Saturday, April 19, 2014

Facts? Who needs facts when you are talking about the ACA?

If you ever thought that the Kochs’ attack ads weren’t full of egregious lies, take a look as the non-partisan Washington Post Fact Checker debunks some of their recent attacks against Democrats.

Claim in Koch Attack #1: “I found this wonderful doctor and a great health care plan. My insurance was canceled because of Obamacare. Now, the out-of-pocket costs are so high, it’s unaffordable. If I do not receive my medication, I will die.”
Washington Post Fact Check:
FACT #1: “[She] suggested she had lost her ‘wonderful doctor’ when in fact she could keep that doctor in the new plan.”
FACT #2 “Her premiums were cut in half, from $1,100 a month to $571.”

Lie Detector: “One cannot claim that a plan is ‘unaffordable’ when over the course of the year it will provide you with substantial savings.”
Claim in Koch Attack #2: “Our health insurance plan was canceled because of Obamacare...This new plan is not affordable at all. My husband is working a lot more hours just to pay for these new increases.”
Washington Post Fact Check:
FACT: “The family qualified for Medicaid, but she was opposed for philosophical issues… So the family opted for a more expensive plan”

Lie Detector: “It is [the family’s] right to choose a more expensive plan. But it makes her claim of ‘unaffordable’ harder to swallow.”
Claim in Koch Attack #3: “Health care isn’t about politics. It’s about people. And millions of people have lost their health insurance, millions of people can’t see their own doctors, and millions are paying more and getting less.”
Washington Post Fact Check:
FACT #1: Many have not lost their health insurance -- “Many [have been] rolled into new plans, and Obamacare has reduced the number of uninsured.”
FACT #2: People don’t lose doctors because of Obamacare -- “This was true before Obamacare; employers changed plans all the time.”
FACT #3: People aren’t getting less for more -- “Obamacare mandates many new benefits.”

Lie Detector: “Once again Americans for Prosperity makes sweeping claims about the health-care law that lack context or offer a misleading picture.”

Sunday, March 2, 2014

OSCAR: Best Picture

For the second year in a row I have seen all the nominated Pictures.  My impressions...

American Hustle:
Totally entertaining. Great ensemble cast. How fun it is to find out the background behind an event that happened when you were alive.

Captain Phillips:
Best Picture? Really? Give me back 5 nominees.

Dallas Buyers Club:
Must see. A story that is little known, but should be well known. Best Actor to to Matthew McConaughey, hands down.  The rest of the cast is amazing. Kyle's pick for Best Picture.

Gravity
Stunning visuals. This will win every special effects award and probably best director, though the later challenges my understanding of director.

Her
Great concept.  I bit full of itself.

Nebraska
THE BEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR!  Understated everyman exceptional study of small town middle America.  Funny, touching.  What i missing in movies is back.

Philomena
Fantastic.  All "Christians" should see this.  Chritianity is summed up in one line in this movie.  You WILL know it when you hear it.  Live it.

12 Years a Slave
Slavery is bad.  It's really, really bad.  We know that.  Good flick.  Not great flick. Lupita will win.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Educating Prisoners: A Reponse to Congressman Chris Collins

In his irregular email newsletter, my representative, Chris Collins (R-NY 27th) let me know that he was sponsoring legislation to stop Gov. Cuomo's plan to allow prisoners to take college courses at state expense. 

My note to the cogressman:

Representative Collins:


I recently received your email stating that you are sponsoring legislation to stop Governor Cuomo's funding of College Education for Prisoners.  There are many of the Governor's policies and initiatives with which I disagree.  This is not one of them and I believe that your efforts are short-sighted.  We no longer have penal colonies, we have correctional facilities.  While recidivism is a problem, it can only be reduced by attempts to release prisoners who are more prepared to be released into society equipped to cope and become employed.  What the Governor proposes is actually the fiscally responsible thing to do in the long run.  It is consistent with the society in which we live that only looks at the here an now to take your position.  But we owe it to the future of New York and the US to invest in the future. Education at all levels and available to all is that sound investment.

Thank You for taking the time to read this.  I hope you will thoughtfully reconsider your position.

Regards,

Neil D. Houghton
3873 Rush Mendon Road
Mendon, NY 14506

Friday, February 28, 2014

OSCAR: Short Subject - Animated

Feral
The tale of a wild child brought from the forest to the city, where to no ones surprise he does not fit in. The charcoal morphing surreal rendering is fun to watch.  The story is nothing new. 

Get A Horse
We missed this. Released with Frozen, apparently we are among the few that haven't seen it.  Although our cable on-demand offered "the Oscar nominated short films," this was not included.  Some snarky jokes about Mickey Mouse by the animated hosts explain its absence.

Mr. Hublot
Am intricately engaging visual environment tells a simple, but heartwarming story.  The juxtaposition of intricate visuals with the simple story makes for a charming cinema.  This is my pick. 


Possessions
Beautifully flowing animation and a tale of healing.  This is Kyle's pick.


Room On The Broom
Here's sweet old fashioned animation of a children's story.  Lots of visual humor added to engae everyone. A close second for me.


OSCAR: Short Subject Live

Helium
Beautiful Poetry.  Moving. What a short film can say with so much more style and without the fillers that a feature film would demand.  With nods to "The Red Balloon" and even Spielberg, this was our favorite. Called sappy by many, it had me blubbering.


The Voorman Problem
The ubiquitous Martin Freeman is this short tale of solipsism gone wild.  Worth seeing.

Just Before Losing Everything
An important subject is dealt with in several new ways.  The abused are center stage and the abuser is given little focus.  The workplace as a support community was positive. A contrived parking lot encounter and non-ending made it less effective to my eye. This is LA Times Martin Tsai's pick to win.


That Wasn't Me
Here's an example of subject matter that needs more in depth exploration that short film can offer.  Perhaps the complete stripping of humanity from the characters was the point. It didn't work so well for me.

Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?
Humorously injecting slapstick into an everyday setting, this is fun film.  Too close to home, but fun.

Helium is our pick to win.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Bishop Smith of AZ Reponds to Jim Crow's Return

It's another day to be proud to be an Episcopalian.  Members of my LGBT community who shun the church for thousands of years of persecution certainly are justified. But there are so many wonderful leaders in this church who have finally returned to the fundamental message of Jesus Christ.  All are welcome in this church.  We are a place to find refuge from the sin of churches that divide, devalue and reject the humanity of any group.  Today's example:

The legislature of Arizona has passed what can only be described as 'Jim Crow' laws aimed at the LGBT community.  Based on "sincerely held beliefs" any person can deny another person service. A legislator appear with Anderson Cooper last night appears not to know what he signed, saying it was just to prevent a clergy person from being forced to perform a same-sex marriage.  He was either ignorant or lying.  NO CLERGY PERSON can be FORCED to MARRY ANYONE.  No church, mosque or temple can be forced to offer their worship place for an event that they don't want. 


Bishop Smith of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona issued this statement on their website:
Who among us doesn't want to support religious freedom? This argument seems to be the tactic of some arch-conservative lawmakers, who have convinced our Arizona legislators that it is fine to deny people basic human rights under the guise of religious freedom. Lawmakers in other states and members of both political parties have been astute enough to see what bills like this really are – a wolf in sheep's clothing that masks discrimination under a veneer of piety. Arizona, however, with its propensity for making itself into the political laughing-stock of the nation, has been duped once again. One can only pray that our Governor will, as the Arizona Republic said this morning, “get out her veto pen.”
From the Very Rev. Troy Mendez, an outline of the law and its effects:
What is being proposed?  Actually, several things are being proposed in this bill, including the following:
a)         Enables Discrimination based on “sincerely held beliefs.” The bill expands the term “exercise of religion” to include elements of practice and tacit “observance” of the religion (i.e., enacted beliefs). A person’s “religious practice and liberty” could be used under this bill as an excuse to deny people fair housing, job opportunities, and any kind of equal protection under the law. The framework of the bill is state-sanctioned discrimination.
b)         Expands the legal definition of personhood. In the current legislation, a “person” by definition becomes any and all entities, including “any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, estate, trust, foundation, or other legal entity. Personal morals could therefore apply to the way commerce is conducted, theoretically denying access or services to another group, under the grounds that offering them would be religiously reprehensible.
c)         Overrides any municipal non-discrimination legislation. The ordinances of local governments would be subject to the state’s legislation, thereby nullifying the will of the people of a community, including recent legislation passed in the City of Phoenix about a year ago.
Read the entire post here.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Philomena and Christianity


We are now only short seeing one nominee for Best Pictures for the Academy Awards, 2014. Last night we saw Philomena.  When one knows the basics of a story, it is always wonderful to be as completely surprised by a film.  Without any spoiler, the film is a must see and is now tied with Nebraska for my personal best picture selection.

These two movies, in totally different ways, take an everyday person through a journey of faith, one secular and one religious, but both very personal.  Both put a brilliant actor in the role.  Both resolve these journeys of hope in ways that the audience can relate to, both subtle and with a powerful message.

As a Christian following Philomena's relationship with her church was also a personal journey.  There was no personal trauma on the scale of hers in my life, and I have been much less faithful. But after an hour and half living with two people whose views on faith were very different, one line summed up the core messages of Christianity. Don't worry you won't miss it and you won't forget it.

Philomena far surpasses the cinematic attempts at portraying the life of Christ thus far and I suspect it will be the same with the upcoming Son of God in delivering what Christianity, and indeed every religion, should be about.