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Talk to the hand

Obama gave a speech yesterday in Osawatomie, Kansas.  Kansas, if I recall correctly, was one of the birthplaces of the populist movement (Katiebird can fill us in).  So, the media was all aflutter yesterday that Obama was giving a populist speech.  It was even drawing comparisons between Obama and Roosevelt.  No, not Franklin D., *Teddy*.  I have nothing against Teddy but he started out as a Republican and became a Progressive.  Is the media suggesting that Obama is ready to give up his Republican party values and become an Progressive as well?  Is Obama running as a third party candidate?  If he’s running as a third party candidate, hoping to pick off the independents and centrists and bull moose types, who’s running as the Democrat?

What else did Teddy do?  He was the creator of the Square Deal.  From what I know of the Square Deal, it was a program to make the playing field more fair for workers.  The executive branch would use its power to bust monopolies, promote anti-trust suits and negotiate between companies and workers.  And that was definitely a step in the right direction.

The problem is that it relied on what the executive branch decided was acceptable on a case by case basis.  It was Teddy’s cousin Franklin that set down rules.  Teddy set the bar, Franklin set it much higher.  We are still living with Franklin’s legacy, barely, as far as a social safety net.  But today, our business environment looks a lot like 1928.  Clearly, Teddy’s efforts were insufficient.  It’s not enough to make ad hoc decisions on what is fair or unfair.  That’s too easily reversed by the next president.  What we need are rules.

But I did detect one eeeeeensy, weeeeensy hint that *maybe* Obama’s speechwriters are vaguely aware of the destruction happening to the research industry as well as part of the cause:

In today’s innovation economy, we also need a world-class commitment to science, research, and the next generation of high-tech manufacturing.  Our factories and their workers shouldn’t be idle.  We should be giving people the chance to get new skills and training at community colleges, so they can learn to make wind turbines and semiconductors and high-powered batteries.  And by the way – if we don’t have an economy built on bubbles and financial speculation, our best and brightest won’t all gravitate towards careers in banking and finance.  Because if we want an economy that’s built to last, we need more of those young people in science and engineering.  This country shouldn’t be known for bad debt and phony profits.  We should be known for creating and selling products all over the world that are stamped with three proud words:  Made in America.

Ok, so what should we make of this passage?  He acknowledges that bubbles and financial speculation are driving smart people towards careers in finance.  Check.  He acknowledges that if we want the economy to grow in the future, we have to encourage people to go into science and engineering. Check.  Wait.  That’s *young* people he’s talking about.  What about the thousands and thousands of people in their prime wage earning years who can’t currently pursue their career dreams in science because the hot shot MBAs needed to merge and score big bonuses?  What are we?  Chopped liver?

Look, Barry, you won’t get young people to go into science if their parents can’t get jobs in STEM professions.  And don’t give me that bullshit about how we’re not as bright as the Chinese.  If China was as awesome as the business community thinks it is, it would have already solved all of the major health problems plaguing us today.  It wouldn’t need a reverse brain drain of all the American trained Chinese scientists going back to China to do research.  As I’ve said before, getting good grades in math is necessary but not sufficient to be a good scientist.  And no smart kid is going to want to go into a career where jobs are so insecure that you can’t own a house or pay for your kid’s college educations.  Business majors get to enjoy their weekends.  How are you gonna keep them down in the lab after they’ve seen Wall Street?  The jobs have to be stable, they have to pay reasonably well and commensurate to the difficulty of the majors, and they have to have benefits.  How are you going to do that when all of the research corporations are shedding jobs so they can hire staff back as cheap, disposable contractors with no benefits?  Where is that plan??

By the way, do the speechwriters and business guys Obama talks with have any idea what real innovation entails?  I see that word thrown around a lot but get the feeling that the people using it have no idea what it really means.  Can we please stop using it until someone gets a clue?  It’s becoming meaningless.  And to those of us who have been involved in research, the last thing we need is more people cheapening what we do and behaving like it is like some kind of special pizza that can be ordered whenever the craving hits.  Innovation doesn’t just happen, even with the most talented people at your disposal (as the big pharmas will find after a few more years in Massachusetts). It takes a lot of hard work and a long term commitment to projects no matter what obstacles might arise.  The business community is completely antagonistic to the concept of “long term commitments”.

You have to solve the STEM unemployment problem NOW.  And the first place to start is not by invoking Teddy.  You have to channel Franklin.  What we need are good labor laws.  What we need are rules to make the corporations behave and do right by us. What we need is a STEM jobs initiative.  I still contend that $1 billion could go a long way to putting many of us unemployed chemists back to work making real wages with benefits. There is plenty of empty lab space available in the Northeast.  Buy some of it and put us back to work discovering drugs in therapeutic areas that Big Pharma has abandoned, such as anti-infectives and neuroscience.  Did you know that Novartis was just the latest big pharma company to decide to abandon neuroscience research?  Yep, Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, it’s too hard.  There’s that blood brain barrier thing that the drugs have to bypass and then there is the interminable wait for FDA approval and years of expenses.  So, we will just have to live with dementia because there’s no profit in curing it.  That’s what we’re leaving on the table, Barry.  And there are thousands of us who used to do that kind of research who are sitting idle.

Talk is cheap.  Putting us back to work has real, tangible consequences.  If you want new discoveries, you have to start now.

We’re available.  You don’t need to wait for the young.  We STEM researchers are already here.  Call us.  Or talk to the hand.

*******************************

In other news, Hillary Clinton gave a speech in Geneva declaring that Gay Rights are Human Rights.  And unlike the president, Clinton’s State Department actually followed through on policies that protected gay employees.  She did that shortly after she moved into Foggy Bottom:

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will soon announce that gay American diplomats will be given benefits similar to those that their heterosexual counterparts enjoy, U.S. officials said Saturday.

In a notice to be sent soon to State Department employees, Clinton says regulations that denied same-sex couples and their families the same rights and privileges that straight diplomats enjoyed are “unfair and must end,” as they harm U.S. diplomacy.

“Providing training, medical care and other benefits to domestic partners promote the cohesiveness, safety and effectiveness of our posts abroad,” she says in the message, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

“It will also help the department attract and retain personnel in a competitive environment where domestic partner benefits and allowances are increasingly the norm for world-class employers,” she says.

“At bottom, the department will provide these benefits for both opposite-sex and same-sex domestic partners because it is the right thing to do,” Clinton says.

Among the benefits that will now be granted gay diplomats: the right of domestic partners to hold diplomatic passports, government-paid travel for their partners and families to and from foreign posts, and the use of U.S. medical facilities abroad.

Integrity means following your words with actions to match them.

***************************

Digby has good post on the right’s sickening anti-choice campaigns for next fall.

Personally, I think the feminist movement really dropped the ball when they got Roe v Wade and called it a day.  A right to privacy is not the same as equality.  Women have ALWAYS had a right to an abortion.  Nature provided us with that unalienable right. What we haven’t always had a right to was a “safe” abortion.

Drop Roe and take away the right’s reason for being.  Roe is a target that they will continue to chip away at until it is meaningless.  And then where is your precious equality?

Go for equality first and then dare the bastards to get in your way.

And fergawdssakes, next time there is a race between a man and a decent woman candidate, pick the woman.  2008 should be a year that will live in infamy in terms of gender equality.  That was the year many Democratic women took leave of their senses to vote for a guy who showed open contempt for them throughout the campaign season and beyond.  The actions of women like Naomi Wolf and Katha Pollit were beyond stupid.  No wonder today’s feminists are so fricking clueless.

*******************************

Homemade Holiday Gift of the Day- Russian Tea Mix

Russian tea is a warm, citrusy, spicy drink perfect for a cold winter day.  Add a little whiskey or vodka for the adults for the evening.

Russian Tea

2 cups Tang

1 cup powdered iced tea mix (unsweetened)

3 oz lemonade mix

1 cup sugar (optional)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 mason jar with label and ribbon

Instructions:

Into one large bowl, mix all ingredients.  Scoop into mason jar.  Label and beribbon.  To make tea, add 2-3 spoonfuls into a cup of hot water.  Adjust to taste.

The original recipe calls for a cup of sugar but it’s already sweet enough, IMHO.  Adding more sugar will just make your teeth hurt.  You can always add sugar to your cup if you need it.  But if there’s too much sugar in the mix, you can’t take it out.

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20 Responses

  1. Pretty speeches … lately they only get me down.

    I can’t say much about the populist thing …. It’s true that Kansas takes some pride in being the birthplace of the movement. But, there’s never been much sign that they’ve built on it. My husband and I have a theory (never before mentioned anywhere else but our dining room table as far as I know) that The Wizard of Oz put a grinding stop to all that. As soon as we were labeled the hellish black and white world Kansas sunk into a cosmic depression and still hasn’t escaped.

  2. You mean like this?

    • Yep — exactly. It’s not what you see when you come here. But, I think it’s buried deep in the heart of too many people who live here.

  3. Obama, lots of sound but no fury. It’s time to change the QB.

    • Obama keeps imitating successful presidents campaigns. First, after the 2010 midterm elections, he tried to go to the right because people told him Clinton had done that and it worked. Then he went for the Truman remedy and started speechifying about the do-nothing Republicans. That didn’t work. Now he’s trying TR. What he should try is what LBJ did when he gave his version of the Sherman speech. If Obama gave up his 2012 campaign people would immediately get back their hope.

      • But this is just a continuation because we’ve heard he was the new FDR. At one point he was the reincarnation of Abraham Lincoln. I’m sure there were others but I’m not remembering. I guess it sucks so much to be Barack Obama that you have to pretend to be other “great” presidents”.

  4. Ditching research and development of Alzheimer’s treatments is going to have pitiful consequences. A good number of the people I care for every work night suffer from dementia. Most are safe for me to deal with, but some are known to get angry and strike out at people, or throw things and shout when they’re frustrated. Some have macular degeneration as well, so they are winding up lost in the dark, inside and outside of their own minds. Because I had experience with psychotic behavior before I started this job, I already knew that if there is any doubt in your mind about an individual, you never let them get between you and the exit. This comes in handy when someone about 6and 1/2 feet tall is backing you into a corner preparatory to squeezing the juice out of you. Chemical restraints aren’t very effective, and in our setting they require the individuals’ cooperation, since we’re talking oral Ativan or something similar mixed in pudding or applesauce. It can take a small army of aides and nurses to contain a really agitated dementia sufferer, even when they’re confined to a wheelchair. In the setting where I work alone at night, I don’t have that back-up. Even a UTI in an elderly person causes personality change, and with dementia that can be more excitement than you need. Facilities aren’t hiring extra aides and nurses, they want more done with less staff. With fewer alternatives for staving off the progress of dementia, there are far fewer crumbs of hope to offer families. And it will mean that people like me will be keeping a closer eye on the exits. I guess the eggheads who figure what’s cost-effective in drug research have forgotten that a lot of us live to old age and also can’t see a future in which they or someone they love might need the benefits of that research.

    • I’m sorry that this is the way it is. But I’d to correct one notion that you expressed. You said,

      I guess the eggheads who figure what’s cost-effective in drug research have forgotten that a lot of us live to old age and also can’t see a future in which they or someone they love might need the benefits of that research.

      This is incorrect. The eggheads are getting laid off. It’s like a hemorrhage. And eggheads do not have the money or resources to start their own labs, for the most part. The overhead costs are just too high. We need to eat.

      The people who are making these decisions are MBAs and finance industry bankers, fund managers and ratings agencies. Most of them have never set foot in a lab and those who are supposed to understand the science have never been practicing scientists. These are not the eggheads. They are the champagne swillers.

      It’s not *our* fault that this is happening to Alzheimer’s patients (btw, I did some work on gamma secretase inhibitors about 9 years ago). It’s just that our whole research apparatus in this country is being destroyed by forces beyond our control. Don’t complain to the eggheads and labrats. Complain to your congressman for letting this happen.

      And no, I do not trust Jon Huntsman. A chemical company scion as ambassador to China is up to no good. He was appointed by Obama so we can pretty much assume that the president is cool with this.

      • RD, I suspect you and MM define “eggheads” differently. You mean “scientists and people in related professions”, while she means something else, maybe “all people with post-baccalaureate degrees, for example MBAs”.

        • Ehhh, I don’t think so. Ms Marple sounds like a registered nurse, which requires a degree these days, iirc. In any case, she sounds fairly well educated. And for me, egghead has always meant someone so geeky you can’t take them to a cocktail party.

          • Just getting ready to head out the door, but my apologies for using “egghead” in a sarcastic way and causing a negative response. I’m actually a nursing assistant, not a nurse which I guess is neither here nor there. I was referring to the powers-that-be or bean counters who think they know more than the people who actually deal with problems hands on, regardless of the field we’re discussing.

          • No problem. I don’t mind being called an egghead. Or a geek. It’s just that we’re not the ones who made the stupid decisions.
            You don’t need to apologize to me.

    • Having a whole bunch of people caring for alzheimer is unnecessary since they are in a space that’s can’t be reached with our current medical tools. Personally I have no problem with lots of medication to put the patients to sleep or in a drowzy state to make their care more manageable.

      • I’ve told my husband…find the cheapest facility you can find for me and come by and kiss my forehead once in a while.

  5. RD,

    You might want to read Teddy’s “New Nationalism” speech before dismissing it out of hand. It’s oddly resonant today:

    http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/images/research/speeches/trnationalismspeech.pdf

    There was a lot more to TR than macho bluster.

    • I never said I didn’t have an appreciation for what Teddy did. My point is that 26 years after Teddy, we got the Great Depression. Whatever he did was well intentioned and good for that time. But it didn’t fix the problem. FDR’s reforms were longer lasting because there were rules and checks on bad behavior. FDR was proactive, not reactive. We need FDR.

  6. This is pretty funny. Gingrich should be paid by the Obama campaign for destroying the tea partying republicans.

    Limbaugh Declares Fox News and National Review to Be Un-Conservative

    Self-destruction is a great thing in an enemy.

  7. As I recall, Oswatomie isn’t only associated with TR. There was also the Battle of Oswatomonie pre-Civil War.

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