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Chief Justice John Roberts saves the Affordable Care Act? I really don’t think anybody saw that one coming.  Just when the media, political pundits, and much of America had the Supreme Court pegged as charting conspicuously to the right, Justice Roberts drops a flour bomb on the Fox News fanbase and provides a legal foothold for desperately needed reforms in our medical care and delivery ecosystem. Now, can we take full advantage of this historic opportunity?

The rational thing to do at this point would be for our leaders on both sides of the aisle to accept the ruling and move forward in a constructive manner to implement the law, and expand it in ways that make sense, to provide the greatest long-term benefit for the American people. I like to believe that there are some truly brilliant minds in Washington, and that collectively we are capable of crafting some comprehensive solutions. Unfortunately, there’s not a chance in hell that’s going to happen.

The GOP has already served notice that they will continue to do everything they can to undermine, underfund, and ultimately repeal the Affordable Care Act – not because it’s fundamentally a bad approach, only because it’s Obama’s approach.  It’s irrelevant whether the law is good or bad. Republican leadership has been startlingly transparent in the fact that their primary goal – whatever it takes – is to obstruct the Obama administration at every turn and then point fingers back at him for not accomplishing anything in his first term.  If it comes from Obama, or has the potential to put a star in the Democratic column, it must be defeated, period.

The Republicans are loathe to admit that many of the defining features of the law, including the insurance mandate, were originally conceived or strongly supported by Republicans. The insurance mandate in particular is merely an extension of a fundamentally Republican ideal – to lower taxes for all by broadening the base of those who pay into the system. For them to fight so vehemently against these kinds of reforms, it is truly just politics for the sake of politics, an ugly pastime where nobody wins and everybody loses. Legitimate opportunites are being squandered for momentary partisan gain, and the costs are compounding.

The oppose-everything strategy adopted by the GOP leadership is more than counterproductive, it is patently harmful to our sustainability and prosperity as a nation. If Republicans were to put half as much effort into working with Obama as they do working against him, I have no doubt that great things could be achieved, to the benefit of everyone. Yeah, not gonna happen.

(On a side note, I had a hunch the Supreme Court ruling would come down in support of the health care law. Given the ferocity and political overtones of Justice Scalia’s rant the other day over Obama’s immigration policy, it occurred to me that part of his anger and disgust could be rooted in another case – the Affordable Care Act. He had to have known at that time what the majority decision would be, and feeling betrayed by Roberts, he was lashing out.)

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A fellow blogger has a series of posts titled “What You Will Do For Your Children,” wherein he’ll spotlight some of the selfless, and sometimes humiliating, hoops we’ll climb through for no other reason than to show our love and support for the little ones in our lives. So Matt, tally this one up in your column.

A while back, I posted a little piece about my disdain for Dunkin Donuts’ coffee. Considering all the hype I’d heard and read, I was more than a little disappointed when I finally got around to trying it, and shared my thoughts with the world. Well, guess what? I’m now hawking DD’s coffee to my friends and family, or anyone else who needs a bag or two. It’s a fundraiser for my son’s soccer team (those tournaments get expensive!) and we get to keep a pretty good share of the proceeds.

So, I never thought I’d be saying this, but . . .

Anyone care for some Dunkin Donuts coffee?   Options are: regular, decaf, vanilla, or hazelnut (all ground). Whole bean coffee is available in regular or decaf. Nine bucks a bag, and you can have it by Christmas. Yeah, I know the grocery store sells it for less. That’s why we call it a fundraiser.

Lots of folks really like this stuff. Makes an easy holiday gift. Any takers?

On my political soapbox again . . . I’m really trying not to make a habit of this!

I just saw this article from CNN, and was wowed by the statement attributed to Dr. J. James Rohack, President of the American Medical Association, regarding their support for the current health care reform bill:  

. . .  the legislation is “not a perfect representation of our views” but is close enough to warrant his group’s support and keep the reform process moving forward . . .

Now, how inspiring would it be if other players in the debate, on both sides of the aisle, could adopt a similar philosophy? When we fight for extremist ideologies, and refuse to yield on principle, nobody wins.

The article goes on to note that the house Bill includes a public insurance option. Gee, if the doctors aren’t afraid of a government-run insurance system dictating how they deliver medical care, why should the Republicans be?

The answer, obviously, is that that isn’t really what the Republicans are afraid of at all. What they’re most afraid of is a little competition draining the profits of their political donors. All that scary stuff is just a smokescreen.

 

Breaking news: Rio de Janeiro has been selected to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, beating out Chicago, Madrid, and Tokyo for the honor.

I actually like this choice. In spite of all the hype and promises to the contrary, hosting the Olympic Games has historically been a losing proposition in terms of direct economic impact, and I think we Americans have better uses for the billions of dollars (Rio is budgeting $14.4 billion) that would need to be invested to pull it off.

The decision also brings the Games to a part of the world that’s never hosted them before, and I think that’s pretty cool. But now, I just have one question: If the Summer Games are played in the southern hemisphere, does that make them Winter Games?

Today’s riddle: What came first, smoking or callousness?

On the drive in this morning, I witnessed yet another act of object rudeness and insensitivity by a smoker. Standing on the street corner, he was opening a fresh pack of smokes and, as if without a second thought, he tossed the wrapper into the air and let the breeze carry it away. I watched to see if there was any hint of concern on his face, and of course there was none.

We’ve all witnessed these folks throwing their butts all over the ground. It’s so commonplace that we feel appreciative when they at least stomp out the fire. How many times have you pulled up to a stop sign only to find someone had emptied their ashtray in the median? I mean seriously, what the hell are these people thinking? Or maybe the question ought to be – do they think at all?

One time when I was a kid, my friends and I were playing in the front yard. It was a warm summer day, and we were all barefoot on the freshly-cut grass. The grown-ups were on the porch smoking. I can’t remember if we were playing tag, or frisbee, or some other game, but I remember feeling the sudden, burning pain underfoot. I had stepped on a still-lit cigarette butt that one of the grown-ups had carelessly flicked out onto the grass.

It boggles the mind.

It’s no secret that I am not a fan of Sarah Palin. Well, hang on, that’s not exactly true . . . I do enjoy following her for the sheer entertainment value it provides. But politically, she and I are glaciers apart, which is why I was so impressed by something she said this week.

In the midst of all the clatter surrounding the town hall meetings on health care reform, Sarah Palin has publicly denounced the prevailing GOP tactic of disruption, harassment, and shout-downs. This from CNN:

Posting once again on her Facebook page — the former Alaska governor’s recent soapbox of choice — Palin on Sunday called on critics of the health care plan to turn down the volume.

“There are many disturbing details in the current bill that Washington is trying to rush through Congress, but we must stick to a discussion of the issues and not get sidetracked by tactics that can be accused of leading to intimidation or harassment,” Palin wrote. 

“Such tactics diminish our nation’s civil discourse which we need now more than ever because the fine print in this outrageous health care proposal must be understood clearly and not get lost in conscientious voters’ passion to want to make elected officials hear what we are saying,” Palin wrote. “Let’s not give the proponents of nationalized health care any reason to criticize us.”

Wow. Reasonable and sensible? I was stunned. Even if I disagree with her stance on the issue, I can applaud her for taking a stand against these ridiculous shouting tactics.  Brava! Time will tell if the GOP leadership and lobbyists will heed the call.

We’re all busy. And if you’re like me, your brain already has too much info bouncing around, so remembering to check a blog for new posts probably doesn’t rank very high on your list of priorities.

To make it easier for everyone to stay in touch, I’ve now enabled a subscription service for this blog (thanks Len!). Just click the link in the left column, enter your email address, and bingo. If I’ve posted anything new that day, you’ll get an email. How easy is that?

Sometimes, when trying to decide what to write, it helps to do some browsing. This story from CNN today was an inspiration. As you must have heard by now, our President is hosting a little get-together between Professor Gates (accused of breaking into his own house and later arrested for taking offense to it), and the arresting officer from the Cambridge Police. And, being a really good host, Mr. O has offered to provide the beer. Leave it to the politicians to turn it into a circus.

Seems some folks are all up in arms about which beer to serve. Obama’s favorite, Bud Light, is now a foreign-owned brand. Likewise with Red Stripe and Beck’s, preferred by Gates. Not sure what the problem is with Blue Moon, the officer’s choice, but if I let my imagination run wild I can conjure up all kinds of idiotic and politically incorrect references.

On the surface, it’s petty, contrived, and a colossal waste of heavy breathing. Looking a little deeper, it’s symptomatic of a much bigger problem . . . we Americans – independent, mighty, intelligent, and strong – have become hypersensitive to pretty much everything. The posturing, the grandstanding, the feigned indignation. We live in a culture of grievance, and in the skilled hands of lawyers and politicians, it’s been elevated to an art form.  If, by chance, you weren’t offended initially (maybe you actually had a life and missed something), there’s never a shortage of people willing to step up to the podium and turn it into headline news.

For Pete’s sake (no offense to Pete, whoever he is), what’s wrong with a couple of guys getting together over a beer to hash out a disagreement? Who cares what beer they drink? I applaud the gesture, and wish we could handle things that way more often. It ought to be a required step before any lawsuit is accepted into the court system! Think about it . . .

For now, it is what it is. Let’s have some fun with it. Imagine you’re in charge at the White House . . . what would you serve, and why?

It’s not that I’m shocked, or even surprised, really. I knew what I was getting into when I moved here (twice). But 102 degrees at 9am? That just seems wrong.

It’s going to be a warm one.

I’ve pondered the idea of creating a blog for some time now, but until recently, I’d never been quite sure from which angle to approach it. On a professional level, the are certainly a multitude of topics that pique my interest, whether it be sustainability and the green building movement, commentaries on design, or cheering for the “New Urbanism” concepts of livable, walkable communities that value people over automobiles. All are worthy topics, but perhaps with a limited audience (are you still with me?). Besides, there are any number of blogs already out there that tackle these subjects admirably.

Instead, I’ve come to the conclusion that the subject I’m most qualified to talk about is, well . . . me. (pauses to allow everyone time to groan) Actually, it would be more to the point to describe the subject matter as a diverse collection of personal reflections and observations from my own life that I suspect can be shared on some level by many of you. It’s clear to me that life is a never-ending process of discovery. Each day brings new insights, new lessons, and we’ve all got something to share. Often times, I’ve found that my quest for deeper understanding only leads to more questions. It’s life’s great paradox, the more we discover – about the world around us, about ourselves – the more we realize how much we still don’t know.

It’s anybody’s guess as to where the conversations here may lead, and I’ll make little effort to restrain it. To the contrary, it is my hope that this blog can take on a life of its own, and that my readers (somebody, anybody?) will contribute their own insights, thoughts and energy to keep things interesting. So please, don’t be shy. We can learn a lot from each other, and maybe between us, we can figure out this thing called life. Welcome aboard.