Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dinosaurs: Terrified Angry White Men

Mixed Blood - Six Children
Racism is often not seen, but felt.  "People of Color" (I loathe this term) have a bit more experience in this area and can smell it a mile away, so let's defer to their vast experience whenever we are not sure we are hearing racism or feel inclined to justify and adjust their perceptions.

Disagreeing with a president's policies is NOT a racial "thing".  What is racist is calling him "Barack, the magic Negro" or inferring that he is an "other".

Calling his wife, Michelle Obama, "ugly as a monkey" is racist (Limbaugh).  Having a picture of our president as a stereotypical witch doctor with a bone through his nose, is racist. Let us recap, disagreeing with an administration's policy is NOT racist, regardless of the skin tone of the one criticizing.  Using racial stereotypes for political and financial gain, is racist.

Examples of Blatant Racism: "Barack Obama getting in touch with his inner Jeremiah Wright.... He even talks HONKY around white people" - These are the words of Rush Limbaugh - He also stated that Barack Obama is an "angry black man" and "I do believe this about the President."

Let's add to this the constant barrage from former Fox associate Glenn Beck who relentlessly accused President Obama of hating white people.  Let's not discount the amount of times that President Obama was questioned about being "too black" or "not black enough" by those same people.


Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Pat Buchanan and Bill O'Reilly are perfect examples of old dinosaurs fearful of becoming a minority amid a sea of people who have more Melanin than they do.  They are all, by sheer coincidence, not progressive, nor liberal.

These dinosaurs fear old notions of black folks rising and slaughtering them for past grievances, such as: Slavery? false imprisonment? stripping them or their human and civil rights? Most likely to be executed? purposely depriving their communities of equal education and employment?

These are valid reasons to wake up one morning and say "Hey! I think I'll slaughter some white folks today" -  However, did "they" do this? -  In the entire horrific history of endurance, oppression and survival at the hands of those who enslaved them with the physical and invisible chains of second class citizenship, they marched PEACEFULLY, time and again to gain ground in equality under the law.  These folks were spat upon and hunted down like animals, and yet... they did not wake up one morning and lived up to racists fears, but their own ideals and integrity.

Example: When a family member was chained to the back of a truck and mangled beyond recognition, the family requested that the death penalty not be imposed against the white supremacist who murdered James Byrd..  Now.... if this had been a white man chained to a truck and the truck driven by a black man.... what would the Pat Buchanan's, Bill O'Reilly's and Rush Limbaugh's of this country have demanded?

If President Obama was Lilly white, the stupidity hurled around about race would be an inconceivable discussion in the news media.  However, because our President is "black" we are continually peppered with white and black racist rhetoric.  This race-baiting is political in nature and serves to increase ratings for an otherwise meaningless news media who spends more time creating reactions that carrying comprehensible information.

Dinosaurs Have Other Problems

The most disconcerting emotional shake-up for these men is the fact that so many WHITE people don't share their views or fears and happily voted for Barack Obama, and will do so again.  These white folks have real black, brown, and multiracial friends.  Others, just like black folks, only have friends of one color because they don't live and work in integrated environments, but that does not make them "less" of anything. No one needs to prove they are not racist by association, actions speak a lot louder and more accurately.

These white people have united in peaceful solidarity with total strangers in open discourse and peaceful marches to achieve EQUALITY for all.   What a concept!  non-racist white folks! - I have news for you, they have been here all along.  The dinosaurs are an embarrassment to society that does not represent all white people, and these white folks have been demonized by being called "liberal", "socialists" and less printable monikers.

Putting black people on the defensive is a very useful political tool that serves to reinforce white supremacist ideology.  A recent article on Salon's Website compared Professor Melissa Harris-Perry to the KKK and propelled a barrage of negative attention in social media.  The piece is offensive and overblown beyond reason, and stirs racist controversy that takes the focus away from the issues we should be paying attention to instead.  The Salon piece has forced Professor Harris to defend herself against the  article and set the record straight regarding the perceived friendship between Professor Harris and Joan Walsh.  

All this distraction works well to avoid looking at the real effects of blatant racism; Disparity, inequality, health care, quality of life, employment, education, voter suppression and dignity of life.  These events are intertwined with pervasive racist attitudes, but it is the disparity that needs to be addressed and equalized, not foster race-bating issues that resolve nothing.  Professor Harris can disagree with President Obama's policies as much as she wants.  It is her right and there is nothing remotely comparable to the KKK in anything she has said or done. 

The World is NOT Black & White

Fact: Our President is bi-racial and like millions upon millions of Americans represents multiracial, multilingual and multicultural people who don't see things in terms of black or white but with a larger scope that spans beyond the narrow field of vision of their own personal experiences.  I submit to you that black and white are NOT the only "flavors" available nor does either side speaks for us all, regardless of our cultural or racial identity.

The laws in Arizona, Georgia, Utah, Indiana, Alabama and the various groups across the nation targeting brown people and immigration are racist in the opinion of many and this writer in particular.  If we had Norwegians and Canadians entering the country illegally, we would pass laws granting them immediate citizenship.  (We can discuss this point if you like)

The notion that skin color define us and the roles we must play, is an old and boring form of bigotry that, just like old clothes, no longer fits the times or tastes of a more discerning population.  We also find these narrow perspectives offensive to our intellect.  Are you black? White? Hispanic? Oriental? Human? Great! us too! what else do we have in common?

Let's avoid the distractions and direct the conversation towards what really matters: The substance of a person, their character and their integrity.  Let us agree that when people are lacking in these areas, all they have to offer is tired argument that perpetuates stereotypes and addresses only imaginary fears of what should be, a bygone era.

Native Americans, Spaniards, Portuguese, Africans, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Germans, Irish, Polish, Jews.... and all possible cultural combinations are equally responsible to take our country into the 21st Century.  Race baiting won't get us there and neither will the disproportionate attention accorded to a minority on the verge of extinction.  Let them go into oblivion, because just like dinosaurs, they are done.

Note:  Opinions are not facts.  

Related Articles:  
Professor Cornell West and President Obama

Images: Skinhead by Carlos Latuff under Public Domain / Mixed Blood - Choctaw Children by Unknown under Public Domain

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Honest Greed

It is shocking hearing Alessio Rastani state in plain English that as a trader, he "is dreaming of the next great depression" because there is money to be made.  Other statements included that "governments don't own the world, Goldman Sachs does" and various others that left many incredulous that such blatant greed could come so naturally to this day trader. 

The lack of interest on how these horrific economic events could affect real human beings and his laser-like focus on the end-game made people wonder if this was a hoax.

It is like this with human beings, we immediately doubt the message and the messenger when a human being seems monstrous and lacking the basic elements of what we perceive as "humanity."
The conspiracy theories started to fly.  It was stated that he looks remarkably similar to someone who works for  "Yes Men"  - Immediate comments were that the BBC interviewer had been fooled and this was a hoax.

The bottom line is that very few of us can accept this type of blunt honesty because it is unpalatable.  We need to deny that these people exist and this is, in fact, the way they think.  Why? because they control most of the wealth in the planet and one way or another we are on the receiving end of all of their actions and decisions.  Also, because most of us can't imagine profiting from the pain and suffering of others.  It seems... inhuman.

"Yes Men" has stated they are not affiliated with Alessio Rastani and Mr. Rastani stated that the only error made was that he was referred to as a Wall Street trader.  He considers himself a technical trader who started trading in 2006 and spends time teaching others how trading works.

Contrary to popular perception all people are not shocked to hear blatant admissions of greed and opportunism.  I submit to you that only those who are "older" are the ones in shock.

Older folks were taught at home to be polite, maintain appearances, use diplomacy and "find a better way to deliver the message without offending or insulting" - These values were reinforced at school and by society at large.  What happened to our younger members?

Simply stated, they are shortchanged with few respectable role models and programming.  It is easier, and less costly, to bombard them with stupid shows like "the real housewives of..."

The behavior and vulgarity of the Kardashians or Snooki is glamorized instead of shunned.  Duplicate shows by different names offer a sameness that turns into acceptance and eventually, elicit compliance.  Self-indulgence is the name of the game both in programming and politics.

We live in times, where the message "every man for himself" and "pull yourself by your bootstraps" has become synonymous with stepping all over other people's rights in order to ensure self-preservation. Elisabeth Warren is one of the few voices that can counteract the negative messaging by speaking plainly with something rare: Common Sense.
What can we do to counteract the negative messaging and establish a palpable difference between a soulless society and what society should look like?

We need to provide a better environment and better role models.  This cannot become the standard by which people measure and value their own worth.

Join local unions as a member or volunteer. Coordinate with community organizers to effectuate fair changes and a course of action in your community.  Join, Planned Parenthood, or The National Association of Free Clinics.

Lead by example - Show them what decency looks like by doing the right thing even when it is the hard thing to do. Volunteer at your local school, food pantry or hospital.  Show them what humanity is and how real life events affects them.

Support decent human beings into political offices, people who work for the benefit of society, not for self-indulgence.  For instance,  Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Allen Grayson.  Surely we can all find others at the local and national level worth of our efforts and support.

Organize for America is another way to be involved in whatever project or program you think your community needs.  Contact your local democratic party and get involved in community outreach.  

In other words, support those who support you and your community.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Economics: Government Workers Cost Taxpayers Less

There is a disconnect between economics and privatization that feels and sounds as though it is being done on purpose.  It does not take a genius to recognize that anything that is 'for profit' needs to cost a lot more than something done in the public interest without any expectation for remuneration.

Our military personnel works for little money and do the jobs they were trained to do.  They are in the line of combat with shoddy equipment and little appreciation from a public that is jaded, saddened and just want them home.

The, so called, contractors have benefited from the same military training, and should be called mercenaries, because that is exactly what they are.  Black Water, now going by the nondescript name, Xe is composed primarily of former military personnel.  They cost the tax payers a bundle and stand alongside enlisted military personnel with better equipment and salaries upwards of $100,000 a year.  Our typical G.I. earns a fraction of that and they are the ones putting their lives on the line.

It was not a contractor that took down Bin Ladin or the Somali pirates, but we gloss over those facts because they don't suit the narrative of privatizing every aspect of our government.

What other vendors are there? - Well, there are contractors to wash the uniforms of our men and women on the field, weird huh?.  There was a time when the laundry, peeling of potatoes and all other chores required by the military was done by military personnel,  unfortunately, big corporations do those, and many other jobs, at an enormous cost to the tax payers and doing a lousy job in the process.

As related to me four years ago:  The laundry issue rankles a friend of mine because his son, now home from several tours in Iraq and suffering from stress and other issues, was prohibited from washing his own uniform.  All had to be sent to the laundry 'contractor' who would return their clothes unwashed most of the time.  By the time they got them, they had been stinking in a bag for weeks and they had to wear them because there is nothing else to wear.

Iraq: triple digit temperatures, dust, dirt, sweat - Nice!

Surely there are other stories about 'contractors' out there and you are welcome to share them in the comments section, but we need to move on to other types of contractors and how much they are costing you and me.

FEMA under George W. Bush: Employees told to train private sector employees who would then get jobs supervising the people they trained.  Cha - Ching! - Keep this in mind the next time someone bought and paid for by corporations starts touting how our emergency response system should be handed over to the private sector.

Keep it in mind every time you see the vilification of fire fighters, teachers and government workers in general.  It all started to come to blows at the state government level, but they are moving up the ladder to the Federal government.  Keep in mind Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Florida and all others not making the news cycle.

Keep in mind the privatization of air traffic controllers that started with Reagan disregarding their collective bargaining rights and things have gone downhill for them (and us, because we fly) since then.  Long shifts, no help and tons of stress.  Nice working environment for those who have to keep thousands of airplanes in the air every minute of their working hours!

Keep in mind Florida's governor Rick Scott, using his position to mandate drug testing of people receiving government checks (welfare, unemployment, etc).  It is just a coincidence that the medical testing facilities and ancillary services are owned by him, or he has a large stake in those companies.  (But let's privatize everything with tax payer dollars, right?)

Keep these thing in mind when you hear: "government bad" "Private companies do a better job" and follow the money.  Your tax payer dollars, that is.

KBR providing logistics to the military costs us a bundle.  This is work our military is quite capable of doing at a fraction of the cost.

Today, I want to give you a link to go to and read a full account of what it is costing us tax payers to 'outsource' to private companies and you decide if privatization of our government is something you are for or against. as reported by Dina Rasor , I have not even touched the surface of what is contained in Dina Rasor's report.  Please read to get a better sense of how our tax payer dollars are being wasted.

Have you heard about the post office going broke? - Me too, so I had to look into that.

Short version and incomplete information and misinformation:

The postal service is going broke.  Private companies can do a better job.  The postal service has little to do because people pay their bills on line and use e-mail instead of envelopes and letter.  It is cheaper to mail all our packages through UPS or FedEx.

Longer version:

The postal service was doing just fine but Congress decided to enact a law in 2006 that would force the United Postal Service to save up enough money to cover the health benefits of retirees for future employees for the next 70 years within a 10 year span.  `Sec. 8909a. Postal Service Retiree Health Benefit Fund (Scroll down towards the bottom of the page to see the schedule of payments) 

Do private companies do this? of course not.  Who in their right mind would save up retirement funds for A) people who have not been born yet, and B) employees they may not need to hire.  

This is just another piggy bank that is ripe for the taking (just like Social Security and Medicare) and would fund many private enterprises once the postal service has been dissolved or downsized to the point that they accept only packages to be handled by UPS or FedEx.  - (I think Ben Franklin is turning over in his grave right now)

The post office is forced to take packages that Fed Ex and UPS don't want to deliver because it is out of the way or not cost effective.  Did you know this? They also deliver packages that are too heavy for Fed Ex or UPS to handle.

Submitting this information for your consideration and determination on what, if anything, should be entrusted to private companies to handle on our collective behalf.


I am looking for some facts and figures of UPS being involved in this postal mess because I wanted to fact-check statements before I put them here.  I will add to it as soon as I find it, but for a comprehensive involvement of Rep. Issa's and his band of thieves, you can read Postal Workers: The Last Union.

Looking forward to your intelligent comments.

Images: You got mail by Felixco, Inc. / US. 3rd Batallion by U.S. Marine Corps by Lance Cpl. James F. Clinne II (public domain)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bachmann's Ignorance Gives Merck Unwanted Publicity

Update June 20, 2013:

An independent study conducted by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) found that since being vaccinated, the HPV virus has been reduced in girls by a whooping 56 percent.

USA Today has a comprehensive article on today's CDC news and the current results of the study.

We heard Michele Bachmann state that a woman in the audience told her that her teenage daughter became mentally retarded after getting Merck's vaccine, Gardasil.  

We know that Bachmann's statements are reprehensible due to the fact that the story in question is a lie. The vaccine has never caused mental retardation and the flurry of news reports continue to contradict her righteous certitude.

The woman who allegedly told her the story, may or may not exist, and Bachmann is a dirty politician who will use anything, factual or not, to increase her chances of reaching her political goals. (as of June 2013, Mrs. Bachmann is no longer seeking re-election and along with Sarah Palin, will be joining the Fox Network's line up of political misinformation. A job for which both are perfectly suited.)

While Bachmann continues to remain unrepentant about her statements, we need to take a closer look at the ramifications of what she said and delve a little deeper, not on Bachmann's penchant of making up things or getting things wrong, but casting a bright light on Merck and Perry.

In this case, Bachmann used the vaccine as a way to gain a political advantage over the front runner of the GOP: Rich Perry.  Her statement has been useful to remind us of something we seem to have forgotten: The history of Gardasil.

We need to take a minute and ponder the dirty politics behind Merck and Rick Perry and wonder if this vaccine is actually as beneficial as they claim it to be;  will this vaccine cause infertility issues or other health problems down the road? or is actually a gift to women everywhere?

Let's travel back in time to 2007 when Rick Perry, largely unknown to anyone outside of the great state of Texas, made the national news by assuming the role of dictator-in-chief and commanding via Executive Order, that all girls be vaccinated with Gardasil to protect them from the human papilloma virus (HPV) which is known to cause cervical cancer.
*The Texas legislature overturned this order and Perry did not pursue the issue.

It was at that time that the news reported an unhealthy financial connection between the governor and the pharmaceutical company and this gained Perry very negative national coverage and embarrassed Merck who was unprepared for the backlash and scrutiny that followed.

Back in 2007, after Governor Perry was attacked by the National media, the virtues of the vaccine were touted as the end-all of cervical cancer.  It was stated, prior to signing the executive order, that boys are the carriers and the vaccine should be given to both genders. After people started to grumble about vaccinating their sons (after all, this is a woman's problem) the public statements about vaccinating males was dropped.


Does it stand to reason that a carrier should be vaccinated to prevent spreading the virus?  Merck representatives stated clearly that both boys and girls should be vaccinated, but later dropped the issue.

The Gardasil website continues to state that both genders should be vaccinated, here is an excerpt:

Who should get vaccinated with Gardasil?

GARDASIL is for females and males ages 9 to 26. [...]  females are only half the equation. Males can get vaccinated, too. [...] Girls and boys as young as 9 can get vaccinated.
Gardasil's long-term impact is unknown.  The cost for the three-shot series is $360 per person and several questions that concerned parents should ask, have not been properly addressed.  The thing the experts seem to agree with, is that vaccines such as Gardasil can prevent some types of cervical cancer by killing sexually transmitted viruses.

The tactics used by Merck and Governor Perry opened the door to more questions.  This is a good thing for anyone considering vaccinating their sons and daughters and make an informed decision that could potentially save their children's lives.

This is probably the first time we can say that Michelle Bachmann has done anything in the public interest, even if her remarks were done exclusively to gain political ground. 

The bottom line:  The medical community agrees that this is a safe vaccine as stated earlier on the article and does NOT cause mental retardation.  AND..... We still have a lot of money in pharmaceutical companies lobbying elected officials to benefit their bottom line first.  

Gardasil Clarified: 

Now we move on to Gardasil and the medical input I have received from two medical professionals.  I leave my earlier questions about the vaccine as they appeared with the corrected information right next to it.  If you are a parent with the same questions, I pass on to you what I have learned.


A friend on Twitter - whom I respect greatly and has a medical degree - stated that the information here was wrong and could be misleading.  She sent me the link to Pediatricians Fact-Check Bachmann's Bashing of HPV Vaccine in which the medical community agrees there is no such thing as mental retardation as a side effect.  (it was stated at the beginning of the article, but it is worth reading the blog from professionals, not pundits on the tee vee machine) - This should make parents a bit more comfortable. 

The CDC reports that the vaccine is safe based on the current data and only 9% of the reported incidents were considered to be serious.  I did more research on the CDC report and even though the deaths reported are higher than what was stated earlier from the site I linked to, (different time periods)  they concurred they cannot link it to the vaccine.  Another useful link on the CDC is everything you need to know about the vaccine. 

- Two years ago, I asked three nurses at the department on health and the family GP if there was cause for concern regarding infertility issues or impotence.  They all stated they did not know, but touted the benefits of preventing cervical cancer. - 

These are my questions in regards to vaccinating my girls and the updated information:

  • Does Gardasil causes infertility/impotence issues?  The hundreds of lab rats were as young as 9 years old when in the test group. Update: Nothing on the CDC report about this but I have been informed a few minutes ago, that is is not an issue seen with vaccines.

  • Does Gardasil will provide protection for a lifetime or a new series of shots would have to be implemented at a later date? Update: CDC states the protection is about 6 yrs
  • Do we know if the body's immune system will be compromised and a new series of vaccine be ineffective?  Update: CDC states there is no evidence of decreased immunity.
What we do know is that Merck stood to make billions of dollars if every state in the nation had followed suit, or if the Federal government made the vaccination part of the series of vaccinations required to enroll children in public school.

We also know that beating generic brands to the punch was essential for Merck to be top dog in the pharmaceutical landscape and a bold move, such as mandatory vaccination, would increase their stock's value and keep shareholders happy.

We do know the following: 
  • 23 million doses were administered between 2006 and 2008
Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) - the CDC agrees that the number is not unusual among the general population.  They cannot attribute this to Gardasil.  It is important that I correlate the following information which Michael F. Ozaki MD was kind enough to provide and allowed me to share with you: 

Dr. Ozaki: 

"As a doctor I do not disagree with anything in your blog I am glad you are responsible and made efforts to clarify points.

I tell patients that "correlation does not prove causation" which is a fancy way of saying because things occur in the same time frame, these things may not have a cause and effect. I brush my teeth and the sun rises, the two events are correlated but not causative. It is the same with side effects, a shot is given and a day later Guillen- Barre develops, did the shot cause it? No one knows.
The reason why we give it is risk and benefit - No one who has cancer will say they would have turned down a shot at age 12 to prevent cancer."

On why boys are not getting the vaccine:

Dr. Ozaki:

"It is more economics that prevents boys from the shot than it is medical advice. Hopefully that will change soon.  As for boys, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended it for boys but the insurance companies to date won't pay for it.

hope that helps! Thanks for your interest and I thank you for trying to get a complex issue correct." 

We all agree that cervical cancer is deadly and any vaccine that can prevent women from contracting the disease worldwide is welcome.  What we are having trouble with is the financial gain and the underhanded way in which Merck rushed to get this thing to market through Governor Perry.  

We can thank Michelle Bachmann for this great discussion here today. 

Image: Vaccine by Sura Nualpradid /

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering 9/11 and The Real America

As memorial events take place all over the country to remember the horrific attacks on American soil by a group of terrorists hell-bent on destroying America's economy and ensuring we live in fear, most of us will have a somber moment or two remembering those powerful scenes streaming on our television sets.

We will remember the frantic calls to family members who still live in New York and the feelings of powerlessness to stop the nightmare from evolving beyond the containment of one city.

It was not to be, the orchestrated attacks came in three. The Pentagon and Pennsylvania took additional hits  It was not meant to happen here, in our country.  We don't know how to deal with this, we said to ourselves.  We are not a third world country accustomed to car bombings and daily unrest, we thought.   This is America! - We are untouchable.

Well, it did happen and many other attacks have been thwarted thanks to an intelligence system that has become more adept to using brains, knowledge, and knowing the enemy than using brute force.  But it has all come to a high cost.  The lives lost are priceless, the families are forever changed and the rescuers are horribly sick. Many have died or are dying from the fumes filled with carcinogens and particles embedded permanently in their lungs.

We will all chose to remember something; a photograph, a video clip, a loved one.  We might even recall how we felt when we saw or heard about it, where we were and who we were with at the time.  What I want to remember is the reactions of our every day citizens, the ones who no one talks about on television or radio programs.

We all know who they are; they don't have a uniform and don't belong to a rescue team or have any military training: They are our neighbors and I thought we should pause for a moment and think about them and send a thought, a prayer or, a wish of gratitude for what they did and for making our world a better place to live.

I remember ordinary people in California reacting quickly and throwing whatever they thought could help in the back of their cars and drive across the country to help dig through the rubble.

I remember a former police officer, friend of the family, who drove to Nevada in record time to pick up my father-in-law, who was visiting and unable to catch a flight back to San Francisco and be with his wife of over 50 years.  My father-in-law slept next to his wife that night.

I remember the nurses at our doctor's office who took an immediate leave of absence and took off for New York to help heal, comfort and treat survivors and rescuers.

I remember Cuba offering their highly trained medical personnel and being turned down by our government.

I remember the anguish of long hours before I got news of my brothers, niece, cousins, nephews and my mom.

I remember crying.

Most of all, today and tomorrow, I remember us.

I remember the Americans we can be when a disaster strikes, not because there is money in it, not because there is glory in it, but because we are that way regardless of who we are or affiliate with in peaceful times.  Even when we don't want to show it, we care and know that when we are needed, we can get out of our comfort zone and jump with both feet to lend more than just a hand, we give with our souls.

Ten years after 9/11/2001 - America, I remember you.

PEACE - Olivia 

Image by Flickr user TheMachineStops (CC BY-SA 2.0)  via Wikimedia Commons