Monday, February 4, 2019

Mindlessly Obeying Blogs May Have Contributed To Measles Outbreak

According to KPTV News, On Friday, February 1st, the Clark County Public Health Department confirmed 42 cases of measles. Seven other suspected cases are under investigation as the outbreak continues to grow.

Subject: This child shows a classic day-4 rash with measles. | Photographer: CDC/NIP/Barbara Rice |As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

Measles first cropped up about 800 A.D..  Back then it killed by the thousands.  It wasn't until 1963 that mankind developed an inoculation for the virus.  By the year 2000 measles had been wiped out in America, or so we thought.

Model and actress Jenny McCarthy advocates for the benignly named Generation Rescue.  This group is dedicated to helping children with autism.  If they merely raised money to help children with autism, that would be fine.  However, once you read their literature it becomes clear that one of their goals is to discourage the parents from vaccinating their children.

Jenny McCarthy had a child who developed autism.  Because the autism manifested shortly after her child had been vaccinated, she linked the two events in her mind.  Now, she writes blogs and gives public speeches against childhood vaccinations.

It's her right to talk about whatever she wants.  The scary part is that people are listening.  As a result of the anti-vaccine movement, measles is back in America.  Like I said, anyone has a right to blog about whatever they want, but it's up to the public to know whose blog they're reading.  McCarthy has no medical education whatsoever.  She saw a correlation and assumed a cause and effect relationship.  Any college student, who has taken statistics, can tell you a correlation never implies cause and effect.  It's the number one rule of statistical analysis

If she had any scientific background at all, she would know this.  There are people out there taking health advice from an actress!  Anyone who takes advice about the health of their child from a blogger is a special kind of stupid.  Seriously, anybody can write a blog about anything.  I write four blogs myself.  As prolific as I am, you should never take life altering advice from me either.  If you want advice about the health of your child, you should be getting it from a licensed medical professional.

The first amendment gives us the right to say whatever we want.  However, we also have the right, and the responsibility, to choose who we listen to.  We don't have to obey the guy with the loudest blow horn.  We need to use common sense and listen to those who actually know what they're talking about.  

Monday, January 28, 2019

America Is Open For Business - For Now

On Friday morning, January 25th, President Trump announced that a deal had been reached to open the government until February 15th.   The deal does not include a $5.7 billion down payment on a border wall, making it the same deal the president rejected back on December 19th.

Subject: President Trump at White House garden podium | Photographer: White House Photographic Office |As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

Whether we wanted to, or not, we have all just watched the world's longest poker hand. Nancy Pelosi held four aces, while Trump kept betting with a busted flush. Eventually he had to fold.  The question is ,why did he fold, seemingly out of the blue, when he did?

It could have something to do with the fact that  LaGuardia Airport, where Trump keeps his private jet, was mere hours away from chaos. Unpaid air traffic controllers had called in "sick" for the upcoming shift and flights were being cancelled as a result.

It is also possible that Trump was trying to take control of the news cycle. That morning the FBI raided the home of Roger Stone. Stone had been a close friend and advisor to Donald Trump for decades. The arrest may bring Mueller's investigation that much closer to Trump's doorstep. He may have been trying to distract America by announcing the end of the shutdown.

Whatever the reason one thing is clear, after 35 days of chaos Trump got nothing accomplished. He needs to give up on the idea of a wall or we will have another shut down in three weeks.

Of course, in two years whoever runs against Trump will be able to point to the 35 day debacle as proof that Donald Trump is willing to hurt Americans to further his own racist agenda. If nothing else, he has ensured that a democrat will win the White House in 2020.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Fed Officials Need To Do Their Job, So Fed Employees Can Do Theirs

"All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills." ~ Article I: Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution.  The rest of the section spells out how a bill can be passed into law (think Schoolhouse Rock) and the recourse the legislative branch has when faced with a presidential veto.

Subject: White House (altered by James Kiester) | Date: 02/29/2008 | Photographer: Okatah |This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
We are, officially, in the middle of the longest federal shutdown in American history.  According to
MSNBC's Ali Velshi, "if the federal shutdown continues, it will likely cost more than the $5.7 billion President Trump wants for his border wall ."

Velshi has a point.  Keep in mind, it's not only 800,000 workers who are losing out right now.  When those workers would go to lunch during their work day, they were buying that lunch from a business.  That business has not been selling those lunches for four weeks now.  When the 800,000 were working they were spending money in their communities.  Now that they're having to cut back, all those businesses in that community suffer.

The ripple effect is absolutely incalculable. It won't be long before corporate America starts to feel the effects on their bottom line. When that happens, stocks are going to take a dive.  Having this many people taken out of the workforce for this long is a sure way to take a wrecking ball to our economy.

I would argue that the cost is in more than just dollars.  The American people are losing faith in their country.  When our leaders cannot work together long enough to keep the proverbial doors open it makes our country look inept around the world.

On Saturday, at 4:07pm EST, President Trump read his newest proposal to end the shutdown.  He offered a three year extension on DACA in exchange for $5.7 billion for the down payment on his border wall.  He wasn't off the air for one hot minute before Nancy Pelosi was on air rejecting the offer.

Trump made an offer that he knew Pelosi would not accept.  Pelosi did not even pretend to think it over before she said no.  Both sides are so intent on winning that there's no room for give and take.  Without a willingness to negotiate our government cannot function.

As I see it, there's only one semi-realistic way out of this mess.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell needs to allow the Senate to vote on the bills which have gone through the House.  Once the president vetoes the bill, Congress needs to override the veto and get America back to work.  However, in order for this to happen, the Republican controlled Senate needs to start acting like part of the legislative branch of government, rather than an office of the White House.  

Monday, January 14, 2019

King Trump and His Pawns

Well, it's official.  We are in the midst of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.  It's not a record which anyone, well almost anyone, wanted to break, but here we are.  800,000 federal went without their first paycheck last Friday, even though 420,000 of those employees are still being required to report for work.

King Trump| Publicly traded MEME|
Keep in mind, this government shutdown is the result of people arguing over a proposed border wall.  The 800,000 employees who are going without pay are being used as pons in Trump's game of chess.  The wall has nothing to do with them, they are merely being held hostage until Trump gets what he wants.

Last week I floated the idea that democrats should give in to Trump's demands in order to get people back to work.

  • I was concerned about federal employees not being able to buy groceries for their families.
  • I was appalled at the idea families are having to return their Christmas gifts in order to pay rent.
  • I was disgusted by the fact that hard working public servants are having to choose between buying food or buying medications.

Even more appalling was Trump's statement that workers would have to, "adjust their spending."  He obviously does not understand, or care about, the kind of hardships he's causing.

Taking the number of people suffering into account, I suggested that congress may as well give in.  I reasoned that even he if he got the money tomorrow, private landowners would keep the project tied up in court battles for twenty years.  However, I was corrected on my flawed logic.  Multiple readers contacted me via Facebook and politely pointed out that, if congress gives in now, President Trump will be able to hold workers hostage everytime he wants something.  Our country would become a functional dictatorship.

As badly as I feel for those who are caught in the middle, through no fault of their own, we can't give into Trump's demands for the same reason that law enforcement can not negotiate with kidnappers.  Congress must draw a line in the sand and hold firm.

I don't know how this will all end.  I hope that Senate Majority Leader McConnell will allow a bipartisan bill to be voted on by the senate.  Once both houses pass a bill I believe they can override a veto.  Short of such an override, I don't see a way out for our country.