Tag Archives: George W Bush

Why George W. Bush’s Stent Should Get Us Talking About Heart Disease

george-w-bushAs you may have heard, former president George W. Bush underwent a heart procedure today to treat a blocked artery. In line with common procedure, doctors inserted a stent, a small mesh tube, to open the blockage and return normal blood flow to the heart. Bush is expected to be up and kicking by tomorrow.

Roughly half a million people in the United States every year have stents inserted, and just over 11% of non-institutionalized adults have diagnosed heart disease. It is the number one cause of death in the United States, claiming nearly 600,000 lives every year.

Bush is 67 years old, a year older than the average age for men’s first heart attacks. Men, in general, tend to have a higher risk for coronary artery disease and heart attacks earlier in life, though genetics, weight, and other heath conditions play a larger role in determining risk. “Metabolic syndrome” is a pre-diabetic condition heavily associated with heart disease, and it is diagnosed when three of the following are present:

  • Abdominal obesity
  • Low HDL cholesterol
  • High triglyceride levels
  • High blood pressure
  • Insulin resistance

Given all of this, are the measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of heart disease? The American Heart Association recommends the following lifestyle changes:

  1. Stop smoking – For more reasons than one, of course!
  2. Maintain a good diet – Including plenty of vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and high-fiber foods
  3. Reduce blood cholesterol – Through diet, exercise, and, as a last resort, medication
  4. Stay active – To lower blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and maintain a healthy weight
  5. Reduce stress – Important at all ages!
  6. Limit alcohol – Too much can raise blood pressure and add to weight gain

We wish George W. a quick recovery, and we hope this very public incident helps raise awareness about the prevalence and dangers of heart disease. Take measures now to reduce your risk, and stay healthy everyone!

George W Bush, Jimmy Carter, and the Perils of Shame-Based Policy

As a self-described grassroots democrat, I’m a big fan of former president, Jimmy Carter. I’ve contributed to his causes, I’ve even attended one of his Sunday School classes, defended him ardently in political arguments.

But lately I’ve begun considering something that has begun to deeply bothered for a couple years. It began when I read his own account of his Camp David peace process with leaders of Israel and Egypt. Specifically, it is an account that Mr. Carter himself writes: when the process had begun to stall irrevocably, he visited Sadat  in private and told him that if he didni’t sign the accords, he (Mr. Carter) would no longer be his friend.

I’m not sure why it is given so much prominence in Jimmy Carter’s memoirs, but I’ve wondered if he isn’t, in fact, bragging a little. If he isn’t, at the very least, he considers it a pivotal moment in the signing of the peace agreement and nothing about which to be embarrassed.

I consider it important too, but for very different reasons. I think Jimmy Carter cheated at that moment. When it was apparent that the talks were about to fall apart and the conversations to yield nothing, he threatened Sadat: "you do what I want or you will no longer be my friend". At that split second, what could otherwise have been his crowning achievement was instead to be the moment when he was to arrogate his own role as "faithful guide" in the peace process and become its shaming parent, forcing Sadat to choose between fealty to the US president versus remaining true to the will (however disfunctional it was) of his countrymen. For better or for worse, Sadat acquiesed, and in the end, may have paid dearly with his life specifically for that decision.

While there is little comparison between that prior administration and that of George W Bush, the latter infinitely more opaque and forever confusing freedom with license, symptoms of the same thing do arise:

Several years ago, I watched George W. Bush giving a news conference. One of the reporters offered him a question, addressing the President as "sir". President Bush, in a very threatening tone, ordered the reporter that he was to follow protocol and call him "Mr. President". It was a very parental, threatening attack.

Where I come from, you rebuke those who are in a position subordinate to yours in private–man to man–while you praise them publicly. Instead, President Bush heaped humiliation and shame on the reporter in front of his peers. The lesson in the locker room was clear. Do it my way, or you wear the dunce cap.

Predictably, this leadership marched on:  Iraqis were being tortured in Abu Graib. Yes, the torture certainly inflicted pain, but more than that, it heaped unfathomable shame and embarrassment on a nation whose pride had already taken a major hit or two for its leaders’ stupid mistakes. Turning over Sadam Hussein to his sworn enemies was another brazen act of inflicting shame on him and every Baathist Sunni who supported him. You do this, and look what’s going to happen to you. These weren’t disconnected instances, but were symptomatic of a coherent policy "mood" intended to inflict shame on those who would threaten American–or more specifically, neo-conservative–interests anywhere and at any time. It was behavior that lay outside the force of law and governance by agreement. It was deeply imbedded, instead, in the protocol of vicious  personal attack and shame.

Washington wreaked of it.

Barack Obama has a unique opportunity. With soaring approval, both nationally and internationally, he has a chance to mend differences that few ever dream of having. But as a self-described Christian, and by association, among a group whose fatal weakness ever appears to be self-righteousness and self-service, relentlessly harsh judgement of other cultures as well as an eagerness to doll out endless heapfuls of shame on those who dare be different, he, too, faces the peril of falling prey to his own cultural weaknesses when the chips are down.

Is Barack Obama going to imperiously insist on getting his way? I mean, he is going to be the leader of the most powerful nation on earth. What personal price is he going to be willing to pay, though? Will he resort to inflicting shame on someone else llike a looming parent when facing the risk of losing a very specific, long-sought-after goal, his prize achievement?

In that moment, what will he decide to do?

I think he would do well to follow Ronald Reagan’s advice: "Don’t be afraid to see what you see." And I’d say, a good place to start would be looking at yourself.

How to See Through Political Lies Perpetrated to Persuade You

Frontline recently had a show exploring the life of Lee Attwater, who was the mentor to Karl Rove in how to win at all costs in the arena of politics.  It was a fascinating show revealing how dirty politics get in the pursuit of power.

Politicians and political operatives know that perception is reality.  He who molds public perception controls what the public thinks is reality even when it obviously is not.

Through this historical look back many political operatives admitted the outright lies and manipulations they knew of, instigated, or were a part of  that were promoted to the public, you and me, to blindly influence our perceptions in service to their personal and political goals.

Before I go further, it’s important to acknowledge that this is not a demonization of Lee Attwater, the Bushes or the Republican party.  Your brain probably went to a “Republicans bad, Democrats good” or vice versa conversation.

Drop the illusion of an “us versus them” mentality.  That’s another result of blind influence from PR campaigns and the hard wiring of your brain looking to compare and be on the side of the “best team” when there isn’t a “best team.”  We’re all living creatures on the same planet who have to live with the results of our actions.

Humans of all shapes, sizes, colors and political affiliations act out versions of what is exemplified by the life of Lee Attwater.

He’s just an extreme example of a political operative like Madonna is an extreme example of a musical entertainer.  They both possess a lot more drive, charisma and chutzpah than your average human so they stand out with their over the top success in their endeavors.

This legacy lives on in tactics created by Lee Attwater that have been improved upon and are used today:

– Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat talking points, whether they are truths or lies, ad nauseum to promote your agenda and mold public opinion (Iraq has WMDs, mentioning 911 and Saddam Heussein together to link them, mentioning that Heussein is Barack Obama’s middle name, talking about Barack Obama being connected to Roy Ayers, mentioning that Sarah Palin has a pregnant daughter, etc.

– Use symbols like American flag lapel pins or call out Obama for not having his hand over his heart while the national anthem plays. For example, Attwater had George Bush Sr. pull up his pant leg at a press conference to reveal that he was wearing cowboy boots wih the Texas flag on them to send a message that he wasn’t a WASP from Connecticut, but a salt-of-the-Earth Texan.

– Use Orwellian “newspeak” to frame or spin the story where you name something like the failed attempt to call rural dwellers “real Americans” though 80% of America’s population lives in urban areas, calling an increase in the number of troops a “surge,” renaming global warming “climate change,” naming the bill that allows corporations to pollute more the “Clean Air Act” and so on.

Frank Luntz took this to another level.  Read his book Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear for a deeper lesson in this.

Stay on message by answering questions with the message you want to convey, even if it doesn’t answer the question.

“Spin” the story – Make sure the press hears and promotes your version of the story, even when, and especially when, it’s a lie.

There’s more, but you get the picture.  The point is to recognize these tactics so that you don’t get duped easily by them.  Newer tactics keep evolving to manipulate public perception all the time.

The way to be more immune to these tactics is to remember that what’s really going on is at least 3 to 5 steps behind the veil of the perception promoted to the public.

Back to Lee Attwater, what’s amazing is that after having no conscience about destroying people’s lives in the pursuit of building his own power he developed a brain tumor at the age of 40.  His illness caused him to rethink his positions and he apologized to everyone he had harmed before his death soon after.

He also admitted that he felt his deeds in politics had been bad for the country and had hurt America.  Lee Atttwater grew a conscience and made peace with himself, though his legacy of harmful actions are copied by today’s power hungry working on blindly influencing others for personal gain.

You have the power to see through their tactics since you now know more about how they work.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...