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From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…

Your Thursday Molly Ivins Moment

As Monday's ACA enrollnment deadline approaches (although we hear there's now some wiggle room if you at least start the process of signing up by the end of the month), we're moving our regular Thursday Molly snippet up top, with a reminder of where we were a dozen years ago in March of 2002:

Molly Ivins head shot
If you have health insurance, the system is a pain in the behind but it works. If you don't have health insurance, you are flat out of luck. And in case you hadn't noticed, more and more employers are deciding not to offer health insurance, or using "temporary" workers or out-sourcing various tasks so they won't have to cover the workers.

If you don't have health insurance, the system is an insane nightmare. A new book by Dr. Rudolph Mueller, "As Sick As It Gets: The Shocking Reality of America's' Healthcare" lays out the problems as well as any I've read. But the book is just one more grain of sand in the beaches of evidence we already have that the system is breaking up. […]

Conservatives reflexively start moaning about the cost of a "big, new government program." Actually, what's costly is the system we have now. Americans already spend 58 percent more than the weighted average of similar nations for health care.

"It is a system wasteful beyond belief and manipulated by a lobby focused on providing the highest profits for their self-interest and investors, and mammoth cash flows to companies that should not exist or not be involved in health care. The system is also paying for an extremely large number of sick people who would not be sick under any decent universal health care system," writes Mueller.

Obamacare infographic
...and only 4 days left to sign up.
I'm smack-dab in the single-payer camp, but I appreciate that the Affordable Care Act at least moves the ball down the field a fair pace. Insurers now have to provide a minimum amount of premium dollars on actual health care. Pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps have been done away with. Subsidies and Medicaid expansion are allowing a lot more people to finally get some face time with a doc, which translates into a healthier We The People, which translates into major cost savings and, boy, isn’t it funny how the deficit hawks never bring that up.

The Republican plan consists of repealing Obamacare wholesale and replacing it with…what? Tort reform and bake sales? Whee. Let's vote 'em back in the House and give 'em the Senate, too. Such bold visionaries.

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

Cheers and Jeers for Thursday, March 27, 2014

Note: Due to Billy's new religious objection to working on Monday, there will be no C&J on Monday.  But because he believes in redemption, he will rise again to post on Tuesday.  Your lights may flicker for a few seconds---this is normal.  ---God, as spoken through me
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Asheville Bread Festival  Oregon logo
16 days!!!
By the Numbers:
Days 'til April Fools Day: 5
Days 'til the Asheville Bread Festival in North Carolina: 16
Percent of uninsured Americans who had a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act last month and this month, respectively: 22%, 37%
Percent of uninsured adults who say they plan to remain without health insurance despite knowing of the federal exchange and the subsidies available to them: 50%
(Source: Kaiser Family Foundation poll)
Number of years 74 year-old Mary Virginia Jones spent in a California prison for a crime she didn’t commit: 32
Age of the cypress trees in the imperial gardens of China's Forbidden City: 300 years
(Source: NYT)
Boxes of Girl Scout cookies sold by Katie Francis of Oklahoma, a new record: 18,107
(Source: WSBT TV)

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Puppy Pic of the Day:  In Washington, a mudslide survivor is discovered.

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President Obama and the First Lady meet Pope Benedict XVI.
"How many popes you got
running around this joint?"
"AVE MARIA, BABY" to the POTUS and the Pontiff.  While conservative Catholics here seethed, President Obama and the First Lady visited with the Pope today.  After exchanging gifts (including DVDs of Sister Act and Sister Act II for Francis), they took the escalator down to the Vatican cafeteria to look for Virgin Marys in the grilled cheese sandwiches.  During their discussion on topics ranging from immigration to sexytime precautions, Francis let out a sigh and said, "Benedict, I know you're there, I can hear you breathing."  How he keeps getting into the heating duct no one knows.

P.S. I'm developing a new gritty crime drama that's actually called POTUS and the Pontiff.  Just putting this out there so everyone knows who came up with the idea after someone else steals it and wins a boatload of Emmys.

JEERS to today's edition of Helpful Signs That Let you Know Your Political Career is Finished.  If you're a California state senator---of either party, really, but in this case Democrat Leland Yee---and you get swept up in a corruption sting along with a guy named "'Shrimp Boy' Chow," it's over, dude.  This has been today's edition of Helpful Signs That Let you Know Your Political Career is Finished.

CHEERS to famous firsts in the land of Ringy Dingies.  On March 27, 1884, the first telephone line connecting Boston and New York went live.  It was soon followed by the first introduction of telephone "poles" between Boston and New York, mainly because people's horses kept tripping over the damn thing.

JEERS to assholes who commit domestic violence.  But CHEERS to the Supreme Court for ruling that a federal law banning gun possession by those same assholes passes constitutional muster:

United, for once.
The decision was a victory for gun control advocates and groups that work to protect battered spouses and children, and a defeat for gun rights organizations who argued the federal law goes too far.  For the justices, it came down to the proper definition of "physical force"---one that a majority of them decided did not have to be violent, or even directly applied to the victim by the abuser. Routine battery convictions, the court said, are sufficient to trigger the gun ban.
It's a big loss for the gun lobby and its mouthpiece, the NRA, judging by their standards.  Ha ha, there I go again.  Silly Billy…suggesting that the gun industry and its mouthpiece, the NRA, have standards.

CHEERS to parting shots.  Here's Michelle Obama's last dispatch from China, including an enactment of Teddy Roosevelt's motto "Speak softly and carry a big stick."  Caution: Squee Alert:

Coincidentally, the long-pole feeding method is how dinner has to be served to me these days by my partner Michael.  Or as I call him, "Mikey Sixfingers."

CHEERS to grand openings. On March 27, 1860, human civilization took a quantum leap forward when the corkscrew was patented by M. L. Byrn of New York City.  So no mail today seeing as it's a national holiday.  Or damn well oughtta be.

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Five years ago in C&J: March 27, 2009

CHEERS to suiting up for ACTION!  Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress this week that they want to have more superpowers.  Geithner wants the ability to "regulate and even take over financial goliaths whose collapse could imperil the entire economy."  Bernanke just wants X-ray vision and spidey sense.

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And just one more…

CHEERS to the return of an old friend.  (Hat tip to Atrios.)  First it was discovered.  Then barrels of virtual ink were exhausted analyzing it.  It bore several offspring, leading reproductive experts to label it, "one horny little devil."  But it was also mocked.  Mercilessly, scathingly, terribly, bloodthirstily, savagely, endlessly.  (Note: The preceding sentence fragment was paid for by the National Melodramatic Adverb Society.)  Soon it went into hiding, and was never heard from again.  Until now.  Fellow Kossacks, fire up your six-month countdown clocks because we got ourselves a fresh sighting of…The Friedman Unit:

Tom Friedman's mustache
The Mustache of Understanding
delivers a fresh Friedman Unit!
The morning after, he was the hero of Russia. Some moronic commentators here even expressed the wish that we had such a “decisive” leader. Well, let’s see what Putin looks like the morning after the morning after, say, in six months.
I never thought I'd say this, but: Putin, you magnificent bastard, you coaxed it out of him!  Start the countdown: Five months, 29 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes, 34 seconds…  Five months, 29 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes, 33 seconds…

Have a nice Thursday.  Floor's open...What are you cheering and jeering about today?

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Today's Shameless C&J Testimonial:

Creationists Demand Snarktime In Cheers and Jeers For The Sake Of Balance
---Right Wing Watch

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Poll

Which March birthday gaggle would you rather do lunch with?

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