This week’s OpinionList, without further ado. Who says ado anymore? I don’t say it, but I obviously write it.
Lie Of The Year?: I’m furious with PolitiFact for having chosen President Obama’s declaration “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it” as lie of the year. As Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C., states in a Salon article entitled No, Obama Didn’t Lie To You About Your Healthcare Plan, “the claim that President Obama lied in saying that people could keep their insurance looks like another Fox News special.” Baker explains, “The plans being terminated because they don’t meet the minimal standards were all plans that insurers introduced after the passage of the ACA. Insurers introduced these plans knowing that they would not meet the standards that would come into effect in 2014,” and “However if the insurers didn’t tell their clients that the new plans would only be available for a short period of time, the blame would seem to rest with the insurance companies, not the ACA. After all, President Obama did not promise people that he would keep insurers from developing new plans that will not comply with the provisions of the ACA.” It seems that the real lie of the year is PolitiFact’s decision to choose a “Lie Of The Year” that isn’t one.
Lies Of The Decade: Buzzfeed reports that the RNC is sending Democrats American Flag “Lie of The Year” trophies. I wonder what the DNC would send to Republicans whose party stole the 2000 Presidential election (and possibly the 2004 as well), lied about WMD’s to go to war in Iraq, and have engaged in a package of distortion and obstruction since President Obama’s first election in 2008. Chances are we’ll never know. While the RNC is engaging in such juvenile behavior, the Dems are working hard to better our country on such issues as healthcare, income inequality, marriage equality and immigration reform, among others.
What’s He Quacking About?: Phil Robertson, star of Duck Dynasty, thinks that being gay is illogical because “It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus.” Well, I don’t understand all that facial hair, duck hunting, or how a show about duck hunters can have 14 million fans. But I’m even having a harder time understanding his comments, given in the same GQ interview, about blacks being happy in the Jim Crow South, “Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.” I think he should stop giving interviews and go back to duck hunting asap . However, he won’t be able to do so on TV. A&E has suspended him indefinitely for his comments. I hear that ducks are celebrating too.
N.S.A Not So What? The advisory committee assigned by President Obama to review the N.S.A. has returned a 300-page report with 46 recommendations. The bottom line is that the N.S.A. can continue doing what it has with more transparency and oversight. Let’s hope that it leads to common sense laws and practices that keep us safer from terrorism without violating our privacy too much. Bold words indicate my recognition that we are living in the 21st century where it’s impossible to be totally safe or keep much of our privacy.
The Mother Of Invention: Did you hear about the Harvard sophomore student who didn’t want to take final exams so he sent bomb threats to the Harvard police? Gawker reports that the student is facing 5 years in prison. I can only imagine how panicked he must have been to make such a stupid decision. I’ve heard that “Necessity is the mother of invention,” as it turns out so is desperation.
What’s Up?: Apparently WhatsApp. CNet reports that the app has added 100 million regular users and just in the past four months, making it one-third the size of Facebook. CEO Jan Koum explained, “WhatsApp has just 50 employees, and most of us are engineers. We’ve arrived at this point without spending a dollar on targeted ads or big marketing campaigns.” I guess now we can see what engineers without marketing savvy can do.
I’m A Twitter Hit!: According to Jon Bruner, a tech journalist at O’Reilly Radar who conducted a study of Twitter users, the median Twitter account has only one (yes as in 1) follower. That statistic comes from the fact that a very large number of Twitter accounts are opened and then left unused. However, when he only considered accounts that have tweeted in the past month, that median goes up to 61 followers. Bruner states, “If you’ve got a thousand followers, you’re at the 96th percentile of active Twitter users.” But what I love about his research is that he mapped out his results on a graph and entitled it “You’re a bigger deal on Twitter than you think.” So, yeah, I’m a Twitter hit, and if you have more than 61 followers, so are you.
Note: Original Publication date Dec. 20, 2013. Date change performed for display purposes exclusively.