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Reader Roundup: Coleman ad, Jeune Lune, health care articles spur discussion

A recent post on Sen. Norm Coleman’s new campaign ad featuring domestic bliss struck a chord with many MinnPost readers, along with such topics as the demise of Theatre de la Jeune Lune, real estate fraud, what to do about people with no health insurance and a call for government regulation from a surprising source.

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Aaron Landry was among almost a dozen people commenting on Eric Black’s June 20 Political Agenda post, “Coleman’s new TV ad features – Mrs. Coleman”:

Good observation on the ring shot. Also, I’ve been enjoying the back and forth between some bloggers and the Coleman campaign regarding how it wasn’t filmed at the same time – Mrs. Coleman looks superimposed the entire time, especially in the long shot where the proportions seem off, and the lighting is a bit of a giveaway.

From Gail O’Hare:

For years the Coleman marriage has been rumored to be “in name only.” This spot appears to be an effort to shore up his image as a dutiful hubby who even obeys the little woman. Instead, the falseness and phony coziness screams distance. Gag.

From Mike Griffin:

As I would point out to film analysis students, technically speaking, the camera does not zoom in on Laurie Coleman’s left hand. There isn’t a zoom used, but a simple cut to a separate close-up shot of her left hand wrapped around the coffee mug, her ring prominently displayed.

There is no narrative, or logical-sequential, reason for this shot to have been inserted into the ad. As part of the narrative action of the ad’s mini-story it is a non-sequitur. But it does serve the purpose of effectively drawing the viewer’s attention to her hand and ring.

It is a common practice in film editing to create such an otherwise unrelated association between shots. So, it is no stretch, in fact pretty obvious, that the shot was made and “edited in” precisely for that purpose. It cleverly and, because of the relative brevity of the shot subtly, reaffirms the domestic relationship between Norm and Laurie that the campaign wants to promote. (Technical analysis free of charge.)

From Sheila Ehrich:

I happened to catch the ring shot last night … gave me the best laugh I’ve had in some time! I don’t think Al Franken could have scripted or shot this ad any better himself. And I hate to disappoint Ms. Rath, [campaign communications director Erin Rath] but I’m one “left-wing liberal, Al Franken” supporter who doesn’t blog and isn’t a conspiracy theorist either. Anyone taking odds on how fast this will be off the air?

From John E. Iacono:

Having jarring elements in an ad keeps people’s attention, in my experience. If the intention was to present a kind of “corn pone” ad that would make people laugh without being acerbic I think it works. People will remember it.

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Casey Selix’s Wednesday post, “Plight of the Uninsured: What would it take to solve it?” the first in a planned series on health-care policy, drew several comments:

From Gerald Abrahamson:

This issue has been analyzed and discussed on the AARP message boards for some time now. It boils down to the desire of the people and the govt to get the most care for everyone at the lowest cost. That means changing to a Single Payer-Universal Health Care system of covering most medical expenses rather than private insurance. Private insurance could be bought to cover additional, optional, choices, but the major expense of private insurance would be gone. Just cutting out the paperwork required for X insurance companies and replacing them with one form would save an estimated $1000/person per year in premiums. Then, eliminate the 30+ percent gross profit margin built into any premiums … that reduces costs by another $500-$1000+/person per year. Then medical costs go down because doctors and hospitals get paid for everything they do – with virtually no uninsured being given free treatment. So, no need for a hidden markup to cover the cost of those who can’t or won’t pay, because everyone has health insurance and can pay.

… The quality of care under universal coverage is better than under the private system because the medical staff do not have to pinch pennies and thus put your life at risk to make a profit.

They are then free to do what is needed to get the job done and do it as efficiently as they needed. Medical need (within reason), not cost, determines what treatment is given.

An excerpt from Bernice Vetsch‘s comments:

In Minnesota, Senator John Marty has introduced a tax-supported single-payer plan (SF 2324) that would provide health care, preventive care, dental, mental, eyeglasses – everything necessary to good health – to every person in Minnesota while costing less than what we now spend. … Nationally, John Conyers has several times introduced HR 676, the national version of the Minnesota plan. …

Our system is now, in effect, managed by the insurance and drug companies that benefit from it. Much of the insurance companies’ profit comes from denying coverage wherever possible.

Administrative costs are about 31 percent of dollars spent, while Medicare’s costs are between 2 and 3 percent. … Single-payer is NOT socialized medicine. Patients have complete choice of providers, who are all private, but only one insurance company/payer – the government. Our police and fire departments are “socialized;” all cops and fire fighters are government employees and all answer our calls to 911.

From Karen Sandness:

I’m a middle-aged, single, self-employed person, and while I technically have health insurance, it’s virtually useless because of the high deductible. (High-deductible is the only kind of insurance I can afford.) As a first step, we should ban deductibles, because all they do is discourage people from getting needed care. Decades ago, I had opportunities to move to Japan, Norway, and Australia. I could kick myself for not taking those opportunities.

Ed Stych disagreed:

Ms. Selix writes, “When I share my friend’s story, people are visibly shaken. I’ve seen and heard enough reactions that I can confidently report the consensus: He didn’t have health insurance? What is wrong with our country’s health system?!”

I guess it all depends on who you hang out with. My first response was, “Why didn’t the guy care enough about his health to find the $400 or $500 a month to buy health insurance?”

Many people gamble on their health by CHOOSING not to take medical insurance. As the owner of a small business, we offer our employees group health insurance and we pay a significant amount of the premium. Yet, on several occasions over 15 years I have had to beg – and in one case practically order – an employee to sign up for our plan. In most of those cases, these were young, single people making triple the minimum wage who just didn’t want to pay $50 or $75 or $100 a month for health insurance. They wanted to take the gamble and save their money for the tavern or some other form of entertainment.

When I hire new employees, many have been out of work for a month or two and have CHOSEN not to take COBRA from their previous job. The explanation always is that they decided to take the gamble that nothing would happen in the couple of months they were without insurance. …

Yes, we have 374,000 people without health insurance. I assume they’re mostly not the same people year after year. People move in and out of the system, often at their own choosing. We certainly need to take care of the chronically poor, but I believe there are already federal and state programs for those people. The people we are trying to figure out how to cover are generally “middle class” who have chosen – at least for a time – to forego insurance. I assume that the friend in this story is middle class.

Many of you think I’m crass. But my experience is that many people are making a conscious choice to forego health insurance in lieu of something that is less important than making the mortgage payment or going grocery shopping. …

I empathize. But the answer is not to socialize medicine like Canada and much of Western Europe has done. We’ll regret that.

On the other hand, 92.8 percent of Minnesotans have health insurance? Wow! That’s pretty good! What else do we do that is voluntary at such a high rate?

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Don Berryman added this to Pamela Espeland’s June 20 post, “Totally attuned: Pianist Jon Weber plays ninth jazz festival:”

Women Hammond B-3 players may be slightly hard to find, but off the top of my head I can think of Shirley Scott, Trudy Pitts (who plays beautifully on that classic LP “El Hombre” by Pat Martino), Rhoda Scott, Linda Dactyll, Patricia Barber, etc. In addition to Barbara Dennerlein.

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John Finn reminisced in response to Dan Haugen’s June 19 Business Agenda post, “Non-motorized mowers clip Toro”:

Strange but true: Back in the early ’80s, Toro was developing a line of high-tech exercise machines. (I sort of remember that they received an Industrial Design Society of America excellence award for the products, which were never marketed.) I guess the company realized that keeping homeowners fat and lazy was more to their advantage.

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Lyn Crosby commented on David Hawley’s Tuesday post, “With Jeune Lune’s triumphs over and legacy clear, its wondrous nomads move on”:

“They want to talk to us about what we’re doing and all that. It’s none of their business.” (Performer comment about the board of directors)??? Oh ya, I really want to have the legal and other responsibilities of being a board director and not know anything about what the organization is doing! GET REAL! You don’t want a board? Don’t be a nonprofit.

Ann Spencer added:

As a board member of a Twin Cities arts organization myself, I find my heart going out to the directors of Theatre de la Jeune Lune.

Serving on a board is an honor and a privilege, but it also carries heavy responsibility. The Jeune Lune artist quoted in the article may have found board oversight irksome, but board members have fiduciary duties that include responsibility for the financial soundness of the organization. While they should not be micro-managing the artistic product, the impact of artistic decisions on the organization’s financial health most emphatically IS their business.

Facing a situation in which the best option is closing the organization’s doors – especially an esteemed and venerable organization – is a board’s worst nightmare. I am sure Jeune Lune’s board members spent many sleepless nights and shed not a few tears before they came to this decision.

How did the organization get into this fix in the first place? I don’t know and I’m not going to speculate or point fingers. What I do feel confident in saying is that this was an agonizing situation for all concerned.

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Benno Groeneveld had this to say about Steve Berg’s Tuesday story, “In today’s America, pluralism and religion remarkably coexist”:

Aren’t we atheists a tolerant bunch? But then, everybody ignores us anyway. As if people who don’t believe in a god couldn’t contribute to the debate about religion!

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John Olson liked Pat Borzi’s Monday post, “Besides Twins Hall of Fame ceremony, Carew has another important reason for TC visit”:

Thanks for sharing this story. As I recall, Carew does not frequently grant interviews, and I want to commend you for emphasizing the work that I suspect is really important to him now.

A lot of other athletes (and others, for that matter) would do well to learn from Mr. Carew on how to handle themselves with dignity and class. Too many other former athletes find themselves on the wrong side of a congressional hearing or other negative publicity that makes the sport and the athletes look bad.

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John Finn commented on Steve Berg’s June 20 Cityscape post, “America needs a new mobility and lifestyle strategy”:

Speaking of gas taxes, how does MnDOT calculate its future revenue? Do they assume that current fuel consumption, miles driven and car/truck sales remain constant or perhaps increase at past rates?

Here in Winona, folks have taken to speculating on the location and grandeur of the new bridge that is to be built in the next decade, along with improved accompanying highway interchanges. It’s assumed that the bridge should be four lanes, which would make sense if traffic increases in the future as it has since the current bridge was built back in the 1940s. Not much point in arguing that that might not be the case or that there might be fiscal restraints on the construction project.

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Kevin Judd opined on Doug Grow’s June 20 Political Agenda post, “Mayors seeking to help for GOP convention”:

Certainly the Republican funk is a factor in a lack of volunteers. Perhaps another reason people are hesitant to volunteer is the plans of many to turn the Xcel into Grant Park of 1968. Any local person who reads the papers (dead tree or virtual) knows that protest groups have been organizing and lawyering up for years to bring this convention to a grinding halt; we’ve seen reports of plans to jam traffic, and all other sorts of niceties.

I work in St. Paul and will likely telecommute for those days.

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Tom Poe took issue with Monday’s Community Voices essay, “State should help foster socially responsible businesses,” by Sen. John Marty:

Paul Newman’s company does just fine, thank you, without additional legislation. The assumption that there is a fiduciary duty to add additional liability exposure to a corporation by engaging in conduct that harms others, or the environment, is just plain silly. The more I think about this topic raised by the author, the more concerned I am about the “real” purpose of the bill as presented.

Professor Yunus, of Grameen Bank, has a book that spells out how every corporation can become socially responsible, and it won’t require special legislation.

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Ray Schmitz found an ironic note in Sharon Schmickle’s Tuesday story, “A warning on oil speculation from NWA’s Steenland”:

Wonder if his attitude would have been different, toward regulation that is, during the leveraged buyouts in the airline industry. How much are those still contributing to the current crisis in aviation?

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