Obamacare Is Winning in Kentucky, Thanks to Steve Beshear

The RP’s column this week for The Daily Beast was his most popular ever, blowing up the Internets.  Here’s an excerpt:

Politics in my old Kentucky home has, for centuries, been awash in irreconcilable contradictions.

We stuck with the Union in favor of our favorite son, Lincoln, but then joined in common cause with the Confederacy after the Civil War had ended. A century later, we boasted some of the nation’s most progressive civil rights laws; yet, to this date, we still feature many of America’s most segregated societies. And while Kentucky’s been one of the largest beneficiaries of the New Deal/Great Society welfare state, the dominant strain in our politics remains a fierce anti-government, anti-tax worldview.

Kentucky’s perplexing and hypocritical aversion to big government has been exploited brilliantly by our senior senator Mitch McConnell, who’s capitalized on our cultural resentment of elite interference to transform the Bluegrass State into a deep-red citadel in federal elections. More recently, our junior senator Rand Paul catapulted McConnell’s vision much further than Mitch intended, placing Kentucky in the crosshairs of the Tea Party revolution. But while these two political icons and their surrogates clash over the depth of government slashing, they’ve been steadfastly united behind one common vision:  the defeat, and, more recently, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

It’s no coincidence then that Obamacare is beginning to expose the political fault line that divides the two Kentuckys. The GOP’s effective—and quite misleading—messaging plays into the anti-establishment populace’s greatest fears about out-of-control outside interference:  the myth of a government-run-health-care system, engineered by a President with socialist tendencies (and whose skin pigmentation and exotic name frankly heighten popular anxiety in some of the nation’s least educated counties).  And yet, when you wade through the propaganda and understand the law’s true impact, Kentucky needs the Affordable Care Act…desperately. It’s a state consistently ranked near the bottom of nearly every national health survey, where one out of every six citizens remains uninsured.

With our long-standing tradition of timid politicians fearful of incurring the wrath of the anti-government mobs, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see Kentucky join much of Red America and reject both Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion to the working poor, as well as its option of establishing a state-run health benefit exchange to provide affordable health care to the remaining uninsured.

But in a delicious irony, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul’s home state may ultimately serve as the proving ground of Obamacare’s success. That’s due to the political chutzpah of one man: Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear.

Click here to read the full column.

John Y. Brown, III: 28 Years of Proud Sobriety

JYB3I joke a lot about being 50. But that isn’t the only age I consider myself.

A few hours ago, it was 2:30am on October 18th which is about the exact time I had my last drink of alcohol 28 years ago.

We each, if we are lucky, have our actual birth date and another birth date when we are, some would say, “re-born.” Not necessarily in the religious sense…although it often is.

A line I love which captures this truth well comes from the movie The Natural with Robert Redford playing an aging and ailing baseball superstar. “We live two lives. The life we learn from and the life we live after that.”

I believe that. It’s not a perfect demarcation but it is a profound one. Maybe more crudely put it is the “life we tried to lead” and failed at and the “life we built up from those ashes.” It isn’t really a failure as much as a right of passage.

Most young people are full of vim and vigor and have a limited and self-absorbed view of the the world. Sometimes they crash and burn early, as I did. Sometimes the crash and burn later after having tremendous success. Sometimes they smolder for years until they careen off the road and into a ditch. This is our first life. The war years. The wild years when anything was possible.

Then there is the next life. The reality years. You don’t sell out but integrate and find your place and hopefully a place where you can be and do what you are meant to be and do. Until a person has hit their own self-imposed wall, they may be fun but aren’t terribly useful. Being useful is not a priority during this first life anyway, not really.

The “wall” introduces a person to him or herself. And soon after that a new life, based on the realm of the possible begins. It is a better and more useful life. Not less passionate or less fun or less exciting. But a grown-up (in the best sense of the word) has joined your “road trip” and turned it into a lifelong metaphorical journey. My wall. My old and sated life ending. My new and more useful life beginning all started about this time 28 years ago.

Here’s the post from last year describing the night. Hope it helps someone else in some small way. New lives are like that.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Hilarious Post!

jyb_musingsLittle help, please.

I just thought of an extremely wise and hilariously funny post.

But now, for the life of me, can’t remember what it was.

Please do me a favor and pretend like I posted it.

You know, just “like” it if you are inclined to like extremely wise abd hilariously funny posts.

And maybe a comment about how thoughtful and funny this post is.

And how you hope next time I don’t forget what I was going to say.

Julie Rath: How to Change Your Hairstyle


Men's Personal Stylist: George Clooney Hair

Even George Clooney didn’t always get it  right.

I’m all about instant gratification. Give me the  choice between store-bought and homemade, and I will almost always go for the  quick fix. My family calls it “Rathness” to want to get things done yesterday. Unfortunately, in my line of work, there aren’t always  shortcuts. Obtaining a new wardrobe can take time, not to mention the  tailoring that’s inevitably involved. One place where I can satisfy my Rathness,  however, is with updating clients’ hairstyles. Call today for an  appointment tomorrow, and boom, you’re well on your way to a new and improved  you.

I get that the idea of changing your hairstyle can be intimidating,  especially if you’ve been rocking the same look for several decades. But it’s defeatist to assume that if you’re past a certain age it’s too late  to make a change. So what if you’re 40 years old and have been wearing  your hair the same way since you were a kid? That’s all the more reason to  consider an update, especially if you (and your spouse/partner) think it looks  stale. If you’re on this site, chances are you’re already thinking a change may  be in order, and perhaps hair is part of it. To that I say, dive in, go for  it. If you don’t like it, it will always grow back in a couple of  weeks.

That said, it’s key to go about your hairstyle upgrade thoughtfully  so that you get your desired results. Below are 8 tips  on how to do this.

1) Ask others with hair you like for the name of their hair  stylist. (A lot of people have a hard time asking questions like this,  but it’s not a big deal. Just say that your barber is retiring, and you need  someone new.)

2) Check on a user-review site like Yelp in your area for a  hairstylist who’s well-recommended for men’s scissor cuts (not clippers).

3) When you call for an appointment, see if you can go in for a  consultation first. That way you can discuss your goals in advance and  ask how s/he would go about achieving them before breaking out the scissors.

4) After you’ve found a stylist who’s the right fit, it’s imperative that you communicate clearly with him or her. Explain what your job is  (including how conservative your look needs to be and what you typically wear to  work), what image you’d like your new cut to convey, and how much maintenance  you’re OK with. If you’re a chameleon and want something hip for outside of  work, but conservative for everyday, tell the stylist. In many cases, all it  takes is a subtle difference in how you fingercomb your hair when you get out of  the shower to distinguish between looks.

5) Part of clear communication is bringing with you at least three  pictures of looks you like. Hair stylist James Hernandez of James Hernandez New York says, “Texture  and density play a big part in determining the end result. But where the visuals  help is in capturing the concept of the look you are after, both what you want  to achieve and what you don’t want. Any stylist that is opposed to you using  visuals, I would be little leery of their understanding of the craft of  haircutting.” Stylist James  Joyce agrees, “In the conversation before starting the service, the stylist  can decide what element of the pictures you bring is grabbing your eye.  Sometimes it’s the shape of the head, and sometimes it’s the texture of the  hair.  Either way it’s a big help to have a non-verbal idea. Pictures can  be printed off Google images or clipped from magazines.”

Read the rest of…
Julie Rath: How to Change Your Hairstyle

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: The 3% Secret

jyb_musingsThe 3% secret.

When you meet someone fir the first time and look them up and down, side to side, and even try peering into their soul (the shallow and deep ends) and get that awkward vibe that you only like about 3% of them, here’s the trick: Focus in and focus hard on just that 3% and somehow–almost magically–you will find another 3% that you like before the end of your first conversation.

And here is the bonus part.

If you meet someone new and at first glance only like about 3% of them, chances are good that they only like about 2.5% of you.

And by doubling the amount you like them by to 6%, that almost always doubles the amount they like you by to a full 5%.

Which gives them more things they like about you that they can focus on.

Josh Bowen: Goal Setting

As many know, I am in the process of writing a book; titled “12 Steps to Fitness Freedom.” In the book I discuss a variety of topics but one in particular that is supremely important is goal setting. In the video below I discuss how to set goals and keep accountable to them. In my book I will be discussing, in more detail, the strategies it takes to have “fitness freedom.” Enjoy.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Bad Cropping

Bad cropping doesn’t mean a picture is useless.

For example, in this badly mangled cropping job, I get an idea of what I would look like in a Bhurka.

And reinforces that I should never try to wear one.

jyb_musingsAnd I learn that my right eyebrow looks about a decade younger than my left and that I should favor my confident and younger-looking eyebrow the next decade until it catches up with the wiser-looking but withered left eyebrow.

Jason Atkinson: Take the Money and Run — A Film

Take the Money & Run from Jason Atkinson & Flying A Films on Vimeo.

John Y. Brown, III on the Government Shutdown

My surefire plan to end the government shut down.

Each member of Congress has at least one person who knows how to get them out of their stinky mood and coax them out after having locked themselves in their bedroom.

That’s right.  It is “Mom.”

Someone needs to call the mother of each member of Congress and explain, “Remember when Rep. (blank) was growing up and would get mad and lock himself (or herself) in his room and threaten not to come out for days? Well…the reason I am calling is….that is happening again and as a matter of national security we really need your help. What sort of “tricks” worked for you to get Rep (blank) to unlock the door any come down to dinner?”

Maybe it is chocolate chip cookies, or playing dress up, or getting to stay up extra late, make fun of gay people, promising to time and listen to their “pretend” filibuster, or raising their allowance 10 cents a week if they would outline how wasteful their siblings were being with their allowance, or agreeing to play Dodgeball or Tag (you’re “It”)

It doesn’t really matter what works ….but finding that secret something that works for each member and then asking their chief of staff to try it on them again this week.

I think this is a pretty ingenious plan….that may just work. Once out of their rooms, we then need to remove the door locks so this can’t happen again.


JYB3I have been beating up on Congress the past few weeks, and that helps me vent a bit but isn’t very helpful.

On a more serious and somber note,  I think we all are to blame for the shutdown. In a democracy, our elected officials are pretty much a reflection of the voters electing them. Again, I tried admitting my poor behavior in all this.

I mean….a democratic republic is a government based on the consent of the governed, right? In other words, if you want to know how we can expect our elected officials in Congress to behave, a good place to look is political debates on Facebook.

We are the people who hired them and they are mirroring us and we them. I am frustrated with Congress for the shutdown because I do think that is especially irresponsible. But it is important, in my humble opinion, that we as citizens/voters not wait and hope some elected leader is going to save us from ourselves.

We don’t live under a government system that operates that way. We have to save ourselves and improve how we cope with our own demands, wants and disappointments and differences from others—political and otherwise. As that happens, I believe, we will see an alternation in how Congress debates. Or more precisely, we will see a voting public that demands discussions that are more informed and mature and aiming to resolve questions within the realm of the possible. Maybe not.

I can’t say with a great degree of confidence this is how it works.

But that’s my take on it….and wanted try to explain best I could. I think the blame game from Dems to Repubs and Repubs to Dems and voters to Congress and Congress to voters and on and on and on…. is getting tiring to all and has about run it’s course. As Dr Phil might say, “How’s that working for us?”  And as unpleasant as blaming myself can be, at least I feel like I have a little control.

That’s worth something… Just a parting thought for whatever it is worth. (Note: I was paid nothing for it so the market value for my opinion is, well,  zero.)


America is a great country with a great history of overcoming setbacks, defying our critics and beating the odds against us. We are at our best when things are at their worst.


Because at the nadir of that dark encompassing moment some inspired person steps up and leads–and leads almost instinctively and with renewed vision and passion.

We are at that point again. Somewhere last night, when members of Congress were caucasing with their party leadership –much like the scene in this video clip–I choose to believe one (or both) party’s experienced one of those soul-riveting moments.

It is “a call to leadership” when some courageous and articulate soul leads us out of our political wilderness and back into everything that makes America great. And that speech, whenever and wherever it happens, will surely look like this (see video clip).

Now, when you watch this clip through the lens of your own partisan biases– whether you see Bluto’s inspirational speech and imagine it is John Boehner or it is Harry Reid– it doesn’t matter. The important thing about this “moment” is that we know we are on the brink of it today….and someone in Congress will inspire others to join them for a higher calling…..like “The best damn night of our lives.” And succeed.

It’s what makes America great. (Warning: inappropriate language…but this is how Congressional leadership works and it can be gritty and ugly sometimes. But inspired too.)

Lauren Mayer: If Moms Ran the World

Right now the best hope for any solution to the Congressional stalemates over both the government shutdown and the debt ceiling seems to be a bipartisan effort spearheaded by Susan Collins and involving several other senators, mostly women.  Which doesn’t surprise me at all.  Many, if not all, of these female senators are mothers, and once a woman has dealt with the range of challenges from toddler tantrums to sullen teenagers with body odor, she can handle anything.

Years ago, I would illustrate that theory by imagining a mom tackling the Middle East – “Israel and Palestinians, if you can’t find a way to share the occupied territories, neither of you can play with them.”  But these days it feels like that conflict pales by comparison to Washington DC.  So how would my motherhood experience help me deal with the issues that have led to governmental gridlock?  Well, for starters, many Republicans have cited public image as a key factor, i.e. “We won’t be disrespected.”  Moms have moved way past that concern, once they’ve had a preschooler in a shopping cart say something embarrassing and loud to a packed grocery store.  (Most of my friends dealt with things like “Why is that lady so fat?” or “Why doesn’t that man have any hair?”  My personal humiliation was when my 4-year-old son announced loudy, “Mommy, you know how you said babies happen when a daddy plants a seed in a mommy? How exactly does the seed get there?”)  So it makes sense that there are no women chiming in about how important it is that they save face.

Another issue raised by Republicans is their fear that once Obamacare is the law of the land, we won’t be able to repeal it because Americans will become “addicted to the sugar,” in the immortal words of Ted Cruz.  That wouldn’t bother any mom who has given up trying to get her kids to eat anything but pizza, nachos and Dr. Pepper.  (Or in my case, that even extends to my husband, to whom I had to explain that a bowl of Froot Loops didn’t count as a serving of fruit.)  Or there’s the concern that by raising the debt ceiling, the GOP will lose its chance to ‘teach Americans a lesson’ about fiscal prudence.  Most moms of teenagers have given up trying to ‘teach lessons’ – logical consequences often work best when we don’t plan them (like when my 17-year-old forgot to set an alarm on the day before school started, when he planned to do all his summer reading, so he slept til 4 p.m.  It was a new personal record for him, but he also learned his lesson – which was to ask me to doublecheck he was awake, so okay, he isn’t totally on his own yet . . . . but I digress.)

Perhaps the biggest problem right now is the inflated language on both sides, comparing each other to Nazis, terrorists, etc.  Moms know that yelling and name-calling don’t work (as tempting as they are), and often humor can be the best response.  Plus we know that when our kids are young, they learn best when things are set to music, like the ABCs or the names of the states in alphabetical order (anyone who ever had to learn the “Fifty Nifty” song knows what I mean – I can’t complete a crossword puzzle without singing that song!).  So here’s some humor, set to music, to explain why it might not be such a good idea to let the radical fringe take control of a party.  (As one op-ed columnist noted, of course there are extremists on both sides, but there aren’t any Occupy Wall Streeters or throwing-paint-at-fur-coat-wearers-activists in Congress . . . )

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