EXCUSES, EXCUSES, EXCUSES: “Against all odds and expectations, enrollments in health plans qualified under the Affordable Care Act are surging Monday toward -- and maybe beyond -- the 7-million figure projected by the Congressional Budget Office before Oct. 1, when the open-enrollment period began. The deadline for starting enrollment applications for 2014 plans is midnight Monday. The surge is creating a big problem for the "train wreck" narrative of Republican opponents of the ACA, who have been holding out hope for Obamacare's utter failure. So the excuse-making has begun. Before we examine those excuses: You will recall that the budget office reduced its projection of enrollments on individual insurance exchanges to 6 million earlier this year to account for the botched launch of healthcare.gov, the federal enrollment website. Enrollments blew past that mark days ago. If exchange enrollments meet or exceed the original projection of 7 million despite the loss of some six weeks in website functionality in October and November, that would be a testament to the public's latent desire for effective healthcare coverage.” (via LA Times)
STOP MAKING SENSE!
SOMETHING TELLS ME STATE REP. JOE SAUNDERS ISN’T EXACTLY SHAKING IN HIS BOOTS OVER THIS ONE: “A Central Florida man who led an unsuccessful effort to unseat the last three Florida Supreme Court justices appointed by a Democratic governor announced Monday that he is running as a Republican for an Orlando-area House seat. Jesse Phillips, a health care technology director, is challenging Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando, who made history in 2012 when he and newly elected Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, became the first openly gay members of the Florida Legislature. Phillips led Restore Justice 2012, which sought to defeat Justices Barbara Pariente, Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince in that year’s merit retention elections. Phillips’ campaign was supported by the Florida Republican Party, but the justices and their allies spent $5 million on a campaign that led to their easily winning new six-year terms. Florida’s spending was third highest in the nation, according to the analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University and the National Institute on Money in State Politics, which studied election spending on courts. The district Phillips is running in is one of Florida’s youngest, including eastern Orange County and containing the University of Central Florida, Valencia Community College East and Full Sail University. ‘The time-tested principals of limited government and personal responsibility, while being in sharp contrast to the Democrats’ failed policies, will move Florida forward and improve the lives of its diverse citizens,’ Phillips said.” (via Palm Beach Post)
SURPRISE! THEY GIVE THE WHALES DOWNERS: “The theme park chain SeaWorld, already facing wide criticism from animal rights advocates, treats some of its marine mammals with psychoactive drugs, according to a document obtained by BuzzFeed. Trainers give their orcas, also known as killer whales, the psychoactive drug benzodiazepine, according to the sworn affidavit filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in a dispute between the park company and the rival company Marineland over the transport of a prized killer whale, Ikaika, to SeaWorld. Benzodiazepines are a type of drug that includes the common human medications Valium and Xanax. The orcas’ mental health issues, SeaWorld’s critics say, are a direct result of their keeping the mammals in captivity. Jared Goodman, Director of Animal Law at the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), told BuzzFeed that he believes the leaked documents will play a key role in SeaWorld’s future. ‘The veterinary records show that orcas at SeaWorld are given psychotropic drugs to stop them from acting aggressively towards each other in the stressful, frustrating conditions in which they’re confined instead of funding the development of coastal sanctuaries - the only humane solution,’ Goodman said. The questions about the drugs given to the whales, which also include a range of antibiotics, come as SeaWorld is reeling from a critical documentary. Blackfish tells the story of a killer whale named Tilikum, who’s been accused of killing three people but is still retained by SeaWorld. Tilikum’s genes are found in 54% of the whales in SeaWorld’s current whale collection, and has fathered at least 21 whales from artificial insemination.” (via BuzzFeed)
HOUSE HAS LEFT THE HOUSE. R.I.P.: “In Chicago, Frankie Knuckles was called the ‘godfather,’ not because of any underworld connections, but because he helped build house – a style of Chicago dance music that revolutionized club culture in the ‘70s and ‘80s and still resonates around the world today. Knuckles died Monday at the age of 59, as confirmed by his longtime business partner, Frederick Dunson. More details would be forthcoming Tuesday, Dunson said, who said in an email that Knuckles ‘died unexpectedly this afternoon at home.’ In addition to developing the sound and culture of house music, Knuckles would go on to mix records by major artists such as Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and Depeche Mode. Knuckles learned his craft as a club DJ in New York City, then moved to Chicago in the late ‘70s and developed a reputation as one of the city’s most influential dance-music tastemakers. He arrived in Chicago just as disco was losing steam. For many, disco literally went up in flames between games of a Chicago White Sox double header at Comiskey Park, when radio deejay Steve Dahl blew up hundreds of disco albums. ‘I witnessed that caper that Steve Dahl pulled at Disco Demolition Night and it didn't mean a thing to me or my crowd,’ Knuckles told the Tribune. ‘But it scared the record companies, so they stopped signing disco artists and making disco records. So we created our own thing in Chicago to fill the gap.’” (via Chicago Tribune)