Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday Funday: Of Blessings And Uncles

As our slightly ill staff pulled ourselves and our materials together to write today's commentary, we realized how fast this past week went - and, indeed, how fast the first three months of this year have gone. Just last weekend, we met with friends in Washington, DC, had more than one get-together with happy children running around. We even caught an Easter egg hunt, though not the annual White House event. Still - plastic eggs found, candy consumed.

This weekend is officially Easter and also marks the end of Passover - and yes, Opening Day for Major League Baseball too. For many of you, that means Easter family dinners and Passover Seders, and holiday get-togethers that might include that "special" uncle who's always banging the crazy drum about the latest ridiculous right-wing talking point.

So today, instead of focusing on anything bad, we thought we'd focus exclusively on things that are positive.

If you're in New York City, that means you can still get a Big Gulp, if you want. It also means, as of Thursday, if you work in New York City, you will soon be able to take a paid sick day if you need to.

Also? The S&P stock index ended the month at a record high - and the economy for the rest of us is still looking up too.

In the Middle East, peace hasn't flooded the region - but Israel and Turkey appear to have let bygones be bygones, as the two nations have reinstated diplomatic relations.

On environmental issues, even if Congress is on a perpetual vacation, the Obama Administration continues to move forward, as the EPA is officially instating new rules requiring cleaner gasoline.

On civil rights issues, the bigots were exposed this week for who they really are, which, while ugly, is always better than not knowing at all. While we won't know the Supreme Court's decisions on either same sex marriage case until June, there are good indications in both cases that the less tolerant positions will disappear like the plastic Easter eggs we all inevitably lose at one time or another.

For Husker fans, Coach Connie Yori's women will face off against Duke this weekend in the Sweet Sixteen, something any true Husker fan will be proud to see. Of course, for college basketball and pro baseball fans, this weekend will mean many long hours glued to their TVs, grinning happily (at least until their teams lose).

We don't want to seem all Pollyannaish. We're well aware of our bumbling politicians, multiple wars and conflicts around the world - and, as we already mentioned, that inevitable uncle, cousin, neighbor, or friend who will almost certainly insist on banging the drum of some subject sure to anger almost everyone else at our get-togethers this weekend.

That kind of negative stuff is in the news everyday though, and isn't hard for anyone to find.

The moments that fill our spirits, that remind us there is still good and hope in the world? Those often seem to be the ones everyone forgets most.

We're glad we could take a moment and remind you of some of those positive items today.

Please remember them when that "special" family member drops by this weekend.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spring Break Blues

As the hoopla from both same sex marriage cases before the Supreme Court dies down, we're already sure of a handful of things, months before the Court announces its official decisions in either case.

We're fairly sure that - as Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly said of the two SCOTUS cases - they'll end up being a KO and TKO for the pro-equality side. That doesn't mean we're willing to bet large sums of money on the outcomes of either case, but we can read the judicial tea leaves as well as or better than most.

After all, Lyle Dennison of SCOTUSblog tweeted on Wednesday, "Final update: #scotus 80% likely to strike down #doma." We're sure you can trust Lyle's take on the Supreme Court - especially since SCOTUSblog just won a Peabody award, a first for a blog of any kind.

We're also fairly sure Americans are tired of the distractions media events continue to provide. According to the most recent CBS News poll, 80% of Americans are unhappy with Washington. That doesn't surprise us.

Our politicians at most levels - including on the national level - seem to only care about issues that affect them directly, while they ignore even massive issues that are chomping at the heels of Americans, and would make America better for all. In fact, our Federal politicians won't even stick around to face those issues. This week and next week are perfect examples.

In case you missed our obvious stick in the eye towards Congress in Wednesday's extended edition, both houses of Congress are on vacation again, for two weeks. This time it's their annual Passover/Easter/Spring Break recess, though frankly, we're not really sure we care what the reason is that they claim anymore.

There are, after all, so many problems it seems our Congress just can't be bothered to face.

Americans are still radically overcharged in our private healthcare system, and while the growth of costs has slowed considerably (thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act), Americans are all still paying far more than we should have to for health care.

We know Americans are also paying far too much to big oil and big coal in subsidies. Even the IMF says the best way to fix the problem is to stop subsidizing energy companies with $1.9 trillion annually. Congress won't address the issue anytime soon, though, because they're not at work.

Syria's conflict is getting worse and affecting neighboring nations, America still isn't out of Afghanistan, Americans are still struggling to get back on their feet in New Jersey in the wreckage of Superstorm Sandy - and Congress is on vacation.

An overwhelming number of Americans want universal background checks, at the very least, yet many people are pessimistic about any gun safety legislation passing at all, whenever Congress finally gets around to it, after their vacation.

Can you sense a pattern here?

It's not that we don't see the value in experienced public servants taking a break every once in a while. We do.

We're just extremely tired of waiting for Congress to address issues that that they have put off until the third Tuesday of never because they are too cowardly to take a stand, too afraid to be voted out of their cushy jobs and their web of lobbying connections. Even when someone with money supports a good cause, we have a hard time saying it's good for America.

We think it's high time for all recesses, vacations and breaks to be stopped, until Congress gets some serious work done!

Good joke, right?

When you're done laughing, please remember to pick yourself up off the floor and get back to work.

After all, someone has to keep America - and the rest of the world - moving forward, and not just out of fear either.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Strapping In For The Fight

Yesterday, we covered the Prop 8 arguments in front of the Supreme Court, and today the Court is tackling the other major same- sex marriage issue in front of it this term - the Defense of Marriage Act, also known as DOMA.

It was clear from the way the Justices of the Supreme Court handled the arguments in the Prop 8 case on Tuesday that they do not really want to judge the Prop 8 case on its merits. Rather, it appears the Court may want to simply dodge the Prop 8 case, by insisting those who brought the case to the Court don't have standing. If SCOTUS - shorthand for the Supreme Court Of The United States - refuses to decide the case based on lack of standing, the ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court will stand, making Prop 8 unconstitutional and making same sex marriage 100% legal, but just in California.

If, as most SCOTUS watchers agree, the court evades a real decision on making same sex marriage legal in all states, there is virtually no chance of SCOTUS dodging the question of constitutionality on DOMA, which faces them today.

In short, those on the political right who have pushed the DOMA case before the Supreme Court have strapped themselves to this issue, in the same way terrorists strap themselves to bombs. Neither idea is likely to be productive, in our estimation.

The difference between the DOMA case and the Prop 8 case is clear in the recap from Wonkblog's Dylan Matthews, and aligns itself clearly with our long-standing focus on civil marriage as a type of umbrella contract that handles multiple facets of what is legally covered under the term marriage.

Taxes - which clearly fall under the jurisdiction of the state - are always a big deal, and the ongoing battle over estate taxes is one of the biggest focal points of the tax battle.

The DOMA case - which is actually United States vs. Windsor - concerns a same-sex, dual-citizenship couple, married in Canada after a forty-year courtship. Unfortunately, Edith Windsor's spouse died, and Ms. Windsor was forced to pay $363,053 in estate tax on her dead wife's estate, a burden she would not have had to bear if the Federal Defense of Marriage Act were not in force.

The Obama Administration itself does not believe in DOMA, and even President Clinton, who signed DOMA into law in 1996, no longer believes that DOMA is constitutional. Effectively, there may not have been anyone with standing defending the bigoted pro-DOMA opinion from the right, but - thanks to extremists on the political right - the task of carrying the anti-equality banner fell to John Boehner, which he reassigned to the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group.

In the end, we frankly don't see how DOMA can remain.

Even many conservatives and libertarians, who come at DOMA from their own conservative viewpoint, see DOMA as unconstitutional - not because it denies the rights of the marriage contract to those legally entitled to it, but because they consider the Federal government telling the states how they must handle marriage to be an abuse of Federal power.

No matter how the Supreme Court decides either case, as we noted on Tuesday, the numbers simply don't support continuing legal policies that give gay and lesbian Americans second-class citizenship.

We are one nation, where separate but equal has already been found to be legally indefensible with race. It's no more defensible with sexual orientation.

Separate but equal isn't equal. In a society that believes in equality under the law, it's time both DOMA and Prop 8 were struck down, for good.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Institutions In Ruin

Every institution of American life goes through its ups and downs, from being trusted to being reviled, and usually back again.

It's happened with banks and corporate Wall Street firms, who are currently far more hated than trusted by most Americans. It's happened with the idea of universal background checks for guns - at one time, a suggestion of the NRA's creation, now an idea that 91% of Americans support. In fact, this pattern of institutional collapse and regrowth happens so often, media personality and scholar Chris Hayes wrote a whole book about it.

We're hoping this week that the nine justices of the Supreme Court don't join that long list of ruined institutions in the course of adjudicating two civil rights cases involving another institution - marriage.

As we've stated for years, when we talk about marriage we generally mean "civil marriage," the type of contract that non-religious governments around the world acknowledge between any two qualified adults, many without regard to the sexual orientation of the two parties signing the contract.

That word "contract" is really the key, as - at its most basic level - both the Prop 8 and DOMA cases are the Supreme Court hearing two arguments about contract law. That's not exactly the story of cataclysmic ruin you might hear grousing about at the local diner or watering hole.

From the highly biased screed of knuckle-dragging Cro-Magnons at the Wall Street Journal editorial page, to the mewling of certain Republican politicians desperate for extremist attention from the media, while it's no longer a majority, there are still significant numbers of Americans who think allowing same sex marriage will somehow ruin the institution of marriage.

Thankfully, from NFL players to Karl Rove, that attitude is changing, as opposition to same sex marriage is rapidly wanes. From Republicans like Sen. Rob Portman, to Democrats like Sen. Mark Warner, public opinion on same sex marriage is shifting quickly in favor of tolerance. As a recent CNN/ORC survey notes, as more people acknowledge that they know and care about someone who is gay or lesbian, their tolerance and understanding of LGBT issues rises.

If we are all lucky, this list of more tolerant, sensible people might even include Chief Justice John Roberts soon. Robert's cousin, an out lesbian, will be present in the Court for both arguments over same sex marriage this week.

With all the numbers pointing towards a change in attitude from Americans towards legalizing same sex marriage, we still feel it's important to note: The Supreme Court does not pay attention to the popularity contests of American politics, nor should they.

Whether or not America likes the institution of the Supreme Court (they don't, currently), or whether Americans, as a whole, believe same sex marriage should be legal (a majority do), should not have much impact on the decisions by the Court on these two issues.

What should make a difference is what the law says.

Hopefully, the nine justices will renew our faith in the institution of the Supreme Court this week.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Trashing The Truth

It's very definitely been a bit of an ugly few days in the media.

For us, we began to notice something was wrong as we came back from a great weekend filled with great performances and great friends. First, light snow began to fall in both the midwest and DC regions - rarely a good sign in March.

Then we noticed a story from well-known author and generally respected journalist Greg Mitchell, originally commissioned by the Washington Post. Mitchell's piece of commentary was ultimately not printed by the Post, yet that omission by The Post's editors is actually a tacit example of what's wrong in our American media today.

Judged by their actions, most corporate media organizations don't really want to feed you the truth anymore. They'd rather toss out the truth in the trash, while feeding Americans fast food for the mind.

As Mitchell recounts on his own blog post, he was hired to write a story last week for The Washington Post, covering the failures of the media surrounding Iraq. When Mitchell submitted his piece, it was rejected, and in it's place, the Post used a piece that effectively absolved them of any role in advocating for the war in Iraq a decade ago.

Last week, none of the major media organizations solidly covered their own failures ten years ago in the run-up to the failure in Iraq. A few touched on it, at least one strongly - but almost no one seriously addressed their own failures - and why should they?

After all, so many are still getting away with misreporting or omitting the facts.

Just look at the dreck we gathered up from this weekend's headlines. One headline over the weekend in The Hill - supposedly the media organization of note on on Capitol Hill - - read "NRA gains upper hand on Obama." It didn't seem to matter to the writers at The Hill that everyone from CNN, to the New York Times, to Mother Jones (who broke the story on Romney's 47% comments last year) were carrying stories detailing how multi-billionaire Mike Bloomberg is, in fact, committing millions to push gun safety legislation through Congress over the wishes of the NRA, as we detailed last week. Further, Bloomberg appears to be actually targeting pro-NRA politicians in swing states for the elections in 2014.

In what way does that give the NRA the upper hand over President Obama? It doesn't, except for - apparently - in the minds of the writers on-duty over the weekend at The Hill.

We're not even going to go into how many organizations jumped the gun Sunday night saying that Syrian President Assad had been killed.

With headlines and stories offering misleading and sometimes outright fictitious perspectives on national and world events from so many so-called "news" agencies, it's no wonder so many Americans are confused, angry, and turning away from news.

It doesn't help that even the annual "State of the Media" report from the supposedly unbiased Pew Center presented a completely biased falsehood as truth right at the top of this year's report - namely that opinionated news media isn't honest, and can’t be supported by facts.

We understand that being a part of the corporate-owned news-based media today involves selling catchy ideas to advertisers, which often aren’t bland, boring, pure facts. We just didn't think the corporate media had completely sold out the truth.

Obviously, in far too many cases today, we’re wrong, and the truth is ending up in the trash.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Funday: Reasons To Applaud

If you'd told us a year ago that - in an non-election year - we'd be as busy as we've been this past week, most of our staff would probably have looked at you with a good bit of skepticism.

If you'd told us Priscilla in the mailroom was going to win this year's NCAA office pool? That we'd believe.

It's been anything but a slow news week, and the next seven days also look busy, both personally and professionally. The Supreme Court will be taking up the arguments next week against both DOMA and California's Proposition 8. The President will return from his Middle Eastern trip - which seems to be going impressively well - and begin finalizing the White House's version of a budget.

Congress? Well, they'll be on vacation again, for another two weeks - their annual 'Spring Break' recess - when they'll return to take on the fight over gun safety laws.

We suppose we can't just make fun of Congress today, even if it is easy and fun. After all, both the Senate and the House passed a Continuing Budget Resolution this week, which will keep the Federal government from shutting down - at least until the end of September. It may not be much - but considering Congress' recent track record of getting less than nothing done, we'll give them a small measure of applause today.

Large sweeping applause is certainly due to the Colorado State Legislature. Just this week, the Colorado legislature passed three gun safety laws, including a universal background check law - all of which Colorado's governor has already signed. The Colorado legislature also passed a law legalizing civil unions for same sex couples on Thursday, which deserves even more applause.

Speaking of applause, we're certain to hear a bit of that this weekend, when we attend one of the performances of of the play we wrote about on Thursday, The River And The Mountain.  If you're in the Washington, DC or Baltimore areas, we highly recommend you come see the show at some point this weekend.

While Mother Nature's recent performances haven't exactly been getting rave revues, the calendar does officially say that it's spring, so even if it feels a bit nippy at times this weekend, remember - this too will pass.

Frankly, we're ready for a thaw, both in the weather, and in politics all over the country.

As evidenced by Sen. Harry Reid's overnight turnaround on gun safety legislation, it now seems even some of the most cynical members of our government, at all levels, can be pushed to do the right thing by the voters. When enough Americans work together to push our elected officials to get something done - like the 91% of Americans who want universal background checks - almost anything is possible.

If you want to know the best thing about spring, it isn't the return to warm beach weather in South Florida, or Husker spring football practice in Nebraska, or even the cherry blossoms blooming in Washington, DC.

It's the return of the feeling that once again, anything is possible.

Hope springs eternal.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Equality Takes The Cake

"Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law - for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. " – President Barack Obama 
With the President in Israel, and Congress potentially about to actually get something done, before they go on vacation for another two weeks, we’re looking ahead today – both to this weekend, and to the upcoming Supreme Court arguments next week, on DOMA, Prop 8, and the overarching topic of same sex marriage in America.

One of the most joyous - and historical - moments in President Obama's second inaugural address may have been his call for equal rights for LGBT Americans. By mentioning Stonewall in the same breath as Selma and Seneca Falls, he stated clearly to the world that gay rights are civil rights, that gay rights are human rights. Unfortunately, there are many places in the world where LGBT people are fighting an even more difficult fight for their very right to exist.

In Uganda, sexuality and sexual identity can literally be matters of life and death.

In 2009, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill – better known to many as the “Kill The Gays” bill – was introduced before the Ugandan Parliament. Contrary to some reports, the proposed bill still mandates the death penalty for homosexual acts, and prison sentences for persons who fail to report known homosexuals to the authorities within 24 hours.

Into this dangerous nation, playwright Beau Hopkins introduced The River and the Mountain,  the first play ever produced in Uganda that featured an openly gay character. Its run in Kampala last August was successful, though not without hardship. The play’s run was cut short by Uganda's Minister of Ethics. David Cecil, the play's producer, was arrested and deported. Keith Prosser, an actor who performed in the show, has been arrested multiple times because of the show, and is also currently facing deportation.

These attacks on civil rights and the play itself caught the attention of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow in 2012, and in turn, caught the attention of Sarah Imes Borden, an adjunct professor of theatre at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln and a personal friend of our staff. Sarah felt that the play and its message was too important to be allowed to die, so she decided to bring the play to the United States.

After obtaining funding through a Kickstarter campaign, and a practice run in Lincoln, Sarah is producing the show for a series of staged readings in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore area this weekend, hopefully just the first stop on a national tour. Sarah even obtained a visa for Ugandan actor Okuyo Joel Atiku Prynce to come to the D.C. area and reprise his history-making leading role.

Unfortunately, just as Mr. Prynce was to have left for the United States, he was denied permission to leave the country of Uganda. Thankfully, a last-minute replacement will allow Borden to work around the absence of her lead actor, and the show WILL go on. However, our thoughts are with everyone involved in the Kampala production, as are our hopes for their continued safety.

The main plot of the play concerns the problems that the main character, Samson, must confront after he comes out as gay to his best friend and mother. Corrupt characters in the play do not hesitate to capitalize on religion and anti-gay bias in order to further their own ends and hide their corruption.

This is an interesting parallel to the actual situation in Uganda. Jocelyn Edwards of The Daily Beast suggests that it is no accident that the “Kill The Gays” bill has remained in legislative limbo for so long. Edwards claims that the decision to keep the bill perpetually pending but never passed is a deliberate smokescreen to distract from the very real corruption that continues to plague Yoweri Museveni's government - corruption that has direct links to American right wing politics and media. Meanwhile, gay people continue to be scapegoated, high-level government officials continue to profit at the expense of their own people, and the Ugandan people pay the price.

If you are in the Washington, D.C. or Baltimore area this weekend, we invite you to come see this play in all its poignancy, power, and - yes - humor.

Wherever you are this weekend, if you're fortunate enough to be able to kiss the one you love, or hold hands, or simply share a hug in public without fear of reprisal, we think you should take a moment to consider whether that should really be a privilege rather than a right.

That’s the type of choice our own Supreme Court will be deciding for all of us in America, very soon.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hitting The Real Target

Since the mass shooting in Connecticut, one of our favorite media colleagues, Greg Sargent, has been targeting a single point about the gun safety laws before Congress, often. Many of our fellow members of the media haven't been getting the point though.

Greg's point has been simple: While Democrats and left-leaning Americans would love to see a new assault weapons ban pass, the real goal has always been to pass universal background checks. As of yesterday, one of Greg's Washington Post co-workers, Chris Cillizza, finally seems to have understood that Greg was right.

Mr. Cilizza's epiphany may have to do with actions by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who on Tuesday removed the previously proposed assault weapons ban from a comprehensive gun violence reduction bill. Frankly, we're not surprised that the assault weapons ban was jettisoned from the comprehensive bill.

As Cilizza himself notes, the politics of reauthorizing an assault weapons ban simply aren't on the pro-safety side in this Congress. When you've got a Congress being held hostage to its minority, forcing virtually every action to pass with no less than 60 votes, everything from confirming appointees to passing sane legislation - or almost any legislation at all - is going to be nearly impossible most of the time. The rediculous - and powerless - hold that the NRA has over politicians at almost every level certainly won't help sane gun safety reforms pass.

That said, no one can say gun safety laws can't pass in this country - even in "gun country."

Today, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper - a Democrat with whom we've had some policy disagreements in the past - is signing three new gun safety measures into law. Hickenlooper will authorize an ammunition magazine limitations bill, a universal background check bill, and a bill that requires gun buyers to pay for those background checks, all efforts that have passed through heavy debate and review under the "Golden Dome" of the Colorado state capitol in Denver.

We understand the gun culture in Colorado well, having had both staff members and their families who've lived in the Mile High State over the last twenty years. We're well aware that just because someone in Colorado owns a gun, likes to shoot, or is an NRA member doesn't mean they're a far right-wing nutjob by any stretch of the imagination.

Of course, there are those kinds of extremist right-wing gun owners in Colorado too, including Weld County Sheriff John Cooke, who insists he won't enforce Colorado's new gun safety laws. We hope that Sheriff Cooke realizes, if he's only going to enforce the laws he agrees with, he likely won't be employed as a law enforcement officer for much longer.

Universal background checks - the key gun safety law both at the state level in Colorado and nationally, in Congress - have always been the real bullseye for pro-safety gun legislators since the massacre in Connecticut. That many of our associates in the greater media industry have continually missed the real target on this issue simply drives home the point made by this year's Pew State Of The Media Survey.

The Pew Survey made it clear: Many media customers today are being driven away from old- fashioned news outlets because a lack of proper high-quality staffing has driven the caliber of the those media outlets' products so sharply downwards.

In other words, many of our colleagues aren't hitting what they're aiming at, in part, because their media organizations have chosen to not properly pay and prepare them.

At least on the issue of gun safety, maybe a few more journalists and pundits should follow Greg Sargent on this issue, since he's been on target all along.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ten Years Gone, The Real Costs Of War

There are days when it all seems to be too much.

We're not just talking about the massive pile of news stories that came pouring in like a flood as this week began. The CPAC recap. The GOP "autopsy" of why they failed in 2012. The banking debacle in Cyprus. The Stubenville rape trial verdict. The media failing to ethically cover the Stuebenville trial. Hillary Clinton announcing her support for same sex marriage. The majority of Americans - nearly six in ten - agreeing with Hillary Clinton on same sex marriage. The release of the Lyndon Johnson tapes that revealed the 1968 "October Surprise," where Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon sabotaged Johnson's peace deal to end the Vietnam War, four days before the election.

Did you miss that last one? You're not the only one. Millions of Americans did. Which is, sadly, the problem.

Americans have purposely ignored the fact that at least two American presidents in the last fifty years have lied us into war. Now, it's been revealed that a presidential candidate actively sabotaged peace in order to prolong the Vietnam war and guarantee his election to the Presidency.

These are the real costs of mad men's dreams - and of the laziness and denial that keep us all from preventing those dreams from becoming reality.

As we stated in our commentary on December 19, 2011, the day after the Iraq War officially ended, 4,474 Americans died in America's war of choice in Iraq. The numbers of American deaths related to PTSD and other post-battlefield trauma are unknown, though estimates range from a few more thousand Americans, to potentially as many as 10,000 Americans dying as a result of the Iraq War. As we noted in that commentary, the estimated Iraqi deaths from that conflict - both military and civilian - range from 60,000 to one million.

The final cost of war operations in Iraq is estimated to be $800 to $900 billion, when all is said and done. Because we're not entirely done in Iraq yet. We still have 220 American service members at the American consulate in Iraq, in what used to be the Green Zone. In practical dollars, the estimates of the total cost of George and Dick's misadventure in Iraq will eventually end up somewhere between $1.7 and $6 trillion dollars.

Those cost figures are staggering, but in the end, those numbers only represent money. The lives that were lost unnecessarily in Iraq can't possibly be counted in dollars and cents. The Iraq war also cost us lives in Afghanistan, since Iraq was a diversion from our original goal of destroying the leaders of Al-Qaeda.

As we said back in 2011, at the end of the war, "No matter how the final tally is collected, we know the cost of the Iraq War was too high."

President Eisenhower warned us all about the creeping danger of the military industrial complex, and he was right to do so. But, sadly, we didn't listen to him any more than we're likely to listen to the warnings of modern scholars.

It's true that there's no one universal solution to ending our macabre American fascination with perpetual war. There are several things that would help, though. Yes, Americans have to pay attention to our politics more. We also can't allow just a small number of our fellow citizens to fight any future wars we might get involved in. Drastically cutting down the size and cost of our military would help America too. Paying attention to the advice of those who've deeply studied why we go to war would also help greatly.

Most importantly, though, we need to remember that the real cost of war is not measured in dollars and cents, but in the numbers of our fellow Americans unnecessarily and senselessly gone.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Clueless Clown Hate Circus

For most Americans, the weather this weekend was a nearly perfect way to say goodbye to the season of winter. With moderate temperatures and mostly clear skies, if Americans were watching TV this weekend, they were likely catching college championship games, and filling out their brackets for March Madness.

That's likely a very good thing for the Republican Party, as the clueless clown hate circus, better known as CPAC - the Conservative Political Action  Conference - was in full-on crazy mode for much of the weekend, showcasing exactly why the GOP lost so badly in 2012. If you were looking for a moderate Republican at CPAC this weekend, you might as well have been hunting for a real leprechaun while stone cold sober.

From Karl Rove swiping at Sarah Palin for leaving her governorship halfway through, to Palin firing back mockingly at Rove, the conference that was supposed to help Republicans answer the question of why they lost the 2012 election became an example of why they might not win in 2014 either.

From attendees at CPAC, there seemed to be no real consensus why the GOP lost the 2012 election. From the media, to GOP consultants, to Hurricane Sandy and Governor Chris Christie, conservatives kept coming up with all kinds of excuses about why they lost the last election. RNC Chairman Reince Preibus even announced a $10 million dollar plan by the RNC to "beef up" their outreach to minorities.

Never once did any of the attendees admit openly and publicly that the biggest problem the Republican Party has at the moment isn't just failed messaging or outreach strategies - it's the outdated, ineffective, and plainly offensive policies of the extremists running the Party.

Nowhere was this more evident than at the CPAC forums.

One particular forum sponsored by the extremist group Tea Party Patriots was nominally on "racial tolerance." It ended up being a primer on how not to handle the topic of racism. During the 'Q&A' portion of the forum, a couple of white supremacists and the panel's moderator stirred the crowd into a frenzy with idea that slaves should have been thankful to their masters for food and shelter.

The intolerance didn't stop there.

Throughout the conference, attendees blasted Ohio GOP Senator Rob Portman's decision last week to come out in favor of same sex marriage, after his own son came out of the closet. Rampant misogyny and patronizing attitudes were also pervasive throughout CPAC, as Ana Marie Cox pointedly noted for The Guardian.

Whether it was the delusional ambitions of Wisconsin's current Governor Scott Walker, or the anti-Muslim rants of George W. Bush's former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, what the Republican Party and the conservative movement proved this weekend is that they haven't learned anything from their massive losses in the 2012 elections.

Sadly, that's not surprising coming from the clueless clown hate circus that the annual CPAC meetings have become.

For sensible, moderate Republicans, we hate to remind you, but this is the face of your party today. Either take control of the wheel or expect to go over the edge with these clowns soon.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Funday: Truly Important Things

The Ides of March are upon us today, and while our week hasn't been nearly as bad as Julius Caesar's was 2,057 years ago, it wasn't exactly a Roman holiday.

The sequester cuts continue to grind on, spreading more economic pain daily, as many had forecast - including us. President Obama continued his somewhat pointless outreach to Congressional Republicans this week, while some of those same GOP stalwarts postured and pouted, yet got nothing done.

Congressional Democrats were actually hard at work this week, putting forward two balanced, honest budget plans, and even passing out of the Senate Judiciary Committee a renewal of the assault weapons ban. Add to the crazy news cycle this week a sabre-rattling North Korea, clouded thinking in China, the election of a new pope, and the crazy political rumschpringe that is CPAC, and you can likely understand why we're incredibly glad it's Friday.

It's easy enough in the whirling mix of the professional media to end up jaded and bowing to the political media idol of partisan politics - without much thought to more nuanced political positions, let alone truly consequential ideas.

As we were reminded by a detailed story in the Hartford Courant this week, the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was just three months ago - and there are things far more important than arrogant Senators and partisan political battles.

To start with, the accomplishments and activities of some our friends and professional colleagues.

Our congratulations go out to both Chris Hayes and Ed Schultz of MSNBC, who are shifting their time slots on that cable network. With new opportunities for both men, and hopefully more time each day for Ed to spend on his radio show and with his wife Wendy - who successfully battled cancer last year - we have to send our professional congratulations and best wishes on their great new projects.

If you're in Washington, DC this weekend, we highly recommend you check out a screening of a new series about politics in the nation's capitol called "Chasing The Hill," being screened at the Letelier Theater in Georgetown. Even if you're not in DC, you can watch some of the series online at chasingthehill.com, where you can see a few talented people that we happen to know. If you liked "The West Wing," we are very certain you'll enjoy this show.

If you're at home, or getting ready to travel, you might want to slip over to SnowByNight.com and check out the latest chapters in the ongoing graphic novel helmed by the husband of one of our editors. Crisp, rich looking printed copies are available for those of us who like our cartoon artwork the old fashioned way, though thankfully, you can also read the comic on your favorite digital device.

If you're looking for something more sports oriented, the Husker men's basketball team is still alive in the Big Ten Tournament, a sign that bodes well for the team's move to the Pinnacle Arena next year. There is plenty of basketball on television this weekend - or if you're in Florida or Arizona, you might even catch a Spring Training baseball game.

Whatever you do this weekend, take some time for yourself, and for your friends and family, to just enjoy the truly important things in life.

The rest of it - the partisan politics, the crazy international news, and all the rest of our insane modern world - it'll all wait until you get back.

This weekend, focus on what's really important.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Zombie Ideas

More often than we'd like to see them these days, ideas that we thought were dead and buried keep being resurrected in American politics. Like most things that should have remained dead and buried, most 'zombie ideas' aren't exactly good things.

Take the effort to expand gambling in Nebraska.

We recently wrote about the current efforts being pushed in the Nebraska Legislature, by out-of-state lobbying interests to spread legal casino gambling across the Cornhusker State. As we noted two weeks ago, this zombie idea has been run past Nebraska voters three times in the last decade, with all three attempts going down to resounding defeat.

There are those who are saying LR41CA - the measure to allow betting on historic horse racing in Nebraska - is yet another zombie gambling bill. We admit, there are some significant similarities to the 2012 Nebraska jobs and horse racing bill, which passed the Nebraska Legislature last year, but was vetoed by Republican governor Dave Heineman.

The key difference, however, is that both the 2012 and 2013 horse racing bills are trying to save Nebraska jobs that already exist, by only slightly modifying current law. The expanded gambling interests, however, want to completely change a law that's part of the Nebraska State Constitution.

Sadly, the lobbyists with the zombie gambling idea just keep coming back to bang on the door of the Nebraska legislature.

In a similar vein, the GOP keeps bringing back another zombie idea, Paul Ryan's failed budget plan. As we noted on Wednesday, Ryan's proposals aren't the only budget plans coming out of Washington, DC these days.

In fact, U.S. Senate Democrats released their own budget proposal on Wednesday, and unlike the House Republican 'Ryan Plan', the Democratic budget plan is no zombie.

The always astute Ezra Klein broke down Democratic Sen. Patty Murray's budget plan, and found it was actually more honestly conservative - in the dictionary definition of "preserving existing conditions" - than the Ryan Plan is.

The Democratic Plan is, to some degree, vague about certain details, though unlike the Ryan Plan, the Murray Plan is clear about how Democrats plan to pay for the things Americans demand from their government. The full Democratic Budget is long, but the key differences between the Murray Plan and the Ryan plan are simple.

The Democratic Murray Plan focuses on keeping and growing jobs in America, as well as making sensible progress on paying down debt and deficit, through slight modifications in current laws and programs. Further, the Murray Plan is an equal mix of closing loopholes to raise revenue, while cutting waste to cut costs. In short, the Democratic plan is fair, balanced, and not radical.

In comparison, the Ryan Plan wants to drastically change how our Federal government works, gutting support for the poor and elderly, giving massive new tax breaks to the rich, and significantly changing our federal laws to benefit those who already have more than enough - a plan that voters strongly rejected last fall.

There's a reason we call stupid ideas that won't go away 'zombie ideas.' We just wish we could find the legislative weapon that would finally bury some of these undead notions once and for all.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Clouded Thinking

Solutions to the world's major problems aren't actually as difficult as they often seem - or rather, they wouldn't be nearly as difficult if it weren't for all the stupid human beings most simple solutions run into.

In part, we're talking about the story we linked to in Tuesday's edition by Brad Plumer, about the pollution problems in China. As Plumer details, if China would actually make some serious commitments to energy and transportation reform and environmental controls, and then would stick to those commitments, the Chinese government might make some serious headway in cleaning up their smoggy skies.

The biggest problem China appears to be having is that its plans to clean up its environmental act keep running into the clouded selfish decisions of some its own people.

In America, we know exactly how that kind of clouded thinking works - or doesn't - as some of that same kind of clouded thinking is so obviously behind the Congressional Republican's latest budget wish list, and our nation's ongoing budget battles.

On Tuesday, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan rolled out the latest version of his previously failed budget plan, the one that Americans rejected completely just four months ago in one of the most decisive election defeats in recent memory. If Rep. Ryan was a wise man, he would have taken that severe thumping as a message from the American people on how they wanted their government to be run.

Ryan, however, doesn't seem to have learned anything from his embarrassing defeat. Instead, Rep. Ryan's "new and improved" plan proposes even bigger tax cuts for the rich, leaves out even more details than his last plan, and decimates Medicaid and other social services for the poor and elderly. Further, Ryan's budget plan dishonestly assumes the Affordable Care Act - also known as "Obamacare" - will be repealed, which is about as likely as Rep. Ryan himself being elected the next Pope.

As Ezra Klein so succinctly put it on Tuesday, Ryan's budget is simply "social engineering with a side of deficit reduction."

Thankfully, our U.S. government isn't only run by those being deliberately dumb with numbers like Rep. Ryan.

Sen. Patty Murray and Senate Democrats, with some consultation from the White House, released a sneak peak of their own honestly balanced budget plan late Tuesday, which includes both revenue increases and targeted, wise budget cuts - unlike the ongoing, dumb, across-the-board sequester cuts.

The full Democratic plan won't be released until later today, but the information that's been leaked shows that Democrats actually paid attention to what the American people said they wanted in last fall's elections.

The Democratic budget plan calls for $1.85 trillion to slice budget deficits, through an equal mix of closing tax loopholes on corporations, tax increases on the rich, spending cuts, and job creating stimulus.

That's right - the Democratic plan calls for highly targeted stimulus spending to generate jobs, and begin repairing our national infrastructure. Jobs - what Americans REALLY care about.

When you take a look at both budget plans, side by side, with a clear head and real people in mind, it's really hard not to see that Democrats have honestly taken into account both what Americans need and what Americans realistically want.

Republicans, led by Paul Ryan, are still wondering around with their heads in the clouds, refusing to accept the message of the 2012 election - or the reality that Republican's plans for "winning" are not realistically possible.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Small, Dull, Partially Broken Little Tools

If you're a non-American who's been watching the American news cycle over the last twenty-four hours - or frankly, almost any time recently - we empathize with your likely confusion and frustration. We agree with your likely conclusion, that the mainstream U.S. news media appears to be more than a bit broken right now.

How else would you explain a supposed "news" media that focuses intently on a ban on sugared soft drinks being overturned in New York City, while barely blinking an eye about the ongoing sequestration cuts that are hurting Americans more and more every day, nationwide?

We understand the reticence of our media colleagues in focusing on the next round in the federal budget battles. They're worried about clicks and ratings, and the audience getting bored. Frankly, we've all seen Republican Paul Ryan's fantasy budget plan before. Sure, Ryan's presentation is even more dishonest then the first two times he rolled it out, and he's only pushing it out now, ahead of his performance at the big CPAC convention later this week. The facts of his plan haven't really changed, though. Americans still aren't going to buy into Ryan's plan - something they made crystal clear through the outcome of the 2012 elections.

So where should our American mainstream media be focused? Gun safety legislation? Immigration? Climate change? All of these are valuable topics, with newsworthy items happening right now.

Instead of paying attention to any of those issues, however, many of those in our mainstream national "news" media have been reporting on something much smaller - specifically, whether you can now carry a compact pocket knife through the TSA checkpoint at the airport.

In case you missed it last week, the TSA announced it was making a change to official policy that will soon allow previously banned items to pass through TSA checkpoints, like folding pocket knives with blades shorter than 2.36 inches, small souvenir baseball bats, and some sports equipment, like hockey sticks and pool cues. Strangely, box cutters will still be banned.

Of course, there's already been the prerequisite storm of controversy about the TSA change from the families of 9/11 victims, from flight attendants and pilots, from airline executives and even average passengers. Still, the TSA is standing by its decision, something they'll have to do more of later this week in front of a hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee.

We understand the concern for the safety of both passengers and those who work "in the friendly skies," and we're certainly not trying to downplay the importance of safe air travel - especially as members of our own staff gear up to fly to some spring travel events.

What we are trying to point out here is the incompetence of many of our media colleagues.

Ten years ago this week, singer Natalie Maines used her freedom of speech to blast then-President Bush for trying to drag our nation into an unnecessary and unwise war with Iraq, by partially abandoning efforts in Afghanistan to pursue the leaders of Al-Qaeda. President Bush and his administration, led from misinformation by then-Vice President Dick Cheney, did exactly what Ms. Maines feared when they entered that war with Iraq, about a week after her comments.

A decade later, while our major media organizations are still focused on items like pocket knives and shoes, we still have Americans dying in Afghanistan, while those who bamboozled us into war, and took their eyes off the conflict in Afghanistan, will likely never be prosecuted for starting a war under false pretenses.

We'll agree today, that Americans should be very concerned about the misuse of small, dull, broken little tools.

We're just not talking about pocket knives.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Wisdom And Insanity From 'The Worm'

While today, many of our cohorts in the media will be discussing with feigned seriousness President Obama's humorous jab at GOP Sen. Marco Rubio this past weekend at the annual Gridiron Club Dinner, we thought we'd aim a bit higher this morning, at a topic just a tad more important.

For example, nuclear war.

If you've been a bit busy dealing with the final winter blast of the season, as many Americans in the plains and Northeast have, you may have missed the latest news coming from the Korean peninsula, halfway around the world.

We're not talking about the recent visit to North Korea by former NBA star Dennis Rodman, also known by his nickname 'The Worm'. For all his ridiculous stammering and half-baked assertions, after his return to the U.S., Rodman did make a serious point about North Korea. Backed up by comments from well-known, successful diplomat and former U.N. Ambassador, Bill Richardson, Rodman's point appeared to be that regardless of how frustrating North Korea's leaders may be, America can't just walk away and isolate the government there.

That said, the North Korean government's growing experimentation with nuclear weapons, combined with its belligerence towards both it's Southern rival and the U.S., has many international political watchers on the verge of ducking for cover. What's more, North Korea's suicidal bluster about using nuclear weapons appears to be generating new interest among South Koreans to develop their own nuclear weapons programs.

It's at times like this when it becomes incredibly handy to have someone skilled with languages on our staff.

In translating between Western English and Korean, one possible conversion of the word 'suicidal' translates to "self-determination" - a trait many in the West not only appreciate, but laud as the goal of all free people.

Regardless of how Westerners see them, North Koreans are a very proud people, who on their few occasions to communicate with the West often proudly assert their self-determination with no help from their state media minders. It's easy to see how what we rightly perceive as suicidal behavior may literally be seen by North Koreans as simply asserting their rights as a freedom-loving people.

North Koreans, however are not truly free.

As Korean studies experts Ellen Kim and Carolyn Marie Dumond noted on CNN.com last week, life for the average North Korean has never been great - and now conditions are getting even more brutal. The levels of famine and starvation in North Korea are virtually unimaginable to most other people on Earth. The levels of civil rights violations are also astoundingly appalling.

North Korea's human rights violations have become so heinous, both Japan and the European Union begin proceedings today, at the United Nations Human Rights Council, to call for an official international inquiry into possible crimes against humanity by the North Korean government. This is on top of the sanctions authorized last week by the U.N. Security Council, in a unanimous vote, imposed on North Korea for holding its third IAEA unapproved nuclear weapons test in February.

Even China - for many years one of North Korea's only official international connections - backed the U.N. sanctions, and is now taking a harder line with North Korea. China is not abandoning their relationship with North Korea, but sources say things have grown "icy" between the two nations diplomatically since February's nuclear test.

All of which may simply make it easier for a more isolated North Korea to look at firing nuclear weapons as a solution, and not as the disaster it most certainly would be.

Crazy as he may seem at times, Dennis Rodman's point about keeping communications lines open with North Korea may have been one of the wisest things he's ever said - though we can't say we'd recommend him for our next U.N. Ambassador.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday Funday: Better Than Nothing

As we head into the weekend where most Americans will be springing forward with Daylight Saving Time, we've had one of those weeks where life makes it very clear: Some days - and some weeks - are longer than others, and certainly longer than they appear on the clock or calendar.

The massive federal budget cuts that are part of the sequester that began this week, and while the most noticable effect the cuts have had so far may have been to help thaw the political climate in DC,  many near our DC offices are already feeling a chill in the economic atmosphere of the region. Sadly, we already know of FAA employees, customs workers, Secret Service members, and teachers at military bases that have had their work hours and paychecks cut back, or have received notice of certain cutbacks coming soon.

Two groups of Washington, DC residents that may have only just begun noticing the federal budget cuts today - as they attempted to go home for the weekend - are the two groups of people most responsible for those cuts: Senators and Congresspersons.

While we chuckle at the unlikely mental image of certain members of Congress having to go through a TSA pat down today, there were a few positive outcomes from Washington this week.

President Obama and Vice President Biden signed and presented the new version of the Violence Against Women Act on Thursday, one of the few things that actually got accomplished on Capitol Hill this week. For that alone, we're grateful that Congress finally acted on something.

The Senate also confirmed John Brennan as CIA director, an outcome that Senator Rand Paul nominally attempted to stop with his thirteen hour filibuster. Still, for confirming another of President Obama's nominees - even after a massive, weeks-long legislative temper tantrum - we're willing to give Congress partial credit for accomplishing something.

In fact, even while Sen. Rand Paul's titular reason for his filibuster failed, and even though we - like Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post - think Sen. Paul is an "archconservative kook", the fact remains that Paul did something no one on any side has done for far too long: Get up and take credit for his beliefs on the floor of the U.S. Senate, loudly and publicly.

Sure, it's likely that what Paul did was a stunt, the kind of cable TV-friendly action that gins up political donations from core supporters, while angering publications like the Wall Street Journal. It's also true that - as we noted - Paul's action did not stop John Brennan from being confirmed.

What Paul's action did do, as Greg Sargent noted twice on Thursday, is remind Americans - and other members of the Senate in both parties - exactly what filibusters are supposed to look like. It also showed exactly what has been wrong with the way the Senate has been handling - or not handling - its business for far too long.

For that reason alone, we're willing to give Congress just a bit more credit today.

In total, if you add up the full and partial credits of things that Congress accomplished, we count the karmic equivalent of two things that they actually accomplished this week.

That's better than two groups of idiots getting nothing done - which is what Americans have become far more used to seeing on Capitol Hill.

So today, we'll give credit where credit is due. Congress worked, at least a little bit this week - which shouldn't be a complete surprise.

After all, even a broken analog clock works correctly twice a day.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Grand, Stupid, Distractions

We hate the news media today.

Not just "today," Thursday, but also today, in the sense of our modern news media. This has been a week filled with many in the media screaming multiple different stories at you. From the sequester and its effects, to what was supposed to be a massive snowstorm in DC (that wasn't), to the talking filibuster by Sen. Rand Paul, and new all-time highs reached on the stock market, our national media colleagues have been racing from one story to another as though their pants were on fire - which in some cases, they have been.

What few media outlets have discussed in all the hoopla, however - either directly or obliquely - is our economy. Sure, the stock market is back - but our economy, specifically the jobs of millions of Americans - has yet to return. What's worse, our level of wealth inequality is at an all-time high, while the real median wage for working Americans is 8 percent lower than it was during the last year of President Clinton's tenure.

That said, we're going to do our best today to drag our colleagues into talking about the REAL economy - not just headlines flashing across some building-wide electronic ticker that screams "Dow Hits New High!"

The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the official jobs numbers for February tomorrow, and the private firm ADP released its survey of February's jobs numbers yesterday. Both numbers show significant improvement, as jobless claims fell to a near five-year low. Further, in a different survey by the Fed, economic growth has been found to be widespread and improving. That said, employers are still sitting on their hands, waiting for some mythical 'perfect' conditions that will likely never come.

As Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under President Clinton makes note of this week, there are several other reasons workers are still getting the shaft in our economy, from productivity gains, to globalization, to the current bargaining power of workers. As Wonkblog's Neil Irwin notes, another reason workers are still getting the shaft is because Congress is too busy also sitting on its collective hands, trying not to do anything other than posture effectively, so they can get re-elected in 2014.

The only government organization that's actually been able to be successful in helping give the economy a boost back towards a healthy state is the Federal Reserve. The problem is, the Fed only really has one blunt tool - monetary policy - to help spur the economy forward.

It's true that President Obama and Congressional Democrats have put forward a slew of ideas to try and help more Americans get back to work - everything from raising the minimum wage, to the American Reinvestment Act (also known as the Obama stimulus, which professional economists agree worked), to more sensible tax policies that would close loopholes and spur hiring. Still, they can't do it all themselves.

Congressional Republicans have been doing everything in their power to implement economic austerity - like the sequester - which has resulted in countless numbers of jobs lost already, and will result in even more unless their insanity can be brought to a screeching halt.

The simple facts are clear - something even our colleagues in the rest of the news media can see, even if they don't want to report on them.

Americans must stop allowing our nation to be distracted with grand gestures like Sen. Rand Paul's pointless filibuster, and unnecessary hype about debt and deficits. Instead, we must focus on jobs, as President Obama has been trying to do now for four years, so we can get millions of Americans back to work.

There are some positive economic signs popping up, as we noted earlier this week, and as the jobless numbers show today. Still, the American people have yet to fully recover, even if the stock market already has. Until the massive building-wide electronic tickers scream "Unemployment 2%" and American wealth inequality is gone, we'll keep drawing attention back to this issue - because that's where the focus of our nation, at all levels, really belongs.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The GOP, Getting Rolled Again

From your steak to the nuclear power plant down the road, from student aid and HIV testing, to travel delays and cancelled tours at the White House, the effects of the sequester have begun to roll out all over the nation, just as House Republicans insist they won't shut down the government at the end of the month.

Of course, that's also what they said about the sequester - that they'd never allow it to happen - so you can see why we don't have any faith in this latest claim by Congressmembers that they're going to save us from yet another Republican hostage crisis.

Logically you'd think that after getting bowled over in the 2012 elections, extremist Republicans might want to stop being stupid, deal with the massive political elephant in the room, and do things that might win them some elections in 2014.

At least in Congress, that hasn't been the case so far.

At the state level, however, there are a growing number of Republican governors who clearly understand the massive boulder rolling their way on Medicaid - which is why more and more of them have been bucking the extremists in their party, and accepting Obamacare's Medicaid expansion funds.

It's another example of right-wing hypocrisy - one that might actually net those who've accepted the realities of Obamacare some political victories down the road.

Republican governors who've decided to be - in Republican parlance - "moochers" from Medicaid have actually been the ones making the most fiscally responsible decisions. That's even more true since, under the current Medicaid expansion, the federal government pays the full cost of that expansion at the state level for the first three years, as well as additional spending costs. This actually ends up pairing well with the growing numbers of Americans who will be buying health insurance from the private market under Obamacare, since Medicaid helps those who can't afford insurance - and it's cheaper than private insurance anyway.

For health insurance companies at the state level, that dual boost means at a time they'll be getting more business coming in, they'll also be able to lessen the financial drag on their business as health care costs continue to go down. That's another 'win' for Obamacare.

Sadly, we still haven't gotten anywhere close to tackling the serious problems of price gouging in the U.S. health care system, as throughly detailed in a brilliant Time magazine report by Steven Brill.

We have made SOME progress though in rolling back the costs of health care to our society, with the ongoing roll out of Obamacare - including the Medicaid expansion. That is and always has been the goal of the progressive political position: Move forward on all fronts, and fix what you can, as soon as you can.

Politically, that worked out astoundingly well for Democrats in the 2012 elections. Some Republican governors they chose to embrace the Medicaid expansion obviously understand that. Other foolish Republican governors and state level politicians are still running from the Medicaid expansion that will almost certainly likely help those like Gov. Chris Christie in 2014.

Those less-than-wise Republican governors should learn to roll with the changes - or expect to get rolled by the people in 2014.