Saturday, September 27, 2008

Country First? No, McCain Puts McCain First

In a political shocker today, John McCain announced that he would suspend his campaign for president and head back to Washington to work on solving the economic crisis with Congress.

McCain also called for the postponement of Friday night’s debate between Obama and McCain.

When did he want it rescheduled? October 2, coincidentally, the very same day the Vice Presidential debate is scheduled between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden. McCain wants the VP debate to then be rescheduled for a later date.

As I wrote on Tuesday, John McCain thinks the American Public is stupid, and this is another excellent example of that.

Clearly this is a political ploy. It is a photo opp for John McCain, a chance for him to be seen "doing something" with Congress. And it is a desperate stab of an attempt to continue to keep Sarah Palin out of the public eye for as long as possible, a move that is looking more and more necessary for Team McCain as the days go by.

McCain’s sudden interest in his duties as a Senator is laughable.

Sure, any presidential candidate who happens to be a member of Congress is going to have a hard time making it back to Washington for every vote, but McCain has missed a staggering 64.1% of the votes during the 110th Congress (2007 - 2008), almost 20% more than Obama’s 45.9% missed - and remember Obama was bogged down in a very lengthy Primary Campaign until June while McCain sat on the sidelines waiting for his opponent.

McCain’s whopping 412 missed votes over the past two years are the most missed in the U.S. Senate. Obama ranks number three in missed votes with 295.

So who is between them at number two? Democratic Senator Tim Johnson from South Dakota, who spent several months recovering from a brain hemorrhage which he suffered in late 2006. Johnson missed 48.4% of the votes, or almost 16% fewer than McCain missed. Fortunately, Johnson has returned to the Senate.

McCain hasn’t been there in five months.

For Obama’s part, he plans to leave Florida tomorrow, where he has been doing debate preparation, and head to Washington for a meeting with President Bush and John McCain at The White House.

Obama, however, seems quite confident that his time in Washington will not make it impossible for him to debate John McCain Friday night. As Obama himself said on Wednesday "Presidents have to deal with more than one thing at a time."

Senator McCain, however, is making an effort to capitalize on this crisis by running around and telling anyone who will listen that he cares more about America than winning an election. He and Palin love to say "Country First".

The truth is, John McCain is putting John McCain first, not the country.

He is in full panic mode and he understands that his golden opportunity to make up some ground on Obama was Friday night’s scheduled foreign policy debate, but now that the economic crisis has taken center stage the focus of the debate is likely to shift a great deal.

The economy is one of McCain’s weakest topics and dealing with it, rather than the topic of foreign policy, is something Sen. McCain just simply would prefer not to do. But, unfortunately, as president he will not be able to select when and what type of crisis hits. He’ll have to be prepared for all of them. He better get used to it if he wants to continue to be taken seriously as a candidate.

In addition to McCain’s debate problem, though, he is also beginning to figure out that his running mate, whom he met only once in his life prior to selecting her, has a debate problem of her own - she is completely unprepared for facing Joe Biden.

So the Senator from Arizona decided to gamble that this economic crisis was going to give him and Palin both a way to distract the public while the two of them slithered out of their debate commitments. There is nothing "country first" about that. In fact, when it comes down to it this is nothing more than a "McCain First" moment.

McCain Backs Out of Debate In California

With new polls showing his campaign dead in the water among California Republicans, Arizona Sen. John McCain has pulled out of a long-scheduled debate with Texas Gov. George Bush, set for Thursday in Los Angeles.

McCain campaign officials tried desperately yesterday to put the best face on their withdrawal, even as a new Field Poll showed Bush far ahead among likely Republican voters in the winner-take-all race for the state's 162 GOP delegates.

Top campaign officials attributed McCain's decision to Bush's earlier reluctance to appear at the debate.

``We had agreed to do this debate a long time ago, and Gov. Bush said he wasn't going to do it,'' McCain spokesman Howard Opinsky said yesterday. ``We aren't going to hold our schedule together forever.''

But Opinsky said McCain will debate Bush on NBC's ``Meet the Press'' Sunday, a national TV show that will reach millions of Americans.

Still, just last week, the McCain campaign was openly derisive of Bush's reluctance to commit to a California debate -- and promised its own candidate would be there.

``John McCain believes it's important for the people of California to see and hear the candidates talk about the issues,'' McCain communications director Dan Schnur told The Chronicle last week. ``Thirty- three million Californians are worth that attention . . . and we'll be there, either way.''

As recently as Thursday, when he was in California, McCain was talking about his plans to debate Bush; even last night, McCain's own Web site listed his California debate- watching parties. The CNN-Los Angeles Times debate was the only scheduled head-to-head meeting of the two candidates in California before the primary, a week from tomorrow.

McCain's campaign said the candidate confirmed to CNN on Thursday that he would not appear. But until yesterday afternoon, when rumors swirled about the pullout, McCain -- who has touted his ``straight talk'' politics -- gave no public indication that he intended to duck the nationally televised showdown.

The bait and switch on the debate left the Arizona senator -- whose favorite campaign line is ``I'll always tell you the truth'' -- wide open to blistering criticism from his rivals.

``Clearly, this is more double-talk from the McCain campaign,'' said Alixe Mattingly, a spokeswoman for Bush. ``Pulling out of this debate at the last minute is an indication that they're pulling out of California, where McCain's antagonistic message clearly isn't working.''

The decision to avoid debating Bush clearly upset some of McCain's top advisers.

``It's definitely a mistake, but hopefully, the people of California feel strongly enough about the McCain reform agenda . . . to overlook a staff error and come out and vote for John McCain,'' said Schnur, a longtime California political operative. ``John McCain is completely committed to California; unfortunately, our staff's position on this debate sends just the opposite message.''

California Republicans have been worried all along that the two leading GOP candidates are not giving the nation's most populous state the respect it deserves. Bush's campaign stop in Los Angeles last week, for example, was his first visit to the state since November.

Bush supporters quietly reveled in McCain's surprise announcement.

``From a distance, it seems like the `Straight Talk Express' is careening off the exit ramp in California,'' said Leslie Goodman, a Republican communications consultant and Bush backer, in a reference to McCain's campaign bus. ``They claimed they'd make California a priority because it was win or die, and now they don't care enough to debate.''

Although McCain's backers insisted that a devastating series of polls had no effect on the decision, the senator's chances of winning a Republicans-only primary in California have grown increasingly dim in recent days.

A Field Poll released today shows the state's Republicans backing Bush over McCain in the March 7 primary by a 48 percent to 28 percent margin in the contest for California's 162 convention delegates, a gap virtually unchanged from a Field Poll earlier this month. Other polls released over the weekend by the San Francisco Examiner and Time/CNN showed similar results.

Most of Bush's support comes from Republicans who identify themselves as strongly conservative. Among that group, Bush is favored by a 4-to-1 margin.

``That group seems galvanized and ready to vote for Bush,'' said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll. ``It's going to be hard for McCain to break into that group.''

Ironically, the rest of the poll is nothing but good news for McCain, a war hero who, in California at least, has extended his appeal beyond Republican voters.

In the state's open primary, where voters can choose from among all the presidential candidates regardless of party, McCain has seen his support among all likely voters surge from 10 percent in January and 15 percent earlier this month to 20 percent today, just 2 percentage points behind Bush and 8 points back of Democratic front-runner Al Gore's 28 percent. Democratic former Sen. Bill Bradley trailed with 10 percent.

It is becoming increasingly likely that McCain could beat Bush among all California voters, yet badly lose the Republican-only count that will determine who receives all the state's national convention delegates.

The new poll also bolsters McCain's claim that he would be a stronger candidate than Bush in November. In a head-to-head matchup, McCain beats Gore among likely voters in California by 48 percent to 41 percent, while Gore overruns Bush 51 percent to 41 percent. Bush also loses to Bradley, 47 percent to 43 percent, while McCain crushes Bradley, 52 percent to 35 percent.

McCain also has the best image of the top four candidates, with 57 percent of likely voters viewing him favorably, compared to 26 percent with an unfavorable impression. The new poll shows that for the first time, Bush's unfavorable rating is higher than his favorable rating, with 51 percent viewing him negatively, compared to 41 percent with a favorable impression.

``Everything in the polls seems to be going in McCain's direction, except the one that counts the most, which is the contest for the (Republican) delegates,'' DiCamillo said.

On the Democratic side, the poll shows Gore staying far ahead of Bradley, 54 percent to 16 percent, among likely Democratic voters.

``All the attention on McCain is siphoning any type of insurgent campaign momentum away from Bradley,'' DiCamillo said. ``Gore seems to be running out the clock and is in a very good position to do that.''

The poll is based on a telephone survey of 1,447 registered California voters conducted from Tuesday to noon yesterday. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.2 percentage points for the entire poll, 4.5 percentage points for the Democrat- only figures and 5 percent for the Republican-only figures, based on the size of the sample.

The poll represents a snapshot of voter opinion at the time it was taken and is not meant to predict the outcome of the vote.

Low Vitamin D Levels Raise Breast Cancer Death Risk by 75 Percent

Women who are deficient in vitamin D at the time they are diagnosed with breast cancer are nearly 75 percent more likely to die from the disease than women with sufficient vitamin D levels, and their cancer is twice as likely to spread to other parts of the body.

"This study links vitamin D with the aggressiveness of disease," said JoEllen Walsh of the University of Albany, who was not involved in the study. "It suggests that your vitamin D status may affect how your disease progresses."

A number of prior studies have strongly demonstrated that vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of developing cancers of the breast, colon, esophagus, pancreas and prostate, and perhaps others. But until now, no study has looked at how vitamin D levels affect the progress of any cancer.

Between 1989 and 1995, researchers tested the blood of 512 women who had been newly diagnosed with breast cancer. All the breast cancer cases were localized, meaning the disease had not spread beyond the breast and armpit region. The average participant age was 50.

Fifteen percent of the women with healthy vitamin D levels died from their cancer, and 17 percent had their cancers metastasize, or spread to other organs. In contrast, 26 percent of the vitamin D-deficient women died, and 31 percent had cancer that metastasized. This translated into a 73 percent higher risk of death among women who were vitamin D deficient, and a 94 percent higher risk of the cancer spreading.

Among a third group of women, classified as not deficient in the vitamin but still falling short of optimal blood levels, there was no difference in cancer death rates.

Vitamin D deficiency was significantly more common among women with a higher body weight. According to study author Pamela Goodwin of Mount Sinai Hospital and the University of Toronto, this is because "fat tissue acts as a trap for vitamin D."
"Levels were also lower in younger women," she said, "which was a bit of a surprise, until we realized older women were taking more supplements."
Women who were premenopausal or had high insulin levels were also more likely to be deficient in vitamin D.

Only 24 percent of the women involved in the study had vitamin D levels considered healthy, while 37.5 percent were considered deficient and the remaining 38.5 percent fell in between.

"This study found that vitamin D deficiency is very common among women with breast cancer, and it suggests that vitamin D deficiency is linked to poorer outcomes in these women," said Nancy Davidson, director of the breast cancer program at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Goodwin recommended that women who are diagnosed with breast cancer should take a simple blood test to determine their body's vitamin D levels.

"If you're a woman with breast cancer, it's probably worthwhile having vitamin D levels checked. If they're deficient, they should take more to get it in the range that we think is beneficial," she said. "This study is significant because it tells us this may be one thing women can do to improve their prognosis," said Anne McTiernan of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Even with strong evidence that vitamin D can help prevent - and, in the current study, fight off - various cancers, researchers are still unclear on the mechanism by which the chemical works.
"We know from basic science studies that breast cancer cells have vitamin D receptors and can interact with vitamin D," Goodwin said.
Some scientists have suggested that the nutrient might play a role in regulating programmed cell death, without which cells can turn cancerous.
"Vitamin D is pretty unique in its action in that it does enter the cancer cells and induces them to undergo a cell death process," Walsh said. "The effects of vitamin D on breast cancer cells are very similar to the established drug Tamoxifen that many women take for breast cancer."
In a demonstration for ABC News, Walsh added vitamin D to a breast cancer culture, causing the cells to shrivel up and die.
Breast cancer cells are not the only cells with vitamin D receptors. In fact, nearly every cell in the body interacts with the vitamin in some way.
Vitamin D, technically a hormone, is synthesized by the body upon exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight. It can also be acquired from certain dietary sources, including grains and dairy, which are fortified with it in many countries, or via supplements.
The average light-skinned person can produce all the vitamin D he needs from about 15 minutes a day of sunlight on the face and hands, while it takes about twice as long for a darker skinned person. But at far northern latitudes, especially during the winter, there may not be enough sunlight for the body to produce sufficient quantities.
Daily vitamin D recommendations vary widely by country, with the United States and Canada recommending 200 IU per day for children and 400 IU for adults. But many researchers, and even the Canadian Cancer Society, have recommended that this value be raised to 1,000 IU per day. While 400 IU may be sufficient to maintain bone health, scientists say, higher levels are needed to provide cancer-fighting benefits.

Major Gaffe: McCain Said Pakistan Was a Failed State

McCain just badly misstated the history of Pakistan. For someone claiming extensive foreign policy knowledge, this is simply not acceptable. McCain said Pakistan was a failed state before President Musharraf came to power. That is not true.

Musharraf took power in a military coup in 1999 when he diposed Nawaz Sharif - who recently participated in the latest election. The coup followed the 1999 war in Kashmir with India and was due to a power struggle with Sharif, not due to Pakistan being a "failed state." The United States did not welcome the Musharraf coup. Instead the government of the United States imposed sanctions against this action.

Remember Pakistan had nuclear weapons in 1999. Did McCain believe that there was a failed state that possessed nuclear weapons? If he did he showed no concern at the time. The fact is McCain made a huge gaffe and demonstrated he has little understanding if the region.