Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ban Happy Meals? Oh no!

Ban McDonald's Happy Meals! Isn't that taking government intrusion a little too far?

Not when you read the news further to learn county officials in California's Silicon Valley want to ban the toy giveaways accompanying restuarant meals of more than 486 calories, more that 600 mg of salt, or high levels of sugar or fat. Photo credit:Inhabitat.com

I am starting a new feature on this blog that I'll call SchwabBlog: Schwab reads the news. The endangered Happy Meals sparked my interest, but other stories in today's newspaper also caught my eye: on Colorado Republicans emulating Democratic fund-raising tactics; on the action in the U.S. Senate yesterday over financial reform; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's new interest in American workers; and, finally, on chocolate being identified as a possible source of depression. I thought I'd jot down a few short takes on each:

First, Happy Meals. You would think government has gone too far when it starts keeping your kids from eating a favorite food that just happens to come with the day's hottest junk toy, and serves as an inexpensive way to keep the little ones entertained for hours and hours.

But then you read calorie and salt content dictates the delinkage and you realize there is some sense behind the proposal. Obesity is a national problem, and our kids are not immune.

So, go for it Santa Clara County! It can't hurt anyone but big corporations like McDonald's, and since McDonald's has been ruled a person who enjoys free speech by the U.S. Supreme Court, the elected officials who vote for such a ban will eventually pay the piper, no doubt.
And then our kids can go back to being happily fat.

But how can food researchers go after chocolate? I was depressed for many years before my last divorce and all that time I loved chocolate ice cream. Only now, five years later, do I find myself buying butter pecan, Spumoni, and vanilla a lot more frequently than I used to.

And what about Colorado Republicans? I knew they were spooked by the Democratic Gang of Four millionaires who funded the campaigns of enough state House and Senate candidates to give control of the legislature to the Dems back in 2004. But I never would have guessed the old stick-in-the-muds of the establishment would ever become copy cats! If you like the two-party system in America and believe bipartisanship is necessary to the success of the nation, all you can really respond to the GOP is: Welcome back to the party! It's time you got back into the game.

Having said that, the Senate action on financial reform makes sense. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid forced a vote on limiting debate of the Democratic proposal to remake the nation's financial system, and then voted against his own motion in order to bring the topic up again after seeing it was going down by a few votes. Essentially, he gained time for proponents of reform to craft a bipartisan compromise, and yet put pressure on Republicans to sign on to some kind of reform bill. After all, those Repubs don't want to be seen as upholding the rights of fraudsters on Wall Street to rip off the American taxpayer. And bipartisanship is good; right?

And speaking of mixing it up politically. When was the last time you heard of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce stepping up for the American worker? Thomas Donohue, CEO of the chamber, must have choked a little in a speech he gave in Denver yesterday when, according to the Denver Post, he said: "Americans have a long history of coming together to tackle a problem."
Then described the pro-business chamber's plans to help create 20 million jobs nationally. Anybody catch the naturally red-face Donohue blushing as he said that? You can bet they won't be union jobs.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Love Arizona or leave it; come to Colorado

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the toughest anti-immigration law in the nation on Friday, and Arizona should be allowed to suffer the consequences.

Hispanic Americans should leave the state and come to Colorado to work, to grow prosperous small businesses and to raise families where their children have a chance to go to college.

Make no mistake. The state law is anti-immigrant, not just aimed at illegal immigrants.

Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, black Americans from such countries as quake-ravaged Haiti or politically repressive Cuba are now at risk for pat-downs in Arizona. None should actually choose to live there under such conditions.

America is the land of the free, and freedom of movement in this country for more than 200 years has not required a show of papers to cross the street.

Colorado was known as the state that had passed the most restrictive anti-immigrant law in the nation just a few years ago. Tom Tancredo should move to Arizona; he'd be more comfortable there now.

Phoenix has been an admirable economic competitor to Denver over the past 20 years, but no longer. Who will make its beds? Pick its fruit and plant its roses? Build its roads and apartment buildings?

I hail Arizona's closing its doors to America. Colorado will benefit.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Speed kills, change comes in good time

The local news today announces how change -- bipartisan and united for the common good -- is supposed to work in these United States.

"Ritter backs change in teacher appraisal," the Denver Post's banner headline reads. The story under it tells how the lame-duck governor has signed on to a bill in the legislature that would change the way Colorado teachers are being evaluated for tenure.

The bill is opposed by teachers' unions, of course. Change frightens everyone, especially on a political stage (witness the year-long fight for health-care reform in this country, the continued bank opposition to financial reform, Taliban assassinations of officials in Kandahar, Afghanistan).

But progress happens, and fear will not stop it.

Such is the secret of Obama rule in America today. The president doesn't back down from getting the most substantial health-care reform in the nation's history just because some people oppose it. That's leadership.

Obama pushes for and gets game-changing reform because the people of the nation want their lives and the lives of their children to change for the better. They are willing to suffer temporary pain if it means making progress on dozens of challenges that face the nation.

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter chose not to run again for the very reason that he stepped into the public-school education debate going on right now in the legislature.

Without the political burden of having to appease teachers' unions, he can add his weight to the momentum of education reform which is favored by a majority of the people he governs.

Teachers need to be held accountable for their students' academic performance. If the students fail, their teachers have obviously failed; a teacher's livelihood ought to be affected by his or her success or failure in the classroom.

Obama has won on health care and he will win on financial reform because the time has come to make changes that improve the life of the republic. It takes time, political capital, real money, and a lot of hard work to affect real change in this country.

Speed kills, even in an Internet age. Life, politics, change and evolution go much slower. We must all remember to give each other the grace to change in our own time. The beauty in it all is that we have time to make the world a better place.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

In the chemo room, Chapter IV

A quick update, with more to come soon.

The PET scan I talked about in my last post (look down this series of posts to find March 10) revealed a "profound" response from my body to the Irinotecan and Erbitux mix of my last round of chemo.

The quote is my doctor's. Thomas Kenney, my oncologist, presented my case to the tumor committee of Porter Hospital today because he wanted the medical staff to take a look at what he saw and did not see in the scan.

What he did see was a single, still-active, cancer-producing lymph node in my chest that is considered a primary site for lymph-node production of metastasized colo-rectal cancer cells; what he did not see was any more production centers. Neither did he see any obvious reproduction of cells in my lungs, but he was going to double check that before presenting my case to the tumor committee. I presume he didn't see much when he took that second look.

That's all great news, of course, even if the single lymph node indicates I haven't yet stopped abnormal growth of cancer in the Schwab body.

But it did change Kenney's thinking about what to do next. There are some clinical trials of new cancer radiation treatments being done at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, and since my cancer only was showing up in my chest, he thought I might be a good subject for localized radiation to kill all the cells in that area.

If there is no microscopic cancer-cell production still going on in parts of my lungs, the radiation of the chest nodes might indeed cure me. But if the lungs are still growing little tumors, like bulbs in a spring garden, the cancer eventually will grow large enough to be picked up by the scan again, perhaps in three to six months.

Kenney has to consider all those ramifications in deciding what treatment to recommend to me. After all his ruminations though, we'll talk about the next, best treatment options, and I'll decide what I want to do.

Of course, if I can afford it, I'll do whatever I can to kill off the stuff growing inside me. I figure it is going to take me another seven years to finish the novel I've started, and to make a success of the business I am just starting. No one can guess the percentages playing for or against me, but if this "profound" Schwab body is making a bet, I'd lay odds its going to get it all done.

I'll update you soon on my next treatment decision.