August 24th, 2009
08:13 AM ET

Dear President Obama #217: A deep south mystery

Reporter's Note: President Obama remains on vacation. I remain dedicated to keeping him abreast of events beyond the beach, so I continue with my daily letters.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/05/12/prisoner.photos/art.1700.obama.cnn.jpg]

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

I would like to say you chose an excellent time to get away from DC, since the rain pounded a fair portion of the weekend; a sure harbinger of autumn in my book. I don’t mind. Autumn is one of my favorite seasons, and by late August summer can sometimes seem so smug about itself I’m happy to see it go. But I suppose the weather is no better where you are, considering that you remained on the east coast which, as I understand, is being affected top to bottom by the outer bands of Hurricane Bill. (Not much of a hurricane name, btw; seems altogether too tame. “Hey, Sue! How are you? Who is your friend?” “Oh, hi Stan. This is Bill. Bill Hurricane.”

Anyway, I hope you took along some good books. A lot of people like reading mysteries on summer vaca, and just in case you did not bring one along (and in keeping with my notion of not bothering you about business back home while you’re trying to take it easy) I wanted to tell you a little true mystery story I heard just a few days ago.

My mother called from Alabama to talk to me about her pear tree. I believe I have told you that she lives very far out in the country, down a little traveled road and a less traveled driveway. She has a simple ranch style house with flowers growing around, and halfway between her bedroom window and the woods, stands a pear tree. The pears are not particularly good. They are large and green, with dusty brown spots, and tend to be too hard to eat right up until they are too mushy to enjoy. But if they are picked at precisely the right time, they can be cooked with sugar into tasty pear pies or pear preserves.

And they are plentiful. Late each summer, pears fill the tree so thoroughly, swelling and ripening overnight, that the branches creak to the ground beneath the weight. Some limbs occasionally snap in dramatic protest, which used to bring my father, before he passed away, out with a saw and tractor to cut off the collapsed appendage and haul it into the woods.

My mother says this year the tree was as full as she had ever seen it before, with hundreds, perhaps even thousands of pears dragging it to the earth. She had no idea what to do with so many, but she had set her mind on making at least a couple of pies for a grandson who was coming by, and she’d invited a neighbor to come down and pick as many as she wanted.

But when the appointed morning came, and my mother and her friend walked out through the heat to the tree, they were astonished to find it was nearly empty. Branch after branch, which the day before had groaned under bushels of pears, stretched skyward utterly stripped bare…not only of pears, but also in some areas, of leaves too. No sign of footprints on the ground. No branches cracked. No headlights of a visiting car in the night.

So, here is a natural beach mystery for you: What do you think happened? (I know, I know, it’s not exactly Agatha Christie, but it was a pretty good tale as she told it to me, and it beats talking about health care reform again.) Think it over, and call if you’d like to review the evidence. But don’t ask for more clues, and don’t have Biden call to try to weasel some out of me! I’m on to his tricks. You’ve got 24 hours, before I’ll post the answer.



Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Kimberly Gibson

    Dear Mr. President,

    Who is funding your Czar salaries and why do they not need to be "confirmed" by our elected officials? Why are convicted felons allowed to serve as your Czar?

    August 25, 2009 at 9:23 am |
  2. Marlin of Texas

    Okay Mr.Cooper I would like to see a No-Holds-Bared debate between Bill O Reilly and Keith Olbermann on your show. It could be bigger than the a Presidental Debate.Extreme right vs.extreme left with CNN in the middle.If the media can find common ground, it could inspire our leaders to do the same.

    August 24, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  3. Khalid

    Dear Mr President

    Did you asked your advisers in the issue of swine flu vaccine:

    1) What is the mortality rate of the vaccine?

    2) How many people will die if 1 million people vaccinated?

    3) Do they really know, or they are estimating?

    4) Will you trust their answer, if they tell you it is Zero death rate?

    5) Will you ask them if will vaccine flu can trigger Guillain-Barre
    disease, and will some people will die from it?

    6) Are you willing to face the nation, and tell them the truth, of how
    many people will die, and it is worth scarifying them?

    August 24, 2009 at 2:36 pm |
  4. Chrissy

    I'm very sorry that the insurance company is screwing you so hard Victoria! I have government insurance because I work for the government. I only pay $150 a month for my entire family, and I only have a $700/yr. deductible. And on top of that, I have a pre-existing condition! Our premiums go into a pool and are distributed amongst us without having to pay a corporate profit. I wish that everyone could enjoy this benefit. But the insurance companies are spreading lies and misinformation to protect their profits. If insurance was non-profit, then most everyone could afford it.

    August 24, 2009 at 1:36 pm |
  5. David, Indiana

    @Klm I'll buy a jar of those pear perseves before they sell out.

    August 24, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  6. David, Indiana

    They all paired off and left?

    August 24, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  7. KIm

    They placed a net around the base of the tree and did a shake down or bought a long extending fruit picker. Bees in your Sangria ? Homemade Pear perserves on a slice of toast in the morning with coffee....nothing better ! Jars selling out like health care !

    August 24, 2009 at 11:07 am |
  8. BettyAnn Nacogdoches,TX

    Deer and raccoons or some other critters?

    August 24, 2009 at 10:54 am |
  9. Lori

    Did the wind knock the fruit out of the tree?

    August 24, 2009 at 10:38 am |
  10. KIm

    Laughter is the shock absorber of life ! Someone sneaked and picked those pears and they're not telling yet. You're not going to see foot print steps on the ground to a pear tree. Birds at night in flight with robbers stealing pears. The friend walks to the tree in review of your mom's reaction as she fools around involved in the pear tree trick. Where are the pies and pear perserves ! Selling the jars in Washington ?

    August 24, 2009 at 10:30 am |
  11. Lori


    August 24, 2009 at 10:26 am |
  12. Linda Dupler

    George W. Bush as Governor of Texas in 1999 signed legislation being used to deny lifesaving treatment against family wishes. Here is the effect of the Texas law then-Governor Bush signed.
    Here are the facts:
    - In August 1996 the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article describing procedures in effect in Houston hospitals. Under these procedures, if a doctor wishes to deny a patient lifesaving medical treatment and the patient or the patient's surrogate instead steadfastly expresses a desire for life, the doctor would submit the case to the hospital ethics committee. The patient or surrogate would be given 72 hours notice of the committee meeting would be allowed to plead for the patient's life at it. During that short 72 hour period, the patient or surrogate, while preparing to argue for life, could also try to find another health care provider willing to give the lifesaving treatment, food or fluids.
    If the ethics committee decided for death, under these procedures there was no appeal. There was no provision that the food, fluids, or lifesaving treatment be provided after the decision while the patient or family tried to find another hospital willing to keep the patient alive.
    So under these procedures, the hospitals in Houston are denying life-saving treatment, food and fluids against the wishes of patients and their families, when the hospital ethics committees says their quality of life is too poor. Patients and families are given only 72 hours after being notified of the proposed denial to find another health care provider.
    – In 1997 then-Governor Bush vetoed an advance directives bill precisely BECAUSE it would have given specific legal sanction to such involuntary denial of life-saving treatment. An effort in the Texas legislature to amend the bill to require treatment pending transfer to a health care provider willing to provide the life-saving treatment had been defeated.
    – With no legal protection AT ALL under Texas law, and ongoing programs in Texas hospitals denying treatment with virtually no opportunity even to seek transfer, pro-life groups entered into negotiations with medical groups that finally resulted in a bill that:
    1) formalized more protections for in-hospital review
    2) gave patients 10 days of treatment while seeking transfer (that is if they can find a TX hospital that will treat and their insurance will pay).
    3) authorized court proceedings to extend the 10 days for reasonable additional periods to accomplish transfer.
    This was far from ideal, but represented an important advance over the existing situation of no legal requirement of treatment pending transfer. The votes were not there in the Texas legislature to accomplish a more protective bill. Pro-life groups therefore supported the legislation as an imperfect but real improvement over the existing law, and Governor Bush signed it.

    August 24, 2009 at 10:13 am |
  13. Mary M

    small tornado . . naw, must be a guy on stiletto stilts with a good throwing arm & pick up truck w/empty bed parked on the road.

    August 24, 2009 at 9:52 am |
  14. Robin

    Hi Tom,

    My family had the pleasure of meeting you at Union Station in DC this summer. We were on vacation from Texas and you were kind enough to stop and visit with us in the food court. You offered us some great advice about enjoying the July 4th fireworks and encouraged us to enjoy the day rather than spend it on the mall waiting for the big show. That is exactly what we did and we had a terrific time!

    Meeting you was one of our vacation highlights. We appreciated you being so kind and taking time to make us feel welcome! God bless you.

    August 24, 2009 at 9:35 am |
  15. Victoria

    Just last Thursday I received letter, followed by a phone call from my health care Provider, who informed me that my monthly premium went up from $262.00 to $397.00...I already have a $5000 deductible and reduced health options to cathastrophic limits. To keep my premium at $262.00 I had to increase my deductible to $10k and my co-pay to $10k...I have no pre-existing conditions or did not file a claim during the 12 month term. I do not take any medications.
    It looks like the Health Care Company was pulling a Credit Card scheme of cranking up their premiums while they have a chance

    August 24, 2009 at 9:17 am |