couples to marry.

    Oral arguments before the justices are expected to be offered in March 2013, with a subsequent ruling issued sometime in June.

    The Supreme Court also accepted the DOMA case (none / 0) (#16)
    by Peter G on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 03:57:25 PM EST
    from the Second Circuit - Edith Windsor's case, supported by the ACLU.  There is an issue in each case, however, whether there is a proper party before the court to defend the state government action (Perry) or the federal law (Windsor).  So the court could duck either or both cases in the end, if they choose to.  Pointing against that, on the other hand, in Perry they went out of their way to take on the broader issue -- must California, under the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause, extend its marriage system to same-sex couples -- and not just the narrower question arguably raised, that is, whether the people of California engaged in invidious discrimination by passing Prop 8 and repealing the right to marriage for gay couples, after the state Supreme Court had held it to be a protected right under the state constitution.

    The Supreme Court was (none / 0) (#19)
    by KeysDan on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 06:41:54 PM EST
    thought to announce what, if any, of the cases would be considered last Friday, and then, again, last Monday  The timing suggests to me that the discussions were more involved than is customary, and, maybe, even rather more spirited, focusing on skipping the cases for a while, or at least for this term.

    My feeling is fortified by the seeming complexity of the two orders and the charge to argue, for starters, points that could keep the Court from reaching fundamental constitutional questions.

    Perhaps, the matter of standing (Perry) and the fact that the Obama administration stopped defending the DOMA legislation as unconstitutional and the Republicans may not have standing, gives the Supreme Court the out some may have been looking for.

    In any event, we will have to wait and see. But, these are two critical cases--Perry, not only for a narrow California situation, but also, for other states with respect to withdrawing the right to marriage that has been granted by the state or courts.  And, DOMA, that blight on the Clinton Administration, needs to not only go, but also, to have the applicability of the full faith and credit clause clarified.


    Mahalo for the addendum on DOMA. (none / 0) (#20)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 06:43:10 PM EST
    The Supremes could indeed limit Prop. 8's impact strictly to California, perhaps by ruling to uphold Federal Judge Vaughn Walker's initial contention that the initiative's proponents lacked the necessary legal standing to appeal his ruling that Prop. 8 was unconstitutional, once the State of California had already officially declined to do so.

    That said, I've learned that it's a hazardous business to attempt to prognosticate outcomes on matters pending before the Supreme Court. We'll just have to stay tuned.

    IMHO, the plaintiffs in Perry do appear to have one huge asset in their favor, namely conservative attorney Ted Olson. I've really been very impressed with his body of work thus far, as well as his genuine commitment to ensuring a successful outcome for the LGBT community, but whether he can now persuade fellow conservatives who sit on the High Court to join him in the 21st century is certainly an open question.



    Newt's dream is about to get realized (none / 0) (#28)
    by Politalkix on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 12:11:51 PM EST

    "It had to happen: A start-up company is offering rides to the moon. Book your seat now -- though it's going to set you back $750 million (it's unclear if that includes baggage fees)."

    We can finally send Newt to the moon to establish his lunar colony. Now Newt has a lot of baggage, I just hope the company charges reasonable baggage fees. :-).