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From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…

The end of the beginning

My Obamacare sign-up story so far: first attempt last fall crashed and burned, second attempt in February got me one step from the end and then I got the dreaded "Error ID:500.300588" message. After trying every day or two to finish up, on February 27th I clicked the ENROLL button one more time and…

Congratulations!

You've successfully completed all steps of your application. To activate your new coverage, you must pay your first month's premium by your plan's due date. Your plan will contact you in the next few days with details on how to pay, or visit your health plan online to make your payment now.

Now the next test: would the application I filled out at healthcare.gov make its way to my new insurance company (the non-profit Maine Community Health Options)? It was time to begin a "Billy vigil" under the front-door mail slot.

Obamacare infographic
2014 enrollment ends in 18 days.
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Day one turned into day two. Day two turned into day three and day four and day five. The neighbors started complaining about the gamey smell coming from our house. I refused to budge, allowing myself only a single 30-minute break per day to watch Judge Judy. Days turned into week. Week turned into weeks. And just as I was about to give up and impeach Obama, the postal carrier came and sent a nondescript envelope fluttering down like a feather of freedom onto my gaunt and withered frame. It was my Obamacare bill. It might as well have been the holy grail or, better, a crate full of Tootsie Pops. (But not the chocolate ones, blech.)

Writing the check for my first month of coverage wasn't too bad, with only a few do-overs due to screwing up the date, the amount, the payee's name and my signature. Plus the dog ate a few. Assuming the Post Office does its job, my payment will arrive on time and soon I'll get my official insurance card in the mail.

It's kinda strange getting insurance this way. I feel like I may actually have a smidgeon of power over my insurance company now. As long as I pay my premium each month (hundreds less than I would've had to pay pre-ACA) they have to cover me under the new federal rules. Big Insurance can no longer be the "Industry of No." They don’t get to shit on us anymore. No wonder Republicans keep trying to repeal it.

To be continued. Meanwhile Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Cheers and Jeers for Thursday, March 13, 2014

Note: I'm taking a stress break from Daily Kos starting now.  Okay, I'm back.
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Baconfest Atlanta 2014 logo
16 days!!!
By the Numbers:
Weeks 'til spring: 1
Days 'til BaconFest in Atlanta: 16
Number of runners expected in this year's Boston marathon, up 9,000 from last year: 36,000
Number of police officers who will patrol the event, twice as many as last year: 3,500
(Source: AP)
Rank of Paris among top tourist destinations in the world last year: #1
(Source: France)
Portion of Americans who have an artificial joint: 2-in-100
(Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons)
Percent chance that President Lincoln would've appeared with Zach Galifianakis between two ferns: 100%
(Source: Every human on the planet except Bill O'Reilly)

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Your Thursday Molly Ivins Moment:

Molly ivins publicity photo  --- small
South Dakota is so rarely found on the leading edge of the far out, the wiggy, the California-esque. But it has now staked its claim. First to Outlaw Abortion This Century. The state legislature of South Dakota, in all its wisdom and majesty, a legislature comprised of sons and daughters of the soil from Aberdeen to Zell, have usurped the right of the women of that state to decide whether or not to bear the child of an unwanted pregnancy. THEY will decide. Women will do what they decide.  …

In South Dakota, pharmacists can refuse to fill a prescription for contraceptives should it trouble their conscience, and some groups who worked on the anti-abortion bill believe contraception also needs to be outlawed. Good plan. After that, we'll reconsider women's property rights, civil right and voting rights.
---March, 2006

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Puppy Pic of the Day:  Gorgeous photo spread by Al Jazeera on the 2014 Iditarod.

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CHEERS to spooking the spooks.  Ha ha ha ha, the CIA got in trouble!  Senate intelligence committee chairpoobah Dianne Feinstein says the super-secret spy agency has been hacking into committee computers and making evidence of the agency's illegal torture program disappear.  It's ugly:

Drawing of a boy angel
CIA Director John Brennan
(2014 self portrait)
Feinstein described the escalating conflict as a “defining moment” for Congress’s role in overseeing the nation’s intelligence agencies and cited “grave concerns” that the CIA had “violated the separation-of-powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution.”

[CIA Director John] Brennan fired back during a previously scheduled speech in Washington, saying that “when the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong.”

Brennan also said, "We aren't trying to block anything."  He might have been more credible if his voice wasn't coming from Senator Feinstein's brooch.

JEERS to the fog of 24/7 news.  Here's what we know about the plane that went missing in Asia Saturday, according to the network, cable and online media:

Question mark
The plane was hijacked. Or not.
The plane made a weird sharp-left turn. Or not.
The pilot turned off the transponder. Or not.
The plane flew for hours after whatever happened. Or not.
Satellite photos show wreckage of the plane in the water. Or not.
It went down in the Sea of China.  Or not.
The Malaysian military is withholding information. Or not.
This was a UFO abduction authorized by Putin. Or….um…
We hope this clears up any confusion.

JEERS to another day in Fantasyland.  Right-wing nutjob Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association took a break from his anti-gay crusade yesterday to unleash a load of manure about Obamacare at fellow grifter Matt Barber's new web site, which I hear is tanking spectacularly.  I won’t bother to link to it, but here's Fishcer's conclusion, which is a textbook case of both concern trolling and false choice:

Hey. Love yer font.
Democrats are facing the prospect of almost certain political death in November.  As the saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures.  My advice to the Democrats: the time is now to lead the charge for the full, entire, unqualified repeal of ObamaCare.  Every last word.  Your only other alternative is to impeach your own president.  Time to pick your poison, Democrats.  Patch the boat by dumping ObamaCare and Obama or ride this puppy to the bottom of the ocean.  Your choice.  What will it be?
Isn't that great?  Takes me back to the playground when I was, like, six.  ("I know you are but what am I?")  But since he asked, my choice is actually to ride out a rough November and then plan for the upcoming 2016 destruction of the Republican party when the winds are at our back.  Oh, and we'll keep Obamacare, thanks.  And, if it's not too much trouble, Obama too.

CHEERS to great inventions. On this date in 1877, Chester Greenwood of Farmington, Maine got his patent for a new device called "earmufflers."  Normal people wear them to keep out the cold.  Conservatives wear them to keep out the truth.

CHEERS to the crisp, clean feeling of judicial clarity.  Gotta love the Supreme Court, where corporations are people, money is speech, and voting laws must be scrapped because they work too well.  But, amazingly, this week they actually handed down a ruling I can agree with: they're letting students use a word that I seem to recall using frequently in school without any fuss from my teachers:

I (Heart) Boobies bracelets
A victory for the kids.
The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday morning that it would not take on the case involving the Easton [PA] Area School District's desired ban on the "I (heart) boobies!" cancer awareness bracelets. The justices on Monday left in place a federal appeals court ruling striking down a ban on the bracelets. The ban was put in place by the Easton Area School District, which says the breast-cancer awareness bracelets are lewd in their use of sexual innuendo.
The ruling does not, however, apply to bracelets designed to create awareness of similar maladies in a South American bird.  Sorry, kids, but "I (heart) boobies' boobies!" is a bridge too far.

CHEERS to the little planet that tried but couldn't. On March 13, 1930, astronomers informed the world they had discovered Pluto.  Unable to handle the fame that followed, the ball of rock and ice with the eccentric (read: emotionally unstable) orbit ended up on the drunken-party circuit and was publicly canned:

Pluto and its moons
True fact: in space, no one can
hear you honk if you're horny.
Pluto and its moon Charon, which would both have been planets under the initial definition proposed Aug. 16, now get demoted because they are part of a sea of other objects that occupy the same region of space. Earth and the other eight large planets have, on the other hand, cleared broad swaths of space of any other large objects.  "Pluto is a dwarf planet by the ... definition and is recognized as the prototype of a new category of trans-Neptunian objects," states the approved resolution. Dwarf planets are not planets under the definition, however.
And speaking of places where the air is thin and the atmosphere's cold and rocky, how was the CPAC convention?

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Five years ago in C&J: March 13, 2009

CHEERS to last night's mea Cramer.  This morning I heard on CNN that The Daily Show's ratings have been up over 20 percent in the wake of Jon Stewart's tiff with CNBC.  Last night the numbers must've been dizzyingly high as Mad Money host Jim Cramer showed up and---unlike network hack Rick Santelli, who cancelled his appearance on the show out of cowardice---got a strong dose of populist medicine from the "Hardest-working Comedian Showing Journalists How to Actually Do Journalism":

The Daily Show graphic during the Jon Stewart/Jim Cramer 2009 debate over the crash.
Stewart: Look, no one is asking [CNBC] to be a regulatory agency.  But whose side are [you] on? ... These guys at these companies were on a Sherman's march through their companies---financed by our 401ks.  And all the incentives at their companies were for short-term profit, and they burned the fuckin' house down with our money and walked away rich as hell.  You guys knew that was going on.
Cramer, stumbling around with all the coherence of Dilbert's pointy-haired boss, made a solemn vow to change.  And he did.  On last night's show, his sound effects were a bit different: "We at CNBC acted like a bunch of [Oink! Oink!], promising [Ch'Ching!] but delivering [Thhppppt!!], so now we're eating [Caw! Caw!] and watching our ratings go [Splat!]."  Yeah...much better.

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And just one more…

CHEERS to U.S. Mint'y freshness.  Woo hoo!!!  The new state quarter's here!  The new state quarter's here!  Check out your new baby, Tennessee:

Tennessee state quarter from the
"Damn bird keeps crappin'
on mah roof. Scram, ya!"
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park quarter is the first of 2014 and the 21st overall in the America the Beautiful Quarters Program.  This national park features wondrous biodiversity, with ridge upon ridge of forest straddling the border between Tennessee and North Carolina.  It is America's most-visited national park.

The reverse design depicts a historic log cabin found within Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  It features a segment of the lush green forest and hawk circling above.

A rumor I plan to read on the internet as soon as I finish writing and posting it says that if you look real close, you'll see that the engraver added a happy little marijuana crop.  Huhhuhhuh…money's cool.

Have a mellow Thursday.  We'll be shoveling out from another storm as usual, seeing as we're in Maine and it's a day ending in y.  Floor's open...What are you cheering and jeering about today?

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Today's Shameless C&J Testimonial:

"if you were to stick a microphone in front of most parents and you ask them: 'Is your vision for this little 6-year-old boy, 8-year-old boy, 9-year-old, 10-year-old boy that he turn into Bill in Portland Maine?'  My guess is that 60 to 70 percent of them would say, 'That would be my worst nightmare.'"
---Kevin Swanson

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