Thoughts and Musings

Ever wonder how dental benefits came in to being? Read about it below. Remember this man on your next dental visit. Does the name...

Ever wonder how dental benefits came in to being? Read about it below.
Remember this man on your next dental visit.

Does the name Leonard Woodcock mean anything to you? Well it should the next time you slide into your dentist chair for your semi-annual free cleaning, or, gulp, the dreaded root canal.

Woodcock was the the first president of the United Auto Workers (UAW) following the tragic death of founder Walter Ruether. When Woodcock and his team negotiated new contracts with the Big Three (remember them?) in the early 70's their big benefit enhancement was the initiation of dental benefits for their members.

Previous to this, dental benefits in the U.S. were practically non-existent. I remember my Dad - a Ford Motor honk for 40-plus years - wryly noting that a picture of Woodcock would be hanging in every dentist office some day. He was wrong on that account but Woodcock did have the honor of placing number nine on Richard Nixon's enemy list.

So the next time someone starts bashing unions, ask them two questions: a. Do you know who Leonard Woodcock is, and b. Do you enjoy dental benefits?

Once they answer, I am pretty sure you will know how to proceed.

Ninth's loss is California's gain

Earlier this week Goodwin Liu was installed as the State of California's newest member of the Supreme Court. Liu was previously nominated By President Obama for the U.S. Court of Appeals Ninth District but his name was withdrawn after several conservative Senators promised a fight.

Politics aside, Liu's nomination is interesting in that it will be the first time that a majority of the State Supreme Court seven justice's will be of Asian decent and Liu is the only Democratic appointment currently on the state's highest bench. Gray Davis did not make any appointments and the last Democratic Governor before Davis was - Jerry Brown.

In any case, it is good to see Liu appointed to the State Supreme Court. At only 40 years of age, one must guess that given time and a Democratic president sometime in the next 10 to 15 years, Liu's name will surely be on a short list for any vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Strange bedfellows, or perhaps not

Recently I read that the ACLU joined forces with member of the Tea Party to fight a local protest ordinance in Redding, Calif. that sought to limit Tea Party members right to assembly and speech.

While some may find this strange, it is actually consistent with the ACLU's mission of protecting free speech, privacy rights and right of assembly for any person or group.

The ACLU has famously filed an amicus brief in support of one of their numerous detractors - Rush Limbaugh - when the radio host was being threatened with seizure of his private medical records. They have also supported Neo Nazi's right to protest and a host of other issues that causes conservatives to normally cringe.

If nothing else can be said, the ACLU is consistent - they will defend free speech and rights of assembly no matter who the case involves. I just wonder if the Tea Party will remember this in the years to come?

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