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Member since: Sat May 15, 2010, 04:48 PM
Number of posts: 6,250

Journal Archives

Several have raised the spectre of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement being fast-tracked . . .

. . . and given the President's repeated indications that he would sign such a pact, there is reason to worry.

But isn't it a rather sad irony that we have to be anxious about the possibility that a Democratic President might be willing to do the GOP's bidding?
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Nov 5, 2014, 01:20 PM (9 replies)

County Map of PA Governor's race -- mostly predictable, but . . .

The county-by-county electoral map of the Pennsylvania governor's race is mostly predictable, but there are a couple of surprises. One is that Corbett won Wolfe's home county (York). Then again, on second thought, that really isn't such a surprise. York County is where the town of Dover is located -- Dover was in the national news just a few years back when its local school board tried to require the teaching of 'intelligent design' alongside evolution in science classes (a bid that, thankfully, was quashed by Federal Judge John E. Jones, III). A second surprise -- and a rather pleasant one, in my view -- is that my native county, Clinton, went blue! Clinton is one of the two adjoining blue counties smack dab in the middle of the state amid a sea of red. Clinton is the one to the north, and Centre is the one to the south. That Centre would go blue isn't surprising, given that it is home to Penn State. But Clinton does surprise me -- I suspect it had something to do with Corbett's role in the whole Sandusky case, and the fact that one of Sandusky's victims, who figured prominently in Sandusky's trial, was from Clinton County. Also, residents of Clinton County have become deeply disillusioned with the fracking industry, and what it is doing to the local environment.

You can view an interactive version of that map here.
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Nov 5, 2014, 09:00 AM (0 replies)

Take heart -- A Retired Navy Officer’s Message to Liberals on the Eve of the GOP’s Big Mid-Term Win

Saw this the other day -- thought it might be good to share here now, lest we allow ourselves to get too morose over yesterdays results . . .

A Retired Navy Officer’s Message to Liberals on the Eve of the GOP’s Big Mid-Term Win

Posted by Jim Wright

< . . . . >

Do you know what’s going to happen if Conservatives control both houses of Congress? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Literally nothing. That’s what will happen. For the next two years. Nothing.

So, if you think about it, in most regards, down here on the street, it'll look pretty much the same as the last two years where Congress has accomplished ... nothing. Oh, sure, the very first thing Republicans will do is attempt torepeal Obamacare. They have no choice. They'll have to - they've painted themselves into a corner on it.

And so, the first order of business, right after they all make a big showing of swearing in their new majority by reciting the Constitution, will be a rushed bill through both chambers to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act. It's already written.

Republicans willpass a repeal in the House. They might even pass a repeal in the Senate by a simple majority vote, especially if Democrats continue to cravenly run away from the ACA instead of standing their ground and fighting. Instead of reminding Americans why we needed it in the first place and why the majority of Americans, including one hell of a lot of Republicans, benefit from the ACA every day - which is what Democrats should have been doing during their campaigns instead of pissing their pants.

< . . . . >

Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Nov 5, 2014, 07:22 AM (23 replies)

Saw this comment on FB, which pretty well sums up yesterday . . .

"You have to stand for something to get your voters out in a midterm. The Republicans stand for craziness, and the crazies turn out. Who can say what the Democratic Party stands for?"
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Nov 5, 2014, 07:01 AM (66 replies)

For any non-voting Russell Brand fans you may know . . .

Created this last night as part of my personal get-out-the-vote effort!

Click here to see a larger copy of the image.

Feel free to share!

Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Nov 3, 2014, 02:11 AM (6 replies)

Why is the Obama administration siding with meat packers over the rights of U.S. consumers . . .

. . . to know the country of origin of the meats they buy? And why on earth would President Obamas Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, in the event of a conflict between the interests of the meat packing industry and the interests of consumers,.allow an unelected international body be the final arbiter of such a conflict?

Doesn't it just warm the cockles of your heart to know that your President and his team are working so hard to protect you from such dangerous knowledge?

And why should American consumers not be free to favor (or not) the products of any country they wish?

I'm not sure why the article refers to Vilsack as "then-Secretary of Agriculture." He is still serving in the post.

(This post refers to this thread, and to this article, excerpted below):

WTO Says U.S. Consumers Don’t Need to Know Where Meat Comes From

This week, the World Trade Organization (WTO) finally issued a decision in the challenge made by Mexico and Canada to the U.S.’s country-of-origin (COOL) labeling rules for meat. And environmental and food safety groups are hopping mad, as WTO upheld the contention made by those countries, supported by multi0national meat packers, that the rules unfairly impede global trade.

“The meatpacking lobby has lost the COOL debate from the court of public opinion to the Court of Appeals to the halls of Congress so they are taking their complaint to the faceless unelected bureaucrats in Geneva,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “When the meat cannot get its way here in America, it is trying to use the WTO to overturn the will of the American people.”

The current U.S. rules, which went into effect in 2013, require that meat sold in groceries be labeled to show separately where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. The WTO’s ruling agrees that those regulations unfairly discriminate against imported meat to give an unfair edge to domestic products. In the ongoing dispute, then-Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack suggested last November that WTO should resolve the dispute and that the U.S. would abide by what the WTO decided.

Meat packers insists that the labeling rules have cost them profits, and the Canadian government threatened to put a tariff on U.S. meats and other food products imported from the U.S. The North American Meat Association and the American Meat Institute hailed the decision. But Food & Water Watch said that consumers deserved to know where their meat came from.

< . . . . >

Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Oct 27, 2014, 12:36 AM (32 replies)

NY Times: As Ebola Spread in Dallas, New York Honed Protocol

There is a positively delicious irony at the heart of this story. Consider . . .

In Texas -- that hotbed for the 'libertarian' wing of the Republican Party, which holds as a core principal that the private sector will always do a better job than the public sector, a private hospital (Texas Presbyterian) spectacularly bungles its preparation for and response to its first Ebola patient; whereas in New York, the city's flagship public hospital, Bellevue, executes a near perfect response. Just sayin'.

As Ebola Spread in Dallas, New York Honed Protocol

This time was different.

When Craig Spencer, a young doctor just back from treating patients with Ebola in Guinea, fell ill with the virus in New York on Thursday, the paramedics who went to get him were dressed in protective suits. He entered Bellevue Hospital through a rear door, far from the busy emergency room, and was taken to a state-of-the-art isolation ward that was locked and guarded.

The carefully planned response was a world apart from the scene that unfolded in a Dallas hospital last month when a Liberian man, Thomas Eric Duncan, became the first person to test positive for Ebola in the United States.

It was Ebola’s first surprise encounter with a modern medical system, and it was, by all accounts, a bumpy one. Mr. Duncan lay in an emergency department room at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital for hours, with a fever and frequent diarrhea, while the same doctor and nurses treated patients in nearby rooms, medical workers said. A lab technician had to comb through his inbox to find an email from the government on procedures for Ebola blood samples, only to find that he had handled them improperly, the workers said.

< . . . . >

Posted by markpkessinger | Sun Oct 26, 2014, 12:56 AM (0 replies)

A huge note of appreciation for Mayor De Blasio, the FDNY and the City's public health authorities

In all the hysteria over New York's first case of Ebola, not nearly enough has been said concerning the truly remarkable level of preparedness the city exhibited in its response. Special protocols, training and other measures had been months in the making, and went off apparently without a hitch. The FDNY created 30 specially trained teams to handle the transport of Ebola patients, as well as in the clean-up and disinfection of such patients' residences. It was one of these teams that was dispatched to Dr. Craig Spencer's apartment, put him in a haz-mat suit, and transported him, under police escort, to Bellevue Hospital. And Bellevue is one of five hospitals in the city that has been outfitted with a special unit, specifically trained and dedicated to treating Ebola patients. And this New Yorker is grateful to, and proud of, all involved!
Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Oct 24, 2014, 01:11 PM (1 replies)

The Free-Market Faerie Fails to Deliver . . . Again (Ebola edition)

(This is the text of a comment I posted to a front page article in today's New York Times, which is excerpted and linked below).

Mark Kessinger

This story is a perfect illustration of why free market fundamentalism -- the notion that markets alone can, and will, deliver the best solutions to any problem a society faces -- is sheer folly, and in some instances, such as this one, downright dangerous. Vigorous, hefty public investment in scientific research is absolutely essential if we expect the sciences to be proactive in finding solutions to many of the problems we face, particularly bio-medical ones.

In this case, there was no market -- hence no incentive -- to develop a particular product because the thing the product addressed (Ebola) was not seen as a major problem. The trouble, of course, is that there never would be any such demand until there was a crisis, and by that point (which happens to be now), we would be seriously behind the eight-ball.

To all those, on the other hand, who have been spinning in an irrational panic about Ebola, I respectfully suggest your efforts would be better spent -- and indeed, would be more effective in securing public health -- if you were to demand of your elected leaders that public investment in the kind of bio-medical R&D needed to address things lke Ebola be ramped up significantly.

Here is an excerpt of the article:

Without Lucrative Market, Potential Ebola Vaccine Was Shelved for Years


GALVESTON, Tex. — Almost a decade ago, scientists from Canada and the United States reported that they had created a vaccine that was 100 percent effective in protecting monkeys against the Ebola virus. The results were published in a respected journal, and health officials called them exciting. The researchers said tests in people might start within two years, and a product could potentially be ready for licensing by 2010 or 2011.

It never happened. The vaccine sat on a shelf. Only now is the vaccine undergoing the most basic safety tests in humans — with nearly 5,000 people dead from Ebola and an epidemic raging out of control in West Africa.

< . . . . >

Dr. James E. Crowe Jr., director of a vaccine research center at Vanderbilt University, said that academic researchers who develop a prototype drug or vaccine that works in animals often encountered a “biotech valley of death” in which no drug company would help them cross the finish line.

Up to that point, the research may have cost a few million dollars, but tests in humans and scaling up production can cost hundreds of millions, and bringing a new vaccine all the way to market typically costs $1 billion to $1.5 billion, Dr. Crowe said. “Who’s going to pay for that?” he asked.
Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Oct 23, 2014, 07:05 PM (3 replies)

Maher v. Affleck: One Giant Distraction for Progressives

(Note: This is a status update I just posted this to Facebook.)

I have followed the recent Bill Maher/Sam Harris v. Ben Affleck/Reza Aslan debate over the nature of Islam (a debate that has become something of an internecine war among progressives) fairly closely, and I gotta say that, while I think both sides have made some valid points, I think the entire debate serves as one giant distraction from the debate we should be having -- indeed, a debate we have needed, yet have steadfastly refused, to have since 9-11. That question that we should be discussing is that of the role 70+ years of disastrous U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East has played in fueling the rise of religious extremism and terrorism in the region. As Pulitzer prize-winning Journalist Chris Hedges recently pointed out, nobody simply wakes up one day and decides to become a terrorist; it is something people are driven to out of desperation, when they no longer have any real political agency. The fact is, we have been the author of many of our own troubles in the Middle East. Once we admit that to ourselves, then, perhaps, more of us will come to see the utter folly of thinking that yet another round of military action in the region will accomplish anything that is at all constructive.

There were those, of course, who, in the wake of 9-11, did attempt to make this very point. It was the point former ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill, then of the University of Colorado Boulder, was trying to make, how ever inartfully, when he stated that "there were no innocent victims on 9-11" -- a comment that eventually had the effect of ending Churchill's academic career. It is the point President Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was trying to make in his "God damn America" sermon, which was seized upon by conservatives as proof that Wright, and by extension, President Obama, hated America, and which, in an act of utter political cowardice, was ultimately renounced by President Obama. That sermon stood in the highest and best tradition of prophetic preaching of the African American church, but most Americans were too caught up in the political horse race to be bothered with considering its substance. There were others as well who attempted to get America to take an honest look at itself, but to a person, each was met with some variant of the obtuse, "Why do you hate America," or were otherwise shouted down. And thirteen years later, we still wonder why we can't seem to get it right.
Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Oct 17, 2014, 06:16 PM (6 replies)
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