Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bloomberg Sounds Good, What’s He Mean?

I just read New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 700-word OpEd article (“I’m Not Running for President, but ...”) in this morning’s New York Times. And I don’t know what he’s talking about, other than he made it clear he’s not planning to run for Prez this time around. How would he implement his vaunted “independent approach” in governing the United States? “We need innovative ideas, bold action and courageous leadership,” Bloomberg said. That can’t be argued. He says he’s done it in New York City. “That’s not just empty rhetoric, and the idea that we have the ability to solve our toughest problems isn’t some pie-in-the-sky dream. In New York, working with leaders from both parties and mayors and governors from across the country, we’ve demonstrated that an independent approach really can produce progress on the most critical issues, including the economy, education, the environment, energy, infrastructure and crime.” If he says he’s done it in New York City, I won’t say he hasn’t. But how he thinks an independent president can solve the nation’s problems was certainly not outlined in his NYT piece. Nor did he say who that independent president might possibly be. And it surely did sound like "empty rhetoric” and “pie-in-the-sky”. “I am hopeful”, Bloomberg wrote, “that the current campaigns can rise to the challenge by offering truly independent leadership. The most productive role that I can serve is to push them forward, by using the means at my disposal to promote a real and honest debate.” Real and honest debate between whom? About what? He didn’t say. Bloomberg finished his article by saying, “In the weeks and months ahead, I will continue to work to steer the national conversation away from partisanship and toward unity; away from ideology and toward common sense; away from sound bites and toward substance. And while I have always said I am not running for president, the race is too important to sit on the sidelines, and so I have changed my mind in one area. If a candidate takes an independent, nonpartisan approach — and embraces practical solutions that challenge party orthodoxy — I’ll join others in helping that candidate win the White House.” Bloomberg does not say how he’ll help an independent, nonpartisan candidate win the White House. Money? Maybe. But first, Bloomberg has to find an independent, nonpartisan candidate in the company of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain. If independence and nonpartisanship is guiding the approach of any of these three, none has convinced me of it. And if a truly independent candidate wins the election (if there were a truly independent candidate running for election), how then would this independent president convince the lunkheads in Congress of the wisdom of his/her independent approach? And what would the independent approach of an independent president be? I believe there are many independent-thinking voters in the United States who would love to translate their independent thinking into independent nonpartisan action in Congress. But how could that be accomplished in 2008? It will take many years for our Senators and Representatives gradually to be switched from the hidebound Republican and Democratic pols we now have into a group of nonpartisan independent thinkers, if ever that can happen, which I doubt. What is more likely, at least in the person of Michael Bloomberg, is that he will decide that McCain, or Clinton or Obama is the independent candidate of his dreams, and then he will anoint his choice with words and a mantle of rhetoric that proclaims the person to be an independent with an independent approach, but it will just be old Hillary, or Barack or John dressed up in Bloomberg’s hopes. In fact, no independence or nonpartisan approach can change in even the tiniest way the manner in which politics is now practiced and will be practiced for the next four years. But New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will have joined the ranks of wishful thinkers who have more money and words than they know what to do with, who throw both to the winds and then claim they have changed the course of history.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Project Runway Way More Fun than Politics

The reality shows all have the same plotline and the same story arcs. The only thing we don’t know about Project Runway and the Fatties shows is who will be the final winner. And yet, we are glued to the TV set each week because the storyline is fascinating. And in the case of Project Runway, the talent is excellent and the creations each week are awesome. The Clinton and Obama strategists have decided that they too should keep the pot boiling day after day and week after week until the Democratic Convention. Apparently the politicos think that if it works for Project Runway and The Biggest Loser, it will work for the candidates. And not only that, after the Conventions we can count on the Repub and Dem strategists being determined to keep the suspense level high. There is only one problem with the politicians’ plan. The US election contestants are dreary and there is no inherent drama in anything they say or do. In addition, the voters have tuned out. God knows, the ABC show “LOST” is fascinating and I am hooked totally. However, that show has been immeasurably helped by the fact that the citizens of the world have found the US election candidates and particularly McCain, Clinton and Obama unutterably tedious, irritating and tiresome. And not only are the candidates deadly dull and snore-worthy, but the pundits and analysts who comment on the candidates are phoning it in because they said everything they were going to say three months ago. Will people stay home and not vote because the strategists’ strategies have been so childish and flawed? No. We’ll vote. Knee-jerk assholes in the Repub party will vote for McCain. And Dems will vote for Clinton or Obama and not give a damn which one it is. But between now and the election, the vast majority of people in the world will find something to watch other than the US candidates. Unless of course, they are looking to fall asleep. I certainly am done watching or listening to anything McCain, Clinton or Obama says from here on out. And I’m done watching or listening to what anyone else says about what McCain, Clinton or Obama says from here on out. It’s a little present I’m giving to me.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Funny Thing About Senator John McCain

McCain believes that if he says it, it makes it true. Sounds like the guy he wants to replace in the White House. An article in the New York Times this morning (“For McCain, Self-Confidence on Ethics Poses Its Own Risk”) chronicles a few of McCain’s more arrogant forays into ethically troubling and/or downright shady actions while he's been in political office. However, even in the face of proof to the contrary, McCain says, “I have never violated public trust or done favors for lobbyists”. Not true, Dishonest John...not true. The NYT reports that eight years ago McCain’s personal and political relationship with lobbyist Vicki Iseman was so worrying to his advisors they blocked her access to McCain and to his office. This was ten years after McCain had done a favor for a friend that involved McCain in the Charles Keating savings and loan scandal. In about a half hour, John McCain is going to hold a press conference in order to say he’s Mr. Integrity and that he’s never done a thing during his career as a public servant that has not been Simon Pure. And yet, we know he wrote letters to government regulators on behalf of Iseman’s clients who often had business before a Senate committee led by John McCain. And the NYT reports “Mr. McCain promised, for example, never to fly directly from Washington to Phoenix, his hometown, to avoid the impression of self-interest.” However, McCain often flew on corporate jets of business executives who sought his support. A small thing? Yes...but not in a man who claims he is the very model of the highest moral standards it is possible for a human being to hold. I particularly like this little rat-out from the NYT: “Mr. McCain helped found a nonprofit group to promote his personal battle for tighter campaign finance rules. But he later resigned as its chairman after news reports disclosed that the group was tapping the same kinds of unlimited corporate contributions he opposed, including those from companies seeking his favor.” John McCain is 73 years old and has come to believe his own press releases that equate him with a living saint. He likes that image and I don’t blame him. But he is not the man he wants to think he is. He has made mistakes, told lies, and committed improprieties. All of which is not a terrible legacy because it’s very typical and normal of men who have had a career in politics. But don’t tell me you’ve never violated public trust, John McCain. You have violated public trust. You violated public trust in Iraq with your shameful little charade when you denied that you had monumental protection from hundreds of US soldiers. And you’ve violated public trust by giving special access to lobbyists. As the NYT said, “When the Senate overhauled lobbying and ethics rules last year, Mr. McCain stayed in the background.” And don’t get in high dudgeon when people tell the truth about you and call it “a smear”--that's just childish and silly.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Doctors Wise Up... Duh!

Recent studies have cast doubts on medical assumptions that lowering cholesterol prevents heart disease and normalizing blood sugar protects diabetics. “Wow, we really don't know as much as we think we do,” professor of medicine at Yale University Harlan Krumholz said in a Washington Post article (“Medication Under a Microscope”) this morning. "We definitely need to pause and reassess our assumptions about what is best for patients...clearly we have more to learn." No kidding! Scott M. Grundy of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas said, "Drugs can be great, but they can have side effects...if you start piling on one drug after another, you can get into trouble." What a thought! And guess what? Now there is some doubt as to whether doctors should prescribe drugs for conditions that haven’t happened yet, as in, “pre-hypertension”, “pre-osteoporosis” and "pre-diabetic”. Although it is true, doctors haven’t gotten around to putting splints on legs before they get broken, plastic surgeons have been counseling for years that the time to get a facelift is before a facelift should be considered. In the medical community this is called preventative medicine—prescribing drugs that patients don’t need and ordering surgeries that are unnecessary. All of which might be forgiven if doctors were really looking out for the best interests of their patients. But these so-called best interests are incredibly lucrative for doctors, pharmaceutical firms and all hospital industries. "What's going on here is our research enterprise is almost completely controlled by the pharmaceutical industry," John Abramson said. He’s a clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School and author of the book "Overdosed America." Abramson went on to say, "It's their job to create a need for their products. Their job is not to maximize public health." "People are making a ton of money by selling the drugs and the monitoring equipment," Howard Brody, director of the Institute for the Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston said. "It distracts our patients from what really matters more, which may be getting more exercise or making lifestyle changes that ultimately may be more beneficial than obsessing about their blood sugar or playing with their little monitor device." The whole idea of preemptive strikes has worked so well in Republican circles in medical, pharmaceutical and war businesses, that if undertakers had a little more political clout we might see a trend toward pre-death burials to bolster the mortician industry.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Big Question About Obama

And, of course, the big question about any candidate is: What will voters do in the voting booth? Because it is for certain, theoretical blocks of voters will not remain faithful in the secrecy of the voting booth. Ergo, the bigger question about Barack Obama is: Will black voters vote for Obama? For all the excited predictions that pundits and analysts are making concerning the mass defections of Republicans into the Dem camp, and Dems into the Indie camp, and born-agains into the Jezebel camp, and whites into the black camp, no one knows what blacks will do because there is no black camp, Oprah Winfrey and her posse notwithstanding. And by the way I looooove the comic who said, “Don’t you hate white people who try to sound black? Like Oprah.” But back to the question at hand: Will black people vote for Obama? WE DO NOT KNOW! I do know this: Among blacks of a certain age, there is a tendency when seeking a lawyer, a doctor, a therapist, or a financial advisor, to opt for white. My belief, although I do not KNOW this to be true, is that blacks will not vote black out-of-hand any more than whites will vote white out-of-hand. And I suspect it will be a real mistake for Obama to try to appeal to the black vote, whatever that would mean in his mind and his handlers’ minds. Oh, and one more thing I do know: Everyone is getting so sick of the trumped-up Clinton/Obama contest. There is no contest. It doesn’t matter a damn who gets the nomination. What matters is that the McCain/Huckabee/OldFart/Moron faction should not win the election. I am sure I am not the only one who breathed a sigh of relief yesterday while watching the “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” segment on Chris Matthews morning show. Someone (I think it was David Gregory) prophesied there will be NO last minute jockying for nomination status between Clinton and Obama because the two of them will reach a consensus and save us all from 11th hour ugliness. IT IS DEVOUTLY TO BE HOPED!!!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

We Now Know Bush’s Plan

According to this morning’s New York Times, “the White House seems eager to lock in as many of the president’s policies as possible before he leaves office in 11 months.” The Prez never sounds surer of himself than when the subject is Sept. 11, the NYT said, even though “he has squandered the country’s moral authority, violated American and international law, and led the United States into the foolhardy distraction of Iraq.” The NYT reported that in all cases —the military tribunals, the wiretapping legislation, the president’s war in Iraq—“the White House seems to have concluded that each is politically sustainable and even favorable for a Republican candidate and Mr. Bush’s own legacy.” Although Bush’s war in Iraq sent his popularity tumbling a year ago and Repubs as well as Dems were naming him the worst president in the entire history of the United States, George W. Bush now has justified keeping more than 130,000 American soldiers in Iraq and he’s saying it’s “part of a broader fight against terrorism”. Yesterday, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates endorsed a ‘pause’ in further troop withdrawals once those troops sent in last year as part of a temporary buildup go home. So what’s going on? In the face of the worst presidency and the most unpopular president in the history of the United States, how come the Republicans want to elect another George W. Bush? The Republican Party has decided, against all analysis and against all assessment by reasonable men, that it ran the country so well under Karl Rove, Vice President Dick Cheney, and neoconservative political strategist William Kristol and Kristol's ilk, that the Repubs are well advised to continue their policies not only for the next year, but also through the election and into the coronation of John McCain. The Republican Party is so sure that Americans love the war, love the lying Justice Department, love the lying Pentagon, love the killing of US soldiers for no good reason, love welfare for the rich, love being hated around the world, love being spied on, and most of all, love the last 7 years of White House fascism so much that we all will be pleased to have more of the same in the foreseeable future. And only the election of a Democrat President this coming November will make these madmen understand that they were wrong.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Romney Lies to the End

Mitt Romney bugged out of the Republican nomination race, because, as CNN’s Dana Bash so succinctly put it last night: “The numbers showed it would have been virtually impossible for him (Romney) to win the nomination now given how many delegates John McCain has versus how many he has.” However, Romney said he quit the race “because I love America, in this time of war I feel I have to now stand aside for our party and for our country...and frankly, I would be making it easier for Senator Clinton or Obama to win. Frankly, in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrendering to terror.” TIP: Whenever a politician and/ or snake oil salesman says “frankly”, whatever follows is a lie. So now, the Republican Party has its nominee: Senator John McCain. But that leaves many Republican voters with no one to vote for because McCain is not conservative enough, not born-again enough, not hawkish enough, not young enough. What will they do? Some say that when the election rolls around next November, those with no one to love will write in a Republican candidate’s name. Some will no doubt rally behind a dark horse Independent. But of this you may be sure, A lot of Republican energy between now and the election will be spent on Swiftboating both Obama and Clinton, trying new versions of voter fraud, inventing terror plots where none exist and generally in making childish mischief. And how will that work for the Republicans? Not well. Dirty tricks, the empty rhetoric that the country needs four more years of Republican crimes and misdemeanors, and a tired old war vet trying to look appealing is not a winning combo.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Is There Still a War in Iraq? Apparently a war is still raging in Iraq, because American soldiers and Iraqi security forces and civilians are still dying. As of this morning, a total of 3,948 American soldiers have died in Iraq. Yet, also apparently, some unheralded law has passed in the United States that the war will not be spoken of so as to wipe it from our minds. In the first month of 2008, 40 American soldiers and 554 Iraqi civilians and security personnel were killed. And now already in February, 4 American soldiers and 144 Iraqi civilians and security personnel have been killed. But the word out of the Bush administration and the Pentagon is that the so-called surge has been successful and we are winning George Bush's Iraq war. In addition, the man who will likely be the Republican nominee for president, John McCain, said it would be “fine with me” if the US were in Iraq for 100 years. I submit that we have had ENOUGH of presidents on happy pills and adrenaline rushes. John McCain is an ailing old fool and God only knows what medications he is taking. But for anyone to say the US should stay in Iraq for 100 years is an insane statement. It implies the United States is committed to fighting Iraq’s civil war forever. Which, of course, the US cannot do, because The Commission of the National Guard and Reserves just issued a report saying the US is unprepared to handle its own emergencies at home, let alone foreign wars or attacks from foreign countries. But why has this war in Iraq that has bankrupted us and killed our young people been taken off the front pages? Is it now too boring to cover? That may well be the case. Americans may truly not want to hear about the war in Iraq. Fine. There is a solution. Let’s pull our troops out NOW!

Friday, February 01, 2008

What a Surprise!

The New York Times published an Associated Press news story today with this lede paragraph: “The United States military is not prepared for a catastrophic attack on the country, and National Guard forces do not have the equipment or training they need for the job, according to a new report.” I am shocked...SHOCKED! The AP story when on to say, “The study of the military’s readiness to respond to a chemical, biological or nuclear weapons attack found ‘an appalling gap that places the nation and its citizens at greater risk’.” The Commission of the National Guard and Reserves released the study yesterday. This commission is charged by Congress to recommend changes in law and policy concerning those forces. Because of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the commission panel reported that “we don’t have the forces we need (meaning the US Military) nor do we have a reasonable alternative (meaning the National Guard) to relying heavily on our Reserves to supplement the active-duty forces, the report said. The study said the nation’s governors should be given the authority to direct active-duty troops responding to emergencies in their states. That recommendation, when it first came to light last year, was shot down by the military and immediately rejected by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. The Commission’s chairman, Retired Marine Corps general Arnold L. Punaro, said "I believe we’re going to wear him (Gates) down.” And while everyone is dicking around protecting their fiefdoms and power bases, what happens when another natural disaster happens? Or if God forbid the US is attacked (again) by President Bush’s buddies from Saudi Arabia? Not to worry. John McCain no doubt has a plan for keeping our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq while arming all 70-year-old vets with press releases about their past days of glory to hand out to disaster victims and/or potential enemies. And we can count on Homeland Security’s Michael Chertoff to have our back.