A Get-Out-The-Popcorn Moment

Yesterday Hot Air posted an article with the following headline, “Tempers explode, Democrat candidates balk over debate rules.” I guess it’s difficult when you have more than twenty candidates who want to president all vying for a place on the debate stage.

The article reports:

Montana Governor Steve Bullock is angry that he doesn’t qualify for a spot on the debate stage in the DNC’s first two debates scheduled for June and July. His late entry into the race has hampered his ability to qualify for either of the DNC’s requirements – receive 1% support in three polls from an approved list of pollsters and receive campaign donations from 65,000 unique donors, including 200 donors each from 20 states. That sounds simple enough, right? It should be noted that the candidates don’t have to meet both requirements to qualify to participate in the debate, just meeting one of them is enough. The qualifications will be raised higher to qualify for the third and fourth debates scheduled for September and October.

…Two other Democrats aren’t going to be on the debate stage. Rep. Seth Moulton and Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messam. Moulton sounds at peace with the fact that he’ll miss the debate while no one knows who Mayor Messam is, outside of his city. Messam entered the race in March and has been missing in action ever since.

…Washington Governor Jay Inslee is upset that his main focus, climate change, will not have its own debate. Wednesday Inslee blasted the DNC.

The article concludes:

The Democrat field is huge. None of them are going to be able to speak very much during the debates, at least until the herd is thinned. Whining about the very first and most basic qualifications seems petty. If a candidate can’t raise money and get himself enough publicity to be recognizable to the general public, how will that candidate possibly be able to win a general election? Pass the popcorn.

The Republicans went through a similar process in 2016, and Donald Trump was the winner. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top in the Democrat debates. Donald Trump was experienced in media and knew how to use the media to his advantage. I am not sure any of the Democrat candidates have that experience or knowledge.

Bad Day at Black Rock

Below is a guest post by Raynor James, an eastern North Carolina resident who has followed the debate on North Carolina House Bill 184 very closely:

Tuesday, April 3rd was a sad day in the North Carolina House of Representatives.

Let me tell you about it. Dale Folwell is North Carolina’s Treasurer. He’s a very popular fellow for all the right reasons. He did a good job when he served in the North Carolina General Assembly. He got North Carolina’s unemployment insurance out of debt to the Federal Government when he served in Governor McCrory’s administration, an accomplishment that continues to save North Carolina’s employers significant sums annually. He’s known as a problem solver.

North Carolina’s State Health Plan (which pays for medical expenses of current and retired state employees) is seriously underfunded and is projected to be bankrupt by the year 2023.When Dale Folwell was elected Treasurer, many who voted for him expected him to solve the Plan’s problems as its administration was in the Treasurer’s portfolio.

Enter HB-184 which if implemented will tie the Treasurer’s hands and not allow corrective action to be taken while a committee studies the situation.

HB-184 was debated on the floor of the House April 3rd. Let’s look in on how some conservative House members tried to kill the bill.

First, Representative Michael Speciale offered two amendments to the bill. Representative Speciale’s first amendment would give the Treasurer a vote on the study committee and would make it impossible to expand the size of the committee (something that is sometimes done when the “powers that be”don’t like the direction a committee seems to be taking).

That amendment passed by a vote of 106 to 5.

Representative Speciale’s second amendment would remove Section 2 from the bill. Section 2 requires that Blue Cross-Blue Shield continue to be used during the study period.

It also prevents the Treasurer from switching the Plan to using referenced based pricing for medical services to the Plan during the study period.That amendment failed by a vote of 88 to 23.

During debate on HB-184 itself, Representative Larry Pittman cited a memo from the Plan’s Board of Trustees that projects that the plan will be out of money in 2023, and said that we can’t wait on a two year study. He talked about how hospital groups were groaning about how burdensome the Treasurer’s planed payment changes would be on them [tie pricing of medical services to 172% of the average Medicare pays for the same service], and pointed out how well funded many hospitals are. In support of his assertion, Representative Pittman mentioned that the hospital at East Carolina has given $10 million dollars to fund a stadium.

Representative Pittman asked that members not pass the bill and added that when Treasurer Folwell had requested info from the hospital groups, they had sent him the schedules he asked for with page after page blacked out. “They might as well have slapped him in the face and spit on him,” Representative Pittman said.

He continued by saying passage of the bill would hurt both members of the Plan and taxpayers who pay the freight and pointed out that members of the Plan are also taxpayers, so they get hit two ways.

He stated that Dale Folwell is “competent” and “honest” and renewed his request by saying, “Defeat this bill.” Representative Michael Speciale said, “We’re told that if we don’t pass this bill, the sky will fall; we’ll lose our rural hospitals.” He went on to say that they’d heard the same thing when he was trying to get rid of the CON [Certificate of Need] laws [which did not pass] and shortly thereafter they closed one of the hospitals in my district.”

“I hear fake news ads” [on the topic of rural hospitals closing if HB-184 doesn’t pass] when I drive in my district.”

Representative Speciale went on to say that Dale Folwell got the people together who are opposing him [mainly large hospital groups] and asked how much waste, fraud, and abuse there is in the system. The answers they give him ran from 12% to 25%, so he took a middle number and asked them to figure out how they could reduce costs by 15% and said that they needed to get together again as soon as that was done.

After that meeting, Treasurer Folwell tried to set follow up meetings, and time after time he was stonewalled.

Representative Speciale continued, “Now we’re faced with $33 to $36 billion dollars in unfunded liabilities. If we don’t allow him to cut costs, how are we going to cut costs because it’ll be on us!”

“Dale Folwell has increased what would be going into rural hospitals. He’s compromised, but they won’t budge an inch.If we do not pass this bill, then the hospital lobby will sit down and talk to him. Let the state Treasurer do what he was elected to do. Throw the politics aside and vote NO!

Representative Keith Kidwell said, “For the last 10 years, health care costs have gone up and up. We asked Treasurer Folwell to handle it. Let’s not bobble him,or we’ll be faced with taking $235 million to $509 million [dollars] from the general fund to deal with the problem AND $1.1 billion will be added to the unfunded liability.”

“HB-184 will cost us a ton of money!” “Cut through partisanship and look at the numbers! We HAVE to block this bill!’

In spite of those eloquent pleas and others, too, HB-184 passed 75 to 36, and it will now be sent to the North Carolina Senate where it is hoped that wiser voices will prevail.

If you’d like to hear the whole debate, you can go to the NC General Assembly website at which NC House sessions are archived.

Thank you, Raynor. This is a picture of what is going on in the North Carolina state legislature. President Eisenhower warned about the military-industrial complex. What we see here is the result of intense lobbying by the healthcare-industrial complex. We need to stop this bill.

Even A Blind Squirrel Occasionally Finds An Acorn

Bill Maher is a very smart man. I totally disagree with his politics, but he is a very smart man. Townhall posted an article today about his comments on the Democrat Party’s decision not to allow Fox News to host any of their primary debates.

Mr. Maher made some very good points:

“Last week, the Democrats made a terrible decision when they announced that they had turned down Fox News’s offer to host one of their 2020 primary debates, saying that Fox was nothing more than propaganda. OK, so why not go on Fox News and tell them that?” Maher asked rhetorically.

“You wanna be in the big leagues, but you refuse to ever play an away game? You don’t like the questions that Fox News might ask, so you’re deciding not to take any questions at all? How very Trump of you,” Maher explained. Republicans never shy away from coming on this show, and they come with a smile on their face despite knowing that the only people in the crowd cheering them on are the three campaign aides they brought with them … The audience is against them and they don’t care — it’s an opportunity to expose people to your side of the story.”

Telling you side of the story to people who disagree with you helps you refine your side of the story.

The article concludes:

“It’s not just on [Maher’s] show that Republicans are willing to go on,” Co-host Rachel Campos-Duffy explained. “Most of the media is very liberal, and conservative Republican members of Congress are very accustomed to going on to CNN and MSNBC and ABC and taking tough questions, and yet the Democrats are afraid to do that.”

Maher is right. If the Democrats claim to be the “resistance” then they should be fearless. If they truly believe in what they’re saying then they should have absolutely no problem answering the tough questions Fox News has for them.

Conservatives have to continually talk to liberal news anchors and reporters because the majority of news outlets are liberal. If conservatives refused to talk to liberal outlets then they’d be construed as “cowards” who are hiding from the tough questions.

It’s 2019. Get it together, Dems. If your candidates are too afraid to answer questions they don’t like while they’re running for president, then they won’t be able to handle the weight of answering tough questions while president.

Get out the popcorn. Its going to be a very interesting year and a half.

An Amazing Story From A Middle School Teacher

The following was written by a friend of mine who teaches Middle School. My hope is that they are many more teachers like him and many more students like his students.

Sharing a Wonderful Experience

I know many of us grow weary and worried for the future of our great nation. This is often amplified when we look at our younger generations and the fruit of our educational system. It can certainly be food for depression. However, I would like to share a dose of superb sunshine and positive encouragement I recently received while working with two classes of middle-school students.

I was presenting material on folk literatureoral traditions. We were specifically studying fables. I had selected two pieces which create an opportunity for challenging and discussing some of the troubling modern thinking. The first selection was “The Grasshopper and the Ants.” The second was “The Scorpion and the Frog.”

The students were given the first passage to read for homework. In addition to reading the selection, the students were to answer one question, were the ants right in their response to the grasshopper? They were to write three brief paragraphs which would include their answer and support for their answer. On the following day, I asked the students to get into one of two groups – those who thought the ants were wrong, and those who thought the ants were right. We then proceeded to have a structured debate with opening comments, rebuttal statements, a period for questions and answers, and closing statements. It was an absolute joy to see the majority, about 4/5, of my students supporting the ants. Through the course of the debate/discussion, my students further impressed me with their passionate arguments supporting the rights of the producer/worker to reap the rewards of his labor. When presented with the counter argument that the ants should have at least been a little helpful to the starving grasshopper, a few students promptly set the record straight by arguing that the ants had tried to help by warning the grasshopper and encouraging him to do some work in preparation for the coming winter. When asked if it would be right for some outside force, The Grasshopper Protection Society of the Universe, to pressure/force the ants to give a portion of their goods to the grasshopper, my students responded with a resounding no. They did acknowledge that the ants could choose, on their own, to give some of their goods away, but the choice belonged to the ants. Even when applying to real-life situations – one of which was the sharing of academic success with under-achieving students – my students argued that those who worked for successful outcomes should benefit from their work and choose how to help others. They submitted that if others wanted to be successful they need to work for that success.

A real encouragement came when similar results occurred in my second class.

The second fable, given for the next day’s assignment, dealt more with the influence of our nature – i.e. the scorpion stings and kills the frog saying he had to because that is what scorpions do. The question for my students was, did the scorpion have to do what he did. Again, we had a group discussion – not a debate, but a sort of panel with a randomly selected student to represent the frog and another to represent the scorpion. At the conclusion of this discussion, I presented the students with a final question, what is stronger and more important – your nature or your power of choice? My students warmed my heart with a unanimous outcry that our choices are the most powerful.

Again, similar outcomes for both classes.

While this year has been a good year already, these two days were extraordinary! Our country will be great if these young people have anything to do with it. Find them, and encourage them.

Random Notes On Last Night’s Debate

Smart Politics posted an interesting article on the debate last night between President Obama and Governor Romney.

The article reported:

Obama spoke for 42 minutes and 40 seconds or 52.7 percent of the candidate-allotted speaking time.

And while Romney at times appeared to interrupt moderator Jim Lehrer, perhaps he did so for good reason.

A Smart Politics analysis finds that Mitt Romney spoke for 38 minutes and 14 seconds, or 47.3 percent of the candidate-allotted speaking time – a full four minutes and 26 seconds less than Barack Obama.

Interesting.

I enjoyed the debate. I liked the format–it gave both candidates a chance to state their case and dispute any questionable facts given by the other candidate. I also liked the fact that the moderator kept a low profile and let the candidates talk.

The article further reports:

Lehrer, meanwhile, seemed to disappear and at times lose control of the debate – speaking significantly less than debate moderators from the GOP primaries this cycle.

Lehrer spoke for just 8 minutes and 10 seconds, or 9 percent of the total time between himself and the two nominees.

During the GOP presidential primary debates, moderators spoke for an average of twice that amount (19.8 percent) ranging from a high of 27 percent to a low of 14 percent.

The debate should be between the candidates–not a stage for the moderator. I liked the way Jim Lehrer moderated the debate.

One final thought:

“80 percent of success is just showing up”  — Woody Allen

 

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Something To Watch For In The Presidential Debates

Hugh Hewitt (my favorite talk show host) posted an article at the Washington Examiner yesterday about President Obama’s poker tells. I am not a poker player, but I understand the concept of watching your opponents’ actions in order to win a card game.

The article lists the ‘tells’:

First, the president begins a pattern of “ahs” and “uhmms” which are as embarrassing as they are revealing. The awkward pausing punctuated by these semi-stutters increases in frequency as the president senses his own flailing about.

Next, the president begins filibustering. His average length of answer in every press conference is already epic, but he has been getting worse as the presidency has dragged on.

…the president’s feigned outrage that anyone would interrupt or question him. When this happens, his countenance displays a disapproving sneer and his voice clouds with displeasure. It is practiced. It is also profoundly anti-democratic and arrogant, and if he plays this card on this stage, it will backfire.

Watch as well for nonresponsive self-pity, verbal essays on how difficult it was when he took over and how hard he has been working.

Finally, watch for the parade of straw men, the president’s favorite rhetorical trick.

Television has changed presidential debates–those who heard the Nixon-Kennedy debate of the radio declared Nixon the winner–those who watched it on television declared Kennedy the winner. I believe that Al Gore’s antics during the time that George W. Bush was speaking during their debate was one factor that cost him the election in 2000. President Obama needs to avoid falling into the same trap.


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The Three Ring Circus Called The Republican Primary Debate

My source for this article is the CNN story posted about the debate. I do, however, have a few of my own comments.

I understand the need to reach a wide audience, but why are the Republicans debating on CNN when Fox gets higher ratings? Why are the Republicans putting up with stupid questions instead of discussing serious issues?

The question right out of the box tonight was to Newt Gingrich about an interview done with his ex-wife. First of all, what do you expect to hear from someone’s ex-wife? Second of all, where was the media investigation of John Edwards before the National Enquirer forced his mistress into the open? Would we have ever heard about Monica Lewinski without Matt Drudge and his knowledge of the blue dress? The double standard is going to be an obstacle to having a fair campaign.

I guess the debates are giving the Republican candidates television time so that the American people can see them and draw conclusions, but I wish there were some substance in the discussions. This isn’t ‘Dancing with the Stars;’ this is a campaign for President of the United States.

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The Politics Of Scheduling

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

Image via Wikipedia

I haven’t mentioned the dust-up about the scheduling of the President’s speech on the economy because I really wasn’t too impressed by all the ruckus. Frankly I thought the whole discussion was dumb. However, Michael Barone, who is considerably smarter than I am, posted a very interesting article about the kerfuffle at the Washington Examiner website tonight.

It is naive (at best) to believe that President Obama was unaware that the Republican presidential candidates were having a debate on the night that he first suggested making a speech about the economy to a joint session of Congress. I think it is also a safe guess that he knew this would be Rick Perry’s first appearance as a candidate and that Rick Perry is a definite threat to President Obama’s desire to serve two terms. I also expect that President Obama also assumed that someone would actually watch his speech (or the Republican debate).

Michael Barone points out that the request to give a speech before a joint session of Congress on Wednesday showed a lack of respect for the Constitution. Congress is a separate branch of government and is not subject to Presidential dictates. Mr. Barone points out that in the past when a joint session of Congress was requested by the President, the arrangements were made privately, then announced.

The original plan of a Wednesday night debate also showed a contempt for public opinion.

The article reports:

White House press secretary Jay Carney said it was just “coincidental” that the president wanted to speak at the same time as the Reagan Library debate. It was just “one debate that’s one of many on one channel.”

Wow. The article points out that in the past President Obama has tried to upstage opposition with scheduling.

The article lists some other weaknesses of the Obama Presidency that are becoming very apparent. I strongly suggest that you follow the link above and read the entire article. This is a difficult time for the President–the economy is not doing well and his poll numbers are falling–I expect we will see him play some serious hardball in the coming months.

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