Blowing off steam: fun and snarks
Consider the following three photos: one is of our Vice President, one is of a retiring CEO of Exxon oil, and the other is of Jabba the Hut. Which is which?
Of course one of the photos is of our Vice President Dick Cheney during Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit. Of course he claims that he wasn't sleeping; merely looking at his notes.
http://abcnews.go.com/US/popup?id=1871301 Yeah, Uncle Dick has tons of credibility.
One is of retiring Exxon CEO Lee Raymond. Yes, Mr. Raymond is a very rich man. Sort of.
Gold-Plated Exit For Exxon CEO
Thursday, April 13, 2006; Page D03
Exxon Mobil Corp.'s outgoing chief executive, Lee Raymond, received $48.5 million in salary, bonus, incentive payments and stock awards last year and retired Jan. 14 qualifying for a pension with a lump-sum value of $98.4 million, according to the company's latest proxy statement.
By the end of 2005, Raymond had accumulated $183.1 million worth of Exxon Mobil stock and had options worth $69 million to buy additional company shares. The company also covered his expenses for items including club memberships and private use of corporate jets.------------------------------
Hat tip to Dependable Renegade for the photo; original post at http://derenegade.blogspot.com/2006/04/i-am-not-wheeze.html
Now, I have to disagree with Dependable Renegade on one point. They took President Bush to task for taking his bicycle with him on trips:
I really think that this is ok; in fact, in this area, the President sets a good example for all of us.
But, I certainly don't defend the job he has done in office and I really wonder what is wrong with the 32-36% of the public that approves of the job that he is doing.
Jason Thomas: 'Sweeping down the IQ curve with Bush's remaining supporters'
Posted on Thursday, April 27 @ 10:17:43 EDT
This article has been read 4353 times.
A different version of this essay first appeared on Jason Thomas' blog, Empires Fall.
Those of you who have been around for a while may have noticed something about the conservative blowhards on the net. The Freepers. The right-wing-nutjob blogosphere. Guns-and-gear forums, which teem with the kind of person I'm talking about.
The big secret: these people aren't much for the written word. They can't spell. They mangle grammar and syntax to varying degrees, sometimes to the point where they're almost unintelligible. And the worse the problem is, the more vociferous they are about supporting George Bush.
What do I conclude from this?
I conclude something we've always suspected. I conclude that Bush voters aren't very bright.
There's political theory that holds that people tend to vote for candidates who are like them.
When Gore talks, he makes a great deal of sense. The problem is, the ideas he expresses are complex; it's not easy to encapsulate him in a ten second soundbite. The same is true of John Kerry.
Bush, on the other hand, just makes statements. Simple statements. He doesn't bother supporting them. He doesn't bother explaining why. He just pronounces.
After all, why should he explain anything? He's the Decider.
Bush is very reassuring to a lot of people who aren't very bright, and for whom the complexity of modern times is a little bit scary. They're reassured by strong authority figures. People like that would like to return to the halcyon Mayberry days of an idealized 1950s with black and white televisions, baseball on the radio and the good old Sovs to hate and fear.
Nice and simple.
As the poll numbers crash, as it dawns on more and more Americans what a worldwide laughingstock we've become, it's like a needle sweeping downwards along the IQ curve. As Bush's popularity ratings sink below 30, we're going to see more and more malapropisms, misspellings and misunderstandings of the English language.
The blowhards are going to get louder and more belligerent, because now the needle is descending into serious bellicose obstinacy territory. Stubbornness, inflexibility, lack of ability to adapt to changing circumstances, inability to change one's mind even in the presence of overwhelming evidence-- these are characteristics associated with the state of being... well, being not very bright.
Really, how smart do you have to be to notice that Bush is gutting the constitution, selling off our security and our national savings to foreign interests, and spending like a drunken sailor in a Bangkok whorehouse?
As the needle sweeps lower, the voices coming from the shrinking Bush brigade will get shriller and more aggressive. Watch the chestbeating and nastiness reach a fever pitch. Don't forget the poorly-spelled death threats. Make sure to savor the true hallmark of that crowd: the complete inability to form a complete sentence. Oh yes, the needle is sweeping.
And now we're getting down to the dregs.
Jason Thomas blogs at Empires Fall.
Finally, I listened some to the Mike Malloy Show via RadioPower. Today, he took a caller who talked about his pregnant wife being injected with plutonium by our government. Mike Malloy sounded very skeptical, at best.
Unfortunately, this story is all too true:
The Plutonium Files: America's Secret Medical Experiments During the Cold War
By Eileen Welsome
Delacorte Press, 1999
592 pages; $26.95
rom April 1945 to July 1947, 18 men, women, and children were injected with plutonium by doctors working with the Manhattan Project. None of the subjects was told what was being done, and none gave informed consent. They were chosen because the doctors believed them to be mortally ill, although many lived for years, even decades, with the plutonium working its damage in their bodies.
The experiments were covered up for 40 years: When they became public, the government apologized but not a single doctor or hospital was publicly blamed. The plutonium injections ended after 27 months, having achieved little.
But other experiments, for the Manhattan Project and the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), continued into the 1970s. In Nashville, scientists at Vanderbilt University gave pregnant women radioactive cocktails. Prisoners in Oregon and Washington had their testicles radiated with neutrons. At the University of Cincinnati, nearly 200 patients were irradiated over a 15-year period. In Massachusetts, 74 boys at a Dickensian state school for unwanted or homeless boys were fed oatmeal laced with radioactive iron or calcium. The University of Chicago, one of the three sites for the plutonium injections, also fed solutions of strontium and cesium to 102 subjects with the assistance of Argonne National Laboratory. Again, no one told the victims what was going on, nor did anyone ask their consent.
The purpose of the experiments was to judge the effect of radioactivity on the human body. When they began, the Manhattan Project was close to exploding the first atomic bomb. Employees at Oak Ridge and Los Alamos worked with radioactive materials, yet no one knew the long-term effects of radiation on healthy people or on their genes and reproductive capacities. Experiments on animals were inconclusive and unsatisfactory. To protect the health of atomic workers, it was decided to begin human experiments.
In pursuit of this goal, many American doctors violated not only the Hippocratic Oath but the Nuremberg Code, American Medical Association guidelines, and U.S. government regulations. Crimes were committed and, in the end, damages paid, mostly to survivors. As late as 1985, body parts were being severed from cadavers, usually without the knowledge of the next of kin, for shipment to Los Alamos where they were analyzed for plutonium content. More than 15,000 human bodies were raided for this project, which was called Operation Sunshine. At a 1954 conference in Washington D.C., Willard Libby, winner of the Nobel Prize, lamented the shortage of bodies of persons, especially children, who had been exposed to radioactivity. "If anybody knows how to do a good job of body snatching," Libby said, "they will really be serving their country."
This is a horrifying story and it is told with quiet rage by Eileen Welsome, a reporter for the Albuquerque Tribune who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for her reporting on the plutonium experiments. News of these and other experiments had leaked out earlier, but they received little public attention. Welsome's achievement was to pierce the closed files and classified records that were part of the medical cover-up of the experiments. It is not possible to read The Plutonium Files without mounting fury, as Welsome tells of the violation of human bodies and spirits by scientists in whom this nation places its trust. Her book is a powerful indictment of an important part of the Manhattan Project and a warning of the evil that supposedly high-minded people can do when convinced of their own superiority and devoted to a goal that blinds them to simple humanity.
Through some inspired sleuthing, Welsome gives real names and faces to subjects who were known to officialdom only as CHI-2 or HP-8. CHI-2 was Una Macke, the second Chicago subject, a cancer sufferer who died soon after the injection. HP-8, which stands for Human Product-8, was Janet Stadt, a scleroderma victim who received 1,000 rems of radiation during her lifetime. ("My mother," her son later told government investigators, "went in for scleroderma, which is a skin disorder, and a duodenal ulcer, and somehow she got pushed over into this lab where these monsters were.")
Welsome melds the story of these experiments with the better-known cases of U.S. servicemen deliberately exposed to atomic bomb blasts, Utah ranch families who lived downwind from nuclear tests, Marshall Islanders exposed to radiation, and the luckless Japanese fishermen aboard the Lucky Dragon, the trawler caught in the fallout from the giant U.S. hydrogen bomb test in 1954. These stories are included because they reveal the same arrogance, willful ignorance, and total disregard for human lives that underlay the plutonium experiments.
The doctors and scientists knew that radioactive materials were dangerous--"potentially extremely poisonous," as Arthur Compton said in 1944. They didn't know how dangerous they were, and they were determined to find out, and so, as Welsome writes, "they violated a fundamental right that belongs to all competent adults: the right to control one's own body."
There is documentary evidence that Robert Oppenheimer and other Manhattan Project scientists approved the experiments (although Welsome found no signs that Gen. Leslie Groves, who told Congress in 1945 that radiation sickness is "a pleasant way to die," ever knew about them.)
The government covered up the plutonium experiments until 1993 when then-Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary, spurred by Welsome's stories, reversed this policy. President Bill Clinton then ordered federal agencies to open any records dealing with the plutonium experiments or any other human radiation experiments. The resulting investigation, undertaken by the president's Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments, turned up much of the information on other experiments that is included in this book.
Most of the subjects, Welsome writes, "were the poor, the powerless, and the sick--the very people who count most on the government to protect them." Clarence Lushbaugh, a collaborator on the radiation project, told the author that the director of the project in Cincinnati, Eugene Saenger, picked his subjects from the "slums" because "these persons don't have any money and they're black and they're poorly washed. These persons were available in the University of Cincinnati to Dr. Saenger. . . . I did review what he was doing, and I thought it was actually well done." Welsome adds that, in Cincinnati, 62 percent of the subjects were African-American.
So was the very first plutonium recipient, a construction worker named Ebb Cade, who was injured in a traffic accident on his way to work at Oak Ridge and ended up in the army hospital there. Scientists had decided to begin the plutonium experiments and Cade--there is no other way to put it--happened to be handy. A month after Cade was injected in 1945, Wright Langham, a Los Alamos chemist who was a driving force behind the experiments, told a meeting of Manhattan Project doctors in Chicago that "the subject was an elderly male whose age and general health was such that there is little or no possibility that the injection can have any effect on the normal course of his life." Cade, in fact, was 55 and, apart from partial blindness caused by a cataract, reasonably healthy. He died eight years later of a heart attack.
The third subject, a house painter named Albert Stevens, was chosen to be injected at the University of California Hospital in San Francisco because he had terminal cancer. But the diagnosis was wrong and Stevens lived another 21 years. For the next two decades, scientists collected Stevens's urine and stool samples to check the amount of plutonium in his system. He knew he was part of an experiment, but assumed it was part of his treatment for his arrested cancer. Incredibly, Stevens lived out his life unaware that he did not have cancer and had never had it.
This medical deception is of a piece with the story of one of the University of Rochester patients, Eda Schultz Charlton, a 49-year-old woman who went to the university hospital with minor ailments. As Welsome writes, "[Charlton] was not terminally ill, she was not even chronically ill, she may not have even been seriously ill." But she was injected with plutonium, according to government documents. Her 314 pages of medical records at the hospital, however, do not mention anything about plutonium. Over the years, she suffered from depression, fatigue, arthritis, nausea, spasms, and other illnesses that may or may not have been caused by the plutonium. She finally died in 1983, 37 years after the injections.
But the most appalling part of Charlton's story is that her doctor, Christine Waterhouse, had been recruited as Charlton's primary physician by Dr. Samuel Bassett, one of the overseers of the plutonium experiment at Rochester. Apparently under Bassett's instructions, Waterhouse "cared" for Eda Charlton for 29 years without ever telling her that she had been injected with plutonium.
Welsome says that even the Rochester scientists called their program "a production line." Unknowing patients were given an average of five micrograms of plutonium, which was five times the safe limit set by Manhattan Project scientists. Eleven patients were injected at Rochester and there probably would have been more had it not been for inconveniences like Christmas. "No one seems to want to be in the hospital on that particular day," Bassett groused. "I will do what I can, however, to keep the production line going."
Three of the 11 Rochester patients, like Charlton, lived another 30 years with plutonium in their bodies. For most of those years, it was assumed that all the subjects had been terminally ill and had died quickly. It is one of the major merits of Welsome's work that she dug up the patients' names and found out what really happened to them. As a 1947 AEC document makes clear, the secrecy and cover-up were ordered because publicity "might have an adverse effect on public opinion or result in legal suits." Moreover, the doctors and scientists themselves knew they were doing something that, if not outright criminal, would look bad in the light of day. One assistant in the Chicago experiments, according to a classified 1946 report, was Leon Jacobson, who later became chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine. Jacobson told investigators in 1974 that he was not involved in the experiment and "knew very little about it, next to nothing"--not a very convincing denial.
The plundering of body parts of radiation victims reached ghoulish proportions. Cecil Kelley, who was killed in an accident at Los Alamos, was not so much buried as distributed. Bits of his corpse went to the army, to Oak Ridge, and to other researchers around the nation. His brain was shipped out in a wide-mouthed mayonnaise jar. What was left was eventually given a military burial by the government, which also promised to pay for his children's college education. The promise was never kept.
The committee convened by President Clinton eventually issued a controversial 1995 report that blamed everyone--and, hence, no one. It found that bad things were done, but refused to condemn those who did them. "Wrongs were committed," it said, "by very decent people who were in a position to know that a specific aspect of their interactions with others should be improved."
Clinton swept aside the report's mealy-mouthed language, proclaiming that the experiments "failed both the test of our national values and the test of humanity." But nobody heard him. Two hours after his statement, the O. J. Simpson verdict was announced and the media paid little attention to the fate of the hundreds of Americans who had been used as guinea pigs by their government.
Welsome's book is a powerful attempt to give those victims their day in court. "Thousands of Americans were used as laboratory animals in radiation experiments funded by the federal government," she writes. They were not the victims of the military, nor of faceless, low-level bureaucrats who were "just doing their jobs." The experiments were threads woven uncomfortably tightly into the fabric of the Manhattan Project itself.
"The Manhattan Project veterans and their protégés controlled the information," she says. "They sat on the boards that set radiation standards, consulted at meetings where further human experimentation was discussed, investigated nuclear accidents, and served as expert witnesses in radiation injury cases."
In a sense, as Welsome notes, the verdict on the plutonium experiments was handed down 2,500 years ago by Hippocrates--"I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked"--and 52 years ago by James McHaney, the chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials: "It is the most fundamental tenet of medical ethics and human decency that the subjects volunteer for the experiment after being informed of its nature and hazards. This is the clear dividing line between the criminal and what may be non-criminal. If the experimental subjects cannot be said to have volunteered, then the inquiry need proceed no further."