Obamacare supports gun rights

So will the NRA rally support for Obamacare?

The words were tucked deep into the sprawling text of President Obama’s signature health-care overhaul. Under the headline “Protection of Second Amendment Gun Rights” was a brief provision restricting the ability of doctors to gather data about their patients’ gun use — a largely overlooked but significant challenge to a movement in American medicine to treat firearms as a matter of public health.

The language, pushed by the National Rifle Association in the final weeks of the 2010 debate over health care and discovered only in recent days by some lawmakers and medical groups, is drawing criticism in the wake of this month’s schoolhouse massacre of 20 children and six educators in Newtown, Conn. Some public health advocates, worried that the measure will hinder research and medical care, are calling on the White House to amend the language as it prepares to launch a gun-control initiative in January.

NRA officials say they requested the provision out of concern that insurance companies could use such data to raise premiums on gun owners. The measure’s supporters in the Senate say they did not intend to interfere with the work of doctors or researchers.

via NRA fingerprints in landmark health-care law – The Washington Post.

For me, the telling part of this story is “discovered only in recent days.”  Has NOBODY read the 124-page  bill all the way through?  What else might be in there?  (If you want to give it a go at reading the thing, here is the bill.)

Happy New Year!

As the country, like a nation of lemmings,  parties its way off the fiscal cliff, let us all wish each other a lucky 2013!

That doesn’t sound very hopeful.  Let’s try that again.  Have a blessed New Year!  “My times are in your hand” (Psalm 31:15).

Dave Barry’s year in review

One of my personal New Year’s Day rituals is to read humorist Dave Barry’s  month-by-month recap of the year gone by.  It’s printed in quite a few newspapers, but it’s often edited down to fit the space.  I believe this is a complete version of Dave’s take on 2012.

Resolve not to use these words in 2013

The problem with slang is that it goes out of fashion as quickly as it comes in.  Few things sound sillier than slang that’s just a little out of date or that is uttered by someone who is not in the group the slang is supposed to define.  Ginnie Graham of the Tulsa World looks at words that gained currency in 2012 but that now beg for elimination:

Adorkable – Even with “New Girl” starring Zooey Deschanel on my DVR, this word has to go.

Amazeballs – Adding “ball” to the end of a word does not make it better.

Cray, or cray-cray – As in “You are acting so cray-cray.” I hear that a lot from my 5-year-old, which makes me crazy enough to get rid of it.

Totes, jelly, YOLO, fro-yo and all other shortened words and phrases – “Totes” means totally, “jelly” refers to jealous, “You only live once” and frozen yogurt” are the others. It doesn’t really save any time not finishing all the words.

Mommy porn – So, the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy gave us this dreadful term, once known as romance. Oh, how I miss the sweet Harlequin-inspired descriptions.

Jeah – Thank you Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte for mixing “good” and “yeah” into popularizing this weird one.

Percents – The Occupy Wall Streeters supported the 99 percent and railed against the 1 percent. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney complained about the 47 percent. Math confuses me, so I’m out.

Mains – Refers to a close, tight-knit group of people, such as “My sister is one of my mains.” My sister would also smack me if I said that.

Literally – All English teachers and speakers of correct grammar cringe at Rob Lowe’s “Parks and Recreation” character bastardizing this word. To review, literally means it happened, “I literally turned the channel.” Everything else is metaphorical or figurative.

Actually – Might as well throw this one in, too. Actually is literally just as irritating in conversation. It’s a word overused to speak down to someone.

“Actually, blue is not your color, and I do know the definition of literally,” I said before my sister smacked me.

Artisanal – Some marketing hipster is laughing somewhere that adding this to every food label literally increased sales. Actually, it doesn’t mean anything.

via Ginnie Graham: Some words deserve to get the ax in new year | Tulsa World.

What other words or expressions of 2012 deserve to be banished in the new year?

We have jumped off the cliff

The good news is that the Republican and Democratic leadership seems to have come to an agreement about renewing the Bush tax cuts.  The bad news is that it was impossible logistically to pass a bill before midnight on New Year’s Eve when the cuts expire and automatic spending cuts kicked in.  So we have jumped off the fiscal cliff, though there is hope that Congress will clamber back up it with a retroactive action.  From CNBC:

With no vote likely on Monday night, the U.S. will technically be going over the “fiscal cliff” at midnight, sources told CNBC.

The emerging deal with the Senate would raise tax rates on family income over $450,000 a year, increase the estate tax rate and extend unemployment benefits for one year.

The parties were at an impasse over whether to put off the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts set to begin taking effect at midnight, and if so, how to pay for that. One official said talks were focused on a two-month delay in the across-the-board cuts but negotiators had yet to agree on about $24 billion in savings from elsewhere in the budget.

“Today it appears that an agreement to prevent this middle class tax hike is in sight,” Obama said in an early afternoon appearance from the White House, where he stood in front of cheering supporters.

“Over the next 12 hours, let’s see if we can get this done,” Obama said.

Obama expressed regret that the work of the administration and lawmakers won’t produce a “grand bargain” on tax-and-spend issues, but said that “with this Congress, it couldn’t happen at that time.”

Before he spoke, details of the emerging deal emerged. It would raise $600 billion in revenue over the next 10 years by increasing tax rates for individuals making more than $400,000 and households making above $450,000 annually, officials familiar with the talks said.

The deal would also delay a series of spending cuts known as the “sequester,” though a sticking point remains on how long that delay would last. McConnell said action on the sequester could continue in coming months. “Let’s pass the tax relief portion now, let’s take what’s been agreed to and get moving,” McConnell said.

Other details included increasing the estate tax rate, extending unemployment benefits for one year, officials familiar with the negotiations said. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said an agreement would shield Medicare doctors from a 27 percent cut in fees and extend tax credits for research and development, as well as renewable energy.

The deal also would extend for five years a series of tax credits meant to lessen the financial burden on poorer and middle-class families, including one credit that helps people pay for college.

via Going Over the ‘Cliff,’ but Tax Agreement ‘in Sight’.

We are also going off the Dairy Cliff.   The Farm Bill has also expired when the crystal ball touched down in Times Square.  As a result, a price support mechanism devised in 1949 kicked in, whereby the U.S. government has to buy milk for $7-$8 per gallon in today’s money.  This would more than double the price of milk in the supermarket.  Reportedly, an agreement has been struck that would renew the Farm Bill, though, again, it remains for Congress to act.

The wild card in all of this is whether the party leaders can deliver the votes from their members.  Some Congressional Republicans are said to be upset that spending cuts are not being included, with some Congressional Democrats incensed at the cutoff for higher taxes being raised to $450,000 rather than the $250,000 that President Obama campaigned on.

Make your predictions for 2013

As is our custom on New Year’s Eve, we invite you to make your predictions for what will happen in the New Year.  We will then review those predictions in exactly one year to see how you did.  (See today’s accompanying post.)  Whoever made the best predictions will receive honor, accolades, and bragging rights.

Highly specific predictions will score higher than general predictions.  And predictions that are surprising and completely unexpected but that come true anyway will score the highest of all.

(The Deuteronomy 18:22 rule will not be enforced.)

So what do you think will happen in 2013?


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