Saturday, August 29, 2009

Side Effects

I have at long last come to believe that the pharmaceutical companies are one of the true banes of Mankind. This is not to say that I have bought into the conspiracy theory that they are charging too much and making obscene profits from the treatment and cure of disease, or that I have drunk the Kool-Aid and now agree that they are in a secret conspiracy to defraud the public while secretly keeping the cure for cancer or some other such disease from us. No, their crime against humanity is much more grievous in type and insidious in nature than that. 

That crime, for those of you too busy watching the TiVo reruns of the "X-Files" or "The Daily Show" instead of news stories, is that somehow these evil doers have convinced us to take their medications, the side effects of which are far more scary, painful, and humiliating than the conditions which they purport to treat; even after they've informed us in their commercials of the true nature and gory details of those effects. 

In the process of treating things like depression, addiction to cigarettes, or erectile dysfunction they are exposing us to other conditions of a far more serious nature. (I know, I know, what could be more serious than erectile dysfunction?) I mean come on people, who wants to be cured of nicotine addiction with the side effects of depression, loss of will to live, or suicidal thoughts. 

Speaking of depression, what does it mean about a product that treats such a condition when its side effects include continued thoughts of depression or suicidal thoughts. (Is it just me, or does it seem to you that such side effects actually mean that the medicine isn't working?) 

And as to erectile dysfunction, even if you had the side effects, how would you find the strength of character to admit them? Who is going to the Emergency room to report that they have been able to perform sexually for over four hours, and continue to remain ready to do so? (Other perhaps, than the exhausted partner of such a potential patient, of course.) 

And lest we believe that these are not the only conditions that we have to look forward to in our moments of physical weakness as we submit ourselves to the tender mercies of these Marquis de Sades, let me go on. Rashes, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and anal leakage wait just around the corner for those of us willing to place our health in the hands of these so-called miracles of modern medicine. 

I have to ask myself whether such travesties of medical science will be allowed to continue under whatever surfaces from the ongoing health care debate. Will a government, never very good at predicting nor capable of dealing with the unintended consequences of their actions be able to cope with the licensed dispensing of the chemicals that the health care industry suggests we ingest? What will they be and how can such government health care hope to handle the "side effects". 

Friday, August 28, 2009

Kenneday Kare

Does it disturb anyone else that the passing of Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy has inspired some members of Congress to capitalize on the death of one of its more famous and notable liberal lions by using it to pass the currently proposed piece of health care legislation and naming it after him? 

Can anyone else see the irony of the fact that this rather well-to-do legislator received care that would have been consisting of expensive and experimental treatment that any of us would have been denied in similar circumstances based on age, history of an unhealthy lifestyle, and current health? Is anyone else aggravated by the fact that if the plan had already been passed and implemented, that it would have made little difference in the care that this member of Congress would have received; as under the proposed plan such government employees (along with members of certain unions) would not be forced to participate in the very plan that they would like to force on us? 

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Speaking of Senators ... 

An interesting and little known fact is that the term "Lobbyist" was coined by Ulysses S. Grant, who used it to describe men who spent their days in the lobbies of Washington DC hotels waiting their turn to bribe Senators and Congressman. (excepted and paraphrased from "The Real Lincoln" by Thomas J. DiLorenzo)

Senator Kennedy?

Am I the only wondering whether Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of former President John Kennedy, having failed to get the appointment to fill out the New York senatorial term of Secretary of State Hilary Clinton; will now seek to fill out the term of her late uncle Massachusetts Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy? 

Establishing residency never seems to be all that much of an issue for Senators these days; as Hilary Clinton, a resident of Arkansas before eight years of residence in the District of Columbia proved. 

Besides, this seat has been in the Kennedy family name for a number of years. Call me cynical, but the machinations of the elite political power brokers in general, and the Kennedy family in particular, cannot help but make one curious. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Obama & Lincoln Economics

Soon after the election of Barack Obama, there were many in the media and elsewhere making comparisons between our latest president and the 16th holder of that office, Abraham Lincoln. 

Having been born and raised in Illinois (which is of course, the land of Lincoln) and having little to judge with but the history courses that I took in a youth so far in the past that like Abe, we often read our books by candlelight, I have to admit that I was initially skeptical of any such similarity. 

Recently however, I have slowly been grinding my way through "The Real Lincoln", by Thomas J. DiLorenzo. This tome has been rather an eye opener for me both in its portrayal of Lincoln in the years leading up to and during the Civil War, and of the economic policies that shaped those years. 

Lincoln it seems, was someone who followed in the footsteps of one of our Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton; and of Henry Clay, who was Lincoln's hero in politics (Lincoln in fact delivered a eulogy for Clay in Springfield in July of 1862)

Like Hamilton, these were politicians who believed in a strong federal government and a strong federal banking system. They were opposed by those following the principles laid down by Thomas Jefferson (author of the Declaration of Independence) and James Madison (considered the father of the Constitution), who believed in the independence and primacy of the States, with only enough federal government to hold the union together. Lincoln likewise believed in an economic policy known as "mercantilism", which is characterized by protectionist tariffs (you know, like promising to renegotiate NAFTA), tax funded subsidies for favored businesses (you know, like GM, Chrysler, and the banking industry), and internal improvement subsidies to build railroads, canals, dams, and roads (you know, like the infrastructure projects that were part of the stimulus package)

The fact that the tariffs drove consumer prices up, that corporate welfare did likewise and were only good for the businesses that received them, and that the internal improvement projects were inevitably hotbeds of waste, graft, and huge cost overruns which did little more than run up government debt was mostly ignored by politicians at the time. (It should be noted that at the time that Lincoln became president, every State Constitution except that of Mass. specifically prohibited legislation for such projects.) 

It seemed however that while these practices were detrimental to the governed, they never the less did extremely well in maintaining the ruling elite in their seats of power. Interesting in the historical debate over such policies is that DiLorenzo points out that Madison, in his last day in office, vetoed one of these improvement subsidies proposed by Lincoln's mentor Henry Clay saying in part that, Congress has enumerated powers under section eight of the first article of the Constitution, "and it does not appear that the power proposed to be exercised in the bill is among the enumerated powers, or that it fall by any just interpretation with the power to make the laws necessary and proper" for carrying out other constitutional powers into execution. Madison in fact warned Congress that the general welfare clause of the Constitution was never intended to become a Pandora's box for special interest legislation. 

Having now lived through some eight months of President Obama's economic policies, one cannot help but note the striking similarities between the two presidents' philosophies where such policy is concerned. I am therefore forced to re-evaluate my position and admit that I have been wrong and that there may at least be some similarity between the two Presidents I must also further note that during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln:
  • The principle of habeus corpus was suspended and legislators, newspaper editors & publishers, and civilians who disagreed with Lincoln's policies were thrown into prison without charges or trial.
  • All telegraph communications in the US were censored and newspapers critical of Lincoln's policies were denied distribution by mail (the predominant method at the time) at the president's orders to his postmaster general.
  • Federal troops were posted outside of polling places during an election in 1861 in both Maryland and New York at Lincoln's direction in order to insure that pro government candidates were assured of election.
  • States like Maryland and Delaware who attempted to consider secession from the Union were prevented from such consideration when Lincoln sent troops into those states, declaring martial law.
  • Lincoln unconstitutionally created the state of West Virginia by orchestrating the secession of western Virginia from the rest of the state, setting up a pro-Union government in it, and then accepting this state into the Union.
  • A bloody and costly civil war was fought over the right of any states to secede from the Union, a right outlined in the Declaration of Independence and guaranteed in the Constitution.
Wow, if such similarities continue to hold true, we may have good deal more excitement to look forward to in the coming three years! 

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Under Repair

For those even mildly curious as to the title of this posting, let me reassure you that it relates to the condition of the blogger and not the website. I will not bore you with the ongoing details of my current attempted recovery process, but the paraphrase "it now takes me all week to do what I used to do all week" would not be out of line as it relates to my capability to remain upright in front of a keyboard (or anywhere else for that matter) long enough to string coherent thoughts together. 

(For those of you who might be thinking that I never let coherent thoughts get in the way of previous postings, shame on you. It's not fair to make fun of those in a weakened condition.) 

As part of the rehabilitative process, I am going to try to force myself to exercise my brain (a type of exercise seldom used even when I was feeling stronger), in the hopes that in doing so I can exorcise the weakness that I am currently dealing with. I hope to have something in the way of a new entry posted at least by mid-week, and will see how things go before attempting to get back to a full schedule. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jim & Laura's Anniversary

 It has been six years now since we made our way back to the fair land of Ireland for a second celebration of the marriage of my daughter Laura to her husband, Jim Demaria. For my recently acquired in-laws, this trip would be the first back to Ireland for Jim's mother since she left to come to America, and would be her husband's trip ever to her homeland.
The entire trip was in fact inspired by the fact that I had been invited by a friend and former boss, Michael McGeady, to his family reunion in Letterkenny near Mt Errigal, in the northern end of the island. 

The entire trip was an adventure, as this weekend (for those of you who remember that far back) was the weekend of the great Northeaster blackout. As a consequence, we who were flying out of Cleveland thru Newark, and my daughter and son-in-law, who were leaving out of Kennedy, both found ourselves trapped at our respective departing airports and unable to depart. (And let me tell you, the sound of your daughter sitting in a dark airport, crying on the wedding dress that she is carrying is enough to bring down the strongest man.)

Losing a precious day on a short trip, all eventually made it over the ocean, and while the kids were beginning their preparations, we were celebrating the glories of the McGeady clan in typical Irish fashion (no, not drinking tea ... that's English). Surviving the festivities (and in my case, barely avoiding being raffled off to an unmarried female McGeady), we made our way down the west coast of the island. Briefly stopping in Cong the home of Ashford Castle and the area where John Ford movie "The Quiet Man" starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara was filmed, we made it to Lisdoonvarna and Ballilaken Castle barely in time for the rehearsal dinner.

The following day dawned clear and bright clear and the departure to Newtowne Castle for the ceremony was right on time. The ceremony of course was beautiful, Father Joe did an amazing job (more amazing than we realized at the time, but that's a tale for another day), and the incredible shot that you see above was itself worth all of the craziness involved with the trip. 

Irish tradition determines that the journey to the reception must begin with a stop at the pub (big surprise, huh?), which we duly did. (The amusing scramble to produce enough euros to cover the tab was made only more ridiculous by discovering that they took Visa.)

The reception was amazing as well, and since we had booked all of the rooms in the hotel at Ballilaken Castle, they turned the place (and the pub) over to us for the evening. And when the weary bartenders finally decided that they had had enough, they turned the keys to the pub over to me with instructions to keep track of the drinks, lock up when we were finished, and leave the keys at the podium near the front door.

While this is not the anniversary that this wonderful couple celebrates (at least to my knowledge) it is certainly an event that I will remember all of my days. Congratulations kids, you have done well indeed and are truly blessed to have each other. And perhaps one day we will all get to return, this time taking young Maggie with us to introduce her to that magical place of your "other anniversary", the Emerald Isle.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Apologies For My Absence

I would like to offer apologies for my absence in recent weeks on this blog. As some of you know, I have been rather ill for the last couple of weeks. Recovery is coming much slower than I anticipated, but I hope to be back on my feet sometime soon. 

I will post what I can, when I can until I can get back to my regular schedule.  I hope you will forgive this overlong period without saying the so many things that have yet to be said, both here and in my columns for the Toledo Free Press. 

In some small recompense today, I have at least managed to update the Quotes of the Week so that you are spared looking at my personally generated nonsense.