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Senator Feingold writes in on health-care reform. Ted Kennedy recognized as founding author of "Osama Obama." The Canberra's history: a serious exchange. Plus much more.

10.31.06

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WILLING TO ACT
Re: David Hogberg's Dr. Russ Feingold on Call:

I write in response to David Hogberg's October 27th column titled "Dr. Russ Feingold on Call." I appreciate Mr. Hogberg's attention to the "State-Based Health Care Reform Act," a bill I introduced earlier this year to try to move beyond the current polarized debate in Congress over health care reform. Our health care system is broken and it's time to fix this serious and growing problem.

Unfortunately, for too long, Congress has been unable -- or unwilling -- to act. I believe that the way to break this deadlock is with a flexible approach that allows states to try innovative ways of expanding health care coverage. Under my bill, a few states, with help from the federal government, could implement very different health care systems â€" including systems that include many of the features that Mr. Hogberg endorses in his article. While I don't agree with Mr. Hogberg that passing on more health care costs to consumers will solve our current problems, the flexibility in my plan is the key to winning the support of a broad range of health care advocates and experts. In fact, this federalist-style approach is based on ideas that have been endorsed by both the Brookings Institution and the Heritage Foundation. I am also working with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to move this idea forward in the 110th Congress.

All Americans deserve access to affordable health care that is at least as good as that available to members of Congress. That is why my plan builds on the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), by allowing states to choose from the same menu of options provided to federal employees. This approach will encourage states to continue finding innovative ways to cover their citizens, and allow Congress to learn from these efforts as it implements broader health care reform.

Sincerely,
-- Russ Feingold
U.S. Senator

David Hogberg replies:
Granted, the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) provides a pretty good model for health insurance, primarily because it provides federal employees with choice, and private insurance companies must compete for their health insurance dollars.

However, Senator Feingold's plan isn't entirely faithful to that model. The difference is that the federal government does not set a list of minimum benefits that must be covered by policies offered under the FEHBP. Feingold's plan requires state governments to do exactly that for its programs for the uninsured. Feingold's plan would be much improved if he allowed states full flexibility on this point, so that at least some states could experiment with programs emphasizing low-cost consumer-oriented health insurance policies.

Finally, the FEHBP's great strength is that it promotes competition among insurance companies, something that is in short supply in too many private insurance markets. State governments prevent small groups and individuals from purchasing health insurance out of state. This means that small groups and individuals in overly-regulated states must either purchase high-cost policies or go without insurance. Almost every other product and service can be purchased across state lines. Why, in the 21st century, is health insurance treated differently?

Feingold's bill needs to be coupled with something like the Health Care Choice Act so that people can buy insurance across state lines, thereby making insurance more competitive and driving prices down. Were Senator Feingold to do that, he might find some common ground with conservatives.

THE NAME GAME
Re: William Tucker's O! Obama!:

In the interests of not furthering the "Borking of Rush," so powerfully analyzed yesterday by Jeffrey Lord, could we correct William Tucker's assertion in "O! Obama!" that "Rush Limbaugh calls him 'Osama Obama.'"

The phrase is not Rush Limbaugh's! Rush was simply quoting, and quoting exactly, the hysterically funny gaffe of Senator Ted Kennedy at the National Press Club, the transcript of which is available on the Washington Post's website. His exact quote, in response to a question from the audience about Senator Obama's future was: "Why don't we just ask Osama bin -- Osama Obama -- Obama what -- since he won by such a big amount. Seriously, Senator Obama is really unique and special."

Osama bin Obama! From Ted Kennedy's mouth to Rush Limbaugh's golden EIB microphone. You couldn't make it up!
-- P. Jeremy Stevens
Framingham, Massachusetts

I find you made an egregious error in you article on Barack Obama. It was Senator Ted Kennedy who first referred to the senator as Osama Obama, NOT Rush Limbaugh. Though Limbaugh may now humorously use that in some of his monologues, I find it laughable that you would not credit Teddy Kennedy with using it first!
-- M. O'Brien
Fillmore, California

Mr. Tucker is incorrect in crediting Rush Limbaugh with the term "Osama Obama." Mr. Limbaugh was parroting one of the many verbal gyrations of the soused senior senator from Massachusetts, Edward M. Kennedy, he of "Judge Alioto" fame.
-- Richard Meade

I know its hard to be fair to Rush Limbaugh -- he invites criticism so regularly, but he 'calls' Mr. Obama "Osama Obama" in a kind of riff on the bumbling Ted Kennedy's Press Club speech, when he pronounced Obama's name every conceivable way -- one of them being Osama. It's more a joke about Kennedy than Obama.

Jane Hall, panelist on Fox News (and I believe a professor of journalism herself), called him "Mr. Barrama" last weekend. I played the tape twice to make sure I had heard the proper Jane correctly. Every journalist and newsperson in the western hemisphere calls Vice President Cheney "Chaney," when he pronounces it "Cheeny." I have heard Lynn Cheney correct people, to no avail.

Colin Powell said his mother pronounced it "Collin" but he had long since given up on having it pronounced as he had been named.

So, get ready to call a lot of folks mis-pronouncing Obama. Perhaps if it had been O'Bama, the Irish among us would have at least gotten it.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

Rush is only referring to the Ted Kennedy gaff. Kennedy is the joke in Rush's pun, not Barack Obama. In fact, if a Republican had made a similar mis-pronouncement in a public forum and on tape, we would never hear the end of it until that unfortunate politician quit the game in disgrace. Check out the original Kennedy blunder by listening to Rush's show… it's worth a good laugh at the expense of old Teddy.
-- Phil
Fargo, North Dakota

Mr. Obama seems a very likable and intelligent person. But he suffers from the Democrat malady which is quickly evident to the most casual observer -- mendacity.

Mr. Obama tags the Democrats as "the party of reaction". Nothing could be further from the truth. Democrats are the party of "anti," and lies, not reaction. Just for example, the liar they nominated for President the last time an election was stolen from them -- yes, the Republicans rigged another one -- lied about everything. He said he saw atrocities in Vietnam, whoops! He didn't actually see them but every body else did. He lied about the conditions of his discharge from the Navy. Everyone remembers that two or three years ago he "opened" his Navy records to all. Have you seen anything, anywhere, anytime, about his discharge?

The Clintons are the masters of the anti. Mrs. Clinton is anti-Christianity but wears a cross, decries abortion but votes for it time and again, voted for the war which is now all wrong. She is anti slavery but votes to economically chain minorities to her party financially by providing a subsistence living level and forbidding recipients from work. Her stance is anti-everything that made us a great and successful nation: hard work, self reliance, morals and the dignity of the individual. She is truthfully for only two things: getting elected and using her status to make money.

I hope Mr. Obama is a bit different.
-- Jay W. Molyneaux
Wellington, Florida

"One Jimmy Carter a century is enough."

No, Mr. Tucker, one Jimmie Carter a century is much more than enough! Other than the nightmare of another Carter Presidency, your article was well written, and demonstrates the shallowness of the press, constantly pursuing the latest great diversity hope for our political future.

Obama for President? Never with my vote.
-- R. Goodson
Vero Beach, Florida

Perhaps Obama's real problem isn't that he's in the Senate but that, like so many before him, he's trying to be all things to all people.

That indicates his political maturity, his lack of understanding that if you stand for everything and everyone, you may really stand for nothing and no one. Surely this fellow has more creativity than this?
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

Tucker is right. The Limousine Liberal Left of the Democrat Party is in the process of turning Obama into their newest version of the "Lawn Jockey." That will end him as a threat to Hilary and her entourage. He would be smarter if he backed off a bit, reassessed his options, maintained his independence and, above all, stopped asking the mirror on the wall "who is the fairest of them all?"
-- Bob Keiser
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Barack Obama is no more qualified to be president than Borat. All we are witnessing is coordinated media hype between Dems & the press to keep positive news stories alive showcasing the Dems as; "progressive," enlightened and/or allegedly forward thinking. Yet their party is anything but. The hype is nothing new, but the over-all action line is as spread out among the media entities as it's ever been.

This is more of the Dems and their media allies selling Hope over substance.

Obama: another Dem rookie, same old party, as anti-American as ever.
-- P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, MI

Yes, Mr. Obama is "wet behind the ears" -- it's the leakage of the (light) water which sloshes around in his cranium and cushions the contents thereof.

Richard Cohen might be jubilant that Mr. Obama wasn't around to cast a vote on the resumption of hostilities in Iraq, but those of us in Illinois who bother to look at his voting record in the State Assembly already know all that is necessary: he's a hard-left, big-government socialist, who is only about half-a-notch short of being a Marxist. (Think: "Hillary -- but more photogenic.")

One correction: Rush Limbaugh does not call him "Osama Obama." Mr. Limbaugh plays a parody clip which pokes fun at the incoherent Ted Kennedy -- who did refer to his colleague by that sobriquet (Teddy has a special wristwatch, on which all the numerals are fives -- so that it's okay for him to observe "happy hour" at any time of the day!).
-- David Gonzalez
Wheeling, Illinois

Also there are some recent revelations about what measures Barack Obama supported and how he supported them while he was in the Illinois legislature that would make it a tough row to hoe for him to run for a national office. See the report at Polipundit, this might help him with the far left base but would not play well with the nation as a whole.
-- Geoff Bowden
Battle Creek, Michigan

Rush is goofing on Ted Kennedy, not Barack Obama. Kennedy bungled the name, and said Osama.
-- Tom Dykers

Editors' Note: Many thanks to Patrick Smith, Randall Huettman, Al Sortwell, Helen Massaro, Tom Hagarty, Tom Cretella, and Michael K. Wright for also weighing in to defend Ted Kennedy's intellectual property rights.

TROOP FORMATIONS
Re: George H. Wittman's New Marching Orders:

One can only hope that a new German military force (akin to the USMC) will emerge, but never ever count out the Eurabians left when it comes to undermining Western Europe's defense and advancing the decline of the West. They are even more developed and insidious than our own "White Feather" brigade led by Pelosi, Reid, Kerry, Murtha and Durbin.
-- LT Michael Tomlinson
Crownsville, Maryland

Mr. Wittmann has written an extremely interesting article. It causes me to think of a number of questions that I would love to have answered. Nevertheless, there are both positive benefits to the new policy as well as a few worrying negatives. My initial reaction is that the positives outweigh the negatives, from a United States national interest prospective.

I believe that it is simply unrealistic to keep holding Germany to the pacifistic standard that was established at the end of WWII more than 60 years ago. We certainly can not maintain that France is the same entity that it was 60 years ago, and neither is Germany, or us for that matter. Perhaps this is an indication that the German government and its citizenry are finally waking up to the perils of the Islamic expansion into Europe, and the increasing militancy of the Islamic Jihadist movement. Of course, this could simply be Germany's way of trying to be more important on the world stage. We can't know quite yet, but soon.

I hope that Mr. Wittmann will use his contacts and his writing talent to explore this subject further within the virtual pages of this informative web site. I wonder, also, if there are any other European governments of significance that are rethinking their military and defense postures along these lines. I wonder if, perhaps, this may not be a time when Europe can take over more of the duties and costs of defending itself, and relieve us of some of the burden that we have shouldered since mid 1945.
-- Ken Shreve

OL' HALLOW'S DAY
Re: Andrew Cline's Trampy Halloween:

What age of consent? Justice Ginsburg thinks 12 is just about right for boys and girls to have sex. I'm sure NAMBLA Pelosi thinks that's a little old. Of course, if the "lose to win" conservatives get their way next week Congress might make 10 the age of consent.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Crownsville, Maryland

STARK REALITY
Re: David Hogberg's Medicare For All:

It's not just what the demented Democrats would do installing socialized medicine, cutting tax-cuts, further opening of borders and cutting out from Iraq, chicken-style. There are the judges too, right?

At the same time we just can't escape the multitude of broken promises by the inept Republicans, the huge growth in government and spending, goofy legislation to presumably get our minds off the important stuff -- supercilious pandering with a bill to outlaw the Morning After Pill (RU-986 or whatever), and not allowing Internet Wagering? Misplaced priorities. Utter garbage.

Can you say "rock and a hard place?"

Kinda like what caused a lot of us to rebel, and the message we sent to the rotten Republican liars by voting for Ross Perot. Sure, it got us Bill Clinton, but also fostered some positive changes too.

In the meantime, there are we highly ticked-off conservative types (small-L libertarians as well) who are being urged to hold our collective noses and pull the GOP lever anyway, even though we feel badly betrayed by the idiots who'd forgotten about 1994 and what got them into office.

Face it, the Republicans don't deserve our votes! Ever since the smoke cleared following 9/11, Dubya's been a disaster -- wimpy in the "containment"/no-win Iraq mess, allowing Vicente Fox to run our borders, and using his first veto on stem-cells rather than gigantic spending increases? He's been awful, as have been the woefully incompetent GOP "leadership."

That said, I'm one of the fortunate guys who can (and will) vote for a true conservative, Dr. Ron Paul, here on the Texas Gulf Coast. Damned if I could, in good conscience, cast my vote for most other Republicans...

I don't pretend to know what will happen next week, but I've run out of patience; where's Barry Goldwater when we need him so very badly. This "lesser of evils" crap really sucks!
-- Frost

To the proofreaders and editors: Was that "AmeriCare" or "AmenCare"??
-- Thomas M Mahany, M.D., Ph.D.
Defiance, Ohio

HOT UTOPIA
Re: Jeremy Lott's And Now a Word From Our Critics:

Interesting article. My biggest problem with the global warming alarm is that it is the spawn of the "greens" and 99.99 + % of them are former far left supporters of Stalinism and other utopian schemes. With the collapse of their communist religion they have expropriated the environmental movement and are now using this sheep's skin to beguile the unwitting chicken Little flock into believing that their only salvation is to bow down to their crackpot theory as expounded by prophet Al Gore.

Sorry, but after more than fifty years in the engineering profession I look at these frauds with absolute contempt. And that includes the academic Ph.D.'s who have never ventured outside there serene little unreal world and still have the unmitigated gall to use their supposed elite standing to reinforce this junk science.

To put this in proper perspective, one should understand that, by definition, a Ph.D. is an individual who learns more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing. Once outside their recognized field of "expertise" their opinions are no more valid than the average man on the street. So, unless all these wonderful academics lending their names to the global warming cause are recognized climatologists their opinions on the subject are worth about as much as any other non-expert.

Until conservative, technically qualified individuals -- and there are many -- get a chance to weigh in on this subject and are given a respectful hearing, the present global warming cacophony should be recognized for what it is. A group of aspiring totalitarians yelling "fire" in a crowded theater.
-- Edward Costello
Bellevue, Washington

SHOT DOWN
Re: Hal G.P. Colebatch's reply (under "'Roo the Day") in Reader Mail's Boomer Fizzles:

Hal G.P. Colebatch wrote:

The point is that the Canberra was designed to be part of a British Commonwealth strike force with Australia playing a big part. It was to be based in Australia, initial tests were carried out in Australia, and the project was supported by the Australian Government, which put in an initial order for 48, to be Australian-built. Details are given in the book Australia's Bid for the Atomic Bomb, by Dr. Wayne Reynolds, Senior Lecturer in History at Newcastle University (Melbourne University Press, 2000), pages 79-81.

There's only one problem with this hypothesis: it's almost entirely wrong. The Canberra was indeed developed by the English Electric Company (now part of BAE), and it was adopted by the U.S. military as the Martin B-57. But it was never intended for a nuclear strike role, being a short-range tactical bomber intended to replace the de Haviland Mosquito light bomber/reconnaissance aircraft. It was never equipped to deliver nuclear weapons, nor could it have done so even if the Australians had so desired, since the nuclear weapons of the era were larger than the aircraft's bomb bay could accommodate. The British nuclear strike force was based around the so-called "V-Bombers" (Vulcan, Victor and Valiant), which had roughly the size and performance of its American contemporary the B-47 Stratojet. "V-bombers" were never offered to any member of the Commonwealth, nor, given the production delays and cost overruns in the program, would any have been available.

Moreover, while some operational testing of the Canberra may have taken place in Australia, in fact the bulk of the flight testing took place at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Boscombe Downs. It was not unusual at the time for all Commonwealth countries to employ British aircraft, as its pilots and aircrew had been trained for the most part on RAF aircraft to RAF standards. Internal economic deals also made British aircraft economically attractive to Commonwealth members. Thus, while the Australian Air Force in the 1950s license-produced the North American F-86 Sabre, this was due only to the delay in delivery of the British Hawker Hunter. It was not until collapse of the British military aircraft industry in the 1960s (a result of a the 1950 Defense White Paper that declared aircraft to be obsolete) that U.S. aircraft began making significant inroads in the Commonwealth inventories (and indeed, in the RAF itself). Thus, Australia remains the last user of the magnificent F-111 strike fighter, while the RAF used a variant of the Phantom for nearly two decades.
-- Stuart Koehl
Falls Church, Virginia

Hal G.P. Colebatch replies:
My own sources are quite at variance with this. Certainly, far from being a "short-range tactical bomber," the Canberra was for its day spectacularly long-ranged. It was used by the U.S. as a long-range intruder aircraft.

I agree it was in fact assigned the role of a tactical bomber, but this was not necessarily the original intention. There seems no reason it could not have eventually carried nuclear weapons except that times, nuclear technology, alliance arrangements and strategic needs changed. It had a bomb-capacity of 10,000 pounds, the weight of an atomic bomb, and was designed to fly above 40,000 feet, suggesting a strategic rather than a tactical role.

On September 12, 1956, Australian Defense Minister Athol Townley complained that the Canberra did not carry enough conventional bombs to take an appropriate part in the Strategic Reserve but that "it can carry nuclear weapons." With this in mind, the Australian Defense committee agreed to approach the UK about acquiring nuclear weapons. The upheaval of the Suez crisis may have had something to do with this project going no further.

Further, according to Reynolds: "Declassified records reveal that information was sent to Australian between November 1959 and December 1960 on the feasibility of equipping RAAF Canberras with the USAF Mark 7 atomic bombs, along with copies of US aircrew weapons delivery manuals and 'maintenance instructions for special stores.'" (source: "Study, Feasibility of Equipping RAAF Canberra MK 20 Bomber Aircraft for Combat Delivery of USAF MK 7 Nuclear Bombs, 3 MEL-10, R190/10, A6456/2, AA," Quoted in Reynolds at p. 250).

I said in my original article simply that there was some evidence Australia looked to developing a nuclear deterrent in the late 1940s or early '50s but this was not proceeded with. It would have been possible to elaborate further -- this would have been a joint British Commonwealth effort with Britain taking a leading role and references to this effect are on the public record -- but this was a passing reference in an article making another point entirely. The whole thing is really very hypothetical and a periferal issue to what I was saying, which is that Australia is a very solid U.S. ally. The Royal Australian Air Force now flies F-18 fighters as well as F-111s and will probably buy Raptors.

LOST IN TRANSLATION
Re: James Bowman's Immanuel Kant for Dummies:

Since it is imperative that we view North Korean and Iranian nuclear ambitions with such categorical equanimity as we can muster, I wonder what Mr. Bowman makes of Naval Postgraduate School professor Vali Nasr's recent observation that Kant has become the most translated Western philosopher in Persia?
-- Russell Seitz
Cambridge, Massachusetts

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