I will get to my exclusive transcript of the President’s chat with Crown Prince Abdullah, and to an important cinnamon update.
But first . . .
WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH KANSAS?
He was twenty-odd months older than the boy with whom – both agree – he engaged briefly in consensual oral sex, and as a result he is now five years into a 17-year prison term. How much fear and hatred is there in Kansas? Can this possibly be the doctrine of compassion and forgiveness that underlie Christianity? Or of the ‘don’t tread on me’ Common Sense that underlie America’s dedication to liberty and the pursuit of happiness? I guess the boy was lucky we have not yet begun beheading transgressors. Salon has the story. Which may soon be unavailable in libraries in Alabama.
BANNED IN BIRMINGHAM, OFFED IN ORLANDO
An African-American venture capitalist writes: ‘Yesterday in Alabama, State representative George Allen introduced a bill banning all books in public schools and public libraries that were written by gays or lesbians. He had a complete list with writers like Truman Capote, Gore Vidal, and YOU!!!!!! On the same day, Jeb Bush signed into law in the State of Florida a bill that allows people to shoot to death anyone they feel is threatening them with serious bodily harm. For example, people like me – black men represent over 60% of all people killed with guns during a homicide.’
☞ Yes, but who could possibly feel threatened once they know the other guy is very likely packing a concealed weapon? The Alabama bill will presumably never pass. But the Florida bill not only passed – it was signed into law by the President’s brother.
THE DEATH OF MERIT
Sam Spade: ‘As per your April 22 column, note the death of the meritocracy, as laid out by The Economist here. [‘A growing body of evidence suggests that the meritocratic ideal is in trouble in America. Income inequality is growing to levels not seen since the 1880s. But social mobility is not increasing at anything like the same pace. The United States risks calcifying into a European-style class-based society.’] I fail to understand why any decent American would not want to curtail this trend.’
☞ Well, George W. Bush would not have gotten into Yale or the Texas Air National Guard or Harvard Business School on merit, so the trend has worked out okay for him, and he is dead set on accelerating it – most dramatically by eliminating the inheritance tax. Welcome to the Republican plutocracy.
The connection here, as any reader of Thomas Frank knows, is that the good people of Kansas, Alabama and Florida – though barely making ends meet – vote to enrich the wealthiest of the elite, while thinking what they are doing is protecting their children from liberal elitists who look French. [That Thomas Frank link is to his current piece in the New York Review of Books. Not a bad proxy for those who lack the time to read his entire book.]
WEIGHING YOUR CINNAMON
Tom: ‘With this type of thing, it is always best to read the original paper. The data suggest that the smallest dose (1 gram or less per day) is the most effective in lowering LDL, triglycerides and blood sugar. The large decrease in triglyceride levels is especially notable since recent work has shown that the ratio of triglyceride to HDL level is the most accurate indicator of future cardiovascular and silent inflammation problems. Ideally the TGL/HDL ratio should be around 1. If greater than 6, the chance of a heart attack/stroke goes up 16-fold. A high cholesterol level, in contrast, only doubles the chance of a heart attack (per Barry Sears’ new book, The Anti-Inflammation Zone). Because the effect of cinnamon seems to last for some time (an almost unbelievable 20 days in this study), you probably don’t have to eat it daily. Perhaps a weekly dose of ½ teaspoon would be sufficient? It apparently works by making the cells more receptive to insulin.”
IF THE CINNAMON FAILS TO WORK
Ed Lewis: This comes from one of my very most conservative friends down south:
I, _________________________ (fill in the blank), being of sound mind and body, do not wish to be kept alive indefinitely by artificial means.
Under no circumstances should my fate be put in the hands of politicians who couldn’t pass ninth-grade biology if their lives depended on it.
If a reasonable amount of time passes and I fail to sit up and ask for a cold beer, it should be presumed that I won’t do so ever again.
When such a determination is reached, I hereby instruct my spouse, children and attending physicians to pull the plug, reel in the tubes and call it a day.
Under no circumstances shall the members of the Legislature enact a special law to keep me on life-support machinery. It is my wish that these boneheads mind their own damn business, and pay attention instead to the health, education and future of the millions of Americans who aren’t in a permanent coma and who nonetheless may be in need of nourishment.
Under no circumstances shall any politicians butt into this case. I don’t care how many fundamentalist votes they’re trying to scrounge for their run for the presidency in 2008, it is my wish that they play politics with someone else’s life and leave me alone to die in peace.
I couldn’t care less if a hundred religious zealots send e-mails to legislators in which they pretend to care about me. I don’t know these people, and I certainly haven’t authorized them to preach and/or crusade on my behalf. They should mind their own damn business, too.
If any of my family goes against my wishes and turns my case into a political cause, I hereby promise to come back from the grave and make his or her existence a living hell.
And now, finally . . .
THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
Herewith – a true scoop for this column – dialog I was able to pick up with my Woot! Magic Ears by aiming them toward Crawford, Texas Monday.
GWB: These oil prices are a real problem.
$$$: Yes, I know. My family is making an extra $300 million a day. We are very distressed.
GWB: Yes, I know. All my friends come out of the oil business, and they’re rolling in it. Very, very bad. Heh-heh.
$$$: Yes, very bad.
GWB: Listen, do you think you could help meet all this new Chinese demand by pumping another couple of million barrels a day?
$$$: That will never be enough to satisfy them – there are a billion of them, you know.
GWB: A billion? Really? Well, no one’s asking you to be a saint. Saint AbDULLah. But couldn’t you juice up production another couple million bbl a day? I love that. “Bbl.” Like bubbles. Nicknamed a poodle “bubbles” once. Bubbles. Heh-heh.
$$$: We could achieve another couple of million barrels –
$$$: – but at today’s prices that would be another $110 million a day for our family, and we are not sure where to put it all. We are pumping it almost as fast as you’re borrowing it.
GWB: No way! We’re borrowing $700 billion this year. Bubillion! He-heh. AbDULLah. Bubba-dubba. DUBYA! Heh-heh.
$$$: Oh — $700 billion? So $2 billion a day? Well, I stand corrected. You’re going broke way faster than we’re getting rich. And that’s saying something, Mr. President.
$$$: Are you getting help?
GWB: Dick made two million last year, saved $46,000 on the TAX CUTS. Economy’s humming. I saved $26,000.
$$$: Well, but . . .
GWB: We get a house a plane and a chopper. Love sayin’ that: a chopper. Let’s go out onto the lawn and look all serious and frowny and do our photo thing.