Northfielders for Obama, McCain

election08 I searched Meetup for Northfield-area groups who support the various presidential candidates but couldn’t find any.

Are there any organized gatherings yet?

If you know of any, attach a comment with the info.

1/31 update: I’ve removed Edwards and Giuliani from the blog post title since they dropped out this week.

2/9 update: I’ve removed Romney from the blog post title since he dropped out this week.

4/17: I’ve removed Huckabee and Paul from the blog post title

6/3: I’ve removed Clinton from the blog post title


  1. Really appreciating everyone’s participation on this oh so complicated insurance question.

    I just want to mention two problems that have not yet been touched upon.
    One is that insurance may not be taken from one job to another, My dh used to work contract and got insurance as an employee of the company. Everytime we changed jobs, we had t wait for insurance to kick in on another contract. We since hire through a company that works for us as admininstrators and we can get our insurance through them as if we were
    part of a larger network.
    The second thing to consider big time is that when we are paying for health care with our insurance dollars, we are also paying for insurance company employees, not just the ceo’s big salaries, but lots and lots of lower salaries, too. I don’t have any stats off hand on what percentage of American workers work for insurance companies, but I bet it is significant. When we solve the problem of high premiums, we will probably have to create new jobs for the cut work force.

    June 21, 2008
  2. William Siemers said:

    Curt (#244)…I agree…’de-link’ insurance from employment. Insurance gets in the way of making good decisions about employees; it costs billions to investigate and compare insurance carriers and proposals and billions more to administer the policies.

    Jane(#250) …The $3400 figure was for the average cost of an individual’s high deductible policy in 2007. High deductible family policies averaged about $11,000 in 2007.
    You are right…the system is broken. Our family coverage through a small group policy costs $14,000 per year AND has a $7000 deductible. When the group is small and fairly old…watch out…rates sky rocket.

    We need universal coverage for essential health insurance and we need it now. Whether single payer or mandatory insurance through a choice of qualified government plans. In either case the government either is the insurer, or makes a risk adjusted payment to one of the qualified plans on every citizens behalf. No more cherry picking (and lemon dropping), no more swollen beauracracies, no more means testing for second rate systems like medicaid, no more duplication of effort by state systems, and, most importantly, no more uninsured.

    The 10% plan is not the answer. It will perpetuate the current private insurance business (with all the inefficancies) for healthy people AND establish a single payer system, funded by taxpayers, for the unhealthy. It is not progressive -low and middle income people will in actuality pay a much higher porportion of their incomes for health care than do the wealthy.

    There are many ways to pay for universal care. An additional payroll tax, or a income tax surcharge, or a net worth tax, or even a value added tax, or a national sales tax…or a combination. Anyway, we should be able figure out what the rest of the developed world already has.

    June 22, 2008
  3. David Bly said:

    This is a very good discussion and I am glad that many are focused on health care as it is an ongoing problem that needs attention. President Truman proposed a single payer universal health plan and we are still trying to move such an idea forward fifty years later. I would encourage you to look at the Minnesota Health Plan introduced near the end of the 2007 session. It got a hearing in the Senate Health Policy Committee and was passed on to other committees but was not given a hearing on the House side and went no further in the Senate.

    I would encourage you to visit the Minnesota Health Plan website, read about it and offer suggestions. This plan would cover all Minnesotans, offer coverage that was portable and would be payed for by premiums paid to the Minnesota Health Fund based on one’s ability to pay. Everyone would pay in and have the same coverage and it would be comprehensive. The fund would be set up separate from the budget so it could not be raided for other expenditures. This is not socialized medicine as it would allow our various public, private, health providers to function as they do now. It would actually create more choice of provider than currently exists because our private insurance plans reduce choice of provider in an attempt to save costs. The coverage would be truly universal because everyone would be covered. Plans that force you to buy private insurance can never really achieve universal coverage because there are always exceptions.

    There should be a forum or public discussion of the bill coming up in the next month or so. Watch for it.

    June 22, 2008
  4. Paul Zorn said:

    I’ve been gone a few days and so, alas, missed most of the interesting health care e-discussion. Here are few late thoughts, if anyone’s still interested, on the general 10% solution idea.

    I still think the idea has some merit, though it would (like any complicated approach to a complicated problem) need careful design and tweaking to avoid perverse incentives. In an earlier posting I suggested some ways to add some progressivity. The key feature — that individuals should have some financial exposure, but not too much, to the cost of their own care — seems sound to me.

    A straight 10%-of-everything exposure could be too much (or more likely, too little, as we’re now spending much more than 10% of GDP on health), and it might be criticized from the left as not being progressive enough. And William S is right that almost no tycoon would actually pay 10% of income on health, while many of the poor would. That’s unfortunate, but perhaps very hard to avoid, just as it’s hard to avoid the poor paying a higher fraction of income for, say, food. To some extent these problems are mathematical as well as political. In any case, these are technical problems, much more amenable to tweaking than the big, big problems we now have with health care funding.

    Thanks, David Bly, for pointing to the Minnesota Health Plan, which seems to me to represent another reasonable effort to address health care funding in a serious but (I think (with luck … ) ) politically realistic manner. I didn’t see much detail on how individuals pay their share of this (there is mention of “ability to pay”, but I saw nothing more quantitative than that), and that’s an important “detail”. Again, these are technical matters that can probably be addressed.

    PS. I don’t buy the idea that rationing of health care is nothing but an evil side-effect of greed, high salaries, etc., and will become just a bad memory when the Universal Health Care messiah arrives. The present system of has plenty of deplorable elements, but IMO advances in medical technology and techniques will always run ahead of society’s ability or willingness to buy everything for everybody. If I’m right, rationing is here to stay. At best, we’ll get better at it.

    June 23, 2008
  5. I asked what camp Obama came from and I think I got the answer…

    Among those tied to Obama politically, personally, or professionally are:

    Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Obama’s presidential campaign and a member of his finance committee. Jarrett is the chief executive of Habitat Co., which managed Grove Parc Plaza from 2001 until this winter and co-managed an even larger subsidized complex in Chicago that was seized by the federal government in 2006, after city inspectors found widespread problems.

    July 1, 2008
  6. That last paragraph should be in quotes from the Boston Globe. Apologies.

    July 1, 2008
  7. Elizabeth Buckheit said:

    Just because a leader promises change doesn’t mean he or she can necessarily achieve it.

    July 1, 2008
  8. Elizabeth Buckheit said:

    I am also noticing a growing problem among our youth. A lot of children and teens show great devotion to a candidate, but when asked why, fail to give a reasonable answer. This is most likely due to the fact that they often copy their parents political views. If the coming generation is just made up of followers, our country may have even worse issues than it does now. Ask your kid what they want in a president and allow them to look at all the different candidates websites to see which views best match theirs. Try to have them think critically about each candidates perspectives and how that might affect current issues like Iraq, abortion, homosexual rights, foreign policy, and security. And, despite what the saying says, it’s actually a great idea to talk politics at the dinner table with your teen. Don’t help them too much though, because then you will be hindering, not helping.

    July 1, 2008
  9. Peter Millin said:

    This election like the past three or four leaves a terrible taste in my mouth.
    Again we have the choice between dumb and dumber. Neither of these candidates have any kind of connection to the common people. Both of them are rich, which is fine by me, except that their money insulates them from the most of the pain us little people have to endure.

    Neither of those will ever have to worry what the price of gas is, because the taxpayers are footing the bill.
    Neither of those will have to ever use a national healthcare system.
    Neither of those candidates will have to ever send their kids to a third class public school.
    Neither of those two needs to worry about the fact that the Federal reserve created inflation is eating up 401 K savings at a rate of 10% every year.
    and to top it off while each of them tells us to watch our carbon footprint..they doing while flying over us with a Lear jet.

    BUT alas I do have the vote because I am a good citizen, but it gets harder and harder to find somebody to vote for.
    And McCain and Obama and most of the rest are no different.

    July 17, 2008
  10. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    Did this discussion die out a couple weeks ago because comments were getting too grim? I am still with Obama, but hoping his VP team is not still considering former Bush Ag Secy Ann Veneman. She is big ag personified, pro-free trade, would not help the ticket in the Central states certainly. She was booed at farm meetings, etc.

    August 4, 2008
  11. Patrick Enders said:

    This old thread got a bit random for my tastes. There was talk of having more opportunities for discussion of state/national topics, but not much seems to have been done on that front. I guess it’s one of the limitations we have to accept when we’re having these conversations on a site where only three people can start a new thread.

    August 4, 2008
  12. Griff Wigley said:

    Patrick, I’ll launch a few narrower topics in the weeks ahead… the voucher discussion is my first stab at it.

    August 4, 2008
  13. I wonder what people think about Obama’s little half brother, living in a shack on $1 per month.

    August 21, 2008
  14. rod zumwalt said:

    I think it’s about as relevant as Cindy McCain’s half-sister, who is apparently angry because Cindy describes herself as an “only child.” Good God, aren’t there about 456,781 issues to focus on before we get to candidates’ half-siblings??

    August 21, 2008
  15. I cannot think of any more important issue than how a man or woman treats his or her family members.

    August 21, 2008
  16. Vicki Dennis said:

    Barack Obama’s half-brother, George, states, “I live like a recluse, no one knows I exist. If anyone says something about my surname, I say we are not related. I am ashamed.”

    He and Barack Obama have only met twice; once when George was only five years old, and once in 2006.

    “When you have a brother who wants to be the number one most important person in the world, it obviously gives you a lot of inspiration,” Mr Obama, 26, said at his corrugated tin shack in a Nairobi slum.

    “There was a long time when I was just taking a break, doing nothing, trying to find myself and what I wanted to do. Now I am more focused on my future, and I can say it is because I understand more about things because of hearing what Barack is doing.”

    George Obama then says, “I don’t want to look to him for help, I want to achieve things for myself.

    “I don’t even tell people that I am related to Barack Obama, I don’t want people here to be harassing me because they think I have money or influence. I have nothing like that, I am a person who likes to live quietly.

    “I don’t have any ambitions to do anything like politics, in Kenya, that means nothing. I read the newspapers, but only the sport section. Sometimes I am sure there are things about Barack which I miss, but it doesn’t matter to me.

    “Of course, if I was in the US I would vote for him, I think everyone should. But I am a bit biased,” he joked. (All quotes attributed to Telegraph UK)

    George Obama is clearly comfortable with the situation. Barack Obama refers to George in his book “Dreams of My Father” as being a “beautiful” boy. They’re ok with each other. I don’t think there are issues to be made regarding their relationship.

    August 21, 2008
  17. Paul Fried said:

    Perhaps there are, in fact, more important things. If you listen and read outside the mainstream media, you find some interesting things being observed and analyzed.

    The mainstream media news is paying attention to the fact that Russia “invaded” Georgia, and reporting George Bush’s opinion that Russia must get out.

    The mainstream media is not reporting on the irony of a man who launched a preemptive war on Iraq, leader of a country whose armed forces and privatized military-security forces occupy Iraq, criticizing Russia. We’ve lost any credible grounds to criticize Russia.

    The mainstream media, for the most part, is not reporting on the fact that Georgian forces expected the US to come to its aid. Why? Because we’ve been talking about how we want to expand NATO membership to include Russia. We’ve also been training military forces in Georgia. Russia doesn’t like it. Neither would we if the tables were turned. This would be like Russia signing treaties with Canada and Mexico, and started training Canadian and Mexican troops.

    The mainstream media, for the most part, is not reporting on the fact that a key advisor to John McCain was recently an advisor-consultant to the government leadership in Georgia, and may have encouraged them to take the action they took that resulted in the Russian response, urging that the US would come to their aid.

    Did we ever intend to come to their aid, or is the strife between Georgia and Russia just something that was timed to get Americans to feel afraid and nostalgic for the cold war, and for a military leader like McCain? Is it an early October surprise?

    These are a few of the many things that are being discussed outside the mainstream, superficial news. These are more important than Obama’s half-brother, or McCain’s half-sister-in-law.

    August 21, 2008
  18. rod zumwalt said:

    definitely much more important! but “obama mistreats half-brother” is such a snappy headline — Americans seem to have lost their patience for any discussions which require a rudimentary knowledge of geography or history. Taking the apparent moral high ground (never mind the well-trod moral lowground all around us, but somehow ignored) is so much easier than actually thinking through issues. So the return to cold-war black and white (hmmmm…) is tailor made for a lazy public.

    August 21, 2008
  19. Ed Koch says that Georgia started it. Has anyone else heard this?

    August 21, 2008
  20. Paul Fried said:

    Yes, Georgia fired the first official shots. They were emboldened to believe they’d be treated like NATO members and the mighty US would come to the rescue. They were baited to allow their lives to become US campaign-season toys. So they struck first, and Russia struck back, harder, and Georgia was confused and disillusioned, and meanwhile, US voters are supposed to believe we should vote for McCain instead of digging a bit to figure out who orchestrated this drama.

    August 21, 2008
  21. We talked about this at the last Politics and a Pint and we could carry on this discussion over at We looked for historical analogies and, like Israel, who has claim to the land depends on what your cutoff is for “the real owners”. As for who fired first, there is little doubt that Georgia went in because the break-away region was theirs the same way Texas is Mexico’s. I’m just glad Mexico hasn’t invaded Texas.

    And if Georgia thought they were going to get US support they must have never heard of Vietnam and the Hmong. Or Czechoslavakia. Or Hungary.

    August 21, 2008
  22. Jane Moline said:

    Paul and Bruce: Russia provided arms and support so what was a part of Georgia could break away, (Ossetia) thereby weakening Georgia and making it less economically viable as a separate country, and more dependent on Russian goodwill and less likely to act independent of Russia.

    Georgia -very stupidly–thought that assurances from contacts in the USA (including John McCain through his employee who was a Georgia lobbyist to congress) meant that the USA would support a military reclaiming of this breakaway region.

    It is not like Texas and Mexico, because it is in the middle of Georgia–Georgia surrounds it on 3 sides. It would be more like if Minnesota was armed by Canada and broke away from the United States, and then the USA invaded MInnesota to take us back.

    Georgia did not have the military might, and by all reports on the ground DID NOT committ genocide–the first reports were 40 to 70 military personnel killed while the Russians claimed thousands were killed and warranted their counter invasion and subsequent indescriminate bombing of Georgia including civilian areas.

    Georgia was stupid but Russia is a big bully. Russia intends to control Ossentia for their purposes, including the oil pipelines in the area.

    This, like every other war, is wrong. Nobody wins. The costs are astronomical.

    At $300 million dollars a day the “surge is working” in Iraq. Whoopee. It has gutted our economy. Noticed unemployment numbers in Minnesota lately? I guess the surge is working to destroy the economic viability of the United States.

    August 22, 2008
  23. From what I saw on the Jim Lehrer report last night on pbs, the Georgian citizens are not worried about the little spiff going on between the govts.

    As far as Texas goes, have you ever been to southern Texas. While I wouldn’t call it invasion, I would call it more than half the population. No problemo for me personally, I’m just sayin’.

    August 22, 2008
  24. Paul Fried said:

    Bright wrote,
    “From what I saw on the Jim Lehrer report last night on pbs, the Georgian citizens are not worried about the little spiff going on between the govts. ”

    The dead ones are especially not worried (anymore).

    August 22, 2008
  25. Referring to my own posts #265 and 267, if I had a brother living on a dollar a day, I would yank him out of there, and give him more than the ice cube’s chance in H. E. double Hockey Sticks, of making something of himself, even if I only had five dollars. I’d share it with him. Okay, so I am talking to the wrong crowd. I think I’ll try and get Obama to do the right thing, even if I am wrong, but I don’t think so this time. Thanks for listening.

    August 22, 2008
  26. Paul Fried said:

    Jane: Thanks for the information on Russians.

    Part of what we’re seeing relates to competition for oil (although it’s more than that to). Russia would like to maintain control over oil that comes out of, or through, the region, just as the US and our oil corporations were interested in an Afghani oil pipeline (they tried to negotiate a contract with the Taliban before 9-11, but did not succeed; one story claims the Taliban was threatened to accept a blanket of gold or be covered in a blanket of bombs; after we invaded Afghanistan in late 2001, eventually Unical got the oil contract they’d wanted). The oil was going to go one way or the other (through Afghanistan, or toward Russia), and the US oil corporations, and US government interests, would rather it came some way other than through Russia (and have it bought and sold on the basis of the US dollar).

    How the next president might respond to all this should prove to be interesting. has been publishing, and/or republishing, many articles exploring the Georgia-Russia conflict, it’s history and implications. These include things from the Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy in Focus, and the Star-Tribune. These lean very much toward the progressive side (as leans that way), so you won’t find Charles Krauthammer or neocon justifications for global supremacy below. Here’s a list:

    Is Georgia 2008 a Repeat of Hungary 1956, With John McCain as Agent Provocateur? – > by Allan J. Lichtman

    Georgia/Russia Conflict Forced Into Cold War Frame – by Peter Hart and Jim Naureckas

    The Precedent Was Set In The Balkans by Peter Erlinder
    Sat., 8-16, 2008 by The Minneapolis/St. Paul Star Tribune (Minnesota)

    Georgia: Background to War – by William D. Hartung

    US Role in Georgia Crisis – by Stephen Zunes
    Friday, August 15, 2008 by Foreign Policy in Focus

    Georgia War a Neocon Election Ploy? – by Robert Scheer
    Wednesday, August 13, 2008 by

    Russia and Georgia: All About Oil – by Michael Klare
    August 13, 2008 – Foreign Policy in Focus

    Russo-Georgian Conflict Is Not All Russia’s Fault
    But war could ignite further disputes in the region – by Charles King
    Monday, August 11, 2008 by the Christian Science Monitor

    Getting Georgia’s War On – by Mark Ames
    Published on Saturday, August 9, 2008 by The Nation

    Anatomy of A(nother) Fiasco
    by billmon

    August 22, 2008
  27. Paul Fried said:

    Bright: Yes, Obama is getting criticized by the left for his move to the middle. Imagine that.

    From an article by Tom Hayden today (Aug 22, 2008) in The Nation (also reprinted at Common Dreams):
    …Here are the short-term essentials:

    • After border skirmishes similar to the 1964 Tonkin Gulf affair, on August 8, Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili invaded the autonomous breakaway region of South Ossetia with his US-trained army. The Russians responded with massive force, quickly routing Saakashvili’s forces.

    • McCain has traveled to Georgia, nominated his close friend Saakashlivi for a Nobel Prize in 2005, and was the first American leader to blast Russia last April, when Vladimir Putin issued a sharp warning against NATO membership for Georgia and the Ukraine, supported by the United States.

    • The Bush Administration was divided along familiar lines, with the foreign policy “realists” around Condoleezza Rice opposite the pro-Georgia hawks centered in Dick Cheney’s office and allied with McCain–enthusiasts for spreading “democracy” from Iraq to the Russian border.

    • Randy Scheunemann, McCain’s foreign policy adviser, was a registered foreign agent for Saakashlivi’s government from at least 2004, when Saakashvili came to power, until May 15, 2008, when he technically severed his ties to Orion Strategies, his lobbying firm. At that point, Orion had earned at least $800,000 in lobbying fees from Georgia.

    • Saakashvili, with Scheuneman advising him, campaigned on a platform of taking back South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

    •Schuenemann was Georgia’s lobbyist when Saakashvili sent troops to retake two separatist enclaves, Ajaria in 2004 and the upper Kodori Gorge in Abhkazia in 2006, over strong Russian objections.

    • Saakashvili tarnished his democratic credentials by sending club-wielding riot police against unarmed demonstrators protesting his abrupt purging of the police, civil servants and universities in 2007, a replay of Paul Bremer’s decision to privatize Iraq in 2003.

    Until now Scheunemann has been less visible but no less important than any of the top neoconservatives who drove America into Iraq and now are lobbying for a new cold war and a McCain presidency.

    He was the full-time executive director of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. He helped draft the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act, which authorized $98 million for the “Iraq lobby” led by Ahmad Chalabi, which disseminated bogus intelligence in the lead-up to war. He also worked for Donald Rumsfeld as a consultant on Iraq. He joined the board of the Project for the New American Century.

    Scheunemann traveled with McCain to Georgia in 2006. Seeking to repeat his 1998 Iraq jackpot, he lobbied for an unsuccessful measure co-sponsored by McCain that year, the NATO Freedom Consolidation Act, which would have sent $10 million to Georgia.

    …Not to miss another opportunity, his firm has represented the Caspian Alliance, a consortium of oil and gas producers in the region.

    It is unclear at this writing what links Scheunemann, as Georgia’s lobbyist, may had to the Western oil interests who in 2005 built the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline through Georgia, a project intentionally designed to bypass Russia and implement what a recent New York Times report described as an “American strategy to put a wedge between Russia and the Central American countries that had been Soviet republics.” The BTC consortium includes BP, Chevron, Conoco and the state of Azerbejian. As conceived, according to Ha’aretz, the system also would attempt to link eventually with Israel’s pipeline system as well.

    In a nutshell, here is what should be said: the same Republican neocons who fabricated the reasons for going to war in Iraq are back, and now they have been paid to trigger a new cold war with Russia that benefits John McCain. These are dangerous, expensive unwinnable games being played with American lives to benefit Republican politicians and their oil company friends.

    These are not words you are going to hear from Barack Obama or anyone in the Democratic hierarchy. Looking back, they agree that the Iraq invasion was a colossal misjudgment. Privately, most of them feel that Georgia’s adventurism provoked the current conflict. But politically, they are pledged to be positioned as tough against terrorism and communism, tougher than the Republicans.

    If Obama had a paid lobbyist for a foreign country on his Senate staff, what would the Republican outcry be?

    If John McCain is above the special interest lobbies, why is he harboring Scheunemann? Is it enough to go off the Georgia payroll and over to the McCain campaign payroll during a regional war you helped set off?


    August 22, 2008

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