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13
Cullen Browder at WRAL asked me to rate Governor Perdue’s first six months in office.   I think she’s doing pretty well. Give her a B. An A if ...

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12
 
Senator Doug Berger probably never dreamed anyone would run TV ads in his district telling his constituents how he voted to cut 20,000 elderly Medicaid patients’ home care then, eight days later, turned around and voted to build a $25 million fishing pier at the beach -- with a sixteen thousand square foot clubhouse and a ballroom.

But that’s what happened and Senator Berger’s gotten himself tied in political knots trying to get out of the mess.

First he let out a bellow he’d been smeared then started telling everyone he was an innocent victim – a kind of modern day Horatio at the bridge – battling the evil special interests who were dead set on stopping him cutting government waste and fraud.
 
But, then, he slipped again and said he knew precisely, to the exact percent, how much fraud there was in Medicaid home care: 45%. Of course then he had to come up with proof and he slipped a third time. He said he’d gotten his hands on a report from Governor Perdue’s Administration that showed he was dead right.

Only what Governor Perdue’s Administration said was he was dead wrong.

An official at the Perdue Department of Health and Human Services wrote Berger’s aide, Melanie Bush, and put it pretty bluntly, telling her – in plain English – that Berger’s claim 45% of the home care patients didn’t need care was flooey. (Click Here)
 
Then Dr. Craigon Gray, another Perdue appointee, weighed in and put it even blunter, explaining to Berger that a ‘review’  like the one he was citing didn’t include an examination of even a single patient – so it couldn’t possibly say a patient didn’t need care. (Click Here)
 
That didn’t faze Senator Berger – even with his fig leaf in tatters he forged ahead roaring he’d never back down - to hear him tell it you’d think 20,000 elderly Medicaid patients (many of whom will never see eighty again, are disabled, bedbound or in wheelchairs) are the most dangerous pack of lobbyists since Teddy Roosevelt tackled The Oil Monopoly and The Railroad Trust.

Finally, in his latest newsletter, Berger added the pièce de résistance, announcing the legislature has reached an agreement to raise taxes a whooping $1 billion then in the next breath saying that the Senate ‘revenue package actually lowers the sales tax’ – which a blind man could see wasn’t true.

So, here’s Doug Berger’s story (and he’s sticking to it):

Elderly Medicaid patients are a dangerous pack of special interests.

Home care – which keeps people out of Nursing Homes – is wasteful.

A $25 million fishing pier is wonderful.

And a billion dollar tax increase is a sales tax cut.

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08
Ironic news juxtaposition: Monday was the deadliest day in a year for America military forces in Afghanistan. Seven dead. And Robert Strange McNamara died.
 
When McNamara became president of Ford and then JFK’s Secretary of Defense in rapid succession, all Washington marveled at the power of his intellect. Lyndon Johnson thought McNamara was so smart he wanted him to be his running mate in 1964.
 
Then Vietnam went to hell.
 
For the rest of his life, McNamara was torn by guilt and remorse. And America was just torn up.
 
When American warships exchanged fire with North Vietnamese boats in the Gulf of Tonkin, McNamara told LBJ the intelligence was overwhelming that we were attacked. Later, that proved to be not exactly true. Kind of like the slam-dunk intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s WMDs.
 
Also later, McNamara said the intelligence underestimated the will of the North Vietnamese to outlast us, no matter how long or how many lives it took.
 
There are many parallels between JFK and Obama. Obama is the first Senator since Kennedy to be President. He’s cool and smart. He has surrounded himself with smart people. The best and the brightest, if you will.
 
If we learn one lesson from McNamara, let’s not get carried away by misguided intelligence about faraway lands.

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03
Two “issue” ad campaigns caught my eye this week. They show where this kind of media strategy is going.   One ad was about U.S. Senator Kay Hag...

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30
The Home and Hospice Care Association folks are giving State Senator Doug Berger a run for his money. Yesterday they aired a TV ad in his district. Today they put a video on the Internet. (View Ad Below)
 
In his State Senate Committee Berger cut home care for 20,000 patients on Medicaid. The reason he gave was simple: He said he had a ‘study’ by a state vendor (named CCME) that proved 45% of the patients in home care were ineligible.
 
Unfortunately for Senator Berger it turned out the study didn’t say that. In fact, it didn’t say anyone was ineligible. Not one patient. Because it didn’t include an examination of a single patient. So Senator Berger cut home care for 20,000 patients (who were eligible) based on a report he misread.
 

 

Read my blog series:
 
 

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27
My guess is hardly anyone reading this blog remembers when the movie Deep Throat came out 37 years ago – but there was an article about it in the pape...

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26
 
That old Watergate adage may dictate the 2010 elections. Democrats – both in Raleigh and Washington – may follow the money straight to big-time mid-term defeats.
 
Sometimes at the beach, two waves merge together to make a big wave that about drowns you. That may happen next year.
 
Nationally, the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll suggests that moderate and independent voters are becoming more and more concerned about the level of federal spending. And health-care reform could add another $1 trillion. Obama is still popular, but the poll numbers should worry the White House and Congress.
 
In North Carolina, Democrats are about to walk the plank on $1 billion-plus in new taxes. All my Democratic friends say legislators need to show some “courage,” raise taxes and protect education and health care.
 
Well, who’s going to protect education and health care if Republicans win the House or Senate – or both – next year?
 
One perceptive Democratic legislator took issue with my analysis that the party – and Governor Perdue – have to choose between making Democrats mad over budget cuts or Republicans and Independents mad over tax increases. Actually, he said, we’re probably going to make both sides mad.
 
That – on top of the continuing Easley saga – could spell trouble next year.
 

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25
Senator Doug Berger’s blooper is going on television.

When Senator Berger passed a bill to cut the home care of 20,000 elderly Medicaid patients, he said he had a study that proved they weren’t eligible for care. Period. Well, it turns out, over a month ago the Department of Health and Human Resources told Senator Berger he had his facts all wrong – that the ‘study’ didn’t show what he said.
 
Next, when The Association for Home and Hospice Care pointed out his mistake, Berger gave them a pretty blunt answer;—he tried to cut the elderly and disabled patients’ care even more – a whopping $77 million. All but eliminating the program. And leaving even patients Berger, himself, has acknowledged are eligible without care.
 
Finally the Home and Hospice Care folks, who have been working with other legislators to straighten out Berger’s mistake, decided the people who most needed to know what Berger is doing – are the voters in his district. So they’re taking to the airwaves and here’s their first television ad “Hard to Believe:’
 
 

 
 
         
           Berger's Blooper - Chapter II
 
          

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23
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22
Big Tobacco’s big defeat in Congress this month just goes to show that in politics there are no final victories.   Turn the page back to 1994. ...

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