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March 4, 2010
I’m sure that President Obama and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi aren’t ignorant, so they should know. I’m no so sure about the bumbling, nearly inarticulate Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. Maybe he doesn’t know.
Know what, you ask? Know that the majority of the American people believe that the nation’s medical care system needs improvement but, according to poll after poll, do not approve of the expensive, compulsory system of medical insurance which would be imposed upon the American people by Obama and Pelosi and Reid and like-minded Democratic liberals in the House and Senate.
So if it’s not ignorance about the fact that the majority of the American people don’t want medical care reform in the “ObamaCare” package, why do Obama, Pelosi, Reid et al keep promoting it?
“Arrogance” might be part of the explanation, combined with a feeling—a highly questionable feeling, in my judgment—that an “ObamaCare” victory, if it comes early enough, will bolster the president’s sagging popularity and give a badly-needed boost to Democratic prospects before the November elections—motivations which certainly don’t justify overriding the wishes of the American public by ramming “ObamaCare” through the Congress.
* * *
Before leaving the subject of ObamaCare, some comments on last week’s “summit” conference called by the president.
One wonders if the president’s object was more like Republican capitulation than Republican cooperation. In any case, I found it interesting that some of the most acidulous comments came not from publications such as The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Times columnist Ross Douthat wrote this about Vice President Joe Biden’s performance at the summit conference:
“No comedy sketch atmosphere would be complete, of course, without a dose of Joe Biden’s logorrhea: ‘I think it requires a little bit of humility to be able to know what the American people think, and I don’t. I can’t. I can’t swear I do. I know what I think. I think I know what they think, but I’m not sure what they think.’”
(Biden’s uncertainty over what the American people think should have been relieved somewhat by this statement from the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky: “It is not irrelevant that the American people, if you average out all the polls, are opposed to this bill by 55 to 37.”)
Times columnist Douthat also wrote: “The Democrats have a health care plan that may turn out very, very badly and the Republicans, for all their protestations, don’t really have a plan at all.”
Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson wrote that the Democrats “have lost a national argument. Americans have taken every opportunity—the town hall revolt, increasingly lopsided polling, the series of upset elections culminating in Massachusetts—to shout their second thoughts.
“At this point, for Democratic leaders to insist on their current approach to health reform is to insist that Americans are not only misinformed but also dimwitted.”
A predictably conservative voice, columnist Jonah Goldberg of the National Review, said:
“…it was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who put the ugliest face on the Democratic Party. Cranky, mean and short-tempered, Reid seemed like he was sitting on a carpet tack throughout the discussion…
“His crotchety dyspepsia combined with arrogant dishonesty made the leader of the Senate seem like the sort of oldster who would pinch little kids for fun if he could get away with it.”
* * *
If anti-abortion activists would agree not to press for any more restrictive legislation until there has been a test of the constitutionality of Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood’s LB1103, I would be inclined to support the bill, with its unique new approach to the legality of abortions.
The process of putting the bill through a legal test (which might well go to the United States Supreme Court) could take years. And if the anti-abortion forces would settle for Flood’s bill until its legal viability is decided, it would be a welcome relief from the threat of a new anti-abortion—or anti-stem cell research bill—every legislative session.
Flood’s bill could conceivably—a very long-shot possibility, I believe—establish a new nationwide policy for legality of abortions, assuming it would likely be tested all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. Flood would overturn the long-established standard that abortions are legal until the fetus has reached the stage of viability outside the womb—usually considered at about the 24th week of pregnancy.
Flood proposes that abortions be legal only in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy—that is, up until the time that, according to Flood’s rationale—the aborted fetus would begin to feel pain.
However, in a review of fetal pain literature in 2005, University of California San Francisco physicians reported that “fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester,” or about 27 weeks into the pregnancy.
Flood says his primary object is to prevent Dr. LeRoy Carhart of Bellevue from becoming the region’s main provider of late-term abortions. He says he didn’t introduce the bill with the goal of having it upheld by the Supreme Court. But such a Supreme Court ruling would surely be the goal of national anti-abortion forces.
It seems to me not enough consideration has been given to the fact that the wording in Flood’s bill—legally required under previous court rulings to cover cases where the mother’s health is threatened—would very likely not be adequate to prevent Dr. Carhart from performing late-term abortions.
Carhart has said that he would perform late-term abortions only when the mother’s life is at risk. And Flood’s bill would forbid abortions after 20 weeks unless necessary to “avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.” (Emphasis supplied.)
It seems to me that it could be legally and logically argued that there would be no inconsistency between Carhart’s policy of a late-term abortion only to save the mother’s life and Flood’s language which would allow a post-20-week abortion to prevent an “irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.”
Don’t all deaths (including those Dr. Carhart would be trying to prevent) result from some “irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function”?
* * *
Further on the subject of abortion:
Georgia Right to Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group, is trying to make a racial discrimination issue of the fact that a higher percentage of abortions are performed on black women than the percentage of black women in the Georgia population.
Georgia Right to Life hired a black woman to travel to black churches and colleges, delivering the message that abortion is a primary tool in a decades-old conspiracy to kill off blacks.
What rubbish, viciously unfair rubbish.
The explanation is simply the fact that a higher percentage of black women have unplanned, unwanted pregnancies than do non-blacks.
That fact reflects a serious social problem; i.e., that blacks are disproportionately represented in the ranks of unmarried women facing the prospect of trying to raise children in poverty without the help of a father.
Persons truly interested in the welfare of black women should be working on that problem, without spreading lies about planned parenthood and efforts that are made—abortion, for one example—to avoid facing the unwelcome, sometimes overwhelming task of trying to raise children under handicaps which almost guarantee unhappy results.
* * *
Some quick hits:
When will television news-readers try harder to perform more like true journalists? The answer, in too many cases, “Never.”
My comment is prompted by the way the news-readers performed on a telecast one recent evening. Early in the 10:00 p.m. telecast, one of the news-readers told us the widely-known fact that the Nebraska Cornhusker women’s basketball team played the Missouri Tigers earlier that evening, then added:
“Which team came out the winner? We’ll tell you shortly.”
I don’t know how the news-readers define “shortly,” but it was 10:25 before we were told that the Lady Huskers had won, 67-51, a fact that a great many Husker fans already had learned from listening to the game on the radio.
One might surmise that the news-reader chose this not untypical “we’ll tell you later” approach in the hope of holding your attention through the commercials which aired between the early teaser and 10:25 p.m.
--Moving from the irritatingly trivial to the absolutely irresponsible, as demonstrated in the same newscast:
Some TV stations are encouraging viewers to make themselves a part of the newscast by submitting comments, some of which are then put on the air, but without the viewer’s name included. This particular evening, there were two such anonymous comments—one of them viciously critical of Mayor Jim Suttle.
It is totally irresponsible to allow people’s opinions to be broadcast anonymously when they are critical of named individuals or organizations. What a contrast to The World-Herald’s Public Pulse, where thousands of letters are published each year, every one of them bearing the name or names of who is responsible for the letter.
--Count me among the many Omahans who wish the University of Nebraska at Omaha Mavericks hockey team well.
But I wonder if building traditional rivalries against schools like Bemidji State—a recognized hockey power in the limited field of colleges offering hockey as an intercollegiate sport—can turn the Mavericks into a power that leads the UNO athletic program in general to greater prestige and possibly overall NCAA Division I status—a level which UNO Athletic Director Trev Alberts has mentioned as a goal.
(The Mavs are already among the 64 teams playing in NCAA Division I hockey leagues, whose members range from Bemidji State with its 2,400-seat arena to Ohio State with a 17,500-seat arena.)
* * *
Thanks to my friends—the total is eight and rising as I dictate this—who have shared with me pictures of the Augusta National Golf Club course under a blanket of 5 to 6 inches of snow in mid-February.
Quite a contrast, of course, to the more familiar image of the Augusta National, televised during the annual Masters Tournament, dressed in the lush green of its fairways and the colorful azalea bushes, all framed, by borders of evergreen trees.
Those snow-covered fairway pictures prompted me to call the Augusta National pro shop and inquire as to whether wintry weather had done any damage to plants like the azaleas.
I was told that the touch of winter was not severe enough to cause any damage, so the course should be at its traditional colorful best when golfing fans around the world view it on television come April.
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