Thursday, December 04, 2008

Notes on the past week

A few things to comment on in the past week:

Obama has nominated Hillary for SecState. Turns out the Constitution forbids her from serving. Why? The rules say that any member of Congress who is in office when cabinet salaries are increased can not serve in any of those positions in the future. Pay raises were approved by Congress early last year. But don’t hold your breath. Dems are already saying that this won’t be a problem. There have been “work arounds” in the past and no one expects this to prevent Hillary from becoming Secretary of State….Yeah, it’s only the Constitution, no sense letting that keep us from business as usual in DC

Yesterday, Obama announced that he will not seek a windfall profits tax on oil companies. He says the price of oil has now dropped low enough that it will not be practical to impose such a tax. WEP will officially call this the first broken campaign promise, and it may be a record. We’re barely in December and the President-elect is already going back on what he promised his supporters. This only proves what I suspected all along, that Obama does not represent a “new kind of politics”. He is just like any other politician, willing to say or do anything to get elected. But don’t fret too much my Lefty friends. Bush pulled a fast one on us conservatives as well, promising to act like a conservative and then governing like a liberal Republican. It happens to the best of us. But does this mean that Obama plans to do away with his middle class tax rebate? After all, he promised to pay for it through the windfall profits tax, so he will now have to either break that promise or just print more money so he can write those rebate checks.

In light of broken campaign promises, WEP is eager to see what Obama does about Gitmo. He promised to shut it down, but will soon learn just how difficult that’s going to be. I mean, it’s not like Bush enjoys having a prison camp in our own backyard. The problem is: What do you do with those people you’re holding? Turn them loose in society? Expedite them to their home country? It’s easy to criticize from the outside, but things change once you’re calling the shots. My guess is that Obama doesn’t close Gitmo. Something tells me he’s too much like BJ Clinton in that he will pay lots of attention to polls, and Americans won’t approve of letting all those people go.

Speaking of polls, recent tabs show that 61% of Americans oppose bailing out Detroit. That’s comforting. Giving the Big 3 federal money would be akin to investing in Worldcom the day after the accounting scandal was uncovered. They have failed, bankruptcy is inevitable. Let’s down flush taxpayer money down with them. Many auto companies have failed in the past. Remember Tucker, Studebaker, American Motors? It’s a tough business. There’s absolutely no reason why the federal government should try to keep these poorly-managed companies afloat. And the UAW should understand something: When you demand a labor agreement that forces the Big 3 to pay workers $70 per hour in wages and benefits while the competition pays $40 per hour, then you have damaged your job security because you have forced your employer into a position where they simply can’t compete with the competition. Seems like common sense to me.

Finally, I have always considered Al Franken a propagandist slimeball, so his recent behavior doesn’t surprise me. But I am surprised at how the American people – particularly Minnesotans – are willing to sit back and let this guy steal a Senate election. His Dem friends in polling places are “discovering” lost ballots on an almost daily basis, yet Franken wants to challenge votes for his opponent because the bubble was not completely darkened in. One election official finds a box of uncounted ballots in his trunk well after the initial results were in…because, you know, it’s so easy for ballots to accidently be misplaced in someone’s trunk during a close election. Of course, this discovery favored Mr. Franken, big surprise there. More recently, Franken has asked the US Senate to intervene in the process. It doesn’t matter to him that the US Senate has no jurisdiction in the matter, it only matters that the US Senate is 58% friendly to him.
When you couple Franken’s behavior with that of ACORN, the debacle in Washington a few years ago and, of course, Al Gore’s attempted coup in 2000, you can’t help but wonder if our election process carries any legitimacy at all. I mean, Fidel Castro gets elected with 100% of the people’s vote. How far are we from that kind of vote tally?


Dan Trabue said...

Americans won’t approve of letting all those people go.

I rather suspect you're mistaken on this point. We believe deeply in our Constitution and due process in this nation, and if there's not a legally legitimate reason for keeping these people prisoners, then we must let them go. What else shall we do? Ignore our Constitution? Make up rules as we go?

You seem to be denigrating that idea in the previous paragraph.

Anonymous said...


This request is completely off topic, but I would appreciate you stating your thoughts, when you have the opportunity, on the threat posed to world health by tuberculosis and especially medication resistant TB.



John Washburn said...

TB is reemerging as a public health concern in the US mainly because of increases in foreign travel, ie the shrinking globe. Before this, it was mainly a third world concern. TB is relatively easy to treat in early stages and there are screening programs for those at higher risk of exposure like healthcare workers, inmates, immigrants, etc.

The problem is drug resistance and there are varying degrees of this. Multidrug resistant TB does not respond to first and second options, but will respond to IV treatment. Extensive drug resistant TB responds to little if anything, and there is a limit to what can be done for these patients outside of comfort measures and isolation. Drug resistance is still fairly rare in the US despite what the media likes to report.

Although treating TB is fairly simple, it does require 6 to 9 months (depending on who you ask) of oral antibiotics. And this is the problem. That length of treatment leaves a lot of room for error. Patients can disappear, be lost in the system, or basically refuse to comply. Sometimes there are measures for physicians to take to avoid this, sometimes not. And if treatment is not complete and thorough, it increases the risk of drug-resistant strains emerging.

For the average person, I would say that if you are at risk of being exposed to TB you should see your doctor once a year for a test. It’s a simple skin test that determines if you have been exposed to the infection. If positive, you’re placed on antibiotics for the above specified time with a diagnosis of latent TB (NOT active TB). TAKE THEM as prescribed and do not deviate from doctor’s orders. This goes for any antibiotic prescription regardless of the reason. We humans have a bad habit of taking antibiotics until we feel better then stopping before the treatment is complete, thus doing our part in creating drug-resistant bacteria.

Those at risk of exposure include: known close contact with someone who has active tuberculosis; HIV positive or otherwise immunocompromised; healthcare workers; IV drug users; native born or recent extended stay in countries with high TB rates; living or working in areas where TB is common like homeless shelters, prisons, migrant worker camps, hospitals or nursing homes.

The threat to world health comes from most countries not properly tracking patients being treated to ensure they complete their treatment course. We do a good job of this in the US, but standards are different in developing countries. It's these situations that are contributing to drug resistance.

Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Doc.