Theodore Olbermann, Father of Keith Olbermann, Has Died

Theodore Olbermann, father of Keith Olbermann, died earlier today at age 81. Keith had discussed his father’s prolonged illness in a Special Comment on health care entitled An American Cry For Help in late February. Both video and a full transcript are posted here.

Olbermann discussed his father at his blog today:

My father died, in the city of his birth, New York, at 3:50 EST this afternoon.

Though the financial constraints of his youth made college infeasible, he accomplished the near-impossible, becoming an architect licensed in 40 states. Much of his work was commercial, for a series of shoe store chains and department stores. There was a time in the 1970’s when nearly all of the Baskin-Robbins outlets in the country had been built to his design, and under his direction. Through much of my youth and my early adult life, it was almost impossible to be anywhere in this country and not be a short drive to one of “his” stores.

My Dad was predeceased last year by my mother, Marie, his wife of nearly 60 years. He died peacefully after a long fight against the complications that ensued after successful colon surgery last September at the New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center. My sister Jenna and I were at his side, and I was reading him his favorite James Thurber short stories, as he left us.

I can’t say enough about Dr. Jeff Milsom and his team at the hospital, and all of those physicians and nurses and staffers in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit who looked after my Dad all this time, and kept him in their hearts. And I feel the same way about all of you who have expressed your best wishes and prayers to him, and to me, and to our family.

My Dad was my biggest booster. A day after I was hired by CNN in the summer of 1981 as a two-week vacation relief sports reporter, I traveled by train to my childhood hometown, and walked from the station towards my folks’ house. I was stopped half a dozen times before I got to my Dad’s office by people congratulating me on my impending television debut. There was, of course, only one way they could have known. My Dad, the press agent.

Of course it was he and my Mom who took me to my first Yankees games (even though my father nursed a delightful grudge against the team for trading away his favorite players, Steve Souchock and Snuffy Stirnweiss – in 1948 and 1950). But as my interest in the sport began to take the shape of a dreamt-of career, it was my Dad also sacrificed family vacations so we could buy ever more tickets to Yankee games. When we could afford both games and vacations, four times those vacations were to Spring Training.

He was my inspiration, and will always remain so. His bravery these last six months cannot be measured. He is as much my hero now, as he was when I was five years old.

Obama Pollster Responds To Scare Stories On Health Care Reform

Joel Benenson, who is described as “the lead pollster to Barack Obama” has an op-ed in The Washington Post responding to yesterday’s op-ed by Patrick H. Caddell and Douglas E. Schoen which I discussed here. Benenson counters some of the misleading poll data (which I also noted yesterday) by showing greater support for health care reform than is claimed by Caddell and Schoen.

Benenson (whose interest in this is obvious from his position) concludes by arguing that passage of the bill will be beneficial for Democrats:

Health care and health-care reform are complex issues for policy experts, let alone for the rest of us. After a year of debate that has focused more on political process than policy, it is not surprising that Kaiser found in January that more than four in 10 Americans are not aware that the current plan includes elements such as tax credits to small business that want to offer coverage to employees or that it bans insurance companies from denying coverage for preexisting conditions.

The central components of the plan — a ban on denying coverage of preexisting conditions, closing the Medicare “doughnut hole” on the drug coverage gap for seniors, creating an insurance exchange in which small business and those without coverage could buy private insurance at competitive rates — are all supported by solid majorities, from 60 percent to 81 percent.

There’s no question that a majority of Americans oppose a government-run health system. But there is no government-run health care in the plan, and not a single American would be forced into any government-run program.

In politics, new information is always the most potent. When it comes to health care and insurance, once reform passes, the tangible benefits Americans will realize will trump the fear-mongering rhetoric opponents are stoking today.

And when that reality kicks in, the political burden will shift from those who supported the plan to those who voted against banning insurance companies from denying coverage to those who are sick, against the tax credits for small businesses offering coverage, or against helping seniors on Medicare pay less for prescription drugs.

It is no accident that Republican leaders are warning Democrats of dire political consequences if health reform passes.

But there is every reason to believe that for Republicans, the negative consequences will be their own.

As I noted in my previous discussion, there are serious faults in the op-ed by Caddell and Schoen but their warnings should not be ignored. Yes, there will be benefits when Democrats have one specific bill to defend. However, the problem remains that most of the benefits will not be seen for many years. Many people will never even understand the benefits they have received.

Those who are never faced with having their insurance canceled because of getting sick may also never realize how great a risk that is at present. It is true that “here is no government-run health care in the plan, and not a single American would be forced into any government-run program” but the right wing noise machine will continue to make this claim and many people will not realize that this is a lie for a few years.

Democrats a present need to be concerned not only with getting the Senate bill passed in the House and making some important fixes through reconciliation. They need to do a better job of getting past the right wing spin and getting the voters to understand exactly what they have passed without depending upon waiting for people to see the changes in action.

Vile Conservative Thought About Euthanasia

One problem with discourse between liberals and conservatives is that conservatives have zero understanding of what liberals actually believe. The modern liberal movement has largely developed from a merger of traditional liberal thought with a reaction to the authoritarianism and denial of science and reason by the right wing in recent years. Conservatives, who tend to be mislead on so many subjects, tend to believe the distortions of liberal thought promoted by the right wing noise machine and comments about liberals from the right tend to have virtually nothing to do with actual liberal thought.

A perfect example of this comes from conservative blogger Dan Riehl via Alan Colmes:

I’m not sure I quite understand this, given that cost is so important as a burden to taxpayers when it comes to health care. If Democrats want so badly to abort babies because of it, why are we bothering with someone who has a broken neck and back at 69? It sounds to me like she’s pretty well used up and has probably been living off the taxpayers for plenty of years to begin with. Aren’t we at least going to get a vote on it?

“Sen. Reid’s daughter Lana Reid Barringer, 48, who was driving the mini-van, and his wife, Landra G. Reid, 69, a passenger, were both injured. Landra suffered a broken back and a broken neck in the crash; Barringer suffered minor injuries, Sen. Reid’s office said Thursday.”

I realize her crook of a husband and his pals in Congress have excluded themselves from the mess they’re going to compel everyone else to join, but we’re still paying the bills, are we not? I don’t see that she’s worth it at this point, frankly. I can’t recall her ever doing anything for me.

Come on, Harry – do your civic duty. The nation’s broke and counting on you guy. Pull the plug and get back to work. And don’t bill us for a full day today, either. This is no time to be sloughing off. Air freight her home, you can bury her during recess on your own time and dime. Or are you going to bill us for that, too?

Besides the thought process here being pretty much the opposite of liberal belief, I must also point out that the common conservative talking point that Congress has excluded themselves from health care reform is outright false. The truth is that one of the key points of health care reform is to allow everyone in the country to have the same type of health care plan as those in Congress have.

As for the vile thought process here which is falsely attributed to liberals, Kathy Kattenburg sums this up by noting at The Moderate Voice :

Obviously, Dan Riehl was trying to prove a point when he wrote that if Democrats support abortion, they should ask themselves, “Isn’t it time to euthanize [Harry] Reid’s wife?”. I’m just not sure he fully understands which point he actually proved.

Update: Charles Johnson cites Dan’s post as a reason for why he left the right.