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From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…

Close But No Cigar

Here's the latest in my epic healthcare.gov saga. After a false start last fall and a brief pause to get a form completed last week, I tried again yesterday. I made it through all the questions they asked and then set about picking a plan.

Here in Maine we have two providers from which to choose: Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Maine Community Health Options. I'm not a fan of BC/BS. I think of them as one of the behemoths who spent an awful lot of time jacking up premiums to increase their profit margin while committing all the sins against their members that made the Affordable Care Act so desperately needed in the first place. So I'm planning on going with the Community Health option. They sound like good folks.

Hut in water in tropics
I hope my silver plan lets me choose
the doctor who practices here.
While perusing my options, I heard a nice little "Silver" plan calling my name. ("Billeh! Billeh! I'll protect ye!") Covers 70 percent of expenses. $2k deductible. $6,350 out-of-pocket maximum. All the drugs I need for $15 bucks each. Poetry slam every Friday night and a ride over Portland in the blimp of my choice. And with a modest subsidy, my monthly premium is only $243. That's eminently fair. My previous, pre-Obamacare premium (this goes back six years) was in the neighborhood of $550. Wow---I wuz robbed!

So I'm happy with ol' Community Health Silver. But...grrrr...the web site wasn't happy with me because, as close as I got, it just wouldn't let me enroll yesterday. Technical glitch, it said. I'll try again today.

Oh, and a final thought. When I sign up for my Obamacare plan, I hope I won’t need to use it to any major extent for a long time. But I'm perfectly happy to pay into the insurance pool every month, knowing that my premiums will go to those who do need it. That's how insurance works. That's how it's always worked. And to see conservatives freaking out over something so basic by calling it tyranny and communism and [insert GOP invective du jour here] is amazing. I understand that my premiums will help them stay healthy, too, and I'm cool with that. In fact, I hope they make use of the mental health services available. They could use a few sessions of anti-delusion therapy.

To be continued...

Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Cheers and Jeers for Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Note: Please sign here...[Scribble Scribble]...and here...[Scribble Scribble]...and initial here...[Scribble Scribble]...and congratulations, you now own Greenland.
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Mt. Angel Wurstfest logo
17 days!!!
By the Numbers:
Days 'til all Boston Red Stockings players have to report for spring training: 9
Days 'til the Mt. Angel Wurstfest in Oregon: 17
Percent of African Americans over 50 who believe there are "many pleasant things about growing older": 79%
Percent of white Americans over 50 who believe there are "many pleasant things about growing older": 69%
(Source: AARP poll)
Percent of Catholics surveyed around the world who support the use of modern birth control methods: 78%
(Source: Univision survey)
Average Portland, Maine snowfall through Feb. 10, and the actual amount we've gotten this winter: 36", 56"
(Source: NWS via The Portland Press Herald)
Percent chance the Newark Star-Ledger regrets endorsing Chris Christie: 100%
(Source: Newark Star-Ledger)

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Tuesday Words of Wisdom from the Right-wing Blogosphere:

I made a note to revisit this gem from two years ago --BiPM:

Despite all the stumbling around, we Republicans have finally picked our candidate. Santorum will take the lead in the national polls. Newt is toast. Mitt’s supposed latest firewall in Arizona and Michigan will not hold up for him. Rick will be a great candidate for the general.
---Commenter vgreaser at the Michelle Malkin blog
All together now: 1…2…3… Whoops!

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Puppy Pic of the Day:  Mainers pursue glory at Westminster. (Best in Show gets awarded tonight on USA Network)

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CHEERS to an equal and opposite reaction.  Today is officially designated as The Day We Fight Back.  It's 24 hours to honor the memory of Aaron Swartz and let the NSA-telco-industrial complex know we've still got our eye on 'em:

The Day We Fight Back logo
A broad coalition of activist groups, companies, and online platforms will hold a worldwide day of activism in opposition to the NSA's mass spying regime on February 11th. Dubbed "The Day We Fight Back," the day of activism was announced on the eve of the anniversary of the tragic passing of activist and technologist Aaron Swartz. The protest is both in his honor and in celebration of the victory over the Stop Online Piracy Act two years ago this month, which he helped spur.  [P]otentially millions of Internet users [will] pressure lawmakers to end mass surveillance---of both Americans and the citizens of the whole world.
Daily Kos is one of the official sponsors, along with a plethora of other heavy hitters from around the globe.  So take action and fight back.  I'll probably go with a combination of emails, phone calls and running around with scissors.

This undated image provided by the  Walsh campaign shows John Walsh, who announced his candidacy Thursday Oct. 3, 2013 for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Max Baucus after next year. (AP Photo/Walsh Campaign)
As of today, call him Senator John Walsh.
CHEERS to the new kids on the job.  Today Montana's Lieutenant Governor, John Walsh, gets sworn in by Joe Biden as our newest Democratic (but not exactly progressive) Senator.  He replaces Max Baucus, who will rely on his awkwardness with chopsticks to keep the Chinese entertained as that country's new U.S. Ambassador.  Meanwhile, freshly-minted Fed Chief Janet Yellen appears before the House Financial Services Committee today to give her first update on monetary policy.  Among those on the committee is Michele Bachmann.  To prevent her from gumming up the hearing with stupid questions, Yellen will take predecessor Ben Bernanke's advice and toss her some chocolate coins to keep her occupied.

JEERS to Dixie do-overs.  Another winter storm is threatening the south, bringing back the too-fresh memories of the last debacle. Here's the latest NWS map:

Weather forecast for Feb. 11, 2014 via NWS
This time the proper authorities around Atlanta say they're ready for the snow, sleet and freezing rain.  In fact, they're so ready that they've already arranged valet parking on all the highways.

CHEERS to the guy who really was the brightest bulb in the box.  Happy 167th Birthday (and many blessings on your tungsten filaments) to fellow Ohio native Thomas Edison.  He invented the light bulb, the phonograph, the Snuggie and the ShamWOW! (the last two during his slow descent into madness).  Pay your respects here.  Today is also Sarah Palin's birthday---she turns 50.  Or as she likes to call it: 50 sun orbits around the earth.

Google's icon during the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi.
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JEERS to today's boring correction.  Some "ex-gay activist" named Dean Bailey is very sad that last Friday Google changed its home page to a special rainbow Olympic logo in defiance of Russia's anti-LGBT laws.  But he gets it wrong, by which I mean
"I noticed late yesterday that you are once again showing your normal, homo-fascist attitude by shoving a pro-homosexual image in the face of everyone who uses your search engine."
This is inaccurate.  The correct phrase is "shoving a pro-homosexual image down the throats of everyone who uses your search engine."  We urge Mr. Bailey to refrain from thinking for himself, and instead stick to the Frank Luntz-approved talking points provided to him by the modern-day conservative movement.  We're sure he regrets the error, and we'll let him off this time with a light and playful spanking from Reince Priebus.

CHEERS to caffeine in the clear.  Twenty-two years ago today, a study said drinking three cups of coffee per day doesn't increase your risk of heart disease.  But it does raise your risk of peeing like a racehorse every 5 minutes.

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Five years ago in C&J: February 11, 2009

JEERS to a bit of a nip in the air.  The last time Maine broke a low-temperature record was in 1925 when the mercury bungee-jumped to 48 below zero.  Yesterday the NOAA confirmed that our state posted a new record last month when the temperature suddenly plunged to 50 below on January 23rd.  We hope Ms. Coulter enjoyed her brief stay here.

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And just one more…

CHEERS to spending an evening with your favorite buds.  In San Bernardino, California, the marijuana world's equivalent of the Oscars---the High Times Cannabis Cup---was held over the weekend:

High Times Canabis Cup
The thousands in attendance spent the majority of the weekend in the medication area---indulging in complementary hits, dabs, and edibles while being truly excellent to each other. An overwhelming sense of friendliness was evident, which was a nice departure from the overly-aggressive frat boy vibe normally associated with festival events.

The crowd ranged ostensibly, from uninspired mooks to mature connoisseurs to patients with legitimate health concerns. It was proof that everybody smokes weed, not just the fat and lazy layabouts that Nancy Grace would like to pigeonhole every user as.

The Best Inica was "XXX OG" by Life is Good Healing.  The Best Hybrid was "Gorilla Glue #4" by Standard Seed Collective.  And the Best Sativa was "Red Dragon" by RCP Sacramento.  C&J congratulates all the winners, who we understand are still giving their acceptance speeches in the parking lot.

Have a Tuesday worthy of your talents.  Mine was chainsaw juggling until about 10 seconds ago.  Floor's open...What are you cheering and jeering about today?

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Today's Shameless C&J Testimonial:

Cheers and Jeers has been a non-starter in recent years in the Deep South, where many Republican lawmakers feared it could lead to widespread drug use and social ills. That now appears to be changing, with proposals to allow C&J gaining momentum in a handful of Southern states.
---The Associated Press

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