Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Amgen Pimps US Senator Baucus Et Al For Pennies On The Dollar

Amgen Gets a Gift From Congress - NYT
For a disheartening example of how intense lobbying and financial contributions can distort the legislative process in Washington, consider what happened to the “fiscal cliff” bill approved three weeks ago by Congress.

Senators who play a major role in federal health care financing were happy to help Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology company, evade Medicare cost-cutting controls by delaying price restraints on a class of drugs used by kidney dialysis patients, including Sensipar, a drug made by Amgen. That provision was inserted into the final fiscal bill by Senate aides. Many members of Congress did not know it was in the bill until just hours before it was approved.

Although other companies will benefit financially from that delay, Amgen, which has 74 lobbyists in Washington, was the only company to lobby aggressively for the provision. The delay will cost the Medicare program up to $500 million over a two-year period.

The disturbing details were revealed in a report by Eric Lipton and Kevin Sack of The Times on Sunday. The maneuvering to exempt these drugs undercuts a five-year effort to change the incentives used to pay for kidney dialysis care. Previously, Medicare had paid providers separately for the drugs and for administering dialysis treatment, a system that often encouraged overprescribing.

But, in 2008, Congress reversed the incentives by requiring Medicare to pay a single, bundled rate for a patient’s dialysis treatment and related medications, starting in 2011. But certain oral drugs, including Sensipar, were given a two-year reprieve, to expire in 2014, from being included in that more cost-effective bundled system. The fiscal bill has now extended that exclusion for an additional two years.

Supporters of the delay — notably, Senator Max Baucus, a Democrat of Montana, who leads the Senate Finance Committee, and Orrin Hatch, of Utah, the ranking Republican on that committee — say it is needed to give the Medicare system and dialysis providers time to absorb other complicated changes in federal reimbursements for kidney care. But there is good reason to suspect other factors were involved as well. Both senators have political and financial ties to Amgen, as does Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, who exerted great influence over the fiscal negotiations and praised the Medicare provisions.

A top aide to Mr. Hatch, who was involved in negotiating the dialysis delay, previously worked as a health policy analyst for Amgen. The current lobbyists for Amgen include former chiefs of staff for both Mr. Baucus and Mr. McConnell. And the three senators have received substantial contributions from Amgen’s employees and its political action committee since 2007 — almost $68,000 to Senator Baucus, $59,000 to Senator Hatch, and $73,000 to Senator McConnell.

Amgen’s strong influence prevailed even though it had pleaded guilty just weeks ago to marketing an anti-anemia drug illegally and agreed to pay criminal and civil penalties of $762 million, a record settlement for a biotechnology company.

This dreadful episode is a classic example of the power of special interests to shape legislation and shows how hard it may be to carry out the reforms needed to cut health care costs.

See Original NYT story (here).

James C. Collier


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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Racism In European Football Kicked Into Spotlight

The lid has come off of Euro-football after Italian fans insisted on making racist monkey gestures/sounds directed to AC Milan star-player, Kevin-Prince Boateng, in a 'friendly' game Jan 2 against team Pro Patria. (here)

It seems that the German-Ghanaian Boateng walked off the pitch (field) at the repeated actions of a group of Italian fans. His teammates followed, and the game ended. Boateng also received the support of his team president, Silvio Berlusconi. The former Italian prime minister, media mogul, and non-stranger to controversy said, "This is an uncivilised problem that needs to be stopped. I congratulated my players for their decision to leave the field during the friendly in Busto Arsizio." (here)

It is interesting watching Europeans and their authorities attempt to deal with such obvious racism in their most beloved sport. The more the authorities try to curb it, the more determined the fans seem to become, especially the Spanish and the Italians. Gone is the smug superiority the Europeans had when witnessing images of US racism, back int he 1960's, eh?

James C. Collier


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Monday, January 14, 2013

Aaron Swartz: 1986 -2013

There are some rare people who are driven to put it all on the line for what they believe - despite the risks. Swartz was one of those people. As an independent researcher, I often ran into the closed doors he fought so hard to prop open. Thanks. RIP.

P.S. To read a petition requesting the government terminate the US District Attorney for overreach against Swartz, click (here).

James C. Collier


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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Vitamin D and Cancer in African-Americans

H/T The Breviary (here).

Differences in vitamin D status may account for unexplained disparities in cancer survival rates between African and White Americans

Authors: William B. Grant and Alan N. Peiris View affiliations


Considerable disparities in cancer survival rates exist between African Americans (AAs) and white Americans (WAs). Various factors such as differences in socioeconomic status (SES), cancer stage at time of diagnosis, and treatment—which this analysis considers primary explanatory factors—have accounted for many of these differences. An additional factor not usually considered is vitamin D. Previous studies have inversely correlated higher solar UV-B (UVB) doses and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentrations with incidence and/or mortality rates for about 20 types of cancer and improved survival rates for eight types of cancer. Because of darker skin pigmentation, AAs have 40% lower serum 25(OH)D concentrations than WAs. This study reviews the literature on disparities in cancer survival between AAs and WAs. The journal literature indicates that there are disparities for 13 types of cancer after consideration of SES, stage at diagnosis and treatment: bladder, breast, colon, endometrial, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, rectal, testicular, and vaginal cancer; Hodgkin’s lymphoma; and melanoma. Solar UVB doses and/or serum 25(OH)D concentrations have been reported inversely correlated with incidence and/or mortality rates for all of these cancers. This finding suggests that future studies should consider serum 25(OH)D concentrations in addressing cancer survival disparities through both measurements of serum 25(OH)D concentrations and increasing serum 25(OH)D concentrations of those diagnosed with cancer, leading to improved survival rates and reduced disparities.

James C. Collier


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Best Table Tennis Shots Of 2012

James C. Collier


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Friday, December 28, 2012

The End Of The University As We Know It

by Nathan Harden

"In fifty years, if not much sooner, half of the roughly 4,500 colleges and universities now operating in the United States will have ceased to exist. The technology driving this change is already at work, and nothing can stop it. The future looks like this: Access to college-level education will be free for everyone; the residential college campus will become largely obsolete; tens of thousands of professors will lose their jobs; the bachelor’s degree will become increasingly irrelevant; and ten years from now Harvard will enroll ten million students.

We’ve all heard plenty about the “college bubble” in recent years. Student loan debt is at an all-time high—an average of more than $23,000 per graduate by some counts—and tuition costs continue to rise at a rate far outpacing inflation, as they have for decades. Credential inflation is devaluing the college degree, making graduate degrees, and the greater debt required to pay for them, increasingly necessary for many people to maintain the standard of living they experienced growing up in their parents’ homes. Students are defaulting on their loans at an unprecedented rate, too, partly a function of an economy short on entry-level professional positions. Yet, as with all bubbles, there’s a persistent public belief in the value of something, and that faith in the college degree has kept demand high.

The figures are alarming, the anecdotes downright depressing. But the real story of the American higher-education bubble has little to do with individual students and their debts or employment problems. The most important part of the college bubble story—the one we will soon be hearing much more about—concerns the impending financial collapse of numerous private colleges and universities and the likely shrinkage of many public ones. And when that bubble bursts, it will end a system of higher education that, for all of its history, has been steeped in a culture of exclusivity. Then we’ll see the birth of something entirely new as we accept one central and unavoidable fact: The college classroom is about to go virtual."...

Read the full article at the American Interest (here).

James C. Collier


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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Permanent Blue Eyes In 20 Seconds

If you were not fortunate at birth, like actress Reese Witherspoon (pictured), science just might give you another shot at blue eyes, but caution is advised.

Gregg Homer PhD., a Los Angeles area research scientist, is working on a procedure, dubbed Lumineye, that will turn brown eyes blue in a mere twenty seconds - and $5,000 (US). Homer's procedure entails beaming a laser onto the top layer of the iris (pigmented) portion of the eye. The laser 'agitates' the iris - some might say it 'burns' it - and the healing process carries away the tissue remnants, leaving an non-pigmented iris ready to reflect blue to its beholders - Hollywood here I come!

It seems that some eye professionals (and me) 'see' a problem brewing with Homer's invention, as pigment in the eye is protective, so permanently burning it away is not insignificant to long-term eye health. In fact, this blogger has previously written about blue eye problems (here).

Others have taken issue with Homer's ethics in pursuing an expensive, dangerous, cosmetic procedure that re-enforces blue eyes as a pillar of human beauty. Homer arguably believes his Jewish roots preclude his pursuits for reasons other than the best intentions. Huh?

Nevertheless, Homer's research continues with the objective of having the procedure available outside of the US in eighteen months, and on US soil within three years. The close-up photograph shows an eye that has undergone the procedure on the bottom half of the iris.

James C. Collier


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Friday, December 21, 2012

Sandy Hook School And Top Ten Myths About Mass Shootings

Reposted From Chronicle of Higher Education (here)...

Top 10 Myths About Mass Shootings December 18, 2012, 2:42 pm

By James Alan Fox

Even before the death toll in last Friday’s school massacre in Newtown, Conn., was determined, politicians, pundits, and professors of varied disciplines were all over the news, pushing their proposals for change. Some talked about the role of guns, others about mental-health services, and still more about the need for better security in schools and other public places. Whatever their agenda and the passion behind it, those advocates made certain explicit or implied assumptions about patterns in mass murder and the profile of the assailants. Unfortunately, those assumptions do not always align with the facts.

Myth: Mass shootings are on the rise. Reality: Over the past three decades, there has been an average of 20 mass shootings a year in the United States, each with at least four victims killed by gunfire. Occasionally, and mostly by sheer coincidence, several episodes have been clustered closely in time. Over all, however, there has not been an upward trajectory. To the contrary, the real growth has been in the style and pervasiveness of news-media coverage, thanks in large part to technological advances in reporting.

Myth: Mass murderers snap and kill indiscriminately. Reality: Mass murderers typically plan their assaults for days, weeks, or months. They are deliberate in preparing their missions and determined to follow through, no matter what impediments are placed in their path.

Myth: Enhanced background checks will keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of these madmen. Reality: Most mass murderers do not have criminal records or a history of psychiatric hospitalization. They would not be disqualified from purchasing their weapons legally. Certainly, people cannot be denied their Second Amendment rights just because they look strange or act in an odd manner. Besides, mass killers could always find an alternative way of securing the needed weaponry, even if they had to steal from family members or friends.

Myth: Restoring the federal ban on assault weapons will prevent these horrible crimes. Reality: The overwhelming majority of mass murderers use firearms that would not be restricted by an assault-weapons ban. In fact, semiautomatic handguns are far more prevalent in mass shootings. Of course, limiting the size of ammunition clips would at least force a gunman to pause to reload or switch weapons.

Myth: Greater attention and response to the telltale warning signs will allow us to identify would-be mass killers before they act. Reality: While there are some common features in the profile of a mass murderer (depression, resentment, social isolation, tendency to blame others for their misfortunes, fascination with violence, and interest in weaponry), those characteristics are all fairly prevalent in the general population. Any attempt to predict would produce many false positives. Actually, the telltale warning signs come into clear focus only after the deadly deed.

Myth: Widening the availability of mental-health services and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness will allow unstable individuals to get the treatment they need. Reality: With their tendency to externalize blame and see themselves as victims of mistreatment, mass murderers perceive the problem to be in others, not themselves. They would generally resist attempts to encourage them to seek help. And, besides, our constant references to mass murderers as “wackos” or “sickos” don’t do much to destigmatize the mentally ill.

Myth: Increasing security in schools and other places will deter mass murder. Reality: Most security measures will serve only as a minor inconvenience for those who are dead set on mass murder. If anything, excessive security and a fortress-like environment serve as a constant reminder of danger and vulnerability.

Myth: Students need to be prepared for the worst by participating in lockdown drills. Reality: Lockdown drills can be very traumatizing, especially for young children. Also, it is questionable whether they would recall those lessons amid the hysteria associated with an actual shooting. The faculty and staff need to be adequately trained, and the kids just advised to listen to instructions. Schools should take the same low-key approach to the unlikely event of a shooting as the airlines do to the unlikely event of a crash. Passengers aren’t drilled in evacuation procedures but can assume the crew is sufficiently trained.

Myth: Expanding “right to carry” provisions will deter mass killers or at least stop them in their tracks and reduce the body counts. Reality: Mass killers are often described by surviving witnesses as being relaxed and calm during their rampages, owing to their level of planning. In contrast, the rest of us are taken by surprise and respond frantically. A sudden and wild shootout involving the assailant and citizens armed with concealed weapons would potentially catch countless innocent victims in the crossfire.

Myth: We just need to enforce existing gun laws as well as increase the threat of the death penalty. Reality: Mass killers typically expect to die, usually by their own hand or else by first responders. Nothing in the way of prosecution or punishment would divert them from their missions. They are ready to leave their miserable existence, but want some payback first.

In the immediate aftermath of the Newtown school shootings, there seems to be great momentum to establish policies and procedures designed to make us all safer. Sensible gun laws, affordable mental-health care, and reasonable security measures are all worthwhile, and would enhance the well being of millions of Americans. We shouldn’t, however, expect such efforts to take a big bite out of mass murder. Of course, a nibble or two would be reason enough.

James Alan Fox is the Lipman Family Professor of Criminology, Law, and Public Policy at Northeastern University and the author of Violence and Security on Campus: From Preschool Through College (Praeger, 2010).

James C. Collier


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Monday, December 17, 2012

Responding to Newtown, Aurora, Blacksburg, et al

I watched President Obama's speech at the Newtown Memorial last night. My college and high school-aged kids and some of their friends and cousins were there too. It gave me a chance to not only consider how to pick myself up after such a senseless tragedy, but to also grasp what I could do as a father. But I was speechless, my internal BS detector was not having any of it.

During the President's words, all the kids, and adults, oscillated between silent tears, squirms, and nervous comments, reflecting the raw emotion and tension of the moment. It was clear that they were translating the events of Newtown to their own school and work lives. I was silent, because nothing I could say could assure them, or make them feel the safety that is supposed to be my parental job.

This morning I woke still without answers, but with a resolve that I did not have last night. Whatever I do going forward, it must be with a simple notion in mind. Mental health services must be more accessible to everyone, and guns must be more difficult to acquire. With my vote and my wallet I will support leaders who support this, and jettison support for those who dance around the issues.

Down? Yes. Out? No.

James C. Collier


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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

#18 Why Do Black People Get Creative In Naming Their Children?


I ask this question, my mother ask me this question, and I figure non-blacks must silently (if they are wise) ask it too.

No right appears more sovereign to socio-economically disadvantage blacks than naming their offspring some phonetic combination of sounds, apostrophes, prefixes and suffixes that mimic what is believed to represent an African name.

If such naming correlates to reduced life outcomes, including income, as studied by Freakonomic-economist Steven Levitt and Harvard economist Roland Fryer (here), we are left to wonder why parents, especially mothers, choose this route.

I will postulate that naming one's offspring is a non-trivial extension of the ultimate expression of independence, that of bringing a child into this world, such as it is.

For the downtrodden, however they come by their downtrodden-ness, control over their lives is practically non-existent. From birth to the grave, others tell them the measure and direction of their every move, less they end up in some worse place or shape. The decision to have a child and what to name them is, sadly, part of the one time in their lives that they get to do exactly what they please. Never mind that the child might forever pay a price. To the parent, the name is a lasting show of independence to a society that will forever force them, and their child, to conform to what others think is best.

Some might say that such naming is selfish, and it might be, but Levitt and Fryer offer that correlation is not cause. Being born poor is the greatest influence to adult disadvantage, not your name. A 'black' name, like Roshanda, does not cause the holder to live a life of social and economic disadvantage, but rather it is still the choices that Roshanda and her caregivers make in her life. The choice of studying well and working hard, even as the playing field is un-level, is still hers. I have met many impressive, accomplished, funny-sounding named people, of all colors and backgrounds.

However, let's be clear, the naming objective of all parents, throughout the ages, has been the reasonable accommodation of self-expression and placement of their child on a proper road to success, including one of minimal ridicule. Those parents who choose self-expression alone are telling the world where their priorities come to rest.

James C. Collier


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Friday, December 07, 2012

Blue Eyes, Blacks And Occular Albinism

Photographs of this lad have been making the rounds, with what I believe to be a poor explanation of his blue eyes, on top of all the people who claim that it is a case of blatant photoshopping (forgery). He is from Zimbabwe and the photographer was Vanessa Bristow.

It seems that Ms. Bristow happened upon him on a visit to Maramani, and gained his mother's permission to take his photo. That same photographer enlisted the opinion of an ophthalmologist friend to explain his blue eyes - and this is the part that gets me. Rather than describe the ease at which benign mutations of the eye color gene(s) occur in all people, the expert proposes a more far-fetched diagnosis - occular albinism - in light of all we know about eyes and can deduce about this boy.

While it is certainly possible, occular albinism does not normally present blue eyes, but rather green to brown, with three other visible symptoms, poor vision, lazy eye, and involuntary eye movement - none of which the photographer noted or captured. Furthermore, the female carrier of this condition will normally show hyper/hypo-iris pigmentation and iris trans-illumination as evidence. Again, the photographer noted none of these issues in her description of her interactions with the boy's mother. These absences are cause for pause.

Whether it's people claiming a photoshop fake, or doctors reaching past the obvious, it appears that both the ignorant and the educated continue to cling to the notion that blacks cannot simply have blue or green eyes in the same way that those eye colors came about in whites - first by mutation and supported by positive sexual selection. But for the fact that blue eyes and intense African (equatorial) sun are a bad combination for health and longevity, there would be a world full of blue-eyed black people (I suspect) - and others as well.

James C. Collier


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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Letter to a future Republican strategist regarding white people

The Following post in italics is from Eric Garland (here):

To whom it may concern regarding the United States federal elections of 2014, 2016 and beyond:

Allow me to introduce myself to you, the existing (or aspiring!) strategist for the Republican Party. My name is Eric Arnold Garland and I am a White Man. Boy, am I ever – you need sunglasses just to look at my photo!

If I read the news correctly, I fit a profile that is of extreme importance to the GOP, as I embody the archetype that fits your narrative of Real Americans. Just how much should my profile interest you? Are you sitting down?

My family lineage goes back to the MAYFLOWER, BOAT ONE!!! (Garland family of New England-> John Adams -> Howard Alden -> Plymouth colony ->KINGS OF MUTHAF***IN’ ENGLAND)

I am a heterosexual, married to the super Caucasian mother of my two beautiful children who are, inexplicably, EVEN WHITER THAN I AM. I am college educated (Master’s degree!) and affluent. I am a job creator and small businessman. We pay a lot of taxes! Every year! I grew up in a rural area and despise laziness! Having started my own business, I have complained at length about the insanity of federal, state and local bureaucracy – and its deleterious impact on the innovative small businessman. I currently live in the suburbs in a historically Red state. HOLY WHITE PEOPLE, BATMAN!!! Wow, you’re thinking – this is not some Mexirican in the Sun Belt we need to attract via harsh anti-Castro policies or appeals to “valores de familia” - this is the BREAD AND BUTTER OF THE GRAND OLD PARTY, a Mayflower-descended small business owner, burdened by taxation, looking out for his beautiful White family in the suburbs of a city (St Louis) surrounded by racial tension and urban blight! How can I put this gently? My wife and I are not sensitive to your messaging, nor did we vote for the candidates you proposed for us this past Tuesday. B-b-but, what? Aren’t we investors, hard-workin’ white folk surrounded by same in a manicured cul-de-sac, scared by a vision of economic collapse amidst the takers in a land of fewer givers? Didn’t Mitt Romney’s strong family, wealth, leadership history and chiseled chin give us the uncontrollable urge to high-five him into the White House? No. May I explain why not, purely for your education, such that you might be interested in winning an election on the national level at some point in the future? It bears pointing out that I should be your Low Hanging Fruit, the easy vote to get as opposed to, say, African-Americans, Latinos, or Asians – and you’re not even speaking well to me. The reasons why ought to concern you deeply.

As a Card-Carrying White Male I love expressing my opinion irrespective of whether people care to hear it, so let’s get started. >>>>>>

Science - One of the reasons my family is affluent is that my wife and I have a collective fifteen years of university education between us. I have a Masters degree in Science and Technology Policy, and my wife is a physician who holds degrees in medicine as well as cell and molecular biology. We are really quite unimpressed with Congressional representatives such as Todd Akin and Paul Broun who actually serve on the House science committee and who believe, respectively, that rape does not cause pregnancy and that evolution and astrophysics are lies straight from Satan’s butt cheeks. These are, sadly, only two of innumerable assaults that the Republican Party has made against hard science – with nothing to say of logic in general. Please understand the unbearable tension this might create between us and your candidates.

Climate - Within just the past 18 months the following events have come to our attention: a record-breaking drought that sent temperatures over 100 degrees for weeks, killing half the corn in the Midwest and half the TREES on our suburban property – AND – a hurricane that drowned not New Orleans or Tampa or North Carolina but my native state of VERMONT. As an encore, a second hurricane drowned lower Manhattan, New Jersey and Long Island. The shouted views of decrepit mental fossil Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma that this is a fraud perpetrated on the American people by evil, conspiring climate scientists is belied by such events and is looking irresponsible to even the most skeptical.

Healthcare - My wife and I are quite familiar with America’s healthcare system due to our professions, and having lived abroad extensively, also very aware of comparable systems. Your party’s insistence on declaring the private U.S. healthcare system “the best in the world” fails nearly every factual measure available to any curious mind. We watch our country piss away 60% more expenditures than the next most expensive system (Switzerland) for health outcomes that rival former Soviet bloc nations. On a personal scale, my wife watches poor WORKING people show up in emergency rooms with fourth-stage cancer because they were unable to afford primary care visits. I have watched countless small businesses unable to attract talented workers because of the outrageous and climbing cost of private insurance. And I watch European and Asian businesses outpace American companies because they can attract that talent without asking people to risk bankruptcy and death. That you think this state of affairs is somehow preferable to “Obamacare,” which you compared ludicrously to Trotskyite Russian communism, is a sign of deficient minds unfit to guide health policy in America.

War - Nations do have to go to war sometimes, but that Iraq thing was pretty bad, to put it mildly. Somebody should have been, I dunno – FIRED for bad performance. Aren’t you the party of good corporate managers or something? This topic could get 10,000 words on its own. Let’s just leave it at: You guys suck at running wars.

Deficits and debt - Whenever the GOP is out of power, it immediately appeals to the imagination of voters who remember the Lyndon Baines Johnson (!) administration and claim that the Republican alternative is the party of “cutting spending” and “reducing the deficit.” The only problem with your claim is that Republican governments throughout my entire 38 year life (Reagan, Bush 41, Bush 43) have failed to cut spending and deficit and debt EVEN ONCE. I hope you understand that your credibility suffers every time you promise one thing for three decades and do the EXACT OPPOSITE. Egads – if you actually were the party of fiscal responsibility – you might win our votes despite your 13th century view of science!

Gay marriage - As the child of Baby Boomers who got divorced (as was the fashion!) in the 80s and 90s, and for whom 50% of my friends had their homes broken by divorce in the critical years before age 18, I sure am unsympathetic to your caterwauling bullshit that “gays will destroy the sanctity of marriage.” Perhaps if everyone in your generation didn’t take the period of 1978 – 1995 to start surreptitiously banging their neighbors and coworkers, only to abandon their kids because “they just weren’t happy,” I would take your defense of marriage more seriously. The institution of Middle Class suburban marriage was broken by the generation of aging white Baby Boomers who populate what is left of the Republican Party, so your defense is wrongheaded and disingenuous. And moreover, as someone who got called “faggot” about 127 times a day from the years 1985 through 1991 – guess what – I grew up to be pretty good friends with actual homosexuals, whose sexual orientation is usually the least significant thing about them. The Republican perseveration on homosexuals as any sort of threat consigns them to history’s trough of intellectual pig dung. >>>>>>

That’s quite enough for one essay, wouldn’t you say? Now, given my initial description as a wealthy, hard-working, job creating, heterosexual, married suburban White Male – doesn’t your current platform look woefully insufficient to the task of gaining my vote? This doesn’t even get into the demographic tensions that show that people of my exact profile are going away permanently in America. You can’t even win on what you perceive to be “home field advantage.” Uh oh, wait, I can already hear you through the web browser, dismissing all of my above points because THAT GUY WAS NEVER GONNA BE A REPUBLICAN ANYHOW, CUZ HE’S A LIBRUL WHO HATES AMERICA AND…

All right, let’s do one last point: Meanness- Your party is really mean, mocking and demonizing everyone who does not follow you into the pits of hell. You constantly imply – as Mitt Romney did in his “47% speech” – that anybody who disagrees with you does so not by logic or moral conviction, but because they are shiftless, lazy parasites who want “free stuff” from “traditional Americans.” Wow, you guys managed to follow up a stunning electoral defeat with insulting the very people you wish to attract for a majority in the political system! Brilliant! You are losing elections because being angry and defensive and just-plain-mean is more important than being smart and winning elections – and thus you deserve everything happening to you.

If you want to know exactly where you failed in 2012, and will continue to fail, here it is. Look you assholes, I’m as traditional an American as it gets, and I do not “want free stuff.” I am a taxpayer, and ALWAYS HAVE BEEN. I got my first job – dragging bags of cow manure, horse feed and fertilizer around a farm store – when I was 12. I started my first company when I was 28. I have followed the vast majority of the rules set out for middle class white males (for good and for ill.) And if it weren’t bad enough that your policy positions are a complete clusterfuck for the reasons I lay out in great detail, you manage to follow up the whole exercise with insulting me, my wife, and my friends of every stripe who didn’t vote for your political party – all of whom are hard-working, taxpaying, job creating, law abiding, great AMERICANS of EVERY COLOR AND CREED.

From this white, Mayflower-descended strategic analyst, allow me to offer you the three strategic options you have before you: 1. You drastically moderate your platform to harmonize with the policy positions I present above 2. You disband the party and reorganize it to reflect current realities 3. You kick and scream and stamp your feet and call me and my friends names – and submit to several decades of one party rule While I do not want a one-party system, I also don’t particularly care which of these options you choose. If you look carefully at the numbers on Tuesday, nobody else cares, either. Just a word to the wise from one White Man to (presumably) another.

James C. Collier


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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Romney's Losing Ground Game Revealed

Yesterday, I wrote (here) about Obama's winning ground game. So, it makes sense to look up Mitt Romney's game for comparison-sake. His campaign's on-line voter turn-out approach was code-named ORCA, and by all inside accounts it beached itself on election day resulting in a whole lot of white votes for Romney/Ryan that went un-netted (to exhaust the whaling metaphor).

The Boston Globe describes the detail (here), but the plan was to station 30,000 field workers at key battleground polls on election day to track which of the Romney faithful were actually voting, versus sitting at home. In response, eight-hundred Romney staff were at the call-center in the TD Garden (new Boston Garden) prepared to telephone the slugs, as reported from the field, and talk their sedentary white-behinds into moving to vote.

It seems, however, that there were some problems with the execution, if not the plan itself. Many of the field workers were not properly credentialed to carry out their task of figuring out who was or was not voting, and were turned away by poll authorities. On top of this, the actual system for reporting crashed for at least ninety minutes in the middle of voting, throwing the whole she-bang in Boston and across the country into chaos. So there was limited Romney 'call-and-push' to match the Obama 'knock-and-drag' I spoke of in my Obama ground game post.

Unsurprisingly, Romney failed to mention this facet of failure, on the part of his campaign, in his election post-mortem analysis. Romney said he lost because Obama gave stuff to minorities and women (here).

After hearing his sorry excuses for losing, more than a few Romney supporters (check out the comments here) seemed glad their guy lost. Wow!

James C. Collier


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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Obama’s Winning Ground Game Revealed

There has been much talk on the losing side of the presidential election about the Obama “Ground Game”. By example, losing VP candidate Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin focused (here) on what he called “record-breaking turnout numbers from urban areas”, code for black votes, as the reason for the Romney/Ryan pounding at the polls. What about the battleground states, like Colorado, Iowa and Ohio, that were mostly rural and/or white?

So now, about this Obama Ground game - was it a “fair and square” win as Ryan back-tracked, or something more sinister, as offered by Republican strategist Karl Rove, who stated (here) that “Obama won by voter suppression”, clearly an act that, if found to be true, would be illegal? For the record, Rove has yet to back up his allegation with anything resembling evidence.

Moving along, I dug deeper into the Obama Ground Game, with a reputable source – my retired sister Karen, an Obama volunteer from the trenches in the battleground state of Colorado, (she is pictured here with Obama volunteer/actor Laurence Fishburne, aka Morpheus from the Matrix series).

It seems that over the past months Karen has been phone-banking (calling); canvassing (walking door-to-door); registering and otherwise educating goo-gobs of people as to why they, within her assigned territory, should vote for Obama. She pursued Blacks, Whites, Asians, and Latinos, without distinction. She did this during the day, evenings and on weekends. She said there were thousands like her all over the city, counties, and the Columbine state. Each volunteer was prepped to get people to act their support of the President.

All the way from Bill Clinton holding a pep rally for volunteers at Manual HS, to actress Angela Bassett (What’s Love Got To Do With It) cheering on N.E. Denver precincts, to comedian/actor George Lopez working West Denver, and actor Jon Hamm (Madmen) in North Denver, the Obama machine left no motivating stone unturned or potential vote uncast. Fishburne not only 'bumped' the troops in the precinct offices, the actor was spotted hawking votes door-to-door in the eastern suburb of Montbello.

On election day, Karen was picking up and delivering sealed ballots from people she had earlier convinced to sign up for mail-in-ballots - but who had not mailed them. She drove people to the polls and back, when a ride stood between them and voting. The volunteers gleefully called this the knock-n-drag - knock on the door and drag them to the polls to vote. All of this was done on her time and dime – no reimbursement. She said people liked Obama over Romney when you lined up their positions, but the key was getting them into action - to vote. “That’s what our ground game did – that’s how we won!"

James C. Collier


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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Jezebel Exposes Young Bigots In-Training

Young people are known for mixing up the sequence "ready, aim, fire" to something more akin to ready, fire, uh...aim", but Tracy Egan Morrissey, over at Jezebel has certainly taken some of the kiddies to 'school' on how responsibility goes hand-in-hand with the First Amendment right to free speech (here).

It seems that quite a few young white folks took to Twitter just after the presidential election to let their worlds know just how they feel about four more years of Mr. Obama. What many had to say was not indicative of good anything...parenting, schooling, coaching or anything else. Mrs. Morrissey/Jezebel simply gave these young people a greater public forum for their youthful vileness. Good for her. It is important for us to know the kids we are raising.

Black parents certainly get a daily dose of what vileness their kids can produce left unattended, but this time around it was white folk's turn to say 'what the hell?'. I also know that kids speak in ways that they were not taught, so I do not automatically blame parents for any particular kid, however, all parents collectively share the blame. You cannot assume that what your kid says in front of you is what they say to others. Parents need to be a little crafty in order to really know their kids - because kids are crafty. And for many parents, it all begins with setting a good example.

In the coming days their will be more made of this, but one thing is for sure, what you say in public forums, electronic or otherwise, follows you and is sticky like syrup. I'm sure Mr. Romney wishes he could take back "self-deportation", "binders of women", "the 47%...", and the like, when he considers how Latinos and women reacted to those words. Mitt certainly wasn't dropping N-bombs, but his gaffes showed that someone could have schooled him a little better about measuring his words.

James C. Collier


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Thursday, November 08, 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Gov. Christie (R) Stumps For Obama

There are some moments in blah-blah-blah politics that deserve mention. This is one of them. Gov. Christie (R) New Jersey, aggressively thanking President Obama for his efforts to help the state, hit by super tropical storm Sandy. Of course, Christie left out the part about the deep shit NJ would be in if his boy Romney was president, with his campaign promise to eliminate FEMA, the instrument of the President's aid.

“I have to give the president great credit,” Christie, who delivered the keynote address at Romney’s nominating convention, said on the Fox News Channel. “He’s done, as far as I’m concerned, a great job for New Jersey.”

What Governor Crispie Creme is really saying is that for all his lambasting of President Obama and the Federal government, before, during and after his blow-hard Republican convention speech, his ample-ass would be in one fat jam were it not for the President and his ability/willingness to send aid, most importantly critical disaster funds to help patch and re-float Christie's state.

Meanwhile, Romney supporters will claim that Obama created and routed Sandy, as part of his socialist plot to steal the election from Mitt. Of course, Mitt has gone completely deaf on whether he still would eliminate FEMA, "since the states are so much better at this stuff". Obama has issues, for sure, and FEMA can always do better, nevertheless, Romney's pants are around his ankles on this one - ask anyone from Jersey.

James C. Collier


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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Racist Gov. John Sununu (R) Stumps For Obama

Everytime one of these Republican gadfly's opens their mouth to spout some racist dribble, Obama gets more votes because of race. How stupid is that?

"Frankly, when you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that's an endorsement based on issues or whether he's got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama," Sununu said in an interview on CNN. When pressed on what those reasons might be, he replied, "Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that you're proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him."

Former NH Gov. Sununu claimed that General Powell is endorsing Obama because of race, despite all that Republicans have come to know about this most widely respected modern-day Black Republican - serving three Republican administrations, and Democrats as well.

So in response, a bunch of otherwise centrist 'Rockefeller' Republican voters, who had planned to hold their noses and vote for Mitt, decide to hold their noses and vote for Obama, so at least they can look themselves in the mirror and imagine that they are NOT as Mr. Sununu portrays them.

Everyday it becomes more clear, the Dems don't need a good story to stay in power, just a story that is slightly better than their opponents. It seems to be the job of these gadfly politicians and pundits, like Sununu, to continuously pump stupidity into the contest.

James C. Collier


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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What About Lance Armstrong?

This is the same look that Bill Clinton gave America when it was clear that Monica Lewinsky repeatedly polished his chrome in the White House. Lance wasn't just a doper - he was the Al Capone of dopers. In fact, all past, present, and future dopers will be judged by the standard he has set. Yikes.

Now, let's roll back a few posts (here), where I said, even with it all, I would shake the boy's hand - I take that back! I read Tyler Hamilton's book, and for whatever kind of low-life Hamilton is, Armstrong is one scary dude. Hamilton's replay of Frankie and Betsy Andreu's battle with Armstrong over his hospital admissions to doping, leading up to his testicular cancer, is astonishing.

For me, it is not so much the doping - doping happens everywhere and will continue - rather it was the ruthlessness of Lance. He left no room near the top for anyone else. His policy was scorched earth - serve me, then die!

I never liked Floyd Landis because he suckered a coach I like, Arnie Baker MD, into supporting his claims of innocence, but I hope Floyd prevails in his whistle-blower suit against Lance, because Armstrong deserves all the arrows he may get. Lance froze his doping pal Floyd out of cycling completely, for no reason other than Armstrong is one gigantic paranoid, vindictive asshole.

I could go on, but you get my drift. Lance now has a lifetime to ponder the looks/stares that beg the question of what level of societal scumbag he's earned. The only thing to distract him will be all the people, with lawyers, trying to put his dumb-ass in the poorhouse, including the folks at the United State Post Office and Discovery. I wish them well.

The top symbol of doping in cycling is no longer my old Festina team jersey, but rather it's a Livestrong. Amazing!

James C. Collier


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