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Of Health Care, Iran and Other Issues Large and Small

Don Rose 30 June 2009 2 Comments

What a torrent of events this past couple of weeks. So, having an opinion on damn near everything, here’s a half dozen columns crunched down to one quick read:

•    It looks more and more as if President Obama will not get a health-care bill with the all-important “public option” insurance program designed to keep private insurers honest. Don’t blame the Republicans for this one—he’s being shafted by Blue Dogs in his own party. But he absolutely must sign a reform bill of some kind. The best he can hope for is one with a hybrid “cooperative” private insurance program—or one that specifically triggers a public option down the road if private plans fail to cut costs or sharply reduce the ranks of the uninsured within a given period of time. Without a public option the left will grumble mightily while the right will keep grumbling either way.

•    The most brilliant but most irresponsible Republican trick of the season is putting pressure on Obama to “speak out” in support of the Iranians demonstrating against their stolen election. There is nothing he could say that would change things in any way, but plenty that could go wrong if he appeared to be meddling in Iranian affairs. There is not a soul in the world—including every demonstrator—who does not understand that Obama would like nothing better than the overthrow of the Mullahs who control that country. But those demonstrators do not want to be identified as tools of America. Nevertheless, Republican rhetoric attempts to make Obama himself look unpatriotic and uncaring for not speaking out. Then, of course, whatever goes wrong in Iran will be blamed on Obama for not speaking out. Tricky Dick Nixon could not have planned a better trap.

•    The Chicago Tribune is running a remarkable investigative series disclosing how political clout gets substandard students into the University of Illinois—even its law school—and how school officials wangle state jobs for substandard graduates. Corruption in higher education is worse than any political bribery—it betrays the essence of our democratic culture. Two further thoughts: First, I suspect this occurs elsewhere, including—more subtly—classy Ivy League schools. Second, this investigation, like others by the Sun-Times, demonstrates the compelling need to keep newspapers alive (granting that both papers are ragged remnants of their former selves). Broadcast media will never pick up the investigative cudgel and the “new media” do not and likely never will have the resources to undertake major investigative journalism.

•    One problem with today’s journalism is the absence of institutional memory. Take the reporting on Michael Jackson’s death: Every medium noted Jackson was a cultural icon whose popularity was matched only by the Beatles, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. Strangely, none mentioned Bing Crosby, though his musical influence, broad popularity and vast earnings rivaled them all. For two decades Crosby was the nation’s premier vocalist based on record sales, had the leading radio program and was the top-earning movie star—even winning an Academy Award. His “White Christmas” made it the best-selling song of all time. He was a multimedia icon before we knew those words. I prefer Sinatra, but doubt that anyone matched the breadth of Crosby’s dominance. Surely worth mentioning.

•    This past weekend marked the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riot, wherein denizens of a Greenwich Village gay bar rose up and fought off the cops who raided their saloon—thereby launching the modern gay-rights movement. Police in many cities used to raid these bars under one pretext or another (Drinking While Queer?), assaulting and jailing customers simply because they were homosexual. It went on in Chicago under the original Daley and continued until Mayor Jane Byrne, prodded by aide Paul McGrath, called a halt—a decade after Stonewall.

•    They hated Roosevelt, hated Nixon, hated Bush, but I doubt that any president had the vociferous cadre of full-time haters as Obama—especially in the media. Something beyond politics generates this passion, granting his politics invite dissent from left and right alike. Deep down it’s obviously race, but of course this is supposedly a postracial society. He cannot breathe without drawing the most stupid and bizarre criticism imaginable. He’s been chastised for not wearing a jacket in the Oval Office and for having his feet up on the desk while phoning Bibi Netanyahu. PETA condemns him for swatting a fly. There is actually an ordained minister who openly prays daily for Obama’s death. When Obama comes out for mother love you can be sure his critics will call it incest.

Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer


  • John Maynard Krebs said:

    “Deep down it’s obviously race”

    There are many reasons to be against Obama, his crazy spending, his scandalous fundraising, he takeover of many industries, none of which has the least to do with his race.

  • LDMcLean said:

    Don, that’s a great point about Bing and today’s Journalists!

    Bing scored 368 charted records under his own name, plus twenty-eight as a vocalist with various bandleaders, for a total of 396. No one else has come close; compare Paul Whiteman (220), Frank Sinatra (209), Elvis Presley (149), Glenn Miller (129), Nat “King” Cole (118), Louis Armstrong (85), the Beatles (68).

    Bing scored the most number one hits ever, 38, compared with 24 by the Beatles and 18 by Presley.

    Bing’s achievements in movies and radio were far superior to any of the others.

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