Vol. 4    No. 17
August 20, 2009 Archives

2009 Production Schedule

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Contributing Writers
Paul Barrows, Alfonso Zepeda
Capistran, Fabu, Andrew
Gramling, Lang Kenneth
Haynes, Heidi Pascual, Jessica
Pharm, Laura Salinger, Jessica
Strong, & Martinez White

Heidi @
   Back in the day, two of my brothers used to play rugby down in Milwaukee. Rugby roughly resembles American
football except you don’t play with any pads or helmets. Miraculously people rarely got hurt outside of the usual
nicks and scratches resulting from such close encounters of the physical kind.
   One of the features of rugby is the scrum, which is difficult to describe. The ball is placed on the ground and
the opposing teams form semi-circles by leaning over and grabbing each other’s shoulders. The two semi-circles
would come together and the referee would place the ball on the ground in the middle and the two semi-circles of
opposing players would push toward the center, trying to push the scrum in a way that would allow the
designated person from their squads be in a position to grab the ball and toss the ball in play to another team
   In watching the health care reform debate over the summer, I can’t help but feel that the debate has become a
national scrum. I haven’t felt and witnessed this much political tension and energy since the presidential
inauguration last January when there was constant jockeying for position and status in the many days of
celebration. When I was in Washington, D.C. during those days, I could almost feel the sense of power in the air.
   The same is true with the health care reform fight. Once can almost feel it in the air as politicians, lobbyists
and interest groups jockey for position to formulate the health care debate in Congress to their own point of view
and benefit from this $2.5 trillion industry. It is as if the two major sides on the health care reform debate,
favoring and opposing a public option for health insurance, are in a national scrum with each side pushing
against the other to get their representatives in a place where they can carry the ball for their version of health
care reform. If the members of one side pause or stumble, with the massive political push that is going on, the
other side could push far enough to carry the ball for their team. It is that sense of push that leads
Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin to urge supporters of health care reform to contact her office because it gives
her a better position to push for a strong public option.
   You can see the gathering of the forces of the health care reform debate. The rally last month at the State
Capitol was just one of many Organizing for America rallies that were held in every Congressional district in the
nation. Millions of dollars are being spent every day on advertising that simplifies and often inflames this very
complicated issue. People have shown up at town hall meetings to express their anger over health care reform,
fueled by often times fictitious charges about health care reform. There will be a lot of tension in the air when the
Senate and House of Representatives reconvene next month.
   And yesterday, President Obama held a simultaneous telephone and Internet meeting with hundreds of
thousands of supporters of health care reform. While he mentioned many of the features of health care reform — it
requires many features and actions over the course of several years — he reiterated his support for a public
health insurance option as a major piece of the reform, contrary to the rumors that have been fueled by television
pundits over the past week. He urged his supporters to keep the pressure up and to keep contacting their
   Unlike a rugby scrum, this health care reform scrum has gotten quite vicious and dirty. With charges of health
care reform being a socialistic effort that will set up death panels to decide the fate of grandma and other
figments of the imaginations of the opponents of health care reform, the air of rationality has become quite
clouded and sometimes confused. There is a lot of money at stake in this battle and some people are not going to
let a sense of ethics and truth get in the way of their narrow self-interest.
   Just like a rugby scrum, this end of this health care reform scrum is very uncertain. With each passing day, it
seems as if one side and then the other has the upper hand to pass their version of health care reform or not to
pass any legislation at all. It is the side that has the most political push after Labor Day that will decide who runs
with the health care reform bill. It’s important that everyone get involved in this scrum by calling their elected
representatives. Each of us is an individual member of a scrum that will decide this nation’s future.
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                      A HEALTH CARE REFORM SCRUM

Johnny Winston Jr.  looks at the coming
school year