3/11/2004

I'll Take That With a Side-Order of Heart Failure

Much has been written recently on America's disgusting dietary habits. All the reports suggest that obesity will soon become the number one cause of avoidable death in America.

Republicans in Congress shed many tears during the tobacco lawsuits of the nineties, and now they're making sure that a similar tragedy won't hit another close friend: the fast food industry. Yesterday the House of Representatives voted 276-139 for the "cheeseburger bill." The bill is designed to prevent lawsuits against the food industry for making people fat. Yes, the public should take responsibility for their own behavior. And yes, frivolous lawsuits have been a destructive force in our society. But the bill shows little regard for the health and safety of the American public. Reprepresentative Rosa DeLauro from the great city of New Haven had the greatest response to the bill: "Only with this Republican leadership would an effort to promote personal responsibility begin with allowing companies to be irresponsible without accountability."

Finally, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock recently documented his effort to spend an entire month eating every meal at McDonald's. What happened? "The previously trim and healthy Spurlock had spent about $850, gained 24 pounds, raised his once-normal cholesterol levels by 65 points, sent his blood-fat levels out of the Playland roof and, in one of his doctor's words, turned his liver into pate." Just so you know, "(1) One in four Americans visits a fast-food restaurant every day; (2) Sixty percent of all U.S. citizens are either overweight or obese; (3) Americans spent $110 billion on fast food in 2003 compared to only $3 billion in 1972 (and that's not just because burgers cost more); and (4) Each day McDonald's feeds more people worldwide than the entire population of Spain."

Here are some more thoughs on the VP slot, provided by the Wall Street Journal's James Carville and Al Hunt. Since I assume most of you don't have an online subscriptions to the Wall Street Journal, I'll just paste the interesting content bellow. I've been an enthusiastic supporter of Bill Richardson, but there are some other interesting candidates out there:

JOHN EDWARDS -- 6 to 5: Even a little better than a month ago. Mr. Carville dismisses insiders' talk that there is no chemistry between these two senators, that they don't much like each other: "That's irrelevant. There's not negative chemistry, like Kennedy and Johnson or Reagan and Bush. Clinton and Gore didn't have any chemistry before Clinton picked him."

The North Carolina lawmaker complements Sen. Kerry, Mr. Carville believes, bringing geographic, stylistic and even generational assets. "What Kerry needs is someone to defend him and help make his case," Mr. Carville says. "If you had to hire a lawyer to defend you, name a better one."

DICK GEPHARDT -- 5 to 1: He is generally regarded as the most prepared to be president, suggests Mr. Carville, and as a man of enormous personal and public probity. Although he didn't run an inspired race, he did make a graceful exit. He might help in the swing state of Missouri, although Mr. Carville notes that even there, he represented only one of nine congressional districts in the state.

BILL RICHARDSON -- 5 to 1: These odds are down a little from a month ago. He's a popular first-term governor of New Mexico, a former member of Congress with international experience as United Nations ambassador and a Hispanic. "He is a cross between Edwards and Gephardt," the ex-Clinton campaign chief says. "Not as articulate as Edwards or as qualified as Gephardt but gives some of both." One bit of advice Mr. Carville offers Gov. Richardson if he wants national exposure: "Go on a diet."

EVAN BAYH -- 7 to 1: A fresh face, an Edwards of the Midwest, where the 2004 election may be settled. The Indiana Democrat was governor before he was senator, and would bring some executive experience to a Kerry ticket. The downside, Mr. Carville says: "He cast a really bad vote [with many Republicans] for a tax cut and gave a disappointing keynote speech at the 1996 convention."

BOB GRAHAM – 7 to 1: These odds also have slipped a little. Although on paper he's the best choice, Mr. Carville says, "the most popular figure in the most controversial state in the country," a former governor and now a respected senator. Yet as with some other contenders, "there's a feeling it's just not going to happen," Mr. Carville adds.

HILLARY CLINTON – 15 to 1: The odds might be better for Sen. Clinton if Sen. Kerry needed to secure the liberal base; he doesn't, despite the third-party candidacy of Ralph Nader. Mr. Carville says, however, she would "bring instant money ... to both parties and probably bring a lot more women in." He doesn't see this occurring, though.

WILD CARDS: John McCain -- it would be exciting to pair two Vietnam heroes from opposite parties, but there are a lot of opposing votes to explain; Bill Nelson -- a former astronaut and the other Florida senator, but totally untested on the national scene; and Richard Daley -- from the Midwest and, Mr. Carville observes, "America's most successful mayor." True, but tough to imagine the veteran Chicago politician in a debate over national security with Dick Cheney.

3/10/2004

My Wife? Oh, She's Fine With It...

This item is from a few weeks a go, but it's too precious to pass over. Governor Rick Perry of Texas was rumored to have had an affair with man within his administration. The other man is supposedly the Texas Secretary of State. According this piece, "Governor Rick Perry was caught by his wife..." What makes this all so special is that Governor Perry has supported several anti-gay measures. Will his positions change? Not likely, at least politically speaking.

Brokaw Who?

Could it really happen? McCain? A few people have mentioned it to me, but I largely disregarded the thought. Now McCain is saying that he would consider a VP offer from Kerry. From the man himself: "Obviously I would entertain it."

And Jon Stewart for Secretary of Health and Human Services

Those rumors on Tom Browkaw running as the VP for Kerry seem to be fading. As quoted in this Philadelphia Inquirer piece, Mr. Browkaw said, "I have no intention of pursuing a political career." Doesn't sound Sherman-esque to me, but I don't expect we'll see him on the podium in Boston this summer.

Once Again, the French

With the ten year anniversary of Rwanda's genocide quickly approaching, a new report was released today that further confuses the issues surrounding President Juvenal Habyarimana's assassination. It has been widely assumed that Hutu extremists (inside the Habyarimana regime) were largely responsible for the assassination. The theory was that these extremists were unhappy with Habyarimana's compromises with the RPF (a largely Tutsi organization that had been fighting a war with the Rwandan government). Once the extremists shot down Habyarimana's plane (which also included Burundi's President Cyprien Ntaryamira), they would seize power, blame the Tutsis for the assassination, and then launch a genocidal campaign to wipe out all Tutsis.

Well, Le Globe reports today that the French police have concluded that Paul Kagame (former leader of the RPF and current president of Rwanda) was responsible for the assassination. I'm not sure what to make of it, but I'm somewhat skeptical. Since at least the early 1950s, the French government has shown favor towards the Hutus. Could this perhaps only be a continuation of this policy? I'm not one to believe conspiracy theories, but I find the report a little hard to believe. At the time of the assassination, the RPF was winning remarkable concessions from the Rwandan government; there would be no real reason for Kagame to jeopordize this progress.

And who knows how this will affect Rwanada's ceremonies this April. But if there's any trouble (which I doubt there will be), this report will be partly to blame.

Please, Please Run

Just as Democrats fear the potential damage of the Nader campaign, Republicans are shaking with the thought of Roy Moore, the deposed Alabama chief judge, running on the Consitution Party ticket. From what I hear, Mr. Moore runs around like a rock star in much of the South. Imagine what this would do to Bush's "base."

Pink Pistols and Log Cabins

One million gay and lesbian citizens voted for Bush in 2000; that figure represents 1% of the electorate. From this New York Times article, it appears that some of them will be voting again for President Bush. The underlying argument presented by Bush's gay defenders is that the gay electorate has a larger agenda than just gay issues:

"In interviews last week several gay Republicans said they resented
the assumption that while straight people worry about taxes or national
security, gays and lesbians vote according to their sexuality alone."


This sort of logic is absurd. When Bush goes haywire with budgets and deficits, you don't hear the various fically conservative organizations say, "Oh well, we have other concerns." It's time some these Republican gay-rights organizations stand up for what they represent.

Remember the beating Clinton took from Republicans for allowing contributors an overnight stay in the Lincoln bedroom? Well, this one's a shocker. Bush, too, has had an open-door policy with the Lincoln Bedroom. And yes, many of them are campaign contributors.

3/09/2004

This is the inaugural post....More to come.