Wednesday, September 02, 2009

2 SEP 09: Hate Healthy?

The morning run on the Riverwalk was quiet Tuesday, and largely uneventful. The biggest challenges for me came from high humidity at the end - and jogging behind a smelly garbage truck for one block at the beginning.

But as I walked up a ramp from the Riverwalk to head home, I found an unusual sheet of paper on a bench. It declares President Obama a "dictator," and has ten descriptive adjectives to go along with it. Wow - talk show host Sean Hannity tends to stop at three.

There was writing on the back of the paper as well, which was more difficult to read. It had no further adjectives about the President, but warned: "America is in great peril. America is doomed." I have no idea who wrote this - but fundamentalist churches would at least have used a word processor for a message like this.

The bottom line on the back urges me to "rise up on 9-12-09." That's when the "Tea Party" organizers plan to hold a big rally in Washington against President Obama's policies in general, and health care reform in particular. What should we call this - the Million-Healthy-Man March?

(If you can't go to Washington, WRBL noted the Columbus Tea Party plans another rally that day outside the Government Center. It will be followed by a "march to Veterans Parkway." On a Saturday afternoon, protesters might do well to have ten cars drive by to notice a three-block march.)

In contrast to that protest paper, supporters of health care reform held a rally Tuesday outside the downtown Columbus office of Rep. Sanford Bishop. That's the place where the Columbus Tea Party had its own rally last Friday. In New York, I think this is called the "alternate side of the issue" rule.

The pro-Presidential "Organizing for America" staged Tuesday's rally. WTVM reported they wanted to "thank" Sanford Bishop for working to get health care reform passed. Wait a minute - thank him?! Didn't Bishop say two weeks ago he hadn't made a decision yet? Is he trying to be the next Zell Miller or something?

Well, let's double-check that statement. It turns out after his forum in Columbus, Rep. Sanford Bishop told a forum in Albany: "My mind is made up on health care reform...." but not the size and details of it. It's a bit like choosing between name-brand prescription drugs and cheap generics which might make you throw up.

But health care reform really isn't my issue here -- it's the debate over it. The most strident sign I saw on TV from Tuesday's rally said:"Health care, not war." I didn't realize the 11 September attacks occurred because al-Qaeda members couldn't afford co-pays for checkups.

But the pro-reform demonstrators didn't seem to call anyone pejorative names with their signs. Why, I didn't even see a sign against Glenn Beck - but maybe the march outside WDAK radio is coming next week.

As I headed home from Tuesday's run after seeing the anti-Presidential paper, I realized where we've come in this country. In 2009, we've come back to 1969 - a time of noisy anti-war protests and sit-ins. The only difference is that the "silent majority" suddenly is louder than the minority. Either that, or 90 percent of the hippies turned into conservatives.

Yet if President Obama really is a Marxist "dictator," wouldn't he order National Guard personnel to stop the Tea Party protests? Wouldn't he ban health care reform forums, after what we've seen in recent weeks? And wouldn't St. Francis Hospital now be called Muscogee County Infirmary #6?

I'm not one to pin condemning labels on other people. But whomever left that scathing sheet of paper near the Riverwalk should realize something - there's still freedom of speech, allowing that to be written and left on a bench. If that's the case, maybe the U.S. isn't in "great peril" after all. And maybe that person should be more daring -- like hiding behind Tea Party members at their next march.

BLOG UPDATE: The fourth annual Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum concluded Tuesday at the Trade Center. The Ledger-Enquirer reports this year's event sold out for the first time -- which may explain why Richard Hyatt didn't have a seat for doing real-time blogging, like he did last year.

The list of speakers included the Presidents of Aflac and Chick-fil-A. One newscast showed City Manager Isaiah Hugley in the audience - but if he's never been a "Leadership Forum" speaker in his own city in four years, is that a good sign?

(Hey, wait a minute - Aflac and Chick-fil-A on the same program? It's duck and chicken together! I wouldn't be surprised if some local barbecue restaurant owners stayed away in protest.)

Gen. David Petraeus of the U.S. Central Command was the Leadership Forum speaker who received the most TV attention. But wow, did WLTZ let me down. I thought sure they'd pull over NBC News correspondent Norah O'Donnell, for a "Just for Her" special report.

Some of next year's speakers at the Leadership Forum already are lined up. One of them will be former first lady Laura Bush. Her ex-president husband may already be committed to a Southwest rodeo tour for the summer....

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E-MAIL UPDATE: Showing economic frugality, a blog reader combines two topics into one message....

Richard, Thanks for clearing up the difference between the blue & green road signs in Lee County & Smiths Station. I had just noticed the green ones appearing recently. The city of Smiths Station has talked about going back to the real street names (instead of Lee Rd #'s) within the city limits ever since the city was incorporated (close to ten years ago). But as of yet nothing has been done.

And don't think being on the "Do not call list" will stop the "robo calls". I still get them and have been on the "do not call list" since the beginning of it. The jerks that do this have figured out a way to have a disconnected # or someone else's number appear on the caller ID so that you cannot trace the call or turn them in. When I told a solicitor last week not to call my number anymore he told me that he would call me back again tomorrow when I was in a better mood!

And all this time, I thought Lee County might have changed road sign colors to win that "Greenie Award" from WLTZ.

Despite the new federal rules limiting computerized telemarketing calls, your blog received one Tuesday afternoon. The recording had the rambling voice of a guy named Mike from "Debt Solutions." Perhaps the answer is to run up the company's debt -- with $16,000 fines per call.

I was invited to press "1" for more details -- and for the first time in a long time, I did to ask some tough questions. But instead, I heard a woman talking loudly with an accent I didn't understand. When I asked her to repeat what she said, the line went dead. Maybe it's a "going out of business" sale?!

Since I don't have caller ID on my phone, I could leave only a limited amount of information at the government "Do Not Call" web site. You also can phone the Federal Trade Commission with a complaint - but if it's part of "do not call," do two wrongs make a right?

Let's see what else distracted us on a busy Tuesday....

+ The Phenix City Council approved a fiscal 2010 budget, giving all city employees a four-percent raise. It's what officials have to do to keep up with the Joneses down the street - or in this case, the Russells.

(The Phenix City Council also rejected a claim for damages by ousted City Manager Bubba Roberts. Let's see - if I remember recent history correctly, the next step is for at least one Councilor to be arrested.)

+ The Ledger-Enquirer changed its appearance, dropping to five columns on what appeared to be a narrower front page. But I compared, and the page width was the same size as USA Today - so I guess this is simply a case of stripes making you look slimmer.

+ TIC Federal Credit Union announced it will expand to Phenix City. This only makes sense, of course. If a credit union is only in one state, that's not exactly "federal."

+ WRBL announced it will join the Jerry Lewis Labor Day telethon at 9:00 a.m. Monday. That's one hour later than usual - and makes me wonder if the local fundraiser will take a lunch break, to avoid paying the staff overtime.

+ The chair of the Southern High-Speed Rail Commission told National Public Radio that Alabama's constitution bars the state Department of Transportation from investing money in train service. You wondered why all those auto assembly plants came South, didn't you?

+ Columbus native and pro football cornerback Rod Hood was signed by the Chicago Bears, one day after he was released by the Cleveland Browns. Hood played in the Super Bowl last winter for Arizona - and now he's not good enough to play in Cleveland?! Are the Browns signing LeBron James or something?

+ Instant Message to PMB Broadcasting: Please, I'm begging you. Move the Atlanta baseball games away from WRCG, when they're at night. Tuesday night's Tim Hudson comeback game in Florida was delayed by rain, went well after midnight - and I couldn't pick up your station. I had to settle for a preacher on WOKS, who seemed to be against the hour of midnight.

The number of unique visitors to our blog in the first half of 2009 was up 11.1 percent! To advertise to them, offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 367 (+ 10, 2.8%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

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