Posts Tagged ‘Lancaster’

Journalism at Its Finest

December 16, 2011


Lancaster Newspapers' Donegal News Front Page, with "WRECK" front and center.

If it bleeds, it leads.


My Hometown

October 2, 2009

And now, a window into the mindset of all too many in the place that is, unfortunately, my hometown: the following letter to the editor appeared in the September 27 Lancaster (PA) Sunday News.

Biblical inoculation
I encourage all Christians to read and meditate on Psalm 91. It clearly says if we make the Lord our refuge, the most high our shelter, no evil will conquer us, no plague (swine flu) will come near our home. We must believe that with all our hearts and confess it — God’s word — constantly because death and life is in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18: 20-21).

We must put all our faith and trust in Jesus Christ and what he has done on the cross. He did not shed his blood just to redeem us from this world of sin but also from disease and death (Isaiah 53: 4-5; John 10: 10).

Grace Martin, Ephrata

I wish I could ask Ms. Martin a few questions: Every time in your life you’ve had a cold, was it because you hadn’t made the Lord your refuge that day, or was it because Jesus Christ was too busy getting drunk at the time to redeem you from disease? If you wash your hands, or, heaven forbid, get a vaccine, does it mean your faith is lacking?

Unfortunately, the attitudes revealed in the above letter are representative of many in my hometown, including local leaders. You can Google the name “Anna Mae Ressler,” an Ephrata Republican Party committeewoman, and treat yourself to any number of bat-shit crazy public pronouncements, including, “This really is a spiritual battle . . . The Lord gave President Bush to us in a miraculous way the last time.”

That one came from the run-up to the 2004 presidential election, and can be found in a Beliefnet article from then, along with her insistence that “the Bible is intertwined with the government.” That observation comes from her reading of the Old Testament rather than the U.S. Constitution, because, as we all know, the Old Testament is the law of the land here, not the Constitution.

The Lancaster Newspapers’ archives aren’t fully available online to non-subscribers, so only snippets of the crazy train’s more distant cars are easily obtainable. Luckily, somebody else posted the full text of an earlier Ressler-penned letter on a blog back in April:

I believe felicitations and best wishes are in order for all the atheists who are reading this paper today.

I understand that atheists are feeling left out because Christians and Jews have all their special holidays. But atheists don’t realize that they also have a day set aside for them.

King David said the fool has said in his heart there is no God. So, here is your day, atheists. Most of the world is celebrating the day with you.

Happy April Fools’ Day!

-Anna Mae Ressler, Ephrata

And people wonder why so many my age and younger have grown up to associate the Republican Party with bigotry, religious intolerance, and hate . . .

More Local Bush S-CHIP Speech Fun

October 6, 2007

I’m always one to flog a dead horse, so here are a few more links related to the fallout of George W. Bush’s “screw the children” veto speech here the other day. This is probably the biggest national story related to right-wing stupidity we’ve had ooze out of here since that time the Penryn Fire Police boycotted a Y.M.C.A. fundraiser, claiming the organization taught witchcraft because it allowed kids to read Harry Potter books. Yes, “Y.M.C.A.” stands for “Young Men’s Christian Association.” Yes, some important people around here really are that simultaneously obtuse, fearful and insane. It’s an amazing combination to witness in action.

There’s a fun quiz on The Huffington Post about the speech’s content, in which you get to fill in the blanks to complete the bizarre statements that escaped Bush’s mouth. Here’s another blog post from the Lancaster newspapers’ Smart Remarks about L.A. Times coverage of the story, and the difference between what passes for sharp questioning of Bush here and there.

And then, there’s Jon Stewart’s brilliant reaction to the whole thing on The Daily Show the other night, “No health care for poor kids. You know, I thought something like that was only done by cartoon villains. You’re slowly going from being Nixon to Mr. Burns.”

The Times They Are A-Changin’ — Even in Lancaster County

October 4, 2007

George W. Bush spoke yesterday afternoon in nearby Lancaster, Pa. Lancaster County being the conservative bastion it is, this locale is probably one of very few places left in the Northeast where he could get a receptive audience. Even then, things are clearly changing, as responses to his visit among the locals, and even among those attending his speech, turned out to be quite far from uniform.

Gil Smart, an editor and columnist for the Lancaster Sunday News, has two blog entries about the evidence of changing times, here and here.

Another Lancaster newspaper reporter, Tom Murse, kept a running blog of Bush’s visit. The Lancaster New Era’s coverage of Bush’s visit is here (Lancaster, bizarrely, has three newspapers: the morning Intelligencer Journal, the evening New Era, and the Sunday News, all of which are owned by the same company, yet all of which have separate staffs that compete with one another for stories).

A preview of the visit to Lancaster (technically, he didn’t go to Lancaster; he went to a collection of buildings around a traffic light called Ronks) is here in the Philadelphia Daily News. It’s quite funny in moments, being full of zingers like, “If there remains a place in America where President Bush can give a speech on controlling government spending without drawing horselaughs it is Lancaster County,” and, “He’s here because the county is solid Republican, culturally conservative and fiscally frugal . . . other than Utah, where would he go?” Okay, if you’re a Republican, it probably isn’t funny, but I found it quite amusing.

So, upon what subjects did Bush cogitate while hunkered down with the mostly like-minded in podunk Ronks, Pennsylvania? For one thing, his courageous (note sarcasm) veto just that morning of a bipartisan bill to expand health insurance coverage for children that was just too expensive apparently figured prominently in it. On that issue, a 17 year-old kid from outside Lancaster seems far wiser than anyone in the White House, as she was quoted in the Lancaster New Era: “‘What’s more important,’ she asked, ‘killing people or all the children?'”

Here’s the full text of Bush’s speech. A telling statement about vetoing S-CHIP (the children’s health insurance program) from it is this: “I don’t want the federal government making decisions for doctors and customers. That’s why I believe strongly in health savings accounts . . . I believe in private medicine, not the federal government running the health care system.”

Here’s the deal: Insurance companies are already making decisions for doctors and patients, and they’ve been doing it for years with magic words like, “coverage denied.” Anyone who fears federal government bureaucracy regulating or even taking over this country’s health insurance system is really exposing one’s own ignorance, as such a person has obviously never had to deal with any aspect of this country’s myriad private health insurance bureaucracies on any extended basis. Furthermore, simply ensuring someone has access to private health insurance does not solve this country’s health care crisis, as often private health insurance will decline to cover procedures and medications. Many people (I’m not sure of the exact percentage off the top of my head, but I do remember it being shockingly high) who have to go into bankruptcy due to health care costs had health insurance in the first place. It just wouldn’t cover the procedures they needed to, well, live. Also, what good could health savings accounts possibly do for the millions of people who currently can’t afford to buy health insurance in the first place, or who can’t afford to contribute much of anything to their 401(k)s and other retirement plans in the first place?

Anyway, I’ve hemmed and hawed enough. This stuff just makes my blood boil for some reason, and it’s way too easy for me to start going off about it.

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