Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday, the election edition

Elections. Blargh.

The upside to today is that regardless of the outcome, the ads will stop for now at least. It appears that there will be a fairly dramatic swing of the pendulum with this cycle and the Republicans will gain control of the Senate.

Ah, midterm elections. Where no one shows up even though almost as much is at stake.


Anyhow...as you can probably imagine, there are a lot of things pissing me off right now. Off we go.

All the election bullshit
So many things, you guys. SO MANY THINGS.

I hate Citizens United with a deep and burning passion. It is, without question, one of the worst Supreme Court decisions ever handed down and we are living the consequences of it as I type this. Over 4 billion dollars was spent on campaign ads this year. 4 BILLION. 

Most of that wasn't from individual donors or the candidates themselves. Noooo.

It was bankrolled by corporate entities, by the super PACs that are allowed to funnel as much money as they want into campaigns these days, thanks to the dumbest SCOTUS decision ever. Suuuuuure, it's not manipulative. Suuuuuure, it's not an unfair advantage. Suuuuuure it isn't skewing our system of government.

And if you believe that....

It's not all that pisses me off, though. The amount of money, while absolutely insane just on the merits is one thing, but the ads it all went to pay for is worse. How much truth was actually in any of those commercials? How much was spun? How much was an outright lie?

Oh, we don't have to worry about accuracy...we just make the most offensive ads against the other person running and it's all good. We scare the shit out of the American people because let's face it....fear works.

In case you don't believe that, I have one word for you. Ebola.

Speaking of Ebola...
There were some projections that came out this past week about the epidemic as it pertains to the spread here in the US. I use the world epidemic because that's what everyone is so accustomed to, but really there is no epidemic taking place within our borders. A handful of cases and one death does not an epidemic make....but don't listen to me....I just have a background in public health and epidemiology.

Ready for the projections???

Worst case scenario, they're estimating that we will see up to 130 cases by the end of the year.

130. Not 130,000. 130. That's it.

They're saying that every major city will probably see at least one patient, and that person will most likely be returning from a trip to the areas of the world where there is an actual outbreak. You know, the three countries in Africa that haven't stopped the spread yet.

As opposed to all the rest of Africa, where Ebola isn't even an issue. The geographically challenged Americans and their ignorance here trumps facts so often that there are people freaking out about anyone who has traveled to any part of Africa.  Truly, these are facepalm moments that make us look like idiots to the rest of the world.

Since we're talking about Ebola...
We should probably talk about Kaci Hickox too. By now, most people know at least who she is. She's the nurse that returned from working with Doctors Without Borders and was stopped at the airport in New Jersey, placed in isolation because they thought she had a fever that she didn't actually have. She was then released to go home to Maine where everyone proceeded to freak out that she had Ebola, which she doesn't actually have.

Are you seeing a theme here?

The Governor went to fairly extreme measures to try and force a quarantine on her for the full 21 days that she could potentially be symptom free and carrying the disease. It didn't work. Why???

Well, the court refused to force her into quarantine because she's not sick. 

Even if she has Ebola, which is looking less and less likely with each passing day, she isn't contagious until she starts to show symptoms. Which she isn't.

Everyone, calm down. Good lord.

Are we really willing to force people into isolation for three weeks at a time just because there is a possibility that they might have been exposed to something?

Maybe this is just the constitutional law scholar in me, but that's more than a little bit frightening. You see, my background is one in both legal rights and public health.

I can totally get behind the isolation of patients with communicable diseases for the greater good of society, but I'm not about to begin advocating for quarantines of people who aren't sick. That's a very slippery slope my friends, a huge intrusion on personal freedoms and not grounded in any scientific reasoning at all.

Which is why the judge said no.

Go ahead and yell at me if you want, but if we begin to allow irrational fear to police our society, we're opening a can of worms that no one wants to open.

The right to die
Brittany Maynard took a lethal dose of barbiturates this weekend as she planned to do, resulting in her death. In the days since, it seems that everyone has formed an opinion about this, made some kind of judgement call about whether what she did was morally right or wrong, mused about the culpability of her physicians, wondered about the emotional well being of her family and friends.

I've seen more than a few people say that what she did was commit suicide, usually people upset with her because they have personal history with the suicide of a loved one. Her choice had nothing to do with anyone but her. She was surrounded by her closest friends and family.

Her loss is a tragic one, regardless of the mechanism of her death, but it was a certainty. She was going to die. Period. This way her suffering was limited, the suffering that her loved ones were forced to witness was limited. In the last statements she issued, which I fully encourage people criticizing her to read, she says point blank that this wasn't really suicide. The cancer was what was killing her.

I sincerely hope that her message is spread and that more states will write laws allowing people in her position to make the choice she made.

I also sincerely hope that those critical of her decisions will respect that they were hers to make.


  1. As always you say everything so well. It's all so crazy... and so unnecessary.

  2. Well said. Combine crazy PAC and special interest spending with Death with Dignity and see what happened in Massachusetts last year. We were poised to pass a ballot initiative for death with dignity when in the last weeks special interest groups funded a scare tactic ad campaign. The upshot as reported by the Boston Globe:" Polls in early October suggested two-thirds of voters supported the ballot question. But on Election Day it failed by 2 points. Opponents outspent proponents by a factor of six."


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