A Blogger’s Revenge

Friday, May 18, AD 2012

Duane Lester, a blogger at the All American blog, posted a story a couple of weeks back detailing the results of an audit of Holt County, Missouri.  A small local paper in the county seat in Oregon, Missouri ran a story about the audit a few days later.  And not just any story – they ran Lester’s post, word for word and without attribution.

Lester decided to pursue the matter and wrote a letter arguing for his copyright claims, demanding $500 in payment.  Then Lester paid a visit to the newspaper’s editor, and caught it all on film.

Mr. Ripley’s demeanor suddenly changed once he realized that he was being filmed, and perhaps that’s the only reason he decided to eventually make the payment to Lester.  Of course Ripley would have wound up paying a lot more in court costs had he decided to defend his plagiarism, so it was probably the right financial move.

What astounds me are some of the reactions to the video.  There are people more upset that Lester videoed the confrontation than that Ripley blatantly plagiarized Lester.  Yeah Ripley “goofed,” they claim, but that Lester is a meanie by intimidating a small-town newspaper editor.

You see this sort of thing on blog comments all the time, particularly on Catholic blogs where certain commenters spend roughly 20 paragraphs droning on about charity in what is a thinly veiled, passive aggressive attempt to say “I am better than you.”  Justifying horrible behavior by focusing on the medium by which the behavior is exposed is almost as bad as the behavior itself.  As I said, I’m not sure Lester would have received justice had the camera not been rolling, though he perhaps would have received a black eye.  Maybe Ripley will now be more reticent about ripping off young bloggers in the future.

Kudos to Lester for standing up for his rights.

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15 Responses to A Blogger’s Revenge

  • What do you think of the amount he asked for and received, $500? Seems like a lot for one article, especially since I had not heard of the blogger before. Was that a fair amount to demand?

  • $500.00 won’t even pay an attorney for clearing his throat these days Spambot. It was a good settlement for both the newspaper and the blogger in order to avoid very expensive, and probably protracted, litigation in the local Federal district court.

  • Okay, thanks.

  • $500 was cheap, indeed. Lester is a charitable fellow, indeed, seeing as he could have become the owner of what was left of the paper.

  • This is hard to watch. It makes me have some questions.

    Am I to understand that the high cost of attorney’s and the potential cost or loss of his paper may have been deciding factors in agreeing to pay the $500? Did the written letter that he showed the man on the counter suggest that there would be legal action?

    Could it be that the editor was intimidated by the sudden appearance of a facile, taller, younger man followed by a camera, thrusting forth some documents and asking for payments?
    Maybe the editor just saw that he shouldn’t have reprinted the blog and that arguing that it was already “all over the internet” (in people’s emails?) would do him any good, Maybe cases like this should have been tried to define issues more clearly for people?

    I wouldn’t say the blogger was charitable. He was making a point and making the editor pay– all justifiable legally I think. (what we just witnessed not ex-tort; only a minor bit of intimidation, a subtle threat that the young man who doesn’t want to say where he is from, knows more and has a camera in tow.)

    But this might not be an example of taking the high road. He could have talked with the editor, asked that attribution be printed, that an apology made, that the paper run free advertisements for his blog– etc– but squeezing the guy in such a confrontational way does not seem the mark of a generous man. He could have been nicer about it. I doubt he would have received a black eye.

  • Guys it is not about whether one of them was intimidating or not it is about whether or not what those guys were wrong or right.

  • I am sorry, I was using bad grammer there was supposed to be a “doing was” in between “were” and “wrong”.

  • The world is so unjust. People take credit for other people’s works and advance from it. Some get caught and have to pay $500 while others become the Vice President or the United States.

  • True RL, but if you were Biden wouldn’t you steal the thoughts of other men due to a paucity of thoughts of Biden’s own? 🙂

  • I suppose so Don. Come to think of it, when you put it that way, Biden’s action is probably not even considered stealing as understood by the Catholic Church.

  • It is called intellectual property theft or plagiarism and Lester could have demanded what was left of the newspaper, if he so chose. $500.00 is a small amount.

  • Many years ago I worked for a small weekly paper not unlike this one. It was common practice for us to reprint items written or submitted by others, such as press releases from local schools, hospitals, etc. Occasionally we would also publish verbatim stories written by others. However, it was always done by AGREEMENT, or by first asking permission of the author and including his/her byline if the story was of a length comparable to this one.

    As small as our staff was it would have been impossible to write every story from scratch. But, to simply lift an entire article written by someone else, particularly concerning a controversial issue that was “the talk of the town,” AND not give them any credit would have been unthinkable. Being “a little hometown paper” is no excuse!

    It is possible that Mr. Ripley and his mother (the woman in the video) had seen the blog post at multiple sites or sources and didn’t have time to track down exactly where it came from before their deadline, which probably was about 2 or 3 days prior to the publication date. Or perhaps they mistook it for a press release of some kind. Either way, when Mr. Lester showed up, they knew or should have known immediately that he was right. But, both of them being stubborn old “Missouri mules,” didn’t want to admit it! Perhaps they were having a really bad day or something but if their demeanor in the video is any indication of their general attitude toward the public, I would not want to work for them, ever!

    Also, $500 was more than I would have asked but ultimately not out of line. I currently write theater and concert reviews and short (under 1,000 words) feature stories for a local daily paper on a freelance/stringer basis, and generally receive $50 to $100 per article depending on length and format. And these are for articles that, for me, are very easy to do in my spare time and don’t involve a lot of research. An article comparable to Mr. Lester’s, that involves doing investigative legwork, should be worth more. Granted, a small weekly can’t normally afford to pay those kind of rates, but Mr. Lester was demanding additional compensation for having had his work plagiarized. If Mr. Ripley had called him first and asked permission to reprint the article with his byline, Mr. Lester probably would have asked a far lower price or just let him have it for free.

  • Here is a link to the statutory section governing damages in copyright infringement cases:

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/504

    The Court in its discretion may order that the Defendant pick up the tab for the Plaintiff’s attorney’s fee if the Plaintiff prevails. Likewise the Court may order in its discretion that the Plaintiff pick up the tab for the Defendant’s attorney’s fee if the Defendant prevails. The $500.00 settlement was a very good deal for the newspaper and I do think the blogger was being generous for accepting it after making his point.

    There is a lesson for all of us in this. Full attribution of all quoted material, and links to whoever is quoted, and keep those quotes relatively short to come under the “fair use” rubric. Additionally, if you are ever requested to take down quoted material from your blog do so immediately.

  • Donald McClarey’s informative piece is very much appreciated, if I might add enjoyed.

Cross & Eagle Award for Most Improved Blog

Tuesday, August 23, AD 2011

The Cross & Eagle Awards (C&EA) will be recognizing another legend and this particular blogger is in the field of apologetics.

This defensor fidei travels the country evangelizing both Catholics and non-Catholics alike, educating in the Catholic faith, and defending the eternal Truths.

In my estimation, he probably created his blog with minimal thought, not knowing what a tremendous tool it could be to evangelize.

Imagine not having to travel to another parish hall or hotel to do another presentation in person.  Not that he has stopped doing this, it’s that he can now reach a wider audience.

Unfortunately his blog wasn’t one of the best out there.

This all changed recently.

He changed the layout, improved the graphics by leaps and bounds, and made it much more interactive.  Yes, he improved the look of his blog overall.

Who is this mustachioed Catholic?

I am happy to present the 2011 Cross & Eagle Award for the Most Improved Blog in the Catholic Blogosphere to. . .

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Cross & Eagle Award for Most Prolific Blogger

Monday, August 22, AD 2011

The Cross & Eagle Awards (C&EA) will be honoring a true legend in Catholic Blogosphere history.

To qualify even for consideration you need not only be talented in writing and knowledgeable about our Catholic faith, you need to write often.  That is the kicker.

Many a Catholic blogger has stopped blogging due to an increase in the family unit, new job, blogging fatigue, carpal tunnel affliction, and even death.  And that’s just a short list.

This particular blogger didn’t allow a growing family nor inclement weather stop him.  Not even a beard that has gotten out of control has slowed down this convert.

Being a warrior for Christ, he is horizontally integrated in various forms of media battling heresy and anti-Catholicism in it’s many forms as well as educating the faithful and non-Catholic in our rich and long Catholic Tradition.

Even when his template was no longer supported or his antiquated version of blogger, he stayed the course, WordPress be damned!

Don’t know who this character of the Wild, Wild Web is?

Here is only a sample of the many publications he writes for online:

Crisis Magazine, National Catholic Register, Catholic Exchange, Inside Catholic, and a whole lot more.

I am happy to present the 2011 Cross & Eagle Award for the Most Prolific Blogger in the Catholic Blogosphere to. . .

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5 Responses to Cross & Eagle Award for Most Prolific Blogger

VirtuousPla.net, The Social Network for Young Adult Catholics

Monday, August 22, AD 2011

I’d like to announce a new Catholic website targeted for Young Adults:

VirtuousPla.net will be providing Catholic perspectives on every topic that matters to young adults–life, religion, relationships, and fun.

We have gathered 30 of some of the brightest young adult Catholics in the world that are already providing insightful articles ranging from current events to poetry.

Please click on the pic above or click here to see what it’s all about!

 

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One Response to VirtuousPla.net, The Social Network for Young Adult Catholics

Interview On the Radio Today at 5pm Eastern

Wednesday, June 8, AD 2011

I will be interviewed on the radio today at 5pm (Eastern) on the In His Sign Network radio station.  They are a lay Catholic radio apostolate located in Rosemont, PA.  They broadcast daily live from 5 to 6pm (Eastern) WTMR-800 AM and on the Internet at www.inhissign.com.

The interview will be about The American Catholic and the other Catholic websites that I operate as well as my work on the National Catholic Register.

This is my first interview and it is an already humbling experience.  Pray for me that I won’t make a fool of myself!

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3 Responses to Interview On the Radio Today at 5pm Eastern

ThePulp.it EXTRA: WEDNESDAY

Wednesday, April 27, AD 2011

ThePulp.it EXTRA is the title of a new series of posts that I will be contributing for The American Catholic .  It’s an idea first thought of by fellow blogger John Henry a few years back.  I’ll be posting some of the best that the Catholic Blogosphere has to offer every so often to highlight some great posts around Saint Blog’s.

I hope you enjoy it!

Pat McNamara is Catholic Because of History – Frank Weathers, YIMC

Making Sense of the Resurrection Discrepancies? – Msgr. Charles Pope

Women’s Head Coverings at Mass: I Told You So – Jimmy Akin

Use of Force to Defend a Church from Vandalism – Fr. Z

Easter in a Time of Scandal – Mark P. Shea, InsideCatholic

Fatima in Seven Easy Points – Taylor Marshall, Canterbury Tales

A Case for Hell – Ross Douthat, The New York Times

Ordinariate Comes to Life in Holy Week – Anna Arco & Simon Caldwell

Easter Sunday: Satanic Desecration at Georgia Church -S. Brinkmann

“He Descended to the Dead,” Easter Surprise – Sandro Magister, Chiesa

Anti-Christian Vandalism at PA Univ. during Holy Week – Lisa Graas

If you like this feature and want a regular update twice a day, head on over to ThePulp.it to get the best round-up of posts twice a day in Catholic blogging!

For ThePulp.it click here.

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4 Responses to The Civil War in 4 Minutes

Just Desserts

Saturday, September 26, AD 2009

I’m not normally the guy putting up political YouTube videos, but this was just too funny to pass up. Ill. rep Baron Hill talks down to a journalism major about why she’s not allowed to record video during his town hall: because videos invariably end up showing compromising moments on YouTube. And now here he is, hectoring the girl, on YouTube.

Lesson: For politicians, life is like the Internet. If you do something stupid, it will always be there for everyone to see.

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26 Responses to Just Desserts

  • “Lesson: For politicians, life is like the internet. If you do something stupid, it will always be there for everyone to see.”

    Amazing how many of them still don’t realize that. The internet has changed everything about politics and so many practitioners are showing they have a very steep learning curve.

  • Desserts, Indiana.

    Agreement on … well, not stupidity, but errors.

    That said, I think it’s … unwise to suppose one’s public meetings won’t be broadcast on the internet. Somewhere. Eventually politicians will get the message, and they will be inclined to more circumspection in their public appearances. And that will be good, right?

  • It seems to me that the Congressman was in the right here. You don’t have the right to film a Congressman’s townhall if he doesn’t want you to. The fact that a video ended up on YouTube seems less a matter of just deserts than of vindication.

  • “You don’t have the right to film a Congressman’s townhall if he doesn’t want you to.”

    Why not? He is an elected official meeting with constituents. I doubt that there is any law giving him the right to unilaterally stop video taping of a public meeting. Even if he did have the right, he was a complete idiot for exercising it, especially in a district where, except for 2008, his victory totals have been unimpressive and he lost his seat for two years in 2004.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baron_Hill

    His perennial opponent Mike Sodrel, who beat Hill in 2004, is hinting that he might run against him in 2010.

    http://hoosierpundit.blogspot.com/search/label/Mike%20Sodrel

  • If he does not want compromising moments, then he simply should not create any.

  • I agree with Blackadder here; this is not to say I think he is wise to say “don’t film,” because that will encourage it. On the other hand, I understand why he says it — it is very easy to take such film out of context.

  • The least interesting question here is whether the Congressman has a legal right to bar videotaping of a town hall meeting that he convenes. People have the “right” to do all kinds of stupid, immoral, and wrongheaded things. A congressman who convenes a public meeting of his constituents with the stipulation that it may not be recorded is making a foolish decision at several levels, but the most important level is that he will be understood as behaving like a potentate rather than a servant.

  • “The least interesting question here is whether the Congressman has a legal right to bar videotaping of a town hall meeting that he convenes.”

    The fixation, in part, on rights. What about common courtesy? If a person hosts an event and asks people not to do something … take video, get drunk, spit tobacco juice on the carpet … what does it say when people do not heed a request? Even a servant can ask, “Please extend your leg further so I can shine your shoe.”

  • “What about common courtesy?”

    Mr. Hill was showing zero courtesy, common or otherwise. Townhalls used to be photo-ops for members of Congress. I guess Hill didn’t get the memo that times have changed quickly. Elected officials had better get used to being video taped by constitutents. That genie is never going back in the bottle.

  • Well, Donald, I didn’t watch DC’s video. I have no reason to doubt the congressman may have acted a bit like a rump if you say he did.

    The question then shifts: does it make a difference, then, if a potential YouTube target says please and thank you? Or if somebody demands you take your crappy boots off at the door, does that give you license to track mud where you please?

  • I do think that the journalism major shows herself quite a child of the moment with her phrasing “isn’t that my right?” I don’t see that video taping a townhall is any kind of a right.

    What does strike me as amusing here is that the girl asks a question very politely, having clearly obeyed the request to not use her video camera.

    The congressman then proceeds to put her in her place pretty rudely, explaining that it’s his townhall and no one can tell him how to run it — all the while being caught on video by someone else in the room (from the quality, I’d guess it’s someone using a cell phone to record the video). If the congressman had seen fit to explain his position politely, there would have been no YouTube moment, but instead he takes the assumed safety of there being no video cameras to give a college student the “I’m way better than you” treatment, and ends up as a YouTube sensation.

    I do think that it has to do with the importance of politeness, but the politeness of the congressman is the problem here. If he’d remained polite despite his assumption there were no cameras running, there would have been no YouTube notoriety despite someone disobeying his rules.

  • This wasn’t a private home Todd or a private meeting for invited guests only. This was a public meeting held by a Congressman and anyone, by definition, could attend. Video taping such a meeting is commonly done by members of Congress for campaign commercials to show how in touch they are with their constituents. Now members of the public are doing precisely the same thing and some of the members of Congress are foolish enough to say publicly that they think is terribly unfair. This is not about manners, but rather a testament to just how totally out of touch some members of Congress are.

  • I would disagree that the Congressman’s response was rude (he gets a little snippy towards the end, after he’s already been booed). In fact, if his response is considered rude, it’s hard for me to imagine how he could have explained his position without coming across as rude. Maybe if he’d said “I paid for this microphone” people would be applauding him. But I doubt it.

    As for the question of whether he could prohibit people from videotaping, come on. Suppose I had stood up at the townhall and started playing a violin. Presumably I would be asked to stop or leave. By whom? By the same people who told the young lady to stop recording. Why? Because they set up the townhall, and have the authority to set the conditions under which it is held.

  • Apples and Oranges BA. Your playing a violin would serve no useful purpose, while video taping a townhall does, and that is why Hill didn’t want it done. He realizes the political climate and he doesn’t want a video to add to his electoral difficulties. Ironically his futile attempt to stop video taping has added a great deal to his 2010 problem as the ad writes itself.

    A townhall is specifically set up for a Congress member to hear from his constituents. Some of Hill’s attendees want to video tape the process. Hill had a choice and he made the decision to attempt to enforce a self made rule against video taping which is clearly unenforceable due to modern technology. He now looks foolish on YouTube. Good. May his discomfiture be a lesson to other politicians who do not yet realize that they no longer control this process of public meetings alone.

  • “This wasn’t a private home …”

    What is it with the legalese of rights, privacy, et cetera? Isn’t “privacy” the mantra of the pro-choice effort? Are you sure you want to associate your argument with it?

    There are technical reasons why amateur video capture isn’t always a great idea. I for one feel frustrated when the questions from the floor aren’t properly mic’ed and equalized, like the main speaker usually is.

    And sure, a Fox-style editing of comments is well within the technical capability of many videographers. The ad, by the way, doesn’t write itself. It will need some editing, which I’m sure will be provided.

    So I went ahead and watched the video. I withdraw my assumption Donald was right. He was quite wrong. The representative stated his policy firmly but politely and was booed before he finished his statement. He reacted to it by stating his policy in a more stern tone of voice. Not what I would have done, but it wasn’t a butthead expression like his detractors. He didn’t seem at all discomfited to me.

    Not seeing what came before this exchange, it’s hard to tell if the boo-birds were just being boorish because they had a bad day or if the previous minutes weren’t going well for them.

    Like most anything else, context means quite a bit. I think Rep Hill was within bounds to request the meeting not be taped. The one who did tape it showed her or his colors by continuing to do so.

  • “The one who did tape it showed her or his colors by continuing to do so.”

    Yep. An American who understands that elected representatives are public servants and not lords of the manor. Last I checked the YouTube video has had 170,000 views and over 1000 comments, almost all of them scathingly against Hill. I do encourage all Democrat members of Congress to adopt the same policy, and attitude, of Hill at townhall meetings, and I also encourage all members of the audience to treat all such policies against video taping at a public meeting with the complete disdain they merit.

  • The decorous Baron Hill calling opponents of ObamaCare at townhall meetings political terrorists. No wonder he doesn’t want some of his rantings video taped!

    http://hoosierpundit.blogspot.com/2009/08/baron-hill-repeats-political-terrorists.html

  • I found it most interesting when he went beyond “This is MY townhall meeting” to “You’re not gonna tell me how to run my congressional office.” Tell me Mr. Hill, what exactly do constituents do in your world?

  • “What is it with the legalese of rights, privacy, et cetera? Isn’t “privacy” the mantra of the pro-choice effort? Are you sure you want to associate your argument with it?”

    Right, because not wanting to be filmed in your own home and wanting to murder a child in private are just soooo similar.

    Is this a desperate times call for desperate measures sort of argument, or are you trying to keep us all entertained?

  • While the legality of it may be in question in the current milieu, a appeal to the principal of it:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    If those words were not written to allow the accurate documentation of the public words and actions of an elected official for the purpose of disseminating it for those not present… the I have no clue as to why it would be inserted in such a place between freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble.

    This act was clearly an attempt to control the press.

  • “Last I checked the YouTube video has had 170,000 views and over 1000 comments, almost all of them scathingly against Hill.”

    Well, Donald, you’re already batting .350 on this comment thread. At that rate, you’d have posted almost thirty dozen times on YouTube.

    “Is this a desperate times call for desperate measures sort of argument, or are you trying to keep us all entertained?”

    Well I’m not part of your echo chamber, if that’s what you mean. It’s a good thing for the GOP that in the US, unlike in parliamentary democracies, you can’t sink lower than second place on the political totem pole. At least nobody has in nearly a century.

    “This act was clearly an attempt to control the press.”

    Right. Everybody with a cell phone and an internet connection is a member of the press. I’d stick with “peaceable assembly” instead.

    Take the last word, Donald. Three-fifty is worth another plate appearance … or seven.

  • “It’s a good thing for the GOP that in the US, unlike in parliamentary democracies, you can’t sink lower than second place on the political totem pole.”

    Todd, there is a political wave building that will relegate the Democrat party to that position. All the signs are there for a wipeout of the Democrat majority in the House next year and I assume you must not pay much attention to the internal mechanics of politics or you would not make such a silly comment. The best political prognosticator in the business is Charlie Cook and this is what he wrote earlier this month:

    “Clearly, the Obama administration was mindful that in the Clinton era Democratic majorities in Congress spurned the White House’s fully formed proposals. But in trying to avoid a repetition of President Clinton’s mistakes, Obama opened the door to charges that he was outsourcing domestic policy to Democrats on Capitol Hill.

    Even in the best of times, Congress is unpopular. And now voters see Obama as having sent suggestions rather than proposals to the Hill, staking his future and reputation on a body that they hold in low regard. (On foreign-policy matters, where Congress plays a small role, Obama’s job-approval ratings remain quite good. It’s on the domestic side that his numbers are dismal.)

    “With 14 months to go before the 2010 midterm election, something could happen to improve the outlook for Democrats. However, wave elections, more often than not, start just like this: The president’s ratings plummet; his party loses its advantage on the generic congressional ballot test; the intensity of opposition-party voters skyrockets; his own party’s voters become complacent or even depressed; and independent voters move lopsidedly away. These were the early-warning signs of past wave elections. Seeing them now should terrify Democrats.”

    http://www.cookpolitical.com/node/4828

  • I wonder how Hill would have reacted to audience members making audio recordings of the meeting? Or jotting notes of what was said. While any sort of recording can be used by an opponent against you, it can also be used as verification in your favor if somebody accuses you of an outrageous remark. It’s easier to misstate when taking written notes than when you have a backup recording.

    Hill, and other elected reps, should suck it up and get into the habit of practicing their manners and making sure they know what they’re talking about to minimize the likelihood that they will be filmed looking bad. It beats having your words misquoted and used against you.

  • Pingback: Privacy and Circumspection in the Age of Blog « Catholic Sensibility
  • First of all, it is silly to predict the impending demise of one political party from the dumbest thing that one of its hundreds of members of Congress did. If that ever happened, we’d have no political parties at all. There is always a Republican or a Democrat doing something utterly stupid.

    And this is one of them. As a Democrat and a strong supporter of health care reform, I thank the heavens that town halls WERE videotaped so we can see certain elements of the opposition in all their ugliness. They not only won over no converts, but they gave us priceless moments such as the guy screaming at his Congressperson to keep the government’s hands off Medicare.

    But on the other hand, just exactly how far did this attempted ban on recording go? Were TV stations not allowed to videotape? Were print reporters not allowed to use audio recorders? And if you can’t ban all, then how on earth can you try to ban some?

    What next? Granting access to your public “town halls” only to those pre-selected members of the public you like? How George Bush can you get?

  • According to Rasmussen ObamaCare now is at its lowest ebb: 56% oppose-41% in favor.

    http://hotair.com/archives/2009/09/28/rasmussen-obamacare-falls-to-lowest-level-of-support/

    In regard to Medicare, in order to pay for ObamaCare there are substantial cuts planned in Medicare.

    “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proclaimed her support for this cost-cutting agenda on Thursday. “Half the bill will be paid for by squeezing excesses out of the [Medicare and Medicaid] system,” she said, “and there is $500 billion dollars to do that and we’re looking for more. That can be achieved—waste, fraud, redundancy, obsolescence, whatever it is.”

    http://www.wsws.org/articles/2009/sep2009/heal-s12.shtml

    The gentleman yelling at his Congresscritter about Medicare has every right to be concerned.