11/7/2007 – Editorials


By Richard Peterson

 

President Bush has nominated former North Dakota Governor Ed Schafer to become US Secretary of Agriculture. This is good news for those of us in rural areas. The nomination surprised everyone and has been met with almost universal approval.

But why a man with a sterling reputation like Ed Schafer would want to associate himself with George W. Bush and his administration is a mystery. He’ll be on the job for only a year or so and then will be replaced when Hillary takes office. I suppose being Secretary of Agriculture will look good on Schafer’s resume’.

Whether he’ll be an effective Secretary of Agriculture depends on whether or not George W. Bush will listen to him. I don’t have much hope because Bush has a stubborn streak that makes a mule look like the epitome of reason. The previous Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Johanns, was forced to parrot the Bush ideological nonsense and as a result he was completely ineffective. Sen. Kent Conrad, at a meeting in Leeds on Sept. 16, 2006, termed Johanns as "worthless." He used that word twice in referring to Johanns.

We have high expectations for Ed Schafer. The entire North Dakota congressional delegation expressed its approval of the nomination of Schafer. He’ll be a good Secretary of Agriculture if President Bush will let him. The buck stops with Bush.

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Do you know the purpose of Veterans Day? The American Legion magazine points out that the day is set aside to honor all who served honorably in the military in wartime or times of peace. Veterans Day is largely intended to thank living veterans for their service and to underscore that all those who served — not only those who died — have sacrificed and done their duty. Both the living and the dead are included in honors on Veterans Day.

In contrast, Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died while serving their country.

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Veterans Day was not always Veterans Day. Prior to 1954 it was Armistice Day, commemorating the armistice between the Allies and Germany on Nov. 11, 1918. President Eisenhower signed legislation in

1954 changing the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

In 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Holiday Bill to ensure three-day weekends by creating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Columbus Day.

Veterans organizations protested so vehemently that the observance of Veterans Day was changed permanently to November 11 in 1978.

As far as I’m concerned that was a mistake. When the holiday falls in the middle of the week there isn’t time to go anywhere, so I just go to work. That’s the easiest thing to do.

This year the "holiday" falls on a Sunday, so very few people will get a day off they wouldn’t already have. As a veteran, I’d like a day off but I’m supposed to get Sunday off anyway. The veterans organizations shot themselves in the foot on this one.

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I had some blood drawn for a medical test last week. I’ve had many such bloodlettings over the years and it’s never been a problem.

The first vial of blood filled just fine, but when the nurse put in the second vial, it turned into a dry hole. No blood would squirt into the vial, so she tried the other arm. Same thing. Then she tried another spot on the same arm. Same thing. It was Halloween and maybe my veins shrunk up because of fear of all the vampires in the vicinity.

As the nurse was probing away with her needle, my mind wandered and I pictured myself being taken to the hospital where I expired. A team of doctors was preparing to conduct an autopsy and I had an out-of-body experience, hovering over my lifeless body on the examination table. One doctor exclaimed, "It looks as though this poor fellow died from multiple puncture wounds to his arms." Another doctor agreed and said with a puzzled look, "But there doesn’t appear to be any blood loss."

I awoke from my daydream as the nurse went back to the original arm and lanced me once again. Nothing came. But then after some poking around, she discovered that squeezing my arm in the vicinity of the needle sent blood shooting into the vial. Squeeze, squirt. Squeeze, squirt. Squeeze, squirt. It was like milking a cow.

The nurse was embarrassed almost to the point of tears. I had tears in my eyes, too, but not from embarrassment.


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