Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Deeply Corrupt Brooklyn Democratic Party Machine

I am embarrassed by this diary. I live in a place where the DEMOCRATIC party is massively corrupt and that corruption is poised to continue far into the future. I fight REPUBLICAN corruption. How can I do that when I live in an area where the Democratic Party is so massively corrupt.

I grew up in Los Angeles. I remember a friend of mine from Chicago who was amazed that she couldn't find someone to bribe to hurry up her remodeling plans for her house. Los Angeles was the least corrupt place she had lived. That is my background.

I now live in Brooklyn. I am amazed that the national Democratic Party hasn't come to Brooklyn and kicked our asses because we are among the most corrupt party machines in America. We look like a third world country when it comes to corruption.

Our previous County Leader, Clarence Norman, served a full jail sentence for corruption. Our current County Leader, Vito Lopez, has done almost ALL of the same things Clarence Norman went to jail for, and is under active investigation by pretty much all levels of government for corruption. He ALSO recently was accused of sexual harassment by several women from his own staff...and apparently the NY State government settled some other sexual harassment suits against him at taxpayer's expense.

I spend a lot of time attacking Republicans for corruption. And nationally Republicans are FAR FAR FAR more corrupt than Democrats. But I find myself embarrassed by the local corruption in the Brooklyn Democratic Party.

Vito Lopez, due to health reasons and the sexual harassment suits, is on his way out. So now we are faced with a chance for reformers to make a difference. But I see the reformers acting disorganized and defeatist before our most important meeting. The anointed successor to Vito Lopez is disgraced Judge Seddio. More of the same corruption. Brooklyn is set to continue to be a corrupt blight within the Democratic Party.

Why is the national party allowing this corruption? And our local party machine is actually really bad at electing Democrats, so there is NO REASON WHY THE NATIONAL PARTY SHOULD TOLERATE THE KINGS COUNTY MACHINE!!!!

What is the role of a local Democratic County Committee?

It is to elect Democrats. Period. End of sentence.

Vito Lopez, our second County Committee Leader in a row to be disgraced (soon to be followed by ALREADY disgraced Seddio) actually AS DEMOCRATIC COUNTY LEADER endorsed a third party candidate (one of his cronies) against a DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE (someone who refused to agree to his corruption). Get that? The LEADER of the DEMOCRATIC PARTY endorsed a THIRD PARTY candidate AGAINST the DEMOCRATIC candidate for PERSONAL reasons. And the National Party let it slide.

Going more deeply into Brooklyn Politics, I am friends with many people who are head of several political organizations. Several of these people sought to find candidates and support candidates against Republican Marty Golden. Vito Lopez, the HEAD OF THE BROOKLYN DEMOCRATIC PARTY, supported Republican Marty Golden and discouraged ANY challenge to him by Democrats until VERY recently.

Furthermore, in two recent elections, we LOST Democratic seats to Republicans because Vito Lopez and the Democratic Party machine sat on their hands. David Weprin and Lew Fidler SHOULD have won. But Vito Lopez didn't care about Weprin and did NOTHING for him. Lew Fidler had recently stood up to Vito Lopez in a local primary so Vito publicly denounced Fidler. Vito officially endorsed Fidler, but did nothing at all to help him win. And this is the supposed LEADER of the Democratic Party in Brooklyn. Weprin and Fidler both lost to extremist teabagger Republicans thanks to the incompetence of the Kings County Democratic Party.

I plug Democrats across the country but I feel my local Democratic Party is an embarrassment. I am starting to feel like I have nothing to say politically because I can't make my own local Party better...despite almost a decade of trying.

I believe one of the main differences between the Republican and the Democratic Party is THEY stand by their most corrupt members while we oppose our most corrupt members. The Clarence Norman, Vito Lopez and soon to be Frank Seddio machine in Brooklyn looks a LOT like the Republican model of corruption, supported and perpetuated year after year.

Our local corruption has been tolerated on both the state and national levels. Our local incompetence at electing Democrats over Republicans has been tolerated on both the state and national levels. Why? The Kings County Democratic Party is both blatantly corrupt AND unable and unwilling to elect Democrats against Republicans in the few close races we have. Why are we tolerated?????

Our current County Leader, Vito Lopez, is on his way out because of sexual harassment charges. But he has anointed Seddio as his replacement and the reformers I am a part of can't do much about that. Seddio is an already disgraced judge. He is already PROVEN by LAW as corrupt. But the Democratic Party is going to accept him as leader in Brooklyn.

If I was a Republican this whole Clarence Norman, Vito Lopez, Frank Seddio corruption would be red meat to feed on. I would hold Brooklyn up as the most corrupt place in America and embarrass the Democratic Party with these corrupt assholes.

So far the reform movement (currently led by the likes of Chris Owens, Jo Anne Simon and Lincoln Restler) has been working hard but without support from the state or national party.

Now that we have a SECOND party leader facing major charges, can we get some help in reforming the Kings County Democratic Party??? And the next anointed Party Leader ALREADY has faced corruption charges.

Can I get some help from the NY State Democratic Party? Can I get some help from the national Party? What I have been trying to do is get my local Party to be LESS CORRUPT. Why is it so hard to get State and National help?

Clarence Norman, Vito Lopez and Frank Seddio are all corrupt scum. Why does the Democratic Party tolerate them as major power brokers? If we tolerate this level of corruption within our own party, how can we criticize the Republicans for their even greater corruption????

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Let's Embarrass Rom/Ry in November

So I long ago realized Obama will win. It may or may not be close. A good friend, Rock Hackshaw, a local blogger and politician, predicted "it won't even be close" some months ago. And he was one of the first people I know to have predicted an Obama win in 2008.

The Rom/Ry ticket advocates a return to the horribly failed Bush policies that gutted the American economy and created our largest deficits ever. America still is angry at the Greedy Oil Party for the stupid failures of the Bush years and they realize that Rom/Ry want to go back to those failed Bush policies. But we need to do more.

It is Congress I am worried about. We need to hold the Senate and make gains in both the Senate and the House. Ideally we would win big in both, but that will take a lot of work. But it is work worth doing.

But I also think we have a real shot of embarrassing the Republicans on their home ground, and this dovetails with gains I would like us to make in Congress and on local levels. Looking at the race for the presidency we have:

Mittens "1%" Rom, former governor of Massachusetts

Paul "teabagger elitist" Ry, congressman from Wisconsin

Barack "making history" Obama, former Senator from Illinois

and Joe "I don't plagiarize anymore" Biden, former Senator from Delaware.

Now I don't know of any close races in Delaware, but I do know that Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Illinois are states with some pretty darned critical races, and in addition to simply seeing Obama/Biden defeat Rom/Ry, I would love to see the Greedy Oil Party SLAMMED into defeat in the same states that these Pres and VP candidates come from.

I want to see us come as close to sweeping every close race possible in Wisconsin (a key battleground state for several years), Massachusetts, and Illinois. In the process we can help some really damned good Democrats win over really sleazy GOPers.

Here is my new (partial) strategy for November:

To donate to the following candidates, please visit my Embarrass Romney/Ryan 2012 Act Blue website. I will match at least partly the first three donations made. Our future hangs in the balance this year, so I am hoping you guys make me shell out a LOT of money on this. I can't afford it but I feel I can't afford NOT to.

If we win most of these races, we will be REALLY kicking ass this year.

NOTE: I base my choices partly on candidates I like, partly on Democracy for America, partly on Progressive Majority, and partly on a conservative-website-I-tend-to-follow's view of what they consider close races.

Let's begin with the Rom's own state of Massachusetts. He was Gov there, and not as bad as most Repubs, but not great. Now Romney won't win Mass even though he is a former Gov...but it will be so much more satisfying if he not only loses himself, but his party loses two close and key races for Congress: Senate and MA-6. Both are close races.


This is one of our most important fights this year. It is a toss up race that is really neck and neck. Winning a major Senate seat race in Romney's own state would be really, really sweet.

Elizabeth Warren is a great candidate. Check out her profile on Democracy for America's website.


This is a close House race in Massachusetts. Holding onto this seat helps us in Congress.

Now let's turn to one of the most important swing states in the country. We have been fighting anti-union extremism here for 2 years now, and we have been winning several recall elections on the state level. Paul Ryan comes from Wisconsin. Wisconsin has a strong progressive, pro-labor, pro-farmer background that could turn so solidly against the Republicans their heads would spin. Democrats haven't fought hard enough for this state's heart and soul. The Rom picked Ryan because they want to make us fight for Wisconsin. Well let's turn the tables. We WILL win Wisconsin for Obama. I have no doubt about that. But let's make our win go deeper. Let's win every close Congressional seat and let's defend our new lead in the state senate.

My family first moved to Wisconsin (Milwaukee) after coming from Europe. So I feel some personal, family connection to winning in Wisconsin. My visits to Wisconsin (pretty much Madison for conferences) have been very enjoyable experiences. I would love to see Wisconsin follow its strong progressive history right about now and solidly reject the Rom/Ry advocacy of returning to failed Bush policies. Here are the key races:


The tea party is really aiming for this seat. We need to defend it if we want to hold onto the Senate. We also need to show Ryan that his greedy and cruel vision for Wisconsin and America is a failure and that his own state prefers the more progressive vision of Tammy Baldwin.


Rob Zerban is running for Paul Ryan's own seat. I say lets fight the right on their own territory. If we can give Ryan a run for his (ample) money right in his own district it will send a clear message how sick America is of his extremist views.


This is a key House race. This is a real chance to pick up a seat from the Republicans.

Patrick Kreitlow has been endorsed by the Intl. Association of Firefighters, Steelworkers Union, National Farmers Union, NARAL Pro-Choice America Intl. Brotherhood of Teamsters, AFL-CIO, League of Conservation Voters, Planned Parenthood Action Fund Sierra Club, United Auto Workers, WI Federation of Nurses, and WI Alliance for Retired American, among others.


This is another pick up opportunity for Democrats in the House.

Jamie Wall has been endorsed by Green Bay Firefighters, the Alliance of Retired Americans, the Teamsters, Human Rights Campaign, American Federation of Teachers- Wisconsin, American Nurses Association, United Auto Workers, and many others.


Jessica King is one of my favorite Democrats. And she has been for several years.

Jessica King is one of the best things to happen to the Wisconsin State Senate, winning one of the hard fought recall elections against the right wing extremist Republicans. Jessica King is intelligent and very capable and will make an excellent State Senator.

She has been endorsed by Progressive Majority and is one of America's best progressives. Let's make sure she wins re-election.


Jennifer Shilling is another Progressive Majority endorsed candidate who won one of the recall elections. And this is another seat worth defending.


Bob Wirch was one of the Democrats targeted by Republicans for recall...but we beat them, defending Bob's Senate seat. Let's show him we still have his back. Bib Wirch is also endorsed by Progressive Majority.


Dave Hansen was also one of the Democrats targeted by Republicans for recall...but again, we beat them. Let's show him we still have his back. Dave Hansen is also endorsed by Progressive Majority.

NOW I want to turn to the state that elected Obama to the Senate: Illinois. It would be great to sweep the close races in Rom's Massachusetts and Ry's Wisconsin. But it would ALSO be sweet to sweep the many close races in President Obama's Illinois. Here they are (sorry Biden...don't find close races in Delaware):


This is a seat we can pick up from the Greedy Oil Party. But it's going to be close.


This is a close race and one that we absolutely have to win to make gains in Congress...particularly if we want Congress to start accepting global warming as an issue we need to deal with.

Bill Foster is one of my favorite candidates. He was a renowned scientist turned businessman who has already served in Congress. It is time to send him back to Congress. We need more people with Bill's intelligence, practicality and scientific outlook.

Bill Foster has been endorsed by the Associated Firefighters of Illinois, AFL-CIO State Federation of Illinois, Illinois Federation of Teachers, Amalgamated Transit Union Local #308, and many others.


This is another very close race and an important pick up opportunity for Democrats.

Dr. David Gill has been endorsed by the United Auto Workers, AFL-CIO, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Sierra Club, United Mine Workers of America, Democracy for America, Progressive Democrats of America, National Nurses United, and many others. He is a true progressive and would be VERY valuable to have in Congress.


Captain Tammy Duckworth was a Black Hawk helicopter pilot fighting in Iraq. She lost both legs and part of the use of her right arm when her helicopter was shot down, and was awarded the Purple Heart for her combat injuries.

President Obama appointed Captain Duckworth to be Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs where she sought to improve the standard of care for Vets. She oversaw VA's effort to end Veteran homelessness and lead initiatives for female Vets and increased accessibility and accountability with the new Office of Online Communications.

We have a REALLY good shot at picking up this seat.


This is a seat we could lose. If we want to make gains in the House, we need to defend it. The Greedy Oil Party is really trying to take this seat from us.

Bill Enyart is the former head of the Illinois National Guard. He is pro-labor and would be a committed Congressman.


This is a close race but one we have a good shot of winning.

Brad Schneider has been endorsed by the Associated Firefighters of Illinois, United Auto Workers, League of Conservation Voters, NARAL, Human RIghts campaign, United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners, and many others.

Help me win these critical races and in the process embarrass the Greedy Oil Party.

Again, you can donate through my visit my Embarrass Romney/Ryan 2012 Act Blue website. And I will try to match at least partly the first three donations made.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Flashback to the depths of the Bush years...

At the depths of the Bush years, when the economy was starting its nose dive, when censorship became common, when our freedoms were compromised routinely by Republicans, when Bush and Cheney let Osama bin Laden go free to dance on American graves...Eric Idle of Monty Python came up with this little number protesting Bush/Cheney attacks on American freedoms:

To anyone who complains about Barack Obama, let's remember how awful the Republicans are when they have power. Censorship, a ruined economy, failed foreign policy and self-righteous attacks on basic American freedoms are all Republicans have to offer us.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Former Skeptic Now Believes in Anthropogenic Global Warming

I am sure it will take no time for the Greedy Oil Party and the Denial Lobby to attack this man, but one of the more highly respected anthropogenic global warming skeptics now is a believer. From BBC News:

In a US newspaper opinion piece, Prof Richard Muller says: "Call me a converted sceptic."

Muller leads the Berkeley Earth Project, which is using new methods and some new data to investigate the claims made by other climate researchers...

The project received funds from sources that back organisations lobbying against action on climate change.

Their latest study, released early on Monday (GMT), concludes that the average temperature of the Earth's land has risen by 1.5C (2.7F) over the past 250 years.

The team argues that the good correspondence between the new temperature record and historical data on CO2 emissions suggests human activity is "the most straightforward explanation" for the warming

This new study that SUPPORTS anthropogenic global warming was partly funded by the KOCH BROTHERS. It was clearly intended to find every opportunity to discredit anthropogenic global warming. 10 scientists were gathered for the study. Nine out of those 10 signed on to the conclusions that global warming is happening and is caused largely by human activity.

Will the Koch Brothers now attack their own study?

Here is the abstract from the KOCH BROTHERS FUNDED study:

We report an estimate of the Earth’s average land surface temperature for the period 1753 to 2011. To address issues of potential station selection bias, we used larger sampling of stations than had prior studies. For the period post 1880, our estimate is similar to those previously reported by other groups, although we report smaller error uncertainties. The land temperature rise from the 1950s decade to the 2000s decade is 0.87 ± 0.05 oC (95% confidence). Both maximum and minimum daily temperatures have increased during the last century. Diurnal variations decreased from 1900 to 1987, and then increased; this increase is significant but not understood. The period of 1753 to 1850 is marked by sudden drops in land surface temperature that are coincident with known volcanism; the response function is approximately 1.5 ± 0.5 oC per 100 Tg of atmospheric sulfate. This volcanism, combined with a simple proxy for anthropogenic effects (logarithm of the CO2 concentration), can account for much of the variation in the land surface temperature record; the fit is not improved by the addition of a solar forcing term. Thus, for this very simple model, solar forcing does not appear to contribute to the observed global warming of the past 250 years; the entire change can be accounted for by a sum of volcanism and anthropogenic proxies. The residual variations include interannual and multi-decadal variability very similar to that of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO).

Let's look back a bit...for awhile Rush Limbaugh was touting an absurd theory that global warming was CAUSED by volcanism. His argument was that the carbon that Pinatubo put in the atmosphere was responsible for global warming...ignoring the fact that volcanism LOWERS temperatures. As far as I am aware Rush Limbaugh, perhaps due to drug induced amnesia, forgot to correct his error here.

There also was denialist "documentary" called the Global Warming Swindle where they try to use statements made by global warming skeptic Carl Wunsch to mean things Wunsch didn't intend. This led to the main scientist the "documentary" was quoting going public to angrily refute their claims. To quote from a statement skeptic Carl Wunsch made on Real Climate:

I believe that climate change is real, a major threat, and almost surely has a major human-induced component...

The science of climate change remains incomplete. Some elements are so firmly based on well-understood principles, or for which the observational record is so clear, that most scientists would agree that they are almost surely true (adding CO2 to the atmosphere is dangerous; sea level will continue to rise,...). Other elements remain more uncertain, but we as scientists in our roles as informed citizens believe society should be deeply concerned about their possibility: failure of US midwestern precipitation in 100 years in a mega-drought; melting of a large part of the Greenland ice sheet, among many other examples.

I am on record in a number of places complaining about the over-dramatization and unwarranted extrapolation of scientific facts. Thus the notion that the Gulf Stream would or could "shut off" or that with global warming Britain would go into a "new ice age" are either scientifically impossible or so unlikely as to threaten our credibility...They also are huge distractions from more immediate and realistic threats..

In the part of the "Swindle" film where I am describing the fact that the ocean tends to expel carbon dioxide where it is warm, and to absorb it where it is cold, my intent was to explain that warming the ocean could be dangerous---because it is such a gigantic reservoir of carbon. By its placement in the film, it appears that I am saying that since carbon dioxide exists in the ocean in such large quantities, human influence must not be very important --- diametrically opposite to the point I was making --- which is that global warming is both real and threatening in many different ways, some unexpected...

And this from the top scientist the denial lobby tried to quote to support their claims. And he ends up refuting them.

Let's make this clear: there is NO SCIENTIFIC SUPPORT for the Greedy Oil Party and the Denial Lobby's attacks on the scientific theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming.

Now can we move on from right wing denial and start DOING SOMETHING???

Here is a diary I wrote last year on alternative energy, based on an IPCC report and including ways you can purchase alternative energy options for your home (my wife and I have been doing it for about a decade!)

Here is a diary on diet and the environment, focusing mainly on carbon footprint of various foods.

We also need more scientists in Congress...check out the top two candidates in this astronaut and a scientist. We really need folks like them in Congress! MANY more, but let's start with Jose Hernandez and Bill Foster.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Nydia Velazquez for Congress: Critical NY-7 Primary June 26th

On June 26th one of our best Congressional reps will face a primary against a corrupt lackey whose only claim to fame is being loyal to a local party boss who is being investigated by the FBI.

The race is the primary for the new NY-7 Congressional district. It pits current liberal Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, who I know personally, against corrupt machine lackey Erik Dilan.

Nydia Velazquez has been endorsed by every liberal, progressive and reform organization in Brooklyn. Dilan has been endorsed by the Vito Lopez machine, one of the most corrupt political machines in the country. Problem is, the machine brings in money, which means it is quite possible that if we don't work hard in this primary we will see a good, honest progressive replaced by a corrupt, more conservative crony of one of the most corrupt politicians in America.

I see a lot of this from the inside because I am a Democratic County Committee member in Brooklyn, so I see the Vito Lopez machine in action. And it isn't pretty. Vito Lopez backed Harold Ford against Gillibrand. Vito Lopez has refused to let Democrats run against Republicans in Brooklyn. Vito Lopez has several ongoing investigations focused on his corruption. And I know people who have experienced outright thuggish behavior from the machine directed at them.

Nydia Velazquez is not only one of our most liberal members of Congress, but she is also among the most honest and has been a thorn in the side of Vito Lopez for years. He is gunning for her, using crony Dilan as his tool to get at her, and we need to defend her.

The primary is June 26th. In a highly unusual move, President Obama has openly endorsed Nydia Velazquez in this primary. Usually he stays neutral. But the local party boss doesn't seem to be on Obama's good side, so Obama has endorsed Nydia.

I have talked to Nydia many times. I talked to her in 2006 and 2008 when Democrats won big and her enthusiasm for her job was contagious. She was excited to get to work in Washington and push for small businesses and the working class. I also talked with her in 2010 when the Billionaire Koch Brothers funded teabagger "revolt" brought in a bunch of right wing extremists into Congress. Her enthusiasm for her job was dampened, but she was still determined to hold the line for small businesses and the working class as much as she could.

Nydia has also been endorsed by the Communications Workers of America, Lambda Independent Democrats, Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (disclosure: my wife is on the board of CBID), United Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, Teamsters, 1199 SEIU and New Kings Democrats. She is wonderful and deserves re-election. Dilan is supported by corrupt Party Boss Vito Lopez.

In a local primary very few voters show up. That means the machine starts with an advantage because if there is one thing Vito Lopez can do, it is get out his team in primaries. It is all he cares about. So even with Obama behind her, Nydia is at a disadvantage because the machine will get out their voters while the progressive and reform organizations are notoriously bad at getting out their people.

Here is Nydia at the Sotomayor confirmation hearings:

Here is Nydia speaking out for marriage equality:

Here is Nydia questioning bank CEOs in Congress:

She sets them up then throws her hard ball around 3:20.

Here is Nydia speaking out on the Public Health Option:

Read more about Nydia: here are her answers to the very detailed questionnaire Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats sends to all candidates. (PDF)

Help me support Nydia Velazquez for Congress. She is kick ass, she is liberal, she is honest and she deserves our support.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cold Remidies: What Works and What Doesn't

Cold and flu season has begun yet again. And people take a whole slew of medications, some with nasty side effects, to try and get themselves through it. What works and what doesn't? As a biologist and as a parent, I have paid close attention to this topic and want to share some of my conclusions.

First of all beware of any "natural" or "homeopathic" remedies. It isn't that none of them are helpful...but there is absolutely no regulation of them and they have no obligation to back up their claims with facts. A lot of these remedies are basically based on nothing with no facts, no evidence and often just plain made up claims to see what used to be called "snake oil": basically a quack remedy.

An example is Echinacea. This was touted some years back as a hugely effective "natural" cold cure. But when people actually studied it they found it had no more effectiveness than a sugar pill. There is no evidence that Echinacea works. Back then I tried it and found it didn't help me at all. And when the scientific evidence came out I knew didn't help me because it doesn't do anything for a cold.

But it isn't just "natural" remedies you need to be suspicious of. Many cold medicines have so-called "cough suppressants." Supposedly these calm your cough. Again I never found they worked that well, or at best inconsistently. Well, turns out actual scientific studies show these over-the-counter "cough suppressants" are about as effective as Echinacea...which means not at all. This was research published in a top scientific journal, and yet we are still being sold "cough suppressants" which are basically ineffective. PLUS they have nasty side effects. My advice is don't buy a cold medication that contains a supposed "cough suppressant."

So what does work?

Cold medication contain three basic ingredients that DO work: analgesics, decongestants and antihistamines.

Analgesics are basically pain relievers. Some can also reliever fever and inflammation. There are three basic types: aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen. All of them work. Aspirin has the side effect of irritating the stomach and so isn't used so much any more. Acetaminophen works well but has a major problem in that its effective dose is awfully close to its dangerous dose. Many people who overuse cold medication wind up overdosing on acetaminophen. This can destroy your liver. It is fine to take a medication with acetaminophen, but NEVER take more than the recommended dose. The best analgesic is ibuprofen. It is the most effective, relieves the most symptoms, and can be taken in relatively high doses. For any kind of pain relief or illness, ibuprofen should be part of your medication. Not only does it relieve pain, but it inhibits something called prostaglandins. These are chemicals your body makes that are part of the pain response and are one of the main reasons you just plain feel awful when you have a cold or flu. Taking ibuprofen won't cure your cold or flu but will make you feel much better. It also, like aspirin and acetaminophen, lowers fever. That is particularly critical in children. I remember once when my son had a fever. We had medicated him but we were out and it wore off before we could get home. He suddenly became very listless and miserable, and I felt his forehead and could tell his fever had shot up. We went right to the nearest store and bought some children's ibuprofen and gave it to him. Within an hour he was feeling much better and his fever came down. This isn't just about making him feel better either. Fevers, back before analgesics, could kill people, particularly children. In the old days, the level of fever my kid had that day would have been very dangerous. Today, with analgesics, fevers don't kill people anymore except in very rare cases.

So, ibuprofen is one of the best medications you can take when you have a cold or flu. Or, for that matter, almost any kind of pain. But you can even boost its effectiveness. If you take a regular or below recommended (NEVER above recommended) dose of acetaminophen along with a regular or even say 1 and a half dose of ibuprofen, the two do something called synergize. They work far far better together than apart. Together they relieve pain, fever and that general ill feeling amazingly well. Since most cold medicines for some reason use acetaminophen, then taking a regular dose of a cold remedy along with some ibuprofen can really help you. Just avoid the cold remedies with so-called "cough suppressants."

Decongestants are kind of a mixed blessing I feel. They basically dry you out. This means if you have a stuffy nose, that will go away for awhile. But it doesn't really clear you up permanently. It just dries you out temporarily. As long as you are still sick, that stuffiness will come back all the worse once the decongestant wears off. And while it is effective you feel dried out, which in itself can be irritating. Still, if I have something I really have to do that day, I take a decongestant. Furthermore, if you need to be awake, cold medicines with decongestants tend to make you slightly speedy and this can counteract the drowsy effects of the next medication: antihistamines.

I mentioned above prostaglandins above as one of the chemicals in your body that just plain make you feel awful. Histamines are another kind of "bad-feeling" chemical. That watery eyed, stuffy, allergic feeling is caused by histamines. Antihistamines inhibit this, making you feel better. They work well. But they also make you sleepy. This is great if you can stay home in bed. If you can, do so and take an antihistamine along with some ibuprofen and acetaminophen and go to bed. Do this for a day or two and your cold or flu will clear up MUCH faster because you are giving your body a chance to fight it off. That combination is your best bet for over the counter drugs. Check the packaging. If it has acetaminophen and an antihistamine, take it along with a separate dose of ibuprofen. By the way, for all of these go for generics. They are cheaper and just as effective. Just check the label for what the medication contains and what dose. Some generics are lower dosage, but most are the same medicine, same dosage, just cheaper than name brands.

Avoid antibiotics if you have a cold or flu. They don't do ANYTHING for cold or flu (which are caused by viruses, not bacteria) and can actually make you worse. That said, sometimes when you have a cold or flu you get what is called a "secondary infection." THESE can often be treated with antibiotics. But don't take an antibiotic UNLESS a doctor tells you specifically you have a secondary infection. One way you can tell if you have a bacterial infection (which would require an antibiotic) rather than a viral infection is if you are producing a greenish liquid. For example, an eye infection that oozes a clear or white liquid is probably viral. If the liquid is green it is probably bacterial. This has to do with what kind of white blood cells respond to the infection (a cell called a neutrophil produces the green color). In general though don't take an antibiotic unless there is evidence of a bacterial infection. It can actually make things worse. Antibiotics are way overused in America and it leads to major problems.

What else? Drink lots of water, tea, juice, etc. These mostly keep you hydrated. Your body gets dehydrated when sick because it is under so much stress and you probably aren't eating and drinking as much. So make an effort to drink these things.

What about zinc? Evidence I have seen suggests it works for colds (not flu?) if taken with the very early symptoms. It makes it harder for the virus to actually infect the next cell. Taking a medication with Zinc can help if taken at the right time.

Vitamin C? Evidence shows that taking vitamin C, particularly if you are taking it before infection, can reduce both severity and duration of a cold. It isn't a cure all, and don't take megadoses. But a regular dose of vitamin C can help you avoid and keep colds to a minimum.

I have found that the EmergenC Immune Defense packets, if I start taking one or two a day either at the FIRST sign I may be getting sick or when people around me are sick, helps to keep me from getting very sick. It has both vitamin C and Zinc and I think these are what do it...the rest of its ingredients may well be just window dressing. For example, the elderberry and hibiscus extracts in it probably do nothing at all. But it is a convenient way to not only get the vitamin C and Zinc that WILL help, but also, since it is taken in water, it can help to keep you hydrated. I am not so fond of the taste so I dilute it down a lot when I drink it, really making it a chance to hydrate. I think this combination of vitamin C, zinc and proper hydration help my body keep the cold at least partly at bay.

Another thing I think is important is controlling mold in your home. This may sound unrelated, but mold creates a constant irritation to your lungs. The combination of a cold or flu and the presence of mold in your apartment can create a situation where you get a persistent cough that won't really go away until you get away from the mold. It is like the combination of a cold or flu and mold puts your body's immune system into overdrive and it starts in a small way (sometimes large) hurting your own body. You almost become permanently sick. This is an oversimplification, but there is evidence that it is roughly true. I have experienced this personally. When my apartment was, over several years, experiencing leaks we had persistent mold problems. I considered it mostly cosmetic. But I also noticed that any time I got a cold it just would not go away completely until I visited a drier climate (which would mean less mold). Then it would go away until the next cold. By now we have dealt with all the leaks and the mold. Once those were dealt with I stopped getting the persistent coughs. It could be coincidence, but from what I have learned it probably is connected. To find out how to combat mold in your home, read my article on mold and mildew.

Colds and flu are a fact of life. They are viruses that evolve very quickly, so our immune responses grow ineffective against them. Antibiotics do nothing against them. So mostly what you are doing is relieving the symptoms of the illness so you feel better, keeping fever down because that can actually be dangerous, and giving your body a chance, through hydration, rest (that is one way antihistamines can help), vitamin C and zinc, to fight off the virus on its own.

Always remember that if a cold or flu lasts too long, or your fever gets really high, SEE A DOCTOR. When one illness hits you it can make you more susceptible to other, worse illnesses and those can be serious if not treated.

If you take nothing else away from this article always remember, NEVER take more than the recommended dose of acetaminophen, ibuprofen is the best analgesic, ibuprofen and acetaminophen taken together in modest doses work extra effectively, and don't bother ever with so-called "cough suppressants." Antibiotics don't help a cold or flu, though if the doctor finds evidence of a bacterial secondary infection, THEN it can help. Also antihistamines work well but they will put you to sleep unless also taken with a decongestant.

Also flu shots DO help. Not always, since the flu virus evolves quickly and the vaccine is designed based on the previous year's viruses, but it does help, sometimes quite a bit. I advise getting them.

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Fighting Harder than Ever in Wisconsin

Just recently got back from a great conference in Madison, Wisconsin. The conference coincidentally took place mere days after the recall elections we all were I kind of wondered how the results of the recalls would affect my mood on the trip. The conference itself was great. Excellent science, good beer, and time between talks to relax on the terrace at the university overlooking the lake. Weather was perfect (and this is coming from someone who grew up in Southern California so has a high standard for perfect weather). And I have to say my work was amazingly well received by most of the people I talked to, though one person seemed to take quite a dislike to our work. But overall a great trip. It was quite interesting to be there, in the very place where Walker has done so much damage to middle and working class Americans and where so many from so many backgrounds came out last year to protest his anti-American policies. Below are some impressions and a call to action. Because Wisconsin is no different from any state out there. We all have our tea party right wing extremists (one just won a special State Senate election here in NYC!) and we all have our good progressives. What we need to do, as politically active, moderate to liberal leaning Democrats, is fight tooth an nail to defend each progressive out there and to defeat the worst right wing extremists we can. And you know what? Wisconsin has been doing a pretty good job of it, has forged some great alliances in the process, and, if we keep our eyes on the ball, we can continue to push back to the progressive side in Wisconsin. I flew into Madison from La Guardia airport. Always a depressing thing to fly through La Guardia. But the first cheery thing of the day came when I reached the TSA dude checking everyone's boarding pass and ID. He was clearly doing his best to be friendly to everyone, knowing full well how irritating the whole process was for everyone. He looked at me, saw my "We are the 99%" T-shirt. He smiled and asked if I protested with Occupy Wall Street (showing his knowledge of the movement). I said no, but I was a supporter and knew people who were there. I also added I had been too busy to get down there. He smiled, nodded and passed me through. No sign of outright support, but very definitely no sign of hostility. I got the feeling he understood what OWS was all about and at least gave it some credence if not outright support. A good start to the trip...or at least as good as you can expect flying through La Guardia! Delta Airlines kind of sucks. Now it was the best flight I could find at a reasonable price. My airfare is covered by our grant because it is a conference and I was presenting, but I still try to find the cheapest reasonable airfare even though it isn't my money. I had been able to find the last reasonably priced, direct flight that got in before the conference started with a return flight that left after the conference was over. Most other people I talked to had a MUCH harder time getting in, some of them missing big chunks of the conference due to airline delays. One thing I noticed was that the result of the new rules where everyone had to pay for their first piece of checked luggage is everyone now tries to shove it all into carry on...which means carry on is now so overloaded they have to take extra time, delaying the flight, to get people to check luggage. Yet another example of the airlines making a stupid policy change that just makes matters worse. But I got there in one piece and with less hassle than many others who went. Then I had to get to my hotel. Normally I try taking public transportation. That's what I did both ways in NYC (hey...the Q train from Brooklyn to Queens, then the M60 bus to the airport...not really that tough I found out!). But I couldn't find a way to figure that out going from the Madison airport to Madison proper, so I grabbed a cab. I am no fan of taxis. Now taxi drivers in NYC have a really tough time and I sympathize with them. But they also are among the rudest and most crazy drivers around, so I kind of steer away from them, no pun intended. But the cabbie that picked me up in Madison was just the right guy for me to meet at that moment. We started talking. Turns out he works for Union Cab, a worker owned taxi cooperative in Madison. I highly recommend them! Everyone I talked to who used Union Cab found them very friendly, quick and safe. My driver was very eager to discuss the recalls. He was really depressed that Walker had won the recall election. He told me about the height of the protests when his taxi company was in the thick of it. He had already had quite a life. Coming from Alaska, working for the coast guard (including a stint on Governor's Island in NYC!), and winding up in Madison. But it was clear the height of the protests against Walker's anti-working class and anti-middle class extremist agenda had made an impression. He really thought they would win. I pointed out that from my more distant perspective I had been amazed that over two recall elections they had flipped the Wisconsin state senate and and built quite a coalition to boot. He seemed pleased and said, "Yeah, I guess I always knew it wouldn't be easy and we'd have to keep fighting." was never easy and WILL never be easy...and we have to always keep fighting. I got to my hotel, checked in...then realized how starving I was. The conference schedule had been ambiguous about whether dinner that night was included, plus I needed a moment to get my bearings. So I decided to pay for a meal myself and headed for a pizza place that had done its best to feed as many protesters last year as possible: Ian's Pizza. I had ordered several pizzas for the protesters through Ian's and wanted to try them for myself. Now I love thin crust pizza. And NYC is pretty arrogant about its thin crust pizza. But honestly most NYC pizza is soggy...though there are some excellent exceptions. I am okay with a slice of NYC pizza, but most places are just not that good. Cheap sauce, cheap cheese and saturated in grease (not completely a bad thing, mind you). Now when they are only charging a buck a slice I can accept it as a good deal. But when they are charging more like $2.50 a slice with no topping, forget it. Now I will admit there are some exceptions. Around the corner from me in Brooklyn is South Brooklyn Pizza...$4 a slice which is too much, but it is REALLY good pizza made with top ingredients and they usually have wonderful roasted garlic and marinated peppers for free to go on top. So sometimes I splurge. If they could just lower their price a bit I'd go more often. Ian's Pizza in Madison had perfect thin crust. not at all soggy like most NYC pizza tends to be but really crispy. I like that. Most of the pizzas offered were pretty elaborate and mostly starch and cheese oriented...not much in the way of simple toppings. And the toppings were a bit over done: LOTS of cholesterol laden ingredients piled on top of each other. Good quality and pretty darned tasty for a decent price. Overall high marks. But I did wish they had at least SOME simpler toppings. I probably could have ordered something but I just wanted to try a couple of slices of what ever they had up front. Overall I definitely recommend them. After two slices of excellent but a bit heavy and overwhelming pizza, I headed over to the conference. I had forgotten how great the University of Wisconsin terrace was in nice weather. Immediately struck by how calm and soothing (ignoring the not so good band down on the stage below) the whole place was. And there was of course some good beer being served. Then I got down to business with the first night's science. Won't go much into the science except there was some real groundbreaking stuff coming out, including some amazing new stuff from an already Nobel Prize winning lab. And once you are sucked into a conference, often you don't have much more time to see the town you are in. Some friends of mine went out to a bar the second night of the conference after we had had a few pitchers with a couple of professors on the terrace at the university (believe it or not, some serious science was indeed discussed as well!), but I opted to go to bed at that point. One thing that struck me was unlike almost any other conference I have been to, the morale was overall low. These are people doing cutting edge work on cancer, aging, reproduction, nutrition, etc. Yet I can't tell you how many people were demoralized by the massive budget cuts the Republicans have been inflicting and how many labs are faced with maybe having to pack up and give up the science. This is America, folks, and we aren't able to keep funding the good research? This really is a top conference, not something where crap is presented. But the Republican anti-science crusade has started taking its toll on the morale of our best scientists. If we want to keep up our competitive edge, that is a problem folks. Eisenhower would be absolutely horrified by the way the Republican Party has been gutting science. And yet despite that the quality of the science and the intensity of the interaction did help to bolster the morale of even the most demoralized scientist I talked to. Now none of us can keep up our morale if Republicans keep cutting science funding. I gotta say I consider leaving science from time to time as it gets harder and harder to do the work we all LOVE doing. But at least briefly we were encouraged by the excellent work our colleagues were presenting. And let me tell you between the technological advances and the brilliant minds that are in this field, some really big jumps are being long as the funding is there. In the end I was sad to leave. Could have stayed a few more days if I'd had the time and my own funds to fund it. But I headed back to NYC and the awful humidity and the crowds. Now, let's get back to the politics. Wisconsin IS and will REMAIN a key battleground for MANY reasons. When Walker took office it was a disaster for working and middle class Americans from coast to coast. And he has done his best to ruin the best America has to offer. But that is what the Republican Party has become! The Republican Party no longer has ANYTHING to do with the likes of Eisenhower who would slap Walker silly if he were alive today. Wisconsin is about how the Republicans are ruining America and how regular Americans, including students, taxi drivers, blue collar workers and farmers, are getting together to say "FUCK YOU" to the Republican extremists and their billionaire backers. And we are part of that fight. Each and every one of us. Because what is happening in Wisconsin is happening everywhere, and if the Republicans have their way it will mean a ruined economy, lower salaries, reduced benefits, longer working hours, a ruined infrastructure, and the cutting edge of science moving overseas to places that actually VALUE progress. Wisconsin saw what Walker was doing and an amazing cross section of the state stood up to him. And they formed a coalition that still exists to this day, if we don't start ignoring it. AND together they flipped the Wisconsin state senate. Good for them. And I told that taxi driver how proud I was of them. And I think that made HIM more proud of himself than he had been. It never was going to be easy and we HAVE to keep fighting. Those who know my diaries know that I always push people to take the next step, to hold the next line, to take some action. So here is my current plug for what we can do to push back against the right wing extremists...because if we don't, well, they win. Period. And I for one will not sit back and let that happen. First and foremost we have to remember the fights we DID win and hold on to that ground. There are four state senators I particularly wanted to highlight. All are incumbents BECAUSE we either defended them against right wing attacks or we won recall elections against right wing incumbents. All four of these candidates are endorsed by Progressive Majority and are really kick ass Democrats. First and foremost we have to have these folks' backs. From Progressive Majority:
Robert Wirch Wisconsin State Senate - District 22 2012 Incumbent State Senator Robert Wirch has served four terms in the Senate, representing District 22, which includes Kenosha and the surrounding communities. Earlier in his career, he served two terms as a state Representative. Prior to his election Bob was a factory worker and union steelworker and served on the Kenosha County Board of Supervisors. Bob has been a top advocate for working families during his time in the legislature. He authored legislation to prevent companies that receive state contracts from sending Wisconsin jobs overseas and defended workers in Wisconsin from Scott Walker's attacks. He defeated a Repbulican led recall in 2011 and it is vital that we reelect Senator Wirch in November Dave Hansen Wisconsin State Senate - District 30 2012 Incumbent State Senator Dave Hansen has served three terms in the legislature, representing District 30, which includes Green Bay and surrounding communities. Prior to his election, Dave worked for Green Bay's Department of Public Works as a truck driver and was a Teamsters union steward. He also served on the Brown County Board from 1996-2002. Dave authored the pay equity legislation that requires businesses to pay women the same as men for the same work and led the fight to protect our natural resources by voting to reduce mercury pollution, preserve our wetlands, and prevent the diversion of water from the Great Lakes to other states. After defeating a Republican led recall in 2011, Senator Hansen is facing a conservative challenger that must be defeated to protect working families in Wisconsin. Jessica King Wisconsin State Senate - District 18 2012 Incumbent Jessica King was born and raised in Fond du Lac County. She put herself through college with hard work and scholarships, earning academic and leadership honors. Jessica opened her own small business and in 2006 she was elected to the Oshkosh City Council. In 2011, she defeated Randy Hopper in a recall election. Now she is up for reelection and we need to make sure she is reelected in November. Jennifer Shilling Wisconsin State Senate - District 32 2012 Incumbent Senator Jennifer Shilling has deep ties to her community. She was elected as a La Crosse County Supervisor in 1990 and to the State Assembly in 2000. Jennifer defeated incumbent Repblican Senator Dan Kapanke in a recall election and has continued to fight for Wisconsin's working families in the Senate. We need a majority in the State Senate to prevent Scott Walker and conservatives from passing anymore harmful laws. We need to support Senator Shilling in 2012.
These are great folks and we fought hard for each and every one of them last year and believe me the right wing Koch backed extremists will be aiming for them. But I also believe in building infrastructure for winning. We need to remember elections are won often by local folks working their butts off in their local districts. I have an ActBlue site that I have used both to push for specific candidates, but also to help out some local county Dem organizations in key districts. This can be swing counties (always good to target) but also some redder counties that are still worth trying to get out the Dem vote because cutting the margin of loss in those counties will help win larger swing districts overall...and make it more likely we defeat Walker the next time. I believe in fighting in EVERY district. Please help build the infrastructure Dems need in Wisconsin to stop and reverse the right wing extremist agenda that is killing America. Finally we can't forget that the right wing attacks on unions is much wider than Wisconsin. In particular I feel we need to fight back hard in four states: Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. I have another act blue page dedicated to defending unions across four states. Join me in fighting the Koch brothers in those four states. And don't tell me we can't win because the ONLY way you are guaranteed to lose is if you don't fight. I grew up being told America would never be ready for a black President. Well, I never did believe everything I was told. BACK TO PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRAT NEWSLETTER MAIN PAGE Return to I Had a Thought