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Tuesday Links

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Oil spill is impacting economy in Texas City with a ripple effect across the coast

Robot writes LA Times earthquake breaking news article

Turkey Twitter ban is 'a losing battle', expert claims

The divisions behind the Ukraine crisis

Fox News Host: When Will Missing Plane Be Found If It 'Took Us 2,000 Years To Find Noah's Ark'?

Billionaire leaves Gov. Rick Scott's re-election campaign after racist incident

Why Does Mississippi Want to Execute Michelle Byrom?

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Same-sex marriage ban in Texas ruled unconstitutional. Two tweets say it all. #LGBT

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gay rights liza minelli sign same-sex marriage

Another win for same-sex marriage and gay rights as another homophobic, backwards, discriminatory attempt to legally keep loving couples apart bites the dust. The Texas ban on marriage equality has been ruled unconstitutional. So there.

Yay

Here's the  Los Angeles Times breaking news email alert:

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia today ruled that a ban on same-sex marriage in Texas is unconstitutional because it deprives gay couples of due process and equal protection.

The ruling does not allow same-sex couples to immediately marry because the judge stayed the injunction pending any appeal.

The score: Same-sex marriage a Zillion, sad little ignorami Zero. Or something.

Two tweets came across my Twitter stream immediately after the news broke, and they must be shared. They come via two of my favorite Twitter pals, Igor Volsky and Ali Davis. Once you read them, you'll understand why I follow them:

texas gay marriage lgbt ruling tweet Igor Volsky

texas gay marriage lgbt ruling tweet Ali Davis

Another Twitter buddy tweeted this:

Imagine that.

It's wonderful how so few words can speak volumes. Sometimes less is so much more. Thank you Igor, Ali, and Joe.

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Blue Cross Blue Shield health care disaster: Man with brain tumor needs care STAT, not a death panel.

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Lolly Jean Twitter profile health care

One of my longtime Twitter pals, @Lolly_Jean, is desperately trying to raise the profile of what health care insurance companies are doing in the employer provided field; maybe shaming Blue Cross into allowing her husband to continue the care they have already approved, the care her husband was receiving until he became sick, will help.

She has tried tweeting to news and cable outlets to no avail. Any suggestions anyone might have to help her raise the profile of this devastating issue--for her husband and the others in employer-provided health care policies that will likely follow-- would be greatly appreciated.

Here is her story in her own words (bolding is mine):

My husband has a brain tumor and has been under care of Memorial Sloan Kettering in Manhattan, and receives his radiation treatment from Memorial Sloan Kettering in Commack, Long Island, New York. He became ill from side effects, was taken to our local hospital on January 28th, where he remains today.

We have been fighting Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield for the past 2.5 weeks, as they refuse to allow him to be transferred to Memorial Sloan in Manhattan (MSK) for acute care and resumption of his remaining radiation treatments to the brain. We receive our insurance through my husband's employer, and we pay an additionally for Direct Point of Service care, which allows us choice of doctors and facilities. To note, my husband has been under the care of Memorial Sloan Kettering for the prior 4 years.

Blue Cross, at first, wanted to transfer my husband to a hospice facility with a standing DNR (do not resuscitate) order. My husband is not in end stages of his illness.

They fought us for a precious week of treatment time until they agreed that my husband did not warrant end of life care. They still refuse to allow us to take him to MSK, where his doctors know him, have knowledge of the rare form of tumor he has, and where until 5 weeks ago, he was receiving his treatment.

As I mentioned, this is employer-provided health care. My husband's employer is advocating he be moved to MSK for the remainder of his treatment, and has been very helpful in contacting Blue Cross in advocacy of his case.

MSK is 'in network' on our plan. They accept the negotiated payment as per their contract with Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield. And as I stated, we do have a Direct POS plan which allows us to go outside of network, should we choose.

To force us to change our doctors at this stage is unconscionable, immoral and dangerous.

To force us to go to a facility that cannot provide the same level of cancer care would not allow for the outcome that MSK feels my husband's condition should have.

And the more time we fight Blue Cross, my husband becomes weaker. This truly is a death panel, one run by the actuaries in Empire Blue Cross.

Please, help us by lending your voice by advocating for my husband.

By the way, here's the @AskAnthem Twitter profile. Notice the link they provide at the bottom:

Anthem on Twitter health care

Here's what you see when you follow the "customer support" link they provide, because, you know, they CARE:

anthem support health care under maintenance

I'm sure Anthem's "improving your online experience" and apologizing for "any inconvenience" are a huge comfort to Lolly Jean and her ailing husband.

You can get the ball rolling by tweeting this post to @empirebcbs (Sally Kweskin, their PR director in New York) and @askAnthem.

I don't know about you, but I'm not letting up until we get more action than a pleasant, solicitous response.

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Einstein must have had Republicans in mind when he defined "insanity"

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please proceed

tweet Heritage losing electionsLink

Apparently the Heritage Foundation and Scott Walker are bound and determined to dig their heels into that heap of elephant dung they've created. They're clearly oblivious to the world around them, as well as to Albert Einstein's definition of insanity: "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

And apparently #2, they are bound and determined to lose elections. Running to the right? Really, GOP? As President Obama would say, "Please proceed."

Here are two headlines from today's Los Angeles Times:

Obamas visit immigration hunger strikers

President and Michelle Obama visit hunger strikers near the Capitol and discuss possible ways forward on the stalled immigration overhaul.

Obama and his wife, Michelle, met with the group for about 30 minutes in a heated tent near the steps of the Capitol to discuss the immigration bill that has stalled in the House.

And:

GOP promise of immigration reform fades a year after election

Despite the importance of the Latino vote, divisions among Republicans leave immigration reform at a standstill.

Changing the way the party talks about immigration is about all House Republicans have to show for their efforts over the last 11 months — and even that effort has notable exceptions. [...]

In fact, the House's most visible immigration-related action was a measure to defund an Obama administration program to defer deportations of young immigrants, a vote that increased Latino animosity even though it failed to become law.

Now stop and think about that contrast, GOP. Who do you think Latino voters will overwhelmingly support... again? Take a wild guess.

Republicans furrow their collective brows and write Very Important political autopsies about softening nothing but their words, and then their (in)actions continue to speak volumes.

So does their timing.

Happy holidays.

reinvention my ass

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When Democrats act like right wing trolls

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rant alert

I'm trying my best to follow Doctor's orders, I really am. I'm staying away from the computer for a good part of the day, I write 90% fewer posts than I used to, and when I do write, I concentrate on more upbeat news stories.

However.

For months-- no, make that years-- it's been impossible to escape from the tea party style, trolly behavior of many so-called "Democrats" on Twitter, in TPC Comments, and on Facebook. And yes, many of these people are really, truly left leaning, not conservatives in blue sheep's clothing.

Let's start with this old chestnut: Over the years, I've been called an "EmoProg," which is supposed to be some kind of terrible, poison dart insult, the ultimate slur that can be hurled at you by a fellow Dem. My pal over at FreakOutNation, @Anomaly100, and I have mocked this lunacy by calling our selves MEmos ( adding "me" to "emo" to fake-narcisstically own our apparent evil EmoProgitude).

I've never been quite sure what EmoProg means, but per Urban Dictionary, in part:

Emo Progressive (or "emoprog") is a self-described liberal or progressive, often with libertarian leanings, whose political orientation is to be angry, dissatisfied and unhappy with the state of the nation at any given time, because in their view, liberal policies are not being implemented quickly or forcefully enough. They have particular contempt for Democratic presidents.

Emoprogs are ideological purists who disdain compromise and incremental change, which they see as "selling out" liberal ideas like full employment, an end to all wars, state secrets, and liberal social policy...

Emoprogs have a strong affinity for 3rd party politics as a way to punish Democratic presidents. They are especially hostile to President Obama and deem anyone who expresses a lack of ill will toward him to be "Obamabots" and enemies of liberalism.

I've also been called an "Obamabot," which as you can see is the opposite of an EmoProg, so go figure. That's how utterly inane and infantile these labels are. They're also destructive, damaging to party unity, toxic, and resolve nothing. In fact, for those who claim to be so "inclusive," this kind of name-calling is sure a funny way of displaying their "tolerance" of others.

There can be disagreement within a party without resorting to this kind of immaturity. We share the same goals, ultimately, so zinging hostile labels at political allies, alienating them instead of working together whenever possible, is at best self-defeating.

Next, and I'm putting this in all caps because I want to scream this loudly, and a few words on a page won't suffice:

PLEASE STOP USING THE WORD "RETARD" AND STOP USING "TARD" AS A SUFFIX.

Again, so-called "inclusive" Dems using that word as a slur is utterly counterproductive, very offensive, and plain stupid. Or ignorant. Or both. Even readers/followers I adore use it. Most stop when I explain what I'm about to write next:

I worked with special ed students for years when I taught high school theater classes. I challenge anyone who uses the R Word or suffix to look any of those dear, innocent kids in the eye and say that directly to them or within earshot of them, and then not feel like a total ass as they see the hurt and bewilderment on the sweet faces that stare back.

Are "liberal" vocabularies so limited that no other words are accessible? Words that don't sting? Words that don't devalue people with real feelings who matter and take things to heart just as you and I do? Really?

And finally, there's this: Yesterday I had a very pleasant Twitter exchange with a *gasp!* Republican TV and print commentator who shall remain nameless. In fact, I have a few far right followers who I get along with, but who I never ever discuss politics with. Our conversations are strictly goofy or personal or about movies, TV, dogs, vacations, that kind of thing. But not politics. Our mutual heads would explode if we did that.

In fact, I detest their politics at worst, and strongly disagree with them at best. But we get along, and one extremely conservative pundit in particular was the very first to "be there" for me (privately in Direct Messages) when my dad first became ill and then supported me all the way through to my father's death. I value that in a person, no matter what their beliefs or politics.

After my quippy back and forth with Mr. GOP Commentator, a follower (who I am happy to say I never followed back) called me "self-righteous" and "muted" me because I dared to engage someone who he (and I) vehemently disagreed with about the Affordable Care Act.

Call me EmoProg-- or is it Obamabot?-- but I am able to compartmentalize and remain friendly with people who are kind to me, who enjoy tweet talk now and then, who have a sense of humor, and who give me no reason to block them. If I eventually find them to be offensive or distasteful, I unfollow or block, that is my choice.

But come on, "Dems" or "liberals" or "Progressives" or "Obama supporters" or whoever you are, grow up. Throwing insults out of the blue, initiating convos only to be rude because I occasionally chat with someone whose point of view we both find objectionable is not exactly true to our Big D Democratic values.

In fact, it's more tea party than it is Dem. And that kind of behavior is intolerable.

words matter

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Whaddya know: #Obamacare enrollment surging in many states

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blame obamacare

Every step of the way, Republicans have sabotaged President Obama's efforts: the Affordable Care Act, judicial and cabinet nominees, jobs bills, immigration reform, you name it. And once the sabotage, smears, and obstruction take their toll, they have the balls to scatter all over the airwaves and blame the president for the failure to effectively implement his programs. The programs that they, the GOP, impeded or thwarted.

Last night I took part in a "call" (it was actually a broadcast online) during which the president spoke to 200,000 listeners. He seemed different (in a good way) than he does when we see him on TV. He was more soft-spoken, personal, heartfelt, approachable, and somehow reached me, despite my bad mood after a long day of covering dirty politics. I've been a critic as well as a supporter, and after this call, I was easily switched to supportive mode.

I livetweeted a few things he said. He began with a general overview of the benefits of "Obamacare" along with the following (some are paraphrased, most are direct quotes):

  • We need to pull together and inform Americans that enrollment opportunities are available on the website, through U.S. mail, on the phone, and in person.
  • This isn't a one-day sale... Everyone who wants to enroll can get enrolled.
  • We’re not backing off one bit.
  • For three years, people said this wasn't gonna work. Now people can get signed up.

This one really resonated on Twitter:

  • My main message: I'm gonna need your help, your energy, reaching out to neighbors. You're gonna save somebody's life.

As did this one:

  • I've never lost faith, and that's because of all of you. You've lifted me up, lifted each other up.

He then pivoted and had a couple of things to say about Republican lawmakers:

We've had problems with Senate Republicans blocking judicial nominees. It's not the way the Constitution was designed, but that's what happened. Today, Republicans filibustered my fourth judicial nominee. All four of my nominees got the highest ratings from the Bar Association, but Republicans filibustered every one. This is unprecdented obstructionism.

He ended with this:

I'm proud of you. Let's go out there and get this done.

After hearing him speak, I tweeted:

How can someone succeed if there is an organized effort to block, sabotage, smear? How about covering THAT, news shows?

Many Americans have been feeling awfully discouraged lately, me included. But then *birds chirping, sun ray music* I woke up to this headline in my morning Los Angeles Times: Healthcare enrollment rises sharply.

Huh?

You sure wouldn't know that by watching or listening to news reports. So here is a dose of some long overdue good news:

[E]nrollment is surging in many states as tens of thousands of consumers sign up for insurance plans made available by President Obama's health law.

A number of states that use their own systems, including California, are on track to hit enrollment targets for 2014 because of a sharp increase in November, according to state officials. [...]

Several other states, including Connecticut and Kentucky, are outpacing their enrollment estimates, even as states that depend on the federal website lag far behind. [...]

In addition to better-functioning websites, many states that are running their own marketplaces also have significantly more resources to help consumers sign up for coverage. Many of the states that have declined to run their own websites have also refused to expand the joint federal-state Medicaid program, as the new law allows. [...]

State officials believe enrollment through Covered California has been depressed by media reports of problems with the federal site [...] But while politicians in Washington, D.C., have been fixated on the website problems, many state officials are feeling considerably more optimistic about the law's long-term prospects. [...]

Enrollment has been even stronger in many Medicaid programs.

What?! Come on! That's crazy!

You can enroll up through March 31, so as President Obama said, "This isn't a one-day sale."

Of course, we'll just continue to hear about what a disaster this is because the website had such a rocky start. And of course, President Obama is a lying crook who did everything he could to fool you into buying...

... a more affordable plan with more comprehensive coverage with far fewer restrictions.

Yeah, what a villain he is. Meanwhile, it's the GOP that has lied, cheated, obstructed, and failed on every level, but we don't hear much about that, now do we? Well, we do now: A video anthology of #GOPcruelty and obstruction.

The president said he fumbled the rollout. But the GOP continues to fumble democracy and equal rights.

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It's A Bird. It's A Plane. It's Instacurity And It's An Epidemic

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people on cellphones 2

Instacurity. By the time you look it up, it'll probably be too late. It's by far, the fastest growing disease in the states, hell, in the world. By the time you finish this post, you or someone you know will come down with it.

Instacurity's not fatal, but it is debilitating. It's also contagious as the flu. It'll catch up with you before you ever realize you're becoming infected. Face it, it's more rampant than "the walkers" stalking the survivors surrounding the Walking Dead compound.

Mastros

Yesterday I had a business dinner at a well known Beverly Hills eatery. I was fine when I arrived. Actually feeling quite buoyant, looking forward to this book interview. Aware of my surroundings and knowing that "the illness" strikes across all socio-economic lines, I was vigilant. I kept my attention scanning the room for possible carriers. And sadly, even before my meeting showed up, I realized I couldn't go through with it. The infected far outnumbered the healthy. I was right smack in the middle of ground zero. I had to escape to have any chance of avoiding this affliction.I put down my water glass, stowed my linen napkin, and darted for the door.

busy restaurant

Before I could reach the exit, I found myself face to face with the man I was there to be interviewed by. It was bad enough that he was tweeting on his cellphone and bumped into me, but it made it impossible,when he finally looked up and said, "Hey, it's you. Good timing. I just gotta finish this. A friend of mine just got a flat tire." I was stuck. I was caught. I had no escape.

At the table we exchanged pleasantries when suddenly his phone vibrated and he apologized,"Oh, I hope you don't mind. I just gotta take this. She misplaced one of her nuts" His fingers danced across his iPhone screen before I could answer, but I was thinking I knew where the missing nut could be found.

Just as he looked up to me, my cellphone rang. I didn't answer it, but noticed on the screen, I had five tweets. What could I do? The interviewer shrugged and told me to go check 'em out.

I clicked on to see who they were from. And before I could read the third one, I realized... I had it. I was infected. I had the disease. I had instacurity.

If you want to know more, if you want to see if you have it, and if you want to educated yourself or try to inoculate yourself, watch this. All I can say is, good luck.

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