Five a 8 – 8/21/09: Disagreeing with ourselves

1) Again with the journalism, eh Jon Stewart? The Daily Show host’s guest last night was Betsy McCaughey, one of the leading opponents of President Barack Obama’s health care plan. Here’s the first installment of the extended interview (and here’s the second part).

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McCaughey said, “it’s one thing to pay doctors to spend time with their patients to discuss this issue, but putting pressure on their doctors to require patients to go through a consultation… that’s really wrong.”

It was at that point that I wished Jon Stewart kept up with the news from South Dakota. Don’t get so smug, Minnesota politicians. It wasn’t that long ago (2003) when you passed the Women’s Right to Know Act, which required doctors to inform patients that abortions increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer, even though that assertion is very much in dispute.

Time to rewind the conversations: When exactly is it OK for government to dictate the conversation with your doctor? And when isn’t it? On this matter, it’s not about agreeing with each other. We don’t presently agree with ourselves.

The links above are the extended interviews. Here’s the one edited for the yucks.

Meanwhile, last night hundreds packed a forum on health care in Mankato. Contentious, but polite, is the characterization from an MPR reporter who was there.

2) I can’t decide this question: Is the world in good shape or bad shape when it can find the time to preoccupy itself with the question of whether a woman who wins a track & field event is really a woman?

3) Is Bob Dylan really from Minnesota? If so, where did his accent come from? Graeme Wood, writing in The Atlantic, traveled to Hibbing to find out, and — of course — to get in a few shots at the people who do live here:

So far, from Jaqi and the regulars at the Sportsmen’s, I had heard not even the faintest echo of what Philip Larkin called that “cawing, derisive voice,” though I had heard plenty of derision. But accents are tricky, especially in diversely settled regions like northern Minnesota. Hibbing was an iron town, and the mining jobs had attracted immigrants from at least fifty different known ethnic stocks. Even today, one of Hibbing’s main attractions is the Hull Rust-Mahoning Open Pit Iron Mine, a vast scar on the earth where generations of miners extracted ore from taconite. The pit extends more than a mile across, and from behind the chain-link fence at the lookout point on the northern fringe of town, it resembles a polluted northern twin of the Grand Canyon.

(h/t: @MNstories)

4) I’ve written plenty this week about the national convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in Minneapolis, so I’ll try not to repeat myself too much. Today, they take up the full resolution on non-celibate gay clergy (Today’s activities start at 8 a.m.). Here’s the live video feed, but if you want an example of Twitter at its finest, spend the day following the vote here. A few are blogging but what we’ve learned in Minneapolis this week is nobody can tweet like a Lutheran.

5) I forget. Are frogs an indicator species? New research: Traffic noise could be ruining sex lives of frogs.


Health care reform is the subject of town hall meetings, congressional negotiations and presidential news conferences. But the debate is happening in locations that never make the news. We want to know how the controversy is playing out in your life. Where does your health care debate take place?


I’ll have another installment in the News Cut series, “The Unemployed,” by early afternoon. I’m looking for more people to profile. Contact me here.

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: When both the Lockerbie bomber and disgraced quarterback Michael Vick were released back to society, some people were outraged. But one scientist suggests that we have evolved to forgive, alongside biblical traditions of redeeming sins. Kerri and her guests consider forgiveness. News Cut readers, on the other hand, already have. Here and here.

Second hour: Singer Dar Williams.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Cardiologist Dr. Thomas Kottke and Dr. David Wallinga, director of the Food and Health program at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, discuss what constitutes healthy living.

Second hour: Three brain scientists discuss how the brain works.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – It’s Science Friday. First hour: A look at the hurricane season.

Second hour: The food-shopping decisions we make and whether they matter.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Toni Randolph is following the ELCA vote. Brandt Williams will report on the use of police video. Who looks at it and when? Dan Olson looks at the transportation hub springing up near the Twins ballpark.

Nationally, Mike Pesca begins a series — Friday Night Lives — with a visit to high school football training camps. Richard Gonzales profiles the last remaining auto plant in California, which is likely to close soon. Joel Rose will report on why the promise of digital TV has fallen so far short.