Secret GOP Healthcare Plan Revealed

The Bartender is In

If you are wondering what might be in the super-secret Senate bill on revamping the nation’s healthcare system–wonder no more. For I am about to reveal the details based upon some recent personal input on the matter.

Knowing full well that the Senate would be tasked with coming up with something a bit less mean than what the House presented to the President, and also being aware of the fact that the Senate can be just as mean and nasty as the House, I took it upon myself to formulate my own blueprint for the overhaul of healthcare.

Now one might be tempted to question my credentials on the issue. But as a working bartender of almost 45 years, I have been at the forefront of practical medicine for most of my life. And I am certainly no less qualified than the majority of those senators and congressman that will ultimately decide the issue.

The following letter was emailed to the offices of key members of the United States Senate, including all those that currently sit on the Healthcare Committee:

To the Honorable and Reasonable Men and Women of the United States Senate:

While I do not have any accredited expertise on the issue of providing healthcare coverage to the citizens of this country, with each passing day it becomes increasingly self-evident that the democratic process allows even the least qualified among us to lay claim to having all the answers. So as someone who has at least served as an elected official in municipal government and has had the benefit or curse of having worn numerous professional hats along with a number of inconsequential caps over the course of 63 years, please bear with me as I toss my somewhat shopworn chapeau into the ring.

First off, it appears that both the previous and current administration, either by design or default, became mostly fixated on how to placate and finance the insurance industry. In spite of the fact that most Americans would probably place the blame for their premium woes on the perceived greed of the insurers, and while certain aspects of the customer service practices of these providers might help to fuel those perceptions—most of these companies operate at or below the average profit margins of the majority of all U.S. businesses. While there are probably some legislative actions, such as tort reform and creating larger insurance pools, which could lower premiums to some degree, the real savings is in addressing healthcare practices and the delivery of services. The question then becomes how do we rein in the costs of that which represents nearly 20 percent of the nation’s GDP without harming the overall health of the economy? And what should be the role of government in that process?

There are those that propose single payer universal healthcare, and there are those that would prefer a totally market-based solution. Without giving away my own personal preference, let me just say that neither approach is realistic under the current political climate. So as usual, it will require creativity, compromise, and consideration from both camps to bring about any meaningful change. So for what it’s worth, here are a number of ideas and observations to ponder.

1.) During the last few decades our country has experienced a rather baffling rise in both the cost of healthcare and higher education. I say baffling because neither situation has produced the improved outcomes that one might expect when measured against the cost. And when you factor in the information technologies available to both professions, the qualified practitioners of both medicine and learning should in fact be providing a much better product at a more equitable price.

I am not suggesting that those dedicated men and women on the front lines of either healthcare or education be paid less for their services, but I suspect there are a great deal of savings that lie just beyond the doors of the classroom and the operating room. And while the factors that drive costs in either institution do not necessarily make the case for a valid comparison—one only needs to take a stroll on the lush grounds of an Ivy League university or walk down the corridors of a sprawling hospital complex to know that both healing and enlightenment could be achieved in much more affordable surroundings. The question is, who will take the lead in the creation and construction of those surroundings—the government or the free market?

2.) In order for actual market based competition to occur within the healthcare industry, I believe two things must be addressed: the lack of transparency when it comes to actual costs, and the other being what I like to call “Car Wash Medicine.”

As to the latter, the recouping of one’s investment and eventual profitability in an automated car wash is dependent upon a never ending stream of dirty cars passing through the machine. Thankfully, the owners of these car washes can depend upon the vagaries of Mother Nature and the capricious hygiene habits of our winged friends to guarantee a healthy supply of customers. But this is not necessarily true in the business of healthcare. While all of us will eventually become sick or sustain injury, and perhaps even come to harm as the result of some chance encounter with a bird, the successful treatment of those maladies is not always dependent upon being subjected to the expensive technologies afforded to us by modern medicine. And yet it seems that no treatment regimen is complete without first being screened and scanned. I guess the medical community can’t afford to let that expensive CT or MRI machine sit idle for too long.

As to the matter of transparency, most of my time alive has been spent living in New Jersey. And while I can’t speak about oversight in the other 49 states, if the Garden State is a typical example of how healthcare providers operate throughout the country, then one must come to the conclusion that in fact there is no true market based competition going on. Depending upon the location, the same identical routine tests and procedures can vary in cost by thousands of dollars. And since those costs are most often negotiated under the cover of nondisclosure, the average consumer, who normally finds his way into the system by way of an ambulance with very little choice as to where to go, becomes doubly victimized by the unethical price fixing and price gouging that is being done all in the name of medicine.

3.) The repeal of the Affordable Care Act will most likely lead to another spike in the number of uninsured people seeking expensive emergency room treatment. Those who cannot afford insurance or preemptive medical care are left with little choice other than to wait for a symptom to become a sickness.

By developing an extensive national network of free or low cost government supported community clinics for poor and low income Americans, we could greatly reduce the number of emergency cases that have brought many of our hospitals to the brink of financial ruin. And as an incentive to attract qualified personnel to staff these clinics, the government could offer to pay for the cost of nursing or medical school in exchange for two years of service in those areas of the country that are underserved by the medical community. Considering the fact that the average new doctor finds him or herself with nearly two-hundred thousand dollars of student debt before they even see their first patient, I believe many of these newly trained professionals would gladly be willing to work for a bit less money at the beginning of their careers.

4.) We could be just one breakthrough away from freeing up $175 billion a year of government monies. Currently, approximately 18 percent of the annual Medicare and Medicaid budget is spent caring for people afflicted with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. By 2025, that cost of care is estimated to reach $237 billion. While the Congress has already committed a substantial increase in research funding for this year’s budget, it is incumbent upon all of our elected representatives in both the House and Senate to guarantee that we will continue to aggressively fund those public and private entities that are engaged in the search for a cure. Other than the ravages  of cancer, no other present medical condition has brought greater sadness or suffering to humanity than Alzheimer’s disease.

5.) Finally, it is safe to say that there will be an enormous amount of push back from those who might be adversely impacted by any attempt to control and cut the cost of healthcare. And certainly an industry that makes up such a large portion of our economy will strongly plead the case for maintaining the status quo when it comes to protecting the current model of medical care in the United States. But for the sake and wellbeing of those who represent the other 80 plus percent of our gross domestic product, now is the time for our leaders and legislators to exhibit a little more conviction and whole lot more courage!

Furthermore, as we begin the process of considering cutting taxes on both businesses and individuals in order to spur growth, we should not lose sight of the powerful boost to the American economy that would come about simply by reducing the undue financial burden of runaway healthcare costs. American companies would become more profitable, government would see increased tax revenue—but most importantly, our citizens would be less stressed, more secure, and a lot healthier. Because nothing promotes the general welfare of the people better than knowing that they will have the means to enjoy the rewards of life–and the resources to cover the cost!

Thank you for your time and attention.
Sincerely,
Christopher M. Poh

Of course there is that distinct possibility that in the process of amending and reconciliation that my recommendations will not be fully incorporated into the final bill. In the event of that outcome, I will prescribe the following in lieu of genuine reform and repair of our healthcare system:

  • Get plenty of exercise. Lifting full pints of  ale is a good start. Dancing on the bar is aerobic, but not recommended for older patrons.
  • Socialize more. Take your eyes off the damn TV screen and engage in some constructive communication with the person next to you.
  • Finally, take two aperitifs and call me in the morning–but, please, not too early!

Click glass Bluecoat Gin Martini for additional treatment options.

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

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Catholic Comfort & Irish Illumination

I’ve reached that late moment in life where I dread the prospect of burying my friends, but at the same time, I’m not terribly keen on the idea of them burying me.                                                                                             author unknown 

pals_at_cryans                                                                                                                     So what do three old friends with longstanding Irish Catholic inclinations that haven’t seen each other for a very long time talk about when they finally do manage to coordinate a rendezvous? The answer, of course, is death–or the ever looming prospect  of personally acquiring the condition. And such was the case a few weeks back when Susan O’Brien, Howard Casey, and I gathered together for an afternoon repast at Cryan’s Tavern in Annandale, New Jersey.

Our conversation began with a recap of those friends and acquaintances in common that were either at death’s door or had already crossed that threshold since last we met. After the appropriate number of toasts to those that had gone before us, we entered into a cheery discussion about our individual preferences concerning the benefits of cremation as opposed to accepting that final embrace from Mother Earth. And when those whimsical ramblings had finally delivered us to that perfect state of melancholia, we opted to augment our need for drink by moving the discourse from that of the inevitable crawl to the grave to the current race for the White House .

Soon the only thing darker than the mood in our hearts would be the Guinness in our glasses. And while we shared an equally pessimistic view about the present state of American politics, those instilled parochial school virtues of faith, hope, and charity combined with that indomitable Irish sense of humor would carry us through that particular day.Whether or not those same attributes will sustain us through the trials and challenges that America will face after this election remains to be seen. But as long as my own life is blessed with tavern mates the likes of Miss O’Brien and Mr. Casey, I will gladly choose to carry on no matter who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The following piece of music by our mutual friend Billy Mulligan, who for the better part of his life has lent his voice to social and political justice, reflects those moments when one might be tempted to seek a bit of divine intervention on the issue of personal mortality.

The entirety of this fine release, Beyond the Paleis available for purchase at CD Baby.

Posted by: Chris Poh for  American Public House Review

Terms of Engagement

Cowboys at the Rusty Spur in Scottsdale, AZ

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been spending a bit of time with the latest book to make it to the top of my perpetual must read pile before my somewhat languid brain loses its ability to even process the written word. In this particular instance, I’ve actually given an author’s efforts something of an in-depth dabble as opposed to my usual cursory perusal. Certainly this amounts to the highest of praise for John Fabian Witt’s Lincoln’s Code. This excellent narrative examines America’s role in defining the rules of government sanctioned armed conflict, with an emphasis on Abraham Lincoln’s input on the matter of trying to bring  fair play, dignity, and perchance even a touch of charity to the bloodied fields of combat. While I do not discount the sincere intent of those who throughout history have endeavored to bring a modicum of humanity to the battlefield, there is that ever skeptical side of me that questions their underlying motives–whether it be the likes of Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington or any other supposedly enlightened and regarded individual. 

I’ve always suspected that the call for order and civility in the midst of organized carnage is as much about justice as it is about those that started the fight trying to avoid retribution and the hangman’s noose when the fog of war finally lifts. And then of course there is the political practicality of having something left above ground to exploit and govern after the fallen have been properly placed below ground. Perhaps the only thing that might appear to be somewhat more disingenuous or hypocritical than our attempts to codify the institution of war is our attempts to codify the institution of marriage. But at some point during the current session of the Supreme Court, those erudite legal minds seated in chambers across the street from the U.S. Capitol will consider doing just that.

While I understand the level of discomfort expressed by those who argue against gay marriage on moral and religious grounds, I have come to my own conclusions based on personal experience. During my time behind the bar, I have established close friendships with a number of long-term committed gay couples. In all instances, these loving people have fostered  positive changes in environments that normally would have been less than accepting of any homosexual individual prior to them quietly working their way toward establishing regular’s status. In fact, their  presence helped to bring about a greater degree of acceptance, patience, tolerance and kindness toward all clientele, no matter what their gender, political persuasion or sexual orientation might be.

In the text of his Second inaugural Address, Lincoln reminded us to act in accordance with the words of Matthew 7:1, “let us judge not that we be not judged.” It is time to award all who choose the bonds of steadfast love an equal place at the bar–in hopes that we all may be granted an equal place at that eternal table.

Posted by: Chris Poh

Blue Tag

The View on the Way Down Might Not Be Half Bad

Killarney ParkWhile I can be potentially as pessimistic as any American about the ability of our elected officials to shepherd us through these difficult and dangerous times, on this rare occasion, I applaud the combined  political aplomb of both Democrats and Republicans. By keeping a crisis weary nation focused on the possibility of going over the so-called fiscal cliff on January 1st, they have effectively shifted our attention away from the pending December 21st end of the world supposedly prophesied by the Maya. This clever bipartisan manuever will ensure that Americans will press on with their holiday plans, thus insuring a robust fourth quarter in consumer spending. Now as to whether or not Mr. Boehner or President Obama can marshal their troops in order to deal with our long-term fiscal concerns, in the event that the Mayan timetable proves to be no more accurate at predicting the future than my 2011 Worlds Cutest kittens calendar was–is well beyond my powers of prognostication.

I find myself equally puzzled by the prospect of this nation enduring further economic hardships as a result of government inaction caused by the irrational self-serving behavior of a handful of political hacks that have no true sense of either patriotism or public service. So the big question remains, are we better off striking that grand bargain, or would we be better served by taking a leap of faith off that pecuniary plateau?

The results of the November election strongly suggest that Americans long for those compromises that will restore stability and faith in the marketplace. But as is often the case, deals that are acceptable to both parties, while they make for great signing ceremonies, tend to inadequately address our problems. So perhaps a bit of a free fall after the first of the year might not be such a bad thing. I’m all for giving a new Senate and Congress the chance to spread their wings. Who knows, they may even take the nation to new heights.

But just in case they are unable to live up to my optimistic metaphors, and we hit our heads on the next dept ceiling and come crashing down to the canyon’s floor–here is a bit music from our friend Matt De Blass to help soften the landing.

Matt De BlassClick on Matt’s picture or the title to hear his original uplifting Irish ditty – “Bartender I’ll Have What the Man on the Floor Has Been Drinking

Posted by: Chris Poh

Enhance your enjoyment of the Irish Pub experience by following us on at Parting Glass Media.

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Remembering 9/11

Today we remember all those who perished as a result of the terrorist attacks against the United States of America of September 11th, 2001. We pray for the continued wellbeing and healing  of the families, and all those who were directly impacted by this tragedy. We honor those that responded with the utmost bravery and commitment to their fellow-man in the midst of the crisis. And we thank those who remain in harm’s way and always faithful to the mission of safeguarding our freedom and security. 

We will raise a glass, and say a prayer for all those who can no longer join us at the table.

 

Published in: Uncategorized on September 11, 2012 at 11:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Once in a Blue Moon

Neil Armstrong - Apollo 11 Mission - NASA Photo Public Domain

Black boy in Chicago
Playing in the street
Not near enough to wear
Not near enough to eat
Don’t you know he saw it
On a July afternoon
He saw a man named Armstrong
Walk upon the moon
                                From the song “Armstrong” by John Stewart

It seems both appropriate and bittersweet that we have honored the achievements, and marked the passing of Neil Armstrong on the occurrence of a blue moon. I was fifteen years old during that momentous summer of 1969 when we placed two men in the Sea of Tranquility, as a third crew member orbited  Earth’s only natural satellite. But truth be told, I was much more interested in that which transpired among the sea of humanity that had landed on Max Yasgur’s farm near Woodstock, New York. But within those two very different events there was a common measure of human potential. In the midst of generational conflict, civil unrest, political upheaval and a brutal war in Southeast Asia, we could still overcome our shortcomings and failures to achieve greatness. And there was a collective appreciation of those accomplishments that transcended our differences. 

As I listen to the  current political dialogue during this summer’s presidential campaign, I wonder to myself if these times could even produce the likes of  Collins, Aldrin and Armstrong, or for that matter even a  Crosby, Stills and Nash. Currently our national discord certainly seems to have a decided edge over any possibility of  national harmony.

After the Apollo 11 Mission, I remember spending a bit more time peering into the night sky. There was a time when even my old Gilbert 80-power 3-inch reflector telescope found its way back to the front lawn. The small bits of light in the dark silence rekindled some of that wonder and awe that was lost to the self-absorbed ways of adolescence. Today most of my celestial gazing seems to be limited to those long walks back to the car after closing some pub. Unfortunately, like so many of us I find my self spending too much time in that mundane inner space  where the light of the heavens is obscured by incandescent pollution and our own pointless incessant chatter–a place where humans tend to only react according to their own individual self interests–a place that is the source of both our internal and external strife–a place of big egos and small ideas.

Over the next several weeks there will be the usual clarion calls from both sides of the political divide to join them on the road toward the reclamation of our American potential and preeminence. Our eyes will be bombarded with the well orchestrated persuasive partisan messages coming to us by the light of our  computer screens, smart phones and television sets. But in reality, we need not look  any further than into the light of our children’s eyes, or into the light of that endless night sky to understand our place in human history. It is those illuminations that will fire our intellect and imagination–and allow us to leave our footprints on the path to a better America. Let’s just hope that we can make those small steps toward another giant leap sometime before the next blue moon.

Posted by: Chris Poh

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Reaching Across the Divide

It has been some time since I have made any contributions to this particular forum, in fact, the last word came from my cohort and compadre, Ed Petersen, who back in April again posed that vexing question: “Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?”

Now after having endured the close of yet another presidential primary season, the beginning of the main event, and the first two days of the Republican’s gathering of funny hats in Tampa, the prospect of getting along seems as unattainable as ever. But in the interest of promoting our policy of  defusing the prevailing air of pessimism, we will continue to voice our own unique brand of hope and optimism.

The following piece was recently published in our new online publication Parting Glass Media:

Having spent a substantial portion of my adulthood on both sides of that barrier that separates the patrons from the potables, I know from experience just how territorial people can be about what they perceive to be an almost God-given right to a particular place at the bar. And any newcomer to the establishment that infringes upon that preordained seating arrangement, at the very least, might be subject to a less than welcoming glance from those that believe that their time at the tavern affords them special considerations.

I have always believed that if you observe human behavior on a small-scale, one will gain much insight into the overall nature of mankind. And watching the masses jockeying for position at the bar in the hope of getting those rewards that await them on the other side reminds me very much of our current attitude towards those that may have entered the saloon, or crossed our borders, without the proper credentials. And with another heated presidential election season in full swing, the hand wringing and wrangling over the issue of immigration will once again be at the forefront of the fear mongering laundry list of political issues. Our mercurial position on the matter has always been dictated by economic self-interest, and by our own personal prejudice for or against that particular group seeking safe haven on these shores.

During my time as a bartender at Manhattan’s Peter McManus Cafe during the late 80s, I experienced a very different response to some of those that were here in the country illegally. Although these new Irish immigrants were not facing anything equal to the hardships and devastation caused by the Great Famine of the mid-nineteenth century, an abysmal economy at home had driven them to seek employment throughout the five boroughs of New York. And while these expatriates were not about to take on anything as ambitious as digging a canal or building a transcontinental railroad, a number of rundown city neighborhoods did experience gentrification as a result of this ready, willing and able-bodied pool of affordable labor.

The same friendly pubs that cashed the checks of these undocumented workers would garner a quick reward for their blind eye courtesy in the form of an ever-increasing thirsty patronage that could spend many hours treating their homesickness with a generous dose of beer and whiskey. The local collection plates also benefited from those displaced souls who still adhered to the tradition of mass on Sunday, no matter how many pints were consumed during the previous evening’s session. So it was no small wonder at the time that there would be advocacy and a call for amnesty from both the politicians and those in the pulpit who shared a common heritage with those that were now living in the shadows of America’s promise.

As we once more face the challenge of constructing policy that is just and reasonable not only for those who are coming into the country, but also for those that have established their rightful citizenship, let us be mindful of the fact that much of this nation’s good fortune and success can be attributed to that longstanding tradition of inclusion. Furthermore, the vast majority of immigration, legal or otherwise, is driven by conditions that if faced by any human being would prompt those people to seek a better life elsewhere, regardless of the cost or personal risk. In the course of our own history, Americans have crossed or moved the borders to suit our individual and national needs—and in many instances without sufficient concern for the wellbeing of those who would be impacted by such actions.

Lastly, let us not forget that within most of us resides this deep-seated desire to bridge the divide that separates all humans from our point of origin in the universe. In an attempt to make that journey we have adopted principles, philosophies and religious beliefs that call upon us to transcend culture, race, and national identity in our dealings with each other. For if any of us are to draw from that wellspring of knowledge, or to partake of that holy nectar—we must first find a way to sit together on this side of the bar.

Posted by: Chris Poh

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Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

“.  .  . there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him that esteemeth

anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.”

                                                                                          -Romans 14:14

President Ronald Reagan and Thomas "Tip" O'Neill

The psychological term, “Cognitive Dissonance” is applied to the disconcertion felt when our very human mind attempts to hold two conflicting points of view at once. We move to embrace either one or the other in order to alleviate the discomfort assuming only the positives of one and only the negatives of the other. This divided perception forms one paradigm of sweetness and light and another which is the source of everything evil. And these qualified imaginings take place on the conscious and indeed the subconscious levels. We literally assemble the world in which we live out of our chosen assumptions.

Perhaps if we are talking about primeval, tribal society there was an evolutionary advantage to Cognitive Dissonance. We presumed some folks to be friends and others to be enemies. These allegiances might have meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of thousands of years during our prehistoric development. The problem is that we have now gone through the enlightenment of civilization. Most of us have realized that every human being on earth is alike in mind, body and spirit. We recognize that we are all in this together. For the course of  our individual lives to progress and for humanity to advance in general, there is a delicate balance that needs to be struck between competition and cooperation.

Competition touches something primal within our soul. To affiliate with a team, a religion, a club or a political party ignites satisfying, inbuilt, evolutionary drives toward loyalty and mutual survival of the tribe. But in reality there’s no denying we’ve outgrown our tribes. The low vaulted ceilings of our tribal halls have been demolished and replaced with a dome as vast as the entire planet. Now, mutual survival of the tribe means all of us, every one. We’re so intertwined as to our commerce, our environment and the quality of our lives that we can neither afford our ancient hatreds nor endure the price of  Cognitive Dissonance. Gone are the days when we can abide the cost of forming some of our brothers and sisters into evil idols unworthy of love and respect or making them out to be the cause of every problem we encounter. We have to cultivate an appreciation of the more subtle, expansive delights of cooperation and learn to consider the  skill, competence and good ideas which sometimes come from the perceived other team. Our very survival as a species depends on it.

Edward F. Petersen, Creative Director
                      – American Public House Review
http://americanpublichouse.com
Published in: Uncategorized on April 3, 2012 at 5:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Setting Sail With John McCain

We left Newport under threatening skies on a northerly heading up Narragansett Bay. Our charter on that  morning in May of 2000 was the restored 58 foot Elco motor-yacht Rum Runner. In the waters just beyond the Navy War College were anchored the Iowa and Forrestal. Our captain skillfully maneuvered our craft in between these two historic grey ladies of naval warfare. 

As I looked up at the flight deck I recalled scenes of the inferno that engulfed John McCain’s A-4 Skyhawk after a missile accidentally fired from another aircraft struck his plane’s fuel tanks, as he was awaiting clearance to take off for a bombing sortie over North Vietnam. 134 sailors and airmen lost their lives and hundreds more were injured as a result of the Forrestal disaster on July 29, 1967. This event as well as the five years of captivity in Hanoi did much to prepare Captain John McCain for his dedicated, resolute and occasionally brash career on the floor of the United States Senate. 

This past August I was again cruising the waters off Coddington Cove. It is no longer possible to gain easy access to this or any other military installation in the United states. The events of 9-11 have, for better or worse – literally and figuratively, limited our ability to freely navigate many channels. But our presidential candidates remind us often about the gravity of the situation, and the sacrifices that must be made in order to safeguard the republic. They and their operatives also remind us ad nauseam about those individual life experiences that make them capable and ready to serve as president.

As I review the resumes of our current candidates I am satisfied that both are competent enough to hold court in the Oval Office. Hell, anyone that is able to outlast their opponents in the grueling and unremiting primary process is probably able to give at least a fair accounting of presidential performance.

But then there is the matter of constitutional ascendance. On this front John McCain has so far proven the depth of his political savvy and expedience in his choice of Sarah Palin; but as a matter of providing for the responsible protection of this nation – one might question his powers of reasoning and good judgement. 

If these are truly the most grave and dangerous times since the Second World War, as both candidates would have us believe, they owe it to every American to make sure that their potential successors are well versed in international affairs and immediately qualified to take command of our armed forces. Furthermore, while we must value and respect every person’s relationship with the divine, those who profess that God might have a hand in directing our use of military force may not be suited for the position of commander in chief.

Those who died at Yorktown, Antietam, Meuse-Argonne, Guadalcanal, Normandy, Incheon, Khe Sanh, Basra and on the decks of the Forrestal perhaps deserve better!

Posted by: Chris Poh, Publisher

Learning to appreciate a genius

I did not begin my time watching Tim Russert as a fan of his.  The first few times I watched him on “Meet the Press”, I was not blown away.  In fact, I was often left frustrated and aggravated with Mr. Russert and his questioning.  But after a while I came to realize the brilliance of this incredibly important journalist who we may never replace.

I couldn’t figure out what is politics were.  Sometimes he would grill people, and sometimes he wouldn’t.  The now famous interview with David Duke showed a man who was the equivalent of a media pit bull, going after the gubernatorial candidate with such veracity and intelligence that Duke nearly melted on camera.  But other times he would not confront people, instead allowing them to answer his questions and move along to other topics, whether they were telling the truth or not.  I couldn’t figure it out, and it frustrated me.

But soon I started to realize that nearly every time a politician was caught in a lie or drastically changing his or her position the proof came from a past appearance on “Meet the Press”.  Whenever someone was confronted with their own answers, it always seemed to be Russert’s voice that asked the question.  They were on the record and the country benefited time and again from that record.

You see it wasn’t that Russert thought less of Duke then others, though he may very well have.  He just wouldn’t stop until Duke had answered the questions so the state of Louisiana had the information it needed to make a critical decision.  When others chose to answer more swiftly, whether Mr. Russert knew the answer was correct or incorrect, he simply let them answer and then would stand by and let history be the judge.  He knew history was often a much more damning judge than any one man could ever be.  Rather then confronting people with a personal and thinly veiled agenda, Tim Russert gave everyone an equal chance to pass or fail the nation’s test of integrity.  He never made himself the judge.  How few in the media can say that about themselves now?

So from a man who needed some time to appreciate you, I offer a most heartfelt “thank you” to the man who set the bar for all the rest of the media to be judged with.  God go with you, Tim.  You are an inspiration for all of us.  Oh yeah, and “Go Bills!”

by David McBride of the American Public House Review

Published in: on June 18, 2008 at 7:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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