Posts from — July 2008
Daniel Levy directs both the New America Foundation Middle East Program and the Century Foundation’s Prospects for Peace Initiative. He was a policy adviser in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office and head of the Jerusalem Affairs Unit during the Barak Government. He was a member of the Israeli delegation to the Taba negotiations with the Palestinians in January 2001, and of the negotiating team for the ‘Oslo B’ Agreement from May to September 1995, under Prime Minister Rabin. He served as senior policy adviser to former Israeli Minister of Justice, Yossi Beilin. He was the lead Israeli drafter of the Geneva Initiative (a jointly drafted Israeli-Palestinian peace plan). He has a Masters Degree from Cambridge University. Here is what Daniel Levy wrote today in The Huffington Post:
You may have missed it, but renowned Time columnist Joe Klein and the Jewish neoconservative blogosphere are at war with one another. The reason this is more important than an argument on who sits where in shul is that Klein has refused to cower, and as a respected member of the mainstream media is pushing back against one of the uglier and more debate-restricting phenomena of recent years. Here is what Joe (photo below) had to say on ‘Swampland’, his blog on the Time website:
“There is a small group of Jewish neoconservatives who unsuccessfully tried to get Benjamin Netanyahu to attack Saddam Hussein in the 1990s, and then successfully helped provide the intellectual rationale for George Bush to do it in 2003… Happily, these people represent a very small sliver of the Jewish population in this country…I remain proud of my Jewish heritage, a strong supporter of Israel…But I am not willing to grant these ideologues the anonymity they seek…I believe there are a small group of Jewish neoconservatives who are pushing for war with Iran because they believe it is in America’s long-term interests and because they believe Israel’s existence is at stake. They are wrong and recent history tells us they are dangerous. They are also bullies and I’m not going to be intimidated by them.”
Levy suggests that this is “not just Klein’s private kerfuffle: it matters to Jewish America, to America and Israel too, and to being able to have a more serious conversation about anti-Semitism in the future.”
According to Levy’s article, “Bush administration policies in the Middle East have had disastrous consequences for the U.S.; Israel, too, is in a less secure and worse place as a result of these policies; ultimate responsibility for all this lies with the president himself and his hawkish and close group of senior aides – principal among them Veep Cheney; the neoconservatives played an important role in providing an ideological framing for these policies; within that neoconservative world there operates a prominent and tight-knit group of Jewish neocons who are ideologically driven in part by an old school Likudist view of Israeli interests.”
Levy makes the point (as I did) that all Jews are not neoconservatives and all neoconservatives are not Jews, and he insists that the Jews or Israel are not to blame for the Bush Middle East debacle. But he says “there was a failure within the mainstream, Jewish and non-Jewish, to identify the existence of a particular Jewish neoconservative narrative and then to challenge that narrative as being fundamentally flawed in its reading of both American and Israeli interests.”
Levy identifies far-right Christian Evangelical Zionists and TV evangelist John Hagee as being part of that hawkish Mideast movement.
Levy goes on to explain that the reason this debate is so important right now “is the issue raised by Joe Klein – their (the neocons’) aggressive advocacy of a military strike against Iran, a position that again places them out of step with the majority of American Jews.”
In view of Levy’s article, I feel less over-the-top when I wonder about the attacks against Barack Obama that are coming from writers with Jewish names employed by publications with Jewish owners. I don’t know whether the writers are neocons, or whether they are following an agenda set by neocon media executives. That’s impossible for me to determine. But I ask you: Given that Obama’s stand on the Mideast is so much less hawkish than McCain’s, is it really that crazy to suspect he is under attack from the neocons that Levy and Klein are warning us about?
July 31, 2008 No Comments
You may have heard of a man named Lou Dobbs (I think of him as Loud Dobbs). He has a daily rant on CNN television, which comes on around supper time. It should be sponsored by an antacid company because if anything will give you heartburn, this program will. Demagogue Dobbs will say anything, twist any fact, press any “hot button” to get his supporters fired up.
At the end of each program he asks some silly question, like “do you think illegal immigrants should be allowed to remain in America?” Invariably, the response is 90-something percent for the Dobbs’ position (which is, of course, NO!).
I swear this guy thinks so much of himself that you can actually see his head swelling. One of these days it will probably explode like a Gallagher watermelon. Among his fantasies is the notion that the voters of New Jersey want him to run for governor, and there’s even a Web site calling for Lou Dobbs to stand for the Presidency of the United States.
Anyway, Dobbs (photo at left) is a leading voice in the clamor for deportation of America’s 12 million to 20 million undocumented immigrants. He denies that he wants them all rounded up and shipped out of the country, but I haven’t heard him say what he wants done with them. I know he wants them gone.
And he wants America to build an impregnable wall along its Mexican border to keep “illegal aliens” out. He doesn’t say what he wants to do along the Canadian border, but I imagine it would be something similar. Canucks flood the U.S. (especially Florida) in the winter, clogging the traffic, crowding the golf courses and beaches, and saying “eh” all over the place. I am sure Dobbs wouldn’t want to put up with anything like that!
Anyway, it looks as if Dobbs and his fellow-travelers might be getting their wish. Gail Russell Chaddock of the Christian Science Monitor reports today that the immigration tide is turning and many illegal immigrants are going home.
“Some 1.3 million illegal immigrants have left the United States since Congress failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform in the summer of 2007.” the report states. “If the trend continues, according to a new study, the nation’s illegal population will drop by half in the next five years.”
Quoting the Center for Immigration studies, a think tank with a record of opposing illegal (and even some legal) immigration – the reporter says young Hispanic immigrants are heading south partly because of a slowing U.S. economy and partly because of stepped up enforcement of immigration laws.
Dobbs and his followers should be pleased. But the rest of us might wonder what the implications of this trend might be.
I see acres of unharvested strawberries rotting in the Florida and California sun, dust blowing across fields that once were green with vegetable crops, potatoes unharvested in the ground and oranges falling from the trees – and, inevitably, soaring prices at the supermarket. Unwashed dishes will likely pile up at restaurants and unwashed diapers will collect at the homes of the effete “upper middle class.” Who knows, some of Dobbs’ rich friends might even have to cook their own meals for a change.
Am I defending illegal immigration? Of course not. I believe – as you do – in the rule of law. But there are mitigating circumstances this time. First, many illegal immigrants are victims, not perpetrators. They were lured across the border by promises of a better life only to find themselves in bondage. (Just a few years ago, two migrant labor bosses in Lake Placid, Florida were convicted of practicing slavery!)
Second, much of the work done by illegal aliens is unattractive to Americans. If the immigrants go home, the government will have to arrange for contract workers (from places like Jamaica) to take their place – and I don’t see that happening so far.
Third, it would be inhumane to round up long-time residents of this country, some of whom were brought here as children, and ship them off to some place where they have no way of making a living. (And it would be logistically impossible to round up so many millions, anyway.)
It could well be time for Congress to get moving on a comprehensive immigration package to address the issue – before Lou Dobbs and his disciples get their wish.
July 31, 2008 2 Comments
Washington Post reporters Dana Milbank and Jonathan Weisman twisted a statement by Obama today to paint him as an uppity you-know-what. You know the word I’m dodging here… And just as they didn’t use the “n” word, they didn’t use “uppity,” either. They used the new favorite of the anti-Obama campaign: “presumptuous.” (Last month’s favorite word was “elitist” – remember?)
(By the way, how come so many media mouths utter the same catch phrases in chorus? Does somebody send out a list of words for them to use? The word “presumptuous” has been used about Obama so many times in the past few days that I’ve lost count.)
Here’s what the Post reporters quoted Obama as saying:
“This is the moment that the world is waiting for. I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions.”
And this is how they interpreted the remark:
Neither Milbank nor Weisman was at the event where Obama spoke. And according to numerous people who were at the event, this is what Obama actually said:
“It has become increasingly clear in my travel – the campaign – that the crowds, the enthusiasm, 200,000 people in Berlin, is not about me at all. It’s about America. I have just become a symbol.”
No “hubris” there. Actually, Obama was being self-deprecatory.
So what the hell is going on? The New York Times attacked Obama two days running, and now the Post is baying at his heels. The Times attacks were at least masked as opinion pieces, but the Post attack is a bold-faced lie.
I hope I am wrong about this, but I suspect there’s a massive crusade to keep Obama out of the White House – possibly because McCain would be more willing to serve the interests of Israel (please see the preceding blog).
July 30, 2008 No Comments
If there ever was a time when the public received unbiased information from a “free press,” that time is long gone. As a former (occasional) political reporter, I can tell you every word you read or hear about politics is “spin.” Your only hope of obtaining relatively untainted information is to watch C-Span and make up your own mind.
The government – every government everywhere – should require media outlets to fully identify their reporters and commentators. They should have to list the writer’s or commentator’s professional credentials and background, educational credits, political affiliation, religion – even stock ownership. The public would then be better able to “consider the source” in processing the information provided.
Fortunately, most voters tend to follow their own biases and prejudices. They turn to political “news” and commentary only to reinforce those prejudices. And they regurgitate “talking points” and “buzzwords” picked up from the pundits only to give their own ideas more appeal.
In the words of 17th Century English poet Samuel Butler: He that complies against his will is of his own opinion still, which he may adhere to, yet disown, for reasons to himself best known.
If voters were more malliable, they would be herded like sheep by the propagandists of the corporate-owned media. And that means the “neo-cons” would rule the world. We would probably have gone to war with Iran by now, and American troops would remain in the Middle East for generations.
That’s right. Conservatives control most of the media, not liberals, despite what you may have heard about “the liberal bias” in the press.
For some years now, ownership of the media has been consolidated in a few ultra-powerful hands. Today’s press is controlled by giant corporations like Time Warner, Walt Disney, Viacom, the Rupert Murdoch empire and General Electric. You can Google your favorite “news” source and find out who is pulling the strings behind the scenes. Trust me: You will be surprised.
Naturally, the CEO of Time Warner does not phone Wolf Blitzer and tell him what to say on CNN. But over the past several years, the owners of the media have systematically placed like-minded executives in key positions that control the flow of information to the public. I won’t bore you with a raft of examples. But haven’t you noticed a trend toward recruitment of “conservative” columnists and on-air commentators lately?
The New York Times is a “liberal” newspaper, right? Yet, a few months ago the Times hired columnist William Kristol, one of the most prominent neo-cons in America.
The son of Irving Kristol, a founder of American neo-conservatism, William Kristol was chief of staff to Secretary of Education William Bennett in the Reagan administration and to Vice President Dan Quayle in the senior-Bush administration. He is also editor of the Weekly Standard, a strident voice for militarism and neo-colonialism abroad and the reversal of social programs and democratic rights in America.
Kristol is not the only “conservative” at The Times. The newspaper’s chief foreign columnist, Thomas Friedman, was an early and enthusiastic supporter of the war in Iraq, and David Brooks consistently churns out right-wing propaganda in support of the occupation.
The Times still has some “liberals” on its op-ed page – Frank Rich, Paul Krugman, Bob Herbert and Maureen Dowd, for example. But I see fewer and fewer of their columns in our local (Lakeland, Florida) newspaper, which is owned by The Times.
What in tarnation is going on? Politics, as someone once said, makes strange bedfellows. The conservative right has acquired a new and extremely powerful ally – the Zionist Movement. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: all Jews are not Zionists and all Zionists are not Jews. Rupert Murdoch is not a Jew but he is reportedly a Zionist.
I cannot prove it, and I could be way out of line, but when I scrutinize media ownership I come to the conclusion that Zionists control much of the media. That might explain the anti-Obama media bias that was reported recently in an independent study.
Obama is far less likely than McCain to “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” or keep American troops in Iraq for a hundred years. And who benefits most by the presence of American troops in the Mid-East? Our ally, Israel. It seems to me that the Zionists would prefer a President who is unconditionally willing to shed American blood and deplete the American treasury to provide a bulwark for Israel than one who would try to negotiate a fair and just peace between Israel and its neighbors.
July 30, 2008 No Comments
Before I say anything, I would like you to read the lyrics to Toby Keith’s latest country-and-western hit “Beer for My Horses”:
Well a man come on the 6 o’clock news, said somebody’s been shot, somebody’s been abused, somebody blew up a building, somebody stole a car, somebody got away, somebody didn’t get too far, yeah, they didn’t get too far.
Grandpappy told my pappy back in my day, son, a man had to answer for the wicked that he’d done. Take all the rope in Texas, find a tall oak tree, round up all them bad boys, hang them high in the street for all the people to see. That justice is the one thing you should always find. You got to saddle up your boys, you got to draw a hard line. When the gun smoke settles we’ll sing a victory tune, and we’ll all meet back at the local saloon. And we’ll raise up our glasses against evil forces, singing whiskey for my men, beer for my horses. We got too many gangsters doing dirty deeds, too much corruption and crime in the streets. It’s time the long arm of the law put a few more in the ground. Send ‘em all to their maker and he’ll settle ‘em down. You can bet he’ll set ‘em down.
If you’ve ever had a poetry class, you may wonder at the total lack of talent evident in this lame piece of doggerel. The rhythm limps and the rhymes are misplaced. But that’s not what offends me. It’s the racist, fascist and viciously un-American message that gets me riled me up, pardner.
Here’s what I have to tell Toby Keith: To conjure up images of the lynching that blackened “Grandpappy’s” days is intolerable. To promote vigilante justice in a country already on edge is irresponsible. To advocate ignoring the rule of law is ignorant.
But brutish, right-wing propaganda is becoming the norm for the so-called Country-and-Western culture.
This is personal to me because I used to like country-and-western music. When I was about 13, I lived in a remote part of Jamaica, where no local radio signals were available. Somebody gave me a little white plastic radio one Christmas, and if I could stay awake until the pre-dawn hours, I could get WWVA, Wheeling West Virginia; WCKY, Cincinnati One, Ohio; and some station in Del Rio Texas. All were country and western stations, and I developed a deep affection for Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Ernest Tubbs, George Jones, Patsy Cline and the other captivating artists who invaded my room.
Now, I cannot listen to a country-and-western radio or television program for long without wanting to throw up. The music is mostly tuneless, the lyrics are inane, the artists clueless. And that’s not the worst part – it seems as if the genre has been taken over by loutish, posturing Neanderthals intent on promoting neo-fascism under a cloak of jingoism, violence and mawkish sentimentality.
Johnnie Cash must be turning over in his grave.
July 29, 2008 2 Comments
Remember, you heard it here first: Oil prices will keep falling for a while. There will be daily undulations, of course, but overall oil prices are headed south. Looking into my crystal ball, I’m seeing $100 a barrel or less before prices start to climb again.
It’s not because John McCain and George Bush are unsheathing their oil drills and heading for the coastline, and it’s not just because Americans are rediscovering the bicycle. Although I’m sure supply and demand have something to do with falling oil prices, I think the real cause is something much more basic: Greed.
In the short term there’s an abundance of oil for the taking, and while existing refining capacity may be inadequate to keep up with demand, there’s no shortage of petroleum in the world. Not right now, anyway. Later on, yes. The day of reckoning is sure to come some day. But what do Americans care about “some day”? They live in the moment
It was mainly greed that drove oil prices to record heights as unregulated speculators manipulated the futures market. With government oversight reinstated recently, oil speculators can’t run amok the way they used to, so the low-hanging billions aren’t there to be harvested any longer. You can bet the speculators will be looking for new get-rich-quick opportunities.
So psst! I think the time has come to make lots of dough in real estate.
The housing market crashed because prices got too high for most buyers to afford a home. When real estate prices spiraled a few years ago, wages in America did not keep pace. People couldn’t afford to buy the homes on the market. So two things resulted:
- Smart people stayed out of the market.
- Not-so-smart people took out adjustable-rate mortgages they couldn’t afford and (predictably) couldn’t meet the monthly payments once the interest rates went up.
With the slackening of demand, speculators who had helped drive up real estate prices, ran for cover. Some of them probably moved their money into oil futures.
As a result, house prices plummeted, and then plummeted some more. Here’s the up-to-the-minute news on this topic from the Associated Press:
“Home prices tumbled by the steepest rate ever in May, according to a closely watched housing index released Tuesday, as the housing slump deepened nationwide. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city index dropped by 15.8 percent in May compared with a year ago, a record decline since its inception in 2000. The 10-city index plunged 16.9 percent, its biggest decline in its 21-year history.”
You can bet many wage earners can now find affordable homes once more, and every day new buyers will emerge. Folks get married, or promoted, or have another kid, or graduate from college, or whatever, and start looking around for that white picket fence. Home sales – and prices – are due to start recovering soon.
And (here’s the clincher!) Uncle Sam has dug into his pocket to ensure that the housing market will be stable. Your tax dollars have been pledged to shore up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, nourishing home sales and maintaining a robust supply of mortgage dollars.
Fannie Mae (the Federal National Mortgage Association) is a government sponsored enterprise created in 1938. It was established in order to provide local banks with federal money to finance home mortgages in an attempt to increase home ownership in the wake of the Great Depression.
Freddie Mac (the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation) was founded in 1970. This is a corporation chartered by Congress to increase the supply of funds that mortgage lenders, such as commercial banks, mortgage bankers, savings institutions and credit unions, can make available to homebuyers and multifamily investors.
With uncharacteristic generosity, the government lets you buy shares in these agencies. That’s right: They are backed by Uncle Sam but you get to invest in them and keep the profits. Is that a deal or what? So, now that you have probably sold your oil futures and are looking around for someplace else to sink those billions, you could do a lot worse than buy stock in Fannie and Freddie.
And, while you’re at it, why not pick up a dozen or so of those houses that are going begging in one of the biggest bail-outs in the history of Capitalism.
July 29, 2008 No Comments
It is a thundering irony that Barack Obama should be mistaken for a Muslim on one hand and criticized because of his Christian beliefs on the other.
The thought came to me this morning as I read a column by New York Times writer David Brooks, who was scoffing at Obama’s message of hope and change.
Brooks is a lifelong “conservative,” and that may be one reason for his opposition to everything Obama stands for. But I suspect there is another reason: Brooks, a Canadian-born American, grew up Jewish. And, that might have a lot to do with his view of the world.
I am not saying there is anything wrong with growing up Jewish. But there are basic differences in philosophy between the Judaic faith and the Christian faith, differences that the so-called Evangelicals often seem to miss. For example, the concept of justice (an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth) is Judaic. The concept of mercy (forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us) is Christian.
That’s a yawning chasm to cross in politics. But surely, the concept of hope is one that the Children of Israel must have embraced as they toiled in bondage to the Egyptians and later wandered in the wilderness. Surely, it was hope that kept them going. And it was faith that parted the Red Sea, sustained Noah as he built his ark, and brought the walls of Jericho tumbling down.
When Obama promises to strive for a world in which “every child everywhere is taught to build and not to destroy,” he is giving voice to a Christian precept. I can understand why Brooks might not share that objective. The Jewish tradition is far more militaristic; the ancient Israelites were given to much smiting of hip and thigh.
But when Brooks sneers at Obama for suggesting that the walls separating human beings from each other could be breached by hope and faith, he is ignoring the Judaic lesson of Jericho.
July 28, 2008 2 Comments
The headline in our local newspaper was startling: “America is now winning Iraq war.”
Could it be a mistake? Was it a delusional episode on the copy editing desk perhaps? No. The headline was accurate. The story, by not one but two Associated Press reporters, began: “The United States is now winning the war that two years ago seemed lost.”
I couldn’t wait to read this report. It seemed to me that America was no longer at war in Iraq, but was occupying Iraq while various Iraqi factions were fighting each other and opportunistic Al-Qaida operatives were streaming across the border to take advantage of the fact that large numbers of Americans were conveniently assembled where they could get at them. So how could America “win” in that situation?
According to the Associated Press reporters, Americans “are winning” by losing fewer lives than they did previously as Al-Qaida shifts its focus from Iraq to Afghanistan. Of course, Americans are now losing more lives in Afghanistan, so I suppose that means they are “losing” the Afghanistan war.
There are winners and losers in Iraq: One big winner is Iran, which has a lot of influence with the Shia politicians that America put in charge of Iraq. Also in the winning column are the Kurds, who now have some degree of self government, and the Shia elite, who control Iraq and its oil. The losers are the Sunnis, who used to be top dogs when Saddam was in power. And, oh yes, the families of the thousands of American servicemen and women, as well as the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, who were killed and maimed – they’re the biggest losers of all.
The Sunnis, who were in cahoots with Al-Qaida at first, turned against the terrorist group because of atrocities the terrorists unwisely committed against Sunnis. The Sunni opposition discouraged the Al-Qaida operatives to the point where they began to lose interest in Iraq and turn their attention to Afghanistan. The Sunnis also became discouraged and now seem somewhat resigned to domination by the Shia (at least until the Americans leave), so violence has abated in some parts of Iraq.
If that is “winning,” what will America have won? Control of Iraq’s government? Control of Iraq’s oil? Good will and enhanced stature among Middle Eastern nations?
It seems to me that the Iraqi government is chafing at the bit to get rid of the Americans and openly link arms with their pals in Iran. The oil will end up with the global interests who control everybody’s oil. And as for good will, I don’t think anyone, not even Associated Press reporters, would argue that America’s stature in the Arab world has been enhanced by the Iraq adventure.
So what does America get for the billions of dollars spent – and the thousands of lives lost – in Iraq so far?
Maybe they’ll give the U.S. an Iraq War medal at the Olympics.
July 27, 2008 No Comments
Everyone complains about “the press” in America – including me. Conservatives say journalists are too liberal; liberals say they’re too conservative – and so on.
Today “the press” is a vast, diverse mess on television and radio, on the Internet and in an overwhelming array of printed publications, a far cry from the days of Thomas Jefferson and the other fathers of the constitution. They wanted a free press because they held the idealistic notion that members of the press would speak from the heart and should not be shushed by the government.
“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate for a moment to prefer the latter,” Jefferson said early in his career. (But he lived to criticize the press later on.)
The American Constitution asserts that Congress shall make no law to abridge the freedom of the press. But it does not define “the press.”
So what is Congress supposed to leave unfettered? In practical terms, the free press means printed materials. The government regulates use of the airwaves and can control the behavior of broadcasters.
There used to be a regulation enforcing a “fairness doctrine” that obliged television stations to provide exposure to opposing sides of political issues. The regulation was removed long ago, but several “conservative” polemicists are warning that if the Democrats win control of Congress and the White House, they will reinstate it. This is perceived as a dire threat to such broadcasters as Rush Limbaugh.
I think the government is misguided when it attempts to set standards for the delivery of information by any medium. You can see the kind of thing that would result in those inane telecasts where the obligatory left-winger and the obligatory right-winger recite opposing sides of an issue. I learn nothing new from these puppet shows, and I am sure you don’t either.
But I see no reason for the people who call themselves journalists to be sacrosanct.
In many other countries, journalists are sanctioned by press councils made up of their peers. In America, this kind of professional oversight is the rule for doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, dentists – even Realtors. Why are other professions regarded as so vital to the welfare of society that oversight is considered prudent when journalism is not?
Especially now that “the media” is controlled by large corporations with a lot to lose or gain in the way “news” is disseminated, the public should have some way of telling professional journalists from propagandists. I am not suggesting that anyone who has not been sanctioned by a professional body should be banned from having their say. But it would be useful to have some way of checking the credentials of the people delivering information to the public.
If Mr. Limbaugh, for example, were to obtain journalistic credentials from a recognized professional body, I might be more inclined to take his comments seriously.
July 26, 2008 No Comments
I received two email messages this morning that made me wonder at the disregard so many in corporate America must feel for our health and safety. One was from Jamaican expatriate Margaret Lowe of Orlando, and included a video discussing the threat of fluoridation. The other was from Tampa radio show host Ron Bob-Semple, also a Jamaican expatriate, and included a video of an ABC-TV program on tire safety.
The fluoride debate is not new, but the video Margaret sent me is. Back in the ’80s, when I wrote editorials for the Clearwater Sun, I heard from several opponents of water fluoridation, and they were persuasive enough to prompt editorials questioning the wisdom of this practice.
The video that Margaret sent me shows author Christopher Bryson talking about his book “The Fluoride Deception.” He does a lot more than repeat the facts I’d heard at the Sun. He details the questionable research that has led to the widespread acceptance of fluoride (a toxic industrial waste product) in the United States. By his account, the research was sponsored by the industries responsible for fluoride pollution – aluminum and steel, for example – and was skewed in favor of the sponsors.
Ron’s video, an ABC television production, revealed that dangerously old tires were on sale as “new,” and were causing fatal car accidents. The program showed how tread can peel off a tire at high speeds when the elasticity dries out because of age, and how this is happening with disturbing frequency on North American highways. The program also showed a tiny, hidden code on the inside rim of a tire, which indicates when the tire was made. According to the program, tires up to 14 years old were found on the new-tire racks at retail outlets across America.
These threats are just two of the multitude of dangers to which the American public is routinely exposed. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you about the hazardous lead-laden toys and toxic dog food from China or the recent salmonella scare. But what scares me even more than all of the above is the danger we face from prescription drugs.
Just as we may be poisoning our children by adding fluoride to their drinking water in an effort to protect their teeth, we may be making ourselves sick by taking medicines approved by the government and prescribed by our doctors.
I believe that the root cause of this menace is bad science.
The way I was taught, science is the pursuit of factual truth by deduction and testing. If a given series of tests produce the same results under the same conditions every time, that is considered scientific proof. Now, the facts seem to be in dispute, the conditions in doubt, the conclusions skewed.
I read somewhere that some pharmaceutical companies are paying scientists to lend their names to studies in which the scientists have no involvement. Add that to the charges in Dryson’s book, and you have a picture of a scientific community that’s for sale. And that’s a terrifying thought.
One answer to this danger is more government funding for independent research. When scientific research is left up to private interests with an ax to grind, the health and safety of all Americans is placed in jeopardy.
July 24, 2008 No Comments