- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Sneeze, you die We had opportunity to chat yesterday with William “Sid” Taylor, Washington’s foremost authority on the economy, national debt, fiscal obligations, financial commitments and unfunded liabilities of the U.S. government. Now that the Democratic presidential candidates have given thought again to a national health care system, we called on Mr. Taylor, who hangs his well-worn hat at the National Taxpayers Union Foundation. So, Sid, can we trust Uncle Sam to empty our bedpans? “My first experience with government health care happened back in 1941,” recalls Mr. Taylor, who during World War II flew with Clark Gable in the same squadron (“We went through flight school together in Miami; there used to be 20 women waiting for him outside the hangar. I don’t know what he had.”) “As an infantry private at Fort Benning, Georgia, I had periodic attacks of hay fever,” he continues. “I often sneezed unexpectedly. This can be a deadly ailment for an infantry private in a recon platoon doing night patrol going through a field loaded with goldenrod and enemy snipers. One sneeze and your dead. “Anyhow, the regimental doctor for our 4th Division suggested that on my next trip north I stop at the famed Walter Reed Hospital in Washington and get some allergy shots. This I did. I reported to the Walter Reed Medical Center and after waiting about an hour or more an Army captain nurse came out and ordered me to follow her.” Wow, what happened next? “She took me into a main operating room and told me to take my clothes off and get up on the operating table. All I had on was a sheet,” he says. “I thought this was a peculiar process for a simple allergy shot, but I thought that she must know what she was doing. After all, she was a captain. That was a lot of rank in those days.” So did she give you your anti-sneezing shots? “As I lay on the operating table, she left the room temporarily and I happened to see on the table next to me a medical file with my name on it. So being curious, I opened the file and looked at it. Then I almost jumped out of my sheet. They had the wrong William Taylor. They had me accidentally scheduled for an appendectomy.” Unbelievable. What did you do? “Realizing the magnitude of this medical malfunction, I jumped completely off the operating table, put on my clothes and headed for the door. The nurse came running back in the room waving a finger at me and threatening court-martial for even looking at my medical file.” So did you finally get your shots? “I fled the scene,” says Mr. Taylor. “The message: don’t have a common name like John Smith or Henry Jones if you go to a government medical center.” Hostages in Maui A U.S. congressman is intrigued to be invited to a “Homeland Security Training Seminar” — an “intense three-day experiential training seminar … for avoiding and surviving hostage detention.” After all, it’s taking place at the Ritz-Carlton in Maui. Federal and state officials are offered a federal per diem rate for the seminar, speakers for which include Bruce Jessen, who until last year was the Pentagon’s senior Survival Evasion, Resistance and Escape psychologist, and now is on contract to the U.S. government in the war against terrorism. Participants also will hear from Jim Mitchell, who spent 13 years with elite U.S. counter-terrorist units and also is contracted to Uncle Sam to fight terrorism, and David Dose, who provides hostage training to the Department of Homeland Security, State Department and the U.S. Senate. Topics for the seminar, orchestrated by R.S. Consulting (firm President Randy Spivey managed all hostage survival training for the Pentagon until last year), include skills for “coping with isolation in a hostage environment.” Spouses who wish to tag along are being offered complimentary seats at the seminar. Don’t forget your sunglasses. You said it Ironically enough, California’s embattled Gov. Gray Davis was among the Democratic “thinkers” asked by former Clinton Cabinet member Andrew Cuomo to contribute to his now-published book, “Crossroads: The Future of American Politics.” Little did Mr. Davis, who writes six pages, know that his own future would now be in doubt. “Believe me, I count myself as extremely fortunate to have squeaked by with a five-point victory,” he wrote of his 2002 race. ” … voters seemed to agree on two things: that it’s a governor’s responsibility to mind the store while the president is preoccupied with terror, and that their own governor was not doing a very good job of it.” • John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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