- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 27, 2009

Take two aspirins

It’s like a bad roommate. We’re going to have to live with health care reform legislation for a while and attempt to overlook the annoying habits, dubious love life, shrill tones. Just like a roommate. Oh, we’ve gone through the “Holy Toledo, this stuff is incomprehensible” phase and then worried. We have dutifully watched endless explanations of the proposal. We know for sure that it is 1,018 pages long.

And that’s about all.

Yet impressions persist, for better or worse.

“Large numbers of people either believe damaging misinformation about the health care proposals being discussed in Washington or are not sure what to believe,” says a handy-dandy new Harris Poll, which quantifies the rumors.

Thirty-two percent of Americans, for example, believe that if the plan is passed, Medicare will be phased out. Forty-six percent don’t believe it.

A quarter say the plan promotes euthanasia “to keep costs down,” 56 percent say the idea is not in the legislation. Another 41 percent say that heath care will be rationed, 41 percent disagree. And last but not least, about a quarter say the plan will enable the government to access their bank accounts to pay for services, 54 percent disagree.

The operative number? The survey of 2,334 adults found that 49 percent of Americans support President Obama’s reforms, 41 percent do not.

“These and other poll findings show that opponents of the president’s plans for reform have been remarkably effective in persuading many millions of people that his plans include all kinds of unpleasant proposals that are false,” Harris explains. “Whether or not the president and the Democrats can present a more accurate picture of what is, and is not, being proposed remains to be seen, and may be critical to winning public and congressional support for the bills that are eventually voted on by the Congress.”

Action item

From the same company that has somehow crafted G.I. Joe-style action figure dolls modeled after Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, Michelle Obama, Rod Blagojevich, President Obama as “the Joker” and “Joe the Plumber,” among others. Now here’s the “Joe Wilson Action Figure.” Yes, Rep. Joe Wilson — the South Carolina Republican who hollered “you lie” during a recent presidential address before Congress — is now part of the stable.

“And he talks, too,” notes Hero Builders, the Connecticut-based company that sells the Wilson doll for $40.

The company also makes customized action figures or Pez dispensers for those who might like to honor the action figures in their own circles of family and friends. Consult www.herobuilders.com for information.

Show this to Granddad

“Our national character, always evolving, finds its foundation in those timeless American ideals of freedom, fairness, and self-sustainability. Today’s hunters and anglers bring this spirit to life in the forests and streams they visit. If not for America’s great hunters and anglers, like President Theodore Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold, our Nation would not enjoy sound game management; a system of ethical, science-based game laws; and an extensive public lands estate on which to pursue the sports. On National Hunting and Fishing Day, we celebrate their contributions to our natural environment and our national heritage.

“Now, therefore, I, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 26, 2009, as National Hunting and Fishing Day. I call upon the people of the United States to recognize this day with appropriate programs and activities.” (An official dispatch from the White House).

Quotes of note

“Why dogs roll in smelly things.” — Consumer tip of the week from the Country Living Association.

“I think John McCain would have been worse for the country than Barack Obama.” — Fox News host Glenn Beck, to CBS anchor Katie Couric.

“I thought he was living in Neverland.” — Bill Clinton on Al Gore, to Taylor Branch, author of “The Clinton Tapes.”

Days of yore

Tea Party fans, get out your party hats today, birthday of Samuel Adams, born in 1722 and an organizer of the original Boston Tea Party. Also salute Thomas Nast, born on this day in 1840, and the political cartoonist who created the original Republican elephant and Democratic donkey symbols.

The Warren Commission released its report 45 years ago today, concluding that there was “no conspiracy” involved in the assassination of President Kennedy.

And so it began: On this day in 1967, “A Call To Resist Illegitimate Authority,” signed by more than 320 arty and influential people, appeared in the New Republic and the New York Review of Books, asking for funds to help American youths resist the draft.

Oh, and it’s Newtie Day — the 15th anniversary of the “Contract With America,” a 10-point legislative agenda prepared by then-Republican congressman Newt Gingrich, signed by more than 350 Republican candidates for Congress on the steps of the Capitol. Perhaps Mr. Gingrich is now working on Part II.

Poll du jour

75 percent of Americans say the nation is more rude and less civilized.

41 percent say public rudeness by celebrities encourages rude behavior; 38 percent disagree.

51 percent say public cell-phone use is rude; 37 percent disagree.

63 percent say it’s rude to text during a social event; 27 percent disagree.

51 percent have confronted someone for rude behavior in public; 45 percent have not.

Source: A Fox News/Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 adults conducted Sept. 15 and 16.

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