Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Meghan, Please Stop!

Ok. Seriously. You need to stop.

Meghan, I kept my mouth shut when you appeared on The View with all the other cackling hens. I didn’t say anything about the Twitpic controversy (see above), but after last night, Meghan, someone needs to pull you over for a "stop-n-chat."

I guess that has to be me because no one else has or no one cares.

Meghan, you don’t need to do the Leno Show, you don’t need to be hanging with D celebs like the faux-liberal Arianna Huffington, the least popular Baldwin brother (Stephen, or as he likes to be called, “Stevie B.”) and a comedian who can only make pedophile jokes to get a laugh.

Even though your father is a senior senator from Arizona, a former POW, and a graduate of the Naval Academy, you need to learn a lesson from dad and know how to do damage control. Instead of posting pouty, petulant pieces on Twitter, or throwing tempest-on-a-Twitter retorts to people who take pot shots at you, pull back. Even your father knew when to bail out instead of going down in flames.

You’ve chosen this life, this mock mash-up of pop culture and serious politics. But it’s become like a cheap ride at the Arizona State Fair and the only thing that separates you from careening is the toothless carnie whose fingers are too sticky from eating cotton candy to stop the ride in time.

Just because you grew up in the “Valley” doesn’t mean you have to be that “Girl.”

You’ve decided that you want it all and when people call you out, you lash out like a reality star claiming you didn’t bring this on yourself. That’s total horse-spit and you know it.

You are the best and worst of your parents combined. You’ve got your father’s quick temper, steadfast resolve, and passion for politics. But you also possess your mom’s insight, intelligence and sophisticated visage.

But you have to learn to harness both and stop this precipitous descent into a has-been, washed-up celeb-utante by the time you’re 30. Hello, Paris Hilton anyone?

Personally, I want you to succeed. I want people to know the person who has wonderfully insightfully, challenging ideas for the GOP. I want you to invigorate and rally young people to be more politically active and invest in the future of this country. I love the Meghan McCain that I read, not the ditz on television or the petulant child that erupts with venomous, sophomoric tweets.

Leave that to Perez Hilton or Bill Maher.

Monday, October 12, 2009

More Promises From Obama

Barack Obama can’t win.

In the past few months of his new administration, the president’s health care reform bill has stalled, the closing of Gitmo has been as mired as his plans for what to do in Afghanistan, and he went to Denmark thinking he was the lynch-pin in securing Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics. America (and thusly, the Obama Administration) was slapped across the face by the IOC with a first round dismissal.

And I won’t even get into the whole Nobel Peace Prize award, contending it was not his doing and he was going to be criticized for taking or declining the award.

But when the president accepted the Nobel Peace prize, he said it was a “call to action.”

That quote got me thinking. Barack has called all of us to higher action, more involvement in our communities, etc., but we’ve really not seen any action since his historic election last year.

Saturday was another example. Speaking at the Human Rights Campaign annual dinner in DC, the president received a standing ovation when he reasserted his campaign promise to revoke the gutless and shameful military policy that Bill Clinton initiated in 1993 of homosexuals’ service in our military.

Obama, eloquent as usual, stated that he will, “end ‘don’t ask-don’t tell. I appreciate that many of you don’t believe progress has come fast enough. Do not doubt the direction we are heading and the destination we will reach.”

Once again, the president made no clear, decisive remarks on a timetable and never stated a goal of when the ban would be lifted on gays who proudly serve in the military. This is just another example of what the president’s term has been about: great ideas, no real sense of urgency or direction, and no end date. One gay activist said that although the speech was brilliant, “it lacked the answer to our most pressing question, which is when.”

Stand in line, sir. That has been a major complaint of not only partisan hacks who want this administration to fail, but also of key Dems who are tired of sitting on their hands and waiting for a timeline…for anything.

Obama’s Achilles heel in his administration has been his unwillingness or vague realization that anyone can have ideas; it’s the decisive execution that counts. If Thomas Edison, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Bill Gates, Thomas Jefferson or even Jesse James had all these ideas and never took action and made them realities, they would not be famous (or in James’ case, infamous).

The time for pretty prose and inspirational oratory is over. Barack Obama has got to roll his shirt sleeves up, get his hands dirty, and take decisive action.

Joe Solmonese, president of Human Rights Campaign, says that his group has, “never had a stronger ally in the White House.” Careful what you wish for. Sometimes allies can make you stronger, helping you to reach your goal, (e.g., the Brits in WWII) or they bring inaction and ultimately become your enemy (e.g., the Soviet Union during and post WWII).

Barack Obama was ushered into the White House on a message of Hope and Change.

Hope is theoretical construct with no onus, no accountability. It’s all based on “if.” Change is a hard, steady grind that doesn’t come easy. Let’s hope Obama learns how to grind out some victories for this country instead of wishing for “ifs.”

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Hot Doc

Some listeners have asked me to re-tell the story of my hot doctor story. Here it is:

For the past twenty-some years, I’ve had a lump in my leg right near my groin. I went to the doctor when I when I first noticed it and he told me to not worry about it, it was something called a lipoma. It wasn’t cancerous, it wasn’t going to hurt, but if I wanted to have it cut out, he could do it. I declined and haven’t thought about until I visited my primary care doctor about a month ago and he said that I should have it removed before it actually started to interstitially grow into the muscle.

So, on his recommendation, I made an appointment to see a specialist who could take care of my lump that has grown from a pea-sized annoyance to a golf-ball sized distraction. And that’s all I am going to say about my nasty lump since HIPPA laws preclude me from divulging any more information – and I’ve already gone into the realm of “TMI.”

Now I have never really been keen on doctors. Ever-so-lucky, i've inherited all the weak, recessive genes in my family tree. As a three year old, I was diagnosed with asthma/allergies to anything with fur, pollen or spores. For the next 11 years, instead of watching Captain Caveman, School House Rock, Jabberjaw or Scooby Doo cartoons, I spent every Saturday morning going to different doctors, getting numerous allergy shots to build up my immunity.

So anytime I see a person in a white coat with a stethoscope, my eye starts to twitch as I break out in a sweat. I’ve gotten better in my old age, but nothing prepared me for what happened when I visited the specialist for a consultation on my lipoma.

As you get older, you learn what to expect in professional situations. When you go onto a car lot, you’re ready for the car shark; when you go to church, you speak in low, whispered tones out of respect.

Before I go to the doctor, I make a list of questions, trying not to remember the trauma of being held down when i was three years old on an examination table, getting poked by dozens of needles as the allergist tried to determine what I was allergic to and the severity of my reacion. My mother said it took two nurses and my father to keep me down. I guess that makes me a fighter.

Doctors are usually plain, medically neat people who come in with prescription pad and lollipop handy.

Not this doctor. As I was sitting in the chair, reading my magazine, a woman came into the room and introduced herself as my doctor. I looked up from my Sports Illustrated to see a tall, statuesque woman in a tight black dress instead of a white lab coat. Instead of running shoes or those ugly crocs which are de rigueur in most doctor’s office and hospitals, she had black stiletto heels. Her long, blonde hair was perfect, not pulled back with a pragmatic, solid-colored scrunchee. She wore pearls instead of stethoscope around her neck.

So when she opened my folder and asked how she could help me, I did something I’ve never done to a doctor before. I couldn’t remember why I was in the doctor’s office in the first place.

When I finally fumbled and stumbled for the words to describe that I had a bump on my leg, she looked in my folder again and said something that made me forgot my lump, my list and my name. Smiling with perfect, white teeth, she told me that I needed to show her where the lump was located.


Unlike my radio persona, I am very self conscious and rather shy. I hate pulling my pants down for any reason, but especially an exam, whether it be for a man doctor or a female nurse or vice versa. But she insisted, saying “I need to see the diameter and location so we can proceed.”


She smelled my fear which had overtaken her fragrant, scent; sweat beaded on my forehead. All I kept thinking was, “Where is the androgynous white coat, the loose, billowy scrubs that hide any kind of sexiness? I’ve watched ER and Grey’s Anatomy and those TV doctors don’t dress like this! What kind of doctor wears stilettos in the office?”

She does. And it was killing me.

Finally, I gathered enough courage to pull my pants down, showing her exactly where the location of the benign growth. She examined it, touched it with her manicured fingers, made some notes in my folder, and said that I needed to schedule another appointment to get it removed.

I wonder what she wears for surgery?

Thank goodness she didn’t ask me to turn my head and cough, I would’ve passed out.

Don't Blame Us

Last week when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebilius held a press conference, telling the American people to “step up” and get the H1N1 or Swine Flu vaccine, I had a sneaking suspicion that we, in the media, would be blamed for people not getting immunized against the Swine flu.

Not surprisingly, I was right. A report has come out that doctors and health care providers across the country have growing concerns that the way the media is covering the Swine Flu “umbrella,” (i.e., the vaccines, controversy, deaths and infectious outbreaks), is contributing to low vaccination rates in parts of the country, especially in major population centers like New York City.

Because there has been an almost non-stop deluge of news about the possibilities of the Swine Flu pandemic, the public may be at greater risk because they’ve stopped listening or paying attention.

Reporting science is a tricky, mercurial venture. If something is cool, like NASA bombing the moon, people will watch because of great computer graphics and pictures simulating blowing a crater out of the lunar surface.

Not so with something as opaque and ephemeral as the flu. News organizations have a hard time finding the right balance of information without turning into a “Science Guy” special or a catastrophic infomercial. If the news tries to explain a concept that takes more than two minutes, people tune it out. When there isn’t enough reporting, whether that perception is accurate or not, health care officials cry foul that they are trying to educate and warn the public about a national health problem and their message is not being broadcasted.

So how are we doing?

I may be biased, but I think our show (Mac and Gaydos on 92.3 KTAR in the afternoon. If you're not in the Phoenix area, got to for more information) does a better-than-average job when it comes to reporting, disseminating and then opining about this would/could-be pandemic known as H1N1.

Because of our own personal biases and natural curiosity, Gaydos and I have made a concerted effort to analyze, but not spew bombast. Since we are not educated as doctors or immunologists, we bring a more populist perspective. Sorting through information, we tell you what we know without the lexicon of a JAMA article.

Gaydos, who is a certifiable hypochondriac, scours the Internet and television for information on the flu, seasonal or Swine, talks to people at the Health Department and calls his doctor brother almost on a daily basis culling the latest information. I, on the other hand, read as much as I can but I don’t panic.

Being superstitious and cautious, I don’t get a flu shot. The only time I got a flu shot was the year I actually got the flu. In my opinion, since getting the shot isn’t a panacea or magic bullet, so I will take my chances.

It’s that type of balanced perspective, our Everyman approach, based on our different personalities, that our show, in my humble opinion, shouldn’t be lumped into the rest of the media who are postulating and speculating on the benefits or the catastrophe of getting a Swine flu vaccination.

We give you information without panic or hyperbole; and we always tell you to seek the advice and opinion of your doctor.

Not many other talk shows or news organizations can say that.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

High Speed Boondoggle

When was the last time you took a train? If you said "never," you wouldn't be alone by a long shot. Train ridership has precipitously plummeted since the early 1950's with the advent of the interstate highway system and the burgeoning airline industry.

But that hasn't stopped some from trying to revive a rail system that would include Phoenix and other southwestern cities.

The Western High Speed Rail Alliance is a recently created group wanting to use stimulus money and get Phoenix on the high speed rail line "train," if you will, with service to Los Angeles in less than two hours and other cities like Las Vegas and Salt Lake City.

They would have more success and spend less money in making better buggy whips.

Let's make one thing blindingly clear: We already have something that will take you to these cities faster, with more departures and a better business model. It's called the airline industry. Sure, the airline industry is flailing, some airlines are in their death throes and some have been bailed out since Sept. 11, 2001. But it has not been government supported -- it is a viable private business venture. Unlike our passenger railway system.

But consider our passenger rail system that was consolidated back in the 1970's when the train industry was ready to go under. The government decided that the passenger train industry was "too big to fail" and monopolized the small train companies like the B&O, Burlington Northern, Union Pacific, leaving them to haul goods but not people.

The National Railroad Passenger Corporation (the Federal Government) launched it to much fanfare, dubbing it "Amtrak" on May 1, 1971.

With its sleek silver cars and locomotives and red white and blue logo, Amtrak services over 21,000 miles of track across the United States.

And it's never made a profit. In fact, as a nation, we still have one of the lowest inter-city rail usages of all the developed nations.

Why does the government keep insisting on using tax-payer money to re-invent the train wheel, with the same, tired argument that if we update technology, more people will use it? With the exception of the Northeast (the Boston to DC corridor, as it's called), using a train instead of a plane doesn't make sense for commuters or people wanting to get from one place to another.

Yet every decade or so, there is a push to modernize and make high speed rail a reality like Japan or Germany. What the eggheads in Washington fail to realize since they never venture outside of the beltway, is that our country has triple or quintuple the real estate and people than smaller countries that utilize and favor high speed rail.

Until gas prices soar to European standards and sprawl creates endless strip malls from here to LA, high speed rail for the Southwest will not only be a waste of our tax money, it'll be a colossal waste of time.