S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Monday, February 05, 2007

What Molly Ivins might have thought -

Molly Ivins would probably forgive that I made a mistake in my last post about her. I labeled her column, "Bubba, we -- yes, we --have to stop the war now," as her last. It turns out that I had shorted her one, which I reference *below. Her editor's tribute, also referenced **there, noted that she dictated, rather than wrote these last two columns because she was too weak to write.

As I read her last published works I was amazed by how very typical they were - authentically Molly to the end. I am not the only one to pay tribute to this famous Texan. A Google search of her name produced 6,640,000 citations. One referred to Sunday's Austin American-Statesman story about the gathering Molly would have truly enjoyed, "Friends, family remember Ivins' humor, relentlessness," from which I quote:
Texas journalist Molly Ivins was relentless in pursuing justice and defending the powerless, yet never lost her optimism and sense of fun, family and friends said as they celebrated her life Sunday.
In a lively, laughter-filled church memorial service that featured gospel singers and finished with Austin blues musician Marcia Ball performing "Great Balls of Fire," hundreds of admirers clapped and cheered Ivins' words and spirit.
Ivins, who died Wednesday at age 62 after a long battle with breast cancer, smiled down on the crowd from a portrait at the front of First United Methodist Church as numerous friends read from her writings and told funny stories of their adventures with her.
Ivins would almost certainly have voted with the historians on this one. Surely our current president's decision about holding presidential archives will never stand up in court. Todd Gillman of the Dallas Morning News reported (on 2/5/07) that "SMU is pressed to fight Bush's secrecy - Historians ask school to reject presidential library unless Bush voids privacy order." Quote,
Archivists and historians are urging Southern Methodist University to reject the Bush presidential library unless the administration reverses an executive order that gives former presidents and their heirs the right to keep White House papers secret in perpetuity.
. . . The policy triggered outrage and a still-pending lawsuit when President Bush issued it about seven weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Now, as SMU officials try to complete a deal for a Bush library, museum and policy institute, the Society of American Archivists plans a public relations offensive meant to pressure Congress and the university to force a change.
. . . President Bush signed an executive order Nov. 1, 2001, that limited the 1978 law. The order treats presidential privilege as a property right that legally can be bequeathed to heirs – a concept legal scholars deem extraordinary, since privilege attaches to the office, not the individual occupying it.
You can almost be sure that Molly Ivins would have given Governor Perry a round of applause for this. It was amazing to me also, and very atypical for this very Republican governor. In the Dallas Morning News - Christy Hoppe wrote an article on Saturday that was headlined, "Perry orders HPV vaccine. Surprise move mandates shots for schoolgirls to prevent sex virus that leads to cancer."
Gov. Rick Perry – usually a hero to social conservatives – surprised many of them Friday by making Texas the first state to mandate a vaccine for sixth-grade girls to prevent a sexually transmitted infection that leads to most kinds of cervical cancer.
In his executive order, Mr. Perry said girls must receive the human papillomavirus vaccine before school starts in September 2008. While noting that parents may opt out of the vaccine for conscience or religious reasons, he said it "provides us with an incredible opportunity to effectively target and prevent cervical cancer."
The move was applauded by many women's groups but harshly denounced by social conservatives for its intrusion into parents' control over their kids' health. Some also alleged that Merck – the pharmaceutical company with the only vaccine on the market – was responsible for the initiative.
For years Molly Ivins and her cohorts at The Texas Observer kept us abreast of the latest hijinks of the state legislature. She would almost certainly agree that Texans are in trouble again as the Legislature has begun another of its biennial funfests. Here is an excellent summary article, Texas Legislature news carried in the Dallas Morning News. I highlight the parts about which Molly would almost certainly chuckle. To quote,
Lawmakers will consider many weighty issues between now and the end of their session in May, including major changes to criminal justice policy, a massive state budget and initiatives on health care and education. But some bills stand out for their potential impact on ordinary Texans – affecting how they drive, what's in their mail and countless other aspects of daily life.
[A] cellphone measure is just one of more than 1,500 bills already filed in the House and Senate. Legislators can continue to file bills until March 9, although their chances for passage diminish as that deadline draws near and the session enters its final 2 ½ months.
Proposals include an effort to let Texans sign up for a no-junk-mail list – similar to the state's no-call list – and to create an inflation index for the state's gasoline tax that would cost the typical driver an extra $1 a month.
Other bills would establish a "bully hotline" to identify troublemakers in school and prohibit motorists from flicking their hot cigarette butts out the window. And one lawmaker wants to set up a "silver alert" system – similar to the Amber Alert network – that would help locate missing senior citizens.
Speaking of seniors, another bill would require those who reach age 90 to pass a driver's test and then renew their license every two years instead of the six years given to other motorists.
At the end of the article is a section called "BILLS THAT COULD CHANGE YOUR LIFE" These are "pure Texan." I quote,
  • Castle doctrine: All Texans would be able to use any type of force – including deadly force – to protect themselves against people trying to unlawfully enter their home, occupied vehicle or place of business. Texans must try to retreat before using force under current law.

  • Covenant marriages: Couples getting married could enter into a more binding marriage in which they agree to premarital counseling and to sharply limit the grounds for divorce. Only a handful of states now offer covenant marriages.

  • Parent-teacher meetings: Parents who skip conferences with their child's teacher without a valid excuse would be subject to a Class C misdemeanor charge and a fine of up to $500. To be cited, parents would have to be offered three proposed dates for the meeting and then fail to show up.

  • Loose cargo: Motorists who do not properly secure furniture, mattresses or other materials they are transporting would be subject to misdemeanor charges.
Molly, we will miss you!

  • *Molly Ivins' final column (1/11/07 - from Creators Syndicate): Stand Up Against the Surge
  • The Texas Observer - Molly Ivins page: A beautiful photo began her 1976 farewell to her colleagues as she joined the NYT. Has other rich links and possibilities for participation by readers.


Kitchen Window Woman said...

My daughter and I were greatly saddened when we heard of Molly Ivans death last week. We have lost one of the best and there is so much to do to combat this insane militarism that has a grip on America...war with Iran, anyone?

Molly Ivans will be greatly missed by many. I know that I loved reading her and was inspired by her as well.

Margaret said...

I may make a strong woman candle for her this weekend.

stickdog said...

Molly was far too smart to fall for Perry's Mercky HPV vaccine imperial edict.

The Facts About GARDASIL

1. GARDASIL is a vaccine for 4 strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), two strains that are strongly associated (and probably cause) genital warts and two strains that are typically associated (and may cause) cervical cancer. About 90% of people with genital warts show exposure to one of the two HPV strains strongly suspected to cause genital warts. About 70% of women with cervical cancer show exposure to one of the other two HPV strains that the vaccine is designed to confer resistance to.

2. HPV is a sexually communicable (not an infectious) virus. When you consider all strains of HPV, over 70% of sexually active males and females have been exposed. A condom helps a lot (70% less likely to get it), but has not been shown to stop transmission in all cases (only one study of 82 college girls who self-reported about condom use has been done). For the vast majority of women, exposure to HPV strains (even the four "bad ones" protected for in GARDASIL) results in no known health complications of any kind.

3. Cervical cancer is not a deadly nor prevalent cancer in the US or any other first world nation. Cervical cancer rates have declined sharply over the last 30 years and are still declining. Cervical cancer accounts for less than 1% of of all female cancer cases and deaths in the US. Cervical cancer is typically very treatable and the prognosis for a healthy outcome is good. The typical exceptions to this case are old women, women who are already unhealthy and women who don't get pap smears until after the cancer has existed for many years.

4. Merck's clinical studies for GARDASIL were problematic in several ways. Only 20,541 women were used (half got the "placebo") and their health was followed up for only four years at maximum and typically 1-3 years only. More critically, only 1,121 of these subjects were less than 16. The younger subjects were only followed up for a maximum of 18 months. Furthermore, less than 10% of these subjects received true placebo injections. The others were given injections containing an aluminum salt adjuvant (vaccine enhancer) that is also a component of GARDASIL. This is scientifically preposterous, especially when you consider that similar alum adjuvants are suspected to be responsible for Gulf War disease and other possible vaccination related complications.

5. Both the "placebo" groups and the vaccination groups reported a myriad of short term and medium term health problems over the course of their evaluations. The majority of both groups reported minor health complications near the injection site or near the time of the injection. Among the vaccination group, reports of such complications were slightly higher. The small sample that was given a real placebo reported far fewer complications -- as in less than half. Furthermore, most if not all longer term complications were written off as not being potentially vaccine caused for all subjects.

6. Because the pool of test subjects was so small and the rates of cervical cancer are so low, NOT A SINGLE CONTROL SUBJECT ACTUALLY CONTRACTED CERVICAL CANCER IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM -- MUCH LESS DIED OF IT. Instead, this vaccine's supposed efficacy is based on the fact that the vaccinated group ended up with far fewer cases (5 vs. about 200) of genital warts and "precancerous lesions" (dysplasias) than the alum injected "control" subjects.

7. Because the tests included just four years of follow up at most, the long term effects and efficacy of this vaccine are completely unknown for anyone. All but the shortest term effects are completely unknown for little girls. Considering the tiny size of youngster study, the data about the shortest terms side effects for girls are also dubious.

8. GARDASIL is the most expensive vaccine ever marketed. It requires three vaccinations at $120 a pop for a total price tag of $360. It is expected to be Merck's biggest cash cow of this and the next decade.

These are simply the facts of the situation as presented by Merck and the FDA.

For a more complete discussion on GARDASIL, click on my name.

Carol Gee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carol Gee said...

(I made a typo above, so deleted it.)
KWW - We will, indeed, be poorer without Ivins' voice. It means our increased vigilance is necessary, as you say, about Iran. Good to hear from you!
Margaret, tell me more about a strong woman candle. I'm not familiar with that practice. It sounds like a good idea. Thanks.
Stickdog, thanks for the information. I've had some considerable ambivalence about the vaccination issue. I'll think more on it.

Margaret said...

There isn't much to say about strong women candles. I made a couple for friends and one for myself. They are just those religious candles that you buy in the supermarket just that instead of buying one with the virgen or some santo on it I buy plain ones and put my favorite women on them :) I wrote a post on it with a picture.