Tuesday, October 30, 2012

REPUBLICAN TURNCOATS: A NEW TREND AS ELECTION NEARS


Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice
With the election fast approaching, we're seeing the development of a curious new political trend: the Republican turncoat. In just the last week or so there have been some fervent and surprising cries of dissent from erstwhile GOP loyalists. 

A few examples:

* This morning, Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie praised the federal response to Hurricane Sandy. In an interview on NBC, Christie called Obama “outstanding” for expediting relief efforts. He also told MSNBC that Obama “deserves great credit... He gave me his number at the White House and told me to call him if I needed anything." He added that he doesn't "give a damn" about a photo op with Gov. Mitt Romney.

* Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice infuriated many of her fellow conservatives when she refused to criticize President Obama's response to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. “We don’t have all the pieces and I think it’s easy to try and jump to conclusions about what might have happened here,” she told Fox’s Greta Van Susteren. “It’s probably better to let the relevant bodies do their work.”

* Former Florida Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, once considered a possible GOP vice-presidential contender, angered many Republicans when he said that Obama is "exactly the kind of leader" the country needs at this point in its history.

* Ben Stein, the actor and onetime speech writer for President Richard Nixon, shocked his fellow fiscal conservatives when on “Fox& Friends” he said that Mitt Romney's tax plan is not workable and that the wealthy need to pay a little more.

* And Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, a Republican and former assistant to Gen. Colin Powell, said Friday, "Let me just be candid. My party is full of racists. The real reason a considerable portion of my party wants President Obama out of the White House has nothing to do with the content of his character, nothing to do with his competence as commander-in-chief and president, and everything to do with the color of his skin."

Wilkerson's comment came in response to John Sununu, a chief adviser to Mitt Romney and former White House Chief of Staff under George H. W. Bush who suggested that Powell, who's still a registered Republican, endorsed President Obama for a second term because they are both black.

Powell said last week, "I think I'm a Republican of a more moderate mold - that's something of a dying breed I'm sorry to say."

Dying breed, indeed. This all looks a bit like a page from a Paddy Chayefsky screenplay. A growing number of Republicans are evidently mad as hell for the sharp right turn their party has taken and they're not gonna take it any more. 

Ric Epps, a political science professor at San Diego State University and a political analyst on Fox 5 San Diego and U-T TV, says this new group of Republican turncoats isn't surprising. 

"It shows there is clearly a philosophical divide within the party. The GOP is suffering from an identity crisis," says Epps. "Up to now, people like Colin Powell, Condi Rice and Ben Stein haven’t stood up for themselves. They've let the religious right and the Tea Party control the party's agenda. Moderates and traditional conservatives are simply saying that what they are seeing now in their party is not what it historically has stood for."

Observing the 2012 presidential campaign, I've concluded that many of the iconic Republicans of the past half-century who I admire so much wouldn't have even made it through the primaries this past year. They're all too, uh, liberal.

Ronald Reagan, for example, was a proud conservative, but lest we forget, he raised taxes 11 times, gave amnesty to more than one million undocumented workers, and seemed to genuinely like Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill and understood the power of reaching across the aisle. 

All three of those things would have put him out of favor with today's crop of Republicans.

Nixon, too, was far too progressive for this new breed of Republican. He supported the Clean Air Act and affirmative action, increased Social Security benefits, and proposed healthcare reform that would have required employers to buy health insurance for all their employees and subsidize those who couldn’t afford it.

Nixon also created the Environmental Protection Agency - the same agency that many Republicans now say should be slashed if not outright dismantled

Concludes Epps, “If most Republicans in 2012 looked at Nixon, Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower, or Barry Goldwater, all of whom were fiscally conservative but socially responsible and didn’t bring religion into politics, they would see them as turncoats, too."




Monday, October 29, 2012

A TRUE HERO FOR VETERANS IS FINALLY RECOGNIZED


I'm proud to know Bill Rider. A friend and mentor to America's veterans for years, Rider, co-founder of American Combat Veterans of War (ACVOW), has helped thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans make the sometimes tough transition from combat to civilian life.

And for his efforts, Bill is finally getting the recognition he deserves. The San Diego Human Relations Commission (HRC) has just announced that Rider is the recipient of this year's Keith M. Turnham Humanitarian Award.

Each year this award honors a veteran who continues to be involved in public service. Bill, a Marine veteran who fought at Khe Sanh, the site of one of the Vietnam War's bloodiest battles, has dedicated his life to helping his fellow warriors.

A no-nonsense, straight shooting kind of guy, but also a man of great humor and warmth, Bill co-founded ACVOW in 2001, and ever since the organization has provided a variety of services to veterans and active warriors, including mentoring, advising and assisting veterans as well as active-duty personnel and military families. Bill and his fellow ACVOW staffers are especially skilled at helping warriors that are suffering from post traumatic stress (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

ACVOW, whose motto fittingly is, "Because sometimes the fight continues... even after the mission is completed," now has three offices in San Diego County.

A worthy recipient of this award if ever there was one, Bill, who'll be honored for both his military service to our country and for promoting human and civil rights in our community, will receive the special award at the annual Human Relations Commission Recognition Reception on Friday, Nov. 16 from 5:50 to 7:30 at the Balboa Park Club.

In a letter to Rider, commission chair Bruce Abrams and executive director Danell Scarborough wrote, "The commission is inspired by the tireless work you have done to support and assist combat veterans. We would like to thank and appreciate you for your compassionate concern and service."


I second that. Thanks, Bill, for all you do for veterans and their families.

As for the namesake of this award, Turnham was a World War II veteran, prisoner of war, and Purple Heart honoree who detailed his story in his book, Death Denied. Turnham's community service included eight years as a HRC commissioner, and membership on numerous community groups, including the San Carlos Community Council, Mission Trails Regional Park and Navajo Community Planners.

* * *

ACVOW has been literally a lifesaver for so many veterans. Its staff members are available to speak, one-on-one, with military personnel and family members to help individuals cope with battlefield related stress. If you or anyone you know exhibits any of the characteristics below, call ACVOW at 858-552-7501:
  • Depression
  • Isolation
  • Rage
  • Alienation: Avoidance of Feelings
  • Survival Guilt
  • Anxiety Reactions
  • Intrusive Thoughts
  • Recurrent, re-experiencing of the trauma
  • Avoidance to the point of having a phobia of places, people, and experiences.
  • Chronic physical signs of hyper-arousal, including sleep problems, trouble concentrating, irritability, anger, poor concentration, blackouts or difficulty remembering things, increased tendency and reaction to being startled, and hyper-vigilance to threat.
ACVOW Locations:

HQ and National Training Center
3508 Seagate Way, Suite160
Oceanside, California 92056
(760) 696-0460

La Jolla VA
Veterans Affairs Healthcare System
3350 La Jolla Village Drive, Room 1580
San Diego, California 92126
(858) 552-7501

Camp Pendleton
Marine Corps Family Services
BAS, 2/4 Marine Reg.
62330 7th St, San Mateo
Camp Pendleton, California 92055
(760) 889-1515

ACVOW staff members also speak on behalf of military personnel and veterans through regular speaking engagements and media appearances. To book an ACVOW speaker for your organization, please email Bill Rider at wrider@acvow.org.

Friday, October 26, 2012

TED TURNER'S OFFENSIVE REMARK: A TEACHABLE MOMENT FOR AMERICA?


Ted Turner, billionaire blowhard
Leave it to former media mogul Ted Turner, founder of CNN, to not only put his foot in his mouth, but to bring people of virtually all political persuasions together to help push that foot down his throat.

On Thursday, it was revealed that Turner, while discussing defense spending and the role of the United Nations as the world's policeman, said that the increase in the number of military suicides in relation to combat deaths is a "good" development because they show that we are "born to love and help each other—not to kill each other and destroy each other."

Uh... What?

Turner made the bizarre comment during a segment on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" that aired Oct. 19, but the military suicides comment was highlighted Thursday by Brietbart.com. Curiously, in what has become such a deeply divided nation this election season, this is the first time in a long time that almost everyone agrees on something: Turner's comment is offensive. Period.

If there was nuance and subtlety in his statement, and deeper meaning about the ugliness and futility of war, as some suggest, well, ok. But does it matter? No. Because when our troops and veterans are in the throes of an unprecedented suicide crisis, you just don't go there, Ted. 

His comment, as well-intentioned as it may have been, was stupid and wildly insensitive. Turner may be an enormously successful businessman, but he's the antithesis of a great communicator. I keep hearing that he is a brilliant man. But, really? More often than not throughout his public life, he's come across as an arrogant buffoon; a liberal Donald Trump.


Active-duty troops, veterans, politicians on both the left and the right, and just about everyone else I've talked to today - with a few very notable exceptions - are angry at Turner's unfortunate-at-best choice of words. And rightfully so.

Kim Schluter-Gay, an Air Force veteran living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and military sexual trauma (MST), just shook her head when she heard about Turner's comment. "Clueless individuals like Turner will never understand," she says.

Eric Miller, a captain in the Colorado Air National Guard, says, “The callousness of someone who has made a fortune on news, mocking the private torment of soldiers who have suffered watching horrific tragedy unfold, is beyond reprehensible. I am so proud to wear the uniform and was absolutely sickened by Turner's comments. What an ungrateful individual. Where do these people get off?”
  
Miller, along with many others I interviewed for this story, thinks that even if Turner was trying to make an anti-war statement, he failed miserably. In fact, a lot of folks think this comment rivals the 'Hanoi Jane' incident by Turner's ex-wife Jane Fonda 40 years ago. That’s when Fonda visited North Vietnam and sat and was photographed in an enemy tank.

Veterans’ advocates resoundingly condem the comment, but say it could and should be turned into a teachable moment for the entire nation by promoting awareness of PTSD, MST, traumatic brain injury, multiple deployments of our troops, the dangerous increase in abuse of prescription meds by troops and veterans, and the suicide epidemic.

Paul Sullivan, a longtime veterans advocate who is now managing director, public affairs & veteran outreach, at Bergmann & Moore, a law firm that handles only veteran disability cases, told me he would not dignify Turner's comments with a response aimed at Turner.

But Sullivan did say this: “Today America faces a tragic suicide crisis in our military and among our veterans, with one active duty and 18 veteran suicides every day. PTSD is real, and there is professional help available. I encourage our service members and veterans in distress or with concerns about their mental health to seek care soon.”

Sullivan tells me the wrist band he wears every day has VA's crisis line telephone number for veterans: 800-273-8255. “It’s a number I frequently share,” says Sullivan, “because VA’s suicide prevention professionals have rescued more than 23,000 veterans’ lives in the past five years.”

Sullivan adds that there is also a "superb public service announcement for all of America by Medal of Honor recipients" that addresses the issue. That PSA can be seen here.

Turner has always been a loose cannon. But his remarks about suicide seem especially inappropriate and clueless given the fact that his own father killed himself back when Turner was in his 20s. Clearly, Ted has some explaining to do.

But there are some who defend Turner, at least for what he apparently meant to say. Marjorie Morrison, author of the new book The Inside Battle: Our Military Mental Health Crisis, and a licensed psychotherapist who's written and implemented a successful military proactive counseling program with the US Marine Corps, says she doesn't think Turner was implying that its a good thing service members are killing themselves. 


"I believe he was commenting on human behavior at a deeper level, implying that humans have an inherent component of love and compassion as opposed to hate and killing," she says. "He's clearly a huge proponent of the United Nations - he donated a billion dollars to them - and would like to see them picking up the 'global policeman' job as opposed to Americans. I see Turner as a visionary man who views the new world order operating on civility and orderly justice, rather than violence."

Retired Navy chief Thomas Mahoney has mixed feelings about Turner's comment. "War sucks, and anyone saying it doesn't is either lying or just nuts," he says. "It's hard for anyone not to get pissed at what Turner said, but let's look at the context of what he said. True, his wording was crass, but I think he means that a lot of those who served and have been subjected to multiple sometimes back-to-back deployments in two wars that have lasted eleven years without any real clear victory, just a lot of lives lost, they couldn't take it anymore. I honor those that gave their lives, and I feel for those who took their own."


But, Mahoney adds, "The problem with do-gooders like Turner and Jane Fonda is that they have no respect for anything but their cause. Neither of them has any real respect for those who serve."




Thursday, October 25, 2012

HOTEL CALIFORNIA: THE ROCK & ROLL LEGACY OF THE GOLDEN STATE'S INNS

Wanna live like a rock star? It's easier than you think. When traveling California, you can stay in the very same hotel rooms where your favorite music legends once stayed. 

You can even stay in the "Riot House!"

In Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe's poignant and brilliant account of his days working as a San Diego teen scribe for Rolling Stone magazine in the early 1970's, there are several raucous scenes set at the Continental Hyatt House, a Hollywood hotel that was dubbed the "Riot House" because it was party central for that era's biggest rock stars and their groupies. 


Robert Plant at the "Riot House" 1975 - New York Times
To give you some idea, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and other members of Led Zeppelin and other bands used to ride their motorcycles up and down the hotel's hallways. 

Of course, those "Riot House" days are long gone. Even the name of the hotel has been changed to the Andaz West Hollywood. It's a trendy, relatively quiet place now. But the rock & roll spirit remains. Staying at the Andaz West Hollywood still conjures up ghosts of California's glorious musical past, especially if you stay in room #1015: that's where Rolling Stone guitarist Keith Richards once hurled a TV out the window.

The "Riot House" isn't the only California hotel with a storied rock and roll legacy. There's also the Alta Cienega Motel in Hollywood -  room #32 to be precise. That's where The Doors' legendary lead singer Jim Morrison actually lived from 1968-1970 during the band's heyday. Since Morrison's death in Paris in 1971 at age 27, his fans have flocked to room #32 from all over the world to write personal messages about the "Lizard King" on the walls. 

The place is still pretty much a dive... but a historic one.


Not far from the Alta Cienega is the more posh Beverly Hills Hotel, which has formidable rock cred' of its own. While it's never been the kind of place where TV's or anything else are thrown out the window, rock stars do frequent the hotel, which was immortalized as the subject of the haunting photo on the cover of the Eagles' classic Hotel California album pictured above.

Of course, in the title song of that memorable album, when Don Henley sings "Welcome to the Hotel California" and insists that "you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave," it's allegorical; he's not singing about a real California hotel. Or is he? Anyway, contrary to popular belief, the album's haunting inside gatefold photo of the band standing in the hotel "lobby" was not taken at the Beverly Hills Hotel, or at a hotel at all. It was taken at the Lido Apartments on Yucca Street in Hollywood.

Speaking of the Eagles, there's also an interesting, if somber California hotel story involving the late Gram Parsons, who was considered by some to be the Eagles' mentor and father of country-rock music. On Sept. 18, 1973, Parsons checked into Room #8 of the Joshua Tree Inn in the Southern California desert. He had just finished a national tour with duet partner Emmylou Harris and had returned to the inn, a charming, rustic desert getaway for which he had a special affection. 

Sadly, Gram died in the room that night after consuming too much tequila and morphine. He was 26.

Appropriately, the folks at the Joshua Tree Inn, which is still open for business and still frequented by music stars, pay homage to Parsons, one of music's most underrated artists, in a guest journal kept on a bedside table in that very room #8 where he passed away. If it isn't too creepy for you, you can stay in that room, which looks identical to the way it looked in 1973, with the same mirror and picture still hanging on the peach-colored walls.

Finally, if you head north to San Francisco's Hotel Mark Twain, room #203 to be exact, you'll discover where jazz great Billie Holiday was falsely arrested for drug possession on January 22, 1949 (it was a Ramada Inn at the time). Holiday was eventually acquitted after her lawyers convinced the jury that she had been framed. 

More than 60 years later, you can still stay in room #203, which they proudly call the "Billie Holiday Room." It's the same price as other rooms. While you're there, check out the plaque and artwork in the lobby of the hotel in salute to Holiday, the lady who sang the blues.

* Andaz West Hollywood, 323-656-1234

* Alta Cienega Motel, 310-652-5797

* Beverly Hills Hotel, 310-276-2251

* Joshua Tree Inn, 760 366-1188

* Hotel Mark Twain, 877-854-4106

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

WHAT IS DCA? THE REAL STORY BEHIND THIS ALTERNATIVE CANCER TREATMENT

By The Reno Dispatch Guest Blogger Martin C. Winer

One of the most devastating diagnoses a patient can receive
is cancer, which can sometimes mean years of chemotherapy, radiation and/or surgery affecting the patient’s quality of life. As a result, patients often look to the Internet hoping to find an alternative that will restore their health with greater speed and fewer side effects.  
A simple Internet search produces a plethora of results with great promises but little backing research. Separating the silver from the dross often requires a graduate degree, so typically, the patient, in frustration, brings a ream of printouts to his or her oncologist, who usually hasn’t heard of half of the remedies or at best rolls his or her eyes at them. 
Dichloroacetate Acid (DCA) is one of these remedies. 
DCA’s anti-cancer properties were discovered in 2007 by Evangelos Michelakis of the University of Alberta. In experiments on rats, Michelakis showed that DCA demonstrated dramatic action against a wide variety of cancers. He experienced a “eureka moment” when he saw that tumors of various types had been dramatically reduced over the course of a few short weeks.  
Moreover, DCA showed very minimal disruption to healthy cells. “This is the so-called Holy Grail of cancer treatment,” remarked Michelakis at the time. But Michelakis, along with a host of other medical professionals, warned patients against self-medicating despite a spate of nascent websites offering the product. 
In medical research the gold standard of acceptability of a treatment is a phase III clinical trial. There is only one problem: DCA is not patentable. It has already been used at least since the 1970’s in the treatment of a rare metabolic disorder and is generally well tolerated. Moreover, the chemical is simple and dirt cheap.  
Michelakis appealed to the private sector and the Canadian Government and secured $1.5 million dollars in financing to conduct a phase II trial to demonstrate that DCA could work in humans the same way it worked in mice. However, the trial could only point to five patients, two of whom responded to DCA alone. It established that DCA does work in humans (and not only rats), but was hardly definitive proof.
In another approach, Dr Akbar Khan, Medical Director of Medicor Cancer Centres, decided to prescribe DCA ‘off label’ in cancer patients. ‘Off label’ prescribing is a common practice which allows doctors to prescribe drugs for uses for which it wasn’t originally approved. In so doing, Medicor amassed considerable data and published its results online.

In summary, Medicor demonstrated a 60 percent response rate to DCA where response is defined to be a reduction in tumor markers, decrease in pain, size reduction, etc. Khan points out that this 60 percent response rate is in a population of  “very sick people who came to Medicor often as a last resort after mainstream oncology had failed them.”  
Medicor continues to publishes other journal articles as results become available.
The Hippocratic Oath, the core guidance to a physician’s conduct, states famously: “Do no harm.” In the case of DCA, perhaps the Hippocratic Oath has to be interpreted differently. It is possible to do harm by inaction. In the case of a patient suffering with cancer who is presented with the possibility of an agent like DCA, which has few side effects, perhaps doctors ought to consider that they may be doing harm to their patients by blocking access to this medicine.
The side effects of DCA are much milder than most standard chemotherapy agents. The most notable effect is peripheral neuropathy – a tingling of the extremities – which is dose dependent and reversible upon completion of treatment. Balancing reward against this risk, DCA is a novel approach to cancer treatment. It heals cells such that they can heal themselves. 
In most healthy cells, the cell itself can detect that it is in a cancerous state and undergoes ‘apoptosis,’ which is cellular suicide, avoiding the cancer. In some cancers, this mechanism is derailed. DCA repairs this mechanism, allowing the body to heal itself naturally without the sometimes horrific side effects of radiation and chemotherapy, which can cause cancer themselves.
Since DCA isn’t accepted by most oncologists, what is a patient to do? One must seek a doctor who will administer DCA and monitor the patient for side effects and progress. Self-medicating, especially in the case of cancer, is ill advised. Medicor Cancer Centres - based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada - is the only clinic this author has encountered which treats patients worldwide and in coordination with the patient’s oncologist if desired.  
Medicor also has a naturopath on staff that can suggest safe, alternative supplements which can mitigate side effects and increase the general well-being of patients during treatment. 
I support Medicor's efforts. Why? Search the Internet for a similar service: medically supervised administration of DCA, open disclosure of results, no hype. In fact, it is to my knowledge, the only way to get medically supervised DCA. I’m sure there are super private medical clinics but that does little for the general public.
The most important component of a successful treatment plan for cancer is an informed patient. It’s important to develop a relationship of trust and exchange with your health care provider. It’s vital not to dismiss traditional approaches outright because they very well may save your life. Indeed, it seems that DCA works very well as an adjuvant therapy alongside traditional chemotherapy.  
On the other hand, if your oncologist dismisses you out of hand when you discuss DCA with him or her simply as a result of entrenched dogma, perhaps you should continue your search for another doctor.

Martin Winer, who holds a B.Sc. in biology and has been actively researching DCA and cancer for many years, is currently researching a possible synergy between DCA and Avemar, another natural and milder cancer treatment. For more information visit www.martincwiner.com/dca.