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America vs. The World

The big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart. — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Thirty-nine percent of Americans are off their rockers

Last week, a public radio show host pulled a Borat. Host Jerry Klein suggested that all Muslims in the United States should be identified with a crescent-shape tattoo or a distinctive arm band:
The first caller to the station in Washington said that Klein must be 'off his rocker.' The second congratulated him and added: 'Not only do you tattoo them in the middle of their forehead but you ship them out of this country ... they are here to kill us.'
Another caller asked, "What good is identifying them? You have to set up encampments like during World War II with the Japanese and Germans."

This went on for about an hour when Klein revealed that it was all a hoax, a social experiment of sorts. He needn't have bothered, because polling already reveals that 39 percent of Americans are in favor of requiring Muslims in the United States, including American citizens, to carry special identification.

You know what that sounds like to the other 61 percent of Americans. It sounds an awful lot like the beginnings of the Holocaust — arm bands and tattoos, which Klein noted after the station's jammed phone lines calmed down:
"... Basically what you just did was show me how the German people allowed what happened to the Jews to happen ... We need to separate them, we need to tattoo their arms, we need to make them wear the yellow Star of David, we need to put them in concentration camps, we basically just need to kill them all because they are dangerous."
I'm glad that at least a majority of us probably agree that those 39 percent are the dangerous ones. Thirty-nine percent, you are an outrage.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Hard days ahead for Congress

The days of milk and honey are over in D.C. — here comes the five-day workweek.

It's been a rather easy year for our current crop of congresscritters. They'll have worked a grand total of 103 days in 2006, seven fewer than the infamous "Do-Nothing Congress" of 1948. And for only $165,200 a year! Here's how Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn, described Congress back in May:

"They call it the Tuesday to Thursday Club. That means you get here Tuesday night, you have a few easy votes, you vote on Wednesday and then you go back home Thursday afternoon. And that, believe it or not, is considered a work week in Washington."

No longer! Incoming House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is cracking the whip — members of Congress will have to be at the Capitol by 6:30 p.m. most Mondays, and they can't leave until 2 p.m. on Fridays. Lordy lordy, how will they survive?

"Keeping us up here eats away at families," said Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who typically flies home on Thursdays and returns to Washington on Tuesdays. "Marriages suffer. The Democrats could care less about families — that's what this says."

Eats away at families. Right. Unlike, say, the bankruptcy bill.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Do something smart

Since I'm listed on the Internet as a doctor, once worked in a hospital and love all things medical (besides college-level science classes) — I'm blogging up a medical notice to everyone.

If you are a female, or you know any females, you need to know about Gardasil. It's a vaccine for HPV (the human papilomma virus). There are many strains of HPV and some of them cause cervical cancer. Some other strains of HPV cause genital warts. HPV is usually undetectable in men, though a man can give a woman HPV from sexual contact.

Gardasil is given in a series of three injections over six months. Women and girls from age 11 to 26 should get the vaccine and should ask their doctor's about it immediately.

It's critical to follow the vaccine timetable (take the first shot, the second two months later, the four months after that). I can't explain how this vaccine was created and the New York Times can't really explain it either, but this story gives you some insight.

Gardasil will do a lot to protect women in America from cervical cancer. And hopefully success here will bring more help for women and girls who don't have routine pap tests to check for precancerous cells and other abnormalities on the cervix which can lead to cancer. The vaccine is being distributed worldwide. Heck, New Hampshire is offering it for free. Awesome.

There's really no excuse not to get it. This can save your life, or the life of someone you know. The fewer people with HPV the better. Do it.

I can hear the complaining now, and I'm sure you've heard it before too. "I hate shots!" and "I don't like to go to my doctor," or "I'm healthy so I don't need to go to the doctor." Here goes, straight from Dr. Mandasaurus.
  • I take at least five shots a day from a syringe or insulin pen. I prick my finger at least five times a day. I have diabetes and I'm not scared of shots. Shots make my body work. If I don't take them I feel like shit. And if I didn't get shots I'd die. Seriously. I get bruises and bumps sometimes. Occasionally I'll hit a funny spot and the tiny needle will hurt really bad. But it's fine. I'm tough. Getting a shot that can save your life is easy. If you don't like needles be tough and take a deep breath.
  • Going to the doctor doesn't have to be fun. It's something you have to do. It's good for you. If you don't go you are being stupid. That's it. I'm sure you're not stupid. So don't be stupid.
  • Healthy is as healthy does and everyone — everyone — needs to go to the doctor. You need to go so the doctor can listen to your heart, check your reflexes and take notes on how freaking healthy you are. Then next time he can take notes on how much healthier you are. It will make your doctor so happy to see your healthiness every year. (Doctors mostly see pinkeye, coughs, mucus, rashes and people addicted to ibuprofen.) You'll be doing a good deed. Just go to the doctor.

That's the end of my public health announcement.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Family Council

In a surprise move last week, the Cook County Board announced its intention to supplant City Hall as the most corrupt institution in Chicagoland, a title that city government has held for decades.

Leading the way is temporary board president Bobbie Steele. Temporary, because she was chosen to replace John Stroger, who had to resign from the board back in March due to health problems.

Remember John, who I wrote about a few months ago? He's the guy who masked the severity of his crippling stroke long enough to win the Democratic primary, and then got his son Todd to replace him on the ballot. Unsurprisingly, Stroger No. 2 went on to victory last month, and he's set to take the presidency back from Steele this week. Before that happens, Steele is resigning.

What's she doing to carry the corruption flag? I mean, it's not like she could even think of trying to put her son on the Board in her place, after the controversy that surrounded Stoger's replacement. Especially since she promised she would serve out the rest of her term if re-elected.

So...yeah. That's what she's doing. The ward committeemen in her district are getting together to select Steele's replacement, and they're expected to choose her son Robert. He'll serve out the entirety of her term, then be re-elected a few times until he decides to pass the office on to his daughter one day. The Tribune has the sordid details.

In addition to making the County Board into a hereditary fiefdom, Bobbie's retirement will also give her a nice little double bubble. Steele has been on the Board for 20 years, and would normally get a pension based on her board member salary of $85,000 a year. But if she retires while she's still president (after a whopping eight months), her pension will be based on the $170,000 a year president's salary.

I don't even know what to say at this point. Clearly, the voters don't care anymore, if they ever did. In my ode to Daley a couple months ago, I said that I don't really care much about local corruption, as long as government still functions effectively (if not efficiently). I still believe that, but this political nepotism is really pushing my limits. It's one thing to line your pockets. It's another to toss the democratic process out the window.
Jeff Goldstein is a wanker.