President Barack Obama last week visited Dover Air Force Base at midnight to view the returning remains of military servicemen who were killed in Afghanistan. It was an act of decency, respect and honor which was never — not once — carried out by his predecessor, whose lies and cowboy diplomacy were responsible for more than 4,000 of those deaths.
Predictably, the president’s honorable action was immediately criticized by defenders of those whose corrupt actions were least defensible. Most vocal among them was the new right wing attack dog, Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney. Her father, who avoided military service through a series of defer-ments and bears as much responsibility for the deaths as anyone, never once showed up to honor those dead.
Liz Cheney claims that President Bush went to greet the returning war dead, without the press in attendance, but that is a well-documented, out-and-out falsehood.
President Obama deserves our respect and gratitude for having the integrity and decency to make the middle of the night trip to honor and salute our fallen soldiers on their return home. It is my fervent hope that his next action will be even more honorable: to enact a long overdue strategy for immediately ending those wars and bringing America’s sons and daughters home alive.
You may need me later
On Nov. 3, just over half of my neighbors decided I do not have the same rights they have to choose my next of kin. They decided Maine’s legislators’ understanding of the Constitution is irrelevant, and that the freedom to marry must be taken away from me because the sex of my beloved is the same as mine.
While they celebrate their victory, at the power to choose freedom for some but not for others, I wonder what they think they are preserving. Taking my rights away will not guarantee they will find the loves of their life like I have, or that their loved ones will not one day betray or abandon them or die before they do, and leave them brokenhearted. That is what they should be concerned about, not whether my family is as free as theirs to find its way in the world.
While waiting for the votes to come in, I watched the concert movie of The Band’s “The Last Waltz.” I was struck particularly by Eric Clapton’s rendition of the old blues tune, the lyrics of which seem pertinent now: “Head on up the road / Someone’s gonna hurt you like you hurt me … You’ve been laughin’, pretty baby / Someday you’re gonna be cryin’.” The truth is, that passion to limit my liberty would be better spent making things better for everyone. Failing that, they might consider what could happen if they ever need my help — and I remember how they treated me.
Snowe’s public option
Watching Sen. Olympia Snowe have the wisdom and guts to go against party politics and vote from the heart (did she?) was one of the most invigorating things to see in this entire health care reform debate. But seeing her retreat, not even considering anything approaching a public option, is back to politics-as-usual.
Having health insurance companies have the last say, scaring us that any option other than theirs costs too much, and saying they sincerely believe in repair of a broken system, is the cat watching the canary.
As a family doctor and emergency physician working in rural Maine, I see daily the medical problems we face in our society. I have little doubt that someday we will admit that a single-payer system (like Medicare) is the one that offers each citizen equality while driving down costs. In the long run, I’m ready to fight for that. But for now, if a public option is what we have to keep for-profit, big medical business “honest,” so be it.
Let’s do it. We are ducking the question, “Is our country ready for true health care reform?” If Sen. Snowe really thinks she’s a champion of reform, she’s not off the hook yet. She needs to lead.
Thomas H. Bugbee, M.D.
Poked in the eye
“What isn’t in the news is often more important than what is,” Ed Biersmith said.
On the same news day the BDN devoted 14 paragraphs to a Belfast demonstration “against carbon dioxide,” it was learned that the governments of China and India has poked a well-aimed thumb in the eye of global warming alarmists by agreeing to reject in advance any mandates from the upcoming UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen that would slow their economic growth. Number of paragraphs the BDN devoted to the China-India accord: zero.
Maybe it’s just me, but shouldn’t a declaration by the two most populous countries in the world that effectively renders the Copenhagen Conference impotent be considered at least as newsworthy as the fact that 100 well-meaning Mainers stood in the rain to have themselves photographed while forming the number 350?
Needle and damage done
It’s flu season, and how am I aware of this? Why, the news media showing needles injected in arms, close-ups in case you don’t know what is transpiring.
After a long military career and several medical problems, I’ve had thousands of needles in my arms and other places, but the news media has to remind me of it, over and over.
Are we a society of sadomasochists or is the needle publicity being run by the Donatien Alphonse Francios Sade, more commonly known as the Marquis de Sade?
In whom we trust
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
It is said that 86 percent of Americans believe in God. Therefore I have a hard time understanding why there is such a problem floating around our entire country of having “In God We Trust” on our money and having “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.
We must all take back our nation from all people who think that anything that offends them should be removed. We should not tolerate anyone or thing that demeans our country or our beliefs. I believe it is time we all stand up for what is right and what we believe in, for if we don’t believe in something, then we will accept anything.
Charles J. Birkel