Monday, February 19, 2007

Ov Glove, Kitt Mitt

(Click here for a transcript of the Feb 18th Interview)

Not being from Massachusetts, I haven’t had much occasion to witness Mitt Romney in action. Now, thanks to This Week with George Stephanopoulos, I know how Mitt and his wife Ann perform in response to a gentle fawning delivery of what might have been tough questions had they not rehearsed answers to them all.

Before looking at their answers, The questions deserve attention. It has become George’s standard practice to ask Presidential candidates how their faith “informs” their politics. This is an incorrect use of the English language. It is true that one can glean information from a non sentient source such as a book, or by observing the natural world. But informing is volitional. For it to happen, a thinking being must act. George, until you change your question to: What does God inform you as (He or She) whispers into your ear, choose a different word. Stop taking the lyric, “for the Bible tells me so” as as anything but colloquial.

The candidate’s shift from support for the availability of abortion and of same-sex marriage that was required to be elected Governor of a liberal state, to opposing both, as is required of a national Republican candidate was covered well. Romney answered unapologetically. It was perfectly natural, he had simply evolved in his thinking. In fact all of his responses were like that. It was a policy of sidestep some things, but convey all experiences as positives. Changes in heart are not evidence of past mistakes, but purely of current victories. Rhetorically it was quite effective.

In Massachusetts he supports public funding for “faith-based institutions” when they are performing a “non-faith role.” I would have liked to see Stephanopoulos ask about specific examples. Does Romney think these non-faith functions could include schools? And do they include the “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” many of which currently receive public monies.

Quite aside from picking up votes from the faithful, and a sometimes justified perception that non-government soup kitchens can do tasks efficiently, kicking in money to private and non-profit concerns is easy on a State budget. The people doing the work will not be added to State employee healthcare or retirement, it’s up to their own employers. They might even be volunteering their time! Romney is opposed to universal healthcare, he favors a system where more people could buy insurance policies. Interestingly, the topics of retirement and Social Security were missing from this interview.

Most amusing to me was that Stephanopoulos introduced Romney as “movie star handsome.” He does have a certain charm to his speaking style. Then I noticed those little flighty Reganesque flourishes. His speech is metrosexual! Voters went for it in the 1980s, I wonder if will do the trick now.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Slow Suttee

Tomorrow the Regis and Kelly show will do their annual Valentine's week wedding. It will feature a young viewer couple chosen for their endearing qualities. Along with the excitement of a glorious gown and the latest fashion in cake, we know that an element of tragedy accompanies this nuptial feast. The groom suffers from an autoimmune disease that destroyed his kidneys. His kidney transplant (from his father) is failing, and without another one, he may not be long for this world. Luckily, his bride-to-be is a perfect match.

Using organs from living donors with relative safety from immediate mortality is still a new technology. Practitioners describe the long-term health effects as “minimal,” I think it’s likely that there have not been enough multiple-year follow-up studies.

Going strictly by my perceptions of news reports, there seems to be a trend of kidney donations between spouses in a female to male direction. It may be that the underlying diseases are more prevalent in men. It’s certain that older men who can afford extensive health care often have younger spouses. If there really is a disproportionate flow of working parts from women to men, it should be stopped. Tissue banks could easily balance the numbers according to sex, and I believe that they should.

When a family member or acquaintance wants to donate a kidney but isn’t a match, sometimes another twosome can be found who aren’t a match for each other, but can be cross-matched with the first pair. To prevent donors from changing their minds after their own partner has received an organ, all four people are anesthetized and operated on simultaneously. This swapping can be done with more than two pairs. I found an article about five transfers done at once. Judging by the first names, the recipients included two women and three men, the donors were all female.

The Valentine groom’s mother may donate one of her kidneys before they resort to harvesting (yes, harvesting is the word used in the transplantation world) one from his bride. But it must be so comforting to have one in reserve.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Not kdice but also nice

Visitor Map
Create your own visitor map!

( kdice is an online mini version of the board game risk.)