Talking with the "enemy"

Peggy Noonan just wrote a opinion piece on talking with our enemies: Hear, Hear.

This growing trend to not talk with our enemies is one of the "American" actions that infuriates me most with the American political system. Not only is it very unChristlike, it is also very arrogant and ineffective.

Maybe we have a swelling tide of arrogance in this country. To think how great we are might be all that we have left to cling to as we lose a war, bridges crumble, the dollar crashes, jobs move overseas, house values plummet, levies break, and our political system only deals with issues that will implode in less than two years. Our pride might be all that is left.

I would much rather have no pride and live in a country heading in the right direction than to have all the pride in the world as everything crumbles around me. Proverbs says, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." Maybe that old book does have some relevance.

Watch out for the potholes.

Drive your truck like you have some

People should drive their big, macho, superduty trucks like they mean it.

The big, superduty Ford F-250 was being driven (or should I say pampered) at the elderly woman pace of ten miles per hour on the country stone road. A detour placed on US-37 between Harlan, IN, and Ft. Wayne, IN, was forcing people to veer off the regular path and take the back roads around the normal route. I was one of the people on the detour stuck behind a nice, new, slow-moving Ford F-250 that was scared to drive fast along the country road - apparently, a little afraid to stir up some dust. How does one of the "manliest" vehicles in the world end up in the hands of someone that is afraid to go faster than a mini-van on a country stone road?

This is not a rare occurrence. It is "pampered truck" syndrome. I once had a friend who bought a superduty truck but would not load anything in the bed for fear of scratching it. One does not buy a Clydesdale (a draft horse) to do the job of an Arabian (a horse known for speed and refinement). You buy an Arabian for that. If you want a vehicle that is shiny and pretty, there are many options out there for that. Stay away from the big trucks.

Something is wrong in a person who wants to appear tough but is not really tough. They spend $25,000 or so on a nice, new Ford F-250 that is marketed as "Stronger, Tougher, Better". Apparently they do this, not because they want a vehicle that is strong and tough, but to give the appearance of strength and toughness in order to compensate for the frailty that is certainly within them.

I could not stand waiting behind that macho truck driver as they coddled their superduty beauty on that country road. I flew by them in my Chevy Lumina stirring up stones and dust.

The moral of the story is "Don't be a mental case, drive and treat your superduty truck like it deserves." There are other vehicles that are made to be pampered if that is what you want. If a tough, strong, superduty truck is not for you, then do not own one. Being a pretty boy and insisting on driving a superduty truck will reveal more about you than you really want when you pamper it.

Drive your superduty truck like it is strong and tough. That is what they are made for.

And watch out for the potholes.

Fred Thompson's Announcement and What it says about American Politics

The way in which Fred Thompson announced his candidacy for the 2008 election represents all that is wrong in American politics. Announcing his candidacy on the Tonight Show and avoiding a Republican Debate earlier that evening was representative of the American political scene in which star power and entertainment overrides the relevant and pressing issues in the election cycle. Rather than joining in a debate with his fellow Republican candidates, he successfully overshadowed the debate with a public relations-manufactured announcement on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He even aired a commercial for his campaign during the debate, which was prior to his announcing his candidacy. The whole announcement borderlined on circus lunacy rather than presidential seriousness.

The "official" announcement came on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on late Thursday, September 6, with an official speech released on his website. As early as Friday, August 31, media outlets were reporting that former Tennessee senator and Law and Order star would announce his candidacy for the President on the Tonight Show the following week. In reality, announcing that he would announce that he would run was the real announcement of his candidacy, but the media seem to march right along to join in on his campaign's marketing blitz to make his "announcement" all that much more exciting. The media was focused on his upcoming "announcement", even though he had for all intents and purposes already announced.

What we saw here was a candidate orchestrating the media to raise his star power and receive more publicity. The media should be ashamed of themselves for being used in such a way. What they were doing was not covering news. The Tonight Show announcement was not news. That was the media being used for public relations by a political campaign. Thomspon's public relations head should be giving a firm pat on the back for manipulating the media in such a extraordinary way, but the media should be embarrassed for being puppets.

A healthy election must have issues at the forefront. In order to be a functioning democracy, the people must know what candidates believe in, how they deal with opposing beliefs, and how they plan to implement their beliefs. We do not need more sideshow shenanigans that distract us from the serious issues that our nation is facing.

But it would be wrong for us to blame the candidates for doing what they have to do to get elected. This act of the Thompson campaign is just one example of the travesty that American presidential politics has become, and it is the people's fault. We want good-looking, well-groomed, and great acting candidates. We do not want sincere and honest opinions about what should be done concerning all of the tough problems that confronts our nation. We do not even want to admit that we are facing serious problems that need to be dealt with.

Let us work to get this nation back on track by being people that reward candidates that tell us what they believe rather than remaining to be bystanders of an exciting "political" show.

Romney's bribe? The Pharmaceutical companies and Mitt Romney. Breastfeeding and formula feeding.

In 2006, Mitt Romney overturned the Massachusetts Public Health Council's decision to ban formula bags from hospitals. Was he doing what he believed was right for his citizens or was he bribed by the big pharmaceutical companies?

My wife subscribes to Mothering Magazine. In the recent issue (September/October 2007), they had an article entitled "A Quiet Place" which focused on the battle breastfeeding proponents face in the public arena. One section of the article had my wife reading out loud to me. I post it here for your consideration. It eliminated Mitt Romney from my "Potentially Receiving My Vote" list.

"In December 2005, Massachusetts became the first state to prohibit formula sample bags in hospitals, as part of an update of an update of the State's Department of Public Health regulations. Bot the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have called for an end to this practice( Governor Romney pressured the Public Health Council to rescind the ban, but the council successfully resisted his pressure, until he fired and replaced three members just prior to a vote on it; the ban was rescinded in May 2006. Less than two weeks later, Romney announced a deal with Bristol-Myer Squibb, the world's largest formula manufacturer, to build a $66 million pharmaceutical plant in Devens, Massachusetts."

Sounds like a really interesting coincidence to me. In the best scenario, Romney is convinced that formula feeding bags should be distributed because corporations should have the freedom to distribute whatever they want in hospitals. In the most likely scenario, Bristol-Squibb Myer bribes Romney by saying if you allow our baby formula bags to be distributed in your hospital, then we will build the new plant we need to build in your state. In the worst scenario, Romney takes some person bribes from Bristol-Squibb Myer to allow the company to restart the banned practice of distributing formula bags in the hospital.

For those who have not had a baby recently, a formula bag is a nice diaper bag given to new parents in the hospital filled with coupons and all sorts of gifts. One of the main gifts is formula. Also in the bag are coupons for future formula purchases and pamphlets on the benefits of formula. We really liked the baby bag, but we did not use the formula until we added it to cereal after our babies were much older. The bags are provided to the hospital by the big pharmaceutical companies that manufacture baby formula.

The question of whether to allow these formula bags to be distributed is a difficult dilemma which seems to be representative of the current debate centered around the government's role in protecting the public from corporations. When a company continues in practices that are harmful to society, should the government make those practices illegal. Obviously, there is a point where we say that the government should step in an force the action to be stopped and make the company pay for damages to the people harmed. It is difficult in deciding where that line is. How harmful does an action have to be to initiate the process of penalties? Does the distribution of formula bags in hospitals to new parents cross that line? Distribution formula bags seems like a right of the pharmaceutical companies that should not be taken away in such a scenario, but it is a sticky situation.

Nobody is making money off of the much healthier practice of feeding your kids breast-milk, so breast-milk proponents cannot compete on the marketing field with the pharmaceutical industries. Despite being much healthier, breastfeeding is handicapped in the field of concepts when it comes to convincing people that they should breastfeed rather than formula feed.

This practice takes place in a publicly funded (at least in the state of Massachusetts) hospital. The pharmaceutical companies bombards new parents through their gift bags with the message that formula feeding is a "healthy" alternative when there really is nothing healthy about using that alternative. What this all results in is parents being told that formula feeding is a "healthy" alternative despite it not really being such. Breastfeeding proponents do not have equal resources to compete with the pharmaceutical company at the same level.

There are rare cases where formula feeding is necessary, but it is not even close to being equal to breast-milk on the healthy scale. It is a sufficient alternative meaning that it will sustain the life of your child till you get the baby on real food, but it is not a healthy alternative.

But should we take away the freedom of a company in order to protect individuals from doing what is not optimal for their baby?