Five at 8 – 9/16/09

1) There are a lot of differences between the health care proposals being offered in Washington and the mandatory health care system adopted in Massachusetts, but the Bay State is still a lab rat for some of the claims of advocates. The Boston Globe has released a survey showing health insurance costs there are expected to increase 10 percent over the next year. The rates are double what they were 10 years ago. Too many people going to the doctor and getting too many tests are some of the reasons.

On Tuesday, the Kaiser foundation released a report showing the average annual family premium for health insurance is over $13,000. The Midwest is second to the Northeast in the cost of premiums.

2) How You Know You Were Meant to be a Father Department: You react like this when your kid throws the ball back.

How You Know You Weren’t Dept: You raised one of the kids on this bus:3) It’s out in the open, now. It started with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd last weekend when she wrote, “Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it.” Now, former President Jimmy Carter has joined in, saying there is “an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president”. Joan Walsh at adds, “Listening to some parents’ expressing actual fear of having Obama beamed into their kids’ classrooms, it was hard to imagine such hysteria being inspired by a white president. It would never happen.”

And so here we are. The people most likely to play the race card have played it. “I never thought that Obama’s election would be all that helpful for American race relations: What if he failed, or even started to show signs of failing?” Ramesh Ponnuru wrote at the National Review.

“If this tactic is proved ineffective in such a high-profile, high-stakes debate, people will become far less likely to use it, which will be even better for race relations,” reasons James Taranto at the Wall St. Journal. “The current squabbles over race are stupid, but that is their virtue. They illustrate the pointlessness of dwelling on race.”

Where to now?

4) Birds on a wire. A musician noticed birds sitting on some utility wires represented notes on a scale.

5) This week various counties in Minnesota have been releasing their levy plans. There was a lot of chatter last spring that people would be hit — and hit hard — in their property tax bills thanks to Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s cutting of state aid. They still might; it depends on individual cities. But we can’t help notice a trend in the headlines this week:

St. Louis County’s part of tax bill could go down in 2010 (Duluth News Tribune)

The Washington County Board this morning approved a preliminary 2010 budget that would slightly increase property tax collections… (Woodbury Bulletin)

Dakota County holds the line on levy (Southwest Review)

Beltrami County commissioners decrease tax levy for 2010 (Bemidji Pioneer)

Tax bill will decrease in (City of) Ramsey (Star Tribune)


Al Franken is cosponsoring legislation to help provide more counselors, psychologists and social workers in schools. Minnesota lags behind most other states in its ratio of counselors to students. What’s your experience with school counselors, social workers and psychologists?


I’ll have another installment in the News Cut series, The Unemployed, early this afternoon.

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – Take us to DEFCON 1. Religious thinker John Shelby Spong tackles the question of whether there is life after death. And he begins by considering that Christianity’s emphasis on eternal life may be wrong. This is always good for an afternoon of blistering e-mail.

Second hour: Graphic designer and author Chip Kidd.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Award-winning war correspondent and syndicated columnist Joe Galloway will talk about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the lessons we could have learned from Vietnam.

Second hour: Dennis Blair, the director of National Intelligence, speaking at the Commonwealth Club of California about the U.S. intelligence apparatus. He revealed on Tuesday that the U.S. spends about $75 billion a year on intelligence.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: NPR Political Editor Ken Rudin.

Second hour: Bill T. Jones’ celebration of Abraham Lincoln… in dance.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Unlike Gov. Pawlenty, all the Republicans who are running to replace him say humans play no part in global warming. Capitol reporter Tim Pugmire will have the story.

NPR will report on Max Baucus’ health care plan, Robert Siegel talks with an author — whose name is not Dan Brown — about the history of the Masons.

  • Rachel

    Did you see the comments posted on YouTube where the video of the fighting on the bus is posted? There is an incredible amount of hate; it’s really sad. Bullies in any color aren’t acceptable, but I know they exist in every race and culture. I can’t believe people are saying that b/c of this incident, black kids are monkeys and should go back to Africa. It’s unreal. This video brings out feelings that I thought were less prevalent in our society, but I see that I was wrong in thinking that.

  • Bob Collins

    I never read comments on either YouTube or Star Tribune. It inflates the perception on the number of Neanderthals among us.

    The Internet has — appropriately in many cases — democratized the national dialogue.

    It also has demonstrated — again — the wisdom of the Founding Fathers who made it clear that there’s a right to speak, but not a right to be heard.

  • Tyler

    It also has demonstrated — again — the wisdom of the Founding Fathers who made it clear that there’s a right to speak, but not a right to be heard.

    Hear, hear!

  • Kim V

    Good parenting video: made me smile!

    Bad parenting video: kinda made me feel sick. I read the story that was linked to, and it sounds like the bullied student knocked a backpack on the floor. How is that a reason to get beat up? Very scary.

  • Bruce

    What are the odds that item #2, Part B seriously prolonged the problem mentioned in Item #3?

    Me? I think I just saw the birth of a brand new racist. You tell me whether he’s justified or not. I know that I personally went through the same thing in high school, once receiving a broken arm and once being put on crutches.

    It took me a long, long time to get over the hard feelings.

    Further to Item #3, that is NOT why I oppose Obama’s Socialist policies. You’ll just have to take my word for that, but if it helps you to know that I opposed Medicare Part D under Bush, well, I did. Just as I opposed Bush’s bailouts.

  • sm

    Re: bus. According to the article ” “Among his [the school superintendent’s] largest concerns are the actions of the school bus driver. There were two attacks over a period of several minutes, yet the bus driver never stopped or intervened,”

    These bus drivers earn their money by being willing to drive the bus without a whip and gun. Now they have to be lion tamers and conflict resolution experts also. What a mess. It makes the success of anyone who survives these wretched public schools all the more remarkable.