Sunday, March 30, 2008

Obama - Clinton Ticket or How I Changed my Mind

At the beginning of this month I made the case for ending the Obama campaign for president and having a Clinton-Obama ticket:

"The invectives flying from each democratic candidate to the other makes it increasingly clear that the campaign has completely deteriorated from one of issues, to a clash of personalities...I choose Obama for VP because after 8 years of seasoning as number two, he gets to run for President of the United States again at the ripe young age of 52."

It appears that Obama is ahead of Clinton by a nose, and that nose is growing into a football field. Of all the issues of concern to us as Americans, the number one is that we don't want another presidential term with Bush policies and ideologies, which is what we would get with McCain. How do the democrat leaders assure that this won't happen? By doing anything else than what they are doing now, which is infighting, name calling, and ego-stroking.

And it goes beyond the ego--it approaches fanaticism:

"We cannot go forward until Florida and Michigan are taken care of, otherwise the eventual nominee will not have the legitimacy that I think will haunt us," said the senator from New York. "I can imagine the ads the Republican Party and John McCain will run if we don't figure out how we can count the votes in Michigan and Florida."

Asked if there was a scenario in which she would drop out before the last primaries on June 3, Clinton said no. "I am committed to competing everywhere that there is an election," she said.
So I changed my mind--who cares if Hillary or Barack is inaugurated into office next January? As long as it's one of them and not John "stay the course" McCain. But it appears the democratic leaders are not on my side--Hillary and Barack do not want to give up the shot at being pres. And that alone is a disappointment of leadership to me. Either one conceding at this point would garner enough points to get nominated and elected as president next time around. And it would be one less day and who knows how many less points given to McCain because of the lack of clarity of his opponent.

So Hillary, with a win seemingly out of reach, it's time to bite the bullet and give a speech worthy of an Al Gore concession, and wait your turn not only for the sake of the party and the nation, but possibly for the whole world. The ball's in your court, let's see if you're worthy of my constant support.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Beyond 1984: My Free Country es su Free Country?

Barbara Loe Fisher, founder and head of the National Vaccine Information Center, has once again done our homework for us:

The discrimination begins, always, with the majority in a society pointing the finger at a minority for somehow endangering the public health and welfare. Individuals in the minority group are singled out as different - ethnically, biologically, spiritually, morally - from the majority. The human impulse to fear, judge, marginalize or eliminate those different from the rest has left a blood soaked trail winding throughout the entire history of man from the Great Inquisition to the Holocaust; from the killing fields of Cambodia to Rwanda, Serbia and Tibet; while the persecution of those with leprosy, TB, AIDS, mental illness, and handicaps continues in every society.It was with a heavy heart that I read the March 21 New York Times article, "Public Health Risk Seen as Parents Reject Vaccines." Then I waded through the venomous comments posted on the NY Times website attacking parents of vaccine injured autistic children and those supporting informed consent to vaccination, specifically legal exemptions.

The letters she quotes are truly bizarre in their invective. My reaction is that it must be wonderful to be able to sit in judgment of one's fellow human without having to wear that person's shoes.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Teacher Layoffs = Homeland Security

Here's a bunch of dichotomies for ya--some might call it hypocrisy, but I'll defer to myself and take the higher road: California is a "rich" state. Put it this way--where in the world can you drive down a neighborhood street and see several Rolls Royce Phantom-whatevers, priced at $400,000 per auto, or any other of such enormous high-dollar (that phrase from a former client who sold upgraded RV's and had that southern drawl that made "high dollar" sound like melting dark chocolate in your hand) vehicles that you wonder how all that money got concentrated in such a small geographic area.

Then you read the latest piece of news about school teacher layoffs because the state income tax is down due to the economy, or whatever else the "state" needs to spend money on is leaving not enough for the requisite number of teachers, hence the layoffs.

Not that the school curriculum in its present form is any good, as anyone who's read this blog knows, but less teachers-per-student makes a bad setup worse.
One of those Rolls Royce's could cover 7 plus a fraction of teachers--not that I would begrudge a rich guy his perks. That's not my business--what is my
business is when my government chooses to spend money on a set of priorities that is not within the realm of reality. That's the question. What is
reality. I have the answer here--it's really that simple!

I thought I was under the safe assumption that all the money the US spends on weapons--military might, including planes, nuclear submarines, tanks, bombs,
bullets, you-name-it--was a necessary sacrifice with which we taxpayers have to go along in order to provide the sacrosanct security of our own backyards.
They can have that awful war in Iraq, but we'll keep Hill Valley immune from such awful events such as bombs, bullets, and destruction by paying dearly for

Never mind the untold waste of defense contractors, who charge the US government ridiculous amounts for something like a pliers--$1,000--or a toilet seat and on and on--we've all heard and read about this business. It's all in the
name of keeping the homeland free from hassle.

Well, that isn't exactly how it works: the US military is occupying Iraq with a force of 150,000 troops. Could any country in the world effectively come
to US shores and bother this country like that? Not on this planet, in our lifetimes. Oh, but you say there are those pesky nukes.

Intelligent people have written about our misguided fears, guided intentionally by selfish interests, weapons manufacturers, and how much of taxpayer money has gone to greasing their pockets due to this fear mongering:

"America faces real threats that need no embellishment. But...politicians have often exaggerated threats for political advantage. "Fear is a very dangerous
thing," said British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin after World War I. "It is quite true that it may act as a deterrent in people's minds against war, but
it is much more likely to act to make them want to increase armaments...."

"...Paul Nitze, the principal author of the 1950 NSC report, intentionally exaggerated Soviet nuclear capacities and minimized those of the US in order to "bludgeon the mass mind of 'government' "—as Nitze's superior, Secretary of State Dean Acheson, admitted years later. Although the Soviet Union had lost at least 25 million people and half its industry in World War II, Nitze portrayed the
USSR as a fanatical enemy that, within a few years, would threaten
America with an estimated two hundred nuclear weapons. According to his report, the then American stockpile of 1,400 weapons would be insufficient to counter such a threat. Nitze's report came at a time when international events, including the Korean War, seemed to validate this dark vision. In response, Truman quadrupled the defense budget and began a strategic program that would increase the US nuclear arsenal to some 20,000 thermonuclear bombs by 1960 and 32,000 by 1966."

The money spent on armaments takes away from all of our domestic needs: health care, education, and all the rest. It has continued throughout US history:

"In 2000, the Rumsfeld Commission on space weapons again used a series of worst-case assumptions to conclude that the country faced an imminent "space Pearl Harbor." That report led to the current US strategy to deploy new weapons—such as orbiting interceptors to target other nations' satellites and missiles—for total US domination of outer space. In fact, no nation credibly threatens the vast US satellite system. "

So now when I read about teacher layoffs, in sunny Southern California, I think about the guys at the top levels in charge of allocating the money, and what
kinds of cars they drive. But only uninitiated actually drive cars--the fear mongerers are, and have always been, in the back seat with a chauffeur
handling the mundane traffic.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Mortal Sins, Drugs in the water, Flu Shots, and Whores

I tried to cover the whole thing in the headline--hopefully the search engines will direct billions of hits to this blog. What a fun day for the press/media/news folks! The governer of New York, on the trail of bad guys for years now, gets caught on the phone asking for a hooker to travel between states for several thousand dollars so he can get a good lay. It makes me flash to my favorite-joke memory from an old Oscar Levant line: "I don't know what they mean by a bad lay--it's good for me every time."

Governer Spitzer's mistake is the NUMBER ONE news story anywhere you look tonight. Here are some other stories from today's news:

Prescription drugs are in the tap water, and no one tells us.

The Vatican lists a bunch of new really bad sins, for which good Catholics who are not repentant could burn in hell.

The CD says we should all get flu shots even thought they don't work.

Government says Gulf War Syndrome is caused by pesticides, even though all the soldiers got vaccine cocktails that would sicken a normal mortal.

The Iraq War could cost over 1 trillion dollars.

But the lead story is how Elliot Spitzer was going to pay over $5,000 to get laid. And my kids look at ME like I'm nuts!! I think we're all crazy!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Obama Concedes; Wins Presidency in 2016

It's becoming increasingly crystal clear that the continued fight between Obama and Clinton gives points to the republican side every day. It's also clear that a whole lot of brains are churning on what to do about this chaos. What's mostly chaotic is that Hillary and Barack are in agreement on the major issues, and yet they hurl slings at each other as if they were each other's worst enemy. And as intelligent as both of them are, unlike their opponents in the republican party, they both know the enemy is not "us," as Pogo would say, but them.

An interesting point of view in the Palm Beach Post today says that we were misled about which democratic battle is going to sink the ship:

Many feared that a bitter and bloody primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would doom Democrats' chances in November.

Now, some say the damage could come from a prolonged power struggle between the state and national parties.

Then in order to continue the squabble, Howard Wolfson, a Clinton spokesman, equated Obama with Ken Starr, the independent prosecutor responsible for Bill Clinton's impeachment:

"After a campaign in which many of the questions that voters had in the closing days centered on concerns that they had over his state of preparedness to be commander in chief and steward of the economy, he has chosen instead of addressing those issues to attack Sen. Clinton," Wolfson told reporters. "I, for one, do not believe that imitating Ken Starr is the way to win a Democratic primary election for president."

And I started thinking about what office Obama and Clinton are running for, and how the qualities required for that office include more than being able to raise a lot of money (George W is king of that) or turning a great phrase, or harking back to your age and experience (Nixon ran on that against Kennedy). So I summoned my interest, and quite frankly, annoyance, at the state of this campaign and wrote the following trenchant letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times. I'll let you know if they print it, but instead of repeating it's essence here, I'll just copy and paste it:

The invectives flying from each democratic candidate to the other makes it increasingly clear that the campaign has completely deteriorated from one of issues, to a clash of personalities. While this makes for great TV news bites, the back and forth name calling between Obama and Clinton leaves 350 million fellow Americans out of the program.

The simple truth is Barack and Hillary want to be leader of the free world, the biggest job, and responsibility going. Leadership is exactly what our country needs in this time of the perfect storm crisis of the failing economy, lack of adequate health care coverage, and Iraq occupation. By refocusing on the needs of the party, and beyond that, of the nation, Obama or Clinton could concede the battle and graciously accept the second spot for the good of everyone--especially since the ensuing carping gives measurable ground to McCain every day it continues.

I choose Obama for VP because after 8 years of seasoning as number two, he gets to run for President of the United States again at the ripe young age of 52. And in his concession would lie the seeds of great leadership to come.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Have Drugs Will Travel

Even with the best of intentions, columnists with band aid solutions often muddy the real issues. Case at hand: lousy US health care and very high cost of drugs. In today's Los Angeles Times article Cost is the real drug threat by David Lazarus, the way to help US citizens curb the cost of their prescriptions would be

The Food and Drug Administration should be authorized to certify leading Canadian pharmacies as reliable suppliers of medications.
At the same time, U.S. and Canadian officials should negotiate a treaty that permits U.S. doctors to fax or electronically transfer prescriptions to Canadian pharmacies. This wouldn't necessarily solve the conundrum of uninsured Americans being unable to afford doctors' visits, but it would allow prescriptions to be more easily

Why regulate the cost of drugs from domestic big pharma, who have the lock on our legislators already? Might as well go certify Canadian cheapo drugs, and while you're at it, why not include Indian and Chinese pharmacies as well--they must be cheaper than Canada.

Lazarus paints a grim picture of the out of reach cost of many life-sustaining, and-saving drugs that Americans can't afford, and how 48 million of our fellow citizens are not even medically-insured which alone is a national tragedy. Too bad he closes on such a ridiculous and unfeasible solution.

But the heartening news is that in the same "Business Section" of the Times comes the report that the two anti-viral flu drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, will be re-labelled to show they may cause psychotic reactions of delirium:

Roche Holding and GlaxoSmithKline said Tuesday that they had added new labels to their prescription flu medicines that contain reports of abnormal psychiatric behavior in some patients.

Both drug labels say the cases "appear to be uncommon."

...FDA staff described reports of about 700 cases of adverse
psychiatric events for both drugs and 25 cases of pediatric deaths in patients taking Tamiflu, reported to the agency through May 2007.

It tends to be a "common reaction" to the families and friends of the 25 who died.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

It's the Gender, Stupid

Just when I thought we had this whole democratic campaign issue nailed that the press was overstating a case for Obama in the lead, and therefore further killing Hillary's chances, two academics--Abigail Thernstrom is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, Stephan Thernstrom is a professor of history at Harvard University; they are the coauthors of "America in Black and White: One Nation, Indivisible," published in 1997--try to set the record straight that it's the end of racism in white American males.

How does that song go?--

Oh give me a break,
where the buffalo roam,
and the pundits and pedantics plaayyyy...

But seriously folks--the editorial in today's Los Angeles Times, titled "Taking the race out of the race," (well, we all can't be as cute as me) is an amazing stab at micro-analyzing the results of polls in the latest primary elections. Seems that white women democrats "...have been drawn to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton through a strong sense of sisterhood," while "...In a remarkable number of states, according to exit polls, Obama won more than 40% of the white male vote."

Now comes the literally incredible conclusion: "If Clinton weren't running (and pulling away votes based on her gender), there's no reason why Obama's numbers among white women wouldn't be as high as his numbers among white men."

What's my problem with this obviously logical reasoning? Unless you're supremely altruistic and so is everyone else who votes, then the logical converse has to be considered, which is what if all those unbiased white guys were not voting FOR Obama as much as they were voting AGAINST Hillary? Not even a glancing mention of this point in the editorial. Not a chance. Sisters vote for sisters, and white men vote for men with a partial African-American heritage. Makes total sense to me--not!

The editorial concluded that we are entering a new age of enlightened lack of racial bigotry: "Today, it is even clearer that race has become less of a factor in voting...The enormous and heartening appeal of Obama among white voters certainly suggests that is the case. Whites refusing to vote for black candidates has finally gone the way of segregated water fountains. Or so we hope."

Well and there it is--"so we hope." Guess they're not entirely sure either.

So as usual, incensed as I became reading of the death of racism by isolated eastern intellectuals once again in our racist-ridden society, I fired off this letter-to-the-editor of the L. A Times:

While micro-analyzing why so many white males overcame any racial prejudice in voting for Obama, your conclusion as to motives misses a bigger point about gender bias: it's more likely the white male voter was "choosing the lesser of two evils" by voting against a woman in favor of a man of any color.

I hear the undercurrent of racism, homophobia, and xenophobia every day in simple conversations on the street, in supermarkets, even with family. But the overwhelming emotional irrational constant claim of one man to another, "because she's a woman"--rather than because she's a nut or because she's ignorant or whatever other excuse for an attitude problem--will trump racial enmity every time.

I'll let you know if it gets published.