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(Okay, maybe not the entire history of sports, with the heroic actions of Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, Jack Johnson, Althea Gibson and so many others who paved the way for the integration of sports. But at least in this new century...)

With the happenings of the past 72 hours, it would be easy to think that I am referring to one of the many responses to the newly released but unsurprising alleged racist musings of LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling. If I were simply referring to a good response, I'd have plenty to choose from -- from the words of President Obama, to Doc Rivers, to the normally-notoriously-quiet-on-these-matters Michael Jordan.

I could be referring to the black socks and/or accessories worn by several teams as protest after initially writing off the idea as "radical", instead choosing to make a show of solidarity. I could be referring to the creative messages displayed by fans at stadiums. Or, I could be talking about the beautiful symbolic move by the Clippers as they removed their team gear and piled it at half-court during warmups, which brought tears to the eyes of more than one sports fan.

But as important as each of those responses is in its own way -- and many could and have argued that much more should have been done -- they are all just the beginning of what will ultimately be done in this story.

No, I'm not talking about anything having to do with Donald Sterling, the LA Clippers, or the NBA. Across the Atlantic Ocean this weekend, the ugly head of racism once again reared its head in the world's most popular sport.

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After yet another Mitt Romney appearance on this morning's Meet the Press, I feel the need to get this quick rant off my chest.

Hey Mitt Romney... Shut up. Just shut the eff up already. No one cares about your views on every issue that pops up, no matter how badly your ego feels the need to inject itself into the national conversation.

No one really wants to hear the Olympic "expertise" of someone who relied on a massive federal bailout to get his disastrous Games off the ground.

No one wants to hear the most dishonest candidate in the history of American elections lecture the President on losing Americans' trust.

No one wants to hear the father of the Massachussetts health care plan, which happens to be the "same f#@"ing bill" as the Affordable Care Act, talk about how he knew the substance of the law would be a disaster.

No one wants to hear that it's the "right of the people" -- meaning a majority of the people ten years ago -- to infringe upon the rights of any minority, and that the courts are overstepping their bounds by wading into the issue of same-sex marriage.

No one wants to hear the evidence-free argument that same-sex marriage should be prevented "because of the children". No one wants to hear your equivocations as to whether or not psychologists and sociologists back you up...yet, because you:

...think it's going to take a long, long time to determine whether having gay marriage will make it less likely for kids to be raised in settings where there's a mom and a dad. That's not going to happen overnight. It's something that happens over generations, in fact, and again, I think the ideal setting is where there's a mom and a dad that can invest their time and their resources in supporting the development of a child.
No one wants to hear that marriage should be left the way it's "traditionally been" for the last several thousand years, especially from a man whose family fled this country to practice a type of marriage that didn't conform to the American traditional norm.

I could go on all day. Really, I could. But I'd just be saying the same thing.

Go away, Mitt. Go to one of your many homes, and play with your beautiful grandkids. Go skiing, take a boat ride, or fly around the world. Ride that car elevator if it's finished, and enjoy the life that you "worked" so hard to steal from all the pensions of hard working Americans.

But please, whatever you do... Shut the eff up.

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Tue Sep 24, 2013 at 10:18 PM PDT

(Not) Defending the ACA on MoJoe

by newinfluence

With friends like these, who needs grandstanding Republicans?

This morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe, the show hosted the President and CEO of Mayo Clinic, Dr. John Noseworthy, to have a discussion about the Affordable Care Act. In the shadow of President Obama's appearance at the Clinton Global Initiative with former President Bill Clinton, the MoJoe crew had what has become an all-too-familiar sight on the sole "liberal" news channel -- particularly in the morning. I'll admit, I rarely, if ever, watch MSNBC in the morning anymore, but I was interested in several of this morning's guests, so I recorded the show to watch tonight. I was disappointed by what I heard.

Mika Brzezinski kicked off the interview with Dr. Noseworthy. (Italics and brackets added to express original emphasis):

We're hearing a lot this week about Obamacare; President Clinton's going to have a [makes air quotes] conversation with President Obama about it... and there's lots of criticism for how expensive this law is going to be on businesses, how it's just going to cripple this country... Do you agree with that? Are there any ways in which Obamacare brings healthcare costs down?
Dr. Noseworthy replied with a rather lukewarm but diplomatic answer, saying that it was good that all Americans would have access to insurance, but that the bill simultaneously didn't go far enough in some areas and was somewhat burdensome in others. Mika followed up first with a question by cutting off the beginning of a question on if the law should be repealed, substituting it for asking "what he made of" the defunding effort.
"Overall, do you think the law is something that should be -- look at the defund Obamacare effort. What do you make of that as opposed to what we have here?"
Dr. Noseworthy had prepared a number of soundbites for his appearance, centered on the fact that Mayo Clinic would abide by the law -- uh, yeah! -- and that they've made changes to be more efficient in how they treat patients to meet the new standards, though they've been making those changes forever (so any credit for better care should go to them, not Obamacare), and that the law needed to be changed in how it deals with places like Mayo -- changes that Mayo Clinic would be actively lobbying Congress for.

(Full disclosure: I have been a patient at Mayo Clinic, and credit the doctors there with having saved my life. I have nothing but respect them, and believe that changes likely do need to be made, though I know that such changes are a normal part of comprehensive laws such as the ACA; they aren't fatal flaws that require repeal.)

The interview continued along in a pretty standard way, until Donny Deutsch asked the doctor to give a way that care would be better, and a way that Obamacare was going to make people's experience of care worse at Mayo Clinic. When Dr. Noseworthy began to recap an earlier answer about revamping all processes in patient processing and care, Deutsch persisted:

DEUTSCH: "How about the down side? Create one scenario where, okay, we don't love it, but because of the new law actually.. [trails off]"
NOSEWORTHY: "Well, I think consumers need to be careful about the products they buy on the networks... that they... make sure the premiums, that doesn't cover everything. the premiums are simply what it costs to get the [insurance coverage]..."
DEUTSCH: "What were you able to do a year ago that you won't be able to do for me now, Donny Deutsch, I walk in, I'm getting one of those three-day Mayo complete workovers. What can't you give me now for the same thing?"
Putting aside the incredibly privileged focus on Mayo Clinic's "Executive Health Program" products (the 3 day checkup that Deutsch referenced), the truthful answer to that question should have been "Nothing". Instead, the doctor said that as a result of the new law, the new insurance products may not cover Mayo's services, meaning you would be forced to pay out of pocket. However, this has ALWAYS been the case, as Mayo requires pre-payment or a deposit for many services that are not covered (or covered fully) by private insurance. (Mayo Clinic also does not accept Medicare Part B for most people residing outside of Minnesota.)

One of the things that is heard when complaints are made to MSNBC about Joe Scarborough is that he is most often the only Conservative voice at a table of liberals. However, as is clear to any who watch, the voices trend towards Beltway centrism -- if not outright Conservative dogma -- whenever discussions are had on the topics of foreign policy, economics, or entitlement issues. I guess now we can add healthcare to the mix.

With the many roadblocks thrown at the roll-out of the ACA by Congress and red-state governors, media -- particularly "liberal" outlets -- must pick up some of the burden of educating the public about the law. When the anchor program of the morning and its audience of older Americans are subjected to the kind of slanted commentary and incomplete information that Morning Joe demonstrates on a daily basis, that job becomes more difficult. But when a trusted medical voice comes in on a morning when Joe Scarborough is absent, and the editorial slant is still anti-Obamacare, I begin to fear that the job of educating and facilitating the public's smooth transition to the new law is getting more difficult, not easier. It means we must be louder voices -- in spite of the law's admitted shortcomings, the status quo is a far-worse reality in which we've lived -- and help be "navigators" for those whose only understanding of the law comes from what they hear from such sources, and to correct misinformation when it is made apparent. Success depends on it.

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Just in: it is being reported that multiple people have been shot at a Harris County, TX college. Early reports suggest that the gunman is in custody. More to come as available...

2:11 PM EST: MSNBC is reporting that Lone Star College North Harris Campus is the location of the shooting. The campus is under lockdown.

UPDATE: Sorry, I didn't realize that there's a limit on the update function. I'll update the body from here on out.

2:25 PM EST: KPRC is reporting that one gunman is in custody and police are searching for a second suspect. Facebook accounts suggest 3 people were shot, while authorities are not confirming.

2:34 PM EST: KPRC is reporting that multiple witnesses say that the shooting was a result of an argument in the library, where 2 people fought and then pulled guns on one another and began firing.

2:39 PM EST: MSNBC reporting 3 or 4 shot, one in custody, one person possibly being treated for a heart attack. Some indication that this is gang related. Again, authorities are not confirming.

2:42 PM EST: CNN has Harris County College's Jed Young, Exec. Director of Comm., who released the following information: The call began at 12:31 CST, and was reportedly between 2 individuals. 2 students appear to have been caught in the crossfire. Police believe the situation is under control. One shooter was shot and is in custody. One shooter fled the campus.

2:53 PM EST: In case any Houston-area parents are reading, local Harris County schools are under security precautions, and will be delaying dismissal today.

3:00 PM EST: Police reporting 3 people are injured, and 1 is in custody. No mention about the reported heart attack.

3:37 PM EST: I need to step away to finish up some work for about an hour. I'll check back in as soon as I can. In the meantime, if any news breaks, please feel free to add it in the comments and I'll update it when I'm back in front of a TV and computer. Thanks for your help thus far, and please... keep it civil in an emotionally-difficult time.

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Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 12:00 PM PST

BREAKING: Clarence Thomas Speaks

by newinfluence

A short diary about a short comment...

Breaking his six year streak of silence, Justice Clarence Thomas today uttered his first words during argument since 2006... to tell a joke. According to SCOTUSblog's paraphrase, Justice Thomas implied that a lawyer who attended his alma mater, Yale Law, may be seen as incompetent rather than competent due to his place of schooling. According to Business Insider, observers and members of the Court alike were stunned by Justice Thomas's comment.

Personally, if I was breaking an historic streak, I would have said something meaningful. Then again, a joke might be the most meaningful contribution he's yet made, and carries symbolic importance for the man who is himself one of the cruelest and biggest jokes in the Supreme Court's history.

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Slightly right

OHIO (CFNS- Completely Frivolous News Service) -- In a story that has absolutely no bearing on anything, thereby making it a sure pickup by the national media, video evidence has surfaced this weekend suggesting that Ann Romney has emulated Michelle Obama's latest iconic fashion choices. If you recall, one of the stories that the media obsessed over following the First Lady's epic Tuesday Speech was the color of her nail polish. Multiple crack investigative reporter teams were dispatched to determine the exact shade and maker of the nail polish used. The discussion of her nail color even rated trending status, and a good bit of buzz in the entertainment and fashion press.

In reviewing Mrs. Romney's Friday's interview with KWQC (full video interview below), where Mrs. Romney so graciously informed the interviewer what this election was going to be about while refusing to address questions related to the financial and health choices of families, equality of marriage rights or any other "off-message" topics (you know, "unimportant" distractions to her list of issues, because "she knows, she's been out there" that people aren't interested in these things), the former Massachusetts First Lady seemed to be sporting a new nail color... which appears to be the same one sported by Michelle Obama mere nights before. Also that day, in a speech at the University of Findlay's Winebrenner Auditorium, Mrs. Romney appeared to sport the same new matte-gray color (see photos below).

Nailpolishgate attributed

The Romney campaign has not commented on the nail color switch, but this reporter chooses to conclude that the decision was a conscious one, in an attempt to get some of the same positive buzz that surrounded the First Lady's speech, out of a complete misconception that the power in Mrs. Obama's speech was in the decoration of her fingertips rather than its inspired content. As the Romney Campaign's official adviser and ambassador for Women's Issues, we have heard that Mrs. Romney continues to report to her husband that the true women's issue is the nation's debt, taxes and regulation, not silly issues like personal healthcare decisions and affordable access thereto, equality on every level, a stable long-term certainty through Social Security and Medicare, support services for low-income women and their children, or basic education and opportunities - all of which would be slashed by a Romney/Ryan administration. Perhaps we should now add nail polish color to the (very) short list of the Romney campaign's priorities for women and the nation.

We now return you to less snarky programming.

Image sources: Michelle Obama, spoiledpretty.com; Ann Romney, original screen grabs from YouTube/ video material found below the break.

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Sometime last week, I was perusing through the comments section on another site, and came across a comment that has stuck with me. It was written by someone who I've figured out from following his comments since is around 70. The previous comments in the thread were all centered around making fun of Mitt Romney, mainly for his Mormonism. The man made a comment asking commenters to consider not mocking Romney for his religious beliefs. The other commenters' replies were rationalizations and deflections, and they continued on with their vein of comments. He moved on. I haven't.

That commenter's action has stuck with me. It's stuck with me because I have been bothered every time I've seen a comment mocking Mitt for his "magic underwear" and said exactly nothing about it. The bottom line is that I've been a coward. I've been too afraid that people that I don't know and will likely never meet will lash out when being called on their inappropriate behavior. But after being bothered for these past days, the final straw came today, when I read how commenters were talking about the President.

How can we ever hope to elevate the debate in this country if we act in exactly the same way that the hateful fringe is? Why is it okay to mock someone's most deeply-held beliefs just because we disagree with them? Don't get me wrong, I find Romney/Ryan dangerous to our nation. But there is more than more than enough to point to in their policies and actions without resorting to cheap Mormon insults. Pointing out his hypocrisy and mendacity is far-more effective than making polygamy jokes. There's no ground gained in convincing the other side by stooping to the depths that the birthers, Islamophobes, and anti-equality crowd have inhabited.

I have seen too-many instances of rationalization when a change is called for. Mocking all religions might be en vogue with some, but it doesn't make it more right. Just as those have the right to not exercise any faith, those who do deserve the same respect. No one in their right mind would substitute "yarmulke" for "magic underwear", yet because we see Mormonism as suspect, we feel the freedom to demean those who have a deeply-rooted belief in its teachings. I have heard the famous use the "magic underwear" phrase and I have seen various forms in comment sections all around the internet. It needs to stop. These attacks only make the unconvinced harden to the message and Romney seem more sympathetic. It makes the liberal message seem judgemental and hypocritical. We can't both fight for equality for our LGBT family and marginalize Mormons at the same time... and retain any credibility. We can't condemn Pamela Gellar and the Islamophobic crowd when we use slurs against the religion of our political opponent.

Have at Romney for his stiffness, his business practices, his taxes, his chronic dishonesty, his allergy to specifics, his bully-like behavior, his flip-flopping, his running mate, his horrible policies... even for Seamus. But for the love (or not) of God (or not), leave the Mormon jokes alone.

Update: Perhaps I need to be clearer. I'm not endorsing any belief of Mormonism, nor do I have any issue with people taking a serious, thoughtful approach at examining a faith or its practice. For instance, how the Mormon church has approached the issue of gay marriage, women in the church, or race issues. This diary isn't the place for that, though. I am talking about taking something that you find silly and using it to mock someone else. I am talking about using someone's faith as a smear. I am talking about living up to the liberal ideals of respect and community harmony.
 

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The alarm clock isn't set to go off for another two hours, but here you are, awake, far too early. You knew from the second that you began to stir that this was going to be one of "those" days. A difficult day. One where every symptom of your disease or difficulty that comes with your disability manifests itself. A day when the simplest of tasks seems like climbing a mountain peak, and when difficult tasks become impossible. One thing is certain... days like this can be overwhelming. Whether we deal with physical or mental health-related disabilities, learning to deal with difficult days can be the difference between a life of frustration and a life of fulfillment. Follow me below the jump for a discussion about tools for dealing with difficult days.

KosAbility is a community diary series posted at 5 PM ET every Sunday and Wednesday by volunteer diarists. This is a gathering place for people who are living with disabilities, who love someone with a disability, or who want to know more about the issues surrounding this topic.  There are two parts to each diary.  First, a volunteer diarist will offer their specific knowledge and insight about a topic they know intimately. Then, readers are invited to comment on what they've read and or ask general questions about disabilities, share something they've learned, tell bad jokes, post photos, or rage about the unfairness of their situation. Our only rule is to be kind; trolls will be spayed or neutered.
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Wed Aug 01, 2012 at 08:17 AM PDT

Really, Mitt Romney. Really!?

by newinfluence

I had to pinch myself this morning to make sure I wasn't dreaming. After all, no national candidate, let alone the freaking Republican Nominee for President, could actually triple flip on an issue within 24 hours. TWICE. Really, Mitt Romney. The whole "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" into "The bailout was my idea" flip-flop was - let's face it - a little impressive. After all, it takes an unprecedented level of cynicism to hold both positions and believe that it wouldn't hurt one's electoral chances. But now, we're back to "Obama Sucks for the bailout"!?

But wait! You'll remember the little kerfuffle about how Israel's financial success and the Palestinians' lack thereof is due to "culture." Romney took to Fox News to complain about the media and defiantly proclaim that he didn't say that. People amazed that he would try to get away with that. In an era of strong journalists, he would be excoriated for such an attempt. But that's not now, and he knows it. So now, just 24 hours after saying "I didn't say that", we get this op-ed in National Review Online.

During my recent trip to Israel, I had suggested that the choices a society makes about its culture play a role in creating prosperity, and that the significant disparity between Israeli and Palestinian living standards was powerfully influenced by it. In some quarters, that comment became the subject of controversy.

But what exactly accounts for prosperity if not culture?

Really. Really?!

This display of utter contempt for the process, our geo-political situation, and the American people has left me angry beyond words. I can't help but think back to a quote from The West Wing, where the Republican nominee, Robert Ritchie, utters a quote that fires up Jed Bartlet in his re-election effort. I can't help but picture President Obama and Mitt Romney in thee roles, hearing President Obama re-appropriating the quote with today's situation in mind:

Obama: "In the future, if you're wondering, 'But what accounts for prosperity if not culture' is when I decided to kick your ass."
Discuss

Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 03:31 PM PDT

Steele Admits GOP Lies

by newinfluence

On today's Hardball, guest hosted by Michael Smerconish, former RNC Chair Michael Steele admitted that while they do know the truth, Republican pols have been seeking to mislead the public about the Affordable Care Act penalty. Furthermore, he admits that the Romney campaign's statement that the penalty isn't a tax has thrown a wrench into the GOP's plans to deceive the electorate.

Smerconish: Hey Michael, one of the ramifications - I think -  of the Supreme Court decision is that many Americans are walking around saying "Oh, the Supreme Court confirmed it's a tax", and people who won't be subject to any increase are nevertheless thinking "I'm getting taxed...for Obamacare "

Steele: Yeah, yeah. There is, there is that element of confusion that now exists out there, you're again talking about a small percentage of people - those who do not comply with the new law - who would be subject to this penalty/tax. But the broader population believes it applies to them. That is part of the narrative that the RNC and Republicans around the country are going to be driving home, which is why what was said yesterday on the program was kind of a gaffe...
(TRANSCRIPT IS PARTIAL AND UNOFFICIAL)

People who know the truth need to realize that the responsibility falls on their shoulders. If the ACA and healthcare reform is important to you, speak out the truth! If the GOP gets its way and takes back the Senate or the White House, we'll be headed back to the GOP's 2009 plans for healthcare, which was found by the CBO to cost more and cover even fewer people than were covered before the reforms we have now were put in place.
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Picture a setting sun over the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. Or the sparkling of sunlight as it blankets a snowy mountainside. Imagine gathering with distant loved ones around a holiday table. These are the kinds of things that do more for my spirit than any medication can. Disability makes accessing places like this more challenging, but more rewarding as well, and finding ways to explore and discover new places expands the boundaries of limitation in our lives.

KosAbility is a community diary series posted at 5 PM ET every Sunday and Wednesday by volunteer diarists. This is a gathering place for people who are living with disabilities, who love someone with a disability, or who want to know more about the issues surrounding this topic.  There are two parts to each diary.  First, a volunteer diarist will offer their specific knowledge and insight about a topic they know intimately. Then, readers are invited to comment on what they've read and or ask general questions about disabilities, share something they've learned, tell bad jokes, post photos, or rage about the unfairness of their situation. Our only rule is to be kind; trolls will be spayed or neutered.
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KosAbility is a community diary series posted at 5 PM ET every Sunday and Wednesday by volunteer diarists. This is a gathering place for people who are living with disabilities, who love someone with a disability, or who want to know more about the issues surrounding this topic.  There are two parts to each diary.  First, a volunteer diarist will offer their specific knowledge and insight about a topic they know intimately. Then, readers are invited to comment on what they've read and or ask general questions about disabilities, share something they've learned, tell bad jokes, post photos, or rage about the unfairness of their situation. Our only rule is to be kind; trolls will be spayed or neutered.
Let me first say how happy I am to be writing my first diary for KosAbility! I had planned to write about traveling abroad and how frustrating though still rewarding it can be. I had planned to write about the adventure of traveling as a mobility-impaired visitor in different countries, and how to make the most of your trip. I had planned on writing about how frustrating it can be to feel like a foreigner in your own country, not knowing from state to state how accessibility issues are handled: like finding your car towed because the state you are visiting has revoked its recognition of your home state's disabled parking placard. But I just can't.

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