Saturday, November 16, 2002

If you liked Hi Ho…

…you'll love this.

Update: whoops! Cut-and-pasted the wrong link. Try it now.

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Friday, November 15, 2002

Conservative elitists

From a Wall Street Journal editorial by Daniel Henninger entitled "Democrats Need to Rejoin America":

The first cultural contradiction of the Democrats is their alienation from the real economy. Democrats participate in the economy as lawyers, investment bankers, doctors, teachers and the like. Somehow, it's supposed to be more than mere workaday money-grubbing. But there is one career that would never enter the mind of most Democrats: Spend it working for Procter & Gamble. They'd go homeless before toiling as a middle manager at Procter & Gamble, which is "out there" somewhere. But this is what most Americans do, at thousands upon thousands of such companies spread from Pennsylvania to the border of California. No matter; in the Democratic Zeitgeist, it's all simply "corporate America," an alien blob of marketing types who have something to do with creating Wal-Mart, and other strange stuff.

We've seen this nonsense before, from the likes of Ann Coulter, and I suspect we're going to be seeing more it, this idea that Democrats are all a bunch of Northeastern elitists completely out of touch with some mythical "real America"--which is, of course, most often promulgated by Northeastern conservative elitists who mostly live in Manhattan or DC. I mean, come on. Anyone who could write that Democrats would "go homeless before toiling as a middle manager at Procter & Gamble" clearly has very little contact with the "real America" for which they profess to speak. The numbers speak for themselves: the last two elections have been statistical dead heats. The country is split straight down the middle. And it should be clear to anyone, even the conservative Upper East Side/Beltway crowd, that fifty percent of the voting public can't all be investment bankers and doctors (categories which, correct me if I'm wrong, probably contain more than few Republican voters).

Of course, writers like Mr. Henninger don't actually believe this crap, unless they are very, very foolish and/or deluded. If half of American voters are voting for Democrats, then Democrats by definition are not alienated from America--much as the other half might wish them to be. My guess is that this is the result of some RNC blast fax--start portraying Democrats as out of touch! The problem with this strategy is, well, all the Democrats themselves, people who live in places like Iowa and Georgia and Arkansas. These people know they exist, and they know that they are not elitist Northeastern investment bankers, and they are unlikely to be convinced otherwise by the Daniel Hennigers of the world.

* * *

Two interesting pieces on the front page of the Journal today (not available online without a subscription): One about Jack Grubman, former star analyst at Solomon Smith Barney, who seems to have traded a positive rating on AT&T stock in return for help getting his children into an exclusive preschool in Manhattan. Because you need to get into the right preschool in order to get into the right kindergarten in order to…you get the idea. Somehow, this summarizes everything about the real elite in this country--and everything I dislike about New York City. Vying and power-networking to get your kids into an exclusive pre-school? Give me a fucking break.

The other article outlines the failure of the bankruptcy bill, for which this space sheds no tears. Unfortunately, the death of this bill--for which business interests have been lobbying for six years, and which would have made it harder for average citizens to declare bankruptcy--was not due to the tireless efforts of courageous Democrats, or anything like that--it was because the anti-abortion wingnuts, the people who hang around outside clinics and stalk abortion providers, didn't like a provision in it which would have made it harder for them to shield themselves from punitive fines.

But of course, they're "real Americans," and so their voices are heard.


A day late and a dollar short

Now Al Gore decides to back single payer:

On Wednesday night, he told a New York audience he has "reluctantly come to the conclusion" that the only solution to the "impending crisis" in health care is a "single-payer national health insurance plan" for all Americans. That marks a sharp break with his past position, pushing him sharply to the left on what could be an important issue in the next presidential campaign.

In the 2000 campaign, Gore battered rival Democrat Bill Bradley for advocating a health care plan designed to move the country toward universal coverage. He said Bradley's bold plan would wipe out projected budget surpluses and damage the country.

41 million Americans with no health insurance whatsoever, and--thanks to our achingly stupid employer-based insurance system--probably twice that number live in fear of losing theirs. Universal coverage might have been, well, the sort of campaign issue that could have really inspired people, really set the Democrats apart. A candidate with the courage to take such a risky stance, to stand up to the parasitical insurance industry and overcome the inevitable whining about "socialized medicine"...such a man could have really made a mark. "Health Security for All Americans"--sounds like a heck of a campaign pledge to me.

Oh well.

Story here.

Family values, Bush style

This is from a New York Times story on the Homeland Security bill (it's on the second page of the online version):

In one last-minute addition, Representative Dick Armey, Republican of Texas, inserted a provision that was apparently intended to protect Eli Lilly, the pharmaceutical giant, from lawsuits over thimerosal, a mercury-based vaccine preservative that some parents contend has caused autism in their children.

According to the Washington Post, this little gem was inserted at the behest of the White House:

Richard Diamond, a spokesman for retiring House Majority Leader Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.), said the provision was inserted because "it was something the White House wanted. It wasn't [Armey's] idea." But Diamond said the principle is good. "We don't want companies to be steered away from the business of making things that can save lives," he said.

Blogger Dwight Meredith is less sanguine than Mr. Diamond, for reasons which will quickly become apparent:

As regular readers of PLA may know, my wife and I have two boys. The youngest, Bobby, is autistic. Bobby is seven and a half years old. He is not yet able to talk. He is still in diapers. Some members of our extended family have suggested that it would be best for all concerned if Bobby were institutionalized. That will not happen as long as I can possibly prevent it. Bobby’s autism, in all likelihood, will prevent him from ever living an independent life.

(snip)

In the 1990s, at the same time as the increase in the incidence of autism, pediatricians began giving additional vaccines to infants. The total number of vaccinations rose from 8 to 20 by the 1990s.

Among the new vaccinations being given in the 1990s was one for hepatitis B. The hepatitis B shot, like some other vaccines, contained the preservative thimerosal. Thimerosal is 50% by weight ethyl mercury. At some levels of exposure, mercury is known to cause brain damage.

The new vaccinations tripled the total amount of mercury contained in shots given to infants. During the 1990s, thirty million American children received vaccinations containing levels of mercury that exceed EPA guidelines.

(snip)

The medical establishment knew that it was injecting mercury into my son’s body. It knew that mercury causes brain damage. The medical establishment did not take the care necessary to determine just how much poison they were pumping into Bobby.

It is possible that Bobby is autistic and will never lead a normal life because the medical establishment did not make the effort to add up a row of numbers to determine how much mercury they were injecting into his body.

I am not a person who is quick to anger. Nevertheless, every time I even begin to think about the fact that NO ONE DID THE CALCULATION, pure blinding rage wells up inside me.

If Bobby’s autism is caused by mercury from vaccinations, I pray that the fault lies in some system, procedure or bureaucracy. I do not want it to be a human being with a name and a face who is responsible for Bobby’s autism. I do not know if I could stand it if my rage were focused on an individual.

Some have suggested that parents of autistic kids file suit. All a lawsuit can possibly bring us is money. We do not want money. Who do we see about getting our son back?

Thanks to Jeff Questad for the heads up on this one.

Catching up...

Just dropped off the second batch of signed prints at the Post Office, so if you put in an order before this morning, it should be on its way. Let me know if it doesn't show up in a week or two, or, of course, if I screwed up and sent you the wrong print or something. (I'm doing the best I can, but the response to this has been a bit overwhelming, and I'm just a one-man operation here.)

If you're hoping to get one of these in time for the holidays, I'd suggest getting your order in as soon as possible--by the first week of December at the latest. If things keep up at this rate, I'm not sure I can guarantee on-time delivery much after that.

Slowly resurfacing

I assume you've seen this piece by William Safire by now, but if you haven't, go read it now. It's about the Fatherland, er, Homeland Security Act:

Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend — all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as "a virtual, centralized grand database."

To this computerized dossier on your private life from commercial sources, add every piece of information that government has about you — passport application, driver's license and bridge toll records, judicial and divorce records, complaints from nosy neighbors to the F.B.I., your lifetime paper trail plus the latest hidden camera surveillance — and you have the supersnoop's dream: a "Total Information Awareness" about every U.S. citizen.

This is not some far-out Orwellian scenario. It is what will happen to your personal freedom in the next few weeks if John Poindexter gets the unprecedented power he seeks.

More on this here, here, and especially here:

The title certainly sounds reassuring: the Information Awareness Office. A new little bureaucracy recently created by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the office is charged with focusing on new kinds of military threats, including terrorism. And who better to head it than a guy who himself was once a military threat to the rule of law here in America: Retired Admiral John Poindexter.

Yes, that's the same John Poindexter. Ollie North's erstwhile boss. The former Reagan national-security adviser who supervised the Iran-contra operation, selling guns to Iranians to fund an off-the-books war the contras were waging in Nicaragua, a war whose funding with federal dollars the Congress had specifically proscribed. The same John Poindexter who was convicted in 1990 on five felony counts of conspiracy, making false statements to Congress, and obstructing congressional inquiries into the affair. (Poindexter's convictions, along with North's, were later overturned by an appellate court on the grounds that he'd been granted immunity because of his forced testimony to Congress.) That John Poindexter.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Still on hiatus...

...but in the meantime, you won't want to miss the story of Gunther, the world's richest dog, and his five youthful, joyous companions, known as The Burgundians. August has the scoop (and the links).

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Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Please stand by...

Events have lately conspired to fill the time necessary for blogging with other duties and chores. The trend seems likely to continue for another day or two.

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