Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Barfing is the New Fucking

Obama is sending 30,000+ troops to Afghanistan, with all the infrastructure and money that entails, and I'm writing about vomit--what's wrong with my viewpoint? you ask...

All of us Americans, three-hundred-million of us, are going through the daily routine, making "ends meet" or not, miserable or thrilled--whatever. There are a billion people on earth facing starvation every day, and that's a fairly unfathomable number.

Many people, in many countries around the world, work and strive to make the miserable life of those less fortunate more comfortable, or at least livable. In short, everyone needs a break from the horrors of the news, the world, even just from the traffic.

So for my "break," I turn on the TV and look for clever writing, or a dandy documentary, or something to take my mind off of the ongoing mundane problems of us all.

Tonight, I watched an episode of "The Office," which featured a scene in which one person got sick to her stomach, threw up on camera, and initiated a sequential gagging and vomiting of everyone in the "room." I am personally put off by seeing someone else throw up, I have never found it entertaining, and in fact it brings up memories of people I've been with who were terribly sick or terminally ill, who were vomiting almost in a state of unconsciousness. Still, it is disgusting to me to watch in real life, but when I want to use TV or movies to "escape" reality, as we used to say in the 1960's--"escapism,"--watching an actor pretend to throw up by spitting out some stuff he or she got from the crew is not entertaining, enlightening, illuminating, relaxing, or clever.

It's a way to go to the "edge" in TV the way sex used to be used for shock value. In the movie North by Northwest, the characters played by Cary Grant and Eva Marie-Saint share a sleeper unit on a train travelling across country. There is no doubt, from the sequences of their kissing and the dialogue, that they will make love in this sleeper car. But the humping and heavy breathing is never shown on screen. When I saw the 50th anniversary screening by the AFI of the restored version of this film recently, Ms. Saint, who was present, said she was glad Hitchcock only inferred the raw sex, because in today's films, it would have to be shown to meet audience expectations.

I wonder what she would have thought about all the vomiting that's been going on in the movies and on TV lately. I don't understand why the sex act in movies and on TV is scary to Americans, while violence and bloodshed is more tolerated--and now, everyone is regurgitating in all sorts of TV and movie venues, and for me this is worse than violence or sex--on TV or in movies that is.

So now I'd rather read about troops in Afghanistan and mayhem murders around town, than go relax in front of my TV watching people vomit without warning.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Jenina and Margaret and Love and Tolerance

"Fuck you what are you looking at? I'm a fucking little girl and your mothers eat shit from whores, you assholes!"

Little Jenina was quickening her pace. She couldn't have been 5' tall and she was trying to stay out of range of the 2 menacing men who were following her. They were wearing thick long coats and carrying rifles. They could have caught up with her if they wanted to, but they enjoyed taunting her. They were asking Jenina for "identification papers."

It was mid-1940's, a town in Poland, and Jenina had no such "proper" papers. As a Jewish girl she wasn't free to walk about the streets of the town.
She should already have been rounded up like all the other Jews, and carried by cattle car train to Auschwitz, where Jews were sent to be killed.

All the Jews in Europe knew about this Nazi program, and Jenina knew she was in jeopardy. She was trying to figure out how to keep away from the bullies. She had just bought a loaf of bread to take home to the gentile family she was staying with.

We've all known bullies. I have--from when I was a little boy in the back seat of my mother's car, and the older kid up front kept punching me, and everyone said "stop crying, David--it's no big deal." To when I was a teenager and saw my friends pick on an effeminate guy, so I thought it would be cool to do the same thing. I found out pretty quickly that it wasn't cool after all. And I felt sick about it-which is no apology, but here is the truth after all.

So I was a bully too.

Don't give the Germans under Hitler and Nazis all the credit--it's part of human nature, and not a very pretty part, to somehow "lord it over" someone else even
when you don't have the merit, to make yourself feel somehow better than that person.

It doesn't really work, I unfortunately can remember.

So these two grownup bullies, Nazi soldiers, thought it would be a good job to harass or even abduct a young girl, little Jenina. Put another notch on their rifles--caught another wayward Jew.

They didn't do it--why not?

In those days, Jews were not known to use bad language. In fact, it was a mark of their honor that they didn't swear--use "curse words." So when Jenina told off her followers using the worst language she could remember, the two Nazi soldiers said, "She can't be a Jew--they don't use language like that!" And they left her alone, and let her go.

Jenina's son, Robbie, a handsome middle-aged fellow to whom I have often waved hello--we lived across the street from his mom, Jenina, and dad,
Frederich, for 2 years--told that story at Jenina's funeral last week. That's how I know about it.

Jenina was a "Holocaust survivor." Most of her family at that time were not survivors.And Robbie related his mother's story of how her life was saved that first time, one of many.

When we lived across from Jenina, who was now in her 80's, she and my wife loved each other. It was only natural--my wife loves everyone, and is interested
in all the underpinnings and experiences--and Jenina was exactly the same!

We moved into a house in Studio City with so much "history," in which only I and my wife would be interested. Bobby Troupe, the great singer, and
his wife, Julie London, my 1950's heartthrob and another great singer, lived next door years earlier to where we moved, and Abbot and Costello owned two houses in the English Tudor tradition on the next goes on and on--and Jenina and her husband Frederich knew them all.

My wife would say, "I'm going over to Jenina's for a minute to return the pie pan." Jenina would cook dishes and cookies all the time and bring
them to us. Then hours would pass and my daughter would say, "Where's Mama? I want to go to bed." and Mama was at Jenina's talking for
hours and hours.

Jenina and Frederich were married 56 years. He was in England in WWII and helped translate coded messages. He was entirely fascinating despite his hearing deficiency and old age. I would pick his brain about the Nuremberg trials and other events to which he was a first-hand witness--amazing and fascinating.

My wife's mom died three weeks ago. My mother in law was a non-judgmental, un-envious, gentle person. Margaret was always happy for someone else's good fortune. Everyone was impressed by that. And she led a simple life, with no frills. Yet in her calm wake she left many people touched by her kindness, her compassion, and her genuine interest. My wife and her mom were lucky to have each other, and they both knew it.

Margaret didn't live through the trials and near-death experiences like Jenina. She did live a life of joy, balance, and calm, despite whatever hair-raising stuff was happening around her, including an alcoholic husband and drug-addicted mother. She was an example of how to live a life each day as it comes. And Jenina was the example of life as a matter of love, no matter what. I am lucky to see the embodiment of both in my wife.

And my wife took care of her mother, and she loved Jenina very much.

For me it is fitting that the final resting of these two women came in the same month that a piece of humanistic legislation finally became a law.
This bill had a history of development, and birth, as difficult as any law in US history, and yet it seems so obviously appropriate and needful in its
immediacy. In other words, what took so long?

"The Matthew Shepard Act, officially the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, is an Act of Congress, passed by
Congress on October 22, 2009, and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on October 28, 2009, which expands the 1969 United States
federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability."

A separate essay would be required to summarize the almost decade-long attempts led by Congressman John Conyers and Senator Edward
Kennedy to introduce and reintroduce this legislation, which extends the parameters of the federal hate-crime law.

Jenina, a holocaust survivor, and Margaret, with humility and animosity toward no one, would not understand what the opposition to such a law
could be. But there was plenty of opposition, from many varied quarters, mostly right-wing, conservative, and irrational.

Some examples:

...James Dobson, founder of the socially conservative lobbying group Focus on the Family, opposed the Act, arguing that it would effectively "muzzle
people of faith who dare to express their moral and biblical concerns about homosexuality."...

...Senator Jeff Sessions, among other Senators, was concerned that the bill would not protect all individuals equally.[16] Senator Jim DeMint of
South Carolina spoke against the bill, saying that it was unnecessary, that it violated the 14th Amendment, and that it would be a step closer to the
prosecution of "thought crimes"...

The details of the law's history are immense--it was added as an amendment to other bills several times, passed by the House and Senate in various
forms, and finally last month made it to Obama's desk for signature.
Such a simple concept: tolerance of our fellow human beings' personal freedoms.

To answer "what took so long...?" is that everyone is not like
Jenina and Margaret, simple in the highest values, and profound in wisdom. I'm sure they would have easily understood the legislation's necessity.
It's part of my memory of them.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Flu Tall Tale

Your doctor is like a cab driver on a very rainy night with potholes all over the road. You're in good shape, he's a good driver who wants to get you where you need to be. But there are all sorts of hindrances and possible disasters in the way.

Right this minute, you aren't sick. You haven't shown symptoms of the new H1N1 influenza virus. Reports are that this bug can make someone feel really sick. Some theories hold that we are surrounded and inhabited by various viruses and bacteria all the time, but that our immune system, bolstered by our general health, keeps them harmlessly at bay.

There has been plenty of discussion in this blog about the dangers and lack of efficacy of any vaccine, including a flu shot. So there's one pothole we're going to avoid and tell our favorite physician sorry, no shot--no thanks again this year.

He shakes his head, like the cab driver who says, "You really want to go through that flooded street instead of over the bridge? In my cab?" And you say, "Trust me--that's a reflection. There's no flood--just drive." And he's still shaking his head telling you about endangering your family and children etc...

Now you handle a bunch of family business, professional business, and stress. You're losing sleep, and your body gives up on the immunity support because it's too busy dealing with your over-wracked brain.

You left the door open. So one of those virulent persistent mean little microscopic DNA/chromosomal poor-showing-for-a-cell wannabe flu viruses gets a foothold on your unsuspecting, unaware, unprotected cell tissue. As your body responds with all the antibody immunity it can muster, you start to feel really bad.

Billions of those little viruses--not one of which can live alone but has to parasitically feed off of one your cells--are causing your body to produce histamine, antibodies, fever, and more. Each of these reactions makes you feel awful. That's how nature cures you. No one said this would be easy, but it works and lasts forever.

The doctor used to tell you to stay home and rest. The cab driver used to drive more carefully and get you to the door...

NOW -- The cab driver says, "I've got wings and a sea-plane underpinning built into this cab, so we can FLY over the flood and avoid the bridge altogether--even get you to your destination that much sooner!"

What that means is that the doctor has told you about Tamiflu. Now that you have the flu (whether or not your kindly doctor has swabbed your throat for a culture to test for sure that it is one of any number of hundreds of influenza viruses, is another story), your doctor says that you can take a little pill the drug companies came up with, in case the vaccine doesn't work, which it doesn't, called "Tamiflu," which they tell you will lessen the painful symptoms of your body's immune system defense, and maybe even shorten the number of days you feel bad.

It's like a Disney movie where the good fairy waves her wand and the magic dust comes out and ... the flu goes away.

And if you're over 12 and you still believe in fairies, you should go get a flu shot and stock up on Tamiflu.

There are a couple of problems with the cab driver's wings and sea-plane landing gear--you're likely going to crash into the Hudson River without a floatation device and either be sick or dead: Tamiflu doesn't work.

That's not my big left-wing-reactionary-"I hate big pharma"-scream. It's a quote from the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):

The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the prescription drug Tamiflu isn't working against the virus strain that is causing this year's [2008] influenza in the United States.

Now, to really confuse you, the cab driver tells you to avoid the wings and sea-plane add-on after all, because he got a call from one of his fellow cab drivers with the same contraption, and that other cab is now sinking into the briny depths of the Hudson River--the wings were too small and the sea-plane buttress was made for a bicycle, not a car! But you don't know what the cab driver is talking about anyway because he doesn't speak English:

Confusing directions on liquid suspensions of the antiviral drug Tamiflu may inadvertently cause parents to give either too little of the drug, impeding the child's recovery, or a toxic overdose, physicians warned in a letter published Wednesday in the online version of the New England Journal of Medicine...

...Jacobson and her husband, an internist, had to do a Google search, then solve an equation to determine the correct dose: 5 ml. (volume of a teaspoon) x .75 x 12 mg./ml. of Tamiflu = 45 mg. It took them both working together for 30 minutes to solve the equation, and they suspect that many parents would have greater difficulty doing so.

I swear I'm not making this up. Except for the cab driver.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Lou Dobbs Wrong Again

I have been writing and referencing, in this blog, the positive cultural and economic effect immigrants have in our country.

Here is another expert's input which adds that there is a safety net due to immigration as well. Chris was asked about his book, Securing the City, about the efforts of the New York City Police Department to prevent terrorist attacks.

“Immigrants are a strength because they come to build lives and come to build the country. The NYPD doesn’t ask immigrants their status because you can’t have someone who is afraid of the police and then recruit informants [from immigrant communities]. CIA analysts have said that a big part of what goes on in the United States is the ‘American dream’. So the safest big cities in the United States are those with the highest number of first generation immigrants.” (Christopher Dickey interview in "Epoch Times")

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Back to School (The Prison Block)

My daughter's back in school. Prison. I mean school--it looks like a prison to me. No windows, cinder blocks for walls. One girl spoke out in class today and the teacher gave her a "detention." I think that means the girl has to be in a room without anything to do for at least an hour.

My daughter wanted to attend this school because it has a performing arts program that she wanted to be part of. Last year, in the 6th grade, she got too much homework. She didn't want me to tell her counselor she was unhappy with the amount of homework because she didn't want to call attention to herself.

My daughter got all these plaques and honors which we have used as wallpaper for her room because she is a top student in her class, of which there are 650 students.

I went to see her counsellor yesterday, her first day of 7th grade, because I didn't want to have a year again like last year--where my daughter couldn't have any extra-curricular activities, or see any friends on weekends, because she had so much homework to do for school.

Believe me, if my daughter, a top student among 650 students, has trouble finishing her homework and can't go out on weekends or have friends over because of the amount of homework, is having a problem with the amount of work required after spending 7 hours a day in school--then there is a problem, because the "average" student must by overwhelmed by this requirement.

And anyway, schools look like prisons, not like a place for children to be all day.

Now I find my daughter doesn't want to go to school. She doesn't like it and she doesn't like her teachers. I know this sounds familiar -- but she enjoyed school last year...except for the homework and "pressure." I know we adults have a lot of "pressure" and "homework" etc--but children deserve a childhood and a schooling that is nurturing and rewarding--not prison, with dictatorial unprofessional people who don't belong in the teaching profession, and "educators" who have no clue about what education is all about.

Which is what we have now.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Madonna Makes a Difference

How can one person make a difference? Unless you're
Oprah with an audience, or Obama with the power, how can someone step up and make a pathway for change?

I have believed since I can remember that a single individual can have influence beyond any conventional measure. Although Kirk tells Spock in an episode of the original series of Star Trek, "Mirror, Mirror," "One man can make a difference..." My influence did not originate with that.

When I worked as a volunteer for the election of anti-Vietnam War candidate Joseph Duffey for senator in Connecticut in 1970, I remember the slogan of one person making a difference from that time.

Turns out, with the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy, the memory returns of that saying coming up repeatedly throughout the 1960's from JFK, to Bobby, to Ted. In fact, Jacqueline Kennedy wrote the following on a card "...for an exhibit which travelled around the US when the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston was first opening (1979), quoted in Respectfully Quoted : A Dictionary of Quotations (1989) edited by Suzy Platt:" "One man can make a difference and every man should try."

Well, Madonna's not a man, and her outspoken remarks in Bucharest can indeed make a difference. Even though the headlines say she was booed for criticizing the discrimination against Gypsies while performing on stage in front of 60,000 fans --some observers say many people cheered as well.

"Roma, or Gypsies, are a nomadic ethnic group believed to have their roots in the Indian subcontinent. They live mostly in southern and eastern Europe, but hundreds of thousands have migrated west over the past few decades in search of jobs and better living conditions.

Romania has the largest number of Roma in the region. Some say the population could be as high as 2 million, although official data put it at 500,000.

Until the 19th century, Romanian Gypsies were slaves, and they've gotten a mixed response ever since..."

Madonna had this to say during her concert:

"It has been brought to my attention ... that there is a lot of discrimination against Romanies and Gypsies in general in Eastern Europe," she said. "It made me feel very sad."

Thousands booed and jeered her.

A few cheered when she added: "We don't believe in discrimination ... we believe in freedom and equal rights for everyone." But she got more boos when she mentioned discrimination against homosexuals and others...

Discrimination, bigotry, and prejudice are a human preoccupation worldwide. In the case of Gypsies, the Europeans may even have outdone Americans in the wrath of biased hatred of a single group.

It's always good to speak out against irrational hatred, and when a celebrity like Madonna takes a stand in front of thousands, it's even more effective.

If anyone wants to question the courage of such an act, let that person try telling off someone who makes a bigoted remark out loud. If you have the guts to do it, wait for the unreceptive reaction--it's never full of smiles and agreement. And it always makes a positive difference in at least one person's life.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Guinea Pigs Are People Too

My daughter has two guinea pigs. She holds them and pets them--they are gentle creatures related to the deer family, not rodents as once was thought.

She wouldn't allow them to be harmed if she could help it. In fact, she wouldn't allow them to be treated as inhumanely as the children who are now part of a test for the H1N1 flu vaccine. Yet some parents are not only consenting to this testing, as one of them stated, "Anna's mom is proud that her daughter is taking part in the trial."

Some kids taking part in the testing use the often-quoted CDC statistic of 36,000 people dying from the flu every year. This is stated by the CDC as an "estimate," which is in fact unreliable and unverifiable, as the CDC itself states on its web site:

This statistic came from a 2003 JAMA study by CDC scientists. The study used statistical modeling to estimate that during 9 influenza seasons from 1990-91 through 1998-99, an annual average of 36,000 flu-related deaths occurred among people whose underlying cause of death on their death certificate was listed as a respiratory or circulatory disease.

It's like saying Saddam Hussein was involved in the events of 9/11, and Iraq had stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in 2003. Neither was true, but if the lie is repeated enough, it becomes part of the undercurrent of beliefs in American society. Like the idea that vaccines are safe and effective. Or that 36,000 deaths from upper-respiratory infections, flu or any of a number of other viruses, could be mitigated with a vaccine that may or may not work, or be safe.

There is projected amount available of 40 million to 100 million doses of flu vaccine retailing at around $25 per shot...and with the big pharma/government alliance suggesting the possibility of recommending 2 doses per person, I can't even do the math, there's so much money involved.

I got two guinea pigs shaking their heads and rolling their eyes here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Vaccines and Your Gut--Go with your gut

Years ago--another lifetime it seems--there was no internet to network and gather information; there was no epidemic of autism; there was no anti-vaccine "movement," only an underground rumbling of concern.

In those days of VHS movie rentals, giant glass tube TV's, and 8 mph gas guzzling cars--the early 1990's--my wife discovered, on her own, the connection between the rubella vaccine and the stunted development of an infant's brain.
How could she do this, since she wasn't an MD or PhD in medicine? And what research could she do as a mother working out of her home?

First, she wouldn't take, "That's all there is, have a nice day," for an answer.
Second, she intuitively ascertained a connection between the rubella virus wreaking havoc in a developing fetus, and in the developing brain of a child who received the rubella virus in a vaccine.

If rubella, or "German Measles," caused deformities in a fetus, why couldn't that virus, after injection into an infant's bloodstream, cause problems in the infant as well?

Prior to the Internet research amounted to hiring a student at a local university medical library to pull tracts of information and studies regarding the mechanism of the rubella virus in causing birth deformities.Encephalopathy--swelling of tissue--was a major culprit in what my wife read about organic problems caused by rubella.

My wife is not a doctor. Maybe that's how she could come up with conclusions and leaps of judgment that a medical expert would have pushed aside before pursuing.

She determined, as a theory, that "microscopic encephalopathy"--damaging swelling at the cellular level, invisible to lab tests, mri's, etc--of the myelin sheath around the brain, which was needed for proper brain growth and development--was the root cause of autism.

There were blood tests that showed normal immune levels. Then, an immunologist ordered more detailed blood tests which showed a total gap in certain immune system levels that don't show up on the "regular" tests. Regardless of what studies have been done or what scientist, doctor, or government agency wants to state about causes of autism, the blood levels of the immune system were measured and right there on the chart in black and white--the blood levels were faulty--no immune system levels--according to repeated lab tests.

Does a faulty immune system cause autism? Does an mmr (mumps, measles,rubella) vaccine cause a faulty immune system?

More reading, and more theorizing, and leaps across chasms of doubt and questioning, and as complicated as is the concept of the interaction of the immune system with the brain and nervous system, the answer seems simple: if nutrients aren't transferring from the gut to the bloodstream, the subsequent deprivation of these nutrients to a developing infant's brain and nervous system prevents proper development.

That conclusion was relatively easy. How a vaccine could cause the intestine not to absorb properly was another concern, for research and experts and real doctors. My wife did her best to spread the word of this theory. She even appeared on several national television and radio talk shows--as the 1990's wore on, childhood autism was on the rise, parents were scared and the topic drew more interest.

My wife's ideas could have been all wet--after all, she wasn't trained in medicine,she never did a scientific study on her theories. But she wasn't meeting an open-minded audience either. She found out that when you questioned vaccine safety, you were opening a door into the world of what Money Magazine called, in 1996, the ..."Billion-Dollar Vaccine Business."
My wife, and anyone else who questioned anything about vaccines, was met by a pharmaceutical powerhouse with the speed of a roller coaster and the crushing weight of a steamroller. Vaccines have not only been a cash cow for big pharma for the last 60 years--they are protected and promoted by us--"we the people"--through government-mandated childhood vaccine schedules and liability-free legislation for the vaccine manufacturers.
The truth has a way of squiggling through cracks in the edifice of greed and power. Word got around about a possible problem with vaccines. Not only were cases of autism increasing in children, but a whole host of auto-immune diseases was growing at a geometric rate--asthma, dyslexia, childhood diabetes and more.
I knew one kid who had asthma when I was in school in the 1950's--now, when my daughter's 6th grade classrooms in from exercising, half of them run to the nurse's office for their "inhalers--"vaso-dilating drugs to make it easier for them to breathe.

Even though the vaccine dosage schedule asking for more and more vaccines over the last 60 years mimics the increase in auto-immune diseases--even though it is obvious to an objective view that vaccines are the problem, and not the cure, despite the pharmaceutical companies' false statistics otherwise--any question of continuing the childhood vaccine program is met with an outcry from the medical establishment and their henchmen,the mass media, that dims whatever good ideas might be in the questions.

In 1998, in the respected British medical journal The Lancet a young physician, Andrew Wakefield, produced a study to confirm what my wife had said years earlier. Because of this study, Wakefield has been vilified throughout the media, and he had to move from his native England to Texas, to continue his studies.

"Wakefield has since described, in several journals including the Journal of Clinical Immunology, what he terms a new disease, autistic
enterocolitis, because symptoms are unlike other childhood intestinal disorders. However, critics contend that Wakefield has not shown any
evidence that this disease exists, and that autistic enterocolitis is not recognized by the scientific community. Since arriving in the United States in
the wake of the MMR vaccine controversy, over which he is accused of scientific misconduct and data fixing, Wakefield has continued to treat
patients at the Thoughtful House, a centre for autistic children in Texas." Wikipedia

The reason for this background is because the latest drivel to flow through the fetid tubing of the media comes from a new study that "children with autism are no more or less likely to have gastrointestinal symptoms, in general, than their unaffected peers."

Here was huge news! NBC mouthpiece for AMA and big pharma, Nancy Snyderman had a heyday filling her time to talk about this latest put-down of parents and their concerns. This study doesn't reflect on the Wakefield conclusions. It is not related to anything my wife was talking about a decade and a half ago. The ideas and theories about malabsoprtion in the gut relating to developmental delays are not part of this report.

But that all doesn't matter. The media are the message,and if you as a parent thought you heard that there was a problem with guts and bowels and autism--forget it!There's no problem. You can continue with your vaccine schedule inoculating your child every few weeks with multiple vaccine dosages for diseases from which we are not threatened.

Big pharma beware--the truth seeps through the cracks...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cronkite & Stone = Apples & Oranges

“Anybody who says they have no regrets is either a dimwit or a liar — probably both.” - Ken Kesey

When the author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest died in 2001, and I read the above quote, I had to change my attitude about the notion of "regrets," because I always figured having regrets meant that one didn't live life "my way," or according to certain principles or values. I still think looking back in hindsight--with 20-20 vision as they say--isn't as much regretting mistakes as it is learning from experience, and moving on in each moment with a greater confidence from inner knowledge.

So yeah, I have some regrets--little ones. I don't look back and second guess my life choices of where to live, whom to spend time with, whether to have children...I regret the little lost chances for a memory to add to my wonderful list of great memories.

For instance, I regret not having a poster with me of "Singin in the Rain" for Gene Kelly to autograph when I shook hands with him during a break in shooting a TV show on the Goldwyn lot. I regret not telling Mickey Rooney how much I enjoyed his performances in "Sugar Babies," which I saw three times on stage, and a summer-stock preview that never made it to Broadway that was just perfect, called "WC and Me," about WC Fields and his addiction to alcohol--I instead remained silent as I ate my lunch across a bench from him on the Goldwyn lot--just Mr. Rooney and me--with no one else around. I was afraid of "bothering" him while he was not working for the moment.

I had a chance to say "hi" to I. F. Stone when he phoned my college roommate back, but I couldn't hear him clearly, he mispronounced my roommate's name, and frankly his voice sounded like a kid putting me on. So instead all I heard was, "If he doesn't want to talk to I. F. Stone, then forget it!" I actually looked down the phone in my hand as if to say "We blew it."

I only knew about I. F. Stone from the stories my college roommate told me, of this giant of reporters who was probably the greatest muckraker of all. There is no one with whom to compare I. F. Stone today. That was another thing--his full name was Isadore Feinstein Stone, and as I remember that failed phone call, I still wonder why he referred to himself as "I.F. Stone," and not Izzy Stone or Mr. Stone. Although the imprimatur of "I.F. Stone" was so well known among the readers of the "I.F. Stone Weekly," that perhaps he thought that was the easiest way to identify himself.

The passing of Walter Cronkite, and all of the media re-hash and review of what his tenure on the CBS Evening News meant to American journalism, reminds me of the short but trenchant bit of film in the documentary from 1973, I.F. Stone's Weekly, when the little muckraker reporter is about to be in the same space as the great establishment TV broadcaster:

There's a poignant and telling moment in I.F. Stone's Weekly (the movie), in which Stone is walking away from the head table at the end of a banquet in his honour. He sees Walter Cronkite and walks toward the mainstream TV news star, extending his hand. There's a split second when Cronkite can reciprocate, or pretend he doesn't see Izzy and turn away. Cronkite turns away. I can still feel the sting. But it's my sting, not Stone's.

"It's just wonderful to be a pariah," Stone wrote (this published in the July 10 issue of The Nation). "To be regarded as nonrespectable, to be ... an outsider, this is really the way to do it. As soon as you want something, they've got you!"

I remember that moment from the documentary film very clearly. And I also remember changing my opinion about Walter Cronkite as the most trusted man in America, to the biggest on-air establishment flunky, with polish and credentials to boot. Not that Walter didn't have depth or back ground as a modern journalist. But once a TV star, always a TV star.

Friday, June 26, 2009

3 Gone None to go

Very strange -- to have an entire world of issues and crises, from the shambles of democracy in Iran and the threat of nuclear lunacy from North Korea, to the US health care system which is a scam -- and three people pass on and that's the thing we all talk about.

For me, it makes sense, because as President Kennedy pointed out in his poetic address at the American University Commencement:

So let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's futures. And we are all mortal.

I'll never forget what he said that day, because no matter what we all believe, the truth is, in 100 years, none of us will be alive on this planet to argue about it.

I have certain personal remembrances about the three celebrities who have passed these last few days:

When Jack Paar quit the Tonight Show, I was 12 years old. He was my idol, and I could not imagine the show continuing with anyone else in his spot. I remember Johnny Carson as host of a daytime quiz show, "Who Do You Trust," which was more like Groucho's "You Bet Your Life," in that there was less quiz show stuff and more conversation and jokes. Ed McMahon was Carson's "sidekick" on that show, and I used to watch it because at that time I had a problem with my sinuses and I was home from school in the daytime a lot. I used to like Bob Barker, because he was a wise guy, on "Truth or Consequences," and Carson was funnier with his back and forth with Ed McMahon. But as a replacement for the greatest of all, Jack Paar? I didn't think so...

Fast forward to 1964--I was 14 years old, Carson was the new Tonight Show host, and my family was taking one of the periodic forays from Hartford (a jerk town to this day) into New York -- the "City" -- for some change of venue. This is really a long story, so to cut to the chase--my dad's mom married my stepgrandfather, Charlie, who was the brother of Sam Aaron, who was a co-owner of Sherry-Lehman liquor in NYC--I think they're still there under different ownership. Grandpa Charlie's bro--Sam--could get tickets to the Tonight Show in NY any time I wanted to go. OTHERWISE--unlike today's less frenetic atmosphere--you had to write in for tickets and wait a YEAR!!

So I was 14, you had to be minimum 16 to get in, Mom and I went to 30 Rock (!!) and took the elevator to the 60th floor to the Tonight Show studio and Johnny decided that night he would be absent, so Carl Riener hosted the show instead--I remember to this day the guest was an actress named Senta Berger who was supposed to be the 1960's version of Ingrid Bergman. Boy was I dissapointed! Not to mention a nervous wreck because I didn't think they'd let me in since I wasn't 16. I wish all of our dissapointments could be this bad...

What about Ed McMahon? Oh well--so many times GrandPa Charlie's brother Sam got tickets to the show, I got to see Carson and Ed McMahon and Doc Severenson (The most amazing live big band sound I've ever heard--Saw Aretha Franklin sing "RESPECT there in 1965!!) and McMahon was always the "dressing" that without, you wouldn't have the "Tonight Show with Johnny Carson." Not to mention Ed's charity work with, among others, one of my childhood idols, Jerry Lewis.

I now know that Carson, and Jerry Lewis, were not the greatest guys in real life. I knew people who knew both who had nothing nice to say about either. But this is about Ed McMahon and about him being a second banana and yet his repartee with the boss was always good for a good laugh on a wonderful show I watched for 30 years from pre-teen to adult.

Here's my amazing story about Farrah -- I was on the sound stage at 20th Century Fox Studios the first day of filming for the TV show "Charile's Angels."
I saw the three acresses including Farrah Fawcett, and the producer, Aaron Spelling, who came on the set to give a "send off" to everyone.

Now, how'd this happen? I was living in Boston at the time. 5 Years later, in 1981, I got a job working for Aaron Spelling on the lot where he produced Love Boat, Dynasty, Hart to Hart, Hotel, Colby's.

In 1976 I married Julie (My ex wife and now friend) and we went on a trip that included Los Angeles, where I really wanted to live, and I had a friend who was the operations manager on the Fox lot. So he invited me and Julie to take the cook's tour, and that day, in July of 1976, was the first day of shooting the new TV show with Farrah Fawcett. Can you imagine seeing her in person when she was a familiar TV commercial icon but not a TV star yet? (If I could have tapped Aaron's shoulder and said, "I'm gonna be your post-production accountant in 5 years...")

I still can't believe I was there that particular day--it was just a coincidence!

As for Michael Jackson, my story is not very intimate. I left Aaron Spelling TV to go to work in post production accounting at Walt Disney Studios right after the work on George Lucas's Michael Jackson 3-D movie, "Captain Eo," for Disneyland, was finished. My supervisor at Disney Studios had just worked on the accounting and budget for Michael Jackson's film, which was costly into the millions of dollars. For a short 15 minute "extended video" with some 3-D effects, the cost seemed too high. My supervisor simply explained that it was because Michael Jackson was rehearsing and re-working some of the music while the studio was paying for full-time recording. In other words, when you assemble everyone for a full-blown recording, you are paying for the studio and all the personnel--thousans of dollars per hour--so you rehearse and compose by yourself prior to the big costs of studio time.

So I got the point that Michael Jackson was not a villain or ignorant--he simply lived in his own space and world and did what he needed to create his work.

I also was a huge fan of Michael Jackson at the time--but I was dismayed when he bought the Beatles catalogue, which seemed a little deceitful -- and I thought his bit with Disney was too commercial for such a huge talent. In fact, it seems that that was it for Michael after the 1980's.

I was in Las Vegas in August 16, 1977 when Elvis Presley, at that time a huge Vegas icon, died at age 42. I was in Paris July 3, 1971 when Jim Morrison died nearby on the Left Bank at 27.

Everyone used to seem old to me--now they're all young. I'm pretty stunned by all this passing--even our good friends are having to say goodbye to their beloved pet dog tonight. I'm really ready to go back to the good old fight for public health care and skip all this "breaking news!" That way, we can all live forever, without pain, and on the cheap!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Limbaugh, Sotomayor & the Planets

Taken all in all, we live on an amazing planet. Besides all the natural vistas of oceans, and mountains and weather--there's also the life, in its wild diversity. The same single-celled original life forms evolved into caterpillars, birds, and people. That observance alone should be enough to give pause to all the petty bickering and name-calling between various groups of the same species--humans.

Then again, if you're lucky enough to live in the United States of America and be a citizen with all the rights and privileges etc--then you need to respect the freedom of your fellow citizen to air his or her opinion, even when you disagree with it--that's part of our laws under the Constitution.

Like when a person says that the President of the United States is ..."the greatest living example of a reverse racist, and now he's appointed one,..." that is permissable because of our freedoms.

I've heard speeches by Nazis and white supremecist groups right in the middle of our United States. They are allowed to express vitriol and hatred because in this country, freedom of speech is a paramount right under which we all live.

Sometimes, this is hard to stomach--like the above quote from Rush Limbaugh, a repugnant ignorant PR specialist who panders to the underbelly of Americans' discontent to stimulate a response similar to ultra-sugarfied chocolate-chip cookie dough. Doesn't mean it's good for you, but it's a money-maker for the cookie-guy who's got you on the hook.

Today Limbaugh is trying to educate us about racists and minorities who express racism, by criticizing our President's choice for Supreme Court Justice to replace Souter:

She's not the brain that they're portraying her to be. She's not a constitutional jurist," Limbaugh also said, referencing a New Republic article last month in which Jeffrey Rosen, the magazines legal affairs editor, wrote that "her opinions, although competent, are viewed by former prosecutors as not especially clean or tight, and sometimes miss the forest for the trees."

"She is an affirmative action case extraordinaire, and she has put down white men in favor of Latina women," Limbaugh said.

All this gets really boring if you're not a moron. And most of "we the people" aren't morons. Limbaugh hit a sore spot about racism with me, as if he knows about it--don't think so--pretty much going to be no more posts about him.

Then there is the question of how you get a platform for vacant tripe--I should't be so surprised: after all, Mein Kampf is still on shelves in bookstores around this amazing planet.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Letter to L. A. Times Like Playing Telephone

In my entry of May 3, 2009, I referred to an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times which stated as fact any number of issues regarding the controversy over vaccine safety. One such "fact" was "...The anti-vaccination movement has its roots in a 1998 study in the journal Lancet suggesting a possible link between autism and the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, and recommending that the MMR components be given individually."

This is a pure assumption on the part of the writer, Ryan Coller, whose by line indicates he is "chief resident in pediatrics at UCLA's School of Medicine." In fact, a groundbreaking tome on the subject of vaccine injury, Dpt: A Shot in the Dark by Harris L. Coulter and Barbara Fisher (Paperback - Mar 1986) preceded the Lancet study by over a decade.

But Coller has more than just his facts mixed up. As I pointed out in the above-mentioned blog post on this, all doctors don't all study everything -- specialists delve deeply into...specialties, with special knowledge and insight that other physicians may or may not have in their medical back ground.

In a letter to the editor of the Times about the Coller op-ed piece, I said that the Times should invite an "...objective mouthpiece who has honest, scientifically-backed-up arguments that vaccines are not proved safe..." I went on to mention Barbara Loe Fisher as a good candidate.

I concluded by saying, " can a pediatrician's back ground on the human immune system compare to say, a researcher who specializes in immunology? So many of them have expressed skepticism about vaccines' effectiveness and safety..."

In the Times actual printed version, this was how the above sentence was altered: "...So many pediatricians have expressed skepticism about vaccines' effectiveness and safety..." I was referring to immunologists, but perhaps I didn't make that clear--however wholesale alteration of what I wrote definitely changed my meaning.

In the explanation of submitting a letter to the editor at Los Angeles Times, this statement is included: "They typically run 150 words or less and may be edited." From that I did not conclude that edited meant anything more than space constraints. I didn't know they would alter sentences that might change the meaning of what I wrote. I have submitted and had printed several letters to the editor of the Los Angeles Times through the years, and this one is the first that had such a major alteration a reiteration of what I originally wrote.

Now--so you may judge for yourself--here is my original letter that I emailed to then Times, and second is the letter as printed in today's (May 7, 2009) edition:

Original email to Times:
1. You've run two recent op-ed pieces extolling the wonders of childhood vaccinations and vilifying the mindless ignorant parents who listen to the "wind" and get a bad feeling about shots causing autism. Why don't you invite an objective mouthpiece who has honest, scientifically-backed-up arguments that vaccines are not proven safe, and in fact the jury is still out on vaccines causing autism or any of a number of other auto-immune dysfunctions?

Barbara Loe Fisher, founder and head of the National Vaccine Information Center ( in Washington, DC, who has more credentials and expertise regarding this issue than some chief resident in pediatrics at a local hospital would be a perfect choice--if the Times is interested in a balanced view on this subject.

Also--how can a pediatrician's back ground on the human immune system compare to say, a researcher who specializes in immunology? So many of them have expressed skepticism about vaccines' effectiveness and safety--but then they might not fill whatever agenda the Times and the drug companies are following.

As Printed in today's edition of the Times:
2. The Times has run two recent Op-Ed articles extolling the wonders of childhood vaccinations and vilifying parents who listen to the "wind" and object to childhood shots for fear that they cause autism.

Why don't you invite an objective mouthpiece who has honest, scientifically backed-up arguments that vaccines are not proved safe, that the jury is still out on vaccines causing autism or any of a number of other autoimmune dysfunctions?

So many pediatricians have expressed skepticism about vaccines' effectiveness and safety--but then they might not fill whatever agenda the Times and the drug companies are following.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Greater Scourge: Swine Flu or Idiots?

CNN: Federal officials now recommend that schools stop closing when a case of swine flu is confirmed at a school, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday.

Scientists believe that the H1N1 virus epidemic is no more dangerous than seasonal flu, and schools should act accordingly, Sebelius said.

That's good advice -- because there obviously are more cases of idiots than swine flu around.

Haikus by Kirsten


Squirrel in the tree
Wanting the juicy berries
Each joyful morning

Water from the lake
Trickling down from the hard rocks
Peaceful to be near

Cold windy winter
Snowflakes fall from the grey sky
Making snow angels

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Don't SHOOT Doctor, I'm OK

It is mind boggling, and frustrating, to explain the reasons that any conclusions about vaccine safety are presumptuous at least, and without merit at most.

The physicians and researchers who test vaccines for safety, in the R &D stage or for ultimate FDA approval, are employees of the vaccine manufacturers, and the tests and studies are done by same. There is no "third-party" objective control testing, by law there doesn't need to be.

There is concern about conflict of interest between congresspeople getting campaign contributions from banking interests, and then having to vote on issues that may affect the bottom line of those banks regarding housing foreclosures and credit lines. This possible conflict of interest is NOTHING compared to how your children's shots make it to your pediatrician's office, no less into the bloodstream of your kid's arm.

All drugs reach the market place through the same channels. Vioxx, which killed people as it was relieving muscle and nerve inflammation, was OK'd the same way--in fact drug maker Merck also squashed publicity about the side affects so that those who died could have been forewarned--but weren't. Merck makes vaccines too.

For some reason, The Los Angeles Times has published two op-ed pieces recently regarding the annoying ignorance of parents who are afraid to vaccinate their children because of a possible connection with vaccines to the growing cases of childhood autism. Today's editorial, written by a "physician and incoming chief resident in pediatrics at UCLA's school of medicine," hammers home the stupidity of a nanny who listened to her employers in Malibu about the possible adverse reactions to vaccines, especially contracting Autism.

Now I've had my discussions with pediatricians, physicians, researchers, and immunologists--even Andrew Wakefield, who authored the studies that the referred op-ed piece totally condemns. And I've never gotten a hard consensus that shots kids get are either safe, that they work at all, or that they don't possibly do more harm than we read about, from any of these giant minds of science.

Let me tell you about one of these immunologists--a man who studies how the human immune system works, not how to cure a baby's colic--Dr. Sudhir Gupta of the University of California at Irvine (UCI):

Dr. Gupta was a pioneer in the early 1990's to discover that there was an immune deficiency in the autistic child. The details are quite esoteric and frankly boring--but Dr. Gupta's solution was unique, and had never been tried. In order to repair the absence of immune cells in the child's system, Dr. Gupta prescribed Immuno Gamma Globulin infusions--intravenously. Once a month the child received the immune factors of 16,000 healthy individuals distilled down to a single hour-long infusion. This repaired the immune system, and allowed the other damage caused by the high Rubella titer to be back to normal.

Now--what causes a high Rubella (German Measles) titer? Well, if the kid didn't contract the German Measles from a friend or otherwise naturally, the high titer (measurable level of antibodies) had to come from the MMR (Mumps, Measles & Rubella) vaccine. In fact, the very mechanism that the rubella virus follows to wreck the development of a fetus whose mother has caught the disease, is exactly how the activity of the immune system acted in the child who received the MMR shot.

Gupta knew this. He knew a lot of stuff. He told me there would never be a vaccine for AIDS because the nature of AIDS was the ABSENCE of immunity--so how can you vaccinate for that? He predicted remission techniques which are in use today. But in the case of MMR causeing autism--there was no question that vaccines are dangerous, don't work like the PR says, and can damage little immune systems beyond recognition.

So my question to the Los Angeles Times, and Ryan Coller, is what's your gig? Do you really think polio was wiped out from vaccines? Anyone can google up statistics showing that the polio epidemic was waning before Jonas Salk ever injected a kid with his polio dead virus. How many people are debilitated today from Sabin's live virus. How come Salk never got the Nobel Prize? What to they know in Norway that we the people don't care about here?

How many parents are so certain that their little darlings went south after a vaccine? Who ever heard of asthma and autism and dyslexia back in the 1950's and 1960's when I was in school? Does Ryan Coller know about the connection between Autism, Dyslexia, Asthma, Childhood Diabetes, and on and on? Why doesn't he write about that?

Who is Ryan Coller anyway?

[UPDATE MAY 5, 2009]:
L.A. Times called to confirm they will print my letter concerning above issue either tomorrow (5/6/09) or later this week.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Bankers, Bacon and Flu

When it's about money, and it usually is, money talks. So when the Senate voted down help for homeowners faced with foreclosure yesterday the only real truth was the clout the banks have over congress, and ultimately over we, the people.

"The vote was 51 to 45, with 12 Democrats joining Republicans in opposing the proposal, under which bankruptcy judges could order lenders to reduce the principal on home mortgages. The proposal, which sailed through the House in March, was a key part of Obama's plan to reduce the tide of home foreclosures.

Its defeat in the Senate marked a turnaround for the Democratic supporters of the bill, who had hoped that the party's new majority would boost its chances for passage.

Instead, Democratic leaders were furious to see bankers lobbying against consumer protection measures after Congress had approved enormous sums to shore up the financial services industry."

If you ask me, Obama's balls seem to be in the ringer. Where's help when you need it?

But wait--he has Timothy F. Geithner as Treasury Secretary taking care of business--big business. In case you weren't sure, and I even know people who are not as "involved" in the daily news/political go 'round as me express skepticism--Tim's not entirely removed from conflicts of interest between we, the people, and them the bankers, according to a new report on the New York Times:

"Even as banks complain that the government has attached too many intrusive strings to its financial assistance, a range of critics — lawmakers, economists and even former Federal Reserve colleagues — say that the bailout Mr. Geithner has played such a central role in fashioning is overly generous to the financial industry at taxpayer expense...

An examination of Mr. Geithner’s five years as president of the New York Fed, an era of unbridled and ultimately disastrous risk-taking by the financial industry, shows that he forged unusually close relationships with executives of Wall Street’s giant financial institutions.

His actions, as a regulator and later a bailout king, often aligned with the industry’s interests and desires, according to interviews with financiers, regulators and analysts and a review of Federal Reserve records."

Is there no shame, Mr. Obama? Have you at last no objectivity anymore? Is everyone totally interconnected so even you, our deliverer, our promised hero, the one who was gonna kick out the old and bring in the new--Have you crossed over to...being inside the beltway? If so, we're indeed lost.

And since you are so smart and aware, you must be doing this knowingly--letting the chips fall outside of campaign promises and declarations. You--more than the last guy, who we assumed was a lost puppy in tow by sinister powers that be--actually have a clue about the direction these votes and advisers are taking us. So again, one must inquire, what happened to your...chutzpah? Even your press conference ratings are tanking.

"Nielsen said the president’s Wednesday prime-time press conference drew an audience of 28.8 million people. The event marked his 100th day in office and pulled in an 18.8 household rating on 10 TV networks at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Viewership was 29 percent less than the president’s March 24 press conference, which was seen on 11 networks. That telecast brought in 40.4 million viewers for a 25.9 household rating. President Obama’s first prime-time press conference on Feb. 9 was watched by 49.5 million U.S. viewers on eight networks, generating a 30.8 household rating. Around 37.8 million people watched him get sworn in Jan. 20, for a 25.5 household rating."

Time you started taking charge again. Stir it up, like the campaign. Or get rid of Larry Summers and some of the other old guard who are so far in bed with the big bad bankers they don't know what a real American looks like.

There's a lot more to this influence-peddling business with Obama and his inner sanctum--but I have to go to check on my bacon on the front burner. I'm frying some up to make bacon bits for my salad--I want to eat healthy but lettuce without bacon bits is not something I can look forward to. But this swine-flu scare is making me nervous. Because if they start killing all the pigs, what will happen to my bacon? How will it affect the price, no less the supply?

As for the flu--let me know if you know anyone who gets it this year. Probably not.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Obama's Full Plate & More...

What's worse, getting the flu or getting nuked? Let's say you had this choice, you'd probably choose flu. Most cases of flu are temporarily debilitating, and then the human system immunity rises up and takes over, making the individual symptom free with the plus of having a built-in life-long immunity to that specific form of the flu virus.

If a nuclear bomb goes off near you, your cells are vaporized into a pre-molecular plasma from which you will never recover. You then become part of the cosmos from which you came. If you're not too close to the initial blast, and live through it, you can get the horrifying form of radiation sickness that causes physical visible manifestations and searing pain beyond description. The flu virus has got nothing on the bomb.

That's why I found the discussion on Real Time with Bill Maher so remarkable Friday night: Maher claimed that the Taliban was within 60 miles of the
capitol of Pakistan
, Islamabad, and US forces were not overtly involved in counter measures to prevent a possible ultimate government takeover by these militia-terrorists who have repeatedly and directly threatened the US through their cohorts, Al Qaeda.

Yet the big story was becoming, and now is, that there are some reported outbreaks of a version of the flu virus in Mexico City that have elements of swine and bird flu mixed in. In fact, in a city of 20 million people, the largest on the planet, several dozen people have been said to have died from the flu, and several thousand people have the bug. The word "pandemic" is bantered around the media, and oh yes, of course, the drug companies are scrounging and scurrying to come up with a vaccine. There is money to be made in them thar shots! Let's remember the deaths of the pandemic in 1918 were from bacterial infections, for which there were no antibiotics. Shots wouldn't have helped then, they won't help now. Antibiotics will help with follow-up complications such as pneumonia.

Other remedies such as tamiflu and relenza can have worse adverse side effects than not taking them, and tamiflu,

"...the most commonly used drug in the fight against influenza, no
longer works against the dominant flu bug circulating in most of the United States, raising serious questions about how the nation might fare in a large flu pandemic, government health officials said."
Yet these anti-virul drugs will certainly be hawked to anyone with the willing cash. What's really needed is a program of who should get, and who doesn't need, antibiotic protection, which can really save lives compromised by infection following a bout with flu.

Obama's got a lot on his plate, to say the least. There's the problem of the economy, or what is perceived as a huge problem by so many people around the world that they have changed their purchasing habits to further hamper economic growth and get out of the bottom of the current economic cycle downturn.

One of Obama's biggest advisers, Larry Summers, former Harvard President, is so interest-conflicted that one wonders how anything he does for or tells to Obama would possibly help anything about the economy.

Then our cool dude pres Barack has promised to repair the medical care system that's totally out of control-a big campaign pledge he made. That task alone would keep several experts busy for at least a year just to analyze, let alone come up with a plan to fix it--because unless you're ready to get the insurance companies out of the loop--Anthem, Blue Shield, Kaiser etc--you're not going to cut health care costs because the insurance companies are the bleeders of the system. Not to mention big pharma, which is a separate blog
post of its own. As the MC said in Cabaret, "Mony Money Money Money."

There's 2 big problemas. So picture now as Obama retreats from the limelight and back to the halls of the White House, and he gets briefed on the latest in international bogeymen--in private, classified, top secret!

And that's the biggest piece on his plate--Al Qaeda wants to nuke New York. Don't you think? Isn't that really their ultimate dream--to set of an atom bomb in the middle of Manhattan?And as every day passes, this possibility becomes more of a reality.

And Obama wants to solve the economy crisis, and he wants to make sure everyone gets proper health care without going broke in the process. But if the bad guys set off a nuclear bomb in New York, that would make the other hassles our president is faced with non-issues in comparison.

My dad has a friend who's made a lot of money in investments. He tells my dad there cold be a revolution in this country, because the poor people will rise up against the rich. After all, the poor people see all the nice cars and refrigerators that the wealthy people have, and they feel left out so they'll get their muskets and hide in the forest with the swamp rat while waiting for their big chance to take over. Like Washington when he beat the Red Coats.

My dad has some right-wing friends who like to say whatever comes into their brains, and since they are rich they think they know what they're talking about. Just like the pundits who claim there is no more racism in this country--it's a thing of the past. So where does the Southern Poverty Law Center get these statistics for hate groups and enclaves around the country?--my dad's friend should be concerned about the disenfranchised right-wing nuts who are part of militia groups who have, unlike "poor people," the wherewith all and contacts to attain real bad weapons and train others in their use. Then they go into neighborhoods or schools and show off what they know.

I'm all in favor of revolution, like Jefferson who said "Every generation needs a new revolution.” There should be one every few years--but without the guns. We have a ballot! A good revolution would get rid of the tax code, nationalize medical care for everyone, and overhaul the antiquated gread school curriculum to remove homework from the lives of otherwise fumnctional families. But poor people rising up like the Bolshevicks agains the Czar is a scary scenario only in that the mind who conjured it is so out of touch.

I remember a scary conversation I had with a friend some years back while we were sitting on a bench in Disneyland waiting for our children to finish one of the rides. Joe was one of those insiders as a kid -- well, older "kid" he was 25 --during the Vietnam War--he was a flyer, recruited as a cowboy pilot who could get into enemy territory and leave no tracks. He didn't even wear dog tags on his bombing raids which were all classified.
He managed to get shot down, but unlike John McCain who got caught and had to go through those years at the Hanoi Hilton, Joe got out clean. His insider knowledge didn't stop with the end of Vietnam and the 1970's. He doesn't tell me details, but he described the possibility of a nuclear bomb that could be incorporated into several business-like briefcases, each one separately a non-descript bunch of paraphernalia, but if several of these "briefcases" were to be in different rooms of a hotel, let's say, they could be unified through radio and electromagnetic connection to detonate a nuclear weapon. That's what he told me.

The events of 9/11 were huge and phenomenal--most of us can't really believe to this day what happened. Two tall skyscrapers and several other buildings were flattened by hijacked airliners commandeered by terrorists with nothing but box cutters and a knowledge of how to fly a plane.

Wouldn't the mentality, the mindset, behind that attack really be to want to blow up lower Manhattan? Isn't that the next plan on the docket? Isn't that why there haven't been any attacks since 9/11--because they lie in patience and preparation.

Isn't this what Obama knows is his biggest challenge--how to prevent such an attack? 3,000 people died on 9/11--what would be the cultural psychological effect of several million people dying in a nuclear event? What war would we engage in to avenge that scenario?

While we watch Obama gyrate about the economy, health care, and Afghanistan, we should know that in the dark corridors of his residence after the spotlight is off and the real light comes on, our president is busy trying to figure out how to keep us from being nuked. Otherwise, the rest doesn't matter, does it?

What--was Friday a slow news day? So let's worry about the flu! And tell Huffington Post to get back to work and stop jumping on the flu-panic bandwagon.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Optimistic Message of Faith & Renewal

Some cool golden words wife:

"learning to focus on what we desire and surrendering control is more than a knack-it's an eventual state of our being. ...Persistence really means faith-in your deservedness and your self worth. You are here for a reason, you desire for a reason, you expect for a reason, and you shall receive for a reason."


Friday, February 20, 2009

Eric Holder Pardon My Prejudice

Barack Obama's appointee US Attorney General Eric Holder threw down the gauntlet of challenge to the latest generation of Americans about our racist society:

"Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards."

This amazing statement was a matter of simple truth, yet so many pundits, politicians, and "experts" found it controversial and alienating.

Andrew Grant-Thomas, Deputy Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University, praised Holder’s general message but said the wording of the speech may alienate some. “He’s right on the substance, but that’s probably not the most politic way of saying it. I’m certain there are people who
will hear him and say, ’That’s obnoxious,”’ he said, adding that what was missing from Holder’s speech were specific examples of what painful subjects need to be addressed.

Picky picky--Holder's message was simple and provocative: " get to the heart of this country one must examine its racial soul." As a Jew I could say yeah, but what about the Jews? Or as a champion of immigration rights, I could say, you left out the Mexicans. But that wasn't Holder's point. It was way more basic:

"Though race-related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion, and though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race."

I know exactly what Holder means, because I wrote a book about it several years ago, "Pardon My Prejudice: America's Excuse for Bigotry." No it hasn't been published, and yes it's a book whose time has arrived. The book's ironic title refers exactly to what Holder is talking about:

"...we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other, to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us."

The title "Pardon My prejudice" comes from my experience in retail where all sorts of average Americans walk through your life every day. I owned a store that rented videos among other things, and one night a gentleman and his wife came in to find a movie to watch. I had seen this man on other visits--a friendly older family guy who just wanted to pass the time and get his movie rental. At one point, one of my clerks, a young woman, asked if he would like to see a certain movie. The film had an interracial cast, and he said he didn't want it because of the--he used the "n" word--in it. The clerk was non-plussed. She had heard this sort of talk before. But it was an open and rude remark. The man's wife overheard the comment, and since she was unsure if her husband's obnoxious language would cause a problem, she approached my clerk to smooth things over. She said, "You'll have to pardon my husband--he's a bit of a racist."

This silly excuse was so bizarre, that's why my clerk wanted to tell me the story later. I had a habit of escorting customers out of the store who spoke out of line like that, so since I wasn't there at the time, I learned about the conversation from my clerk.

Now, with Holder's speech, it makes sense that this issue is not just confronting me, but it is in the psyche of our habits as a society. That's another reason Holder's remarks ring so true to me, as a child of the fifties and seeing first-hand the "breaking news" of the civil rights struggle, when he says,

"it is hard for me to accept that the result of those efforts was to create an America that is more prosperous, more positively race conscious and yet is voluntarily socially segregated."

My book is about experiences of prejudice and bigotry around us every day. It is not meant to point fingers of blame or judgment. I mean to remind us all of how much we see ans hear this mindless hatred all the time, and how little we react to it. Again, Holder's comments summon us to the call:

"Our history has demonstrated that the vast majority of Americans are uncomfortable with, and would like to not have to deal with, racial matters and that is why those, black or white, elected or self-appointed, who promise relief in easy, quick solutions, no matter how divisive, are embraced. We are then free to retreat to our race-protected cocoons where much is comfortable and where progress is not really made."

There is a solution, and it doesn't lie in complacency and inaction. We have to come to grips with the irrationality of our prejudices and beliefs about our fellow human beings. We have to stop fearing those who are not just like us, who have different beliefs, looks, even goals. Until we Americans understand that what made this country great, as a melting pot, is being crushed into the sand of ignorance and bigotry, we will never get out of our rut of hatred, fear, and economic deprivance. Those who understand what Holder was saying, will lead us all into a new light of tolerance, and prosperity.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Securing the City & Other Concerns

Christopher Dickey's book, Securing the City, is a fascinating report of how the New York City Police have become the 21st century FBI/CIA/homeland security all in one. Chris and I spent the day together yesterday--we have been good friends for almost 40 years and haven't visited in four years. Chris is travelling around the country on his book tour to promote and educate about the amazing global undertaking of the NYPD because New York City, as we all well know, is the numero uno target of any terrorist trying top make a big point in the world.

The simple fact that only Chris's book, and his talks, are publicizing the crusade of the New York Police to acquire human intelligence first hand throughout the world--just like the CIA is supposed to do--makes every word on the page of his book, and every speech he delivers, informative beyond any news service possible. Chris has ventured into the inner sanctum of what the NYPD is up to, including, but not limited to, the essence of the characters involved, most interestingly Ray Kelly, Chief of Police and mastermind of this new security force, as well as the high tech instruments of surveillance, especially the helicopter right out of the latest Batman movie:

"...state-of-the-art crime-fighting, terror-busting, order-keeping techno toy, with its enormous lens that can magnify any scene on the streets almost one thousand times, then double that digitally; that can watch a crime in progress from miles away, can look in windows, can sense the body heat of people on rooftops or running along sidewalks, can track beepers slipped under cars, can do so very many things that the man in the helmet watching the screens and moving the images with the joystick in his lap, NYPD Detective David Zschau, is often a little bit at a loss for words, “It really is an amazing tool,” he keeps saying."

Securing the City is a page-turning thriller about reality, terrorism, New York City, and how our lives have changed in the last decade. What fun!

But terrorism is only part of the latest fascinating news to inspire me to add a blog post after so many...full moons. The fierce spectre of big pharma has raised its ugly head again this week, with the decision of a court case from 2007 being delivered regarding vaccines as the cause of autism. In fact, the good news is that though the judges decided that autism is not caused by vaccines, those parents and advocates who know the opposite, are simply not deterred by the opaque and silly shenanigans of a so-called big-time government show.

Without belaboring here the details--and they are many and huge--of the holes in the government's defense (Note that the government is the plaintiff since the vaccine makers are off the hook for any liability), or the lack of any good studies showing the connection of vaccines to the development of all sorts of auto-immune diseases, of which autism is one special part--it is sufficient to point to the one intelligent remark of a parent, Rick Rollens, who has fought the battle to expose the dangers of vaccines for years, "Rollens and others said these verdicts won't make parents stop questioning the safety of vaccines, especially when parents witness changes in their children right after vaccination. "There's no denying what happens to your child when you see it first-hand," said Rollens, a Sacramento, Calif., resident. "Maybe we haven't asked all the right questions yet."

And then there's Barbara, our dear friend and the only expert to testify in Washington DC with no axe to grind--just the truth at her back:

“I think it is a mistake to conclude that because these few test cases were denied compensation, that it’s been decided vaccines don’t play any role in regressive autism,” said Barbara Loe Fisher, president of the National Vaccine Information Center.

But really, as Rollens says, unless you're a parent and see it first hand--the obvious immediate change after a shot, and your instinct that tells you something really has gone wrong and it's not the air we breathe or the water we drink--then the reliance on anecdotal evidence will never be enough. But also, as Rollens says, the right tests haven't been done yet, and the right questions remain unasked--bad economy or not, would you want to risk the end of a billion+ - dollar cash cow like government-mandated vaccines? Even if the science is over 250 years old and arcane, and even if the exponential increase in autism, dyslexia, ADDH, asthma, childhood diabetes, SIDS--even if the increase in these syndromes exactly correlates to the increase in dosages of childhood vaccines--are these drug companies and complicit physicians that greedy? Or brainwashed? Or both?