Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Personal Comment...

Sometime in the next day, Reasonable Conversation will pass fifty thousand hits. (No, its not me hitting refresh over and over again, actually my hits aren't counted.) I've been at this for about 16 months and if you had told me when I started I'd ever have 50K hits, I'd probably have laughed.

Its a small blog, with a small readership. I know that. There are blogs that get over a million hits per day. That's never going to be Reasonable Conversation. I know that, too.

I've never made a penny on the blog and unless something really changes, I doubt I ever will. I could add advertising, but I think it junks up the page and I like the clean look that I have. I'm not doing this for the money, anyway. I do it for a few different reasons.

I'm an opinionated man, so how better to polish my thoughts than via writing? I'm told RC has an easy to take tone to it, which pleases me. I want it to be easy to read. I like to be informed and a blog like this seems to be a natural extension of my ongoing education. I've learned a ton since I started this in May of 2011, and hopefully some of you have as well.

While I acknowledge I lean to the left of center politically, I've worked hard to present a somewhat balanced viewpoint. There are pieces critical of President Obama and his Administration. There are pieces that praise Republicans. And regardless of what happens next Tuesday, I'll strive to continue in this fashion. Liberals sometimes do dumb things and Conservatives sometimes do really good things. Its the edges I try and stay away from. There's going to be LOTS to write about over the next few years, trust me. (Don't forget, preparation for the 2014 Mid term elections starts November 7th...)

Anyway, 50,000 hits seemed like a good time to take a moment and post something like this. To people who follow the blog, I say thank you. I really appreciate it. If you enjoy Reasonable Conversation, please tell a friend about it.

Everyone's welcome...

Thanks again,


The Ghost That Isn't There...

I don't believe in ghosts.

I don't believe in monsters under the bed.

I do believe in facts that can be proven.

There's a lot of things in life that we hear, read or are told that we shouldn't believe. The idea of why falsehoods are passed along is a complex one and not a riddle I've yet solved. At least completely.

Falsehoods are a sort of lie or deception. They come in all sizes, shapes and can be about just about anything. In this election season people are worked up, pissed off and anxious that "their guy" might not win next Tuesday. Some people, from both sides, are downright paranoid about what will happen if "the other guy" wins. Its best to tune those voices out, I think. They're not usually open to any kind of mental compromise. Their candidate is good and will save the Country, your candidate is evil and will destroy the Country. Blah-blah-blah...

The campaigns, advertisers and special interest groups all know how to construct an evocative message. Its easy to combine the right script, the right actor, the right production values, music, lighting, etc. Sometimes ads tell the truth, sometimes they don't. Sometimes they split the difference and leave it up to the viewer to decide on their own.

Have you seen this commercial from Billionaire Thomas Peterffy?

Mr. Peterffy is a success. Born in Budapest, Hungary during World War II, not satisfied with living in a Communist Country, he came to the Unites States in 1965, learned how to program computers and also consulted various Wall Street companies. Eventually starting his own electronic trading firm, which grew rapidly and made Mr. Peterffy, a very wealthy man. A success story, income level and lifestyle that all would've been impossible in his native country.

Mr. Peterffy raised a family, sent his kids to college and has been very generous with his wealth. Forbes magazine estimates his net worth at $4.6 Billion. Bloomberg says his net worth is closer to $7.6 Billion. Regardless, he's quite wealthy. In 2007, he and his partners sold a small 10% slice of his company in an initial public offering. Within five years, his company had grown. In the first half of 2012, his company made a profit of over $585 Million on revenues of $1.36 billion in sales. While the stock price has fallen almost 50% since they went public in 2007, the money has kept pouring in for Mr. Peterffy.

In his commercial, which he paid for out of his own pocket and cost between $5-$10 million to run on several centrist and left leaning television networks, he expresses a concern that America is basically losing her way and according to Peterffy, in danger of becoming a modern day version of his homeland, except this time under some sort of Socialist rule. Caused in large part, by the anti-rich attitude of the Obama Administration. While he mentions no candidate by name in his ad, he does implore the viewer to vote Republican. He has contributed to several Republican campaigns in recent years including Mitt Romney, Scott Brown, Linda McMahon and John Boehner.

He feels the wealthy have been attacked unfairly, presumably by President Obama; "I’ve paid $1.9 billion in taxes in my lifetime, now I am being told that I am not contributing my fair share?" Peterffy said. 

$1.9 Billion in taxes over a lifetime is a chunk, no matter how you slice it.

Let's get back to some things that aren't there, shall we? 

The tax rate for the highest income bracket is 35% and has been at that level since 2003. President Obama has not suggested increasing that amount.* The highest tax rate for corporate income is 39% and has been at that level since 1987. Mr. Obama has proposed the highest rate be dropped to 28% .

The meme that President Obama is out to raise all of our taxes and drag us into some Socialist utopia is laughable. He's not. 

Mr. Peterffy has done quite well for himself. He is a great example of the American Dream in action. But Mr. Peterffy's concerns ring hollow when faced with the facts. To paint such a dramatic picture and evoke such imagery from a harsh time in the world's history is obviously a very effective way to communicate his message: Vote Republican. That's what he wants us to do. Before our glorious country is betrayed into an alternate way of life. 

He's an old man. He built his own business from nothing. He deserves respect. He is a poster child for what we've boasted about in terms of what America can do for anyone if they work hard enough. But he is more than that. He is a business man. A capitalist. An opportunist. And, if he has his way, a manipulator. 

Peterffy's commercial is a sales pitch. Nothing more, nothing less. He's willing to use his success as a means of frightening his viewers. And they will, because to reject what this self made man has to say is an anathema to most people. With his credentials, he can put forth this scary story about a ghost under our beds and we'll believe it. Sadly, its as much con job as anything else. 

Taxes are lower than at any time in the last 30 years... 
Obama proposes a lowered maximum corporate tax rate of 28% after twenty five years of 39%...
"Obamacare" is a massive stimulus program for private market health insurers and drug companies...
Most of the monies used to bail out the US auto industry have been paid back...
Regulations on Wall Street are too weak to prevent another meltdown...
President Obama appointed two long time Wall Street insiders to his financial team, (Geithner and Summers)...
Candidate Obama's biggest donors included no less than five Wall Street firms...

Mr. Peterffy, I salute your success. Your success has enriched this Country and we have both benefited from your being here. I wish you hadn't made this commercial, Sir. The "scary thing" you're suggesting to your viewers that's hiding under the bed isn't there. It isn't and you know its not there. To use your own success in some sort of con is wrong. To tell a group of people a thing when you know it to be flawed in its premise is fundamentally wrong. It was wrong when the Russians tried to tell you that Communism was the best form of Government. It is wrong for you to tell your fellow citizens that we're in danger of losing of fundamental form of government. 

There's no ghosts or monsters coming to get us.

Nor are there any Socialists coming, either...

*Correction: A reader correctly points out that President Obama has proposed raising taxes on those who earn more than $250K per yr., specifically that amount above $250k, that would be taxed at a tiered rate of either 36% or 39.6%, which would revert back to their pre-2001 levels. (Currently, the top two tiers are 33% and 35%.)


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Why Barack Obama Deserves a 2nd Term...

On November 6th, I'll be voting for Barack Obama to serve a second term as President of the United States.

It is with some reservations I do so.

Ideologically, I routinely find myself most closely aligned with Jill Stein, candidate for the Green Party. Mr. Obama usually fares no better than second in most online surveys I've taken to see which candidate most closely matches my priorities. If I lived in a state other than the one I do reside in, Ohio-I might well vote for Ms. Stein. However, as I do not want to see Mitt Romney become President, my vote and interests are best served by voting for Mr. Obama in what should be a fairly close race in  the Buckeye State. I know full well that no third party candidate has any chance whatsoever of winning and this is not the time or the place to make a purely symbolic gesture with my ballot.

That said, at the end of the day and given the lack of a viable alternative, its a fairly simple call to support Barack Obama.

Areas of Support: 

The Economy
is,  by many measures, improved over where it was when President Obama took office. Where the country was losing more than 800,000 jobs a month in early 2008, we have seen steady and consistent positive job growth for thirty straight months. Likewise, the GDP growth rate has shown positive for the last 13 months, after negative growth in five of Obama's first six months in office. The Balance of Trade figures since early 2008 show a modest improvement in the import/export ratios. Both Business and Consumer Confidence data shows steady improvement since the early days of this administration. After twenty straight months of negative US Industrial Production, we've seen thirty-three months of positive production numbers. Consumer Spending data also shows a steady increase since April of 2009. US Retail Sales have also grown since a record low in December of 2008. Personal bankruptcies have fallen every month for the last two years. The Stock Market, after hitting a low of around 7000 in early 2009, has risen to its second highest level of all time.

Clearly a work in progress, its hard to argue that the under-pinnings of the economy aren't fairly strong. The Obama administration freely admits there is more work to be done and if re-elected, hopefully an improved level of cooperation from Congress could facilitate a quickened rate of improvement on many of the above metrics. The overall unemployment rate of 7.9% is the lowest since President Obama took office, but its nothing to gloat about. Unless you compare the United States to European Union countries such as France, Italy and the United Kingdom, (not to mention Greece) which are all in worse shape than we find ourselves. Its important to keep in mind there's a global financial crisis currently in progress and for all our troubles, there are other places which aren't doing nearly as well as we are.

Auto Industry Bailout: Another decision made by President Obama that provided a positive effect on the economy. While Mr. Romney said "we should let Detroit go bankrupt," even conservative financial publications like "The Economist," tipped their hat to the Administration on the bailout, saying, "Given the panic that gripped private purse-strings," the magazine wrote in an editorial. "It is more likely that GM would have been liquidated, sending a cascade of destruction through the supply chain on which its rivals, too, depended." With the knowledge that government intervention in business for any reasons is rejected as over-reach by some, Obama pressed on regardless of the opposition. The industry now enjoys aggressive hiring, expansion and profits, which to me, indicate a good and right call.

Fiscal Issues: I support Mr. Obama's balanced plan of $2.50 of spending reductions in exchange for $1.00 of new revenues. This "I'll tell you how I get it to work after the election" doesn't work for me. Various independent tax organizations have evaluated the Mitt Romney tax plan and concluded it doesn't work for them either. I support President Obama's approach of keeping taxes low for the middle and lower classes, while asking the wealthiest among us to pitch in a little more, similar to the tax rates of the Clinton era. I also support his intentions of rewriting the entire tax code, including business taxes. Simplify the code, reduce loopholes and incentivize corporations to repatriate their operation back on the mainland.

Supreme Court Impact: The next President may get to nominate as many as two new Supreme Court Justices in their four years in office. The most likely Justice to resign is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is 78 and has had a variety of fairly serious health issues in recent years. Usually considered a liberal leaning justice, she  will likely resign her office should Obama win a second term so a like-minded replacement can be nominated. If Mitt Romney wins, Ginsberg may consider trying to stick around until the 2016 presidential election with hopes of a Democratic victory before she vacates her seat. Again, her health issues will likely determine her course of action. The other Justice likely to leave could be Anthony Kennedy, considered a "swing vote" on the Court. Appointed by President Reagan, Kennedy may time his departure to coincide with a Republican Administration to set up a like-minded replacement if not a more conservative mind.

Two issues likely headed to the Court over the next few years will be Roe V. Wade and the Defense of  Marriage. If Justice Ginsberg leaves, I anticipate a fairly normal nomination process to find her replacement. If Justice Kennedy leaves as well, I suspect his replacement process will be anything but normal. Given my support of Roe V. Wade the over-turning of DOMA, my interests would be best served by a second term for Mr. Obama.

Health Care: My position is well-known to readers of Reasonable Conversation. I support the Affordable Care Act and look forward to its full implementation over the next few years. On a moral level, (I consider access to affordable basic health care/insurance a right, not a privilege,) on a selfish level, (I want my children to be able to stay on my health care plan as long as they can,) and on a fiscal level, (health care costs have been rising at a dangerous rate for a long time now-we must chart a different course quickly.) The ACA is the best path forward. Mr. Romney intentions are to repeal and replace the ACA on his first day, which is impossible if the Democrats hold onto the Senate. He can, however through the granting of waivers and such begin to weaken the ACA rather quickly. Not only would it create a level of chaos across the country  as people wondered what would or would not be covered any more, the insurance companies who would again be tasked with trying to modify its policies once again. Finally, no one really knows what he would replace it with.

Education: The "race to the top" program implemented by this Administration has proven to be both effective and cost friendly. Utilizing a traditional Republican approach encouraging local schools to figure out what works best for them, rather than a Federally imposed "cookie-cutter" approach, results have been encouraging. I also like the expansion of Pell Grants and increasing the role of Community Colleges going forward. As the Father of three daughters, two out of high school and one a senior, this resonates strongly with me and my wife.

Leadership: While I'll soon criticize Mr. Obama for his mysteriously half-hearted attempt at defending his health reform efforts, I give the him high marks for showing great flexibility in the construction of the ACA. Refusing to allow the supporters of a single payer plan so much as a seat at the table during committee hearings, the elimination of any "public option" in the final draft of the Bill and the use of a long time Republican idea, the individual mandate to ensure personal responsibility, all showed me that the President was very willing to respect Republican wishes and utilize traditionally preferred Republican methods in implementing health care reform. Its not Mr. Obama's fault the loyal opposition refused to cooperate on virtually anything related to health care. Understanding that support would not be forthcoming from the other Party, he was smart to work on healthcare reform when he did. Even with full control of the Congress, albeit for only four short months, it was a herculean task to get it through. Even though he knew it would be hotly contested and quickly burn up his election capital, the President pushed forth anyway. Rather than proceed with a safer agenda, Obama went for healthcare with full knowledge that by doing so he may have cost himself a second term in the White House. Not to mention the inclusion of traditional infrastructure work programs i.e. construction jobs for roads, bridges, etc., in his Jobs Act, which are long standing investments that the Republican Party has consistently enacted. (Except this time...) While some excited types like to suggest that our President has pursued a "radical, left-wing agenda," its difficult for me understand the sudden reversal on supporting long standing republican idea as anything but pure politics and obstructionism.

Mixed Feelings:  

Foreign Policy: I give the President high marks for reaching out to the Muslim world as he did early in his Administration. I also approve of a more deliberate way of working with Israel than we'd seen in the past. To be clear, there's no doubt through words and deeds, Mr. Obama believes in a strong alliance with Israel. His "chilly" relationship with their Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, doesn't bother me. On the big things, I see them on the same page. Regardless of how we feel about any ally of ours, American interests come first and if Mr. Obama serves to pull the Prime Minister in a less hawkish direction, frankly both countries may benefit long term. I disagreed with his decision to "surge" additional troops into Afghanistan, as its clear to me the "mission" is rife with problems and precious few solutions. Pakistan is another problem needing to be dealt with.

National Security: Obama deserves credit for his role in bringing Osama Bin Laden to justice. He deserves credit for saving American lives by an increased use of drone technology, a topic I'm conflicted on as I'll discuss shortly. Al Qaeda has been greatly damaged by this Administration's policies, yet still capable of inflicting damage. I'm concerned with the issue of the attack on our Consulate in Banghazi, which saw four Americans murdered. Given the timing of the event, on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on America, I'm curious why greater security measures weren't in effect. There's still much to understand about this tragedy, of course. Obama deserves high marks for his coalition building resulting in buckling sanctions on Iran. Its telling, however, how much the Obama foreign policy strategy resembles the Bush strategies. Another example of how this President has attempted to govern with a moderate hand.


National Defense Authorization Act: The list of reservations I have about re-electing Barack Obama President includes his signing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which I think potentially reduces our rights to due process and sets up indefinite detention with no burden of official charges being filed. While President Obama is on record stating that he will only use these expanded powers against those who would do us harm, I'm not comfortable with ANY President having powers such as these.

Questionable Appointees in the Treasury/Economic team: Also on the list of concerns is President Obama's choices for key leadership in our Treasury department, especially Tim Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury and Larry Summers, Director of the White House National Economic Council. Geithner had a prominent role in the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, which some felt contributed to the overall global financial crisis of 2008. Geithner also had some personal income tax issues, which brought negative publicity to the Obama Administration. Summers signed off on an investment while President of Harvard which resulted in a loss of roughly a billion dollars. A former hedge fund director, Summers has a history with several Wall Street firms and to then see him as a major player representing the Federal Government, let's just say more than one set of eyebrows were raised. It strikes me as odd that President Obama would tap two long time Wall Street insiders to work on Wall Street reform which wound up, not surprisingly, less than what we probably needed.

Social Issues: As the candidate of "hope and change" in 2008, Mr. Obama wasn't exactly leading the charge on many social reforms in his first few years. Gay rights, drug reform (medical marijuana use), immigration reform, gun control (not even a gesture to revisit an automatic weapons ban), campaign reform and immigration were all areas many expected him to flex his Presidential muscles on, which never transpired. True, he did finally get around to "coming out" for gay marriage, but it seemed more of a campaign device to ramp up his base as opposed to a pressing moral goal. In his defense, he did instruct his Justice Department to not pursue any Defense of Marriage cases, (DOMA,) which he deserves some credit for. This strategy of backing off most of these social issues had a demoralizing effect on the base, which may cost Mr. Obama a second term if we see turnout light on election day.

Drones: President Obama's use of drones overseas, especially in Pakistan, is also a concern. While the reduction of risk to the lives of American military personnel is highly desirable, too many innocent civilians have been injured or killed in the many attacks this Administration have ordered. Some reports suggest that upwards of 700 innocent injuries/casualties have happened through the use of drones. My concern is that to be dropping bombs on sovereign nations doesn't do much to improve foreign relations around the world and certainly not in the Middle East. Its a matter of time until Countries we don't like gain access to these weapons and begin to use them on us. I'll admit I'm torn on this issue. I like the reduced risk to our guys, but the collateral damage and deaths we're causing in countries we haven't received permission to drop them in I think is a real issue that we'll have to answer for one day.

The Environment: Despite his constant mentioning of a "green friendly" agenda, the President basically punted on any "Cap and Trade" legislation. I understand the politics of it and that it just didn't make the cut given his priorities, but we still expected something meaningful in this area.

Housing/Mortgage Relief: Federal programs intended to provide relief to distressed home owners have been poorly communicated, under-utilized, and mostly ineffective.

Poor Salesmanship/Communication: The last major reservation I have is related to President Obama's public defense of his administration's goals and legislative achievements. The President has been far too timid in defending his health care reform as well as other programs. We knew early on that the Republican party wanted no part in helping this President achieve a landmark piece of healthcare reform legislation. The push-back from the GOP, conservatives in general and the media, came fast and relentlessly. We waited for the White House to defend itself and its reform to no avail. What finally came whimpering out of the Oval office was a weak, wandering and unfocused rebuttal. Rather than use his political capital to educate and re-assure the American People on what the Affordable Care Act was and wasn't, the Obama team barely fought back at all and as a result, lost the messaging war. There were no billboards, television ads, radio ads, mailings, etc. until the damage had been done. The avalanche of criticism from the right on everything from "big government takeover of healthcare" to "death panels" tainted the entire effort. The lack of defense from Mr. Obama, I think, allowed the ridicule and hyperbole to grow unabated, which reflected poorly on the White House. The office of the Presidency deserved a heartier defense of the ACA. When you have a bully pulpit-you should use it assertively, not apologetically.


Barack Obama has not been everything we hoped he would be. He has been a steadying influence in some ways, a divisive figure in others. He has disappointed both Progressives for not being liberal enough, while at the same time, enraged a subset of Conservatives for being a radical, socialist leaning President. Both groups can bitch all they want, but America still maps out politically as a bell curve and most voters aren't members of either group. Healthcare insurance for everyone via a massive expansion of private insurers is probably the exact sweet spot in these times. Some will say he blew the advantages he held as he entered office by not pushing a more progressive agenda. Other will say he has been too radical. In the end, Barack Obama is a mostly moderate, slightly left leaning President. Which, given the times, seems to be the type of leader we can best utilize right now. If Mitt Romney had run as the moderate most consider him to really be, and perhaps selected another like-minded moderate such as Jon Huntsman, my decision would've been much, much harder. Since we didn't get that version of Romney, but rather the "severe conservative" model, there's no serious consideration for supporting the Romney/Ryan ticket.

In the end, President Obama isn't as great as many wanted him to be, nor remotely as evil/anti-American as others suggest he is. I want to see how Mr. Obama leads America for the next four years. In my opinion, he's the best choice for my family, my business and my Country.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Nate Silver's latest column suggests Ohio goes for Obama...

Nate Silver, author of the widely respected "538 blog," is one of the premier mathematical minds looking at political polling data and telling us what it all means. He doesn't conduct actual polls, but rather forecasts, based on a collection of polls.

With nine days to go until election day, we're clearly in the final stages of this cycle. The contest between President Obama and Mitt Romney is almost certainly going to be a pretty close one, although it appears the odds favor a second term for Mr. Obama. While several national polls seem favorable to Romney, a look at the more important state polls, especially a state like Ohio, paint a different picture.

538 shows Obama with a 2.4% lead over Romney in Ohio as of Friday's polls. Given the large number (about 12) of polls in that state over the past ten days, its a quite significant development for the race.

Read Silver's latest column here:

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Obama Haters Book Club: The Canon Swells - The Daily Beast

Great article by John Avlon from The Daily Beast...

"There have been twice as many Obama Derangement Syndrome books as specimens of Bush Derangement Syndrome. The cycle of incitement has gotten worse and more widespread because it’s been semi-legitimized. Some of the same folks who called BDS treasonous see ODS as part of a patriotic resistance. This is more insidious than simple hypocrisy."

Read the entire article here:

The Obama Haters Book Club: The Canon Swells - The Daily Beast:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

3rd Presidential Debate Thoughts...

The debates are over...

Let the debate begin...

Let's get this out of the way. I think President Obama won this debate by a pretty clear margin. He played offense most of the night, made no major gaffs and seemed, well, presidential. His opponent, Mitt Romney seemed awfully timid this evening and I suspect right wing talk show types will have their way with him on tomorrow's shows. Romney took a total pass on criticizing the President on Benghazi, which surprised me. The strategy must have been for team Romney to not attack the President on this issue for fear of looking opportunistic. Most of the rest of the evening was spent with Mr. Obama reminding Mr. Romney of his various positions he's had on a variety of foreign policy issues during the campaign. Mr. Romney spent much of the night agreeing with Mr. Obama on much of his foreign policy decisions.

Mostly, Romney would hear the President say something, Romney would say we need to do it differently, and then reword Obama's original answer into something of his own. It was odd, it was weird and I don't think Team Romney will benefit very much from this performance tonight.

The real question will be was tonight's debate a game changer. I don't think so. There were no fiery exchanges, no off the chain claims made by either man and nothing really new came out. It was sort of dull. So, while team Obama may feel great this evening, I'm not sure he ever landed the sort of punch he wanted to on Mr. Romney. This debate was, I think, the least-watched of the three presidential debates. There was Monday Night Football and game 7 of the NL Championship series. Lots of other options for people to consider.

The national polls are mostly tied, the state polls seem to still be pretty volatile. Two weeks to go until election day and I'm having a hard time someone undecided will walk into the voting stall and make up their mind based on anything either man said tonight.

Nice win for Team Obama, but I'm not sure what it does for them. I think Romney supporters feel like their guy didn't fight hard enough. Time will tell if that was a mistake or not.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Trailer for New Book: "Unaccountable" by Marty Makary, MD

Here's the trailer from a a new book that explores how Hospitals often fail us, transparency being a major issue.

Watch the trailer :

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Moving on....

Elections may make you want to scream...

There are sixteen short, precious days left until the world ends...

By about 10:45pm or so on Tuesday, November 6th, we'll know who our next President is going to be. Once the voting results begin to come in from the Eastern and Midwest states, we'll know if Barack Obama gets a second term or if Mitt Romney is going to be our new President.

Too many supporters of the President feel that if Mr. Romney defeats Mr. Obama, that our seniors will be stripped of their health care, corporations will run amok more than already do and the middle class will get slammed with a huge tax increase while the wealthy laugh all the way to the bank.

Too many supporters of Mitt Romney feel that if President Obama gets re-elected, that the United States of America will become the United Socialist States of America, that Christianity will be outlawed and China will call in our debt and all will be lost.

The good news is none of those things are likely to become true.

Despite what many Obama supporters think, Mr. Romney will not take away health care from our nation's seniors, although the next generation of seniors may see a very different form of Medicare. Corporations may see fewer regulations, but they're likely to see fewer regulations under either man. Same for middle class tax cuts. The Social Security Tax Cut is set to expire on December 31st and won't likely be renewed.

Despite what many Romney supporters think, President Obama will not turn this into a Socialist country, nor will he wage let alone win a war on religion. China will not call in its debt to us and last but not least all will certainly NOT be lost.

The hand-wringing, sky-is-falling, psychotic ranting from both sides has been pretty bad for a while, but these next sixteen days should see the "crazy" level shoot through the roof. Social media websites like Facebook and Twitter have clearly seen an uptick in intense, over-heated rhetoric from both sides. The Nazi references are up, which is never a good sign.

In many cases, its like people have in a way, begun to lose their minds. The silly stuff from the far right that the very essence of our Country is at risk if Obama is re-elected is powerful crazy. There are plenty of people...good, decent, hard-working types, who are ABSOLUTELY convinced Obama is out to destroy our way of life. Likewise, the notion that Romney is out to only help the rich folks at the cost of every thing else, is also wrong minded. Guess what? Both men are moderates. Neither man is a severe "anything."

The challenger is a man, like him or not,  who was able to work with a mostly Democratic State Congress in Massachusetts and pass Universal Health care in what was, at the time a landmark piece of legislation. While the nature of his work at Bain Capital seems unseemly, there's virtually no one making the case that Mitt Romney wasn't good at it. Nor is anyone making the case that he wasn't an effective leader with the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. He seems willing and able to morph himself into whatever he needs to given a particular set of circumstances. The demands of the Presidency, if he wins it, will be a huge step up from his previous stations, but shouldn't be entirely foreign. Tough decisions, conflicting factions of interest and impossible expectations. He is no ideologue, despite his primary season claim of being a "severe conservative." Other than Ambassador Jon Huntsman, Mitt Romney was the Republican candidate that if a Obama supporter had to see his guy go down, they'd most likely want to see take the job. Would you rather see Rick Santorum or Michelle Bachmann in the Oval Office? Jesus Christ, no...

You know what else Mitt Romney seems to be? Mitt Romney seems to be the kind of guy President Obama could've used in his first few years in office. I have to believe that the Governor would've provided a sense of direction during this administrations first 24 months. At times the messaging coming from the White House lacked a clarity and an order that a long time manager would naturally provide. My formal education is in Marketing and I'm hard pressed to recall a worse communication plan to the American people than the Obama team did with the Affordable Care Act. It was an inept, impotent, incompetent disaster that will likely be studied as "how NOT to" in Marketing programs for years to come.

I highly doubt Mr. Romney will take us down the path that George Bush did. His background isn't oil or defense contractors, its big business. I won't like many of the policies of a Romney White House, but if he reverts back to the administrator he was in Massachusetts, I'll be hopeful of some moderate governance. Romney may learn very quickly the sort of headaches Speaker Boehner has been afflicted with from the far right of the GOP, especially in the House of Representatives.

Should Mr. Obama win re-election, I suspect we will continue to see the daily doses of ignorant, racist slop that we've seen for much of the last three years. This man has been accused of everything from going on an apology tour, (which he didn't) ramming a Government takeover of health care, (mostly a massive giveaway to insurance and pharmaceutical companies) and sending the Muslim Brotherhood billion of dollars (the President doesn't send any money to anyone, Congress allocates those funds.) He is accused daily of being un-American, a Communist, a Socialist, a Marxist, a Muslim, a Kenyan, a radical, a liar, a drug user, a homosexual. etc. This level of vitriol is unprecedented in the history of the Presidency and in no way reflects very well on we as a people.

There is a faction of the far right-wing that has distinguished themselves during the last three years or so. The "anyone but Obama" crowd. People have a right to disagree with the President whenever they wish. What they don't have a right to is to mis-represent this President's policies, actions or intentions, especially in the mindless, intellectually dishonest way too many have. The vitriol aimed at the First Lady, Michelle Obama, has also been uncalled for. "Moochella" as some refer to her, has received insults and verbal attacks that I don't recall any other First Lady having to put up with. Again, we embarrass ourselves. After watching this disgusting display I'm left to some pretty unpleasant realities. While some take issues with the President actual policies, which is perfectly acceptable, others have taken a "everything this man and woman do is BAD for the Country and anti-American." Which is an asinine way to look at things. When presented with verifiable facts on various accomplishments by Mr. Obama, this small but noisy group ignores that information and slides over to the next talking point and begins to hammer on that one. Any group that refuses to consider the facts isn't one to be taken seriously. While difficult to prove outright, I believe that the Obama's race is a part of this irrational, paranoid behavior. Some are simply unable to accept that an African American has ascended to the highest office in the land.

A second term for President Obama likely features job bills, tax reform and immigration reform. He may get some cooperation from Congress on the first two items but probably not on the third. The demographics of the Country are changing and the Republican Party has no desire to speed up that process. A second term goes along way toward ensuring the Affordable Care Act continues to be implemented, a likely Supreme Court date for DOMA, and the ending of active combat troops in Afghanistan.

Regardless of the outcome, the United States will continue to be the United States. The sun will come up and go down. Husbands will kiss their wives, mothers will hug their kids, kids will go to school, people will worship in much the same exact way they did the previous four year, businesses will conduct business, babies will be born and older folks will die. The seasons will change. More than three hundred and eleven million Americans will go about their business regardless of who wins or who loses.

Every Presidential election is billed as "THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL TIME" and that is probably true. If you despise either man-you're probably being unfair to them. I strongly prefer Mr. Obama but should Mr. Romney win the election, then I'll move on, as we all will.

We always move on...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Tribune Endorsement: Too Many Mitts | The Salt Lake Tribune

The largest newspaper in Utah has endorsed President Barack Obama for a second term. I'm certainly no expert on Utah Media, but its telling to me that the State with the largest Mormon population prefers someone other than a fellow and accomplished Mormon. The paper had an early history of anti-mormonism but that was in the 1800's. Since then the paper has been sold at least twice and has moderated its viewpoints.

I'm trying to fathom how big a deal it would be if the Chicago Tribune came out against Mr.Obama. I think it would be a big deal.

Click on the link to read why the Tribune feels Obama deserves another four years:

Tribune Endorsement: Too Many Mitts | The Salt Lake Tribune:

Friday, October 19, 2012

FYI: Election Blogs and Prediction...

To those who have asked when will Reasonable Conversation will issue a prediction on the upcoming election, an update.

Sunday October 28th - I'll post my vote and an explanation on how I arrived at this decision.

Sunday November 4 - I'll post my prediction and my rationale behind it.

Its too early for either. We still have one debate to go, there's any number of story lines that could effect the outcome, plus there's an alleged "bombshell" that will be released next Monday before the final debate that could, I suppose, be a factor. I'll be watching the various State polls, especially in Ohio, Florida, Virginia, New Hampshire, and Nevada closely over the next 18 days as well as the aggregate websites like Nate Silver's 528 blog.

Right now, I see the national polls describing a virtual toss-up, with various state polls showing some volatility. In my opinion, it's better to be in Barack Obama's shoes than Mitt Romney's, but not by very much...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fact Checking the 2nd Presidential Debate/Ten Websites to Review...

After every Presidential debate, various fact-checkers get to work immediately to separate fact from fiction from both participants. Reasonable Conversation has compiled a list of ten different factchecks from around the internet to provide a convenient "one-stop" place for your perusal.

The good folks at were hot on the trail of truth after last night's second presidential debate between President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney. They've posted updated evaluations of claims made by both men on several different topics: Jobs, Energy, Taxes/Spending, Healthcare, Immigration, Foreign Policy and Education. Its a mixed bag of results showing that both men took liberties with the truth as they saw fit.

Not to be outdone, has also posted their version of fact checking last evening's debate, covering many of the same issues. Here's the overview from their piece posted earlier this morning:

The second Obama-Romney debate was heated, confrontational and full of claims that sometimes didn’t match the facts.
  • Obama challenged Romney to “get the transcript” when Romney questioned the president’s claim to have spoken of an “act of terror” the day after the slaying of four Americans in Libya. The president indeed referred to “acts of terror” that day, but then refrained from using such terms for weeks.
  • Obama claimed Romney once called Arizona’s “papers, please” immigration law a “model” for the nation. He didn’t. Romney said that of an earlier Arizona law requiring employers to check the immigration status of employees.
  • Obama falsely claimed Romney once referred to wind-power jobs as “imaginary.” Not true. Romney actually spoke of “an imaginary world” where “windmills and solar panels could power the economy.”
  • Romney said repeatedly he won’t cut taxes for the wealthy, a switch from his position during the GOP primaries, when he said the top 1 percent would be among those to benefit.
  • Romney said “a recent study has shown” that taxes “will” rise on the middle class by $4,000 as a result of federal debt increases since Obama took office. Not true. That’s just one possible way debt service could be financed.
  • Romney claimed 580,000 women have lost jobs under Obama. The true figure is closer to 93,000.
  • Romney claimed the automakers’ bankruptcy that Obama implemented was “precisely what I recommend.” Romney did favor a bankruptcy followed by federal loan guarantees, but not the direct federal aid that Obama insists was essential.
  • Romney said he would keep Pell Grants for low-income college students “growing.” That’s a change. Both Romney and his running mate, Ryan, have previously said they’d limit eligibility.
Both candidates repeated false or misleading claims they have made, and we have rebutted, many times before. Obama repeated his claim that he wouldn’t put tax rates for affluent families higher than they were under Bill Clinton. Actually, he’s already signed two new taxes that will also fall on those same high-income persons. And Romney accused Obama of saying “no” to the Keystone XL pipeline. Actually, no final decision has been made, and the company says it expects to win approval and start construction early next year.
Other publications providing factchecking of the debate include The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Washington Times, Fox News offers a factcheck on President Obama's claim he called the events in Libya "terrorism" in the days following the death of four Americans. The Chicago Tribune, CBS News, Bloomberg and Politico also weigh in.

2nd Presidential Debate Recap...

 Quite a different debate than the last one...

This evening President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney traded punches for ninety minutes at Hofstra University in the second Presidential debate. The passivity that the president displayed during the first debate was replaced with a willingness to engage and push back against the man who wants his job. While Mr. Obama was clearly a different man this evening, I don't think it equated to anything resembling a clear-cut victory.

Supporters of the President are likely to try and transform this evening's renewed vigor for the process into a victory and probable improvement in the polls, but I caution them to do so carefully. Mr. Romney had for the most part, another solid evening. There were a few times where he seemed to get a bit flustered but only mildly so. Romney was able to continually hit the President on the economy, to which Mr. Obama usually pivoted to some different angle or topic he preferred.

There will be some interesting fact checking on the President's remarks about his statements in the Rose Garden following the attacks in Libya and his charge that Romney stood in front of a coal plant and called it a killer. Likewise, Romney's comments on immigration, gun control and workplace inequalities. Look for write-ups on and

Good News/Bad News for President Obama: 

The good news is that President Obama woke up and performed much, much better than he did in the first debate earlier this month. It would be hard to say that he hurt his chances in any way this evening. This should give him some momentum heading into the final debate next Monday evening and throughout the last three weeks of the campaign.

The bad news for Obama is that it wasn't that clear of a victory tonight. A CBS snap poll showed Obama as the winner by about 7% over Romney. CNN gave it slightly to Obama, but within the margin of error. This will not produce any dramatic effect on the polls, which means the national polls may be mostly a dead-heat heading into the next debate.

Good News/Bad News for Governor Romney:

The good news for Mr. Romney is that he had another good showing. Its hard for me to see President doing much better than he did tonight, so you could say he's taken Obama's best shot and for the most part, stayed  on his feet. Any pre-debate notion that Romney was out of his league in terms of debating Mr. Obama have been proven baseless.

The bad news for Romney is that Obama is back. Given the fairly small path that exists for him to reach 270 electoral votes. He still needs to swing a group of battleground states into his column and that's still a heavy lift, especially in Ohio, Virginia, Florida, etc.

Bottom line?

A big sigh from the Obama campaign on his renewed intensity, but in the end, tonight's debate was a slight win for Obama or, perhaps a draw. Given that, who won?

It depends, I guess...

The debate was a slight win for the President, the polls are very close nationally and the path for victory is far easier for Mr. Obama than it is for Mr. Romney. The next debate will be on foreign policy which, a few weeks ago would've been considered a slam dunk for the President. Given Libya's ongoing situation, Mr. Obama will need to be on his game next Monday night.

Interesting, huh?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Let's Go To The Eye Doctors...

This morning I attempted to schedule an appointment with a local ophthalmologist. Granted, I've not seen my optometrist since 2006, and plan to do so later the Fall. A recent conversation with a friend who works in the field near Washington DC convinced me a more extensive exam wouldn't hurt.

Apparently the system isn't set up for cases like mine.

My first call was to my Optometrist for a referral to an eye doctor. The perky young lady, "Natalie" seemed confused why I didn't want to come in for their exam. I explained at my age I like to have a more in-depth examination of my eyes, especially since its probably been twenty years or more since I had an actual doctor examine me. She asked if I needed new glasses. I said "probably" and once I get this exam out of the way, I planned on scheduling an appointment with their practice to address my glasses. Natalie asked me if I was sick or had been having problems seeing. I told her no more than usual. She then put me on hold, returning shortly to ask if I was displeased with their service? I told her of course not, that's why we've brought our family to this practice for almost twenty years. I asked about the referral and she said she was sorry, she couldn't give me one. I was to schedule an appointment with them and of their doctor found an issue, then they'd refer me to an actual eye doctor.

I thanked Natalie for her time and decided to find an ophthalmologist on my own.

I then did a google search for ophthalmologists in my area and found a few, including a pretty big place I've driven by several times. Their building is impressive, so I called them. "Cindy" greeted me warmly and listened as I explained what I was looking for.

The level of flummox I apparently caused Cindy was unexpected by yours truly. First, she said they don't write prescriptions. I told her that's fine because I don't need them to. She asked if I was a diabetic or had any previously diagnosed vision disorders or diseases. I said,  "no, none of that applies to me." I then mentioned that I have VSP Vision Coverage to which Cindy replied, "Sir-we don't take insurance, we're strictly medical."

Now I was flummoxed. A healthcare practice that doesn't take any insurance? Surely this wasn't a clinic. I then asked her is everything straight out of pocket? She replied "yes." She then asked me if I was interested in Lasik, to which I said, "No, I just want a basic eye exam from an ophthalmologist."

She put me on hold.

When she came back, she asked me why I had called them. We went through that one more time. I then said, "Look, I have United Healthcare as our major medical provider, do you accept that coverage?"

Cindy said, "Well, yes we do-why didn't you say that?"

Now we were getting somewhere.

I then asked what might my co-pay be and so on. Cindy then explained that she had no way of knowing, that I should call my insurance company and ask them. That sounded reasonable to me, so I thanked her for her time and said I'd be back to her.

Ten minutes later I'd finished with UHC and now armed with the details of my coverage (which apparently is crazy good stuff) I called back the ophthalmologist's office to provide them some details and schedule an exam.

Cindy did not answer the phone.

Maryann did.

I had to go through this whole ordeal once more.

The good news is that I'll see an ophthalmologist in a few weeks.

Good grief...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Possibly Fatal Mistake -

(NOTE: New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof writes about his longtime friend "Scott" who despite having the means and the knowledge of what risks not obtaining health insurance could bring, failed to get himself coverage. The article begs the question, if "Scott" didn't care enough about himself to get health insurance, why should we care? True, it would be an awfully unfeeling and unforgiving America to call home if we decide Scott isn't our problem. He admits he made a mistake-a huge one. How forgiving should America be in this case?)

A POSSIBLY FATAL Nicholas Kristof, NYT...

MY wife and I attended my 30-year college reunion a couple of weekends ago, but the partying was bittersweet. My freshman roommate, Scott Androes, was in a Seattle hospital bed, a victim in part of a broken health care system. Strip away the sound and fury of campaign ads and rival spinmeisters, and what’s at stake in this presidential election is, in part, lives like Scott’s.

On the Ground

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Damon Winter/The New York Times
Nicholas D. Kristof
Scott and I were both Oregon farm boys, friends through the Future Farmers of America, when Harvard sent us thick envelopes. We were exhilarated but nervous, for neither of us had ever actually visited Harvard, and we asked to room together for moral support among all those city slickers.
We were the country bumpkins of Harvard Yard. Yet if we amused our classmates more than we intended, we had our private jokes as well. We let slip (falsely) that we kept deer rifles under our beds and smiled as our friends gave them a wide berth.
Scott was there when I limped back from the Worst Date in History (quite regularly), and he and I together worked our way onto the Crimson, the student newspaper. He had an omnivorous mind: Scott may be the only champion judge of dairy cattle who enjoyed quoting Thomas Macaulay, the 19th-century British historian. Scott topped off his erudition with a crackling wit to deflate pretentiousness (which, at Harvard, kept him busy).
By nature, Scott was even-keeled, prudent and cautious, and he always looked like the mild-mannered financial consultant that he became. He never lost his temper, never drove too fast, never got drunk, never smoked marijuana.
Well, not that I remember. I don’t want to discredit his youth.
(Click on the link below to reads the full article...)

A Possibly Fatal Mistake -

Friday, October 12, 2012

Vice Presidential Debate Recap...

Tonight's debate between  Vice President Joe Biden and Republican nominee Paul Ryan was clearly superior to last week's round one match-up between Messrs. Obama and Romney. The ninety minute seated discussion ranged across a variety of issues including Libya, Iran the economy, taxes, and foreign policy. The event was moderated by veteran reporter, Martha Raddatz, who I thought was very good.

First of all, I should announce that we actually had two people on stage that seemed interested in making their cases to the American people. Joe Biden was clearly locked and loaded and came out of the gate hard, as expected. Paul Ryan was composed, focused and similarly had a lot to say. From an optics perspective, however, Mr. Biden dominated the debate. That's not to say he won the debate, though I do think it was a slight but clear win for the VP.

I felt Biden was more direct with his answers than Ryan was through most of the evening. That said the VP dodged the opening question of the evening about the security issues in Banghazi two weeks ago, opting instead to detail a broader/safer themed response about this Administration pledging to hold those responsible for these attacks and that via an in-house review, whatever mistakes were made, will not be repeated. Ryan also chose not to answer direct questions about the Romney tax plan by (still) not providing any details about what loopholes would be cut, instead preferring to comment on the value of "bi-partisanship," which I thought was pretty brassy.

Demeanor wise, Mr. Ryan was very appropriate, professional and reasonable with his physical self. Mr. Biden was, at times, too animated. The VP laughed and chuckled a lot during the Ryan responses and after a few moments it became uncomfortable and a bit distracting. Was Biden laughing at the younger man? Trying to portray some opinion of his opponents comments? Something else? Whatever the case, he took it too far and will receive some heat for his conduct. Which on one hand I understand, yet for the Republican party, which hasn't exactly behaved like choir boys during President Obama's first term, to cry foul, is pathetic.

Stylistically, to my eyes, Mr. Biden seemed more confident, quick and Presidential. Mr. Ryan certainly didn't embarrass himself and this experience will likely serve as a warm-up act for 2016. I think both men are nice guys, both perhaps warmer and more genuine than the upper halves of their respective tickets. I would've like to seen less chortling from Biden and more details from Ryan.

Biden's job tonight was to steady the ship for his boss, which I'd say he clearly did. Ryan's job was to not say anything severely stupid, which I'd say he also did. Debates between Vice Presidential candidates don't usually make that much of an impact on the election. Remember when Democratic VP nominee Lloyd Bentsen bitch-slapped Dan Quayle with the "you're no Jack Kennedy" line? Bentsen's boss, Mike Dukakis got crushed by George Bush, Sr.

Twitter reported far fewer tweets during this debate than in the presidential debate from last week. Last week, twitter says that 10.3 Million tweets went out during the Obama/Romney debate, versus just 3.5 million for tonight's debate.

Bottom line, Biden comes out ahead because of a high quality set of answers. Ryan didn't really hurt himself or his ticket-mate. I think the polls will begin to reverse back in Mister Obama's direction by the time of the next presidential debate, next Tuesday.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mitt Romney Can Absolutely Win...

Prior to last week's first Presidential Debate between incumbent Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, it seemed that this race was drawing to a close. President Obama had enjoyed success in portraying Romney as an out of touch money-man who would drag the country back to the same failed policies that in large part, were responsible for where we find ourselves today. Despite a mediocre, weak economic recovery and unemployment numbers still above 8%, Mr. Obama had a fairly substantial lead that for many of his supporters, seemed almost too good to be true. Turns out it was exactly too good to be true.

Mitt Romney, on the other hand, had experienced a few rough months. A clumsy looking visit to England during the Olympics caused many to wonder aloud about Romney's ability to represent America across the pond. While a small thing overall, there was bad press. Then came a pleasant Republican Convention, which failed to produce the vaunted "bump" in the polls the Party so badly wanted. All of which was nothing compared to the firestorm that erupted after the release of the infamous secret video of Romney commenting on the "47%." That took Romney off message for the better part of two weeks, during which time President Obama built his most commanding lead yet. Worse yet, Romney seemed to be losing ground in many of the battleground states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, which are key to any chance he has to win the White House in November. Everything was looking bad. But things were about to get better.

The first Presidential debate was widely predicted to see Romney, with nothing to lose, swinging for the fences, while Obama would likely play defense at least some of the night. There was belief that Romney was vulnerable on the details of his tax plan and that Obama would almost certainly explore that, while also forcing the challenger to explain his 47% comment and perhaps also explain his role at Bain Capital. Both men had a "hit list" of things to go after, which should have made for riveting television.

By now, we all know how the debate went for both men. For President Obama, it was a head-scratcher, to say the least. He never showed any willingness to attack the 47% comments, Bain Capital was never even mentioned. Nor did he seem very interested in attacking Romney's sudden but predictable, move to the center. For candidate Romney, it was the performance of a lifetime. While seemingly re-inventing himself in front of the American people, Romney looked prepared, composed and one step ahead of the President most of the evening. Polls in the days after the debate have rewarded the challenger handsomely for his performance. For many Americans that night, Mitt Romney may have closed the sale.

Any talk of the race being over have been dismissed. Polls are tightening across the country and most importantly in the battleground states, where this election will be decided. Its still probably better to be in Obama's shoes than Romney's, but the notion that Romney was fading away has been proven to be wrong. Romney's execution in the debate is paying huge dividends to his campaign. We hear talk of a different strategy from the Obama campaign for the next meet-ups, but I'm not sure anything can unwind the effect of the first one. A repeat of the fiasco last week would do major harm to his re-election chances.

The unemployment numbers falling below 8.0% last Friday were a good thing for the President. Plus, he seemed to rebound very quickly and seemed his old self in campaign appearances last Friday and through the weekend. President Obama must do better in the next two debates. I think if he succeeds and nothing unknown crashes down upon him, he will likely win re-election by a close margin. If the headlines after the next debate and/or the final one favor Romney, then it seems we'll be in for a too close to call election night.

Too many on the left were declaring success a few weeks ago and belittling Mr. Romney's ability to take down the President. What they in many cases under-estimated was Romney's salesmanship. As Romney recreates himself, even if in image or perception only, it seems to be working. Certainly working better than any prior approach. Its almost as if the far right of the party finally said, "it's ok, Mitt...go move to the center and win us the election."

Which is exactly what Mr. Romney just might do.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Answer This: Nate Silver - Patrick Gavin -

Short but informative Q&A with Nate Silver, author of the 538 Blog of the New York Times...

Answer This: Nate Silver - Patrick Gavin -

Dr. Barbara Bellar - Trading Integrity for Votes?

Dr. Barbara Bellar is a candidate for State Senate in Illinois's 18th District. She is a long time physician who also has military service, teaching experience and is also a licensed attorney in Illinois. She was also a Benedictine Nun for five years. She seems to be a serious person claiming to be a serious candidate for public office in the land of Lincoln.

Recently, Mrs. Bellar has been the focus of national media attention, especially Fox News, mostly due to a video of some remarks she made about Obamacare at a rally for Illinois Women for Romney/Ryan. (She was on Greta Van Susteren's show last night and will appear on Lou Dobbs show tonight.) Her remarks build off of one particular sentence that sort of gets the ball rolling in her speech:

We’re going to be gifted with a healthcare plan we are forced to purchase, and fined if we don’t, which purportedly covers at least 10 million more people, without adding a single new doctor, but provides for 16,000 new IRS agents, written by a committee whose chairman says he doesn’t understand it, passed by a congress that didn’t read it but exempted themselves from it, and signed by a president who smokes, with funding same sentence – with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn’t pay his taxes, for which we will be taxed for four years before any benefits take effect, by a government which has already bankrupted social security and medicare, all to be overseen by a surgeon general who is obese and (laughing & applause) and financed by a country that’s broke. 

Dr. Barbara Bellar-Candidate for Illinois State Senate

Where to begin?

The fact checkers are having a field day with Dr. Bellar, as almost everything in that sentence is factually incorrect.

Let's break down that sentence and see how it holds up...

"We’re going to be gifted with a healthcare plan we are forced to purchase, and fined if we don’t,..."

Wrong - If you have health insurance, you are not forced by the ACA to change plans. If you don't have insurance and can afford it, you will be expected to purchase it. The "fines" she speaks of are pooled into a fund that will help pay for uninsured people who require healthcare, which the public winds up paying for.

"which purportedly covers at least 10 million more people..."

Wrong - The ACA is expected to help 30 million, not ten million, acquire health insurance, many of whom are currently accessing their healthcare through the most expensive of ways, the emergency room. 

"without adding a single new doctor,"

Wrong - According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 15,000 new doctors should be in place by 2015. 

"provides for 16,000 new IRS agents...,"

Wrong - According to the, this is considered "wildly inaccurate." Its assumes every penny of money allocated to the IRS would be spent on new employees and every single one of them would be an "agent." 

Read more fact-checking of Bellar's remarks here...

Watch Dr. Bellar's comments in full:


What troubles me greatly about Mrs. Bellar's comments is the blatent and bold-faced mis-information she puts forth as truth. She does so, obviously in an attempt to position herself as the credible, conservative candidate who will make life better for those in her State. Her disregard for factual information, given her position in our society, I find offensive and self-serving. She's apparently sold her soul in an attempt to attain public office. She brings shame to her profession and her career.

From her website's homepage:

This is the kind of person we need to turn Illinois around. 
This is the kind of person who will truly represent her constituents.
This is the kind of person of integrity and character that Illinois needs. 

The last line says it all. 


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fact Checking the Presidential Debate -

Comprehensive fact-check of last night's debate from National Journal. Plenty of issues with both participants answers: 

The first presidential debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney on Wednesday night in Denver covered topics ranging from taxes to health care to job creation. Here is a look at some of their statements and how firmly they are grounded in fact.

Romney on health care spending:

Romney claimed that middle-income Americans are spending $2,500 more for health care now than they did when Obama took office in 2008. While Americans are spending more for their insurance and overall health spending since 2008, the difference is closer to $1,000, not $2,500. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average employee purchasing family health insurance in 2012 paid $4,316 for insurance, just under $1,000 more than what they paid for insurance in 2008. Total per capita health expenditures had about the same $1,000 spread between 2008 and 2012, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In 2008, CMS found Americans spent $7,910 per capita on health care; in 2012, they are estimated to spend $8,952."

Read the full article: Fact Checking the Presidential Debate -

The Night Belongs to Mitt Romney...

There is no question who had the better night in Denver this evening in the first Presidential debate between incumbent Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney.

The former Governor of Massachusetts won with a surprisingly adept, competent performance.

Romney came out of the gate strong and was able to challenge President Obama's polices, many of which he considers failed, without appearing nasty or mean. Romney succeeded in presenting himself as a "credible alternative" to viewers, while President Obama seemed rusty, to say the least. The Republican nominee maintained strong eye contact with his opponent while looking confident. His answers were, on the surface at least, concise, orderly and straight-forward. Mr. Romney committed no discernable gaffes and all in all thrilled his supporters by exceeding expectations.

President Obama on the other hand, did not seem to have a very good night. The President's answers were long-winded, rambling, meandering and lacked emotion. Perhaps "professorial" almost. Rarely did the President look at his opponent during his responses. Whereas Romney seemed to be the aggressor from the get-go, the President was on the defensive most of the night. There was no full-throated defense of the stimulus, his jobs created, he failed to make the case for bail-out of the auto-industry, never brought up Bain Capital, Romney's "47%" comments. etc. Obama was not on his game tonight and it showed.

Substance wise however, there may be some fall-out for the Romney team as the candidate seemed to still be unwilling to provide much in the way of details. I suspect the media will press him even harder to explain his sudden move to the middle we witnessed tonight. Romney's claims on his tax plans, education and health care all seem to be changing before our eyes and will have to be defended.

What the night didn't produce was a very memorable response or smack-down. Some little digs here and there, but nothing major that I think will actually sway an undecided voter.

One thing of note was each man's faithfull-ness to their established narratives about the other. President Obama has been making the case that Mitt Romney is an out of touch, secretive elitist who will take this Country backwards. For whatever reason, Mr. Obama did not utilize these themes, whereas Mr. Romney who has maintained Barack Obama's policies have failed and he needs to be replaced, DID stay on those themes.

Mitt Romney earned the win this evening. He bloodied the President's nose. But make no mistake, he did not  knock the President out, nor did he even knock him down. There are two more rounds to go in this debate season. History tells us these debates rarely effect the outcome of the election. If Mitt Romney has two more nights like tonight, he will likely be rewarded in the polls. Donations, which had been reported to be declining for Mr. Romney, will probably reverse course and improve in the short run. Its too early to tell if this will effect the election. Maybe it will, maybe it won't. But make no mistake-tonight belongs to Mitt Romney.