Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I'm going to Disneyland!

No, not really. It's highly unlikely I'll end up at Disneyland, but I will be in Anaheim next week, arriving Sunday night and staying through the morning of Friday, the 7th. I'll be attending a meeting of the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative. I hope to have some interesting things to report from there, and if any of my friends are in the area and want to connect, let me know. (E-mail is on the side bar.) Later in March I'll be at the meeting of the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care in Jersey City, and then at the Joint Meeting on Adolescent Treatment Effectiveness in D.C. What all this will do to blogging is unclear, but I hope it will just make it bigger and better.

And now for a couple of comments about politics. It so happens I worked for Ralph Nader, in a menial capacity, back while my frontal cortex was still undergoing myelination (i.e., in my early 20s for those of you not up on the latest developments in neuroscience). Ralph was the real deal -- he lived ascetically, and plowed the money he made from his books back into the Public Citizen organization. He used to call the office on Saturdays just to see who was there, and I have to confess I answered the phone more than once.

Alas, that was during the time when his influence was starting to recede. The so-called Moral Majority (which was, of course, neither) was on the rise, Democrats were losing ground in congress, and then Ronald Reagan became president. Ralph had made a career out of opposing corporate control of government and his cause was largely lost, as Democratic politicians for the most part decided that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, and the center of gravity in Washington moved to K Street and the national business associations.

Hence the 2000 presidential campaign. I don't think Ralph really thought that there was no difference at all between the two parties, but both were clearly beholden to big business and he wasn't interested in a mildly reformist Gore administration. Ralph figured the 2000 election would be a good one for the Democrats to lose, and he did what he could to make that happen. Indeed, he probably did siphon off enough votes in Florida to make the election stealable. He was looking for the apocalypse, and he got it.

Whatever you may feel about that strategy, it worked. So okay Ralph -- why the hell are you running again this year? You accomplished your goal. The so-called conservative movement is utterly discredited. An Obama presidency isn't going to bring about the workers' paradise but it might just stave off the collapse of civilization and/or fascism. Go play shuffleboard.

Now, turning to Mr. Obama, we are about to endure one of the most astonishing spectacles of shit slinging in the history of American politics, and that's saying a lot. Willie Horton and the pledge of allegiance are going to look like real intellectual depth and substantive, policy based campaigning. If they can't bury him in sewage, they'll try to murder him. Hang on for a rough ride the next eight months.

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