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Archive for August, 2009

Saturday morning, the Central Minnesota Conservative Coalition held its first issues forum at the St. Cloud Library. Though the event wasn’t hugely publicized, 46 people showed up for the forum despite it being held on a gorgeous August morning.

The panelists included Rep. Steve Gottwalt, Dave Borgert, the director of government and community relations for the St. Cloud Hospital and CentraCare clinics, Dr. John Davis & Dr. Shawn Preisler. Dr. Davis and Dr. Preisler are partners in the Family First Chiropractic Clinic. King Banaian was the moderator for the event. The event was held to highlight the conservative approach to health care reform.

One of the things that popped out at me the most is when Dr. Davis said that there aren’t many health insurance policies that cover chiropractic medicine or lasik surgeries. He then noted that inflation rates for chiropractic treatments and lasik surgeries are miniscule compared with inflation for insured medical procedures.

Rep. Gottwalt said that his employer, Coborns, Inc., is one of many employers statewide that are taking a proactive approach to lowering health care premiums by actively promoting wellness programs. Rep. Gottwalt said that companies are taking a more active role in private health insurance reform because it’s in their best interest.

Mssrs. Gottwalt and Borgert said that reform legislation that didn’t include tort reform wasn’t reform. They agreed that the reason litigation drives health care costs up is because doctors “who are 99.95 percent sure” they’ve diagnosed the problem order tests to protect themselves from lawsuits. It makes sense that each time a test is run to protect doctors instead of diagnosing an illness drives costs up.

The panelists agreed that rationing of care already exists. Their fear was that health care might get rationed in the future for political, not medical, reasons. When Medicare sets their standards, it establishes how others do things.

Finally, Rep. Gottwalt said that he was working with Rep. Tom Huntley on legislation that would eliminate many of the mandates but would instead establish a minimum level of coverages. The goal is to establish a solid minimum policy that’s affordable but that would allow people to buy more expensive policies if they’d like.

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If there’s an inescapable truth about Harry Reid, it’s that it’s common for him to speak with a forked tongue. Thanks to Sherman Frederick’s column, we now have proof of Reid’s duplicitousness:

On Wednesday, before he addressed a Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Reid joined the chamber’s board members for a meet-’n’-greet and a photo. One of the last in line was the Review-Journal’s director of advertising, Bob Brown, a hard-working Nevadan who toils every day on behalf of advertisers. He has nothing to do with news coverage or the opinion pages of the Review-Journal.

Yet, as Bob shook hands with our senior U.S. senator in what should have been nothing but a gracious business setting, Reid said: “I hope you go out of business.”

Later, in his public speech, Reid said he wanted to let everyone know that he wants the Review-Journal to continue selling advertising because the Las Vegas Sun is delivered inside the Review-Journal.

Reid’s bitterness implies that Reid’s temperament isn’t befitting a U.S. senator, much less the temperament of the leader of the Senate. Harry Reid must go. It’s imperative that he not be returned to Washington, DC. He isn’t a leader. He’s corrupt. Worst of all, his priorities aren’t Nevada’s priorities.

Reid is one of several long-serving Democrats afflicted with DC-itis. Other Democrats fitting that description are Christopher Dodd, Arlen Specter, John Murtha, John Conyers and David Obey.

But to fully capture the magnitude of Reid’s remark (and to stop him from doing the same thing to others) it must be called what it was, a full-on threat perpetrated by a bully who has forgotten that he was elected to office to protect Nevadans, not sound like he’s shaking them down.

No citizen should expect this kind of behavior from a U.S. senator. It is certainly not becoming of a man who is the majority leader in the U.S. Senate. And it absolutely is not what anyone would expect from a man who now asks Nevadans to send him back to the Senate for a fifth term.

Congratulations are in order to Sherman Frederick and the Las Vegas Journal-Review. They’re speaking out against a thug and a glass-jawed elitist. It’s time that more people and more newspapers started speaking out against DC’s elitists. After all, there are two inarguable facts on our side: 1. They work for us, not vice versa and 2) WE OUTNUMBER THEM!!!

A couple weeks ago, I was talking with a close friend about Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. I said that an important principle of Rules For Radicals was the bullying factor. I said then that the best thing that could happen to stop a bully in his tracks was to pop him first and give him a bloody nose.

The thing about bullies is that they’re full of bravado…until they meet a bigger bully. When you rock a bully, they’re usually disoriented. I think that’s what Sen. Reid is right now. He’s always been the biggest bully in Nevada. He’s never had people push back. He’s never had to have a Plan B in his playbook because his Plan A, bullying people, has ALWAYS worked.

Now the Las Vegas Journal-Review is pushing back. They’re the biggest bully because you can’t defeat someone who buys ink by the barrel.

For the sake of all who live and work in Nevada, we can’t let this bully behavior pass without calling out Sen. Reid. If he’ll try it with the Review-Journal, you can bet that he’s tried it with others. So today, we serve notice on Sen. Reid that this creepy tactic will not be tolerated.

Three cheers to Mr. Frederick. If more media outlets took this attitude, sales would skyrocket and trust would be rebuilt. It’s important that media outlets first build a rapport with their customers. It isn’t that important that they build a rapport with the people they cover.

When all the votes are counted that first Tuesday in November, 2010, Harry Reid will be a defeated soon-to-be ex-senator. That’s what happens when you try bullying the biggest bully in town. That’s what happens when you ignore the will of the people. Good riddance.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

After last season, rumors spread in New York that Brett Favre was a diva, an egomaniac. Running back Thomas Jones even told a NY radio station that Brett Favre didn’t meet the players’ expectations. I never took Jones’ statement, or other Favre-related rumors, seriously. Likewise, I didn’t take seriously the ESPN reports that serious divisions had already developed in the Vikings’ locker room.

What’s causing the rise of these gossip stories is the editors’ knowledge that anything Favre-related sells papers. It doesn’t have anything to do with whether it’s accurate or not.

What caused me to not trust the Favre-related stories is something that’s been a hallmark Twins tradition. Under TK, the Twins respected the game but they had fun every day. Bert Blyleven, Kent Hrbek and Kirby Puckett played the game the right way but they were world-class pranksters, too.

That’s what Brett Favre brings to the Vikings. There’s no question but that Favre is one of the fiercest competitors in sports history. There’s no questioning whether he’s been a prankster, too. This leads to an important question in deciphering whether Brett Favre is a diva, as the NY media has suggested: What player wouldn’t love playing with someone with Hall of Fame talent, a competitive nature and a funloving attitude?

Back in the day, everyone loved playing alongside Kirby Puckett. They saw in him the same things we see in Brett Favre.

Now it’s time to watch Mr. Favre settle in with his new team and to watch the victories to start piling up en masse.

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Starting the morning after Ted Kennedy’s death, Democrats have said that they should pass sweeping health care reform as a tribute to Sen. Kennedy. Thus far, that desperate attempt to revive Teddycare has failed. Sen. John Barrasso told ABCNews that Sen. Kennedy’s death hasn’t changed the dynamics for passing health care reform:

Today on ABCNews.com’s “Top Line,” Sen. John Barrasso, one of the Senate’s two medical doctors, called Kennedy’s death “a great loss,” but not something that has changed the political dynamics surrounding health care.

“It is a loss to the nation, but I will tell you, people are actually focused on what’s in the health care bill; that’s what’s turning out at all of these town hall meetings,” said Barrasso, R-Wyo.

“What I’m hearing all across the country is ‘kill the bill,’” he said. “So when Nancy Pelosi and others may say that this is a contrived…these are contrived events, she may be saying that just to try to lessen the effect of them. These are hard working American people who are turning out, have great concerns about what the government is trying to do in terms of health care and taking over health care. There is opposition very loudly spoken all across the country to this. And if people don’t realize that this is real, then I’d have to say Nancy Pelosi is absolutely out of touch with the rest of America.”

The Democrats have a compartmentalization problem. While Democrats want to use Sen. Kennedy’s death as an emotional catalyst to jumpstart the Democrats’ health care reform agenda, the American people have said with their actions that Sen. Kennedy’s death has nothing to do with the Democrats’ pending legislation. In other words, they’ve compartmentalized and moved on.

Here’s the Democrats’ real problem: Sen. Kennedy’s death didn’t remove the public option from H.R. 3200. Sen. Kennedy’s death didn’t eliminate Section 431(a) from H.R. 3200. Sen. Kennedy’s death didn’t eliminate the public’s perception that health care would be rationed. Sen. Kennedy’s death didn’t cause President Obama to walk back his Medicare cuts.

In short, Sen. Kennedy’s death is nothing more and nothing less than the passing of a legendary U.S. senator.

Unless the Democrats make sweeping changes to their health care reform bills, people will still reject the Democrats’ reform agenda. I’ve said repeatedly that the problem wasn’t the terms used in promoting the Democrats’ bills. It was that the Democrats’ bills just weren’t popular, especially with seniors.

“People are focused on the details of the bill,” Barrasso told us. “I held up the House bill at a town meeting in Wyoming, and somebody yelled, ‘burn it’ because they know what the details are, then held up the Senate bill, all of the loose leaf papers that are together in that and somebody else said, ‘Start a bonfire.’”

This is the typical response to the Democrats’ health care legislation. This response isn’t isolated. That’s why the Democrats’ health care legislation is doomed for failure. That’s why I’m convinced that Harry Reid doesn’t have the votes to pass health care reform. I don’t think he’s got the votes to pass it even with budget reconciliation.

If the Democrats’ only change to the health care bill is to attach Ted Kennedy’s name to it, they’re in for a tough fight. The American people know the difference between a cheap political ploy and substantive change that meets their needs.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

After reading this post from Declan McCullagh, I’m more convinced than ever that we should scrap the current health care legislation and start from scratch. Here’s what convinced me:

One of the problems with any proposed law that’s over 1,000 pages long and constantly changing is that much deviltry can lie in the details. Take the Democrats’ proposal to rewrite health care policy, better known as H.R. 3200 or by opponents as “Obamacare.”

Section 431(a) of the bill says that the IRS must divulge taxpayer identity information, including the filing status, the modified adjusted gross income, the number of dependents, and “other information as is prescribed by” regulation. That information will be provided to the new Health Choices Commissioner and state health programs and used to determine who qualifies for “affordability credits.”

Section 245(b)(2)(A) says the IRS must divulge tax return details, there’s no specified limit on what’s available or unavailable, to the Health Choices Commissioner. The purpose, again, is to verify “affordability credits.”

Section 1801(a) says that the Social Security Administration can obtain tax return data on anyone who may be eligible for a “low-income prescription drug subsidy” but has not applied for it.

Talk about Big Brother looking over your shoulder. Thinking that Chairman Waxman would knowingly write those provisions into the legislation is stunning and appalling. It’s also totally unacceptable. I can’t help but believe that the vast majority of people would find it repulsive and intrusive.

It’s time to pull the plug on H.R. 3200. This type of intrusion into our private life is unacceptable.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

This Saturday, the Central Minnesota Conservative Coalition will hold its first official event at the St. Cloud Public Library. King Banaian will moderate a health care forum from 9:00am-11:00am. Panelists will include Rep. Steve Gottwalt, Dr. John Davis & Dr. Shawn Preisler, partners at Family First Chiropractic and Dave Borgert, the Director of Government Affairs for CentraCare Clinic.

Seating is limited so make sure you get there early to get a good seat.

The participants were picked to give citizens an education from a wide variety of perspectives. Rest assured that there will be alot of lively discussion between panel members.

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According to this article, Thursday’s townhall event featuring Rep. Michele Bachmann and special guest Rep. Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), had several feisty confrontations.

Others were more confrontational. Ilya Gorodisher of May Township questioned some of Bachmann’s claims on health care, saying she was spreading misinformation.

“Why do you persist in stretching the truth to the point of lies?” he asked.

Bachmann responded by questioning President Barack Obama’s statement that the plan would not be a government takeover of health care. “Is there misinformation out there? Yes,” she said.

“Is it you? Are you twisting the words?” Gorodisher responded.

Ms. Gorodisher should read Betsy Markey’s statement about cutting Medicare before accusing Rep. Bachmann of spreading misinformation:

Markey has repeatedly said during the August congressional recess that Medicare spending needs to be reined in to help pay for reforming the broader health-care system.

“There’s going to be some people who are going to have to give up some things, honestly, for all of this to work,” Markey said at a Congress on Your Corner event at CSU. “But we have to do this because we’re Americans.”

President Obama has said repeatedly that health care won’t be rationed. Every time that Republicans have offered amendments that would forbid rationing of care, Democrats have defeated those amendments. Thanks to Rep. Markey’s statement, we now know why they’ve defeated those amendments. Though they’ve avoided say so until Rep. Markey’s townhall, Democrats have known that they’d need to impose draconian cuts to Medicare. (Yes, draconian fits since President Obama wants to cut Medicare by $500,000,000,000 while Medicare enrollment is expected to expand by 30 percent.)

One significant difference between Rep. Bachmann’s meetings and other townhall meetings is how she responded to her critics:

Bachmann, a Stillwater Republican, called the Democratic plan a “government takeover” and suggested that the vast majority of those the U.S. Census Bureau identifies as uninsured do not need government assistance. She thanked everyone for coming and speaking, even those who attacked her views. She was accompanied by Rep. Michael Burgess, a Republican from the suburbs of Dallas, Texas, who is a physician and a knowledgeable, reasonable foe of the Democratic plan.

Rep. Jim Moran threatened to throw people out for their rowdy behavior. He also demanded to see a man’s drivers license before letting him ask a question. Arlen Specter told dissenters that they could leave anytime. AARP walked out of a meeting at which seniors disagreed with them.

‘Radical’ Rep. Michele Bachmann? She thanked the people for their questions whether they questioned her beliefs or whether they agreed with her.

Rep. Bachmann didn’t get in dissenters’ faces because she understands that this issue, unlike other issues for the past fifteen years, is deeply personal. She’s the embodiment of a public servant, too.

‘Moderate’ hotheads like Sen. Specter and Rep. Moran could learn a lesson from a ‘radical’ like Michele Bachmann.

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For weeks, President Obama has been telling seniors that the $500,000,000,000 in Medicare cuts wouldn’t affect them. Yesterday, Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey of Colorado told a townhall audience that Medicare cuts will adversely affect seniors:

Some people, including Medicare recipients, will have to give up some current benefits to truly reform the nation’s health-care system, Rep. Betsy Markey told a gathering of constituents in Fort Collins on Wednesday.

Markey has repeatedly said during the August congressional recess that Medicare spending needs to be reined in to help pay for reforming the broader health-care system.

“There’s going to be some people who are going to have to give up some things, honestly, for all of this to work,” Markey said at a Congress on Your Corner event at CSU. “But we have to do this because we’re Americans.”

Meanwhile, Speaker Pelosi hadn’t heard that Rep. Markey had made that statement:

“Republican opponents of reform are coming out with one outrageous smear after the next, all aimed at derailing our progress. We must be able to counter their special interest-funded attacks and set the record straight,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to Democratic supporters.

“That’s why I have set a goal of raising $100,000 in grassroots donations before the August FEC fundraising deadline,” says Pelosi.

Don’t look now, Nancy, but one of your minions just validated one of the bits of ‘misinformation’ that you’re whining about. That’s before we start talking about what Ezekiel Emanuel has said on the subject of rationing:

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, health adviser to President Barack Obama, is under scrutiny. As a bioethicist, he has written extensively about who should get medical care, who should decide, and whose life is worth saving. Dr. Emanuel is part of a school of thought that redefines a physician’s duty, insisting that it includes working for the greater good of society instead of focusing only on a patient’s needs. Many physicians find that view dangerous, and most Americans are likely to agree.

That’s rich. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel thinks the Hippocratic Oath is old-fashioned and quaint. I wonder if senior citizens share that opinion. I wonder if parents of special needs children share that opinion. I’m betting that Dr. Emanuel’s opinion is shared by only a handful of people.

Betsy McCaughey has done some outstanding reporting of the health care. She’s got an outstanding op-ed in today’s WSJ. Here’s an important observation in her op-ed:

The health bills being pushed through Congress put important decisions in the hands of presidential appointees like Dr. Emanuel. They will decide what insurance plans cover, how much leeway your doctor will have, and what seniors get under Medicare. Dr. Emanuel, brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, has already been appointed to two key positions: health-policy adviser at the Office of Management and Budget and a member of the Federal Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research. He clearly will play a role guiding the White House’s health initiative.

Once a bureaucracy is created, it takes on a life of its own. Adding new regulations or changing old regulations doesn’t require new legislation, just a new directive from the agency’s director. The only thing capable of stopping such directives is legislation forbidding a specific action. Entrusting someone like Dr. Emanuel with such decisions is dangerous, especially his stated beliefs on the elderly.

That’s why it’s important that the current legislation gets defeated or scrapped. Anything less will kill seniors.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

The inevitable has happened: Democrats are using Ted Kennedy’s death as a rallying point to pass health care reform:

Democrats are hoping that the memory of Sen. Ted Kennedy will revive the Democratic Party’s flagging push for health care reform.

“You’ve heard of ‘win one for the Gipper’? There is going to be an atmosphere of ‘win one for Teddy,’” Ralph G. Neas, the CEO of the liberal National Coalition on Health Care, told ABC News.

This is proof that liberals can’t link. Why would liberals think that public opinion could be changed by renaming unpopular legislation after a polarizing politician? Let’s illustrate this this way: John Q. Public hears that Democrats introduce new health care legislation with the title of The Ted Kennedy Legacy Health Care Act.” They then read the bill and notice that the same unpopular provisions that’ve soured public opinion are still included in the legislation.

It isn’t likely that John Q. Public will say this:

“The legislation still leads to rationing. The legislation still leads to fewer choices for consumers. Let’s support this legislation because it’s named for Ted Kennedy.”

This is proof that the Democrats are frustrated that they can’t pass their signature issue. It’s proof that Democrats will use any news story to pass a failed policy. Finally, it’s proof that Democrats are desparate to pass health care. If they fail at passing robust health care ‘reform’, they’ll lose the midterm elections and cripple President Obama’s administration going forward.

It’s time that we buried Obamacare/Teddycare. It’s bad policy that’s being pushed by a polarizing president and that was pushed by a quarrelsome senator.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

This week, Howard Dean told a miniscule MSNBC audience that the GOP is shrinking. That’s because MSNBC only has tiny audiences. There’s only two conclusions you can draw if you take Rasmussen Reports’ weekly polling seriously: that either the polling isn’t reliable or Howard Dean is full of BS. Considering the fact that Scott Rasmussen has a sterling reputation as a pollster, I’m more apt to think that Howard Dean is full of BS.

This summer brought a significant shift in voter preferences in the Generic Congressional Ballot. As Republican Congressional candidates once again lead Democrats by a 43% to 38% margin this week, this is now the ninth straight ballot the GOP has held a modest advantage.

Over the past nine weeks, Republicans have held a two-to-five point advantage over Democrats every week. It is important to note, however, that the recent shift is not only because Republicans have been gaining support, but that Democrats have slipped in support. While support for Republican candidates ranged from 41% to 43%, support for Democrats ranged from 37% to 39%.

For the second straight week, the GOP’s margin in the Generic Ballot Question has been outside the poll’s margin of error. Of the last five weeks, the GOP’s advantage has been outside the margin of error, with the other six weeks being a single point from being outside the margin of error.

It simply isn’t credible to say that the GOP is shrinking when it’s opening up a sizable lead in the generic ballot question.

That leads me to this bigger point: Democrats are losing credibility because they’re telling whoppers at the townhalls. The Democrats’ activists aren’t helping with editorials like this:

In a recent letter, a writer wrote that if it wasn’t for Fox News, people would not know what is in the Health Reform Bill. Huh? Fox Noise gets their information from the right-wing of the Republican party, which has already said that they will not support health-care reform. They are not interested in helping the American people struggling with the high cost of insurance, only in trying to get back in power in 2010.

Simply put, FNC, especially on Greta’s show and Hannity’s show, are examining specific provisions of the various health care bills. Thanks in part to those shows, the American people think that they understand the health care bill better than their member of Congress:

Most voters think they understand the health care reform legislation proposed by President Obama better than Congress does, and about as well as the president himself.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 51% of voters rate their understanding of the health care plan as good or excellent. Only 21% say their understanding of it is poor. By contrast, just 22% say Congress has a good or excellent understanding of the plan. Thirty-five percent (35%) say Congress’ knowledge of the proposal is poor.

All of which refutes Gov. Dean’s stunningly arrogant statement that the GOP is contracting. That’s before we start talking about how independents aren’t supporting Democrats like they did last year.

The harsh reality is that Democratic strategists must be drinking Maalox by the bottle when they read Rasmussen’s polling. The American people aren’t just taking this as business as usual politics. They’re looking at things and realizing that we’re living in historic times. That’s why the Democrats’ enthusiasm gap has disappeared and why Republicans now enjoy a significant lead in the enthusiasm gap.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative