Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, now a private citizen, has entered the health care fray with a post on her Facebook page, which can only mean one thing: It’s now officially embarrassing to belong to Facebook, the way it became embarrassing to be on MySpace a few years ago, when it became obvious every other member was there to promote either a mediocre bar band or herbal Cialis.
In a debate already rife with half-truths and outright distortions, Palin decided to up the ante with this perplexingly paranoid statement: “The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.”
“Death panel?” What is she talking about? An article from Salon’s Alex Koppelman breaks down the details: It all stems from an op ed piece in the New York Post by Betsy McCaughey, in which she cherrypicked quotes from Office of Management health-policy adviser Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, including a suggestion that we revisit how health care is rationed during a pandemic. Stripped of context, these quotes sound as though Emanuel is suggesting diverting health care away from the elderly and the disabled; in no way do they reflect any actual policies on the table regarding health care reform.
But how does this turn into a discussion of Obama Death panels, and, as the debate has trickled down to the masses, an idea that Obama’s health care plan is really about euthanizing the elderly and the disabled? Who would promote such nonsense?
Well, in her MySpace editorial, Palin herself credits Minnesota’s own Michele Bachmann: “Rep. Michele Bachmann highlighted the Orwellian thinking of the president’s health care advisor, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of the White House chief of staff, in a floor speech to the House of Representatives.” City Pages has some further analysis, including a video of Bachmann’s floor speech; Bachmann primarily quotes from McCaughey’s column, but adds, “If you’re a grandmother with Parkinson’s or a child with cerebral palsy, watch out.”
The state education department has released the numbers regarding the progress Minnesota schools have made on yearly progress required by the No Child Left Behind law, and, at first blush, the news doesn’t seem good: As the Associated Press reports, nearly half of our schools did not reach their goal, a 12.5 increase from last year. The Pioneer Press’ Doug Belden and MaryJo Webster dig a little deeper into the data, and find that things are a little more complicated: “Statewide, more than 40 percent of schools failing to make adequate progress this year missed because of a single category, according to state officials.” Additionally, while schools have not made their No Child Left Behind goals, many have been making progress nonetheless.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman presents his budget today, and Chris Havens from the Star Tribune offers some of the highlights: St. Paul is going to have a smaller city government next year but will charge more for it, with as many as 45 workers laid off while taxes rise.
Despite budgetary woes like these, the Associated Press reports that Minnesota’s credit rating remains high. For those who didn’t know Minnesota even has a credit rating, MinnPost’s Joe Kimball detailed the rating system Monday, and its importance: There are three major bond rating services, and all give Minnesota nearly top marks, quoting one of the services: “Minnesota’s ‘AAA’ GO rating reflects the state’s excellent debt structure, broad-based economy with above-average wealth levels, and track record of management that is sensitive to changes in the state’s fiscal environment, with regular reviews of revenue forecasts.” This is especially important now, as Minnesota prepares to sell $600 million in General Obligation bonds today.
It seems like it has been a long time since Norm Coleman got any good news, so Monday must have been especially satisfying for the former senator: As Elizabeth Stawicki from MPR reports, Coleman was cleared of any wrongdoing in a case in which it is alleged that investor Nasser Kazeminy, a Coleman friend and campaign donor, attempted to “funnel $75,000 to Coleman through a Minneapolis insurance company that employed Coleman’s wife.”
MPR’s Tim Pugmire tells us that members of a Minnesota House panel are not satisfied with how the state has handled the unemployed. Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, has some particularly strong words for the state Department of Employment and Economic Development, or DEED: “Nobody in this state should have to, when they’ve earned it, have to wait for four to six weeks to get a check from DEED, because there’s nobody at DEED waiting four to six weeks to get a payroll check.”
With the PGA starting, Tigermania has also begun. The Star Tribune’s Mark Craig reports that thousands of Minnesotans have headed up to Hazeltine National. “By the time he finished at 10:15 a.m., the stands at 18 were full and the rows of bodies were deep along the ropes,” Craig tells us, guessing at what the golfer makes of Minnesota: “Tiger Woods must think none of us has a job up here.”