Obamacare vs. Affordable Care Act

An interesting new poll has revealed a curious element of the public opinion about the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare”.

When you ask Americans if they favor “Obamacare,” 47 percent of them say they oppose it. When you ask them if their views of the Affordable Care Act, the number drops 36 percent.


“Obamacare” was the name hung on the ACA by its opponents who sought to put a derisive label on the health care reform overhaul approved by Congress in 2010. “Obamacare” has become the pejorative term of choice for those in politics and the media (such as Fox News) to use when discussing the ACA, which hasn’t even been implemented fully.

The Affordable Care Act is the legislation’s official name. It is used by those who support it. Although it’s interesting to me that President Obama occasionally uses the “Obamacare” term to describe it, all the while taking note that “Obamacare” is the critics’ term of choice.

I’m beginning to think, though, that these public opinion surveys are becoming almost as detailed as baseball statistics. You can find a stat for almost any category of hitting, pitching, fielding or base-running performance in the Grand Old Game. The same appears to be happening with public opinion polling.

‘Climate change’ is real, new study reports

I recently engaged in a brief Facebook “scuffle” with a couple of former journalism colleagues about climate change. They argue that the planet isn’t warming after all, citing studies published in the United Kingdom that back up their contention.

I’ve argued for some time that climate change is real. The only debate, as I’ve viewed it, is whether it’s caused by human beings or whether it’s part of Earth’s ecological cycle.

Well … yet another new report concludes the climate is changing and that — you guessed it — humankind is the culprit. CNN.com reports that the researchers among the most learned in the world and their findings are considered to be a bellwether.


Oh, my. Here we go again.

CNN.com reported today: “Climate scientists are 95 percent confident — that is to say, surer than ever — that humans are responsible for at least ‘half of the observed increase in global average surface temperatures since the 1950s.'”

The study comes from the U.N. International Panel on Climate Change. I know exactly what my friends on the right — the climate-change deniers — are going to say about that: The United Nations? Everyone knows the U.N. is run by a bunch of political lefties who are out to destroy the industrial world as we’ve known it. They point to the occasional cold snap that blows in over the Panhandle as “proof” that global warming and climate change are hoaxes cooked up by former Vice President Al Gore’s cabal of environmental whack jobs.

I tend to view the U.N. — and Vice President Gore — more seriously than their critics.

CNN reported further: “Scientists are 90 percent sure that 1981-2010 was the warmest such span in the last eight centuries, and there’s a 66 percent chance that it was the warmest 30-year period in the last 1,400 years.

“While the last 15 years have not warmed as quickly, we’ve seen steady warming over most of the globe, and we haven’t seen a below-average temperature month since February 1985.”

Is this the end of the debate? Hardly. It’s just going to heat up even more … kind of like the way the planet has been getting hotter.

Debt ceiling battle getting serious

The Affordable Care Act takes effect soon, which won’t end the fight to end it.

Before we get back to that old fight, another old battle — a much more critical one — is being waged in Washington, D.C. It’s about the debt ceiling. Failure to increase it by Oct. 17 could send the nation into default on its obligations. Does anyone really and truly understand the cataclysm that will occur if we fail to pay our bills?

Congress has the authority to increase the amount of money the federal government can borrow to, um, pay its bills and meet its financial obligations. The Republican majority in the House of Representatives, though, is attaching a laundry list of demands on any bill to increase the debt ceiling. The list includes items that have nothing to do with the debt ceiling. They include approval of the Keystone pipeline project and federal tort reform.

President Obama says he won’t negotiate over the “full faith and credit of the United States of America.” He contends — correctly in my view — that the GOP-led House is “blackmailing” the president over the nation’s financial obligations.

President Reagan went through this as well. He scolded Republicans who ran the Senate for threatening the nation’s economic well-being by blocking efforts to increase the debt ceiling. GOP Senate leaders relented and listened to the Gipper.

This time around, House GOP leaders are telling a Democratic president to stick it in his ear.

I am not going to accept the notion that Reagan’s approving the debt ceiling 18 times during his presidency was more acceptable then because the national debt was so much smaller than it is today. The consequences of failing to act are just as grave now as they were during President Reagan’s tenure.

The major difference between then and now — as I see it — is that one major party has been hijacked by individuals who see themselves as institutional reformers. I see them as attempting to destroy the very government they took an oath to serve.

Wendy is in, apparently … reportedly

The semi-official word is out that state Sen. Wendy Davis is going to run for governor of Texas in 2014.

That’s according to sources who’ve spilled the beans to news outlets such as Politico that the Fort Worth Democrat is going to seek the state’s highest office.


This is a good thing for Texas.

The state hasn’t witnessed a truly exciting governor’s race since 1994, when a Republican upstart named George W. Bush challenged Democratic incumbent Ann Richards — and beat her. That contest actually was the last in a lengthy line of interesting Texas governor’s races.

It’s been downhill, interest-wise, ever since.

Davis vs. The Republican (probably Attorney General Greg Abbott) would gin up interest the state hasn’t seen in two decades.

Will the Democrat break the Republicans’ stranglehold on statewide offices? Well, I’m thinking the odds remain pretty long. Abbott has the money and the appropriate party label. Texas has swung so far to the right politically that it seems highly unlikely anyone to the left of Genghis Khan can win anything in this state.

If anyone can do it, Wendy Davis — who made herself famous nationally with her one-woman filibuster this summer of an anti-abortion bill — might be the candidate. She’s smart (despite what some of Abbott’s supporters have said over social media), telegenic (which is code for attractive) and well-spoken.

I’m not going to bet my next Happy Meal on Davis’s chances on beating The Republican. I would be delighted, though, to see some genuine excitement in the campaign for what once was considered a “weak political office.” That, of course, changed under the interminable reign of Gov. Rick Perry.

The next governor is going to inherit an office that’s been strengthened considerably because of the way Perry consolidated his power. Texans should pay attention whether Davis runs or stays out.

If she runs, my guess is that we’ll all be paying careful attention.

We’ll know on Oct. 3 when Davis is expected to make her intentions known. Stay tuned. This is likely to get fun.

MLB hitters, pitchers need attitude adjustment

Many big-league baseball players — too many of them, in fact — need to have their attitudes adjusted before they suit up for games.

I’m talking about how players seem to relish showing up players on opposing teams and the very hard feelings those antics stir up.

Take a look at this link.


Milwaukee Brewers star Carlos Gomez was hit by a pitch thrown by the Atlanta Braves’ Paul Malcolm. That was three months ago. Gomez thinks Malcolm hit him on purpose. So, to pay the guy back, Gomez hit a first-inning home run last night against Malcolm. But instead of taking off immediately on his home run trot, he stood in the batter’s box, flipped his bat, glared at Malcolm and then took off. His antics spurred a bench-clearing brawl. Gomez got ejected before he had a chance to cross the plate.

I read the story and was reminded immediately of a radio interview I heard once with Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt, who hit 548 home runs during his career with the Philadelphia Phillies. Schmidt, interviewed on the Jim Rome Show, talked at length about the poor sportsmanship many players show when they hit home runs. They stand in the batter’s box and admire the flight of the ball they’ve just tagged. It amounts to showing up a pitcher. If I can recall it correctly, Schmidt was talking specifically about the antics of Barry Bonds.

Then he noted what might happen to hitters who would try something like that in the old days against the likes of Bob Gibson and Don Drysdale, two of the meanest men ever to throw a hardball from the pitchers mound to home plate. If a hitter tried to show either of those two Hall of Famers up, Schmidt said, they’d both be heading for the dirt to avoid getting beaned the next time they came to the plate.

You just shouldn’t do that.

That was then. Today’s game is much different than the one I used to enjoy watching. Whenever guys named Mantle, Mays or Aaron would hit ’em out of the park, they’d start their jog around the bases, receive greetings from teammates and head for the dugout. These days, it becomes a sideshow.

As the Gomez-Malcolm encounter also shows, it also becomes a disgraceful exhibition of poor sportsmanship.

Tea party support hits the skids

This is a most interesting report: The Gallup Poll organization says 22 percent of Americans support the tea party movement, which I’ve taken to calling the “insane wing” of the Republican Party.

The Gallup survey gives the tea party its near-lowest rating since the movement hit its peak around the time of the 2010 mid-term elections.


It begs the question: Why are tea party darlings in the U.S. Senate, such as Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, getting so much air time and print space? I think it’s because they’ve been yapping the loudest and have discovered some secret formula for getting their faces on national television.

Gallup isn’t exactly a lefty-leaning polling group. The Gallup group actually tends to lean to the right, but its findings often are cited as being authoritative.

Cruz is the latest tea party golden boy to hog the spotlight, blabbering on for 21-plus hours in an attempt to derail the Affordable Care Act in the Senate. He ended up voting with the rest of them to keep funding the ACA, which seems to suggest that his Senate floor gabfest was all for show.

I’m suspecting that showboating is beginning to wear thin among Americans who want their federal government to actually do something on their behalf.

That, of course, is anathema to the tea party wing of the Republican Party.

Acoma Indians defy modernity

ACOMA SKY CITY, N.M. — Once in a while you hear and see stories that defy the imagination.

My wife and I ran into one of those stories this week in the high desert west and a bit south of Albuquerque, N.M.

We saw it atop a mesa named Acoma Sky City. It’s a pueblo that houses a little more than 100 families. It’s part of an overall Indian community of some 5,000 residents. The folks who live there do so without any of the creature comforts that others enjoy. By that I mean they have no electricity or plumbing.

They collect water in cisterns scattered throughout their neighborhood. They have to sift the silt from the water and then boil it — over open fires — before drinking it. The water comes from rainfall.

We took a ride in a car driven by a good friend of ours, Ed Chamblin, who lives in Albuquerque with his lovely wife, Caroline. Their son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons live nearby. We’d spent the previous day with Ed and Caroline touring some of the sights around the city. Ed wanted to show us the pueblo to give us a glimpse of some serious local history and color.

The Acoma claim to have been in the region since 1150. Many of the pueblo’s dwellings date back to the 17th century. The centerpiece of the community is the church, named San Esteban. Its construction was begun in 1649. A good bit of it is original.

The folks who live there do so to honor many of their traditions. They resist mightily any effort to bring anything resembling modernity to their lives. A young guide who took us around the top of the mesa told us the Acoma don’t even want wind or solar energy to light their homes. Doing so, she said, likely would enable young people to spend “too much time on their computers” and they wouldn’t appreciate the history and culture of their people.

The Spanish fought the Acoma. They killed many of them — including women and children — trying to persuade them to adapt to the conquerors’ culture and religion. The Acoma still practice their own religion as well as worshiping Jesus Christ.

Next to the church is a cemetery, which is virtually full. The only people allowed to be buried in that plot are tribal elders and U.S. military veterans. “Other unlucky ones” are buried in cemeteries in the valley, our guide told us.

The Acoma have survived.

Still, I felt for a moment as if I’d fallen off the face of Planet Earth. Could I live as they do? No. Then again, I doubt some of them actually could live as I do.

God bless the Acoma.

Another hurdle cleared on path toward retirement

This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on impending retirement.

We knew we could do it. We knew we could hitch up our shiny new fifth wheel to our nearly as shiny new 3/4-ton pickup and take it on the road.

What we didn’t know is that we’re getting pretty good at it. Are we “seasoned” RV travelers, equipped to handle any challenge that’s thrust in front of us? Well, I don’t know. I’ll let you know when we think we’ve mastered the ultimate challenge, whatever that might be.

Our three-night excursion took us to Albuquerque. We spent two glorious days of fellowship with good friends, Ed and Caroline. On the first day, the two of them took us to the city’s famed botanical gardens, then to the zoo and finally to the aquarium. On the second day, Ed arrived at the RV park we called home for three nights and we scurried about 50 miles west to an astonishing pueblo occupied by members of the Acoma Indian tribe. We parked our vehicle and rode a shuttle to the top of a mesa overlooking a spectacularly beautiful valley — and where Acoma residents live with no running water, plumbing or electricity.

We toured the pueblo and heard the tale of how the Acoma arrived in that region in 1150 and endured purely unimaginable hardship. They were persecuted for worshiping their native religion and essentially forced to become Catholics, thanks to the Spanish settlers with whom they fought.

At the end of both wonderful days with our friends, we went routinely back to the RV camp and enjoyed the evening in our travel vehicle.

I guess the most surprising element here is the ease with which we are able to get hooked up, to get on our way down the highway, to unhook the assembly and then rehook it up for the return trip home.

To those who have done this before, I likely am preaching to the proverbial choir. Or, perhaps you’re thinking: “What a weenie. Of course it’s simple. It ain’t rocket science, bub. What did you expect?”

It is a big deal for two people who are discovering the joys of a new world that still awaits. We’ve worked pretty damn hard for many decades and we’re getting set to enjoy some time exploring the North American continent.

It’s starting to come together.

Cruz loves sound of his own voice

I applauded Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., some months back for actually filibustering the nomination of CIA Director John Brennan, not because I approved of his reasons, but because he actually took to the U.S. Senate floor and talked until he ran out of verbal gas.

Now another tea party golden boy, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is blabbering his brains out as I post this blog item. I have to hand it to Ted the Tattler: He, too, is yapping about this and that in an effort to derail the Affordable Care Act. Again, I disapprove of his reasons, but I have to hand it to the guy for actually filibustering.


The filibuster has become a misused instrument. Senators can “filibuster” something simply by lodging an objection. They object to a bill and then go about their business. Paul and Cruz have restored some form of “integrity” to the process.

Here, though, is where I get rankled at Ted Cruz. The new guy loves the sound of his own voice. Of that I am utterly convinced. I truly wonder whether he is motivated by something other than listening to himself talk in front of a national audience.

Do you remember when he denigrated the character of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel? He questioned whether Hagel, a Vietnam War combat veteran, had become an agent of foreign governments hostile to the United States? Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called Cruz down on the spot and said he never should question the character of someone such as Hagel, with whom McCain served in the Senate. McCain’s admonition went in one of Cruz’s ears and out the other. Cruz hasn’t shut his mouth … yet.

I’ve already wondered out loud why some members of Congress get so much air time on TV. Cruz, so new to the national spotlight, is basking in that limelight a little too comfortably to suit me. I’m wondering now if someone in the Senate is going to challenge this guy’s blustering and loudmouthed actions publicly.

He’s been in national office all of nine months and I’m sick of the sound of his voice already.

Then again, maybe that’s just me.

Raise the debt ceiling

The debt ceiling battle is about to be joined once more in Congress.

It’s a fight Congress and the White House shouldn’t wage. It threatens the nation’s credit rating, which already has been bumped downward and it poses an extreme threat to our economic health — not to mention the retirement accounts of many tens of millions of Americans who are fed up to here with the foolish games being played.

I am one of those fed up Americans.


Congressional Republicans, led by the tea party yahoos, are posing a serious threat to our well-being. They say the debt ceiling shouldn’t be increased, claiming some specious notion that federal spending must be brought under control. It is true the government spends too much. It also is true that if we do not honor our financial obligations — such as paying our bills — the consequences are going to eclipse the petty arguments that might lead us to default on those obligations.

The GOP’s tea party cabal keeps invoking the name of their patron saint, President Ronald Reagan, when discussing these fiscal matters. Here’s a flash: President Reagan, working with a Democratic-led Congress, boosted the debt ceiling 18 times during his two terms in the White House. No muss no fuss. No one griped openly about government “spending too much,” even though the deficit increased during President Reagan’s time in office.

Congressional Republicans are playing with fire if they take us down this road. Mark my words, they will suffer some grievous political burns if they fail to allow the United States to meet its financial obligations.