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You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred.

– Woody Allen

Seems the Wall Street Journal is reporting that some group called the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, headed by a former PETA board member, is taking a page out of the PETA songbook, and running a TV commercial in Washington D.C. that asserts a vegetarian diet by associating a McDonald’s hamburger with a body in the morgue, and the issue of heart disease.

While McDonald’s is a convenient target, it’s because of their recognizability, not because they deserve it. This organization’s attack on McDonald’s in fact does disservice to the real issue of heart disease by pointing a finger at a progressive company that takes its responsibilities to the dining public very seriously.

Here is my comment posted with the Journal article:

McDonald’s offers an array of food choices, has pioneered full nutritional disclosure, offers more balance, choice and portion control than most white-table cloth restaurants, and is a socially responsive and socially responsible business that is a model of employment diversity, entrepreneurial and managerial opportunity, and sound business ethics. If the public really wants peanut butter sandwiches at McDonald’s, they’ll probably get it.

We had eight years of Bush and Cheney. Now you get mad?

You didn’t get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President?

You didn’t get mad when Cheney allowed Energy company officials to dictate energy policy?

You didn’t get mad when a covert CIA operative got outed?

You didn’t get mad when the Patriot Act got passed?

You didn’t get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us?

You didn’t get mad when we spent over 600 billion (and counting) on said illegal war?

You didn’t get mad when over 10 billion dollars just disappeared in Iraq?

You didn’t get mad when you found out we were torturing people?

You didn’t get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans?

You didn’t get mad when we didn’t catch Bin Laden?

You didn’t get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed?

You didn’t get mad when we let a major US city drown?

You didn’t get mad when we gave a 900 billion tax break to the rich?

You didn’t get mad when the deficit hit the trillion dollar mark, and our debt hit the thirteen trillion dollar mark?

You finally got mad when the government decided that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they are sick? Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, stealing your tax dollars to make the rich richer, are all okay with you, but helping other Americans ? Oh hell no.”

Plodding the treadmill at the gym today, on the cusp of Congress voting the health insurance bill, I came into the middle of a History Channel feature on the history of volcanoes at Yellowstone National Park. I didn’t have earphones, but read the scrolling text over the beautiful photography and graphic seismic maps. Driving home, reflecting on what I saw and read, I came to what at first may seem an odd conclusion – space travel may become the next great health care challenge.
Not health care insurance, or even the provision of health care itself, but long-term health care for the human race, not to mention the rest of life as we know it. When Einstein said that the greatest challenge to humankind might be extending our compassion across time and space, I thought he was referring to the need for more selflessness. But after watching the history channel piece, I think he may have meant that man’s challenge is to extend our very being across the vastness of time and space, before our ancient earthbound homeland destroys itself, not in battle, but in turning itself inside out once again.
Let’s look at what we know, as reported in the Yellowstone TV special. Visitors are drawn to the park by the hot cauldrons of mineral water bubbling and steaming to the surface, and by the dramatic geysers. What are they? Obviously, they are made of water that is heated deep below and pushed to the surface under variable pressure. Why? Because 10 miles below lies a 25-mile wide pool of liquid rock, molten at 1500 degrees Fahrenheit – twice as hot as a pizza oven. This heats natural water coursing through the thick hard crust, and that’s what we see bubbling up.
Scientists have found evidence of ancient lava on the earth’s surface a hundred miles from the center of Yellowstone, yet where are the remnants of the ancient volcanic mountain from which it burst? Gone. Why is the mountain gone? Because the volcanic blast was so large, so devastating, some 640,000 years ago, that it totally destroyed the mountain, which rained down as lava and dust from a cloud that covered the entire west of the U.S. It was what scientists now call a super volcano. The ancient rim remnants are 45 miles wide. The fields of lava it left behind have evolved into the vast plains of trees and grass that cover the area now.
Also evident in the area are the parallel scratches on surface rock that indicates the previous movement of glacial ice, yet there is no current evidence of mountains high enough to support such glaciers. Why? Previous volcanic activity must have thrust up the land to heights high enough to support the freezing of snow into glaciers, and then those mountains disappeared into volcanic oblivion.
Yellowstone had been riddled by many, many earth tremors since such measurements began a hundred years ago. Why? That molten sea is still active though trapped below miles of hard rock. Scientists, using modern measuring equipment and space observation, have also detected evidence of a series of super volcanoes going back millions of years that have left traces of rims that have moved in a vast V-shape pattern through the area. They have also detected a deeper, active volcanic mass, stretching at least 400 hundred miles beneath the Yellowstone pool, in a rising chimney shape. What could that all mean? Plate tectonics at work. As the earth’s surface has moved above its core through the ages, the chimney has thrust up its magma in different places at the surface, tracing the giant V of super volcano rims.
So, what does the future hold? Obviously, the Yellowstone region, even without any current volcanic mountains, is seismically active. The many small earthquakes indicate that the molten pool and the magma chimney beneath it are restive, even through the thick surface rock. This suggests that pressure is continuing to build, and someday will again burst through the surface in another catastrophic super volcano, perhaps devastating much of America.
This planet Earth we love and which many of us work so hard to conserve, is probably not done with us. Like perhaps millions of species before us, not to mention the many we see in jeopardy to this day, we may face ultimate atomization. In fact, it is almost surely inevitable.
So why space travel? If man is to have any opportunity to extend that compassion Einstein, in his vanity, seemed to have thought we possess, colonizing other planets in this and perhaps other solar systems may be our only feasible destiny.
How much time do we have? Visit Yellowstone and check out Old Faithful. The long-term health of the human race may depend on our collective conclusions. Keep that in mind when legislation and incentives for space travel next come around.

White House Plans Post-Passage Campaign to Support Health Measure


WASHINGTON—The White House plans to launch a public relations campaign promoting the health care overhaul if and when it passes, and it has already identified individuals whose stories the president would highlight.

At the same time, supportive outside groups are planning television ads and events around the country promoting and explaining the legislation, if it becomes law, and they are considering creating a new nonprofit organization to orchestrate their message, according to people familiar with the planning.

Together, the efforts would aim to reshape public attitudes, which run against the bill. They could provide political cover for lawmakers who voted for the measure and face tough races this fall.

Complicating the effort is that most of the provisions would not take effect until 2014, including the new exchanges, or marketplaces, that would sell insurance under new rules and with federal subsidies for some consumers. So, the White House plans to highlight provisions that take effect right away.

Those include new rules that bar insurers from rejecting children because they are already sick. The White House has already identified specific parents of sick children who are willing to tell their stories.

It’s not clear how much success the White House will have. The Obama administration tried hard to make the case for the economic stimulus plan after it became law, but polls show that the stimulus remains unpopular.

Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who tracks attitudes on health care, said that the intensity of opposition may soften if the bill passes. But he doubts that overall public views will shift much.

“After a year, people feel like they’ve made up their minds, and it will be a little difficult to change them,” he said. “There’s not that much time left between now and November.”

Among advocates of the legislation, some of the advertising would be done by outside groups such as Families USA, a consumer group. Ron Pollack, president of the group, said planning is under way to run TV ads and to stage events around the country.

For their part, opponents plan to continue their attacks on the measure even if it becomes law.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner, said Republicans will continue to pound Democrats for special deals in the Senate bill, even those that are repealed through passage of a companion piece of legislation.

Another problem for Democrats: cuts to private Medicare Advantage plans begin in 2011. If insurers pull out of some markets, as they have in reaction to past cuts, seniors may complain and put added pressure on Democrats.

Mr. Steel said Republicans will also focus on an increase in funding for the Internal Revenue Service, which must implement the requirement that people get insurance.

“Does anyone think this bill gets more popular when the American public begins to feel the effect of tax hikes, Medicare cuts and an army of new IRS agents?” he asked.

Write to Laura Meckler at

July 2022

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