But first . . .

GREAT GRADUATION PRESENT

It’s never too early to start saving up to buy your child or grandchild the only investment guide he or she will ever need – but that’s actually not what I have in mind.

I have in mind a kid in high school – whether a fancy prep school or tough inner city school – who faces peer pressure to use drugs and alcohol.

Not least because this summer their circle may have more trouble than usual finding gainful employment . . . and you know what they say about “idle hands.”

This is a job that calls for VISION WARRIOR! Faster than a speeding bullet (or he was, when I first met him a dozen years ago; time takes its toll), more powerful than any other high school presenter your kid has ever seen (see below), able to leap onto the auditorium stage in a single bound (I’ve seen him do it).

If you – perhaps in concert with fellow parents – can come up with his ridiculously modest $2,000 fee, I’ll pick up his airfare and together we can . . .

ROCK YOUR KID’S WORLD

Here is a letter Scot Robinson (aka Vision Warrior) got last month from the counselor at Washington’s Sidwell Friends school.

Feb 20th 2009

Dear Scot,

I cannot thank you enough for the profound impact you have had on the Upper School community at the Sidwell Friends School. You spoke here several months ago and I want you to know that the students still reference things you said and vividly remember your performance.

Rarely do students come up to me after an assembly to thank me for a particular speaker but you are an exception. One after another, students flooded my office or approached me in the hall, thanking me for bringing you to Sidwell. I also had several faculty members approach me to tell me that never in the history of their ten, twenty or thirty year tenure at Sidwell had they seen such a compelling speaker. Both students and adults continued to talk about you for days afterwards.

You were phenomenal! You spoke from the heart. By giving such an extraordinarily gripping and raw performance, you provided the students with a rare but poignant and personal glimpse into an insidious life of alcohol and drugs. Teenagers are especially perceptive and they were moved by how honest and vulnerable you were, struck by how much they could relate to your story and uplifted by your inspiring tale of recovery. And, in the midst of telling an incredibly moving and painful story, you brought humor to it in a way that was appropriate and grabbed the audience right from the start.

Apart from your story, though, your message to the students about having the courage to be who they are and about the importance of self-discipline, self-respect, and self-esteem as a means to fight negative choices and behaviors was especially effective. An upperclassman told me that a group of students had made the conscious decision to not drink before attending the next school dance as a result of your assembly. What an incredibly positive influence you have had.

One of the most valuable gifts you also gave our students was the opportunity to speak with them by grade without adults present. Feedback from the students was overwhelmingly positive as they had a chance to process your powerful performance with the freedom to ask relevant questions.

As I told you, the parent program you held in the evening was one of the best attended we’ve ever had. We have never been at standing-room-only capacity before. Apparently, students went home and told their parents that they HAD to attend. Parents shared experiences of their children talking non-stop all the way home from school about their day with you… a ride that is usually full of silence or music blasting from the headphones of their Ipods. They expressed sincere appreciation for the exceptional and inspiring experience you provided their children.

On behalf of Sidwell Friends, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the incredible impact you have had on our community. Many thanks… we look forward to bringing you back to the Sidwell community soon as I strongly believe that every student who passes through our Upper School should be given the opportunity to experience Vision Warrior.

Gabriela Grebski
US Counselor

ASSUME THE BEST

From John Podesta’s Center for American Progress last month. I offer it both because it is specifically interesting, but also as an example of how relentlessly the loyal opposition – who are on record hoping Obama’s policies fail (could you be any more loyal?) – distorts and misleads. Anyway, herewith the post:

Misinformation On Health Information Technology

Late last month, the House passed an economic recovery package containing $20 billion for health information technology, which would require the Department of Health and Human Services to develop standards by 2010 for a nationwide system to exchange health data electronically. The version of the recovery package passed by the Senate yesterday contains slightly less funding for health information technology (“health IT”). But as Congress moves to reconcile the two stimulus packages, conservatives have begun attacking the health IT provisions, falsely claiming that they would lead to the government “telling the doctors what they can and cannot treat, and on whom they can and cannot treat.” The conservative misinformation campaign began on Monday with a Bloomberg “commentary” by Hudson Institute fellow Betsy McCaughey, which claimed that the legislation will have the government “monitor treatments” in order to “‘guide’ your doctor’s decisions.” McCaughey’s imaginative misreading was quickly trumpeted by Rush Limbaugh and the Drudge Report, eventually ending up on Fox News, where McCaughey’s opinion column was described as “a report.” In one of the many Fox segments focused on the column, hosts Megyn Kelly and Bill Hemmer blindsided Sens. Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Jon Tester (D-MT) with McCaughey’s false interpretation, causing them to promise that they would “get this provision clarified.” On his radio show yesterday, Limbaugh credited himself for injecting the false story into the stimulus debate . . .

McCAUGHEY GETS THE FACTS WRONG: In her commentary, McCaughey writes, “One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective.” But the fact is, this isn’t a new bureaucracy. The National Coordinator of Health Information Technology already exists. Established by President Bush in 2004, the office “provides counsel to the Secretary of HHS and Departmental leadership for the development and nationwide implementation” of “health information technology.” Far from empowering the Office to “monitor doctors” or requiring private physicians to abide by treatment protocols, the new language tasks the National Coordinator with “providing appropriate information” so that doctors can make better informed decisions. As Media Matters noted, the language in the House bill, on which McCaughey based her column, does not establish authority to “monitor treatments” or restrict what “your doctor is doing” with regard to patient care. Instead, it addresses establishing an electronic records system so that doctors can have complete, accurate information about their patients. The Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky pointed out that “this provision is intended to move the country towards adopting money-saving health technology (like electronic medical records), reduce costly duplicate services and medical errors, and create jobs.”

HEALTH I.T. BELONGS IN RECOVERY PACKAGE: Projected to create over 200,000 jobs, the funding for health information technology in the recovery package is both an important stimulus and a down-payment on broader health care reform. Speaking in Ft. Myers, FL, yesterday, President Obama said that investment in health IT was “an example of using a crisis and converting it into an opportunity.” “We are going to computerize our health care system, institute health IT,” said Obama. “That creates jobs right now for people to convert from a paper system to a computer system, but it also pays a long-term dividend by making the health care system more efficient.” Currently, fewer than 25 percent of hospitals, and fewer than 20 percent of doctor’s offices, employ health information technology systems. Researchers have found that implementing health IT would result in a mean annual savings of $40 billion over a 15-year period by improving health outcomes through care management, increasing efficiency, and reducing medical errors. Investing in health would also help primary care physicians — who often bear the burnt of tech implementation without seeing immediate benefits — afford the infrastructure for expansion. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that one-third of $2 trillion spent annually on health care in America may be unnecessary due to inefficiencies in the system such as excessive paperwork. Investments in infrastructure like health IT will help improve the quality of America’s health care.

MCCAUGHEY’S POISONING HEALTH REFORM AGAIN: Responding to her Bloomberg commentary, the New Republic’s health care writer Jonathan Cohn noted that “Elizabeth McCaughey is up to her old tricks again.” “Not content to have poisoned one major health care debate, she seems determined to poison this one, too,” wrote Cohn. In 1994, McCaughey published a “viciously inaccurate” article on the Clinton health care plan in the New Republic, which is credited with having “completely distorted the debate on the biggest public policy issue of 1994.” McCaughey’s article claimed that there would be “no exit” from the Clinton plan, and individuals would be prevented from “going outside the system to buy basic health coverage” that they preferred. But, as the Atlantic’s James Fallows pointed out after the Clinton plan was defeated, McCaughey ignored “the first provision of the bill,” which clearly said: “Nothing in this Act shall be construed as prohibiting the following: (1) An individual from purchasing any health care services.” Just like in 1994, McCaughey’s latest Bloomberg commentary provides page numbers from the legislation to give her claims the aura of credibility. But just as in 1994, McCaughey’s assertions are not supported by the language of the bill she cites.

☞ My “take-away” is that when the Administration proposes something, we should start from the assumption that it is the work product of thoughtful, honest people trying very hard to do sensible things that will make for better times.

I.e., who ya gonna believe: Rush Limbaugh, Tom Delay, Fox News, and Joe the Plumber – or Barack Obama?

George Bush,* Dick Cheney,** and Sarah Palin*** – or Barack Obama?

He’d be the first to say he’ll make mistakes. But I think we will all do better if we assume the best of his Administration and hope it succeeds.

*“By far the vast majority of [my] tax cuts will go to people at the bottom of the economic ladder.”
** We face an imminent threat from Iraq.
***Obama “pals around with terrorists.”

JON STEWART EVISCERATES CNBC

Now this is fun. Have a great weekend.

 

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