But first . . .


Marc Fest: Etherpad.com enables really real-time collaborative editing. I have to edit documents together outside parties all the time, so this rocks. And speaking of collaboration:


I’ve used this several more times since first touting it and just want to be sure you saw it. If you’re a typical computer user with modest skills . . . and so occasionally get stymied . . . but have a computer guru friend from work or daughter off at college, each of you should download this free software. Then start a session where you both see the same screen and can work on it together. Use skype – also free – to talk as you do.

Or maybe you and a friend are charged with designing the Kiwanis Club holiday party evite. Rather than have to drive over to his place, just work on the file together from your respective dining room tables. This is great if you want to help your grandmother fix something on her computer or show her how to do something.

And now . . .


Rob: Imagine my surprise at learning this morning that I am gullible, ignorant and misguided as well as lacking in the areas of logical, critical thinking. If my IQ were not so low, I probably could have figured out just how stupid I am all for myself, huh?? It’s a wonder I can even brush my teeth without causing myself injury, let alone put three kids through college and run my own successful business. Kindly accept the fact that those who disagree with you – yet stop by to read most days – deserve a bit more than invective and insults. Reprinting ‘Ralph’s’ thoughts – such as they are – contributes to the problem and makes you look as foolish as he. For as long as we simply insult and degrade those whose opinions to not align with ours, no progress is possible. I’ll go back to drooling on myself now. How could I be so stupid?’

☞ Thanks, Rob, and for stopping by this page most days – I appreciate that very much. I think you’re responding to something I didn’t say – and certainly something I did not intend to say. Ralph was referring to people specifically like those in Friday’s DC TEA PARTY video.

There are tons of people like you who disagree in a thoughtful and constructive way. I surely have no monopoly on the best ideas, and – judging from the much touted ‘161 Republican amendments’ incorporated into one or another of the health care bills – Democratic legislators don’t believe they do either.

What Ralph was bemoaning, and I admit to bemoaning, too, are those (however many they number), whose discourse is not thoughtful or fact-based. I think if you watch that video, you might agree that their approach to fixing the health care mess is not constructive or well-informed.

Donald Szostak: ‘I was so outraged by the tenor of Ralph’s thesis and your apparent agreement that I felt I had to write. If those opponents, tens of millions of them, are gullible, ignorant and misguided then why haven’t they been easy prey for the left? Ralph’s and your lack of respect for the opposition is what will do you in. Have you ever considered the possibility that you might not be so 100% right? Maybe, just maybe, if you who consider yourselves elite took the time to understand what is driving those well meaning idiots and morons you might stand a chance of leading them, i.e., un-misguiding them, instead of just standing by lambasting. I think Obama called it finding common ground. Instead, all I read from you is how obviously right your solutions are and how wrong and dumb are those who disagree with you. How sad. Just a thought. As always, have a nice day.’

☞ As above, I’d ask that you watch the video, if you haven’t already, because that was what Ralph was responding to. And, again with respect, I’d suggest that much of the health care stuff I’ve posted or linked to goes well beyond insult or naked assertion – as for example this lengthy column several weeks ago. Or the David Goldhill piece highlighted here.

You and Rob (above) and others who wrote in are absolutely right – elitism is obnoxious. An aw shucks C-student regular guy approach is a lot more effective, and bested both Kerry and Gore. (John Kerry learned to drop all his gerundial g’s – tryin’ and thinkin’ and goin’ – but the day he answered a reporter’s query by asking ‘who among us is not a NASCAR enthusiast?’ I knew we had an uphill fight.) What was so effective about candidate and then President Clinton was his ability to have a stunningly A+ mind without rubbing voters’ noses in it. I think our current President has much the same talent.

So I agree many of us need to do better at getting off our high horses.

Still, the fact remains that 70% of the folks who voted to reelect President Bush believed Iraq played a role in attacking us on 9/11. Iraq did not. A great many people who voted for him the first time believed that ‘the vast majority’ of the benefits of his proposed tax cuts would indeed ‘go to people at the bottom of the economic ladder.’ The opposite was true. Many believe the Earth was formed just a few thousand years ago. It was not. The list goes on and on. So in that sense, tens of millions of decent, well-meaning people can be mislead – and routinely are. Like Ralph, I do believe it is something to bemoan. I miss the days when much of the nation watched one of three responsible nightly newscasts, along the lines Bryan Norcross described here a few days ago. Those newscasts were not perfect, but they aspired to a high journalistic standard – and were provided very significant resources to meet it.


Lisa S.: ‘Financially, we agree about much. Politically, not so much. I think you are probably a person of good will, as the overwhelming majority of people are. I think your positions are probably heartfelt. As are mine. So I often just cannot understand your positions. You’ve consistently made similar comments before, and at least you aren’t hiding your position, but yesterday in writing about a single-payer plan you posted: ‘This being America, it needs a ‘first-class’ option for those wishing to pay a large premium to board the plane (or in this case, the non-emergency MRI) a little sooner, and in a nicer seat.’ I read this as, the wealthy will be able to skip to the front of the line, making the line even longer for the rest of us. As it is now, I wait my turn and I get my turn. Given that most of us are not wealthy, why would most of us want to set up a system where the privileged get to cut in line? I realize that you specified non-emergency. So this position would only delay treatment for those people who are merely suffering, not dying, but still. You are lobbying for a health care system that would be imposed upon me, but not upon you. I’d like to keep the one I’ve got thank you.’

☞ But, gosh, Lisa – you don’t think the current system treats the rich better than it treats you? It totally does, whether it be with plush paneled private rooms and private nurses or with the availability of ‘premium care’ with guaranteed same day or next day appointments. Give $50,000 to your local hospital and you’re likely to have access to an office that tries to make sure you have a good experience whenever you need their help. And while this may be somewhat distasteful, it lowers the cost for everyone else. Anyway, all this is moot because a single-payer system was taken off the table even before the negotiations started.

But as for keeping the coverage you’ve got – you currently can’t if it has a lifetime cap and you exceed it, or if the insurer decides not to renew your policy, or if you switch jobs and have a preexisting condition. Obama proposes to remove those worries, making your coverage more secure. Not the worst thing.

Lisa continues: ‘Here’s my bottom line argument against government controlled health care system. Social Security is a wreck. It’s been mismanaged for decades. I do NOT want the same people who will NOT be bringing me my social security money also NOT delivering my health care. Until the U.S. government can get Social Security right, they have no business moving into my health care.’

☞ Actually, Social Security is anything but a wreck. It’s been paying benefits efficiently and reliably for more than 70 years, taking up just 2% off the top for expenses and administration. True, it will run out of money if we don’t make some modest adjustments – people are living longer. But those adjustments really will be modest, especially if we start phasing them in soon. (Here‘s one way to do it.)


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