Monday, March 5, 2012

Tornado warnings, and birth control politics

Hello. Welcome to O-Pinion, the editorial board's center for online discussion and commentary. I'm associate editor Fannie Flono, your host for today.

Before we get to politics, let's talk tornadoes and maybe there's a little politics associated with that too. After an EF2 tornado touched down in northeast Charlotte and southern Cabarrus County early Saturday morning, injuring several including three children who were sucked out of their house in Charlotte's Reedy Creek neighborhood, a lot of people are asking questions about why there was no warning from the National Weather Service.

A warning would have set off weather radios alerting people to take cover and that a tornado was on the ground. Sunday, the NWS admitted its meteorologists did not detect the severity of the storm. Neil Dixon with the National Weather Service said in a phone interview with WCNC, “We're using state of the art equipment the best we can, but unfortunately these events are so brief. Even though it was on the ground for about 3.2 miles, it was traveling at a very rapid rate of speed.”

Trouble is, it was the NWS in Greenville-Spartanburg that didn't see the possible tornado. The NWS in Raleigh did - and issued a warning for Stanly County that a "doppler-indicated tornado" was detected over Mecklenburg County, said meteorologist Eric Thomas of WBTV. The Raleigh NWS is in charge of issuing weather warnings for Stanly County.

On the other hand, the Greenville-Spartanburg NWS is in charge of issuing warnings for Mecklenburg and Cabarrus. Apparently not seeing what Raleigh saw, that office did not issue a warning.
Thomas notes aptly: "One would expect that adjacent NWS offices are coordinating with each other, but it seems hard to believe that was the case here. Even if the two offices didn't communicate prior to the warning, wouldn't alarms go off if a weather office issues a tornado warning by pinpointing a tornado in YOUR zone? How is it that GSP sat on the sideline while Raleigh sent out a bulletin pinpointing a doppler-indicated tornado in their zone? It's one thing to miss a radar signature and therefore miss a tornado. But in this case GSP either missed, or ignored Raleigh's tornado warning and the fact Raleigh has spotted a tornado in GSP's zone.
Something is seriously amiss here. My purpose is not to condemn either NWS office, but instead to raise questions and ask for an explanation."

Some weather experts did say, as the NWS noted, that the tornado happened so quickly that a warning wouldn't have helped much. Still, Thomas asks good questions that deserve serious contemplation. Regardless though a tornado touching down in Charlotte was an eye-opener for many. It spurred some, including me, to get truly prepared for future storms and sent several in search of a weather radio.

Super Tuesday, contraceptives and contraceptives
OK. Super Tuesday for the Republican presidential race is a day away and with pundits saying former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney needs a win in Ohio, the polls show he's in a neck-and-neck race with nemesis former Sen. Rick Santorum.
A new automated poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP), conducted from March 3-4, shows Romney and Santorum in a near tie (with 37 percent and 36 percent respectively) followed by Newt Gingrich (15 percent) and Ron Paul (11 percent).
An NBC News/Marist College live interviewer poll conducted from Feb. 29 to March 3 found a very similarly close result: Santorum (34 percent), Romney (32 percent), Gingrich (15 percent) and Paul (13 percent).
An opt-in internet panel survey conducted by Ipsos/Reuters from March 1-3 finds an exact tie, with Romney and Santorum receiving 32 percent each, followed by Gingrich (17 percent) and Paul (6 percent).

Democrats are distorting the Blunt-Nelson bill that sought to reverse a free contraceptive coverage requirement in the Obama health-care law, said John McCormack of the Weekly Standard: 'The conscience protections in the Blunt-Nelson bill are identical to the protections included in many federal health care laws on the books and even the 1994 Clinton reform that never became law. The bill wouldn’t affect state birth control mandates or federal laws that already require insurers to cover pregnancy, childbirth, mental health, HIV treatments, and other services."
McCormack aslo notes in "The High Price of 'Free' Health Care" that "today, in the United States, the federal government does not force insurers to provide free contraception. Yet contraception is as widely available as it is cheap. Most insurance policies cover it. The federal government gives birth control to the poor through Medicaid. And "if a middle- or upper-income woman happens to be in one of the small number of plans that don’t cover contraception​—​say, an employee at a college run by Catholic nuns​—​she can buy birth control pills for as little as $9 per month at Target."

Speaking of the Obama health-care law, a new poll shows swing-state voters want the law repealed. A newly released USA Today/Gallup poll showed by 53 to 40 percent swing-state voters want Obamacare to be repealed. The poll included registered voters in 12 states: Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, New Mexico, and Michigan. By a margin of 15 points (53 to 38 percent), registered voters in those state think it was “a bad thing” that President Obama’s signature legislation was passed.

Back to the contraceptive measure, radio personality Rush Limbaugh's rare apology this weekend for comments he made about a young woman testifying to a congressional panel about contraceptive inclusion in health insurance policies left some advertisers wanting. They did not reverse course and return to his advertising fold. Said David Friend of Carbonite, one of those advertisers: “No one with daughters the age of Sandra Fluke, and I have two, could possibly abide the insult and abuse heaped upon this courageous and well-intentioned young lady. Mr. Limbaugh, with his highly personal attacks on Miss Fluke, overstepped any reasonable bounds of decency. Even though Mr. Limbaugh has now issued an apology, we have nonetheless decided to withdraw our advertising from his show. We hope that our action, along with the other advertisers who have already withdrawn their ads, will ultimately contribute to a more civilized public discourse.”

Civilized public discourse? What a novel idea.


John said...

"Civilized public discourse? What a novel idea."

When we get it from Act-Up, PITA, the NAACP and NOW... then we can talk.

Liberals are always quick to call for "civilized discourse" but rarely give it to others they disagree with!

freddy said...

While there may be some uncivil discourse coming from the left, the vast majority of it comes from the right as this latest episode with Mr. Limbaugh attests. Rush himself bears a great deal of responsibility for the current state of affairs. His "Rush-Rooms" that you could find in many bars and restaurants back in the 80's began to create the cult of personality that surrounds him today and makes him the de facto leader of the Republican Party.

He gave permission for conservatives to adopt a new, militant attitude about politics and that if you can't win an argument on merit, just shout your opposition down. Being wimpy liberals and intellectuals who would rather talk than fight, they'll just back down. And you'll win!

That toxic attitude metastasized and propelled a new brand of uncompromising Republicans led by Newt Gingrich to the leadership of the House and the harassment & impeachment of President Clinton. And the election of an intelligent, progressive black man to the Presidency has taken it to an staggering new level.

No, both sides are not equally to blame for this sorry state of affairs. Not hardly.

Anonymous said...

I have on my phone (turned on) alerts for two Charlotte TV stations and a weather radio so I assumed when I woke up about 2am that storms passed us by because I got no alerts. A friend who lives closer to where the tornado was, got up, turned on TV, saw no alert and went back to bed even though wind was really whistling. We both live within a mile of fire stations. Do they sound alarms? Someone needs to make sure this doesn't happen again. Most of us were lucky this time.

Anonymous said...

How stupid does one need to be to demand "free" birth control pills and then complain when their monthly premium goes up by $50?

Anonymous said...

There were warnings issued all day Friday. "Tornado warnings for Charlotte and vicinity from 11pm-3am." Sounds like they hit that nail on the head.

And birth control? Why would I want my rates to go up so that others can get "free" birth control. That's like smoker's complaining that us non-smokers should pay for their YEARS of medical assistance that WILL be necessary (already is necessary for hundreds of thousands). It's also like us non-bikers having to pay for all the surgeries, and life support (not to mention paralysis assistance) for the fools who crack their head open while riding without a helmet in SC.

Anonymous said...

Those on this post complaining about insurance paying for birth control, either do not use it (male) or make a sufficient income to pay for it yourself. Contraception is expensive and would take a big chunk from an already shrinking income for many in NC and all across the country. It is part of heathcare wellness, it reduces unwanted births, there by reducing abortions, and essential in family planning. Contraception has a lot of benefits that the narrow minded just refuse to understand. I am sure that everyone knows at least one person that has used or is using some form of contraception right now. Ask them what it cost if they pay out of pocket. But in reality, the issue brought up by the republicans has nothing to do with religous organizations not wanting to pay for this, it is more about dismantling the Affordable Healthcare Act and nothing more. I just wish that folks right here NC that are now benefiting from the Affordable Healthcare Act would speak up and stop letting the voices that just hate this president keep drowning you out. If you no longer are dropped for pre-existing illness, your 26 yr old or younger can stay on your healthcare, no child can be denied benefits due to pre-existing conditons, thesse are all good and their just a few of the benefits that everyone is entitled too. Insurance companies could care less about us, it's all about the profits and bottom line for them. NC we need to call out people like Rush Limbaugh, because that kind of hatred and divisivness on radio and tv must be stopped. There is just too much of it all around us and it won't stop until people stop accepting it and start speaking up.

Anonymous said...

If you want to keep your kid on your health insurance, pay for it.
If you want to use contraception, pay for it.
If you want to get insurance and have a pre-existing condition, pay for it.
If you want to have a cadillac health policy that covers hair plugs, laser eye surgery and expensive forms of birth control, pay for it.
The government has no right to make me pay for it.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for providing the answer to 1:10's question. In fact, you went way beyond. PS: Premiums for many covered under the UnAffordable Act have DOUBLED ALREADY.

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