Monday, July 28, 2014

Four on the floor

The PiPress gave some space to the four Republicans who are in the primary to run against Mark Dayton. I haven't spent a lot of time on this race, mostly because I'm pretty sure that my opinion is of minimal importance to most people. I have my preferences, but I'd have no trouble supporting any of the four against Dayton, who generally makes William J. LePetomane, the addled governor played by Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles, look coherent.

The PiPress does a mostly fair job of profiling the four main candidates, including providing the obligatory attack lines from Carrie Lucking, Ken Martin, and the rest of the goon squad associated with the DFL and its ancillaries. In case you care, Scott Honour is Mitt Romney, Jeff Johnson is a Tea Party stooge, and Kurt Zellers is out of touch and was completely responsible for the shutdown in 2011. Marty Seifert apparently doesn't merit a swat from the apparat, at least that Bill Salisbury is allowed to share just yet.

For the sake of party unity, it would be easiest if Johnson, who won the endorsement at the GOP convention, ends up winning the primary. I suspect the party could get behind Zellers if he wins, but there's a lot of bad blood regarding Seifert, especially his graceless departure from the nominating process. Unless Honour surges, I don't see him making it, although he's going to be spending a lot of his own money in the next few weeks. What's been most striking about the campaign thus far is that the candidates have been mostly unwilling to attack one another.

One thing seems clear -- Dayton, for his part, is going to do his best to limit the opportunities to be seen on the same stage with the GOP primary winner. He's blowing off the Minnesota Public Radio debate at the State Fair and it remains to be seen whether he'll be willing to debate much after that. If you're Dayton, that's a smart move, because he can count on the local media not calling him out for avoiding discussions, while he'll have a lot of support from Alliance for a Better Minnesota, the dirt merchants who turned Tom Emmer into Emmanuel Goldstein in the last cycle. A similar fate awaits any of the four contenders; the key will be to counter-attack and not let ABM's narrative become the campaign narrative.

One thing worth mentioning -- in an ordinary year, you'd likely have a bunch of DFLers voting in the Republican primary to pick their preferred opponent for Dayton, but that won't necessarily happen in this cycle, because there's a contested primary on the DFL side. Our old pal Matt Entenza, who has burned many bridges in his career, is taking on Rebecca Otto for the state auditor job. The DFL doesn't want Entenza to win and has needed to expend a fair amount of effort to bolster Otto. DFL voters will need to stay involved in this primary, which limits the potential for mischief.

For now, let's take a poll:

Your preferred candidate for governor in the GOP primary is....
  
pollcode.com free polls 
You can vote for more than one candidate, but it's probably better to vote for just one. Share your rationale in the comments section, if you'd like.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Stirring Anthem

The wonders of Obamacare proceed apace:
Nancy Pippenger and Marcia Perez live thousands of miles apart but have the same complaint: Doctors who treated them last year won't take their insurance now, even though they haven't changed insurers.

"They said, 'We take the old plan, but not the new one,' " says Perez, an attorney in Palo Alto, Calif.

In Plymouth, Ind., Pippenger got similar news from her longtime orthopedic surgeon, so she shelled out $300 from her own pocket to see him.

Both women unwittingly enrolled in policies with limited networks of doctors and hospitals that provide little or no payment for care outside those networks. Such plans existed before the health law, but with its expansion of insurance, they are covering more people — and some are shrinking enrollees' options further than before. The policies' limitations have come as a surprise to some enrollees used to broader job-based coverage or to plans they held before the law took effect.

"It's totally different," said Pippenger, 57, whose new Anthem Blue Cross plan doesn't pay for any care outside its network, although the job-based Anthem plan she had last year did cover some of those costs. "Now I can't find a doctor."
So why is that?
Insurers say they are simply trying to provide low-cost plans in a challenging environment. The new federal health law doesn't let them reject enrollees with health problems or charge them more just because they are sick. So they are using the few tools left to them — contracting with smaller groups of hospitals and doctors willing to accept lower reimbursements; requiring referrals for specialty care; and limiting coverage outside those networks.
It's really a head-scratcher, that the people who ultimately have to pay the bills would try to find ways to cut costs. That never happens in any other sort of enterprise, right?

All the standard aphorisms apply -- you can't get something for nothing. There's no such thing as a free lunch. Something that can't go on, won't go on. Wonkery and Ivy League wizardry notwithstanding, it never made sense to assume that the people who brought you the post office and the Department of Motor Vehicles could somehow do a superior job of delivering health care.

Of course, to use yet another aphorism, there are some things that are so foolish that only an intellectual could believe them. Or, alternatively, it could be this (h/t Stacy McCain):


Meanwhile, Ms. Pippenger, you'll just have to deal with the doctor you can get, not the doctor you want. Change you can believe in.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Things I learn on the internet

Do you ever wonder about what the Westboro Baptist Church is doing? Me neither, but I can always find out by from Facebook. Bonus discovery -- I also get to find out what Panic at the Disco is doing these days.

Do you spend a lot of time thinking about what Michele Bachmann is doing? Me neither, but I can always find out by reading the ol' HuffPo. Bonus discovery -- apparently it's perfectly acceptable to make all manner of gay slurs in the HuffPo comments section. At least if the slurs refer to Bachmann's husband.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Oh, by the way

Just thought they'd mention it, apparently:
The United States said on Thursday that Russia was firing artillery across the border into Ukraine to target Ukrainian military positions in the conflict against pro-Russian separatists.

"We have new evidence that the Russians intend to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers to the separatist forces in Ukraine, and have evidence that Russia is firing artillery from within Russia to attack Ukrainian military positions," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

Harf, speaking at a regular media briefing, cited intelligence reports, but said she could give no more information of what the reports were based on.
While we're at it, just passing this along, too:
Islamic State, the al-Qaeda offshoot that seized large swathes of northern Iraq last month, has warned women in the city of Mosul to wear full-face veils or risk severe punishment.

The Sunni insurgents, who have declared a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria and have threatened to march on Baghdad, also listed guidelines on how veils and clothes should be worn, part of a campaign to violently impose their radical brand of Islam.

"The conditions imposed on her clothes and grooming was only to end the pretext of debauchery resulting from grooming and overdressing," said the Islamic State in a statement.

"This is not a restriction on her freedom but to prevent her from falling into humiliation and vulgarity or to be a theater for the eyes of those who are looking."
Theater for the eyes. That's not bad. Somehow, I also suspect that "overdressing" isn't the issue, either.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Open thread

Went to the Aquatennial Torchlight Parade last night and got back quite late, so my brain isn't working so well this morning. So let's have an open thread.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A clarification and a related observation

As we predicted yesterday, Tony Dungy had to issue a clarification in re Michael Sam:
The best players make the team, and everyone should get the opportunity to prove whether they’re good enough to play.  That’s my opinion as a coach.  But those were not the questions I was asked.

What I was asked about was my philosophy of drafting, a philosophy that was developed over the years, which was to minimize distractions for my teams.

I do not believe Michael’s sexual orientation will be a distraction to his teammates or his organization.

I do, however, believe that the media attention that comes with it will be a distraction.  Unfortunately we are all seeing this play out now, and I feel badly that my remarks played a role in the distraction.
More at the link. To his credit, Dungy's "clarification" isn't an apology, an important distinction. He had no reason to apologize. I do want to go back to one thing, though. Yesterday's post offered the following observation by Yahoo Sports writer Dan Wetzel:
This is Dungy not standing up for his own convictions.
Show of hands here -- does anyone believe that Dan Wetzel has any freaking idea what Dungy's convictions are? Or is this Wetzel projecting his own convictions onto Dungy? It's presumptuous as hell for Wetzel to tell Dungy what his convictions are. Perhaps the most pernicious thing about modern liberalism is the way that liberals attempt to control the terms of any debate. The least we can do for Tony Dungy is to let him speak for himself. We need to do a better job of calling out jackasses like Wetzel who deign to tell people what their convictions ought to be.

Don't bother

It's more exciting than a one man band
The saddest little show in all the land

-- "Sideshow," a 1974 hit for Blue Magic

Apparently we have our sideshow:
Though set to retire from the U.S. House after her term expires at the end of this year, Michele Bachmann may not be done with electoral politics.

The Minnesota congresswoman and 2012 Republican presidential candidate told RealClearPolitics on Tuesday that she is considering a second White House run. 
We haven't had a good Minnesota-based perennial candidate since Harold Stassen, so why not, right?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Look what you've Dungy

You are allowed to have certain opinions. Make sure you pick the right ones:
“I wouldn’t have taken him,’’ said former Bucs and Colts coach Tony Dungy, now an analyst for NBC. “Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it. 
“It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen."
 That quote has set off a firestorm. Here's a typical measured response, from Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports:
This is Dungy not standing up for his own convictions. It's Dungy using the same old buzzwords that caused society to move so slowly to grant equal rights and opportunities to minorities of all kinds, choosing what's easy over what's right (even if it likely will be easier for the generation of guys who actually play than an old man like Dungy realizes).

Integrated third grades weren't "smooth." A black man on the Dodgers caused "things to happen." The first female executives in the business world weren't welcome by all. Lots of people were aghast at the thought of minorities owning homes, especially in their neighborhood. Politicians that didn't look like the Founding Fathers were upsetting to some. Many bristled against the idea of blacks, Hispanics, Asians, women, gays, whatever on factory lines, boardrooms, school boards and on military front lines.

This isn't even worth arguing. Caving to the most ignorant and obstinate among us is an embarrassment and should never, ever, be the basis for anything. Ever.
You see, you're supposed to cave to Dan Wetzel. A few points:

  • Dungy is trying to explain how coaches think, especially NFL coaches. They want to keep the focus on the game itself.
  • Anyone who follows the local team understands full well how distractions can mess up a season. Remember the Love Boat? Up until that moment, Daunte Culpepper was considered a solid citizen and a leader of men. Not long after, he tore up his knee and he was out of the league entirely by 2009. 
  • Speaking of distractions, how much fun are the Vikings having now, dealing with their former punter? Our friend First Ringer has an excellent synopsis of that mess over at Shot in the Dark
Wetzel sees a more malign motive from Dungy:

Dungy is an outspoken conservative Christian and if he were to say that he wouldn't have drafted Michael Sam because the Bible that Dungy believes in condemns Sam's lifestyle that would be … well, that would be ridiculous, hypocritical and wrong also, but at least it would seemingly jibe with Dungy's sometimes expressed beliefs.

Sometimes being the operative word.
Dungy will get his mind right. There are plenty of people who will see to that.

Monday, July 21, 2014

What passes for thought on the Left these days

Much of what we see and read from the Left is self-congratulatory and dismissive of legitimate concerns. Often, it’s boiled down into bumper sticker-sized graphics that appear on social media. Consider this one:

Let's give every internet meme a non-sequitur

The border crisis is a crisis for many reasons; the largest reason isn’t that it’s some horrible alien horde or invasion, though. The real reason it's a crisis is much more simple than that. Each one of the people coming across the border are arriving because they have specific needs that must be addressed. And in a lot of cases, they are coming to a place that is going to have a hell of a lot of trouble addressing those needs.

We’re hearing reports that the recent arrivals are getting dumped off in places like Nebraska. Let's think about this for a moment. The majority of these folks are coming from Central America, specifically places like Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.

Let’s assume that some of the new Nebraskans are from Guatemala, perhaps hailing from the Quiche region, which is west of Guatemala City and near Lake Atitlan. I was in this region many years ago, as a high schol exchange student. I saw what it was like -- conditions there are pretty horrible and there's little question that the Guatemalan government, then and now, treated the Quiche Maya quite badly. There would be multiple reasons why children would go, or be sent, to el Norte. So, for the sake of argument, a 14-year-old girl from Quiche arrives. She might look something like this young lady:

Where am I going to go?

The girl in this picture was in Mexico, hoping to get north. Say she gets here and the feds send her to Nebraska, bound for Omaha or Scottsbluff, or some place else. What is her condition upon arrival?

  • She might have the clothes on her back, if that
  • She would not have much of any formal schooling
  • She would not speak English
  • She would not speak Spanish, either; instead, she would speak a Mayan dialect, most likely Kaqchikel
  • The chances of finding someone who could speak to her in her native language in Nebraska is even more remote than the village she comes from

Supposedly there are sponsors for this young woman. What if there aren't? If you are a social service official in Nebraska, how do you handle the case? Do you expect any help from the federal government? Would you get any? Or would you be on your own?

Suppose she stays, and you should assume she will stay, because there's not much chance she'll be sent back. She needs to go to school and would need to catch up to her peers. She's going to need education, health care, a place to live. For the sake of argument, we'll stipulate that she has a dream. Can she realize it if she's placed somewhere that doesn't have the resources? Can you just place her in an American high school and be done with it? This is going to happen to these children. It already is happening.

I am highly sympathetic to the plight of immigrants generally. I realize that the Know-Nothings didn't want my Bavarian ancestors coming over here in the 1850s, and that my Irish ancestors, who mostly came over a decade or more before that, were told that they need not apply. I am fortunate that I am a 4th/5th generation American, because I have never borne the brunt of prejudice as some of my ancestors did.

Still, it's important to ask if we have a plan for taking care of thousands of people who have nothing. And posting smart-ass internet memes isn't a plan.

The bench

With Hillary Clinton again looking less than inevitable, the Dems have to consider their bench for 2016. WaPo has a roundup that includes a familiar name:
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) will test her folksy politics next month in Iowa, home to the first-in-the-nation caucuses. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) is coming out this fall with a book, “Off the Sidelines,” that is part political memoir, part modern-feminist playbook and certain to generate presidential buzz. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo also is publishing a memoir this fall with a wink-wink title: “All Things Possible.”
Yes, that would be our Amy. Quickly -- tell me five things about Sen. Klobuchar's history and career that make her qualified to be president. Hell, tell me one.

Of course, the alternative might be this guy:

Ahh, yup
Meanwhile, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley seems to respond yes to every party speaking invitation that comes his way and is slated to address Democrats in Nebraska and Mississippi in coming weeks. He also endeared himself to liberals in recent days by breaking with President Obama on how to deal with an influx of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S. border.




Of course, we've got Biden out there, too. And if you really want a blast from the past, take the recommendation of the former commander of Monkey Business:
One Democrat who knows a thing or two about insurgent campaigns, former senator Gary Hart of Colorado, said he intends to huddle with California Gov. Jerry Brown at their upcoming Yale Law School reunion (Class of 1964) to chat about the possibility of Brown running for the White House.

“Don’t rule out my law school classmate,” said Hart, who ran unsuccessfully for president in 1984 and 1988. “If you pay attention to his career, you see that he does very unexpected things.”
It would be worth mentioning that Jerry Brown ran unsuccessfully for the presidency in 1976, 1980, and 1992, a Harold Stassen-like record of achievement, and with a similar success rate. In fact, every year that Brown ran, so did Stassen. I've been checking to see if William Jennings Bryan also ran in those same elections, which seems possible.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Horrible

The fate of those poor souls on Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17, and those below:
First came the loud explosion that made buildings rattle: then it started raining bodies.

One of the corpses fell through the rickety roof of Irina Tipunova's house in this sleepy village, just after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 exploded high over eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists are fighting government forces.

"There was a howling noise and everything started to rattle. Then objects started falling out of the sky," the 65-year-old pensioner said in front of her grey-brick home.

"And then I heard a roar and she landed in the kitchen, the roof was broken," she said, showing the gaping hole made by the body when it came through the ceiling of the kitchen in an extension to the house.
Meanwhile, the pro-Russian rebels that probably shot the plane out of the sky aren't letting the investigators find out much:
International monitors investigating the Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine said Friday the team was not given full access to the site and was greeted with hostility by armed men.

"There didn't seem to be anyone really in control," Michael Bociurkiw, spokesman for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe team, told CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

Armed men, apparently pro-Russia militants, loosely guarded the area but couldn't answer the monitors' questions, he said.
Oh, there's someone in control, all right. One hint: it isn't this guy.

Making the rounds

This old National Lampoon parody has been making the rounds lately:


It was a takeoff of ads like this, that Volkswagen ran at the time:


I remember Stanley Siegel from his days in Green Bay. He later went on to considerable success with WABC in New York.

By the way, it was 45 years ago when the Conscience of the Senate drove off the Chappaquiddick Bridge and left Mary Jo Kopechne to die.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Give the Drummer Some -- Bumped

Fearless Maria is now in high school(!) and is a member of the Irondale Marching Knights Band. She's a percussionist and is in the pit. It's a great opportunity for her, as Irondale historically has one of the best marching band programs in the state, with a national reputation as well. So we're delighted for her.

Of course, as anyone who's involved in youth activities well knows, if you are a parent you're usually on the hook for fundraising. So for the first time in the history of this feature, the blog becomes a "bleg."

Maria would love to sell you an Irondale Marching Knights Mega Raffle Calendar. Here's how it works --

* You pay $25 to enter. The ticket goes into the drawing and you get a borderline stylish calendar with information about the program.
* The Irondale Marching Knights pull a winning ticket every day, with prizes ranging from $30 - $250, with total prizes of $20,100 awarded throughout the year.
* If you win, they will mail the prize to you. You can also check the Irondale Bands website for daily winners.
* You have about a 1 in 8 chance of winning, which isn't too bad, actually.

If you're interested, drop me a line at my email address, which you can find by clicking the "Mr. D" profile on the sidebar, and I'll hook you up. Sales are available through September 29, with the first drawings starting on October 4.

Thanks for your kind attention.

Grammar Alert

Like most satirists, Weird Al Yankovic has been hit-or-miss over his long career. This latest song is genius, though:


Most entertaining grammar lesson outside of Schoolhouse Rock. I do wonder what Sister Renita would think about it, though....

Geography Lessons

Time was that immigration issues were essentially issues for border states. Not so much anymore:
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration has denied a request from federal authorities to temporarily house up to 2,000 illegal migrant children from Central America at the Southbury Training School.

The state Office of Policy and Management wrote in an email Monday that its concerns about the aging school’s condition, the sensitive nature of caring for the developmentally disabled clients already there, as well as several legal and procedural hurdles, prevent Connecticut from assisting.
Same thing in Maryland -- no room at the inn:
After his strong criticism of the Obama administration's plans to return thousands of young undocumented migrants back to Central America, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley asked a top White House official that the children not be sent to a site that was under consideration in his home state, sources familiar with the conversation said.

"He privately said 'please don't send these kids to Western Maryland,'" a Democratic source told CNN. The heated discussion between O'Malley and White House domestic policy adviser Cecilia Munoz occurred during a phone call late Friday evening, sources familiar with the conversation added.
Setting O'Malley's cynicism aside, at least he and Malloy were asked if they'd take people. In Nebraska, you don't get that courtesy:
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman believes federal authorities are conducting secret operations by sending immigrant children into states without the knowledge of state officials.

Heineman told Fox News he learned from Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., that 200 unaccompanied immigrant children were placed with relatives or sponsors in the state. Heineman says no federal officials notified them that would be happening.

“We want to know the names of those individuals, who their sponsor is. Is their sponsor legal? What communities did you send them to? Why are they conducting a secret operation, essentially, transporting them all over the country … and the federal government won’t tell us what’s going on.”
Murrieta is everywhere.