Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tim Pawlenty has his own Rev. Wright - War Room - Salon.com

Tim Pawlenty has his own Rev. Wright - War Room - Salon.com

While not as incendiary as the Rev. Wright was for Obama, Mr. Pawlenty will probably see this be a "thing" that has to be dealt with.

Palin says to "...eliminate all energy subsidies."

Real Clear Politics has this...which I agree with:

Palin: Eliminate All Energy Subsidies

By Scott Conroy

DILLSBURG, Pa. -- Asked Tuesday whether she supports the federal subsidy of ethanol, an always critical issue in the presidential nominating cycle, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin went one step further and called for the elimination of all energy subsidies.
"I think that all of our energy subsidies need to be relooked at today and eliminated," Palin told RCP during a quick stop at a coffee shop in this picturesque town tucked into the south-central Pennsylvania countryside. "And we need to make sure that we're investing and allowing our businesses to invest in reliable energy products right now that aren't going to necessitate subsidies because, bottom line, we can't afford it."
Continue reading here..

GOP Supported Individual Mandate To Prevent ‘Government Takeover’ Of Health Care (Cont.)

FLASHBACK: GOP Supported Individual Mandate To Prevent ‘Government Takeover’ Of Health Care | ThinkProgress

Good article from Igor Volsky that sends the same message as my post earlier on this topic...

Obama commits horrific act of dis-respect to victims of Joplin disaster...

  When will this man learn?
  Will he ever learn?

  Attending the weekend Memorial service for the victims of the Joplin, Missouri tornado disaster, President Obama was supposed to be providing comfort and support to the local community. It was a time to listen to stories, talk with local leaders about rebuilding and expressing the condolences of a Nation to those who's lives and town were destroyed several days earlier.

  By all accounts, his remarks were well received. His visit seemed to be just the right balance of emotions. Sympathy and hope. Empathy and a sense of determination.

  I figured something, SOMETHING, would emerge from his visit where he had committed a horrible sin. Offended the locals to the core. Violated some American creed in some way. The media has a habit of producing stories of President Obama's blunders, some real, others imagined.

  Well, he didn't disappoint...

  What did he do this time?

  Brace yourself...

  He was chewing gum during the Memorial Service.

  Not blowing bubbles, mind you. Not smacking it, just chewing gum.

  Thanks to the real sharp folks at Real Clear Politics for their razor sharp eye:

Brilliant journalism.   



Why Medical School Should Be Free - NYTimes.com

Why Medical School Should Be Free - NYTimes.com

With the shortage of primary care physicians soon to be compounded by the ever growing number of baby boomers hitting their older years, we need more GP's...

Here's a way...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Sarah Palin uses Rolling Thunder to advance her own cause...

"Gotcha motorcycle riding?"
  I really wanted to write a pro-Sarah Palin piece about her riding in the Rolling Thunder rally in Washington DC this weekend. Seriously, I did. I basically had it laid out in my mind, something like this:

Palin is invited by the organization (fact...well, sort of).
Palin works with the group to arrange a tasteful presence at this honorable function (fiction).
Palin would not make any speeches or official remarks (fact).
Palin would make sure she didn't interfere with the main goal of the ride, not be a sideshow or distraction (fail).

  I get that she was invited by someone who used to be connected to the event. I also get that that piece of information wasn't shared with the organisation. That's odd. For someone who's exerting an incredible amount of control over her public appearances, its very hard to explain. Event organizers complained they weren't aware of her riding, which may have been an internal problem, not one of the Palin camp's doing.

  Some have been critical of her riding in the front of the procession. I'm told by a long time biker that she should have rode from the rear of the pack out of respect for the actual club members. The scene, by many media reports was totally chaotic and not very well handled for a person of her star power. It seemed too impromptu to have been a full blown Palin event. I've heard criticism about her having a sharpie at the ready for autographs. I'm sure she signs autographs every place she goes. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.

 So, on one hand, she gets invited, agrees to attend, the organizers don't tend to the details very well, she works through it with a smile on her face, is accommodating and even visited some wounded vets. She made no speeches, she didn't force her way onto the lectern, etc. She took, some would say, as low a profile as she can. Reaction was mixed about her participating. Some hated it, some liked it. The ride went on, successfully, no big problems to it, so - who cares, eh?

  I do. It was wrong beyond belief.

  On Sunday, our Secretary of Defense Robert Gates spoke. Likewise, Mike Mullen, currently the Military Advisor to the President and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, also spoke. Did you hear much about these two men this week? Nope, not too much. Does it sound right that a television personality who resigned from her position as Governor of Alaska attending this event after being invited by a former board member gain this much coverage? Not to me, it doesn't.

  I don't see how it benefited the Rolling Thunder rally for those who have served.  

  I do see how it benefited Sarah Palin. Ray Charles could see that.

  It would have been more professional of Palin's camp to reach out to the actual organizers of the event, those currently responsible and make sure there was actually an invitation. That way, both sides could've coordinated details, security, etc. about her being there. That never happened. Which was disrespectful of those who are regular participants at this event.

  It sounds to me like she got a loose invitation from a guy who used to be in the upper levels of the Rolling Thunder group. It wasn't an "official" invite. Rather than, as I suggested, contact the officials running the event and coordinating everything, she basically just showed up. Went to the front of the line, got tons of media coverage, said a few cutesy, nice things and then rode off into the sunset.

  I'm trying to get my head around the mind bending levels of howling I'd see/hear if President Obama did what she did. Fox would be shooting off fireworks. The RW talk shows tomorrow would be just white noise for all the screaming from Rush, Hannity and Mr. Beck. It would be crazy. Laura Ingraham would've just killed herself as there'd be nothing left to live for.

  Palin weasles her way into this noble event and its kid gloves all weekend long. Will there be any post event apology for any inconvenience her participation may have resulted in? Probably not. Palin engages in "gotcha" motorcycle riding and Fox goes mute.






Sunday, May 29, 2011

Nursing homes facing younger challenges - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Nursing homes facing younger challenges - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Even though this article is from my home town of Pittsburgh, its universal across the United States. Having performed at Retirement Communities and Nursing Homes for over fifteen years, I see it every day. My song list now includes not only stuff from the 1930's, 40's and 50's but also the 60's, 70's and beyond.

What passed for recreation and stimulation years ago don't cut it anymore. I predict within the next 20 years, laptops will be standard issue for the majority of nursing homes.

By far, the best job I'll ever have. I have to keep adapting to my clients needs, which makes me a better musician. For those in their 80's, yes, the big band material goes over great. But in the last few years I get more requests for tunes from the 50's and 60's. Elvis is still King, but weekly I'm asked to play Beatles, Stones and Elton John. In some homes that skew even harder toward a younger client, people ask for songs from acts like Jimmy Buffet, Vince Gill and George Strait.

In another 5-10 years, I'll be doing Coldplay or something...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Politicians with guts? How about this guy?

  There's a lot of talk today about this candidate or that candidate having "guts."



  Yesterday (Friday) I had an early morning gig about an hour South of home. In the car I tuned into XM channel 124, POTUS, which is a fairly middle of the road, low drama political/news channel. All politics all the time. They cover everything from the daily press briefings at the White House, to weekly State Dept. briefings, various hearings, etc. The kind of stuff commercial television and radio won't use. The kind of stuff I love.

  During the morning programming, they do a five minute "This Day in Political History" type thing, which I enjoy. At the end, they close it out with a section called "cake and candles" to recognize a few birthdays of politicians born on this day. Former Minnesota Senator, Democratic Presidential candidate and Lyndon Johnson's Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey would have turned one hundred years old today. To mark Humphrey's birthdate, they played a short clip from a speech he gave to the 1948 Democratic Convention in Philadelphia.

   Humphrey felt the Democratic Party should endorse a stronger civil rights platform for their nominee, Harry Truman, than had been proposed. (This somewhat tepid civil rights platform had been floated at the 1944 Convention as well.) This angered a group of Southern Democrats, who felt this was purely a States rights issue. All of the Mississippi and half of the Alabama delegation walked out of Convention Hall on July 14th, 1948 because of what Hubert Humphrey decided needed to be said that day. So enraged where the southern Democrats that they formed their own party, called the Dixiecrats, which were led by the Governor of South Carolina, Strom Thurmond.

   Here is Humphrey's 1948 Convention Speech on Civil Rights:

  Nominee Truman did not want Humphrey to make this speech, for fear it would splinter the party and hurt his chances of winning the Presidency. While Humphrey lays out a cogent case for civil rights, there's a section that stood out above the rest. 

  "To those who say, my friends, to those who say, that we are rushing this issue of civil rights, I say to them we are 172 years (too) late! To those who say, this civil rights program is an infringement on states' rights, I say this: the time has arrived in America for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadow of states' rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights!"

  Think about it...That took guts...

  This wasn't the 1960's. It wasn't even the 1950's. It was 1948. Segregation was a way of life in the South. In 1963 Alabama Governor George Wallace said, "...segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!" For Humphrey to say what he said, at that time was groundbreaking. This wasn't baby steps anymore. It challenged an entire geographic section of our Country's population. 

  While it did become an official part of the Democratic platform for the election, which Truman famously won over Thomas Dewey, legislation protecting civil rights as the law of the land wouldn't become reality until 1964. Without Humphrey standing up that day, I wonder if we'd have seen the same timeline occur? I think it easily could have taken another decade with out his contribution. 

  So, as I hear of various politicians and presidential candidates today being described as "having guts," I think I will think of Humphrey and see if the label fits. Its one thing to say it, its another entirely to put a career on the line for it. 

  So, cake and candles to you, Mr. Humphrey, Happy 100th Birthday...

  Thank you...




Thursday, May 26, 2011

We’re Gonna Need A Cleanup In Aisle 18 | The Smoking Gun

We’re Gonna Need A Cleanup In Aisle 18 | The Smoking Gun

Wasn't there a paragraph to this story that talked about this man being out of his mind on drugs or something? Perhaps he'd been binge drinking? Maybe an unfortunate side effect of some new medication?

Even with the above circumstances, this is hard to imagine. If this guy, well you know, and he was totally lucid, then I'm not sure what to say except, well...never mind...

Rand Paul gun records held up Patriot Act renewal...why?

  Firearm Records Amendment: Clarifies that the authority to obtain info under the USA PATRIOT Act does not include authority to obtain certain firearm records. Supported by Gun Owners of America.

Senator Rand Paul, (R) KY (Amendment to the Patriot Act renewal vote...)


  This was the amendment Rand Paul was holding up the renewal of the Patriot Act up over? Because the Government "theoretically" could demand every gun purchase form ever recorded and thus know who all the evil gun owners are? And then what, go get them? Kill them, maybe?

 On the surface, the Patriot Act, among various other powers, wants the ability to track gun purchases from possible terrorists. Paul felt it was too broad a power and could subject law abiding private citizens who own guns to a violation of their privacy. Funny, the sweeping powers of the Patriot Act when passed under the previous administration were explained as basic techniques to fight terrorism. Now, we're going to play around with this so we can score cheap political points with the gun lobby?


  Even Mitch McConnell disagreed with Paul on this one. If we're really going to stop necessary legislation every time some bizarre/extreme interpretation of it might lead to some wrong being done somewhere, then I doubt we're ever going to get much done. The aim of this part of the PA is to have the means to be able to research purchase records as part of an overall investigation into terrorist activity. While some critics, of both parties have expressed concerns over the Act going too far in terms of violating civil liberties, Senate GOP leader McConnell said, "have kept us safe for nearly a decade and Americans today should be relieved and reassured to know that these programs will continue.

 Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid finally gave into Paul's demand for a vote on the gun records business and it was soundly defeated by a bi-partisan landslide 85-10. The Patriot Act was approved by a generous margin, 72-23 in the Senate and will now go to President Obama for his signature to sign it into law. 

  Perhaps the next time Sen. Paul wants to gain some attention, he can find some stronger issue to dig his heels in with. He single-handedly held up the Senate vote for seven days because of this issue. The main gun lobby organisation in the United States, the NRA decided this wasn't worth their time and declined to even offer an opinion on it, which is stunning to me. I give them credit for sitting this one out. 

  I don't love every single bit of the Patriot Act, but I can live with it. 





Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What's the difference between Vouchers and Premium Support?

  If you've been following the Ryan Plan to change Medicare the last several weeks, you've probably come across this term, "premium support."  It was new to me, and I'm guessing its new to most of my readers. While the Ryan plan has little to no chance of ever becoming law, it will likely remain in the discussion for quite a while. 

 Voted down 57-40 in the Senate today, largely due to the perception the GOP/Ryan plan for Medicare is bad for Seniors, it also played a part in the NY 26th Congressional election yesterday, where a Democrat upset the Republican candidate, for the long time GOP held seat. It will remain as a place holder or an alternative so that the GOP can say, "...look, we've provided a better idea, a better plan. We just need to sell it to the American people and they'll join us in repealing Obamacare." 

  Even if somehow the Senate approved it down the road, President Obama would not be inclined to just roll back his single biggest policy achievement. Not gonna happen.

  Anyway, here's the difference between vouchers and premium support...

  Vouchers are a flat payment to seniors with an amount that's adjusted by the consumer price index. If the index goes up, the payout goes up. If it drops, so does the payout. Seniors would be expected to use this money, sent to them from the Federal Government to buy private health insurance. 

  Premium Support are payments made directly to the insurance companies on the senior citizen's behalf. These amounts are indexed to average health care costs. 

  Its important to note that the Ryan Plan would replace Medicare with a voucher indexed to the consumer price index. For the last 30 + years, health care costs have risen higher and faster than the CPI has risen, by about 4% annually. 

  To add to the confusion, what Congressman Ryan calls Premium Support is really closer to the definition of a voucher system. 

  Over time, if Seniors have to pick up the additional 4% in health care costs, it will be a hardship for that population that have the smallest means to afford the extra expense. For example, the Ryan Plan would give seniors $8,000 in 2022 to pay for their insurance. If for some reasons health premiums rise dramatically, seniors would be stuck paying the difference between the $8,000 and whatever the premiums wound up costing. As the Congressional Budget Office commented, "the share of health care expenses that a typical elderly beneficiary would have to pay out of pocket would go up in 2030—from 25-30 percent under current law, to 68 percent under the Ryan plan.

  Further, the health care economist who originally designed premium support, Henry Aaron, points to the fact that the Ryan Plan calls for insurance exchanges for seniors and the disabled, while in his and his party's call to repeal the Affordable Care Act (i.e. "Obamacare") which offers insurance exchanges for the younger, healthier and non disabled population. It is much riskier to form an exchange for the worst risk/highest cost pool imaginable. 

  "Vigorous supporters of market-based controls on health spending should start where chances for success are greatest.  That means proceeding resolutely to implement the Affordable Care Act, not repeal it, and to wait for radical change in Medicare until we see how the new system works."


Have a seat, Mr. Schultz...

MSNBC's Ed Schultz calls Laura Ingraham's 'A 'radio' Slut...'

  This guy is a loudmouth, with very questionable arguments. I think its bad taste when someone calls Obama or a Democrat names and this is absolutely no better. Does he think this kind of talk sways an undecided person in the middle over to his side? It doesn't. It's pretty disingenuous to complain about rough language the Right uses and then call a woman a slut.

  I know how he meant it. In my business, there are "gig whores." Guys who will go play anywhere for next to nothing, often free. They hurt the market for other musicians in the area. Most always they suck and wash out after a few gigs.

Guys can call other guys names and for some weird reason, its acceptable to some degree. This guy must be shooting for a ratings bump or something.

Its wrong when Conservatives do it, its wrong when Progressives do it. It creates noise, not understanding.

UPDATE: Schultz has been suspended for one week without pay by MSNBC...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


"The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states." 

President of the United States, Barack Obama, May 19th, 2011 in a speech at the US State Dept.

"The status of the settlements will be decided only in negotiations. But we must also be honest. So I am saying today something that should be said publicly by anyone serious about peace. In any peace agreement that ends the conflict, some settlements will end up beyond Israel’s borders. The precise delineation of those borders must be negotiated. We will be very generous on the size of a future Palestinian state. But as President Obama said, the border will be different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. Israel will not return to the indefensible lines of 1967."

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, May 24, 2011 in a speech before a joint session of Congress

Kathy Hochul | Jane Corwin | New York 26 | The Daily Caller

Kathy Hochul | Jane Corwin | New York 26 | The Daily Caller

Upset in the New York 26th Congressional vote...

This reminds me of something, hmmm...

Tim Pawlenty, Truth-teller?

  Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has officially announced his intention to run for the Republican nomination for President in 2012.

  His campaign website says, "Time For Truth, Governor Pawlenty begins his campaign by telling the American people the truth." Which makes sense since telling voters that you're going to lie to them is probably an unwise strategy. Voters like don't being lied to. The April results of the Townhall.com Presidential Straw Poll has Gov. Pawlenty (2.43%) in twelfth place out of seventeen other GOP-sters and a option for "undecided." Ron Paul won the poll with 18.67%, Sarah Palin, undeclared at this time, came in second with 13.42%. 

  Mr. Pawlenty made several statements this week in Iowa and various media sources have quickly taken issue with the candidate's honesty in his early campaign claims and promises. Let's look at three:

1) Igor Volsky shares several....(From ThinkProgress...)

  T-PAW TRUTH: Health care reform has added to the national debt. Social Security is in peril. “Our national debt, combined with Obamacare, have placed Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in real peril. I’ll tell young people the truth that over time and for them only, we’re going to gradually raise their Social Security retirement age.”
ACTUAL TRUTH: Health care reform reduced health care spending.According to the Congressional Budget Office, enacting the Affordable Care Act “will produce a net reduction in federal deficits of $143 billionover the 2010-2019 period.” Similarly, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) concluded that Medicare spending will decline$86.4 billion and that by 2019, it is projected to grow 7.7 percent—0.9 percentage point more slowly” than if the law had not passed.
ACTUAL TRUTH: Social Security is not in real peril. It can pay full benefits through 2036 and close to full benefits for decades after that, according to the latest trustee’s report. Moderate tweaks to the system, including raising the cap on the payroll tax can more than make up for the program’s long-term shortfall. Raising the retirement age is not only unnecessary, but is a hugely regressive change. Furthermore, the Affordable Care Act and the national debt have nothing to do with the financial health of Social Security.
T-PAW TRUTH: Block granting Medicaid will “solve problems.” “And, we need to block grant Medicaid to the states. There, innovative reformers closest to the patients can solve problems and save money.”
ACTUAL TRUTH: Millions of lower-income Americans will lose health coverage. As a recent Kaiser Family Foundation report pointed out, converting the existing matching rate formula into a block grant would give states less money that they would have otherwise received and force local governments to cut eligibility to the program. Kaiser examined different scenarios for state responses to reduced federal Medicaid spending and estimated 31 to 44 million Americans could lose their health insurance coverage.
T-PAW TRUTH: Reformed health system in Minnesota. “I know how to do health care reform right. I’ve done it at the state level. No mandates, no takeovers. and it’s the opposite of Obamacare.”
ACTUAL TRUTH: Number of uninsured increased under his governorship. Pawlenty did experiment with different methods of bundling payments to providers — creating baskets for certain conditions — and implemented pay-for performance initiatives, but as Minnesota Public Radio has reported, it’s unclear if his small efforts have actually saved the state any money. But most importantly, as David Frum has pointed out, the number of Minnesotans without health care actually increased during his time as governor from 395,000 citizens without health insurance in 2003, to 446,000 in 2008, the last year before the recession struck.
T-PAW TRUTH: The United States is broke. “Our country is going broke.”
ACTUAL TRUTH: The United States isn’t broke. As the Center for American Progress’ Michael Linden and Michael Ettlinger note, “The notion that the United States is ‘broke’ is a popular talking point for conservative lawmakers…But we’re not broke. Not at all. If we were, it would mean that we were out of money, unable to pay our bills, or meet our financial obligations. We are none of those things.” Bloomberg’s David Lynch has more.
T-PAW TRUTH: Against bailouts and “too-big-to-fail”. “I’m going to New York City, to tell Wall Street that if I’m elected, the era of bailouts, handouts, and carve outs will be over. No more subsidies, no more special treatment. No more Fannie and Freddie, no more TARP, and no more “too big to fail.”
ACTUAL TRUTH: Pawlenty would preserve too-big-to-fail and has flip-flopped on bailouts. The Dodd-Frank financial reform law signed by President Obama last year includes important powers for the government to dismantle large, failed financial firms without resorting to ad-hoc bailouts; Pawlenty opposes those powers. Pawlenty was also for TARP before he was against it, saying in 2008 that TARP “is an imperfect solution, but, like has been said, [the banks] are too big, the consequences are too severe for innocent bystanders to allow them to fail.”
T-PAW TRUTH: The NLRB can dictate to companies where to move. “It especially means the National Labor Relations Board will never again tell an American company where it can and can’t do business.”
ACTUAL TRUTH: The NLRB has not told an American company where it can and can’t do business. Pawlenty has been criticizing a decision by the NLRB that would prevent mega-manufacturer Boeing from shifting a production line from Washington state to South Carolina as retribution against workers who engaged in strikes. Under labor law, it is illegal to retaliate against striking workers by shifting production, but the NLRB has made it abundantly clear that Boeing is free to open new facilitieswherever it pleases, provided it complies with the law.
T-PAW TRUTH: Against energy subsidies. “As part of a larger reform, we need to phase out subsidies across all sources of energy and all industries, including ethanol. We simply can’t afford them anymore.”
ACTUAL TRUTH: For oil and gas subsidies. Just a few weeks ago, Pawlenty said that cutting subsidies to oil and gas companies is “ludicrous.” “I mean the worst thing we could do is raise the cost burden on costs on energy and oil…It’s preposterous,” he said.

2) Wait, there's more from the Associated Press...

FACT CHECK: Not the whole truth in Pawlenty claims...
A parsing of Pawlenty's opening-day statements shows they were not the whole truth.
Here is a sampling of his claims Monday and how they compare with the facts.
PAWLENTY: "The truth is, people getting paid by the taxpayers shouldn't get a better deal than the taxpayers themselves. That means freezing federal salaries, transitioning federal employee benefits, and downsizing the federal work force as it retires." — Campaign announcement.
THE FACTS: A federal pay freeze is already in effect. Obama proposed and Congress approved a two-year freeze on the pay of federal employees, exempting the armed forces, Congress and federal courts.
PAWLENTY: "ObamaCare is unconstitutional." — USA Today column.
THE FACTS: Obama's health care overhaul might be unconstitutional in Pawlenty's opinion, but it is not in fact unless the Supreme Court says so. Lower court rulings have been split.
PAWLENTY: "Barack Obama has consistently stood for higher taxes." — Campaign announcement.
THE FACTS: Obama's record shows more tax cutting than tax raising. The stimulus plan early in his presidency cut taxes broadly for the middle class and business, and more recently he won a substantial cut in Social Security taxes for a year. He also campaigned in support of extending the Bush-era tax cuts for all except the wealthy, whose taxes he wanted to raise. In office, he accepted a deal from Republicans extending the tax cuts for all. As for tax increases, Obama won congressional approval to raise them on tobacco and tanning salons. The penalty for those who don't buy health insurance, once coverage is mandatory, is a form of taxation.
PAWLENTY: "For decades before I was elected, governors tried and failed to get Minnesota out of the top 10 highest-taxed states in the country. I actually did it." — Campaign announcement.
THE FACTS: Minnesota remains among the 10 worst states in its overall tax climate, according to the Tax Foundation. In its 2011 State Business Tax Climate Index, the anti-tax organization ranks Minnesota 43rd, making it the eighth worst state. The ranking slipped from 41st two years earlier. The index considers corporate, individual, sales, unemployment insurance and property taxes.
PAWLENTY: "I stood up to the teachers unions and established one of the first statewide performance pay systems in the country." — Campaign announcement.
THE FACTS: The system may be statewide, but it is voluntary and most school districts have not joined. Out of the 340 school districts and charter schools in the state, with 830,000 students, 104 districts and charter schools serving 254,592 students are currently enrolled in the performance-pay program.
PAWLENTY: "There's only four governors in the country that got an A grade from the tough-grading Cato Institute for fiscal management. I was one of them." — ABC's "Good Morning America."
THE FACTS: Cato may be a tough grader, but it is hardly objective. The institute holds staunch libertarian views, including a passion for smaller government, and graded governors in 2010 according to their success in cutting taxes and spending. Pawlenty tied for third with Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, behind South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, both Republicans.
3) What does Factcheck.org have to say about T-Paw's truthfulness?

FactChecking Pawlenty
May 23, 2011
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We are periodically taking a look at past claims from the 2012 presidential candidates. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty released a web video, announcing that he was running for president, and he'll kick off his campaign in Iowa. In recent months, we have found him straying from the facts.
  • In a January interview on "Fox News Sunday," Pawlenty said that he "never did sign a bill relating to cap and trade" while governor of Minnesota. But that's false. He signed a 2007 bill requiring a task force to come up with recommendations on how Minnesota could institute cap and trade. Plus, Pawlenty joined other Midwestern governors in signing a compact to "develop a market-based and multi-sector cap-and-trade mechanism." Pawlenty also claimed that "I’ve opposed cap and trade." But that's only been the case since 2009, when Pawlenty wrote a letter to his state’s congressional delegation saying that a federal cap-and-trade bill was "overly bureaucratic, misguided."
  • Pawlenty also changed his view of government bailouts, saying in January: "I don’t think the government should bail out Wall Street or the mortgage industry or for that matter any other industry." But in 2008 at a National Press Club luncheon, he said that in an "ideal marketplace" entities would be allowed to fail. "But if you allow those entities to fail, the consequences are so severe for innocent bystanders, namely average Americans who rely on the markets, rely on those mortgages, you know, the consequences are too severe. … [T]hey are too big, the consequences are too severe for innocent bystanders to allow them to fail."
  • He was well off the mark when he said in a December op-ed for the Wall Street Journal that "local, state and federal governments added 590,000" jobs since January 2008, while private sector employment had declined by millions. The private sector job loss, as of Pawlenty's writing, was 7.3 million, but public sector jobs had also gone down — not up, as Pawlenty claimed. Figures on government employment showed a loss of 118,000 jobs. It turns out Pawlenty got his information from a several months' old blog post. 
  • Pawlenty also repeated a popular and misleading conservative talking point when he said that "[f]ederal employees receive an average of $123,049 annually in pay and benefits, twice the average of the private sector," also in that op-ed. The figures came from USA Today and the Cato Institute, but we found that the government pay and benefits included retiree health and life insurance benefits, and money Congress uses to cover "unfunded liabilities" for retirees. Also, the average federal worker has more education and experience than the average private sector worker, and these compensation figures fail to take that into account.

  Its a dubious start for a candidate who advertises himself as the candidate who'll look the American people in the eye and tell them the truth, isn't it? But, truth be told, the other three most well known Republican candidates each have their own troubles. Mitt Romney and his ballet with Romneycare - "good" is NOT Obamacare - "bad", Newt Gingrinch with several issues including his clumsy performance on Meet The Press when he called the Ryan Medicare Plan "radical Right wing social engineering", unpleasant experiences in an airport and book signing and having to explain his Tiffany's bill. Ron Paul, who reportedly feels the Country might be better off if we legalized Heroin and Prostitution. 

  I suspect candidate Pawlenty may come to regret his chosen theme and some of his claims. As the Republican party prepares to eat its own until there is one left standing, I think the former Governor may have a hard time defending all of his questionable claims. If Romney can get past Romneycare, he may find smooth sailing. Gingrich needs to work past one horrific Sunday morning and stop putting his foot in his mouth, or in other words, prove that he can be what others claim he can't be. Disciplined. Congressman Paul, while charming, refreshing and certainly different from the rest, is in a tough position. If he tones his message down so as not to frighten voters of a crazy man in the White House, he loses the exact element that differentiates him from the others. 

  What Mr. Pawlenty now faces is a constant defense of his claims. Each explanation may sound weaker than the last. How many lashes can one candidate handle? He's going to find out. 






Monday, May 23, 2011

Last word on Obama's Israel speeches...

  We've had time to digest President Barack Obama's speech to AIPAC Sunday morning. After a lukewarm reception to his speech at the US State Department on Thursday, Obama had two choices. The first choice would have been to backtrack his comments about the '67 borders being the sensible and generally understood beginning point for a conversation between Israel and Palestine. The second choice would have been to essentially "double-down" and hold firm.

  Many in the media in the US and Israel had been highly critical of Obama's State Department speech, with a general sense that to accept the '67 borders as a final definition was unacceptable. Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu called it "indefensable" and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, a candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination said, "Obama threw Israel under the bus."

  Odd that Obama didn't remotely suggest that Israel accept as permanent the '67 borders. Former Special Envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell clarified on ABC’s “This Week With Christiane Amanpour, 

“The president didn't say that Israel has to go back to the '67 lines. He said 'with agreed swaps.' Those are significant,” Mitchell said. “Swaps means an exchange of land intended to accommodate major Israeli population centers to be incorporated into Israel and Israel's security needs.”
"Agreed means, through negotiations, both parties must agree. There's not going be a border unless Israel agrees to it, and we know they won't agree unless their security needs are satisfied, as it should be.”
  Shortly after Mitchell's comments on network television, President Obama reprised his speech at AIPAC. He acknowledged it: 
I know that stating these principles -- on the issues of territory and security -- generated some controversy over the past few days.  (Laughter.)  I wasn’t surprised.  I know very well that the easy thing to do, particularly for a President preparing for reelection, is to avoid any controversy.  
After which, he restated his main concept from his Thursday speech: 
"...since my position has been misrepresented several times, let me reaffirm what “1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps” means.
By definition, it means that the parties themselves -– Israelis and Palestinians -– will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967.  That’s what mutually agreed-upon swaps means.  It is a well-known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation.  It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years.   It allows the parties themselves to take account of those changes, including the new demographic realities on the ground, and the needs of both sides.  The ultimate goal is two states for two people:  Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people  and the State of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people -- each state in joined self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace. "

Which he then followed with, perhaps the most compelling line of the speech: 
"If there is a controversy, then, it’s not based in substance.  What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately. "
  Clearly there is at least one adult in the room. 
  There have been those in the media who claimed those in the audience did not receive the Presidents comments very well. That in fact, the speech made things worse.  I don't agree. Having watched the speech once, listened to it twice and read the transcript one piece of trivia stood out to me. Obama spoke for twenty five minutes. During those twenty five minutes, Mr. Obama was interrupted by applause forty-one times. 
  Obama has increased Foreign Aid dollars to Israel, and also helped provide special funding for the Iron-Dome anti-rocket system. Obama has announced his intention to have the United States veto any attempt by Palestine in the Fall to have a United Nations vote for statehood. Obama has also said Hamas must accept Israel's basic right to exist.  Obama has also said preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons is of critical importance. 
  For anyone to suggest that President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus, is laughable and probably partisan.
  There are those in Israel who feel PM's Netenyahu's position is too extreme. Opposition leader Tzipi Livni agrees with Presidents Obama, GW Bush, Clinton and Reagan that the 1967 borders are a reasonable "starting place" for negotiations. There are even Israeli servicemen in the IDF who have signed a petition and support not using military force beyond the 1967 borders. There are many opinions in Israel on how peace should be obtained. 
   This is a long running issue that appears no closer to resolution today that it did ten years ago. President Obama, by electing NOT to pander to the Jewish vote took an admirable position in trying to move the process along, in terms acceptable to Israel towards a lasting peace. These were not the words of a man who hates or wishes more tragedies upon the Israeli people.   


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Individual Mandate: Crazy Democratic idea or old Republican idea?

  As the great question of the Constitutionality of the Individual Mandate works its way through America's courts, I wanted to take a step back and see where it really came from. How old is the basic idea and who first presented it as a fair, responsible way to make sure people didn't become "free riders" on the backs of those paying into the health insurance premium pool of cash?

  In the 1970's, during the Nixon Administration, the Democratic Party began to advocate for a single payer plan to insure all Americans. Nixon and his party disliked the plan and explored alternate approaches, which included mandated health insurance for all Americans. Comprehensive reform was not successful in gaining enough Congressional traction to evolve into legislative action.

  During the George H. W. Bush Administration, Senator Ted Kennedy from Massachusetts was pushing a Single-Payer system as a solution for the health care problem, and Conservatives pushed back with a defined Individual Mandate. Bush's plan, came from a health systems economist named Mark Pauly, was to tie the individual mandate to taxation, with means testing based on income that would effect the amount a person would have to pay. This would have catastrophic coverage, which would've left a number of large holes in the program. Also included was a clause that would cover all pre-existing. Two basic components of the Affordable Care Act.

  Things crystallized further during the Clinton Administration and Hillary Clinton's efforts to address health care. Republicans, fighting back once again, submitted a formal proposal, "Coverage of Preventative Services: Provisions of Selected Current Health Care Proposals." This proposal included, on page 25, a provision for an individual mandate.

 The line of Conservatives who supported this idea is a rather long one. It includes conservative watch dog group The Heritage Foundation. It also includes such high profile republicans Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley, Bob Dole, Jim DeMint, Jon Huntsman, Mitch Daniels, Robert Bennett, Christopher Bond, Bill Frist, John McCain and Tommy Thompson. Not to mention the Nixon and Bush Sr. Administrations.

  Its safe to say that the Republican Party has moved several steps to the right in recent years, so what was acceptable at one point in conservative ideology may not be embraced as passionately as before. It perfectly fine to disagree the idea is the best way to handle this. But its disingenuous to suggest that an idea, historically embraced by so many on the right, to be some radical, socialist and unconstitutional legislation.

 Because the Affordable Care Act doesn't impose the mandate as a form of taxation, but rather as a required purchase, that's where a legitimate question is thought to exist. Several States have filed suit to protest this part of the ACA and whether or not they will succeed is up in the air. If President Obama had been less afraid of raises taxes during this time of economic recession, all of this could have been avoided. I think in a less rhetorically heated time, he would have.

 As we move forward trying to understand how to best handle the delivery of health care and health care insurance in the US, we shouldn't demonize an idea that's been around, and was introduced over forty years ago. A more "adult conversation" is required than what we've seen thus far.






How Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes Failed at Setting Up a Strong Republican Candidate for 2012 -- New York Magazine

How Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes Failed at Setting Up a Strong Republican Candidate for 2012 -- New York Magazine: "The circus Roger Ailes created at Fox News made his network $900 million last year. But it may have lost him something more important: the next election."

Fascinating background on how Glen Beck and Sarah Palin are viewed at the network.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels says no to Presidential run in 2012...

The Bulletin | Local & State News | Oregon Statewide News

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels will not be running for the GOP nomination for President. Citing "the interests and wishes" of his family as the sole reason.

Expect the efforts to pull NJ Governor Chris Christie to intensify...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Retired KDKA Radio Host John Cigna Has Died « CBS Pittsburgh

Retired KDKA Radio Host John Cigna Has Died « CBS Pittsburgh

I was able to work at KDKA in the mid 1980 when he was top dog. Really nice man, funny, and smart.

So many of the guys I got to know back then are gone. Fred Honsberger, Bill Steinbach, John Haydar and now Mr. Cigna...

One of the most amazing experiences of my life was to work in the KDKA newsroom. I remember as a nervous out of my mind intern I asked Mr. Steinbach to critique one of my news scripts. He told me to get lost for a bit and he'd have something for me. When I came back he said, "Corfield! Come here..." in a voice that sounded like God, lol. There were two words written in the margin of my script. He'd written, very simply:

"Utterly incomprehensible..."

I wanted to die, lol...

Rest in peace,. John Cigna...

What if the world ends, who do you want to see in heaven?

  I guess we have until 6:00pm this evening to find out whether all this talk about the end of the world is for real. I got to wondering, if it is...and I made it into heaven, who would I want to see? My Mom. She passed away in 2007 and I miss her a lot. I'd definitely  look for her first. I need to tell her about the great grandsons she didn't get to meet. I  have some questions for her that she never answered before she left. Now, I suppose, we've got all the time in the world, er, heaven to talk about some things...

  I then started wondering who else would I like to see? Other than relatives? My old friend Stew who died a few years ago from a brain aneurysm. A kid named Steve. Historical figures would include Abraham Lincoln, FDR and Ronald Reagan. Then I thought about musicians. John Lennon, Glen Pavone, George Gershwin and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Athletes? I'd love to see Roberto Clemente.

 Who would you want to talk to?