Writings and observations

Didn’t make it (did consider it) to Seaside for Oregon Senator Ron Wyden‘s town hall there. Wyden has done a mass of town halls (more than 500), is very experienced at handling them, and watching his approach to it would have been of interest by itself.

As it happens, Wyden’s staff chief, Josh Kardon, was there and live-tweeted the preceedings, question by question and answer by answer. Even bearing in mind that this was done by an advocate and not a neutral, the results are worth reading.

Overall impression is that this was not a raucous event; the impression comes in part because health care and federal spending weren’t the only topics discussed; liquid natural gas and forest policy came up too. But here’s what some of the health discussion looked like, according to Kardon’s tweets (and the quality of the conversation is a lot better than the more typical promoting of/debunking of outright lies):

First Q – why are the extremes in the health reform debate dominating all the media attention?

Wyden – I’m fighting for common ground. My party won in ’08, but we are supposed to bring people together and represent everybody.

Q – insurance companies seem to “run the show” in US, but lived abroad in Europe; can we pass single-payer ever?

Obama killed single payer, but Wyden bill allows states to enact single payer.

Q – Why not just expand Medicare? Isn’t that easier?

Oregon Medicare already in trouble; overall facing solvency problems.

Q – when can we get past 5 different bills and have one bill to fight for?

A – Going to take time because none have passed either house of cong. Mine is only one with bipartisan support.

Q – Retired physician thinks health shouldn’t be tied to profit. Why do you want health reform delayed? Why do you take health money?

A – My bill has 100% subsidy for coverage for poor people.

A- I end the tax breaks for gold-plated health policies

A – I proposed canceling the August recess to work on health reform.

A – Campaign finance system stinks. Doesn’t affect my fight for health reform.

Q- Mass. is having 3 – 9 month waits for specialists. How are we going to handle new people who are insured? How about getting more docs?

A – Clearly not enough docs, nurses, and PA’s. Need to leverage job training programs to create the work force.

Q – US is spending and borrowing too much. How are we going to do this in a fiscally-responsible way?

A – My proposal does not add to the federal deficit. Every monied interest will have to give something up. Ought to be bipartisan.

Q – My uninsured god-nephew didn’t seek care until too late and died, but system wound up spending hundreds of tho.

Agree. The system is wasteful and inhumane. We need to all have choices.

Q – Can we have more immediate care facilities so we don’t have go to to the ER if we are out of town or after hours?

A – Question is whether the fed govt. should mandate those types of services. Real competition will create those type of after-hour choices.

Q – Did you read these bills?

A- I not only read my bill, I wrote it.

Q – Passionate single-payer supporter upset RW not currently advocating national public option. Will you support t..

I am open to national public option, but EVERY American should have access to the public option, not just the curr..

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Got an inquiry from a friend (in the conventional sense) about becoming a friend (in the specialized sense) with someone on Facebook. He and the other person have had political differences, but he got the invitation to be “friended.” What to do?

Each to their own tastes. But – and yes, we here are on Facebook, and Twitter too among other things – the basic take here is that being someone’s “friend” on Facebook is a little different than the traditional type. A friend on Facebook is someone you choose to keep in touch with, and may or may not be more than that. The question: But would I throttle back on my opinions if I know that so-and-so might see them? Response: If they’re on line anywhere, they may be seen. A whole generation of politicians, among others, is about to learn that the hard way. (The rule here: Write nothing, post nothing, anywhere, that isn’t essentially open to the world at large. You’ll find your desire to keep it private is in inverse proportion to the likelihood of its emergence into unwanted hands.)

Facebook and Twitter do raise a variety of questions for certain categories of people. A question for bloggers and other writers (journalists included): To what extent is a Facebook post or a Twitter tweet “on the record” – quotable elsewhere? A point not yet really resolved.

The next blog post here will make use of Tweets someone else has posted. Probably, those tweets were intended to shared with the world at large. If not, we’ll probably find out soon enough.

Via a Facebook post, a link to a pair of essays by two Idaho journalists, Kevin Richert and Marcia Franklin, on the ethical and journalistic issues of social communications. The main takeaway: There’s a lot yet to be worked out.

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