New legislation regarding health care probably will be ready by the end of the year but it probably won't look much like what President Obama asked for.


    Never in my lifetime have I experienced the intense public interest in pending federal legislation that now surrounds the question of how to improve national health care.

    When Sen. Tom Carper, Delaware’s senior senator, came by the Dover Post office last Friday to answer questions from the editorial staff, nearly all the queries in the hour-long session had to do with the health care issue.

    Since the senator is on the Senate Finance Committee, which is directly involved in considering the various proposals about health care, he certainly is one of the most informed people on Capitol Hill.

    He did outline the case for the pending legislation as he sees it but acknowledged that it is a vast subject. He did not make predictions about what the final Congressional decision will be. Before any bill can go to President Obama, the Senate has to pass its version and then work out a compromise with what the House of Representatives already has passed.

    It won’t be easy.

    My guess is that legislation with a health care label somehow will be stitched together before the end of the year for the president’s signature. I seriously doubt, however, that it will closely resemble what the president has asked for.

    As someone with a reputation for being able to consider both sides of a question, Sen. Carper is not, I would say, in the most comfortable position in terms of making up his mind on exactly what he will support.

    In answer to a comment on the side concerning the pending legislation whereby a union would have a much easier path toward having a company’s workers agree to union representation, the senator said he favored a secret ballot. That could put him at odds with union leaders.

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    It happened that I participated last week in a telephone “meeting” with Congressman Mike Castle as well. While I had not signed up for the experience, my phone rang and I was asked if I wanted to participate. I did and listened to questions asked by various people from around the state.

    The format involved the questioners being recognized in turn by the moderator and speaking directly to Castle. As one of those who had not signed up earlier and identified myself, I did not get to ask a question, although at the end of the session I was able to add a general comment to the “meeting.”

    I use quotation marks for the word meeting because it is not a case of a group of people having a face-to-face dialog with a political figure. The opportunity is there, as one political observer pointed out to me later, to control the question session to a certain degree.

    While it is a good thing for our members of Congress to use various means to connect with voters — modern communication methods offer options not available a couple of generations ago — it is still worthwhile to schedule public meetings at which all are welcome without any prior arrangement. There is nothing quite like talking to a political figure directly and perhaps reminding him or her that they serve at the pleasure of the voters.

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    Last Friday I had the pleasure of joining golfers from this area in the annual USO tournament at the Dover Air Force Base course, a tournament to celebrate the close ties between the community and the base as well as an opportunity to raise money for the USO. No USO in the country takes a more active role in supporting our men and women in uniform, with the local organization especially active because of the fact that all of the fallen heroes being returned to the country in caskets come through Dover AFB.

    USO services are being expanded, said Joan Cote, the long-time USO director.

    The highlight of my day was getting my first shot to land within 6 feet 1 1/2 inches from the par 3 12th hole. Absolutely a matter of luck.

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    For a long time I have known that the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal started operating in 1829 but until I read a story by Capt. Rich Eyring in PropTalk magazine it had escaped my knowledge that a canal between Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware River had been considered as early as the mid 1600s by a Czech mapmaker named Augustine Herman. He was the first one to see that a canal would save hundreds of miles of ocean travel.

    I also didn’t know (it’s amazing as you grow older how much information you come across that you didn’t know) that busy and brilliant Ben Franklin had considered the canal idea valid enough to put up some money to conduct surveys. He and Ben Rush created the C&D Canal Company and began construction in 1804.

    But the project faltered and it was not until 20 years later that nearly 3,000 men were involved in digging the huge trench using picks and shovels. The canal opened four years later, effectively making an island of the Delmarva Peninsula.

    Since that time the canal has been deepened and widened and still serves an important role in East Coast commerce and recreation.

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    Two men I have known for many years died in the past week, Joe Petrosky and Bill Dawson. Joe was 84 and Bill was 92.

    Joe lived on our street for many years and could always be counted on for a smile and a warm greeting, even though he was blind in his later years. A very fine guy and a veteran of three wars.

    Bill was active in his bus business and in affairs of the county and he too was always affable, always a pleasure to see and talk to.

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    Patient: Doctor, you’ve got to help me. I can’t stop thinking I’m a goat.”

    Doctor: “I see. And how long have you had this problem?”

    Patient: “Ever since I was a kid.”