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Posts Tagged ‘Matthew E. Miller’

Pawlenty’s Health Care Pitch

October 13, 2009 2 comments

Exciting.  Pawlenty offers up a series of proposals to reform MinnesotaCare next year.  Fox reports:

Pawlenty’s three-pointed plan includes:

Allowing Minnesotans to purchase health insurance from other states.

  • Requiring state-supported health plans MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance to use ratings on the quality and cost of providers to set rates.
  • Building incentives for Minnesotans who choose higher quality and lower cost providers.
  • Under Pawlenty’s proposal, MinnesotaCare plans would have a higher deductible and the state would contribute to an electronic benefits card that could be used to cover out-of-pocket health expenses. Money left over on the card would remain with the enrollee to be used in the following year.

Pawlenty says the higher deductible coupled with the card would push people to choose higher-quality, cheaper providers and that would maximize the value of the state contribution.

Very interesting stuff.  I’d like to hear much more about the last point.  This electronic benefits card, with rollover, looks vaguely like something Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam mentioned in their book Grand New Party.  It also looks a bit like a health savings account, or the partial privatization idea for social security.  Note, when the state refers to MinnesotaCare, its mostly talking about the state supported plans, not private plans.  So this doesn’t expand government, though it’ll probably lower costs and expand coverage.

Iliad and Odyssey thoughts

October 13, 2009 Leave a comment

So I finished both the Iliad and the Odyssey and I figured I’d write up a mini-review, mostly about the Iliad.  A couple of points that struck me.  A couple of spoilers here:

1.  The Gods kill the development of characters.  There are only really 3 1/2 proper “turning points” in the Iliad; i.e, moments when a character has a change of heart- a reversal- due to circumstances in the world.  First, is Achilles’ decision to sit out the war after Agamemnon steals Briseis.  The second comes when Helen moans that she’d rather she died before leaving Menelaus.  That’s the half since, you know, she regrets it, but ultimately stays.  The third comes when Agamemnon regrets his decision and sends an embassy to woo Achilles.  The fourth (3 and 1/2)…can you guess it?  Well, when Achilles suffers a loss and decides to enter the fray for revenge.  That’s it.  The rest of “changes”, major and minor, are the result of gods randomly messing with the characters.

And so you end up with countless characters changing their minds with nothing leading up to it.  I thought this was fascinating, how a lack of plot and character development could be plugged, pretty effectively, by the intervention of the gods. This wasn’t what Homer was getting at, obviously.  It’s an epic from oral tradition so this is almost certainly how the Greeks  thought of narrative.  But, you can sort of see how real plot could come out of this.  Fun stuff.

2.  The Greeks were strange and ridiculously violent but at times stunningly noble.  That fight over Patrocholus’ corpse?  I’ll never get over it.  There’s a lot of that in the Iliad, interspersed with moments of almost shocking callousness.  Even though I feel like I don’t know many of the characters after reading these two epics, I do feel like I know the ancient Greeks.  And they’re worth knowing.

3.  Read these books.

Update:  I wasn’t going to wade into this because A.)  I’m reading translations and don’t know a lick of Greek, B.)  I’ve read each book exactly once…but, I’ve decided to throw it out there anyway and quite probably embarrass myself.  I’m not sure how I feel about the idea that these epics were composed by the same person.  They just feel different to me, and I’m not just talking about in subject matter.  Two examples:  gods and death.  They don’t seem to handle the topics in the same way.  The Odyssey seems more…flippant about both.  Think of that famous scene with the Cyclops, where he bashes the brains out of, like 8 of Odyseuss’s men and eats them.  They’re upset about it, but it takes up comparatively little text.  My translation only makes one reference to it, at the end of the book,

So we moved out, sad in the vast offing,

having our precious lives, but not our friends.

This is nice, and powerful, but brief.  Almost every semi-serious death in the Iliad gets an equivalent bemoaning and the really serious one’s are given pages and pages.  Granted, even in the Iliad, only the Hector’s and Patrochulus’s of the world get 12 day dirges, but still.  Along with this, the Odyssey seems to have a looser sense of mortality for its heroes  Odysseus must be, if we go by the chronology, like 50 at the youngest during the Odyssey.  Penelope couldn’t be a whole lot younger.  But, they’re constantly being given back their youth by Athena.  In the Iliad heroes are strengthened by the gods, but there’s a definite sense, through the text, that death lies at the end for all of them; the strengthening is only temporary.  Think of that lovely Embassy to Achilles chapter, which seems out of place at the time, but brilliant later.  Achilles, all Ecclesiastes like, wonders, “what’s the point of winning all these honors when we all die?”.

There’s also a slight difference in the way the interactions with the gods play out.  In, like 80% of the interactions with the gods in the Iliad, the characters are changed from afar.  The heroes pray and are aided, but usually not too personally.  In fact, their are only a handful of cases in the Iliad where the gods intervene in a way that couldn’t be explained by some other plot device.  One, the gods will occasionally hurl some fighter away from death, and cover another fighter’s eyes.  But, even that’s not terribly personal since its just done, and then the fighters move on.  You also have a very few direct conversations with the gods.  The one Achilles has about Hector’s body comes to mind.

In contrast, even though the gods are less involved in the Odyssey, when they are involved it’s more frequently personal.  Odysseus lives on an two different islands with goddesses for years.  Virtually every character talks to gods and recognizes that they’re talking to gods. Maybe I’m making too much of the differences, but the Iliad feels mostly like an attempt to explain realish events through impersonal interventions by the gods, while the Odyssey feels like a fantasy where the gods are right at everyone’s fingertips.

Anyway, just my thoughts.  I’m probably totally wrong and would realize it on a second reading (fat chance of that).

Pawlenty to Iowa

October 7, 2009 5 comments

To headline a November equivalent to the Ronald Reagan dinner, according to the National Journal

Des Moines Register‘s Beaumont reports, MN Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) is heading to IA on 11/7 to headline the state GOP’s fall fundraiser — his first visit of the cycle to the leadoff caucus state.

IA GOP exec. dir. Jeff Boeynik told the Register: “We are proud to announce that Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has agreed to headline our Republican fall event. … Gov. Pawlenty is the kind of leader we’re looking for.”

The fall fundraiser takes the place of what has traditionally been called the Ronald Reagan dinner, and is “aimed at bringing out rank-and-file” GOPers. The ticket price for what’s being called “Leadership for Iowa” is $25 “instead of the higher prices the Reagan dinner has typically fetched.”

It’s hard to pin down exact dates, but here’s what my research has turned up about the 2008 cycle Iowa visits.  On September 26 and 27, 2005 Mike Huckabee made his first visit to Iowa and claimed to be considering a Presidential run.  That’s equivalent to Sept of 2009, in this cycle.  So T-Paw’s a little behind Huckabee in this metric.  Mitt Romney had made 9 visits to Iowa by Sept of 2006 (though that included campaign events for Bush in 2004), so Pawlenty’s probably behind Romney circa 2008.  But, most of the other candidates waited til 2006 to grace Iowa’s borders.  I’m glad to see him make this move and, to me, it suggests he’s serious about competing in the first caucus.

Newt’s Game

October 6, 2009 1 comment

So Newt Gingrich made news this weekend in a Politico interview.  He praised Pawlenty:

“Governor Pawlenty is a terrific talent, he’s a very attractive guy and he has a good reform record,” Gingrich told POLITICO over the weekend after his speech to the annual Americans for Prosperity conference in Washington.

Pawlenty is “certainly going to be a player. There is every reason he should run, there is wide open field right now,” Gingrich said. “He’s an example that the future of the Republican Party is bright and that we have lots of talent.”…

“He’s going to add new energy and more excitement to the game,” the former Republican House speaker of Georgia said of Pawlenty. “He’s going to draw more Republicans in and make our chances in 2010 even better.”

He also lavished praise on Romney.  But, then, on his own ambitions:

“Probably in February in 2011 I’ll sit down and make a very difficult decision,” he said. “We’ll see what the environment is like. We’ll see what the circumstances are and whether or not in order to get those solutions adopted I need to be a candidate.”

Newt’s playing a very interesting game here.  On the one hand he’d like to be President.  All this stuff about it being a “difficult” decision is hooey.  It’s only a difficult decision because Newt is also pragmatic and has no interest in losing terrifically, a very real possibility in a primary, and a likelihood in a general.  If Newt thought he could win, he’d jump in tomorrow.  So he’s playing a waiting game.  But, in the meantime, it does make some sense to put himself in the most positive light possible.  For the last few years, he’s been trying the conciliator approach and this is maybe his last chance to see if it moves the dial.  So he’ll praise Pawlenty and Romney, to the sky if necessary, and hope his negatives turn around a bit.  Still, it’s always nice to get a heavyweight on record praising your candidate.  It’ll now be much harder for Newt to go negative on Pawlenty if they end up competitors.

Bridging the Divide

October 1, 2009 2 comments

So I have a post over at Race42012 noting Pawlenty’s savvy new PAC and PAC-team.  Read it (though you probably came from there anyway).  But, I’d like to get into a little bit more analysis here.  Basically, the piece notes that Pawlenty has made big dents with both establishment Republicans and the grassrootsy Republican web-mavens like Patrick Ruffini.  This doesn’t surprise me.  I’ve been saying…well, since at least January, that Pawlenty’s greatest strength is his ability to be a bridge between the heartland and the headland (DC).  Every successful GOP candidate, and practically every successful Presidential candidate, has managed to straddle that line. 

Think of 43.  Yalie son of Connecticut Yankee, become twanging oil-barron and baseball owner.  Think of Bill.  Blue-Collar Southerner become Rhodes Scholar Yalie.  Think of 41.  Connecticut blue-blood become World War II hero.  It’s almost impossible to unify your party and win the Presidency without this sort of straddling.  Obama JUST managed it and only locked down the blue-collar vote after the financial collapse.  Before that, despite essentially maxing out margins with white-collar voters, young voters, intellectuals, and blacks, he looked like a bare favorite during the most Democratic year since 1964. 

I like Mitt Romney and think he’d make a fine President.  I love Sarah Palin and I think she makes an exemplary citizen.  But, neither one is going to be able to straddle that divide.  Certainly, they won’t manage it without wrecking their appeal outside the party.  Pawlenty can.  He can cultivate young voters and grassroots types, while still impressing guys like Terry Nelson and Alex Conant.  Something to keep in mind.

4 Ways…

October 1, 2009 1 comment

So I was looking through Yahoo, and I found an article titled, 4 Ways French Women Stay Thin (Without the Gym).  So I thought hey, cool, secrets from the French.  And then…I read it.  Here are the four ways:

1.) Don’t save your steps, multiply them! Instead of driving your car around in circles to find a close spot, purposefully park far away and walk the couple extra feet

2.) Incorporate simple resistance movements into your daily routine. Use your own body weight as resistance wherever possible. Isometric exercises, discreet but effective, are very French.

3.) Take care of your core. I’m a firm believer that we need to attend to our abdominals as we age. These are the muscles that hold all our vital organs in place; they support good posture and a healthy spine,

4.) Acquaint yourself with small to moderate free weights (3-5 lbs.), especially if you’re over 40. A bit of extremely simple resistance training is an antidote to hours spent on gym machines.

Not bad tips, but isn’t this how all women stay fit without going to the gym?  I was expecting some mystical knowledge gleaned from the peaks of the Ardennes or at least a story about a hot French fitness routine.  Shouldn’t a woman selling a column about the French have to  mention something unique about the French?  The article has an unbelievable 1034 comments, so apparently not.

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Is Pawlenty Doing His Job?

September 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Jack Jodell of the so-called Moderate Voice has written a ludicrous screed attacking Pawlenty.  I plan to address more of it in the next few days, but for now, I’ll focus on Jodell’s bizarre contention that Pawlenty is somehow abandoning his duties as Governor by traveling out of state.  He writes:

[Pawlenty] is now galavanting all across the country making speeches and appearing in support of conservative Republican candidates everywhere in a Nixonesque attempt to build party support for his own 2012 presidential candidacy. In the process, he has abandoned his responsibilites as Chief Executive of his own state in the best Sarah Palin tradition, the only difference being he has not officially resigned his post.

What are we supposed to make of this charge?  First of all, Jodell seems to have an almost unfathomable understanding of the duties of a Governor.  Minnesota statute forbids the state legislature to work for more than 120 days in a biennium.  Here’s the relevant bit from the official website:

The state constitution limits the Legislature to meeting 120 legislative days during each biennium. In addition, the Legislature may not meet in regular session after the first Monday following the third Saturday in May of any year (for constitutional provisions concerning the length of session and special sessions, see Minnesota Constitution, Article IV – Legislative Department).

The third Saturday in May.  By my count, the regular session of the legislature was constitutionally obligated to end over 4 months ago.  To go past that date, Pawlenty would have had to call a special session.  When are Governors meant to call special sessions?  Well, according to Article IV, section 12, of the Minnesota State Constitution, only on “extraordinary occasions”.

The state legislature website elaborates on the two reasons Governors typically call such sessions:

The legislature has not completed work on vital legislation during the time allowed for the regular session.

Changed circumstances require urgent legislative action after the regular session ends

After Pawlenty’s decision to un-allot, neither of these scenarios applied.  Does Jack Jodell expect Pawlenty to proclaim an “extraordinary occasion” during an ordinary occasion?  If not, it’s hard to know what he’s getting at.  Let’s take a look at the Pawlenty trips MPR outlined (which I addressed in a post last week).  They have 19 events listed and not one of them occurred during the 2009 legislative session.  Only 4 of those 19 were personal-trips which occurred on a weekday (bolded).  The remainder were weekend trips Pawlenty would have been justified taking even during a legislative session.  Here’s the list:

September 26, 2009 (Saturday)- Mackinac Island Michigan

October 2, 2009 (Friday)- Rapid City, South Dakota

July 2-3, 2009 (Thursday and Friday)- Aspen, Colorado

July 24, 2009 (Friday)-  Hudson, Wisconsin (state related trip)

August 14, 2009 (Friday)- Chicago, Illinois

July 8, 2009 (Wednesday)-  Nashville, Tennessee (state related trip)

September 12, 2009 (Saturday)- Orlando, Florida

August 22, 2009 (Saturday)- Orlando, Florida

July 30, 2009 (Thursday)- San Diego, California

October 16, 2009 (Friday)- Newport Beach, California

June 26, 2009 (Friday)-  Little Rock, Arkansas

September 9, 2009 (Wednesday)- Richmond, Virginia

June 5, 2009 (Friday)- Washington, D.C.

September 18, 2009 (Friday)- Washington, D.C.

August 4-5, 2009 (Tuesday and Wednesday)-  Washington, D.C. (state related trip)

June 29-30, 2009 (Monday and Tuesday)-  Washington D.C. (state related trip)

September 3, 2009 (Thursday)- Hackensack, NJ

September 19, 2009 (Saturday)- Mason, Ohio

August 15, 2009 (Saturday)- Guanaybo, Puerto Rico

Now, let’s compare this to a certain former Freshman Illinois Senator.  Where was Obama in 2005 (the equivalent year in the 2008 cycle)?  Well, it’s hard to pin down all the specific dates, but it’s clear he WASN’T in Illinois or Washington every weekend.  Here’s a bit from a late 2005 profile on Obama:

Sundays once were sacred in the Obama house, the day for school activities and reading, movies and catching up on writing in the family journal. But in the final months of the year, Obama’s political schedule began filling up, much to the chagrin of his wife.

“The hope is that that is going to change and we’re going to go back to our normal schedule of keeping Sundays pretty sacred,” she said, turning away from her interviewer and directly toward Robert Gibbs, the senator’s communications director, who helps dictate Obama’s schedule.

Here are other miscellaneous events Obama attended, out of state, that year.

Arizona: He keynoted an Arizona Democratic Party event that raked in $1 million.

Florida: December 2005 (Dinner speaker at State Convention)

Nebraska: November 2005 (Delivered a speech in Warren Buffet’s living room)

New Jersey: November 2005 (Campaigned for Corzine at multiple events)

New Jersey:  March 2005 (Attended fundraiser for Lautenberg)

California: March 2005 (Met with and spoke with supporters in Los Angeles and Beverley Hills)

Massachusetts: Fall 2005 (Harvard Law School Reunion)

At least 2 of these trips occurred DURING the 2005 legislative session, when Obama had immediate duties.  Where was Jack Jodell condemning Obama’s country-hopping less than a year into his first term as Senator?

To be sure, Governors have duties outside of the regular legislative session.  But, as best as I can tell, they have no official constitutional or statutory duties that can’t be dealt with at the Governor’s convenience.  Jack Jodell is clearly out of his depth.