Tag Archives: politics

Gupta’s Influence Trumps Inexperience

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Few would dispute that the Obama campaign represented the ultimate confluence of media and politics. The announcement that CNN chief health correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is the leading contender to be the next Surgeon General has furthered Obama’s mastery of media in promoting his message. Many of my colleagues in the medical field have derided this choice, pointing to the fact that Gupta’s training as a neurosurgeon, coupled with his relative youth, makes him unqualified to be the leading spokesperson on public health issues like diabetes, obesity, and coronary artery disease. However, I believe that Gupta’s potential appointment actually has the potential to be a brilliant choice. Gupta’s background makes him uniquely suited to the position of Surgeon General. Over the last few decades, the Surgeon General’s role has morphed into the chief communicator of public health matters. Other than the tenure of C. Everett Koop, the surgeon general, in recent times, has become a largely invisible position. Koop stood out because he had the charisma to attract an audience, and the ability to explain complex issues to Americans in terms they could understand. In short, he was a transformative figure who millions of Americans could identify by sight alone. I suspect most Americans would be hard-pressed to identify the current Surgeon General. In contrast, millions of Americans invite Gupta into their home on a nightly basis; he has proven he can communicate in laymen’s terms. And while most public health issues wouldn’t ordinarily be handled by a neurosurgeon, Gupta would serve as a spokesperson for these matters, not the clinician – a key difference. The choice clearly demonstrates Obama’s continued mastery of not just the roles media and communication currently play, but their potential in shaping our lives. – Matt Buchalter


The Wal-Mart Way

Blatant misuse of the color blue!

Blatant misuse of the color blue!

The automatic blanket raises (for simply having a pulse), obscenely generous benefits packages and overzealous lobbying is nothing short of disgusting: clearly the American concept of employers’ unions have run amuck. While unions, much like communism, are positive in theory, the negotiating tactics, pie-in-the-sky demands and overall political correctness that comes with such representation is rather sickening. But if anyone deserves a union, it’s the retail employees of Wal-Mart. Allegations of hiring special needs workers below minimum wage, poor working conditions (sometimes without breaks) and unrealistic costs of basic health coverage have dogged the reputation of the nation’s largest retailer, which has made an anti-union platform a top priority. Now the chain has mounted a campaign to rally its employees to vote Republican in the upcoming presidential election, since Obama supports the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation friendly to unionizing. Employees recently told The Wall Street Journal that store executives threatened that a vote for Obama could equate to massive store layoffs and costly union dues. Perhaps next time shoppers are at the check-out line, they’ll start requiring cashiers to ask them for $1 donations to McCain’s campaign, rather than the March of Dimes. Let’s be honest Wal-Mart. It’s high time you change the color of your vests from blue to red. Clearly, that’s where your politics lie.

Campaign Finance 101

With the general election heating up, now is as good a time as any to engage in a bit of campaign finance voyeurism. If you’ve ever wanted to know the politics of your boss, your dentist, your little league coach, or even your third grade grammar teacher, no need to look further than a single Web site: FundRace.org. What is more, the site exposes the hidden biases (or in the case of Fox News, not-so-hidden biases) of our leading media moguls. Take Rupert Murdoch for example. He contributed $25,000 to the Republicans during the 2004 presidential election (though I suppose $25K is couch change to one the nation’s wealthiest men). And to be fair – and balanced (pun intended), Ted Turner did donate $1,000 to Joe Biden in 2006. I guess that makes me feel a little less guilty about my measly $50 donation to Obama. Now off you go to see if your peers are putting their money where their mouth is. But be forewarned: you may not like what you see. Unearthing the fact that my youth soccer coach is a Bush supporter felt a lot like the day I learned Santa Claus was make believe.

Corruption Bully a Softy for ‘Cheap’ Sex

The anti-corruption bully of New York has proven, once again, that Democrats prefer sex scandals over fiscal scandals. Speaking at a press conference earlier today, Governor Eliot Spitzer admitted his involvement in an extensive prostitution ring. According to the New York Times, court documents name Spitzer in the Emperors Club VIP ring — a club that charges up to $5,500 an hour for its whores. The extent of his involvement, at this point, remains unclear. What politicians do in their private lives doesn’t concern me — and shouldn’t concern you — but this behavior is problematic, particularly in a presidential election year, because the right-wing spin doctors are standing by with their appeals of moral majority and family ‘values.’ Thankfully, Spitzer  isn’t running a presidential campaign but incidents like these only fuel the fire of the right.

Coleman’s Global Warming Firestorm

Would you be surprised if someone told you the founder of the Weather Channel, a seasoned meteorologist himself, disparaged the evidence of global warming? Well, you should be. Weather Channel founder, John Coleman, has made a second career of criticizing the green movement over recent years but crossed the line this week when – speaking at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change in New York – he suggested suing Al Gore over the work he’s done to bring the issue to the limelight. The Nobel Peace prize recipient, former vice president and winner of the 2000 U.S. presidency, has devoted his life to a cause that may affect all of mankind, and now a vocal minority of right-wingers hope to bring him down again with egregious accusations that spit in the face of science. It looks like Coleman is a businessman first, ‘scientist’ second. President Bush used to echo the same sentiments, accepting political rhetoric over scientific evidence. It should come as no surprise that both he and Coleman hail from the state no one is supposed to ‘mess’ with. On an issue that not only impacts human life, but the planet we exist on, let’s not fall into the trap of listening to another uninformed Texan.

Clinton Crawls Back to SNL

What used to be a Saturday Night Live airtime formula of 60 minutes for advertisements, 20 minutes for painfully awkward Amy Poehler skits and 10 minutes for everybody else has shifted slightly over recent weeks. Since reemerging from the writers’ strike, SNL has devoted many of its minutes to igniting the Hillary Clinton campaign. Two weeks ago, Tina Fey returned to Weekend Update to lead a diatribe on Clinton critics. Last Saturday, viewers saw the ‘real’ Hillary – if there is such a thing – earn plenty of face time, while Fred Armisen unfairly portrayed a slow-witted, naive Obama. SNL has done little to mask its political agenda, as of late. Ironically, when Hillary was on top of the polls last fall, she snubbed SNL’s invite to host the fading show. Now that momentum is lost, she is bringing her desperate pitch of ‘change’ to late night television, while the show kowtows to her fizzling campaign. But there’s good news for Obama supporters: SNL stopped churning the laughs years ago.

Media Ignores Impeachment Initiatives

Talks are back on the table for a solid base of Democrats on Capitol Hill interested in putting an abrupt end to the eight years of chicanery known as the Bush-Cheney administration. But chances are you haven’t read anything about it. Mainstream media remains mum on the impeachment issue — an issue initially brought forth by Dennis Kucinich last spring. Perhaps it’s because do-nothing Pelosi fears the divisiveness of the matter. Wake up! The country has been polarized since the Civil War. Why pussyfoot around political issues that matter, simply to avoid discourse and debate? Manipulating the public to endorse a war unrelated to terrorism is far more detrimental to the country’s integrity than infidelity — a private matter that voting citizens should have never been exposed to. Where’s the Democrats’ version of Ken Star?