VP Selection Process Is Flawed

It seems ridiculous that we put our presidential candidates through a 2 year vetting process, and then accept that the second in command can just appear out of nowhere, 2 months before the election. Sure, constitutionally the Veep has only 2 jobs, president of the Senate (which boils down to casting an occasional tie-breaking vote) and becoming the president in the event of the president’s demise. But in the wake of Dick Cheney, the VP role has vastly expanded. And there is always the possibility of stepping in for the president, witness Gerald Ford and Lyndon Johnson among others. One would think the risk of this happening would be even greater in the case of a 73 year-old president.

So after untold numbers of primaries, caucuses, stump speeches, etc. we have our 2 presidential candidates. The VP candidates, who could also end up as president, are appointed by the presidential candidates. No elections — about as undemocratic as you can imagine. Given this tradition, it is reassuring when, as usually happens, a known quantity is selected, as in Obama selecting Joe Biden. He’s been around for a long time, and, disagree with his policies if you will, at least you know what his policies are, and know what kind of person he is. McCain, apparently on the spur of the moment, selected a total unknown, Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska. Sure, we now all “know” her, after all, she read a speech at the convention quite adroitly. Self-deprecating, she was not. She puffed up her thin resume and dissed Obama’s community service. So far she has not agreed to any interviews with the press. When she does, it will undoubtedly be an “exclusive” with Fox News. But don’t you dare criticize her, for that is blatant sexism.

The real problem is, with less than 2 months until the election, there is no way any of us will get to know her like we know Obama, Biden, or McCain. I see this as a flaw in our political system which McCain has exploited, and it angers me that he would select someone for VP who even his supporters are unwilling to say is ready to be president on day one. To expose our country at such a dangerous time to such risk is breathtakingly reckless.

Country First??

Politics Religion TV

No Religious Test

“…no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States…” US Constitution Article VI Section 3.

So what was the Rick Warren thing last night with Obama and McCain?

How far have we fallen. Not only is belief in imaginary beings a prerequisite to becoming President of the United States, but you must in addition kowtow to the warped, sadistic, specific belief that the Omnipresent, Omnipotent, Omniwhatever Ruler of the Universe tortured and killed his own Son because he somehow screwed up despite being Omnieverything and didn’t forsee that Eve would eat some apple proferred by a Talking Snake in some Garden. How do we ever expect to get a rational leader if his mind embraces the psychotic idea that good and evil spirits are running around controlling the world?

No more religious testing of the candidates, PLEASE!!!!

Politics Religion

The Crusades

An interesting event occurred at the MEPS (Military Entrance and Processing Station) earlier this week.  I’m the Chief Medical Officer there and that’s where I perform accession physicals for people who are interested in joining the military. First, here’s a little background:

Prior to shipping to basic training, I perform a quick exam called an “inspect”.  During this exam, I am required to check for new tattoos.  These need to be recorded in their medical charts as identifying marks.  If I see a tattooing which suggests an anti-social personality, a gang relationship, or any variety of psychiatric problems; I would assess and possibly refer to a psychiatrist for an evaluation.  For instance, I’ve seen a large abdominal tattoo saying “White Power”.  I’ve seen “Cop Killer” tattooed on the chest.  Tattooed tears coming down the cheek are often gang-related and may relate to the number of killings the person has committed.  I would consider all of these to be medically pertinent since they are likely to be associated with psychiatric problems.

Additionally, the different branches of service have rules and regulations about tattoos.  They decide if the tattooing appears unprofessional due to location, size, number or content.  For instance, tattooing visible in dress uniform might be administratively (not medically) disqualifying.  The services routinely demand that a naked female figure tattoo have remedial bra and panties tattoo overlays because it is considered offensive.  Bible verses, crosses, bleeding Jesus heads, and praying hands are all extremely common and are almost never a problem with the services. (Interestingly, Satanic symbol tattoos are a problem – but that’s a different story.)

A shipper came to the MEPS with a “sleeve” tattoo covering his entire left upper arm and shoulder.  It was new since the time of his initial physical at the MEPS.  I recorded and inspected it.  It was a graphic design of The Crusades!  It was complete with knights wearing uniforms with crosses and carrying shields with crosses.  They were slaying the infidels with their swords.  The tattoo montage showed the infidels’ bleeding stab wounds as they fell to the ground.  All in all, it was a horrific scene.  I interviewed the shipper.  He was a 19 year old Army recruit.  He thought the tattoo was “awesome” and “intense” and “cool”.  In my interview, I detected no evidence of a psychiatric disorder – I concluded that this was simply the not-very-surprising poor judgment of a teenager who did not recognize the implications of his new artwork.  In short, I did not think that he needed a medical disqualification or a medical waiver.  I did, however, ask for an administrative waiver so that he could be shipped to basic training with his new tattoo.  My reasoning was that this was a tattoo which was racially, ethnically, and religiously offensive; and that it would put the applicant at risk in a battle situation such as Iraq.  It would also put his company at risk since it was such a slur about a hot political issue.  Just imagine if “Al Jazeera” took a photo of that tattoo and put it on their website.  When I related this incident to my 20 year old daughter, she gasped and said, “Why didn’t he just tattoo a bull’s eye target on his forehead?”

The really interesting part of this event, however, was the complete and utter bewilderment by nearly everyone at the MEPS when I asked for a simple administrative waiver.  From the officers to the enlisted recruiters, almost no one could see “what the big deal was”.  No one thought it was offensive.  No one thought it was inflammatory.  No one saw the irony in OK’ing this Crusades tattoo while demanding the removal or revision of Satanic symbols, naked women and salty language ( “69”, “Love Machine”, etc.).  Well, the fuss continued for a while because the Army Liaison Office down the hall didn’t feel it was necessary to do the ½ hour of paperwork in order to obtain an administrative waiver.  They finally requested the waiver from their commanding officers.  This was all I wanted.  Not only did I want this tattoo reviewed, but I did not want to be personally responsible for clearing it.  The commanding officer left me a message, however.  He said to, “Tell the doctor that I don’t see any problems with it.”

What a strange world we live in!


Hillary Clinton – Schoolmarm from Hell

I was watching Hillary Clinton speak of her presidential candidacy on TV, and I’m still trying to decide why I just don’t find her likeable. I don’t like some of her policies and I don’t like her pro-Iraq War stance (which she’s currently trying to tortuously spin out of), but I’m a Democrat, and there’s just something more involved. I think I finally figured it out when I heard her say that she’d like to have a “conversation” with the American people. She sounded like one of my elementary school teachers who had a “conversation” with us every time we misbehaved. She’s just so irritatingly condescending! She shows the same condescending tone when she makes speeches and does her point-the-finger-at-the-audience thing. I already suspect that she’s highly calculating and self-serving. After all, she said, “I’m in it to win!” instead of “I’m in it for the country!” She also does the John Kerry double-speak if she’s caught being a supporter of something that’s now become unpopular. But that’s politics and I could almost forgive that even though it’s the height of narcissism, because a narcissistic personality may just be a prerequisite for high office. But that condescending manner of speaking is just too much to ignore – for me in any case.



Outdoors Needs A Non-Smoking Section

This is a pet peeve. Restaurants have smoking and nonsmoking sections — indoors. If you want to eat outdoors you have only one choice. Invariably as you are enjoying the sunshine, fresh air, and a nice meal, the inconsiderate clod at the table next to you lights up and starts polluting your air space. It seems that there is no obligation, legal or moral, for restaurants to provide a smoke-free area for seating outside the restaurant. This may not be true in every state, but it is true here in Kentucky. So the smokers get to enjoy eating outdoors while nonsmokers who want to do the same are forced to breathe in vile toxic clouds of smoke. So much for fresh air. This situation is outlawed inside the restaurant; it should be outlawed outside as well. For that matter why do we put up with being forced to walk past a crowd of smokers congregated outside the entrance to get into a building? We don’t allow cars belching smoke out their exhausts to drive around polluting the air we breathe. Why do we allow smokers to do the same thing?
It’s time to declare the great outdoors a smoke-free environment and ban public smoking.


If Immigrants Need To Learn English…

… then so should presidents. Brian Williams’ recent interview with the president was more fodder for the “Is the president an idiot?” camp. Bush stated he had recently read Camus, and “3 Shakespeares.” He then stated he was an “ecelectic” reader. This word sounded like a cross between eclectic and epileptic, and possibly reflects a subconscious truth about our president’s thought processes. As Joe Scarborough pointed out in a recent segment actually entitled “Is the president an ‘Idiot’?” there may be some charitable distinction between being stupid and having a learning disability or speech impairment, so that, although the president is intelligent, he has no conceivable way of demonstrating this through speech. This hypothesis could explain all the observed facts if it were not for Iraq, Katrina, the Dubai ports deal, and countless other indications that the president has a deeper thought disorder than just a speech impediment. Besides, invoking dyslexia to explain bad behavior seems like such a liberal maneuver, uncharacteristic of the conservative modus operandi.

Unfortunately it appears we are stuck with a stupid president for another 2 years, at a time in history when world affairs would challenge even the most adroit president. We cringe when we hear that the president of Iran challenged our president to a debate, because, of all our presidents in our history, this one who can’t string together a coherent sentence to save his life would undoubtedly lose such a debate. Such a sad state of affairs!