2009-08-29 / Editorials & Letters

Writer says editor is a 'dinning room table'

Editor:

Congressman Barney Frank said it best at a town hall meeting after a woman displayed a defaced picture of President Obama: "trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dinning room table. I have no interest in doing it". Mr. Prince, you are a dinning room table. I have no interest in trying to have an intelligent, productive exchange of ideas with you, but I do believe someone needs to add some balance to your very slanted, politically motivated editorials.

Zack Space has been out in his district. He's met with editors and news directors in all 16 counties of the district. He has also met with doctors, CEO's of many of the districts hospitals, and "tea party" members in a couple of counties. He has conducted two telephone town hall meetings and had an on-line chat. If you missed the on-line chat you can go to http://tinyurl. com/ng823v to hear it replayed. (I found it very informative and it was not "tightly controlled with questions pre-screened" as Mr. Prince suggests this type of communication is.) Zack Space has been communicating with his constituents through telephone town hall meetings for over 2 years now.

In fact, up until the health care bill, people of both political parties have had nothing but great things to say about these telephone town hall meetings. I personally love them because it gives more people the opportunity to hear the Congressman respond to constituent's questions about issues that concern them and he can also reach more people this way. After all I believe the Congressman has the largest district in Ohio, with 16 counties that cover an area about the size of New Jersey. In a recent article in the Newark Advocate (Aug.21st) it states:

Space said he plans to continue conducting telephone town halls on health care, where he said he can reach more people than at a face-to-face town-hall meeting, which he does not plan to do.

In Ohio and across the country, live town-hall events have turned into shouting matches on health care.

"I'm not for the intervention of outside groups ... and I'm not for meetings where hostilities are raised and people shout and dialogue is shut down," Space said during the Web chat. "That's not my style and if that's what you want from me, you're not going to get it."

Good for you Congressman Space! Zack Space is my Congressman, not my whipping boy! The First Amendment may guarantee the "dinning room tables" of this country the right to express their opinions but it does not guarantee you the right to be taken seriously. And let's keep in mind that Congressman Space is not the only one not conducting public town hall meetings. Congressman Tiberi, Congressman Austria, and Senator Voinovich, just to name a few, have chosen not to have public town hall meetings. Tiberi and Austria are having telephone town hall meetings and as far as I know Voinovich is not even having that.

Our country has long neglected to address both our energy and health care needs and we are on the verge of crisis. This fact is not disputed by either party. We can not sustain our present course on either issue. The fact we have waited so long to address these issues will make them even more difficult to solve. We will not solve these issues with the present tone of the opposition. (There is a very good article in the August 31st issue of Time Magazine, "Just Say No" and written by Joe Klein, and it's well worth the time to read.)

I really have no problem with the fact that Mr. Prince does not agree with Congressman Space on his handling of the Energy and Health Care bills. We are all entitled to our own opinions and obviously Mr. Prince and I are of opposite opinions, especially global warming (previous letters). My objection to his editorials have always been the unprofessional way in which he expresses his opinions (i.e. chauffeuring Pelosi, carrying Waxman's bags), the misleading and sometimes false information contained in them (i.e. public option for health care will eventually eliminate private insurance), and the lack of any kind of balance (i.e. no mention of the Republicans that are not holding public town hall meetings). There is nothing constructive in these editorials. We need ideas, not criticism, respectful language not sarcasm, and truthful non-partisan information not misleading politically motivated information. Vickie Fogarty Bowling Green Township

Editor's Note: Once again we have simply pasted the body of Vickie Fogarty's email into this space. Her letter has not been edited in any way.

We'll start with one of her final points - "We need ideas, not criticism…" Democrats used to assert that dissent was patriotic even when it involved trashing military recruitment centers and blocking shipment of military equipment. Of course, that was directed at a Republican president.

Now that some voices have been raised about the plan for the government to takeover healthcare, dissent is no longer patriotic. Senate Majority Leaker Harry Reid recently called healthcare takeover protesters "evil-mongers." To House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, we are "un-American." President Obama has complained about "loud voices." I guess Fogarty's plea for "respectful language" only applies to the those who dare question the government takeover of 17 percent of our economy.

The arrogance that is behind those comments is stunning. Obama, Reid, Pelosi et. al. have determined what's best for us and it's time for us to shut up. Not only are dissentors called names, our motives are questioned. In a recent op-ed, Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called protests "an ugly campaign…to misrepresent the health insurance reform legislation…" We are called tools or puppets of the insurance companies. In reality, it's the Obama Administration that cut a deal with big business, in this case the pharmaceutical industry, for its support. In return, the industry will pay for some $150 million in ads promoting the Obama plan. If you have heartburn lasting over four hours, seek immediate medical attention.

The protesters aren't shills for industry or Republicans, though the strong stand that Republicans have taken against nationalized healthcare is welcomed. We're concerned about losing even more control over our own lives, losing the ability to make our own choices - for our insurance plans, doctors and hospitals. We're concerned about federal bureaucrats making what amounts to life and death decisions by deciding what treatments will be available and to whom. Even the ultra-liberal New York Times acknowledged last week that the fears many of the elderly have about rationing aren't irrational.

Takeover proponents are determined to cut the costs for Medicare at a time its rolls are increasing with the first of the baby boomers becoming eligible. That's an impossible task without reductions in services. Again proponents contend that cutting waste, fraud and inefficiencies will deliver the required savings. We'll soon discover that Washington considers hip and knee replacements "waste" or "inefficient" for any one over say 75. There will be age limits for heart surgery, bone marrow transplants, expensive cancer treatments and much more. The British National Health Service already has a formula that calculates "quality-adjusted life years" that determines who can receive what care. In general, NHS won't spend more than $22,000 to extend a life six months. That might be a couple of days in ICU, then grandma is on her own.

Some voices are going to get 'loud' when we're facing government control and rationing. Fogarty calls our statement that the 'public option for health care will eventually eliminate private insurance' "false and misleading." It will quickly become very difficult for private plans to compete with the government who will be making all the rules and has the ability to raise billions - via taxes or borrowing - to subsidize its own plan. Furthermore, a number of takeover proponents have acknowledged that the public option or co-op is just a now politically necessary step before reaching their goal of a single-payer plan. No one can compete in anything when one side gets to make all the rules. That's not 'misleading or false;' it's fact. I could beat Tiger Woods in the U.S. Open if I could make all rules and change them at will.

As for Space, he must have been in disguise as he was visiting all 16 counties in his district. He certainly didn't meet with the editor of the second largest paper in Licking County. Nor did his staff bother to respond to a simple email question about his public events in August. Representatives Steve Austria and Pat Tiberi may also be having telephone town hall meetings, but neither of them are supporting a government takeover of energy and healthcare.

Fogarty loves the telephone town halls because Space has total control. Questions are pre-screened and there's likely a builtin delay in case a caller misrepresents their question during screening and asks something else. His constituents deserve the opportunity to watch him closely while he answers some tough questions. For example, I want to look him right in the eye and ask whether he has any concerns that some of us will be denied available treatments due to cost constraints. He can dance around that question when you can't see him and he is the only one with a voice. It's much harder to do in person.

Fogarty contends that everyone agrees that we are on the verge of crisis in energy and healthcare. That's a gross exaggeration. A little over a year ago, oil was nearly $150 a barrel and gasoline was about $4.50 a gallon. Now oil is about $70 a barrel and gasoline is around $2.50 a gallon. Natural gas prices are down even more on a percentage basis. New natural gas discoveries in shale formations in this country have added years of reserves and the potential has barely been tapped. We're not running out of oil or gas anytime soon.

On healthcare, surveys continue to show that about 80 percent of us are satisfied with our doctor and about 70 percent are pleased with their health insurance coverage. The 'crisis' is a manufactured one to provide cover for the biggest government takeover in our country's history.

Many of us have figured that out and some of us have raised our voices. That's why Space is hiding behind the telephone and is now visiting Afghanistan, rather than meeting his 18th District constituents face-to-face.

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