Do they talk american?

Here’s a tip when running for President of the United States of America: Pay attention in English class.

From an email on October 18, 2008 from the McCain/Palin camp, they write:

Help John McCain and Sarah Palin win in November!

With less than 18 days until Election Day our volunteer activities are in full swing. With your help here in Ohio John McCain and Sarah Palin will win on November 4th. To sign up for volunteer shifts at your local campaign office please click here!

What they meant to write was: “With fewer than 18 days until Election Day…” in addition to the comma after the dependent clause.. (…Election Day, for those who need a nudge.)

Guess The Elements of Style is one more thing Palin doesn’t read. These are the people we want in charge of reforming education in America? Perhaps what is really needed is just a federal mandate to lower the bar for everyone. Then, we can all look smart.

The problem of typos in the McCain camp is systemic. Take a look at his education issue page (just the last paragraph will do ya!) Is the world moving too fast that they can’t take a few extra seconds to proof their published material? Or, are they really that ignorant? Perhaps Peggy Noonan is right.

Stay in school, kids. Or, maybe just drop out now and get your name on a ballot somewhere. You’re probably already qualified!

The $5,000 health insurance question

I am a self-employed dog who buys his own health insurance. I’ve been listening to all these pundits and political candidates talking about government “getting out of the way” so individuals can buy their own health insurance. “Let the free market do it’s thing” is the cry from most of them.

I have come to the very firm conclusion that those who advocate most strongly for individuals buying their own plan have never actually had to buy health insurance for themselves or their family. If they had, they would be too aghast and shocked to get any punditry out.

Here are the “facts” of getting your own health insurance:

Free Market Economy
If there is a big pot of money out there to get for the asking, health insurance companies will belly up to the bar and stick their snouts in it. If every American family was given $5,000 to buy their own health insurance, that same insurance will now be $5,000 more expensive to get. They really don’t want to sell individual plans because there is no economy of scale. Individuals call the insurance office whereas employer-based plans get calls get pushed to the company HR department.

Your BMI will never be good enough
Neither will your lifestyle, health history or FICO Score. In Ohio, if you have driven or ridden on a 2-wheel motorized vehicle in the past 24 months or have a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license, your premiums are automatically adjusted 20% higher. Left to its own devices, health insurance companies will only insure healthy, low-risk people who can afford to pay the premiums. Insurance companies are pro-profit organizations whose only goal is to collect more in premiums than they pay out in claims.

What you NEED insurance for, they won’t cover
Really, don’t get cancer or a heart-attack. Don’t have a genetic disease or any respiratory condition. All of these will be excluded from coverage. You can’t even buy coverage for a pre-existing condition; nobody will sell it to you for any price.

Your rates will go up regardless of activity
Year to year, your rates will go up about 12%-30% each year if you don’t use the plan; more if you do. You are forced to shop deals every year like cell phone plans. Every company will entice new buyers (well, the healthy ones) into a policy while jacking up the rates on their existing customers. I don’t know why they do this as it makes more sense that costs would be lower to care for customers you have than to find and convince customers you don’t.

So, McCain and Palin, the $5,000 for Americans to buy their own insurance is just crap and campaign talk. Just for grins, I went out to a few places and priced out Palin’s family, not mentioning the minor-aged pregnancy and the Down’s syndrome child. For a PPO plan with a $2,500 deductible and 20% co-pay plans were at $800-$1,106 a month, depending on whether you wanted a Blue Cross class or a no-name brand. That is $9,600-$13,272 a year NOT including the doctor visit costs or the deductible of $2,500 you will pay before benefits kick in. Forget about the no-deductible plans; they just don’t have them.

$5,000 isn’t so much money any more. In fact, it is almost nothing when buying health insurance.

Helping Americans with health insurance costs is not the answer. Helping Americans get health care that they need is. The difference is not inconsequential. When the Federal Government makes assistance money available to help pay for things like drugs, education and health care, the only thing that happens is the cost of these things goes up.

We should all understand that public health, education and welfare affects us all. When individuals are increasingly delaying medical care because they can’t afford to go to the doctor, eventually we all pay in higher public health costs. The same goes for education, but that is an entirely different post.

When we agree that what affects me affects you, we will start moving forward together as a healthy nation with a strong infrastructure. The richest country in the world should not have its citizens wondering how close to bankruptcy a heart attack or accident will bring them.

Plain talk Palin email

Well, not really plain talk, but we’ll translate.

I received this email from Sarah Palin…. well, not from her personally, but from the Palin-McCain Campaign. I’ve attached it as a PDF file for you to read, but here are some highlights.

1. She encourages me to vote TODAY because you can vote early in Ohio. I read this to be:

Vote for me BEFORE you see my performance in the debates tonight. You can’t change your mind after you vote.

2. Does the GOP now support unions:

As the mother of five and the wife of a proud union member, I understand what it takes in these difficult economic times…

3. Oh, wait, in the next paragraph, she says:

By promoting small businesses, keeping taxes low and fighting for good jobs for all Americans, we will work each and every day to improve our economy

Ok, but do small businesses now have to hire only union labor which drives their labor costs up? Do we get tax credits for hiring union members? I’m really, really confused.

4. New voters? Oh my God, what is that all about?

Barack Obama’s campaign has already proven they will stop at nothing to win this election, and they’re already flooding the polls with new voters…

Maybe only wrinkled up old people should be allowed to vote??

Tonight is going to be interesting!

Put the smart guys in charge, please

Susan Suess Kennedy wrote an article recently for the Huffington Post examining why Americans have such a disdain for smart people. A popular terms among the non-intellectuals and shallow thinkers is “elistism.” The undereducated white guys chant this, along with “drill baby, drill” (which I don’t really get as a mantra, but ok..) Here’s the puppy take on all this.

Way back in the good ol’ days of air travel (pre-1996 or thereabouts) getting on a plane was something that you did because you had really important business. You knew the rules (or got to know the rules quickly) ticket prices were high, but so was the expectation of flyer sophistication and service from the airlines.

At some point, the airlines thought it was a good idea to let anyone fly. They deserved to fly to see grandma, visit the new baby, etc. Ticket prices plummeted and the airports were suddenly overrun by people who really didn’t have a clue where they were going, what they were doing and had expectations of service that was far in excess of the price they paid for their ticket. The airline employees suddenly felt like a “babysitter” when they were hired as a trained air traffic professional. Things got surly and the service and profits plummeted straight to the bottom. In addition, the airlines and airports were so overrun with volume that it was easy for nineteen people to slip into planes on 9/11.

The same thing happened with the housing market. Days were the only people who were allowed to buy a home were those who could actually afford it. They saved their money, they worked hard and smart and they had at least 5%-10% down on a home. They bought a home that might have been a little lived-in, was probably too small and in an area that was not exactly their first choice. And buying that first home was tough as bankers made you sweat the details of employment history, credit history and cash. The money was real and it was hard-earned.

Then, along came a generation of people who deserved to be in a home, regardless of their credit history or income. The question was not whether or not it made sense to buy a home; the question was how do we bend the rules to get you in a home. And so we put a lot of people in houses that they did not work for, they couldn’t afford to buy and more importantly, couldn’t afford to maintain. In addition, we sent a message to all the home owners who did work hard for their homes that their work was just not that valuable. And now, as these $0-down, sub-prime folks are abandoning their homes in record numbers, they are kicking more dirt into the faces of the hard-working folks in the form of lower home values, higher property taxes and an economy in shambles.

The same thing happened with a college education. A time was only the really smart people who tested high on the ACT or SAT, had a solid GPA and could write a coherent paper got accepted into college. Paying for it was another matter, but if you were really smart, you either found a way or were given a way.

Now, colleges are more interested in being in the food service and housing businesses than the business of education. Most colleges will take any student who applies, but require they stay in student housing for their freshman and sophomore years. Their cafeterias are now stocked with branded food items from Chik Fil A, Burger King, KFC, etc. in addition to gourmet lunches and dinners. The dorms are lavish apartments starting at $3,000+ a semester, per student, sleeping four per unit. And every student there believes they deserve a college degree, regardless of how hard they work or the quality of their work.

And we get to the US Elections. On the one side, we have someone who is really smart and is a deep thinker. On the other side, we have a candidate who shoots from the hip, deserves to be President because he served his country for decades and it is “his turn.” Moreover, he has paired up with an “average hockey mom” and journalism major who doesn’t read newspapers, speaks plainly but incoherently and identifies well with the Bubba vote who is able to fly to Vegas for less than $100, lives in a house he can’t really afford, went to a college where he majored in drinking and works at a job for a company that really doesn’t produce anything of value. But, by God, she deserves to be VP!

Despite her dreadful interview performances with Charlie Rose and Katie Couric, Palin could win the debates tomorrow because she appeals to a growing audience that has become dumber and dumber, but more deserving. We have abdicated our need to know facts for sound bytes and slogans to chant. “Drill, baby, drill!”, “U-S-A, U-S-A” and statements like “We are all Georgians”, “Make the Wall Street fat-cats pay” and the oft-used “Main Street vs Wall Street.” We don’t know what these mean, we don’t really examine why they have meaning or even if they do, but they have a nice cadence and chanting them in a large crowd makes us feel a part of something.

We need smart people to start leading this country. We need to quit giving the masses what they want because they feel they “deserve” it. We don’t really have to look very far to see what happens to industries that succumb to the pressures of market expansion at any cost. Eventually, the industry dives to the bottom and crashes. Air travel, housing, education, credit cards, and soon to be the executive branch of the United States.

The office of President and Vice-president of the United States of America should be the hardest job to get in this country. The people who eventually get elected to fill these top jobs should be the best and the brightest, not the ones who can drink beer best with us or who can shoot a moose the best. We need to advance the country forward, technologically, politically, ethically and societally for the next generation of the best and the brightest, not drive the standards down to allow more people to participate. To borrow a phrase from TheLadders.com, if everybody plays, nobody wins.

It’s time to make being smart a thing of value again. We don’t need presidential and vice-presidential candidates mocking community participation, academic accomplishment, reasoned arguments and hard work as elitism. We need leaders who appreciate the value of human smarts and recognize that there is more power in a pen than a sword. Human smarts is the ultimate infrastructure of any society. When that is damaged and devalued, the society will eventually crumble, united or not.

After-post: If you have a chance and have read this far, perhaps you will read one more article by Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post Writer’s Group.

And this says more of the same, but a far better post than mine. Thank you, Deanie Mills.

Stop the madness, Palin

When you fall off the moose, the best thing to do it get right back on? NO!!! You lie there and play dead. Please, Palin, play dead….

Pizza, cheesesteak.. what’s the difference in Philadelphia. Gotcha, voters! Hollering a question across an area? He was right there in front of her, bending into her ear.

You can reach more people with a blog than a bullhorn

Last night, I met Kealan on http://election.twitter.com. We have not spoken, I know nothing about her, but she said something during the debates that I thought was interesting and I wanted to be a part of the next really sage thing she says, whenever that is. So, I’m following her on Twitter.

I saw she tweeted again this morning. Nothing of consequence to me, but what the heck, maybe her blog had something on it. Sure enough, it was a post-debate post titled 3 miles in the snow, uphill both ways. That got my attention right away because, while I knew it was going to be a GenY rant against old people, the title was so clever that I knew the rest of the post was going to be good. It was.

GenY may not be out in the street protesting the rapid decline of this country, but they are online with a vengeance. And, apparently, they do care and they get it. They understand that respect is the root of peace, that you can reach more people quicker and deeper with a Twitter account and a blog than you can with a bullhorn and a flag and that party and company affiliation doesn’t matter as much as not being obtuse and condescending.

And, not only are they watching as things are going on, but they are recording it, playing it back, digesting it and analyzing it. They are predicting the death of spin and revisionist history.

And yeah, mom and dad, they have been listening to you. If not, how would they know to use a phrase like “3 miles in the snow, uphill both ways” in the correct context?

I just can’t wait to see what Phil DeFranco is going to video about the debates. Please hurry, Phil. We dogs need our fix.

Timing is everything

www.nyt.com photo
www.nyt.com photo

Yesterday, John McCain suspended his campaign, saying he was racing off to Washington shortly after his appearance at the Clinton Global Initiative at 8:45am to fix the financial crisis in America in a 4:00pm meeting with the president, House and Senate leaders and Obama at the White House.

At 2:36pm, the senators all announced they had a deal.

Shortly before 4:00pm, McCain went to the meeting at the White House and did what exactly? What could he possibly have done between the time he left the Clinton Global Initiative this morning in New York and 2:36pm in Washinton DC.

Assuming he flew between the two cities, this man is a SuperSenator! Thank God for John McCain!