I would like to congratulate Brainerd's own David Hermerding for being honored as Minnesota Lawyer's Attorney of the Year. Your article ("Peers praise Brainerd attorney", Feb. 12, p. 1A) correctly points out David's selfless and tireless dedication to his important work on behalf of society's most troubled and vulnerable. What it does not mention, however, is that he is also a devoted father to six children, an unofficial surrogate father to troubled neighborhood youth, and a kind, thoughtful neighbor. He also rescues animals, makes Brainerd's best margarita, and if your lawnmower ever breaks down he's the man to see. During the Northside Resident's Association annual picnic you can even find him barbequing the brats and tofu pups. My hat's off to Mr. Hermerding -- Brainerd is a better place because of people like him.
I was drafted in 1965 and I can prove it. I know where I was and what outfit I was with. There were a lot of us in the military back then and I don't remember physical examinations being optional, but then I wasn't a trained fighter pilot. Why would they be optional for trained fighter pilots? In two years I never had to make up for a lost day because there weren't any. If you did not report for duty, and you did not have permission (and don't even think of requesting permission unless your father was a congressman or something), then you were absent without leave. That's why they call it AWOL. It's not a hard concept to understand.
I remember not wanting to be in the army back then, but, with my father not being a congressman, I didn't pursue that line of reasoning. I later graduated from a state university in California. It wasn't Yale, but then I wasn't a cheerleader either.
There's a lot of speculation about whether the president was in the National Guard. I'm not sure he even flew planes. I've seen pictures of him in planes, but for all I know that plane might have been parked outside a grocery store. If you look to the left in that picture you can see his mother's skirts.
Finally we are starting to discuss some reasons for our "jobless recovery." It's no longer just blue-collar families that are seeing their jobs hauled offshore to places of low-wage production. Now it's hundreds of thousands (and soon to be millions) of well-paying white-collar and high-tech jobs that are being shipped overseas by America's wage-busting CEOs.
CEOs are nervous about any public discussion of this movement, but internally they do not hesitate at the prospect of abandoning our country and its middle-class in order to fatten their profits using foreign workers. IBM, which is leading the way, and calling for moving more and more of its white-collar jobs out of the country calls this "global sourcing." The rush is on. A Microsoft executive has instructed department heads in this software giant to "think India" and to "pick something to move offshore today." Wal-Mart has forced many American factories overseas to compete for their "always low prices".
This is deliberate job destruction, and an open assault on America's middle-class. The argument is that competition is the American Way and lower prices will benefit us all, but who will buy these corporations merchandise? Not the poorly paid people producing them overseas; and not the soon to be jobless American middle class !
Corporate executives and their apologists say that this is simply the workings of the market and that, after all, the CEO's sole responsibility is to enrich the bottom line of top shareholders,
If CEOs have no obligation to us, why should we feel any obligation to them? As they separate themselves and their corporate fortunes from the well-being of our families, communities, and country, we should begin to separate them from the special tax breaks, enormous subsidies, regulatory favors, political privileges and all other advantages they've gotten from us.
A step ahead
As a clinical researcher and practicing physician, I applaud the resolve of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to stand by the expanded benefits in the new Medicare law ("Sen. Bill Frist opposes changes to new Medicare law this year, despite raft of proposals"). The coverage for prescription drugs and preventive health care is a fundamental improvement. Accordingly, these benefits are a better deal for taxpayers than they might appear.
Prescription drugs today are a common and cost-effective alternative to surgery. Yet seniors needing prescription drugs to stay alive and healthy are often left to cope with staggering pharmacy bills. I've seen this first-hand in my specialty of Parkinson's disease. New drugs are relieving Parkinson's victims from the debilitating effects of this disease, restoring their mobility and quality of life. Medicare would pay for the expensive surgery and hospitalization, but the annual cost of the prescription drugs in my patients with advanced PD is often $4500 to $7000 per year, and patients were on their own in paying for their prescriptions.
Thanks to the new Medicare law, those days will soon be behind us. In June, temporary prescription cards will be available to all Medicare recipients, providing discounts of 10 to 25 percent at the local pharmacy. The full prescription drug coverage takes effect in 2006; the average senior will save 50 percent on prescriptions annually with low-income seniors never paying more the $5 per drug. The economics of this program are defensible, the need is incontestable. It's a step ahead America can be proud of, not one from which we should back away.
Dr. David Charles, M.D.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Suicide bombing in Iraq
The suicide bombings happening in Iraq are almost sickening. When reading the newspaper or listening to the news and hearing yet another suicide bomber has struck just amazes me. When you think of a country or community you think they are there to support each other, not blow each other up. It infuriates me to know that all these people need to do is listen to our troops and believe that we are there to help, not destroy. But when you live under a leader as corrupt as Saddam Hussein and grow up with his morals, it would be difficult to believe there was anything better out there. Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt states in an recent article -- Car bomb at Iraqi army recruiting station kills up to 47 -- written by Mariam Fam in The Brainerd Daily Dispatch Feb. 12, 2004, that "this could bepart of the ongoing pattern of intimidation we've seen lately.." Trying to find out who these people are and why they're doing this is showing to be more difficult than others think. It's scary to hear of these attacks because you never want to hear another American soldier has lost his life in something as little as standing guard and losing his life to someone because they were mad that the United States is trying to help them. Hopefully these bombings and attacks will end soon and our troops will be home safe and sound soon. I personally hope that when they get a new government figure in their country they will realize what we were there to do and it wasn't to destroy their lives.
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