INdiana Systemic Thinking

February 24, 2008

Nader to Run Again

The Associated Press just came out with news Ralph Nader will make another attempt at being elected President. You can view the full story here, but this is what he basically said/stands for:

…the top White House contenders as too close to big business and pledging to repeat a bid that will “shift the power from the few to the many.”

…most people are disenchanted with the Democratic and Republican parties due to a prolonged Iraq war and a shaky economy.

…tax and other corporate-friendly policies under the Bush administration… [have] left many lower- and middle-class people in debt.

[He] criticized Republican candidate John McCain and Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton for failing to support full Medicare for all or cracking down on Pentagon waste and a “bloated military budget. He blamed that on corporate lobbyists and special interests, which he said dominate Washington, D.C., and pledged in his third-party campaign to accept donations only from individuals.

February 17, 2008

Chelsea Clinton: Having It Both Ways

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette carried this Associated Press story about Chelsea Clinton. The purpose of the story was (I guess) to update everyone on what Chelsea is doing for her mother’s campaign.

However, I was a little miffed by the end of the report. Since when is it OK to run around, giving speeches for a candidate, and then refuse to answer questions from the press?

According to the story:

While pressing her mother’s case, she still has refused to talk on-the-record to reporters. She politely smiles when reporters ask questions.In Iowa, she even refused to answer questions from a 9-year-old Scholastic News reporter.

“I’m sorry, I don’t talk to the press and that applies to you, unfortunately. Even though I think you’re cute,” Chelsea told the pint-sized journalist.

She must be doing something right, because the campaign gave a plum assignment this weekend: three days of campaigning in Hawaii, where Democrats hold caucuses Tuesday.

Seems to me the press is treating Chelsea with a little favoritism here.  I mean can you think of anyone, and I mean anyone else who could get away with this.  C’mon Chelsea, if you want to play with the big boys and be taken seriously, your going to have to play by the same rules as everyone else.  Oh, and to the press who continue to gripe about this…  Let me give you a suggestion.  Stop covering her if she won’t take your questions!

February 16, 2008

McCain Coming to Indiana

WTHR has a long story about John McCain coming to Indiana on February 22.  While filled with tons of background information, it is very light on details.  Toward the end they say:

Eyewitness News has confirmed Sen. McCain will visit Indianapolis next Friday. He will participate in some events on the morning of Feb. 22. Stay tuned to Eyewitness News for more details and complete coverage of his visit.

So if your a supporter of the good Senator’s, keep Friday open and watch WTHR.

UPDATE:  Okay, right after I posted this, the Indy Star had some further information.

Jay Kenworthy, communications director for the state GOP, said McCain’s fund-raiser is at 11 a.m. Friday at the Conrad Indianapolis, 50 W. Washington St. Kenworthy isn’t sure what prices will be for the invitation-only event.

Kenworthy said he was not sure who would be able to attend a town hall meeting, if one is scheduled, adding that the Arizona senator’s campaign staff is handling those arrangements.

Rebecca Zepick, who works in media relations for McCain’s campaign, could not confirm McCain will be in Indiana. She said she expected to know more early next week.

“We’re pleased,” said Kenworthy. “He’s the first presidential candidate of this cycle to come through, and everyone expected it to be Hillary (Clinton) or (Barack) Obama.”

The two candidates in the Democratic primary are in a closer race than McCain is in for the Republican primary, Kenworthy noted.

February 6, 2008

Big Pharma Hates McCain: and that’s a bad thing why???

There are two ways of determining where a politician stands on healthcare; read their platform statements, and/or follow the money.  If you choose the first, read carefully.  The language is as carefully crafted as your insurance policy, probably because it was written by the same people.  For example, something like “I want to reduce healthcare costs by implementing money saving technology” (which is common to several candidates) translates to:  I want to save insurance companies money by forcing providers of all sizes to spend money on updating computers and software.  So, sometimes following the second path is better.  Look at where a candidate is getting their money.  If it is from insurance and pharmaceutical companies, chances are they hope to make money if the candidate wins.  How do these companies make money?  In the case of insurance, either from charging the consumer more, or getting the provider to take less.  In the case of pharmaceuticals, continued law allowing them to sell overpriced medication in the United States and placing restrictions on generics.

So, how does all this get us to McCain?  Well, the Wall Street Journal’s Health Blog has a good post on his relationship with the pharmaceutical industry.  According to the Blog,

McCain opposes Big Pharma on two hotly contested issues: the re-importation of drugs from countries where they cost less and giving Medicare the clout to negotiate drug prices directly. McCain has long stumped for re-importation to save money. And he voted against the expansion of Medicare to include a drug benefit because it didn’t allow direct price negotiations by the government and because the program covers too many people.

His health-care plan also calls for drug companies to reveal prices of their drugs and to develop a straightforward path for the creation of generic biologics, two other ideas that wouldn’t do much for the bottom line of the industry leaders.

So there is the rhetoric.  Now how does that match up with the dollars?  Surprisingly well.  Again, according to the WSJ Health Blog:

The Center for Responsive Politics reports that McCain has received $39,797 in donations from pharmaceutical manufacturers. That puts him behind Obama ($154,710), Clinton ($140,544), Mitt Romney ($103,825), Rudy Giuliani ($91,550) and even Chris Dodd ($68,200)

 If we turn contributions around and see who is giving to McCain, we find:

…The most generous group is the retired, with more than $5 million in donations. And who wants cheap drugs more than the retired? No. 2: Lawyers and law firms, which have given $2.5 million, according to the CRP. (No. 6 on the list are health professionals with $713,952 in contributions.)

So the numbers appear to match the rhetoric, when it comes to pharmaceuticals.  However, the Blogmeister took a look at McCain’s healthcare plan.  It is very nonspecific and difficult to tell what he wants to do overall.  It would be interesting to apply the same analysis as above to his overall healthcare plan.  Still, it seems McCain has popular support for at least half the healthcare problem.  I’d really like to know, in non legal language, what he wants to do about the other half,  insurance companies.

February 3, 2008

Public Perceptions of Presidential Candidates

The other day my wife and I were discussing how one particular candidate would never be elected President.  Our premise was public perception of this candidate’s personality was so negative the candidate could never garner a majority of the country’s votes.  Of course public perception of any candidate is probably wrong, but it appears to be important to voters none the less.  Take Ronald Reagan for example.  I think his public perception was of a kindly grandfather type who, even if he had to tell you “no”, he did it in a way that made you feel he was doing it to help you…sorta a grampa knows best approach.  If you disagree, that’s fine, it’s my perception and I’m sticking to it.  Which is really the problem.  People stick to their perceptions despite lots of evidence (and candidate spin) to the contrary.  That’s why I was really interested in this article from the Associated Press, via WTHR.  The article reports the results of a poll on the public’s perceptions of candidates and how those perceptions may change over time.   I’m not that interested in the change over time part, but, in summary, here is the public perception as it stands right now. 

Hillary Clinton – People often cite the words “female” and “feminist” when asked about her.  She is viewed as “strong, decisive and experienced but is not seen as likable, honest or refreshing.” 

“The most volunteered description of Clinton was her gender and the thought that she’s a feminist. Close behind were feelings that she is dishonest and not likable-voiced mostly by Republicans-followed by strength and mention of her husband, former President Clinton. “

Barak Obama – “Inexperience” is the word most use to describe him.  However, most view “him as refreshing, compassionate and attractive. ”

 “People mention inexperience most often, followed by those saying he is inspiring and favors change, and by people citing his race. Some said he is Muslim, an Internet-fed rumor that Obama’s campaign has labored to dispel. “

Mitt Romney – The word most used to describe him is “Morman”.

“Nearly half of those polled could not say anything when asked to describe McCain’s chief rival, Mitt Romney, including more than a third of Republicans-surprisingly large numbers this late in a campaign on which the former Massachusetts governor has spent $40 million of his own money to get his name and message before the voters. ”

“Among those familiar with Romney, most cited was his Mormon faith and a sense he is not authentic, including many who said he changes his mind on issues-a frequent charge leveled by his opponents.

John McCain – “Military service” and “old” are the two most cited terms regarding McCain.  However, he is “widely seen as experienced, strong, honest and decisive”.

Mike Huckabee – Is “best known for his religion. The ordained Baptist minister discusses his faith frequently while campaigning”.

So what do you think?  I think the results of the poll are pretty much in line with my perceptions of the candidates.

January 22, 2008

Mid-day Musings: Dems Debate, Lobotomies, Etc.

Last night I was flipping channels between the Democratic debate and a PBS documentary on lobotomies.  Seriously, I was, I’m not just making that up for some punch line.

First, the debate.  Because I was switching channels, I obviously didn’t get to see the whole thing.  BUT WOW!  Can Hillary and Barak be more hateful toward each other?  On one hand it was entertaining to watch…sort of like a schoolyard fight, but on the other hand, has the Democratic party really sunk so low that two out of the three top contenders have to interrupt each other so much that they can’t even carry on a civilized conversation?  Someone needs to remind these two it was a debate, not an argument.  There is a distinction there.  The first is an exchange of ideas with mutual respect where, at the end, two people can agree to disagree.  The second, well, looked a lot like what we had last night.  Oh, and John Edwards didn’t come put looking too good either.  He appeared to agree with whoever had the best “gotcha” or the most applause.  All the time though, never getting his hands dirty.  If I continue with the schoolyard fight analogy, he is the kid in the back, yelling the loudest, but never putting himself out there to either throw a punch or take one in the gut.  Some would say that is smart, but where I went to school we had a rather unflattering name for people who did that.

Next up, Lobotomies.  Wow, what an interesting, if not gut wrenching show from PBS’s American Experience.  Everything anyone wanted to know about the procedure was presented in detail.  I have to admit, at times, I was glad to flip over to the debate as descriptions, pictures, and video were presented about the procedure.  It’s one thing to academically study something from the psychiatric past, but another to have it so blatantly explained.  I’d recommend watching it if your in the field, although ever being confronted with someone who had one is rare nowadays (they aren’t performed anymore).  Luckily, if you follow this link, PBS is promising to allow the show to be viewed online in a few days.

January 7, 2008

Mistaken Presidential Candidates Snub Michigan

According to a story in the South Bend Tribune, no write-in votes will be counted in the January 15 Michigan Primary.  Candidates had until Friday to file a form indicating they would accept the votes.  None did.

Republicans didn’t need to as they are all on the ballot.  However, Democrats John Edwards, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, and Joe Biden are not, as they took their names off the Michigan ballot to appease Iowa and New Hampshire.  Those states were less than pleased about Michigan attempting to usurp their early status in the primary process.  Hillary Clinton, Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, and Christopher Dodd are still on the ballot.

All this is important because if one is not on the ballot, a supporter may vote for another candidate, thus giving the other candidate delegates at the national convention.

Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer on Friday urged Democrats to vote in their own primary and to vote for “Uncommitted” if they didn’t have a favorite on the ballot.

“For the supporters of … John Edwards, Barack Obama and Bill Richardson, I recommend that you vote uncommitted. If you vote uncommitted, and “Uncommitted” receives sufficient votes, delegates will be sent to the national convention who will be free to vote for whichever candidate they like, including one of those four,” Brewer said in a video posted on YouTube.

In addition;

The Michigan AFL-CIO, which has not endorsed a candidate, said in a Friday release that Obama and Edwards may have made a tactical error by not competing in Michigan’s primary.

“The organization has reminded its affiliates that it was the decision of the Obama and Edwards campaigns to remove themselves from Michigan’s ballot. Both campaigns may now regret this decision,” the union organization said.

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