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The health care debate needs to be about principles

If there is one word that describes the debate over health care in the United States it’s “confusion.”
There are intense passions, all sorts of disinformation, and, sadly, an inability on the part of the advocates for a national health care initiative to define their key principles. Perhaps, if the latter were more strongly emphasized, and some of the misinformation explained and pushed aside, then maybe the debate would be more civil and informed.

Read more: The health care debate needs to be about principles

Are Virginia Democrats losing their momentum?

Virginia Democrats have been on a winning streak for several years now.  They won statewide in 2005, won again in 2006, did well in the House of Delegates and State Senate races in 2007, and knocked it out of the park in 2008 when the state turned blue for President Obama.  For many that would seem to signal that 2009 is likely to be yet another Democratic grand slam.
 But not so fast. That’s not the way things are shaping up and Creigh Deeds is having a surprisingly tough time of it.  
The most recent polls show him behind his opponent, former Attorney General Bob McDonnell.  Unlike past elections, when national forces helped the Democrats, this year, the political environment is a bit tougher.
For one thing there is a long standing conventional wisdom to overcome.  Namely that Virginians when casting their votes for Governor tend to vote for the candidate from the party other than the one that’s in the White House.  This has held true for 32 years.  Of course, this could be a long running coincidence.  Many think it is, but it could also be an unconscious desire on the part of the voters to create something of a balance between Washington and Richmond.  

 

Read more: Are Virginia Democrats losing their momentum?

Is the Stimulus Working?

The recession began during the last quarter of 2007 and the gross domestic product fell by 2.8%. There was a slight rebound during the first quarter of 2008, but during the rest of the year, the direction was all down.  Consumer demand was off and prices declined.  The latter was a sure sign of the rather scary economic phenomena known as deflation.  
And most worrisome, foreclosures and bankruptcies reached levels not seen since the great depression.  Also, to add to the confusion, the banking system, with its faltering mortgage backed securities, seemed on the verge of collapse.  Sometimes, even a few months later, it’s easy to forget how bad things had gotten.  

 

Read more: Is the Stimulus Working?

It’s not just for whittling

Next to my keyboard there is battered old pocketknife that belonged to my grandfather. It’s seen better days. I have no idea of the brand. The little plate that identified its maker is long gone. It’s a simple affair. It had two blades and is in a green case. My granddad died 40 years ago, and I have no idea how old it is. One knife, the shorter of the two, is broken off. No doubt Poppy, as we called my granddad, used it to pry something open and it wasn’t up to the stress. The second is still functional, but it’s been sharpened so many times that its shape has been distorted. I don’t use it, of course. It’s a keepsake, and is a connection to the roots of my own passion for the pocketknife.
Pocketknives, for many, are something of a throwback. A handy tool, that in our progressively urban world, is often associated with farmers, outdoorsman, and, of course, folks who sit on their porch and whittle. Usually, the latter, to some of my city friends, is an image that’s also associated with drinking moonshine and playing the banjo on the front porch. But pocketknives have moved well beyond that. And I have several that prove that point. I have one, that has, let’s see, a saw, three kinds of screw drivers, a cork screw (very important), a can opener, a pair of scissors, tweezers, tooth pick, fish hook remover, and several other tools I haven’t quite figured out yet. It’s handy, but it has one drawback. It’s heavy and in my pocket manages to feel like I am carrying a brick. So, my preference is for something smaller.

Read more: It’s not just for whittling

Journalism great passes, ‘and that’s the way it is’

When Walter Cronkite retired in 1981, in his typical, fatherly, and always gentle manner, he said that his departure wasn’t all that important. He had been preceded by a fine journalist and would be followed by a fine journalist. It was, in his words, “just a passing of the baton.”
At the time he was probably right. Broadcast news was still at its height. CNN had only been on the air for a year and the Internet was still a long way off. The evening news, anchored by names such as Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, and Howard K. Smith, was still one of the principal sources for news and information. And the people who guided us through that half hour wrap-up of world events each evening were trusted visitors to our homes. Walter Cronkite, one of those handful of welcomed TV visitors, died last week at age 92. According to several polls in the 1960s and ’70s, when Cronkite was at the height of his fame, he was considered the most trusted man in America.

Read more: Journalism great passes, ‘and that’s the way it is’

Local governments and the recession: some twists, some turns, some IOUs

During a recession, the Federal Government has one big advantage over everyone else. It can run a deficit and continue to borrow. In a sense, as some like to say, it can just keep printing money. However, other governments, such as states, counties, towns and cities, don’t have this option. Though some can run a deficit for a little while, in the end, they all have to come up with some way to balance the books.
Though revenue for local governments often fluctuates, sometimes dramatically, they rarely find themselves looking at the possibility of default. Usually, through belt tightening, higher taxes and borrowing, they can get through a tough spot. However, this year is putting the soundness of many state and local governments to the test. Some are getting by and others aren’t doing well at all.

Read more: Local governments and the recession: some twists, some turns, some IOUs

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