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Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08
"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" - 2-27-08
"Nosy Congress Makes
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"Right Decision Could
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"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07
A number of you have told me that you don’t look forward to reading the column on your computer screen. That’s not necessary if you have a printer. Print out the column and take it with you to the breakfast table or wherever else you choose to read printed material. (You can also call up past columns in case you missed them.)
And, if you haven’t already done so, let us know your e-mail address so that we can send you a weekly reminder when a new column is available.
First, a reminder:
Attractive, hardbound copies of “Life With Marian”—a book which a good many readers have said they would be interested in owning—are still available for purchase (for $22.50) at The Bookworm in Countryside Village. If more convenient, you can now also send a check payable to Harold W. Andersen for $26.66 (includes tax and postage) and mail to me at P.O. Box 27347, Omaha, NE, 68127. A copy will be sent by return mail.
August 6, 2009
Some Democratic spokesmen like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and their allies continue to stretch the truth or deal in outright lies as they conduct a no-holds-barred campaign against the private health insurance industry during the August Congressional recess.
House Speaker Pelosi promised a “drumbeat across America” to counter what she termed a “shock and awe, carpet-bombing by the health and insurance industry to perpetuate the status quo.”
It is simply a lie to continue to charge that the private health insurance industry is seeking “to perpetuate the status quo” and is unwilling to improve its coverage by, for one thing, ending the practice of refusing coverage for pre-existing health conditions. This should now be a non-issue, but, for example, in a new “Louise and Harry” television ad promoting the Obama federal health insurance plan, Louise tells Harry that Americans need good coverage, to which Harry adds, “Even if they have a pre-existing condition.”
This kind of deceitful trashing of the private health insurance industry continues on even though refusing coverage for pre-existing condition is no longer an issue and private insurance companies have also promised other reforms, such as cresting and overseeing a basic, no-frills plan for the uninsured.
One would hope—and I would think one is entitled to expect—that the liberal crusaders for change should promote what they consider the positives of the Obama plan rather than concentrate on bashing private industry plans.
The burden of proof should be on those who want to create a federal health insurance bureaucracy. The liberal crusaders should try to answer at least the most fundamental of the multitude of questions which are raised by the 1,000-page Congressional federal health care authorization bill with its 10-year, trillion dollar price tag.
There is a touch of humor here and there in the debate, as in a remark by David Axelrod, a senior advisor to Obama. Axelrod said that today buyers of health insurance from private companies lack protection against the judgments of insurance company “bureaucrats.”
Is Axelrod seriously suggesting that federal government “bureaucrats” would not be making judgments in connection with a new federal health insurance plan? I’m reminded of the old bit of political satire which goes like this: “I’m from the federal government, and I’m here to help you.”
* * *
Disturbing questions occur—disturbing to me, at least—when I consider the lengths to which President Obama is willing to go to have his way in regard to the health insurance issue. Consider:
Obama staffers, presumably paid from campaign funds which Obama and the Democratic National Committee have raised, are actually going door to door in Omaha and other communities around the nation to campaign for the Obama national health insurance plan.
And television ads, funded by the Democratic National Committee and liberal “public interest” groups, are appearing frequently in targeted markets, including states like Nebraska where Democrat Senator Ben Nelson hasn’t agreed to all aspects of the president’s 10-year trillion-dollar (one estimate has the cost going as high as $1.5 trillion) health insurance proposal.
Paid workers going door-to-door to promote a specific Presidential proposal? I’ve been reporting and commenting on political affairs for some 60 years, and I can’t recall anything remotely comparable.
Is it simply ambition? Or a sense of presidential omniscience or what might be called the messiah complex? “I have a special mission to lead this country in the direction that I decide is best, and why don’t the people understand this?”
The questions seem to me to be legitimate—and troubling. Consider that Obama is the least-experienced president to take office in at least the last half century. Consider also that he is trying to reform, it sometimes seems, everything that he thinks needs to be reformed, and do it in a matter of months.
Incidentally, not helping Obama in his crusade was the fact that the hired staff member organizing a door-to-door campaign across Nebraska refused to give the number of paid employees in Nebraska to help him in his effort to blanket the state with house calls promoting not only Obama’s health care proposals but also his proposals for education and energy.
There are plans to hit all 435 Congressional districts in the United States with similar campaigns through the efforts of an Obama-supporter political machine called “Organizing for America.” One wonders if it might not more accurately be named “Organizing for Barack Obama’s America.”
* * *
Some representatives of the American Association of Retired Persons—including some Nebraskans—pretty clearly haven’t retired from playing clever politics.
The AARP managed to put a Nebraskan and her problem with a present health insurance industry policy in a spotlight at a town hall meeting on health care at AARP headquarters in Washington with President Obama in attendance.
With an AARP moderator in charge of recognizing those who would direct their comments to the president, the AARP was able to assure that Nebraskan Jeanie Zink-Wythers, who lives near Fairmont, Nebraska would be recognized and given a chance to tell Obama that her husband had been turned down for health insurance because of a pre-existing heart condition and had to enroll in a $900 a month high-risk insurance pool.
“That’s tough,” Obama interjected. “You are a prime candidate for the health care exchange that I just described”—a federally supervised national public health insurance program. (Obama, of course, didn’t mention that private health insurance companies have agreed to several reforms, including dropping the policy of denying coverage for re-existing medical problems.)
Obama came back to the Zink-Wythers case a couple of times during the town hall meeting and mentioned her yet again in his closing remarks, saying the Zink-Wythers case is an example of the current system not working very well.
Not only did the AARP’s spotlighting the Zink-Wythers case provide fodder for Obama. It also produced front-page coverage in The Omaha World-Herald (with a color picture of Zink-Wythers which she was happy to supply to the newspaper). It also may have added to the pressure on Senator Ben Nelson, Nebraska Democrat whom the Democratic National Committee is pressuring with a flood of television advertising.
Nelson, you see, recognizes that he is representing all of the people of Nebraska, where his moderate/conservative approach to Congressional issues better represents the interests and desires of Nebraskans than would marching in lockstep in support of Barack Obama.
* * *
The column today deals in large measure with President Obama and people working for him or supporting him. I believe this is almost inevitable when the man seems to show up anywhere and everywhere he can draw a crowd and garner attention from always-available news media.
A recent example is coverage which started with his foot-in-the-mouth remark about that incident in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
When asked about the incident involving an eminent Harvard faculty member and a Cambridge police sergeant, Obama started his response with a statement that he didn’t know all the facts. He should have stopped right there. But he went on to say the Cambridge police had “acted stupidly,” a direct insult to Sgt. James Crowley, who arrested Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Obama realized he had blundered and apologized, sort of, to Sgt. Crowley. Again, he should have stopped right there. But instead he went on with the loony idea of inviting both the sergeant and the professor to the White House for a beer. So further news media accounts of what was already beginning to create a negative reaction to the continuing complaint that blacks are consistently discriminated against by police as a result of so-called racial profiling.
Remember that it was Professor Gates, a black, who raised the racial issue in connection with his being questioned by Sgt. Crowley. Remember, too, that Gates demanded to have Sgt. Crowley’s name and badge number, with the implicit threat being that he was going to report Sgt. Crowley to his superiors.
In other words, if there was a heated confrontation, Gates surely started it. After all, Sgt. Crowley was responding to a 911 call in regard to a possible breaking and entering case and there was simply no evidence that he was targeting Gates because Gates is a black.
Was it necessary to finally handcuff Gates and book him for disorderly conduct? Of course not. But to suggest that the whole unfortunate incident provided a “teachable moment” about racial profiling, as President Obama suggested, was unfair to Sgt. Crowley and certainly didn’t do anything to improve the cause of race relations.
* * *
In this space recently, regular readers will recall, I quoted the late, great, baseball pitcher Satchell Paige as giving this advice for staying young:
“Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”
This is perhaps the most often quoted of Satchell’s explanation of how he was able to continue pitching major league baseball in his mid-40s. (He had a 12-10 win/loss record for the St. Louis Browns at age 46 in 1952.)
Satchell’s reputation as a sort of homespun philosopher led to publication of a book carrying his name and entitled “How to Stay Young.” A few nuggets of advice from Satchell’s book even made it to the pages of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. The nuggets of Satchell’s staying-young-advice reprinted in Bartlett’s:
“Avoid fried meats which angry up the blood. If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts. Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move. Go very light on the vices, such as carrying on in society. The social ramble ain’t restful. Avoid running at all times. Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”
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