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Friday, June 29, 2012

Pittsburghese - No City Chicken???

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Reform Law

Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Reform Law
Health Care Reform Legislative Brief
Brought to You By Brown & Brown Insurance of Colorado

On June 28, 2012, the last day of its current term, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision on the constitutionality of the health care reform law. The Court upheld the entire law, holding that Congress acted within its constitutional authority when enacting the individual mandate. This means that the health care reform law will continue to be implemented as planned and provisions that are already effective will continue.


 The health care reform law, commonly referred to as the Affordable Care Act, was enacted in 2010. Opponents of the law quickly started filing legal challenges to its validity. Most of the legal challenges focused on the constitutionality of the law’s individual mandate—the requirement that individuals purchase health insurance coverage or pay a penalty beginning in 2014.

The U.S. Courts of Appeals split in their decisions regarding the law’s constitutionality. To resolve this uncertainty, the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed the health care reform law in March 2012. The Court heard six hours of oral argument on the case, which is an extraordinary amount of time for oral argument. Most modern court cases only receive one hour of oral argument so this was indicative of the importance of the health care reform law challenges.


The main substantive challenge to the health care reform law was whether Congress had the authority under the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause to require individuals to purchase health insurance coverage. The Commerce Clause gives Congress the power to regulate multi-state, economic activity. Most of the arguments centered on whether enacting the mandate fell within the Congressional power to regulate interstate commerce.

Opponents of the health care reform law argued that the Commerce Clause does not give Congress the power to regulate economic inactivity (that is, the decision not to purchase health insurance). They noted that Congress’ Commerce Clause power has never before been extended to this degree, and argued that this would open the door for the federal government to have unrestricted power to regulate.

The Obama Administration, however, stated that the law was an attempt by Congress to address the problems of access and affordability in the national health care market. The Administration pointed to the health care costs associated with the uninsured to demonstrate the economic effect of not purchasing health coverage, and argued that the law expands access to health care by making affordable health insurance more widely available.

Opponents of the law also argued that without the individual mandate, the law could not function as intended and would have to be struck down in its entirety. The Obama Administration argued that, in the event the individual mandate was ruled unconstitutional, only certain provisions of the law—those related to guaranteed issue and underwriting restrictions—would also be invalid. Thus, these parts of the law could be severed and all other provisions could stand.


The Supreme Court ultimately ruled that Congress acted within its constitutional authority when enacting the individual mandate. In its ruling, the Court first concluded that the Commerce Clause did not give Congress the power to pass the individual mandate. The Court concluded that Congress has the authority to regulate interstate commerce, but does not have the authority to compel it. The Court stated that “construing the Commerce Clause to permit Congress to regulate individuals precisely because they are doing nothing would open a new and potentially vast domain to congressional authority.”

However, the Court held that Congress had the power to enact the mandate under its authority to impose taxes. The majority of the Court agreed that the individual mandate’s penalty is essentially a tax that Congress can impose using its taxing authority. The Court held that “our precedent demonstrates that Congress had the power to impose the exaction in [the individual mandate] under the taxing power, and that [the individual mandate] need not be read to do more than impose a tax. That is sufficient to sustain it.” 

Because the Court upheld the individual mandate, it did not need to decide whether other provisions of the health care reform law were constitutional. One exception to this is a provision that required states to comply with the health care reform law’s new Medicaid eligibility requirements or risk losing their federal funding. The constitutionality of this provision was also before the Court. On that issue, the Court ruled that the provision is constitutional, but that Congress cannot penalize states that decide not to participate in the law’s Medicaid expansion by taking away their existing Medicaid funding.


Because the individual mandate was upheld, all aspects of the health care reform law that have been implemented will remain in effect. Additionally, the remaining provisions of the health care reform law that are not currently in effect will continue to be implemented as planned. Most notably, beginning in 2014, all individuals will generally be required to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty.

Many of the health care reform law’s provisions require agency guidance to be implemented. The Departments of Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS) and Treasury have been regularly issuing guidance to implement the health care reforms. These agencies will continue to promulgate regulations relating to the health care reform law, and employers and health plans will be required to comply with these to the same extent that they are required to comply with the various provisions of the health care reform law.

Although the Supreme Court held that the individual mandate is constitutional, opponents of the health care reform law may challenge other provisions using various legal arguments. If any further challenges arise, courts will address these accordingly.

Additionally, members of Congress have already introduced new legislation to amend or repeal various parts of the health care reform law, and likely will continue with this strategy. Each of these possibilities may have an impact on the health care reform law and its requirements in the future.


A copy of the Supreme Court’s decision is available at:

Legislative Brief brought to you by Brown & Brown Insurance

Monday, June 18, 2012

#VaginaBlogs: Sexual Equality

I'm not going to give you the details of VaginaGate, because my friend Rachel did it so well in her blog, Vagina, Vagina, Vagina. Read and react.

If there is one thing you cannot debate, it's the attack we've had, as women, on our bodies this past year. We are a constant subject on the floor of Capitols all across America and the conversation takes place as if we have no brain, no soul, no beating heart. As if we are nothing but the vagina and uterus that lie within us. 

This past week took it to new heights when Michigan House Representatives were barred from speaking further on the House floor for speaking out of turn. For using the word vagina. If adults cannot even use the word without turning to mush and falling apart, how can they have a true discussion about the topic? What right do they have to discuss the topic at all? 

They have no right. None at all.

Women are not child-bearing vessels. We are human beings. We are one half of a two part biological process required to bring life into this world. We do not create life on our own. We do not walk down the street and life spontaneously creates inside our wombs. 

We have been given the accountability to bear our young, should we decide to bring children to this earth. But let us be clear, it is a decision, regardless of whether our bodies are the more important of the two sexes at the regeneration of the human species. Jealousy of our gift does not give others the right to monitor or control it. 

If it were not a choice, the male would have equal accountability. Once his seed had been dropped off, his responsibility for his part in the process would require follow up. But America isn't willing to address the topic of reproduction on an equal basis between the two sexes required to create life. 

Until that sexual equality has been reached, feel free to steer clear of our vagina and our uterus. We have them under control. We deal with them and their actions monthly. God forbid menses be discussed on the House floor. The good news is that none of this is necessary. Our bodies, our choice. For this woman, the conversation is over. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The True Story of the Dream Bird

I know, I have no knack for storytelling. I do in my head, but when it comes time to put it in writing, all creativity and excitement I had for the telling just disappears. So, work with me here and embellish at your will, because, trust me, you will never be able to do the true story justice, no matter how freaky you imagine this scenario. And, yes, this story is true.

When I awoke today and had the bird dream in my head, I remembered the day I was a real hero to another bird. A living bird. With wings. Flapping wings. A caught food, flapping wings, it's body beating around as it tried to free itself. I was fucking horrified. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I've had more spelling in my life where I've found myself unemployed than I care to admit. Oh, that's a lie. Some of my jobs have absolutely sucked. I've walked out, I've been fired, I've been through it all. During this particular bump in the road, I was fortunate to be living with my boyfriend in his quaint house in the middle of nowhere, yet right next to Highway 76. The same damned highway I grew up next to. I don't think I've ever lived more than 10 miles from I-76 in my entire life. How strange is that?

So, I'm unemployed, sitting at my makeshift outdoor paradise (a table made out of a copper wire spool and a fake tiki umbrella from Big Lots) and I hear the squawking and banging, just like in the dream. But it's closer. And I'm afraid of birds. This ain't no damned dream and I'm not a damned rock climbing super goddess.

My mom taught me at an early age about her fear of birds. They flwp flwp flwp sound they make when they are coming toward you and how you have no control over where they go. To duck when they come. For me, this fear has passed to all flying things. Moths, bees, flies, birds. They scare the bejesus out of me. Mind you, if I find a broken or hurt flying thing, I will do anything in my power to save it. But when it's flying, I'm scared to death.

So, there I was in my paradise (it happened to be about 100 degrees that day) and I heard the bird. The distressed bird. I tracked it down to one of the jury-rigged columns on our quaint porch. My boyfriend's ex-wife's husband took the cheap way around everything and the columns on our porch were empty fiberboard. The boyfriend, god bless him, tried to keep birds from nesting in them by stuffing the top with plastic bags.

The bird thought either a) Yay! Those bags keep the wind out of our nests, or b) Yay! More shit to make nests with! So, birds still made nests in every single column we had. In this particular column, there was a bird banging around.

Heart pounding, I ran to the garage and got a screwdriver and disassembled the cheap ass column. Inside was a crow (blackbird? what's the difference?) with a plastic bag wrapped around it's leg. In essence, this bird was now a lethal weapon out of a horror movie.

I made a half-assed attempt to move close to the bird, thinking I could calm it down (so wrong) and grab the bird, and rip the bag and set it free. Ha hahahahhahhaaaaaa. I was squealing like a fucking pig at the top of my lungs as I tried to get close to this flying, banging burst of unhappy feathers. If we had close neighbors, I have no doubt they would have called the police.

I also had no doubt that I had to save this bird. When I next stepped outside, I had on my boyfriend's motorcycle helmet (100 degrees), his motorcycle gloves, a step stool and a pair of kitchen shears in my hands. With sweat dripping down my face, deafening screams inside the helmet and 15 minutes of arduous labor while I tried deftly to slice the bag (with my eyes closed) and not stab the bird, I fought valiantly to rescue him. All of a sudden - HE WAS GONE! I have no idea what I did, or how it happened, but I saved it!

And, somehow, that tweeting bird from last night brought all of this back to my head.

Arizona Passes Abortion Law That Says Pregnancy Begins Before A Child Has Been Conceived

Arizona Passes Abortion Law That Says Pregnancy Begins Before A Child Has Been Conceived:

So, does this mean it's illegal to have your period in Arizona? What if you accidentally flush out something by accident that you didn't know what there because you were having your period. It has to be as realistic and medically possible as aborting a child before it was conceived, right?

Arizona has to be one of the most confusing states in the union. That's what sucks about being an independent. Some things I can cheer for, some things are so laughable that you want them to secede and join some other country.

My only hope is they are the first state to ban men from masturbating. After all, there are millions of lives lost every time a man ejaculates. Women like Octomom would gladly use those eggs at the cost of taxpayers. Fair is fair. more viagra. Black market baby. BLACK MARKET.

'via Blog this'

Livin' the Dream....Casserole Shoes

Is it just me, or is it supposed to be a well known supposition that birds chirp in the morning and not all night? Because there was a bird chirping outside my window all night long. I kept waking up and hearing the bird. It's song? Never changed. It has to be past mating season by now, right? I had to eventually come to the conclusion that it was out there just to enter my dream, because that is exactly what it did.

In my dream I was working at a posh upscale resort. God forbid I actually be vacationing at a resort. No, I was working at one. As some sort of cruise director, but not on a cruise. On this particular day, I took people rock climbing. Because I do that almost every day in normal life and I would know exactly what to do. Assuming that rock was about 2x3 inches, we'd be good.

These rocks, not so small. At least that's what I took away from it from the state of my feet when I returned from a damned successful rock climbing adventure. They were torn apart. I obviously didn't have the right shoes for the event, nor did I have the right ones to soothe my aching and bloody feet.

Like most normal people, it was at that point that I took to the kitchen, to MacGyver my way through the need for foot repair. I picked out two mismatched Pyrex casserole dishes (with arch support!), filled them with water and duct taped them to my feet.

As soon as I was sitting snugly in my modern take on the glass slipper, all hell broke loose and a horse came into the courtyard without a rider. Dammit. A tour had gone sour in my incredible resort. Even with arch support, I didn't think the sloshing water and duct tape would make my casserole shoes the most ideal footwear in which to round up a horse (now running through the lobby) or to go trekking through the brush in search of a horseless rider.

That's when I heard the bird. A loud, squawking sound, coming from a clearly frightened bird. It drew my attention to the large silo to the left, just to the side of the lobby of my posh resort. As most resorts do, this one had a massive, old fashioned farm silo with a ladder and a switch that would open and close the roof.

A bird was inside the silo, it's foot caught (what's with the feet?), keeping it from flying properly and it was banging on the sides of the silo. Given my shoes, I wasn't able to climb the ladder, but I flipped the switch to open the silo, hoping that the open space might give the bird strength to break free of its tether and fly away.

But what I saw wasn't blue sky and a clear path to green pastures, but rather a crowded highway, the bottoms of cars and semi-trucks speeding by. I frantically worked to close the hatch to keep the bird pounding against the silo rather than get killed in traffic.

At least I had my casserole shoes.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Green Thing

Just a little email floater my mom shared with me...Definitely makes you think. If it doesn't, what the hell is wrong with you?
Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my earlier days."

The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."

She was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books. But too bad we didn't do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we older folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then? 

Thursday, February 23, 2012




VIZ Media’s Mega-Hit Franchise Continues To Expand Across All Entertainment Channels, Win In Ratings, And Top Best Seller Lists

San Francisco, CA, February 23, 2012 – VIZ Media, the largest distributor and licensor of anime and manga in the North America, announced today that Warner Bros. Pictures has acquired the live-action feature film rights to the hit manga and anime property BLEACH. The announcement comes after another successful year for BLEACH in print, digital publishing, cable television, streaming video, consumer products and video-on-demand.

“BLEACH has built a huge international following in its manga and anime formats, and we’re excited that Warner Bros. shares our belief that BLEACH can also become a fantastic live-action film,” said Jason Hoffs of VIZ Productions, VIZ Media’s Hollywood-based production company. “BLEACH is an exciting opportunity to mix Japanese and Hollywood storytelling to create something new for the big screen, and we’re thrilled for the opportunity to further expose its unique characters and story to film audiences everywhere.”

Peter Segal (GET SMART, THE LONGEST YARD) of Callahan Filmworks is producing with an eye toward directing. The film’s creative team also includes screenwriter Dan Mazeau, who recently penned Warner Bros.’ upcoming sequel to CLASH OF THE TITANS. Callahan Filmworks partner Michael Ewing and Masi Oka (best known for his roles on NBC’s HEROES and CBS’s HAWAII FIVE-0) will produce. From VIZ Productions, Hoffs will serve as Producer, and Branon Coluccio will be Executive Producer. Screenplay development will commence in 2012.

The popular BLEACH animated and manga series, created by Tite Kubo, follows the adventures of Ichigo, a teenager with the ability to see ghosts. When his family is attacked by a Hollow — a malevolent lost soul – Ichigo encounters Rukia, a Soul Reaper tasked to hunting Hollows, and inadvertently absorbs her powers. Now, Ichigo must dedicate his life to protecting the innocent and helping tortured souls find peace.

BLEACH is a tremendously successful multimedia property around the world. The manga has been licensed to more than a dozen countries and has over 75 million copies in print in Japan alone. In North America, the manga (rated ‘T’ for Teens) has consistently appeared on the New York Times Best Seller list for Manga and the Neilsen BookScan Top 50 Graphic Novels list, selling more than 2.1 million copies across 36 volumes.

The BLEACH manga is also available digitally through and for download through the VIZ Manga App for iPad®, iPhone® and iPod® touch, where it has proven to be a top-seller. The series was recently sped up to bring North American readers up-to-date with the latest story arc in Japan, culminating in it being featured in WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA, the groundbreaking digital manga magazine that VIZ Media just launched at the end of January 2012.

The BLEACH animated series (rated TV-14) has topped the ratings on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, sold over 1.8 million DVDs and consistently ranked among Hulu’s most watched shows, This success has further spawned an array of related video games (over 820,000 sold), apparel, action figures, trading cards and other merchandise.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Polar Bears

In 2001 I had a fantastic Olympus digital camera. It took action shots like nobodies business. These polar bears are only a few of the many examples I had over the years. If Olympus still remains in this category, they will be my next camera.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super Bowl TV: Good game, wretched ads, pathetic half-time show -

Super Bowl TV: Good game, wretched ads, pathetic half-time show -

'via Blog this'

My friend, Jeff, responded to the article with this response. As an aging woman (and there are many of us), I felt very proud of his reply.

Mr. Zurawik -

I am outraged at some of the hypocritical comments you made in your article "Super Bowl TV: Good game, nasty ads, pathetic half-time show."

In said article, you lamented that the Super Bowl commercials were "a barometer of our culture. And what they said to me is that we have become a truly dumbed-down, crass, trashy and even cruel society -- and somehow proud of it."

Well, sir, you apparently have inhaled the air of our culture and it is seeping its way out of your inarticulate pores.

After condemning the cruelty on display, you turn around and make ageist comments about the star halftime performer, calling her "an embalmed version of Madonna snatched off the undertaker's table." That is incredibly offensive for a number of reasons, but most importantly you are taking cruel pot shots at a person because of her age. That is dumbfoundingly inappropriate, rude, unprofessional and CRUEL for a person in the media to make a remark like that. I would expect that from some uneducated putz on Twitter with no sense of pride in himself or the establishment he represents, but not from a member of the media. If you're supposed to be a critic, then fine, criticize the performance all you want - but how DARE you mean-spiritedly criticize a person for aging. By making such a statement, you are essentially telling each of your readers that, at 53 years old, you are worthless, washed up and should rot in a grave someplace. Have you given any thought to the average age of your readership? All evidence would point to the fact that you have not. You owe every single one of them a sincere apology.

I have no idea how old you are, Mr. Zurawik, but you too will eventually get old. I hope when you get to a certain age the tide will have turned and people will no longer be chastised for getting older...but by then, if your attitude hasn't changed, there may not be anyone around you who cares how old you've become.

Jeff Kirkpatrick