Thursday, August 13, 2009

Carano lifeblood of women’s MMA

Carano lifeblood of women’s MMA

By Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports
Aug 12, 2:30 am EDT

Gina Carano has done hundreds of interviews and personal appearances since the day in the spring she announced she’d reached contract terms to fight Christiane “Cyborg” Santos on Saturday at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.

And in virtually every one of those interviews, Carano can barely finish a sentence without beaming and chuckling a bit.

Santos is, by far, the most dangerous woman she’s ever faced, yet Carano exudes cool. The pressure on her in Saturday’s nationally televised bout is immense. There is no athlete in any sport, male or female, who is more important to the success of that sport than Carano is to women’s mixed martial arts.

The NFL made it without Tom Brady last year. Barry Bonds hasn’t played a baseball game since 2007, but ticket sales and fan interest continue to soar. Tiger Woods didn’t play golf for nine months, but courses still were filled and tournaments still were broadcast.

If Carano quit fighting tomorrow, though, she’d take women’s MMA down with her. She’s in the main event Saturday and has received superstar treatment, but there wouldn’t be a women’s fight on television, let alone headlining the card, if Carano weren’t involved.

Through it all, though, she manages to remain one of sport’s most humble and self-effacing figures.

Nothing seems to faze her. She seems as if she’s going to play tennis in the park with her sister, yet she’s fighting for the first Strikeforce women’s featherweight championship in the main event of a much-hyped nationally televised bout.

She was an instant hit in her first MMA bout and hasn’t slowed down. Yet, she doesn’t try to figure it out and just seems to enjoy the attention and the chance to increase the visibility of a sport she loves.

“I don’t have to be there for the sport to be successful,” Carano said. “I’m doing the best with this opportunity to represent the sport. I’m doing everything I can do. But the sport is awesome. It’ll make it by itself. They don’t need me for it to be successful. I’m being given the chance right now for a period of time and there will be another person with the chance next.”

Eventually, some woman would have come along who would have done for women’s MMA what Carano is doing now. Carano, though, has essentially created the industry.

It hasn’t been without potholes along the way.

Just as when Woods joined the PGA Tour and there were players who were unhappy with the amount of attention he commanded, so are there women who are unhappy that the world seems not to notice them and lavishes attention on Carano.

Eventually, those golfers who complained about the attention being paid to Woods were soon thankful that he was on the Tour when purses started to rise, crowds began to swell, television ratings soared and sponsorship opportunities increased dramatically.

Carano is doing the same thing for female fighters. She was the first woman to fight on both premium cable and network television and is now the first woman to headline a live nationally televised card.

Whether she wins or loses on Saturday won’t matter, because her contribution to MMA will go far beyond a single bout. Because of Gina Carano, it’s OK to put a women’s fight on television. Men’s MMA is still struggling to reach the mainstream, but Carano is doing her part to nudge it in the right direction.

She’s been the epitome of class and grace in the most trying of circumstances. Most importantly, her fights consistently deliver. She’s one of the most exciting fighters, male or female, active today.

The fight on Saturday figures to be a Fight of the Year type of bout in which each woman will stand and throw power shots at the other. She relishes that type of head-to-head showdown.

“I think Cyborg said it best,” Carano said. “It’s going to be who makes the least amount of mistakes [who wins]. We both have things going for us. We’re about the same size. She’s got bigger muscles, but I’m pretty strong and I love to get down.”

She concedes the nerves occasionally get the best of her, but her trainer, five-time Ultimate Fighting Championship title-holder Randy Couture, has spent plenty of time advising her on the mental side of the game.

Couture is renowned for his ability to relax and remain calm and he’s shared his secrets with Carano.

“Randy Couture has taught me a lot of things, like the difference being anxious and nervous,” Carano said. “Nervous is negative. Anxious is when you expect to do well. There are good and bad days. I can’t let the pressure get to me. I’m still human.

“Some days, I’m wondering how this all happened and why I got this opportunity. I’ve gotten to go to Thailand, New York. I love life.”

That passion translates easily to the public, which picks up on it and embraces her. Fans love athletes who are highly skilled, highly motivated and who clearly enjoy what they do, as Carano does.

Her mere presence has made Saturday’s show an event rather than just another fight card. No athlete in any sport has had the kind of impact, particularly in such a short time, that Carano has had on women’s MMA.

All you have to do is watch on Saturday and you’ll quickly understand why. When she eventually walks away and hangs up the gloves, there will be little doubt that Gina Carano left her sport a lot better off than when she joined it.

Copyright © 2009 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

Guitar legend-inventor Les Paul dies at age 94

Guitar legend-inventor Les Paul dies at age 94

AP, Aug 13, 2009 6:57 pm PDT

Les Paul, the guitar virtuoso and inventor who revolutionized music and created rock 'n' roll as surely as Elvis Presley and the Beatles by developing the solid-body electric guitar and multitrack recording, died Thursday at age 94.
Known for his lightning-fast riffs, Paul performed with some of early pop's biggest names and produced a slew of hits, many with wife Mary Ford. But it was his inventive streak that made him universally revered by guitar gods as their original ancestor and earned his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the most important forces in popular music..

Paul, who died in White Plains, N.Y., of complications from pneumonia, was a tireless tinkerer, whose quest for a particular sound led him to create the first solid-body electric guitar, a departure from the hollow-body guitars of the time. His invention paved the way for modern rock 'n' roll and became the standard instrument for legends like Pete Townshend and Jimmy Page..

He also developed technology that would become hallmarks of rock and pop recordings, from multitrack recording that allowed for layers and layers of "overdubs" to guitar reverb and other sound effects..

"He was truly the cornerstone of popular music," said Henry Juskiewicz, chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar, which mass produced Paul's original invention. "He was a futurist, and unlike some futurists who write about it and predict things, he was a guy who actually did things.".

Paul remained an active performer until his last months: He put out his very first rock album just four years ago, and up until recently played every week at a New York jazz club..

The news of his death prompted an outpouring of tributes from the music world..

"Les lived a very long life and he got to a lot of his goals, so I'm happy for him in that respect. ... At least he realized that he was a legend in his own time while he was alive," said Richie Sambora, Bon Jovi's guitarist and a friend of Paul's, on Thursday. "He was revolutionary in the music business.".

Said Kiss' Paul Stanley: "The name Les Paul is iconic and is known by aspiring and virtuoso guitar players worldwide. That guitar is the cornerstone of a lot of great music that has been made in the last 50 years.".

A musician since childhood, he experimented with guitar amplification for years before coming up in 1941 with what he called "The Log," a 4-by-4 piece of wood strung with steel strings..

"I went into a nightclub and played it. Of course, everybody had me labeled as a nut." He later put the wooden wings onto the body to give it a traditional guitar shape..

The use of electric guitar gained popularity in the mid-to-late 1940s..

Leo Fender's Broadcaster was the first mass-produced solid body electric on the market in the late 1940s..

Gibson solicited Paul to create a prototype for a guitar, and began production on the Les Paul guitar in 1952. Townshend of the Who, Steve Howe of Yes, jazz great Al DiMeola and Led Zeppelin's Page all made the Gibson Les Paul their trademark six-string..

The Les Paul series has become one of the most widely used guitars in the music industry. In 2005, Christie's auction house sold a 1955 Gibson Les Paul for $45,600..

Paul was born Lester William Polfuss, in Waukesha, Wis., on June 9, 1915. He began his career as a musician, billing himself as Red Hot Red or Rhubarb Red. He toured with the popular Chicago band Rube Tronson and His Texas Cowboys and led the house band on WJJD radio in Chicago..

In the mid-1930s he joined Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians and soon moved to New York to form the Les Paul Trio, with Jim Atkins and bassist Ernie Newton..

Paul started out as an accompanist, working with key artists until he struck out on his own. His first records were released in 1944 on Decca Records. Later, with Ford, his wife from 1949 to 1962, he earned 36 gold records for hits including "Vaya Con Dios" and "How High the Moon," which both hit No. 1..

He had met Ford, then known as Colleen Summers, in the 1940s while working as a studio musician in Los Angeles. For seven years in the 1950s, Paul and Ford broadcast a TV show from their home in Mahwah, N.J. (Ford died in 1977, 15 years after they divorced)..

Paul had made his first attempt at audio amplification at age 13. Unhappy with the amount of volume produced by his acoustic guitar, he tried placing a telephone receiver under the strings. Although this worked to some extent, only two strings were amplified and the volume level was still too low..

By placing a phonograph needle in the guitar, all six strings were amplified, which proved to be much louder. Paul was playing a working prototype of the electric guitar in 1929..

His work on recording techniques began in the years after World War II, when Bing Crosby gave him a tape recorder. Drawing on his earlier experimentation with his homemade recording machine, Paul added an additional playback head to the recorder. The result was a delayed effect that became known as tape echo..

Tape echo gave the recording a more "live" feel and enabled the user to simulate different playing environments..

Paul's next "crazy idea" was to stack together eight mono tape machines and send their outputs to one piece of tape, stacking the recording heads on top of each other. The resulting machine served as the forerunner to today's multitrack recorders. Many of his songs with Ford used overdubbing techniques that Paul had helped develop..

"I could take my Mary and make her three, six, nine, 12, as many voices as I wished," he recalled. "This is quite an asset." The overdubbing technique was highly influential on later recording artists such as the Carpenters..

Paul's use of multitrack recording was unique: Before he did it, most recordings were made on a single tape. By recording each element separately, from the vocals to instrumentation on different tracks, they could be mixed and layered, adding to the richness in sound..

"In the old days, if you only had one track, you put a microphone in the middle of the music and hope for the best," Juskiewicz said..

In 1954, Paul commissioned the first eight-track tape recorder, later known as "Sel-Sync," in which a recording head could simultaneously record a new track and play back previous ones..

In the late 1960s, Paul retired from music to concentrate on his inventions. His interest in country music was rekindled in the mid-'70s and he teamed with Chet Atkins for two albums. The duo were awarded a Grammy for best country instrumental performance of 1976 for their "Chester and Lester" album..

In 2005, he released the Grammy-winning "Les Paul & Friends: American Made, World Played," his first album of new material since those 1970s recordings and his first official rock CD. Among those playing with him: Peter Frampton, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Richie Sambora..

"They're not only my friends, but they're great players," Paul told The Associated Press. "I never stop being amazed by all the different ways of playing the guitar and making it deliver a message.".

Paul was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2005..


Associated Press writer Luke Sheridan contributed to this report..

Vick signs deal with Eagles

Vick signs deal with Eagles

By ROB MAADDI, AP Sports Writer Rob Maaddi, Ap Sports Writer 29 mins ago

PHILADELPHIA – By halftime, the Linc was buzzing: Michael Vick was an Eagle.

Suddenly, no one seemed to care much about the preseason game against the New England Patriots on Thursday night. All that mattered to most fans was that the disgraced quarterback had joined their team.

Agent Joel Segal confirmed the signing, shortly before the Philadelphia Eagles announced it in a text message. The team gave Vick a one-year deal with an option for a second year.

"We don't need another quarterback, especially him," longtime fan Donald Crispin said.

The 29-year-old Vick, once the NFL's highest-paid player, has been out of action since 2006. The former Atlanta Falcons star was convicted in August 2007 of conspiracy and running a dogfighting ring, and served 18 of a 23-month sentence in federal prison. He also was suspended indefinitely by the NFL.

Commissioner Roger Goodell conditionally lifted Vick's suspension on July 27, allowing him to sign with a team, practice and play in the last two preseason games. Once the season begins, Vick can participate in all team activities except games, and Goodell said he would consider Vick for full reinstatement by Week 6 (Oct. 18-19) at the latest.

The Eagles reached the NFC championship game last season under quarterback Donovan McNabb, and are still looking for their elusive first Super Bowl win.

McNabb has led the Eagles to five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl appearance in the last eight years, and was rewarded with a $5.3 million raise in the offseason. The Eagles tore up his old contract with two years remaining, and gave him a new deal worth $24.5 million over the next two seasons.

The team is a surprise landing point for Vick. It was among 26 clubs that said there was no interest in him, but that may have changed when backup Kevin Kolb strained a knee ligament earlier this week. Kolb's injury isn't serious and he's expected to return next week. The Eagles also have veteran A.J. Feeley.

When news of Vick's signing circulated in the press box during the first half of the Eagles' preseason opener against New England, even the team's public relations staff seemed surprised.

The crowd quickly caught on at Lincoln Financial Field. Fans standing on the concourse were in disbelief. One guy wondered how quickly he'd be able to buy a Vick jersey. Another asked if this was a joke.

"It doesn't make any sense," said Michelle Harlan, a mother attending her first NFL game with a young son.

In a "60 Minutes" interview set to air Sunday, Vick accepted blame for not stopping the illegal dogfighting operation he bankrolled.

Vick said he feels "some tremendous hurt behind what happened."

He said he should have taken "the initiative to stop it all ... I didn't."

Asked if he was more concerned about his playing career or the dogs he hurt, Vick replied, "Football don't even matter."

The animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, wasted no time reminding people exactly what Vick had done.

"PETA and millions of decent football fans around the world are disappointed that the Eagles decided to sign a guy who hung dogs from trees. He electrocuted them with jumper cables and held them under water," PETA spokesman Dan Shannon told The Associated Press.

"You have to wonder what sort of message this sends to young fans who care about animals and don't want them to be harmed."

Since Andy Reid became the head coach in 1999, the Eagles have avoided players with character issues. The lone exception came in 2004 when Philadelphia acquired wide receiver Terrell Owens. That move paid off when Owens helped lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl in his first season. But T.O. quickly wore out his welcome, criticizing management over a contract dispute and feuding with McNabb. He was released midway through the 2005 season.

"I couldn't envision Mike being here," said former Eagles linebacker Ike Reese, a teammate of Vick's in Atlanta in 2005-06. "I didn't see where he fit in. I think most people in the locker room would accept it. Donovan is very secure in his position. He wants to see Mike get another opportunity."


AP sports writers Hank Kurz Jr. and Jon Krawczynski and AP writer Dan Robrish contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2009 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

Health Care – The Conservative Capitalist Alternative By Regis Matejcik


August 13, 2009

As Americans we enjoy the benefits of the worlds finest medical technology and distributive services. We also endure the burden of a medical system, that due to a number of factors, including the economic reality that it is a limited resource with a virtually unlimited demand, is very costly. In many polls, Americans indicate that they prefer “Universal” health care. Unfortunately, it is likely that what respondents are wanting is the finest of medical technology and service, with the only change being that it be free of cost. It is imperative that we recognize that Americans overwhelmingly approve of the quality and availability of our current health care system - but object to the cost.

Democrats want the public to believe that under their proposal health care will remain unchanged, except the Government will make it universally available and free – or almost free.

Such an outcome is, however an economic impossibility. A resource cannot be made universally available at no cost without altering the supply of the resource in some form or another. The expected result of making any resource that is in high demand available at little or no cost; is that the resource will quickly be depleted and it's distribution governed by some kind of arbitrary rationing, or the quality of the resource will degrade, or a combination thereof.

Therefore, a conservative alternative “health care reform” position must focus on the cost of health care. More specifically, a conservative alternative must focus on the current regulatory and legislative framework that has artificially played a large role in inflating the cost of health care and insurance.  It is imperative that we understand the fundamentals of the economics that drive health care.  At the very core is a demand that is growing faster than the supply.  Much of the increase in demand can be traced back to Government intervention via legislation and regulation.  For example, when the Federal Government instituted a "Prescription Drug" program for the elderly - the demand for prescription drugs was proportionately increased.  When the Sovereign Government becomes a major purchaser of health care, all other potential purchasers tend to be diminsished.  The Sovereign has the ability to print money, and to take money from others by force.  Therefore, with it's almost unlimited purchasing power, it can drive the cost of any good or service dramatically higher by "outbidding" all others for that service.  It is therefore not so much that the Medical infrastructure of the United States need reform - but the regulatory and legislative controls that govern the system that need reform.

When we speak of “health care reform” we need to emphasize that what needs to be reformed are these regulatory frameworks that govern health care. The currently proposed Democrat legislation moves in exactly the wrong direction. The current crisis in health care cost is largely driven by an ever increasing demand
for service due to well intended, but poorly implemented public policy. Legislative and regulatory trends have been to place increasingly costly mandates on hospitals, doctors, and insurers, while making no provisions for funding such mandates. For example, insurance companies are mandated to include coverage of alcoholism in 45 states. That is, even if one is a devout Mormon that never expects to have a drink, a pro-rata share of the cost of alcoholism treatment will be included in ones insurance premium. Some other examples include invitro-fertilization (13 states) and contraceptives (31 states). The unintended consequences of well intended health care regulations have left us with a system that produces miraculous innovation at what are often unacceptably high cost.

The current system displays both the creative genius of capitalism and the stifling costs born of excessive governmental meddling. The Democrats seek to cure the excessive meddling with more meddling – but with the promise that this time it will be done correctly. They wish for the Federal Government to openly “compete” for private sector customers with the insurance industry.

If there is to be any respect for private enterprise, government entities cannot, should not, must not, compete with the private sector. Private and public endeavors should be complimentary – not adversarial. The concept that the sovereign taxing authority would "compete" with a private industry is at its core antithetical to the concept of private enterprise.  Imagine the absurdity.  Private insurers who must make a profit to survive and accumulate the capital needed to cover the risks that they insure; would be paying large taxes on these profits, so they might be used by the entity that is "competing" with them for business.  For generations this country as forbidden Public entry into private markets.  Should the direction of "health care reform" continue to move in the direction of "increasing" rather than "decreasing" wrong headed governmental intrusion into this market; the problems we now face will become exasperated rather than diminished. 

The proper direction of an alternative "health care reform" position is not to "soften" or "weaken" the currently proposed legislation.  The proper direction is to provide a clear concise alternative that begins to "walk back" the disastrous interventionist policies that have lead us to the current health care difficulties.  To do so, there are four major cost inflating factors that must be addressed.  It is in addressing these factors that we will begin to correct the deficiencies that burden the current system.  Since it seems no major movement or legislative initiative can survive without an acronym, we'll call this
initiative T.H.E.M.

-Tort Reform

-HSA  (health savings accounts) should be tax exempt and eligible for direct medical cost, deductibles, and insurance premiums

-Emergency  Care - definitions and limitations

-Mandate Reform

While this writer is not a health care professional, rest assured that neither is Barack Obama or Nancy Pelosi.  The following observations are based on decades of experience as a consumer and critic of the current system, as well as countless hours of research and listening to doctors, nurses, patients, insurance providers, hospital administrators and employees when addressing the deficiencies of our current system.  The above four items repeated recur as  "villains" in discussions or research regarding health care costs.  Often other commonly mentioned "villains" are merely a subset of one of the THEM.

Summarizing them Briefly:

Tort Reform 

-Perhaps the easiest to understand.  Medical practitioners routinely practice "defensive" medicine by ordering tests and investigating things that they no are extremely unlikely to yield any results - but don't want to be accused of negligence for not doing so.  The financial impact of such practices is difficult to over-estimate.  Tort reform has been relatively successful in Texas.  The Texas tort reform was predominantly based on limiting jury awards for "pain and suffering."  While this is a step in the right direction, it may be even more beneficial to more clearly define and limit "negligence."  In medicine, as well as in much of our litigious society, drawing an incorrect inference based on sound medical reasoning is treated as being negligent.  The medical industry has been tasked with perfection as a norm, and anything less than perfection is regarded as fertile ground for potentially massive damages.  In any event, limitations on the excesses of the "jackpot justice" system that has grown out of the current medical/insurance industry is an absolute necessity if effective cost containment is to be achieved.

(Health Savings Accounts) 

-This idea has been around for a while.  It's a good idea, but rather ineffective unless the other three parts of the initiative are implemented.  That is because it's only effective if people are actually going to be paying directly for their own health care expenses, and no one is going to do that unless the cost expectations become reasonable.  For example, let's say that an average family can sock away $200.00 a month for an HSA.  That would be fine if they could find a decent major medical plan for the family for $150.00 a month, and they could use their HSA savings to pay either premiums, deductibles, co-payments or direct medical payments.  Under the current system, however, there is no such option; subsequently there is no widespread clamor for HSA's.  Obviously, if only a mandate laden insurance plan is available at $400 + a month, and a simple unexpected two - three day hospital stay costs about $30,000.00 - who the hell cares if they can save $2,400.00 tax free for a year?

Emergency Care - Define and Limit

-As identified in Drill Down blog (at "Our current public system is based around the EMTALA act of 1986.  In short, "The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (42 U.S.C. § 1395dd, EMTALA) is a United States Act of Congress passed in 1986 as part of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. It requires hospitals and ambulance services to provide care to anyone needing emergency treatment regardless of citizenship, legal status or ability to pay. There are no reimbursement provisions."  Because "emergency care" was never defined in the bill, it has become almost universally interpreted to include anyone, with any ailment, who sits their butt down in an emergency room.  This has become the default health care resource for the indigent and lower middle class uninsured.  Typical "emergency" treatments range from massive trauma to sore throats.  All are treated, some are insured, some pay, many don't.  The costs are arbitrarily munged by the hospital to whatever paying entity they believe they can convince to absorb the costs.  Unless the Congress is going to repeal this act, it is imperative that it be treated similar to a "defined benefit plan" for people lucky enough to reside in the U.S.  That is, Congress must go through a list of defined procedures, either include or exclude them, and stipulate the amount of money the Federal Government will reimburse Hospitals for these procedures.  Additionally, it would be helpful if "emergency care" then became the distinct domain of the Federal Government - with no private coverage competing for payment of "emergency care."  The effect would be to dramatically reduce the premiums of individual hospitalization policies.  This would also largely deal with the "illegal alien" health care problem.  If minor infirmities are not treated in the emergency room as "emergencies" at no cost to the  infirmed, illegals will magically find their way to minor medical centers and magically dig up $50 or $75 for some antibiotics. (On a purely political note - this could be trumpeted by the left as "universal" and a political victory.)

-Mandate Reform

This issue was alluded to previously.  It might be considered the "deregulation" of health care insurance.  More appropriately, it should be considered the "return to market driven" health insurance.  Medical care mandates have become so onerous that there is almost no consumer choice involved in hospitalization insurance.  Both special interests and well meaning legislators have placed so many requirements on insurers that it is a virtual impossibility to create or market a competitive medical insurance product.  If, a healthy 20 or 30 something could purchase private medical coverage that excluded emergency care (that's covered above), excluded auto accidents (covered under auto) with a $5,000 deductible (covered in a couple of years of HSA contributions) it would probably cost them less than $50 a month, and it would probably be profitable for the insurer. 

Would a healthy 20 - 30 something actually do that ?  Sure, if they had the choice to opt out of their employee plan and take home an additional $300 a month.  The employer would probably also save $100 a month.

Of course the currently proposed legislation tilts in exactly the opposite direction.  The Democrat solution is to further mandate that insurers must cover those that are already sick.  Excuse me, that's not insurance.  Insurance is the act of assuming a small certain loss, while eliminating the risk of a large but unlikely loss.  The insurer assumes the risk of the unlikely loss by aggregating the value of a large number of people that agree to pay the small but certain loss.  The Democrat proposal isn't insurance, its either welfare or charity.  To mandate that insurance providers become welfare agencies or charity organizations will only guarantee one thing.  There will be fewer and fewer insurance companies. Evntually only one - the U.S.

The Republican response to the "Yang" so far has been "mini Yang"  That won't do it.  The Democrat assault on personal liberty, freedom, and private property needs to be countered with more than a "not so much" statement.  It is a "Yin" that must be countered with a "Yang".  This is the "Yang" position.  The solution is not a takeover of Health Care by the U.S. - the solution is T.H.E.M.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Disagreement, Distraction, and Dishonesty By Ken Blackwell


August 12, 2009

Americans with serious and well-thought out objections to the health care takeover proposed by our representative government should not be demonized by national leaders as Nazis or sneered at as being too well dressed.

The late Richard John Neuhaus used to say that disagreement is an achievement. He was speaking about the basis for democracy, for the fact that when we disagree, we are at least speaking to one another and engaging in a civil discourse -not in a violent clash.

That kind of disagreement is the hallmark of a free society. It's what enables us all to cheer when the 101-gun salute that signals a peaceful change of administration is fired near the Capitol on Inauguration Day. In all too many countries, the 101 guns are fired at the Capitol.

We are in danger of not achieving Rev. Neuhaus' kind of disagreement about health care. Nobody should mob Members of Congress or shout them down. By the same token, Americans with serious and well-thought out objections to the health care takeover proposed by our representative government should not be demonized by national leaders as Nazis or sneered at as being too well dressed.

It does not help to have President Obama dismiss legitimate concerns about taxpayers being forced to pay for abortion-on-demand through his health care plan. Asked by Katie Couric about federally-funded abortion in his health proposal, Mr. Obama indicated he didn't want to "get distracted by the abortion debate..." The 3,000 unborn children aborted daily are a "distraction?"

Family Research Council has offered abundant evidence that unless abortion is specifically ruled out, it's ruled in. The argument that the word "abortion" does not appear in the bill, and is therefore not part of Obama's plan, is specious and absurd. As FRC's Tom McClusky points out, you won't find "tonsillectomy" in there, either, but no one doubts that it is a covered procedure. You can read powerful proof that abortion is in there in Tony Perkins' Washington Update here:

Members of religious groups who deny abortion is in the Obama proposal are risking their credibility. What would become of them if their supporters, believing their denials, were confronted with the hard reality of taxpayer-funded abortions should Obama's plan become law?

President Obama has a habit of downplaying the importance of this question. When asked by Pastor Rick Warren last summer when an unborn child is entitled to human rights, Obama airily dismissed the question saying the answer was "above my pay grade." It was as if the fate of 1,200,000 human beings killed each year was not a matter worthy of serious moral consideration. Now, he is making decisions that affect the very existence of those lives directly - whatever he thinks his pay grade is.

Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius was the most pro-abortion governor in U.S. history. Today she is President Obama's choice to lead the agency that would supervise the health care takeover. She is now below the President's pay grade. Yet she would be empowered to mandate abortion coverage under versions of the health care bill making their way through Congress. Can anyone seriously doubt which way she or her aides would come down on abortion?

Planned Parenthood -or, as I prefer to call them, Planned Anti-Parenthood -- is tying itself in knots trying to deny that abortion is in the health care bills, while still keeping the support of pro-abortion zealots who won't back the plan unless it provides for abortion funding.

The late Lawrence Lader, the co-founder of NARAL, said: "Abortion is central to everything in life and how we want to live it." Such people are not going to be happy that their champion, Barack Obama, is calling their version of reproductive rights "a distraction."

Why can't we have honesty in this debate? Why can't those who--like Lader, like Planned Anti-Parenthood -- profit from abortion and who think abortion is good and right and necessary stand up and make their case for its being included fully and comprehensively in nationalized health care?

I will disagree with them. My friends and I will oppose coverage for abortion-on-demand. But at least that disagreement-as the late Rev. Neuhaus said -will be an achievement. At least then we could work against dishonesty in this debate.

Then we can have a candid discussion about those whom Mr. Obama considers a distraction, the little ones who nestle in their mothers' wombs, waiting to be welcomed into life.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Former Springfield mayor died over the weekend by Erin Eileen O'Neill


August 10, 2009

SPRINGFIELD -- A former mayor and two-term Springfield committeeman running for reelection in November died over the weekend.

Kenneth Faigenbaum, 57, spent nearly three decades serving Springfield on the township's board of education and municipal committee. Family, friends and colleagues called him a dedicated public servant with a quick wit and optimistic spirit.

"The one thing about him, no matter how sick he was, if you said to him 'How are you today?' He'd say, 'I'm fine. How are you?" said Faigenbaum's son, Jay.

The family didn't release the exact cause of death, but said Faigenbaum had medical problems for nearly a decade. He had bypass surgery in 2000 and suffered complications from diabetes. He died on Saturday and was buried after a graveside service Sunday.

Rabbi Mark Mallach of Springfield's Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael said Faigenbaum, a member of the temple, committed his life to his family and to the town where he raised his three children.

Faigenbaum grew up in Newark and Union. He moved to Springfield in the late 1970s after Jay's birth. Faigenbaum and his wife, Alison, also have two daughters, Amie and Marla.
Jay Faigenbaum said his father originally ran for school board because "he wanted to make sure that we got the best education."

Faigenbaum served on the school board for 19 years, before joining the township committee. His second-term on the committee expires in December. He was running on the Democratic ticket with zoning board member David Barnett in November's election.

Five members sit on Springfield's municipal committee, with members electing a mayor and deputy mayor from among themselves. Faigenbaum served as mayor during his tenure on the committee.

Current Mayor Bart Fraenkel first met Faigenbaum nearly 40 years ago. The two lived across the hall from each other at American University during their freshman year at the Washington, D.C. college.

In Springfield, Fraenkel lived less than a half-mile away from the Faigenbaums' residence.
"I considered him a good friend and one that will be sorely missed," said Fraenkel, who noted Faigenbaum, a certified public accountant, enjoyed restoring old Lincoln Continentals and working on his house when he wasn't at town hall.

Faigenbaum's death leaves a seat on the township committee, as well as a spot on November's ballot, vacant.

The township's Democratic committee, by law, has 15 days to nominate three candidates to fill the remainder of Faigenbaum's term, according to township attorney Bruce Bergen. The township's governing body then has 15 days to chose from that list. As for November's election, the party has not yet discussed who may join Barnett on the ballot, according to Clara Harelik, a former mayor and chair of the Springfield Democratic Municipal Committee.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Honduras Has Won


By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Friday, August 07, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Diplomacy: In a quiet victory for a tiny democracy, U.S. buttinskies have stopped trying to restore a dictator to power in South America. Tiny Honduras is winning its fight for freedom.

Read More: Latin America & Caribbean

In a welcome about-face, the State Department told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Richard Lugar, R-Ind., in a letter Tuesday that the U.S. would no longer threaten sanctions on Honduras for ousting its president, Mel Zelaya, last June 28.

Nor will it insist on Zelaya's return to power. As it turns out, the U.S. Senate can't find any legal reason why the Honduran Supreme Court's refusal to let Zelaya stay in office beyond the time allowed by Honduran law constitutes a "military coup."

This marks a shift. The U.S. at first supported Zelaya, a man who had been elected democratically but didn't govern that way. Now they're reaching out to average Hondurans, the real democrats.

Sure, the U.S. continues to condemn Zelaya's ouster and still seeks mediation of the dispute through Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. But no U.S. sanctions means Hondurans have won.

Things could have worked out differently. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez first called for invading Honduras. That threat passed as it became clear Chavez couldn't project his power there.

Next, civil unrest was threatened by Zelaya. But Hondurans astounded the world by standing by their Congress, Supreme Court, attorney general, businesses and the church, all of which declared that Zelaya had violated the constitution and had to go.

Zelaya might have regained power, but only by becoming a dictator and ending Honduras' democracy. The people ended that.

The scariest outcome for Honduras was U.S. sanctions. They would have crushed the tiny country dependent on the U.S. for 80% of its trade. No sanctions, no Zelaya.

This isn't to say U.S. policymakers are happy or that the dispute is over. Honduras is still suspended from the Organization of American States, its trade has been disrupted, Venezuela's oil is still cut off, and its officials still can't get U.S. visas. But the worst is over. Whatever changes that come will be by Honduran consent alone.

The U.S. still supports Arias' mediation, and if that helps, good.

By ending the threats, talks can begin. Constructive solutions, like early elections or persuading Honduras' congress to add an impeachment law to its constitution, can now be put on the table.

The reality is, the Hondurans shouldn't be on the spot at all. What happened wasn't a coup; it was a good-faith effort by decent people to fix a difficult situation that threatened their democracy.

This, by the way, also opens the door to a return of democracy in troubled nations like Ecuador, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela. People in those nations can take courage from Honduras.

The U.S. was smart to take the side of freedom. The Hondurans, however, were right all along. After all, it's their democracy. And now they've won it back.

A Health Plan That's Radical And Sensible


By CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER | Posted Friday, August 07, 2009 4:20 PM PT

In 1986, Ronald Reagan and Bill Bradley created a legislative miracle. They fashioned a tax reform that stripped loopholes, political favors, payoffs, patronage and other corruptions out of the tax system.

With the resulting savings, they lowered tax rates across the board. Those reductions, combined with the elimination of the enormous inefficiencies and perverse incentives that go into tax sheltering, helped propel a 20-year economic boom.

In overhauling any segment of our economy, the 1986 tax reform should be the model. Yet today's ruling Democrats propose to fix our extremely high-quality (but inefficient and therefore expensive) health care system with 1,000 pages of additional curlicued complexity — employer mandates, individual mandates, insurance company mandates, allocation formulas, political payoffs and myriad other conjured regulations and interventions — with the promise that this concoction will lower costs.

This is all quite mad. It creates a Rube Goldberg system that simply multiplies the current inefficiencies and arbitrariness, thus producing staggering deficits with less choice and lower-quality care. That's why the administration can't sell ObamaCare.

The administration's defense is to accuse critics of being for the status quo. Nonsense. Candidate John McCain and a host of other Republicans since have offered alternatives. Let me offer mine: Strip away current inefficiencies before remaking one-sixth of the U.S. economy.

The plan is so simple it doesn't have the requisite three parts. Just two: radical tort reform and radically severing the link between health insurance and employment.

(1) Tort reform: As I wrote recently, our system of casino malpractice suits results in massive and random settlements that raise everyone's insurance premiums and creates an epidemic of defensive medicine that does no medical good, yet costs a fortune.

An authoritative Massachusetts Medical Society study found five out of six doctors admitted they order tests, procedures and referrals — amounting to about 25% of the total — solely as protection from lawsuits.

Defensive medicine, estimates the libertarian-conservative Pacific Research Institute, wastes more than $200 billion a year. Just half that sum could provide a $5,000 health insurance grant — $20,000 for a family of four — to the uninsured poor (U.S. citizens ineligible for other government health assistance).

What to do? Abolish the entire medical-malpractice system. Create a new social pool from which people injured in medical errors or accidents can draw. The adjudication would be done by medical experts, not lay juries giving away lottery prizes at the behest of the liquid-tongued John Edwardses who pocket a third of the proceeds.

The pool would be funded by a relatively small tax on all health insurance premiums. Socialize the risk; cut out the trial lawyers.

Would that immunize doctors from carelessness or negligence? No. The penalty would be losing your medical license. There is no more serious deterrent than forfeiting a decade of intensive medical training and the livelihood that comes with it.

(2) Real health insurance reform: Tax employer-provided medical benefits and return the money to the employee with a government check to buy his own medical insurance, just as he buys his own car or home insurance.

There is no logical reason to get health insurance through your employer. This entire system is an accident of World War II wage and price controls. It's economically senseless.

It makes people stay in jobs they hate, decreasing labor mobility and therefore overall productivity. And it needlessly increases the anxiety of losing your job by raising the additional specter of going bankrupt through illness.

The health care benefit exemption is the largest tax break in the entire U.S. budget, costing the government a quarter-trillion dollars annually. It hinders health insurance security and portability as well as personal independence.

If we additionally eliminated the prohibition on buying personal health insurance across state lines, that would inject new and powerful competition that would lower costs for everyone.

Repealing the exemption has one fatal flaw, however. It was advocated by McCain during last year's campaign. Obama so demagogued it, he cannot bring it up now without being accused of the most extreme hypocrisy and without being mercilessly attacked with his own 2008 ads.

But that's a political problem of Obama's own making. As is the Democratic Party's indebtedness to the trial lawyers, which has taken malpractice reform totally off the table. But that doesn't change the logic of my proposal.

Go the Reagan-Bradley route. Offer sensible, simple, yet radical reform that strips away inefficiencies from the existing system before adding ObamaCare's new ones — arbitrary, politically driven, structural inventions whose consequence is certain financial ruin.