Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Drugs for Oil? We Need a New Slogan

The big pharma/medical insurance-for-profit conglomerate must feel like it’s Christmas in November. Once again mainstream media is obsessed with reporting the big bad news of the Iraq dilemma, in all its labyrinthine details, at the expense of almost totally ignoring the latest news about the debacle of the Bush-touted Medicare Part D inadequacies.

Part D was supposed to be the big bail-out for seniors to reduce the huge and escalating cost of prescription drugs. The “plan” is so full of catch-22’s and small-print problems that it was incomprehensible to many older folks (and regular middle-aged citizens as well) so that they didn’t sign up for it. Of the eligible 40 million seniors who were expected to buy their Part D card and utilize the discounts, 10 million elderly people did nothing. They didn’t understand it--didn’t want to pay for the card; or didn’t like the “doughnut hole” of missing benefits after the initial purchases of needed drugs.

The newly democratic-controlled congress has a better idea, led by Kucinich and Conyers (HR 676--the Conyers/Kucinich bill.), but the republicans are claiming there’s no need to reform the system which is coming in under budget:

"Republicans would have you believe that the drug and insurance companies have sacrificed profits in the name of competition, but nothing could be further from the truth," said Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif. "In fact, the dirty little secret is that costs are lower because of low enrollment and a slowdown in drug spending."

After Congress created the drug benefit in 2003, Medicare officials estimated that 39 million people would enroll or get their coverage through employers who receive a tax credit for providing a benefit. But the actual number turned out to be nearly 10 million less. AP 11/29/06

Kucinich takes a rational turn in an interview on Huffington Post:

There are 75 members of Congress signed on in support of the bill. We recognize that there are 46 million Americans who don't have health insurance, and there are another 50 million Americans who are under-insured; that the cost of healthcare has gone out of the reach of a large number of Americans, and so there's only one real solution, and that is to make healthcare not-for-profit. I mean healthcare should be established as a basic right in a democratic society. Every industrialized democracy has healthcare for its people.

Americans just don’t see the connection to their own situations, and the media has lost the thrust of invigorating the issues that affect Americans—this is the gist of Gore Vidal’s remarks in an interview with Tavis Smiley on PBS last night. Vidal said that Bush was able to attack and occupy Iraq because the electorate let him, and the fourth estate didn’t hassle him about it. I see the point, but I don’t get how millions of seniors, whose lives depend on accessing certain prescription drugs every month, are willing to stand by while the drug and insurance lobbies convince the legislators, who make the rules, to let these high costs remain in place.

Actually, I do get it—I was taught to question authority, and to take nothing for granted, as a way of getting closer to the truth. The generation before me was taught to take everything on its face as a matter of trust and acceptance with a benign protective government which got them out of the depression and saved their way of life, by winning WWII. The generation in charge now, sees the world as dog-eat-dog, get your share before someone else does. Any means to an end is encouraged, and that end is to nurture and protect the immediate family. The larger human family?—that’s not part of the scenario. As Vidal explains, the electorate needs to be educated in order to pose the questions, and demand answers, for its needs. The electorate needs to know more about the society as a whole, not just the travails of the neighborhood association. That education is the missing link. It helps to know what you really need.

There is no ready solution to the quagmire of politics and special interests mixed with life necessities and killing and bloodshed. Just as there is no easy answer to the nightmare our leadership has caused by invading Iraq. Since the voters repudiated the Bush policies in the last election, don’t they want changes, and adjustments, to those policies, with a high priority placed on lower prices for drugs, and medical care, for seniors, and for everyone, along with getting out of Iraq, of course? Isn’t that what we all really need?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thank the Troops

On Thanksgiving it is appropriate to remember the US military men and women who are serving overseas and not with their families.

There are approximately 253,000 troops stationed in 135 countries, roughly 17% of the entire military force, not including Iraq, which has roughly 150,000 US troops in occupation.

Germany has the most US military with 70,000. This is followed by Japan with 35,000, South Korea 33,000 and so on.

Regardless of the unfortunate presence of so many American soldiers in Iraq, the US military deployed worldwide represents a certain security for us at home that can allow us to have Thanksgiving dinners with our families free of fear. So thank you to our troops, and our hopes that they return home for good soon.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

2006 Midterm Election Reflux

We really did gut the country. The might and industry, the best and worst of our manpower, and the greatest technology and power in the world--we invaded Iraq, we occupied the country at a cost of billions of dollars, and several hundred thousand human lives lost. "What you mean 'We,' kimmosabe?" as the old joke goes when the Lone Ranger tells Tonto "We're surrounded by Indians." It wasn't "we." It was Bush, and Rumsfeld, and Rice and Wolfowitz, and the evil Penguin, Cheney.

No--as Pogo said, "We met the enemy, and he is us." Voters, citizens, Americans, neighbors, friends, family--we were AFRAID. We saw the 9/11 atrocities on our TV's and we heard "Fight them over there before they come here to fight us." And "we" was wrong. George W. got the free pass and he went to work with his cronies fulfilling some warped dream of beachhead in the Middle East or revenge for Daddy Bush's mission "un" accomplished or whatever. I always thought it was an oil family's subconscious dream-come-true: overlord of the richest fossil fuel deposits in the world. See grandpa Prescott--we're still rich!

But I underestimated the conglomerate American mind to see through this dictatorial BS and overcome the mounting stonewall of George W "I don't care if only Laura and my dog back me--it's full speed ahead..." down the drainhole of Iraq.

I say underestimate, because tonight, as the results of the midterm election pour in, it is clear that the change of heart from incumbent Republican business-as-usual, to let's give change and the democrats a shot, is a real referendum on the policy of Iraq occupation, as well as foreign policy in general by this thought-bankrupt presidential administration.

How do I know this? Because Americans are very interested, concerned, in fact obsessed, with their well-being, and reports of the economy reflect that well-being. Reports show the economy is in good shape right now--why wouldn't Americans want to maintain the status quo and not shake the boat under these happy circumstances, and why would they want to replace incumbent republican representatives with democrats, when their well-being seems to be in good hands? Evidently, Americans don't like hearing bad news every day--they don't like seeing their tax money going into a wasteful venture; they don't like seeing people dying on the news every day. That's how the Vietnam war ended--Americans had enough.

Today, the voters sent the same message to the politicians--they've had enough. They didn't vote out of fear, but out of frustration. It's a very clear message. Bush may not get it, nor may any of his cadre. It would be good if he did see a little of the light--any work toward a common goal with a common purpose will attain greater results than trying to blindly run a course alone.

I had the opportunity to speak with Steve Young tonight at his campaign celebration in Irvine. As noted here, he is the democratic candidate for congress in the heavily-republican 48th distract of California where I reside. I congratulated him on his positive message of non-partisan constructive work toward common goals. That's the element missing in politics about which the voters are sending the message around the country.

Make no mistake about it--either way, whether Bush decides to compromise and cooperate, or continue the intraction and stonewalling--the people have spoken through the sacred ballot, non-violently, and with a true voice. The angels can hear it--maybe they will send the word to the White House.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Defective Children Get SIDS or, If My Grandmother Had Wings She Could Fly!

An abnormality in part of the brain that controls breathing, arousal and other reflexes may be what causes Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, a finding that could lead to a preventive treatment, a study said on Tuesday.

A decade and a half ago, while researching medical extracts (no internet “way back” then), my wife concluded that the same problem of “hydro encephalopathy,” or "water swelling" of cells, seen in rubella infection in fetuses, was what was causing the brain damage from toxins in the rubella vaccine. Even though an MRI didn’t show this “swelling,” Cindy doggedly determined it was happening on a “microscopic” level, because the result was so obvious to her.

In the ensuing years of medical studies, arguments, and counter-arguments, the most sophisticated research by Dr. Andrew Wakefield and others has shown a connection between a lack of absorption of nutrients and the poor development of the myelin sheath, and the onset of all sorts of auto-immune dysfunctions in the developing child from ADHD and dyslexia to asthma and autism. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, is now falling under this brain-development scenario, but the researchers are not making the ultimate connection to vaccines as the culprit.

Why is there this unwillingness to look at the obvious? In Japan, where vaccines are not routinely given to children under age 2, there is virtually no SIDS. In the US, where mega doses of vaccines are starting to be jabbed into infants from the moment of birth, SIDS is a scary threat in young lives.
Meantime, back at the reality of mainstream America medicine, with insurance conglomerates and big pharma reigning over public health, the SIDS study concludes that indeed, some children are born defective, which seems to go against nature, evolution, and logic:

"These findings provide evidence that SIDS is not a mystery but a disorder that we can investigate with scientific methods, and some day, may be able to identify and treat," said Dr. Hannah Kinney of the Boston hospital, an author of the paper. --MSNBC

Another recent study which has gotten little publicity, despite its publication in the British Journal of Medicine, is also annoying in its conclusion of the inordinately evident—that the flu vaccine doesn’t work at all:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- An independent analysis by the internationally renowned Cochrane Collaboration of worldwide influenza vaccine studies, published in the British Medical Journal on Oct. 28, concluded there is little scientific proof that inactivated influenza vaccine is safe and effective for children and adults. Citing the Cochrane Collaboration finding as well as methodological flaws in a child influenza vaccine study published Oct. 25 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the National Vaccine Information Center is calling on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to stop recommending annual flu shots for all infants and children until methodologically sound studies are conducted.

"There is a big gap between policies promoting annual influenza vaccinations for most children and adults and supporting scientific evidence," said epidemiologist Tom Jefferson, Cochrane Vaccines Field, Rome, Italy, who coordinated the comprehensive analysis for the prestigious Cochrane Collaboration. "Given the significant resources involved in annual mass influenza campaigns, there is urgent need for re- evaluation of these strategies."

I couldn’t get to my Prego Italian Pasta sauce at Costco yesterday because the line for flu shots was so long it was blocking the area. I look forward to a day when my fellow citizens will take a moment to reflect on just what ingredients go into any vaccine—the toxin that causes the disease. The illogic of this 200-plus year old system really working without wreaking havoc on the human blood and immune system is apparent to me, and probably more physicians than would like to publicly admit. I hope you get the drift as well.