As a retired journalist, I spent many years observing the amount of noise and mayhem a small crowd of people could generate. The squeakiest wheel on the cart always gets the most attention, and they got more than their share of attention from the media, of which I was one.
Disagreement with ideas is to be expected and is a demonstration of democracy in action. But one hopes and expects the disagreement will be reasonably polite and civil. That has not been the case in many of the recent public meetings on the health care issue, in which the president, or senators, or congressmen have tried to explain what the bill is all about — and why it is necessary.
The bad and potentially dangerous behavior at some of these meetings has exceeded all levels of common decency. Some people are shouting down the speaker. Some people are carrying guns. Some people are carrying placards likening President Obama to Adolf Hitler — which is absurd and idiotic. At least one person has suggested in a sign that President Obama, his wife, and even his two children be killed.
I hope anyone of any race who voted for Mr. Obama will keep in mind that these people represent only themselves and a small obnoxious minority, perhaps 1 percent to 3 percent. The overwhelming majority of the American public is represented by the last election, in which Mr. Obama often won in towns where there was barely a single representative of his race.
That is the real America — and the one that I love and respect.
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Today, not tomorrow
Over the past two weeks there have been some encouraging signs regarding the public’s perspective on health care reform.
The first was the SBA forum at Husson University that included Sen. Snowe and small business dignitaries. Without exception, they voiced the need for good, affordable, accessible health care if the small business community is to survive and thrive.
The second was the wonderful ad in the Aug. 15-16 BDN listing 128 local physicians and other providers strongly endorsing President Obama’s health care reform efforts.
The third was the BDN article about the statewide health care reform tour where a Jonesport woman with health insurance expressed the need to take care of the underinsured and uninsured as well.
In each case, urgency was the byword and the status quo was unacceptable. With private insurers and pharmaceutical companies in the driver’s seat, the reverse is true: go slow and keep the status quo and excessively healthy profits and CEO bonuses in place. It’s clear the government will need to either run or regulate the health care system for all Americans, including those with pre-existing conditions, to have at least basic coverage with an emphasis on preventative care.
This should mean either a public option or single-payer plan. We need to get a plan in place. There’s no way to predict all outcomes, so let’s not allow the perfect to get in the way of the good. Contact Sens. Snowe and Collins and tell them there are Americans for whom tomorrow may be too late.
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In defense of Tiger
Although Tiger Woods needs no defending from me, may I suggest a different perspective. Mr. Dean criticizes Tiger in a recent letter to the editor for not stopping to sign an autograph and being detached from fans.
How many times do we see college and professional athletes arriving at the stadium with earphones, whose purpose is to insulate them from fans’ requests for autographs?
New Englanders don’t criticize the likes of Tom Brady for his serious visage on the field. Picture the response of the New York Giants players on the bench if fans were an arm’s length away during the game.
Yes, there were and still are some golfers who played to the crowds, chief among them was Arnold Palmer, who is the acknowledged “King” for good reason. “Selfless”? No. In the current issue of a national golf magazine Palmer’s personal corporate co-pilot tells the story of Arnold’s standing around in foreign countries they visit until someone recognizes him. He loves the adulation.
Tiger Woods gives back to children by way of his foundation through which he donates millions to children for enhanced educational opportunities. Yes, he may not give them the time of day while he goes about his business on the course, but he gives many, who are never likely to see a golf course, a life of opportunity they could otherwise only dream of.
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‘Islands of despotism’
I read the BDN’s Aug. 15 article about Native Americans encountering problems at the Calais port of entry with great concern.
That article piqued my interest in the “border search exception” to the Fourth Amendment.
The Fourth Amendment states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
I was surprised to not find any reference to any “border search exception.” According to an article on Wikipedia, it is “a doctrine of United States criminal law that exempts searches of travelers and their property from the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement.”
I did further digging, and found the following scary quote from the 1985 Supreme Court Case, United States v. Montoya de Hernandez: “Routine searches of the persons and effects of entrants are not subject to any requirement of reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or warrant.
“Automotive travelers may be stopped at fixed checkpoints near the border without individualized suspicion, even if the stop is based largely on ethnicity.”
I think the nation should debate introducing a constitutional amendment to regulate what U.S. Customs can do to travelers. Otherwise, ports of entry will continue to be islands of despotism, in a country that is supposed to be a sea of freedom.
Joseph Normand Grinnell
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