[Guest host Jake] Tapper noted that both of Gingrich’s surges in the polls were thanks to his powerful debate performances, and asked him what happened during both debates last week, where many analysts thought Romney came out much stronger and helped himself get back into the lead in Florida. Gingrich conceded he did not do his best at the debates, but had an explanation all ready.
“I was amazed. I’m standing next to a guy who has the most blatantly dishonest answers I can remember in any presidential race in my lifetime… I don’t know how you can debate someone with civility if they’re prepared to say things that are factually false.”
Gimme a break. You can dish it out but you can't take it, Newt. Like all big bullies, Gingrich is bluster with nothing behind it, folding like a house of cards when someone is able to push back.
*This* is the GOP's last, great hope for besting Obama in a debate? Hehehehehe...thanks, GOP.
Why is it that whenever a conservative is asked for specific ways to cut the federal budget, they always spout the same nonsense? In this snippet from the Conway-Paul debate, Rand Paul gives the usual non-answer, which as far as I can tell, boils down to "rules". We've got to have more "rules", because that's what smaller government is about -- rules, right? He also mumbles some things about unspent TARP funds (they've already been rolled back into the budget, Rand), a federal balanced budget amendment, and "putting everything on the table -- entitlements, defense spending, all of it." I could be wrong, but I thought the catfood commission was doing that very same thing right now.
Jack Conway steps up to the plate and knocks back the balanced budget amendment idea by pointing out that getting 2/3rds of states to ratify it won't take care of any budgets anytime soon. He then goes on to say that he's balanced his own budget, and gives several other specific ideas for how to get the budget in line.
One of the moments I most wanted to shout at the screen came in the rebuttals, when Rand Paul said that 33 states have balanced budget amendments. While that's true, it's also true that those states rely on Federal dollars to balance their budgets. Were it not for the stimulus bill, they would have had to make dramatic and awful cuts to programs like Medicaid.
I know it's death to say in an election year, but why is it that no one wants to even think about raising taxes? Perish that thought, but honestly, that's what needs to happen.
You probably never heard of this jerk except if you're a sports fan and watch ESPN occasionally. C&Lers know I keep an eye on the sports media as well as the MSM. Sports talk radio in Boston had a big impact on the Scott Brown election, so I'm making it a higher priority for upcoming elections.
I was watching ESPN's First Take on Friday with my morning coffee to get going on Friday. Eric Kuselias was subbing for Skip Bayless, who is their prime-time debater of sports topics. What First Take does is this: after discussing some current sports news, they go into a series of debates between two people on what they believe are the "hot topics" of the day.
Big Ben's sex case came up in their debate segment first, and Eric Kuselias was defending Ben and saying his reputation got tarnished after they read an out-of-context line from the new report about the case. Eric made it sound like the woman wanted it, but if you read the new report you would have come to a much different conclusion, since the young woman claims to have said said "no" twice to Ben. I was stunned by his remarks and it jolted me awake much more than a cup of smokey Joe. Is Kuselias kidding me? I could understand if he said we need more information to make a better determination, but to stick up for Ben as if he was smeared was utterly ridiculous.
I just can't stand when a man of Big Ben's size and fame take advantage of a young woman. I'd gladly challenge Kuselias to a debate about this issue on ESPN. Why is it important to me? Because people like Eric belittle a woman's right to decide how and when they should have sexual relations.
ESPN has live chats, so I guess C&Lers can leave some comments there asking for me to debate him or anyone on their staff. You can also twitter them about it here. If he's too afraid then I'll take on any of their debaters including Skip. He was off for a couple of days, so he had no part in the discussion, but whatever rocks their boat.
Make no mistake, if the Democrats lose big in November, it will be because they failed to recognize the world they live in, the world so clearly and simply revealed by Ms. Egwuekwe's data presentation. And if they lose big, they will do so in the name of "pragmatism", "political realism", "post-partisanship", "consensus" and the like. They will lose spectacularly in the name of fighting against "polarization" and "ideological rigidity" and in the name of "mov[ing] beyond the tired debates between right and left," as President Obama said in announcing the resumption of off-shore oil drilling, "Because this issue is just too important to allow our progress to languish while we fight the same old battles over and over again."
In short, if they lose big in November, they will do it because they are utterly clueless, utterly indifferent to the suffering of tens of millions of Americans who put their faith in them. If the Democrats lose big in November, it will be because they totally deserved it for dereliction of duty.
Here's a brief CNN interview with Egwuekwe from December:
How can the Democrats win in November? Start by replacing Larry Summers with LaToya Egwuekwe. Then go out and find a dozen more just like her--or as close as you can get.
This is exactly what I've experienced. Take, for example, the ongoing unemployment benefits debacle. Two million people just lost their benefits, while Congress sits on their hands.
ME to local Congressional staffer: What's going on with the unemployment benefits?
STAFFER: We have nothing to do with that, we passed it and the Senate didn't.
ME: Yes, but you still have constituents affected by this. What are your plans to pressure the Senate and help push it through?
STAFFER: Let me put you through to your Senate office. [Ringgg.]
STAFFER2: Can I help you?
ME: Yes, my unemployment ran out and I'm calling to find out if there's legislation to add another tier of benefits.
STAFFER2: Let check that. (On hold for ten minutes.) I just checked, and we haven't really looked at what's in the legislation.
ME: So two million people just lost their benefits and you haven't looked at the legislation? Nice. Thanks for your help.
I was talking to a well-known blogger last night and was bitching about this. "How is it that the Democrats aren't on the offense about this?"
He said something about how hard it was to "coordinate the messaging, get everyone on the same page..."
"Yeah, but that's my point," I said. "Why should anyone have to coordinate outrage over this many people out of work with no benefits? No one should have to tell them to do that, and the fact that they don't seem to care is why we lose elections."
Of course, by the time Election Day 2008 rolled around, most of us were well acquainted with just how "mavericky" a Republican John McCain really was: If there was an issue he could show his "independence" on, he'd leap at it; but the end result was always to toe the right-wing line.
So McCain has had it on display this week in his assaults on the Obama administration for working to overturn the military's odious "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy for gays and lesbians in the military.
And I understand the opposition to it, and I‘ve had these debates and discussions, but the day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, Senator, we ought to change the policy, then I think we ought to consider seriously changing it because those leaders in the military are the ones we give the responsibility to.
Then watch him last night on Greta Van Susteren's Fox show:
McCain: I respect the views of Admiral Mullen, who said it was his individual opinion, but we have not heard from the rest of the military leadership. And I'd be very interested in hearing from our military on this issue.
... I have always said that I believe 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' is working, and I believe it is.
Yup, that's John McCain, Professional Calvinball Player. How swiftly those goalposts move!
Whenever conservatives start telling me what a great healthcare system we have, I say, "Yes, and we make very nice yachts, too. What's your point?" Because what earthly difference does it make to you when you're priced out of that system?
I've known Americans who've gone to Costa Rica, Venezuela, Peru, Mexico and Austria for medical and dental treatment they couldn't afford here. (In fact, Logan wrote about this a few weeks ago.) If people are getting on a plane to go somewhere to get treatment, that's got to tell you something:
MEXICO CITY — It sounds almost too good to be true: a health care plan with no limits, no deductibles, free medicines, tests, X-rays, eyeglasses, even dental work — all for a flat fee of $250 or less a year.
To get it, you just have to move to Mexico.
As the United States debates an overhaul of its health care system, thousands of American retirees in Mexico have quietly found a solution of their own, signing up for the health care plan run by the Mexican Social Security Institute.
The system has flaws, the facilities aren't cutting-edge, and the deal may not last long because the Mexican government said in a recent report that it is "notorious" for losing money. But for now, retirees say they're getting a bargain.
"It was one of the primary reasons I moved here," said Judy Harvey of Prescott Valley, who now lives in Alamos, Sonora. "I couldn't afford health care in the United States. … To me, this is the best system that there is."
It's unclear how many Americans use IMSS, but with between 40,000 and 80,000 U.S. retirees living in Mexico, the number probably runs "well into the thousands," said David Warner, a public policy professor at the University of Texas.
"They take very good care of us," said Jessica Moyal, 59, of Hollywood, Fla., who now lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, a popular retirement enclave for Americans.
The IMSS plan is primarily designed to support Mexican taxpayers who have been paying into the system for decades, and officials say they don't want to be overrun by bargain-hunting foreigners.
"If they started flooding down here for this, it wouldn't be sustainable," said Javier Lopez Ortiz, IMSS director in San Miguel de Allende.
As you may already know, Bair is not well liked by the Wall St. crowd that's running the White House show. (Apparently she has this bizarre idea that her job is to look out for working folk. Crazy talk!) Well, she's very popular with regular people - the administration wouldn't get rid of her, it would make a stink. Instead, they've just neutered her:
These debates entered into the Administration’s discussions about building a new regulatory architecture. In late March, Geithner previewed for Congress some of the key concepts that Treasury wanted. The outline seemed to match the Bair camp’s ideas. [Ladies, has this ever happened to you?] A new authority with the power to take over large financial institutions that posed a systemic risk to the economy was modeled on the F.D.I.C., which, Geithner suggested in his testimony, would be an equal partner with Treasury in resolving such firms if they failed. He seemed to be saying that although he and Bair may have disagreed about how to handle the current crisis, there was much more consensus about how to deal with a future one.
But in the white paper detailing the new legislation, which the Administration released on June 17th, all the new authority to regulate firms that posed systemic risk was vested in the Federal Reserve. During Geithner’s testimony before the Senate, Jim Bunning, of Kentucky, echoing Bair, was incredulous. “It took fourteen years for the Fed to write one regulation on mortgages after we gave it the power to do that,” he said. “What makes you think that the Fed will do better this time around?” In addition, while the March plan said that the “Secretary and the FDIC would decide” how to resolve a failing firm, the new plan said such power should “be vested in Treasury.” Geithner could appoint the F.D.I.C. to do the technical work of cleaning up the firm, but between late March and mid-June — when Bair’s aggressive ideas about how to handle Citigroup leaked to the press — Bair’s agency had been downgraded from Treasury’s equal partner to a sidekick.
The senior Treasury official said that stripping authority from the F.D.I.C. had nothing to do with pressure from the banks. “Making a group decision on something that must be done really quickly is not easy,” he said. “At the end of the day, someone has to have the ability to make a call, and it’s better to have that authority vested in one person.”
When I asked Bair about the plan, she said, “I think it reflected a lot of input from a lot of different agencies, and the private sector, and insurance and consumer groups. It’s a very difficult task to try to balance all the different perspectives and come up with a package, and every compromise is going to have people who are unhappy about various parts of it. So I think it’s a starting point.” I said that she sounded disappointed. “I don’t know if ‘disappointed’ is the right word,” she replied.
Once reserved for cases in which the life of the baby or mother was in danger, the cesarean is now routine. The most common operation in the U.S., it is performed in 31% of births, up from 4.5% in 1965.
With that surge has come an explosion in medical bills, an increase in complications -- and a reconsideration of the cesarean as a sometimes unnecessary risk.
It is a big reason childbirth often is held up in healthcare reform debates as an example of how the intensive and expensive U.S. brand of medicine has failed to deliver better results and may, in fact, be doing more harm than good.
"We're going in the wrong direction," said Dr. Roger A. Rosenblatt, a University of Washington professor of family medicine who has written about what he calls the "perinatal paradox," in which more intervention, such as cesareans, is linked with declining outcomes, such as neonatal intensive care admissions. Maternity care, he said, "is a microcosm of the entire medical enterprise."
As the No. 1 cause of hospital admissions, childbirth is a huge part of the nation's $2.4-trillion annual healthcare expenditure, accounting in hospital charges alone for more than $79 billion.
Because spending on the average uncomplicated cesarean for all patients runs about $4,500, nearly twice as much as a comparable vaginal birth, cesareans account for a disproportionate amount (45%) of delivery costs. (Among privately insured patients, uncomplicated cesareans run about $13,000.)
Pregnancy is the most expensive condition for both private insurers and Medicaid, according to a 2008 report by the Childbirth Connection, a New York think tank.
"The financial toll of maternity care on private [insurers]/employers and Medicaid/taxpayers is especially large," the report said. "Maternity care thus plays a considerable role in escalating healthcare costs, which increasingly threaten the financial stability of families, employers, and federal and state budgets."
Are there other options, other solutions? Yes. Off-site birthing centers and home deliveries have lower C-section rates and healthier outcomes for mothers and babies. For decades, the all-powerful American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has managed to prevent any truly rigorous review of statistics here (preferring to use data that counts miscarriages as home deliveries), but the Netherlands have done it for us.
They found that births where women actually prepared to deliver at home (as opposed to precipitous labors where sudden complications forced them to deliver there) were just as likely to have a safe delivery and healthy baby as those who delivered in a hospital under the care of a midwife.
The group who chose to give birth in hospital rather than at home were more likely to be first-time mothers or of an ethnic minority background - the risk of complications is higher in both these groups.
[...] But Professor Buitendijk said the study did have relevance for other countries like the UK with a highly developed health infrastructure and well-trained midwives.
In the UK, the government has pledged to give all women the option of a home birth by the end of this year. At present just 2.7% of births in England and Wales take place at home, but there are considerable regional variations.
Louise Silverton, deputy general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said, the study was "a major step forward in showing that home is as safe as hospital, for low risk women giving birth when support services are in place.
Here are just some of the things you can avoid in a home delivery: Hospital "supergerms"; birthing positions that actually make fetal distress (and thus, a C-section) more likely; the use of powerful labor-inducing drugs that not only increase the likelihood of a C-section, but also of uterine rupture; and an episiotomy that may be painful for years.
I did it both ways: A hospital birth with a doctor and nurse-midwife, and a home delivery attended by lay midwives. (I told my then-husband I would "never" have another child in a hospital after they almost killed my first-born and then bragged about how they "saved" him.) Not only did I give birth at home with my youngest, I was up cooking breakfast for everyone just a few hours later. It was an experience I wouldn't trade for the world. It was better in every possible way.
I'm a little late with this because we put so many videos up Tuesday and Wednesday, but Frank Luntz on the FOX News post debate show ran another one of his focus groups with swing voters in Arlington VA, and they resoundingly picked Obama.
He communicated his message and he got to me.
He spoke to the person, the voter, myself instead of the intangible things he actually said this is how I'm going to help you and this is how much it's going to cost.
He wasn't snide, he answered his questions. There was seven different times where McCain just didn't answer the question, but when a head and answered something else. And McCain kept making snide comments about Obama himself.
When Luntz said that the group thought McCain was better on the economy, Brit Hume was flabbergasted.
Hume: But they agree that McCain did better on the economy?
Senator Biden took to the stage today in Tampa, Florida to defend his running mate from John McCain's pathetic character assault. Reminding voters that McCain has permitted his running mate to raise the most vile of innuendos and that he's hired the same people who personally destroyed him in 2000, Biden knocks it out of the park.
"Last week I had a debate with Governor Palin. Well, at least I think it was a debate. And last night Senator Obama had his second with John McCain. I know I'm prejudiced abut my ticket, but if this were a best of five series, it would be over.
We want a leader, an optimist. Not an angry man lurching from one position to another.
When you vote with George Bush 90% of the time, you're best hope is attacking your opponent 100% of the time."