Monday, October 30, 2006

Struggling on 2

I must admit, Michael J Fox’s emotional appeal is difficult to deny or oppose or refute--- when he says, “a vote for Claire McCaskill is a vote for hope for life-saving cures,”---Who am I to deny this man his hope for life-saving cures---clearly he is suffering and we should do whatever we can, right? Of course, opposing a ballot initiative to amend the state Constitution is not necessarily a vote against "hope."

So we know that he supports McCaskill but what does he think about proposed Amendment 2?

Fox admits that he hasn’t read Amendment 2 in Missouri which is why he didn’t explicitly come out for it, he merely campaigns for Claire McCaskill because he believes she will more likely approve gov’t funding for embryonic stem cell research—he explains why on George Stephanopoulus’ show this weekend.

See this exchange:

Stephanopoulos: You mentioned the Steele campaign. Both the Steele campaign and the Talent campaign have said you're not being fair to them, because they want to expand stem cell research, too, they say, but it's adult stem cell research.
Fox: Right, and I agree with them on adult stem cell research. I mean, let's talk about what we agree on. I agree that stem cell research is fantastic; we should pursue it. I agree that we should have no human cloning. We're against that. We're against egg farming, that notion. We agree on all of that……

Stephanopoulos: In the ad now running in Missouri, Jim Caviezel speaks in Aramaic. It means, "You betray me with a kiss." And his position, his point, is that actually even though down in Missouri they say the initiative is against cloning, it's actually going to allow human cloning.
Fox: Well, I don't think that's true. You know, I campaigned for Claire McCaskill. And so I have to qualify it by saying I'm not qualified to speak on the page-to-page content of the initiative. Although, I am quite sure that I'll agree with it in spirit, I don't know, I— On full disclosure, I haven't read it, and that's why I didn't put myself up for it distinctly.

I think the Missouri Constitution has been bought for the bargain price of $28 million. Based on conversations I have had with people of all political stripes recently, many people are not quite sure how they feel about it—but I bet the measure will pass with something like 55% approval. When you read the summary language that will be on the ballot it’s hard to oppose, why wouldn’t we want Missourians to have equal access to medical technologies that citizens in other states have? Who could oppose that?

Where it gets technical and confusing is when the initiative says it would ban human cloning and ban the sale for "valuable consideration" of eggs for stem cell research---many people are uncomfortable with the idea of creating human beings and then destroying them for research purposes, even if it is very early stage, and many people are uncomfortable with the idea of women selling their eggs for fertilization and experimentation.

So the initiative addresses both of these issues by appearing to ban them, but in the full language of the initiative it expressly permits both of these activities and literally amends our state Constitution to include their language.

The bottom line is this: if you think that the government should be allowing and/or funding research on human blastocysts that are created for the express purpose of destruction (within 14 days of cell division) and research, then vote yes. If you think that fertility clinics and sperm banks should be paying donors for their eggs that can later be fertilized and then destroyed for research, then vote yes on 2.

If you oppose either one of those things, vote no on 2.

Above the fray

Isn’t it refreshing to hear from a political “independent” or “moderate” that doesn’t vote by “party line,” because they take a deep look into the heart of each candidate and carefully consider what kind of person the candidate is….isn’t that so enlightened? Isn’t it refreshing when someone who admittedly barely pays attention to matters of civic responsibility goes out and reads the tea leaves, or the tarot cards of the political future and punches that ballot for someone or something and effectively eliminates a well informed voters ballot? Isn’t that great?

Once again, the politics of ambivalence are in play as the candidates and their wranglers battle it out for the 5-15% of the American public that plans on voting but after weighing all of the various variables and factoring in their own personal experiences and wealth of individual collective expertise……..they just can’t come to a decision one way or another at this late hour. How open minded of them. Who needs the courage of convictions when you can substitute a blank slate of mindless apathy?

We will get fawning affection for how open minded these spineless wonders are as “journalists” go out of their way to find someone to interview who is looking at the issues without a partisan taint to their decision. It’s so beautifully post-modern….ALL opinions are valid; all votes are perfectly equal—regardless of the inanity or lack of reason behind them.

You voted to oppose a minimum wage increase because Rush says it’s bad for business? Congratulations—welcome to democracy, where everyone’s vote counts.
You voted to oppose Amendment 2 because your preacher said something about “test tube” babies and Dolly the sheep? That’s democracy, isn’t it wonderful?
You voted for Claire because somebody at work told you that Talent doesn’t like black people? Fair enough….

You see, you don’t have to have a good reason for voting on anything, because as P. Diddy has told us, it’s not what you vote for, it’s that you vote. Right?

Olbermann, and others--miss the point

I had a bit of a Eureka! moment while watching Keith on MSNBC the other night.

If you are not familiar with his shtick, he gets all furious, “speaks truth to power,” lectures everyone on what it is that we are doing wrong in Iraq, and then calls for Bush to be impeached, or ashamed. He finds the “worst person in the world,” and remarkably, it is almost always a conservative pundit, very rarely a person actually responsible for death and destruction. He concedes this point, that he isn’t actually naming the worst person in the world, and then goes on to claim that John Gibson, or Bill O’Reily are the WPITW. Example, it is much more likely to be Bill O’Reily instead of someone like Robert Mugabe, or Mahmoud Ahmadenijad, or Kim Jong-Il. While Bill is an info-tainer that tries to produce a radio and TV show that is popular enough to get high ratings to sell advertising and--as an aside--convince people to embrace what he claims to be his opinions about current events. (He also tries to sell copies of his latest book—clearly the man is evil incarnate.) Mugabe, Ahmadenijad, and Jong-Il are each responsible for death, destruction, torture, economic collapse, mass starvation, etc so you can see how it would be a close race but the conservative pundit wins out….

So anyway, back to my point (you had a point?--) He was ranting and raving about Bush and the RNC campaign commercials that try to paint Democrats as weak on defense or weak in the War on Terror. So he excoriates the Republicans, saying that they are “doing the terrorists’ work for them by trying to terrify Americans.”

And here’s the Eureka! point: Terrorists aren’t trying to scare Americans, or the west—that is not their primary objective. It is not a campaign to spook people---they are trying to kill us, anywhere they find us---and the by-product is general terror, thus the name terrorists. That this is a confusing concept to a talking head on MSNBC is really beyond my comprehension, but to say that the Republicans are doing the terrorists work is exactly the kind of rhetoric that shows why many Americans are not willing to hand over the national security issues that we face to those that would confuse this issue—regardless of their party.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Amendment 2--What exactly are they proposing?

One of the frustrating things about politics is that people rarely say what they mean.

So it is with proposed Amendment 2---Proponents have spent a lot of money encouraging Missourians to amend their constitution, but a close look at the amendment seems to contradict what the proponents claim. They say it will ban human cloning, and ensure equal access to treatments by all Missourians but if you read it carefully, it really just redefines cloning and then seeks to ban the redefined practice while leaving all other cloning activities not only legal, but actually above the law--where local governments cannot restrict-or even discourage the research. The equal access to cures is a red herring, there is no discriminatory law that allows some people access to certain "cures" or treatments while preventing others from receiving the same.

The official summary says .

So who is behind it? The Coalition for Cures, funded by billionaires James and Virginia Stowers has spent roughly $28,000,000 on the initiative campaign for Amendment 2…what do they intend to get out of it?
They just happen to have founded a research institute in Kansas City that seeks to take a leading role in stem-cell research. Where are the anti-business howls from the left when there is such a clear attempt to purchase a favorable government ruling by this organization? Where are the cries about the government being bought and paid for by powerful and rich corporate interests?

Some researchers and doctors think that potential upside of the embyonic stem cell research has been oversold.
I have to admit that there is something disturbing about the emotional appeals from celebrities claiming that if we would just have the government (taxpaying citizens) paying for some controversial research involving the destruction of human embryos that we would be able to cure _____. (insert terrible affliction here)

There is nothing preventing private firms from doing stem cell research and some companies have already found success in stem cell research. What the opponents oppose is the government funded harvesting of human embryos for destruction in the name of science.

$28 million would have paid for a lot of research, but instead we get a special interest group spending their money and time trying to dupe Missouri voters into amending our Constitution by blurring the distinctions between cloning and somatic cell nuclear transfer and promising cures for all sorts of ailments and claiming that all they really want to to make sure everyone has equal access to treatments.

Here is a link to an opponents website.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Amendment 3--Yea or Nay?

So my friend Andrew sent me a link to the Jefferson City Business Times recent article on Amendment 3.

If you don't pay attention to this sort of thing, it is one of the big three decisions in the upcoming elections, the other two being the Talent v. McCaskill and Amendment 2 (Stem Cell/Cloning) choice.

Anyway, read the article I linked to and tell me what you think?

Is Amendment 3 something we should support or oppose? Leave a comment and tell me why.
If you don't have time to read it here's the paraphrased version.

Amendment 3 would raise the taxes on tobacco products from 17 cents a pack to 57 cents a pack and the gov't promises that the extra revenue would be spent on healthcare costs.

Your choice in November---the Republican or Democrat Pest Control company

So you’ve hired the Republican Pest Control Co. to get rid of your pests, and after 5 years , you’ve still got an infestation. Do you:

A) Reflect on how difficult it is to cure an infestation but vow to persevere in spite of the obvious difficult task ahead and the recognition that there is no end in sight…


B) Hire the Democrat Pest Control Co. who’s Yellow Page ad talks about wanting to “use only non-lethal traps so that they can be relocated to the flower beds in front of your home,” and “address the root causes of infestation and change policy so that the pests don’t hate us,” and blames the Republican Pest Control Co. for squandering all the good will that we previously had with the pests and also blames the Republican Pest Company for creating even more pests.

I’ll stick with A).

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Appropriate script

As someone who has been required to say, “Thank you for calling, ____, this is Darin, How can I help you?” thousands of times over the course of thousands of phone calls, I can appreciate the finer points of an employee script.

You know, when companies don’t really trust their employees to say the appropriate things, they make up a nice little script and then require that the employees use it.
Stay with me, I am going somewhere…..

For some reason at Taco Bell they have a very bad script writer. I thought it was at one location, specifically the Taco Bell drive up window attendant on Missouri Blvd in JC started acknowledging that a vehicle had approached by saying, “Hi, How are you?”

Now I know that it is at multiple locations.

While this seems like an innocuous statement, it makes absolutely no sense in the context of me driving a vehicle up to a digital order taking machine while reading about my choices of tacos versus chalupas….

Think about it---what is the appropriate response to the questions, “how are you?” Well of course, it is, “I’m good, how are you.” And now your are sharing small talk with a person in a sweaty fast food restaurant when all I really want to do is order a number 1 with a soft taco and a mountain dew and move around to the next window!

For anyone who is in charge of writing scripts for the employees, THINK! What should the girl/guy at the drive up window at Taco Bell say?
How about something like, “Welcome to Taco Bell, may I take your order?”