Monday, November 23, 2009

Response to For Her Own Good

Having just re-read For Her Own Good written by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deierdre English in 1978 I was prompted to write the following:

Dear Barbara,

I've just finished re-reading For Her Own Good and find it as significant, if not more so due to the Ambiguous Liberation section of the Afterward which shows that we are still, over thirty-years later, still at the starting line.

Especially relevant are:

...[E]very advance in women's legal status seems to represent a further erosion of male responsibility. p. 320

...[T]oday's neo-romanticism is at best a degenerate descendant of the sexual romanticism of the nineteenth century. It makes no claims to intellectual rigor....and appeals to the ghosts of patriarchal religion. p.320

But there is a deeper level of corruption to today's has been too thoroughly colonized, for too long. Its ideals do not come from the Bible...but from Madison Avenue. Etc. p. 320

The “neo-rationalist” program for women, then, is to break out into the marketplace, but without making any social provision for the children... p. 322

These then are the ideological poles which dominate sexual politics in the late twentieth century—the “romanticism” of the sun-belt suburbs or the “rationalism” of the paperback self-help shelf.” p.322

And where is feminism in all this—the force which reopened the Woman Question in the first place. Is it prepared to project a new ideal, a moral outlook, a way for women—and--and men (emphasis added) to live?...Feminism hesitates, unable to intervene in the dominant polarization between neo-romanticist and neo-rationalist ideologies. pp. 322-3

The reason we hang back is because there are no answers left but the most radical ones. We cannot assimilate into a masculinist society without doing violence to our own nature, which is, of course, human nature. But neither can we retreat into domestic isolation, clinging to an archaic feminine ideal. p. 323

The Woman Question in the end is not the question of women....[T]he Woman Question becomes the question of how shall we all—women and children and men—organize our lives together...And this is the only question. p.323

[I]t is not we who must change but the social order which marginalized women in the first place and with us all “human values.”...A synthesis which transcends both the rationalist and romanticist poles must necessarily change the masculinist social order itself. p.324

As a foremother of the current women's movement, I and others involved were about changing the masculinist social order itself. Not only to free women but men as well from their rigidly proscribed roles. And in this regard I feel, at least looking at the younger generation of men, i.e. my grandsons, I feel they have become freer from the constraints on their emotional and domestic side than many younger women have been freed from the sexual object ideal—aided and abetted by Madison Avenue and Hollywood & TV.

The role model for today's young women to emulate is either the predatory/seductive type or, as evidenced in so many contemporary films and video games, depicted as being tougher and better fighters and killers than are men.

The sixties-seventies Women's Movement left me when instead of working with other outcast groups to change the nature of this society, women were first enticed into and then co-opted by the system we sought to change and then adding insult to injury they sought to prove they were better at the male game than the men.

And, at the end of the day where are our children in this debauchle? And, Women's Studies have metamorphised into Gender Studies. And, women's right to choose is again under threat. And, women are now dying in battle alongside their male colleagues, and for men-at-war the rape of their female colleagues and those of the their combatants' women is still justified as a warranted response to battle fatigue. And, the list goes on.....

Thanks for once again getting my dander and hackles up! And my very best wishes to you where, in your latest book, I see you are still calling to task the “feel-good, don't worry, be happy” movement in face of any adversity!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Swine Flu Deja Vu

Margie Bernard

“There is no evidence that any influenza vaccine thus far developed is effective in preventing or mitigating any attack of influenza. The producers of these vaccines know that they are worthless, but they go on selling them anyway.” Dr. J. Anthony Morris (formerly Chief Vaccine Control Officer at the Federal Drug Agency at the Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC, 1976)

I met Dr. Anthony (Tony) Morris during the autumn of 1977, when he made an appointment for a consult at the Government Accountability Project (GAP), Washington, DC. GAP was a project initiated by Ralph Stavins, a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). Stavins had hired me as GAP’s first Director in October 1977, and I was charged with setting up the first conference on Whistleblowing in National Security Agencies to be held May 19-20, 1978.

Morris had come to GAP seeking assurance of our continued support in his attempt to overturn his dismissal as Chief Vaccine Control Officer at the United States Food and Drug Administration of the then Department of Health, Education and Welfare (now the Department of Health and Human Services). GAP agreed to champion his legal battle against FDA by publicizing his case and making available the film made about this matter, The Swine Flu Caper, directed by Saul Landau, another IPS Fellow.

Nearly two-years before, the US public had been warned that a likely Swine Flu (New Jersey H1N1), pandemic was on the 1976-77 horizons. At that time, the major pharmaceutical companies raced to develop a vaccine to counter its presumed devastation. Once a vaccine was approved for use by the FDA, President Gerald Ford had his inoculation witnessed via major-time television news as encouragement for others to do the same. Based on his research Morris disagreed with the rush to vaccinate the masses.

Dr. Morris had long been a critic of all flu vaccine. Based on test results obtained in his laboratory research, he had cautioned his colleagues at the Agency that in his expert opinion these inoculations were a major factor in triggering various neurologic illnesses ranging from GBS (Guillain-Barre Syndrome) (1) to encephalitis to paralysis and in some instances death. In the case of the new Swine Flu serum, Morris felt that aside from his usual misgivings about flu vaccines in general, he felt there had not been adequate testing undertaken to justify its use in this instance. Interestingly Morris had one unlikely ally—the Federal Insurance Company. This principal underwriter for pharmaceutical companies refused coverage to the four manufacturers of the swine flu serum stating: ‘it was not convinced that there has been time enough to test the vaccine for side effects’. (2)

Furthermore, there was general speculation as to whether there was such a disease as Swine Flu. And, if there were, did the proposed deterrent present a greater danger to the public than the illness itself? When Dr. Morris reported his professional concerns about this particular serum to FDA hierarchy they were ignored. Then in the interest of public safety he went public with the information in a July 1976 article in the Washington Post. He was then summarily fired for ‘insubordination and inefficiency’ by FDA Commissioner Alexander Schmidt and government agents entered his lab, killed all the animals used in his vaccine research and confiscated all his and his lab assistants’ research papers.

At the end of the day there was no Swine Flu epidemic in 1976 and the vaccination program was ended ten-weeks after it was initiated due to increased concern as to its safety.

The current observation is that we face another potential Swine Flu (2009 H1N1 virus), pandemic and although such observation may be political/social fact, ‘whether it becomes a scientific fact and a policy fact is yet to be seen’. (3) As to the speculation of a new pandemic, MSNBC has reported:

The Center for Disease Control has found that rapid tests to diagnose the “swine flu” can be wrong as much as nine times out of ten. The “best” test was wrong half the time, the CDC found. The government study indicating that rapid tests to diagnose the “swine flu” could hardly distinguish between the “swine flu” and normal seasonal flu gives support to those medical experts who say the “swine flu” is a harmless, ordinary flu that is being hyped by the WHO and the vaccine companies to justify a pandemic level 6 declaration and mass forced vaccinations. (4)

In the past, health care workers had a choice whether or not to get inoculated against flu—whether the annual seasonal virus or a unique variation. This year, however, many medical centers, hospitals and clinics are mandating their personnel to be inoculated or face disciplinary action. This has raised concerns among health care professionals themselves as well as their unions and professional associations. During the annual flu season, only about one-half of health-care workers get the shot. As one clerical worker in Washington Hospital Center stated, “I don’t think I should be forced to take something I don’t want to take”. And, in Great Britain, a survey of 1,500 nurses disclosed that one-third would not get the vaccine due to safety concerns. (5)

During the 1976 Swine Flu scare, numerous law suits were filed by people alleging they had suffered various side effects as a direct result of being inoculated. Several of these litigations were successful and large payouts were made by the pharmaceutical companies and the US government as settlement. This month, September 2009, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius signed a document that grants legal immunity to federal officials and the vaccine producers from similar claims.

As for myself, I plan to follow Tony’s 1976 advice and forgo the Swine Flu shot this year but will get the seasonal flu jab just as I have in years past as this serum has been through more rigorous testing prior to its release.

And what happened to Morris’s efforts to overturn his 1976 FDA dismissal? After a seven-year legal battle, James S. Turner’s tireless defense of Morris successfully proved that all FDA charges against Morris were false.

NOTE: These are my citations, however, the referant numbers have been somehow eliminated in this cut-n-paste version so I've added them thus (n).

(1) There were reports of GBS affecting some people who had received swine flu immunizations in the 1976 U.S. outbreak of swine flu. Overall, there were about 500 cases of GBS—25 of which resulted in death from severe pulmonary complications— which, according to Dr. P. Haber, were probably caused by an immunopathological reaction to the 1976 swine flu vaccine. Haber P, Sejvar J, Mikaeloff Y, Destefano F (2009). Vaccines and Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
(2) Business Insurance, May 1976
(3) Spencer, D., Millar J.D., Reflections on the 1976 Swine Flu Vaccination Program. Emerging Infectious Diseases, Center for Disease Control, Vol. 12, No. 1, January 2006
(4) An Interesting Article on the Swine Flu. The Flu Review, January 29, 2009.
(5) Mandatory Flu Shots Hit Resistance, Rob Stein, The Washington Post, September 25, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Joseph P. Kennedy

What follows are my comments to my long-time friend, Cari Beauchamp, after reading her latest book: Joseph P. Kennedy Presents: His Hollywood Years. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.

Dear Cari,

How delicious the Kennedy book! Only you would have the ability to deliver the brilliant and bold bon mots-- sprinkled as they are throughout the text like sparkling jewels--they drive home a particular barb without belaboring the insight!

I needn’t comment what a bastard he was (you've done a good job of it), but I’m glad you cleared up the point about his making a large chunk of his fortune on illegally bringing in liquor during prohibition…the why of the liquor aspect of his fortune is just another example of his duplicity in business dealings, somehow even worse than just booze-running! I am also very impressed with your business acumen as I know it wasn’t easy following the twists and turns he took in ripping off nearly all his acquaintances and in the end most of his best friends and fuckees – all done under the guise of rescuing them from their respective dilemma.

The other point you clarified was my long-held assumption that he was responsible for bringing the Mafia to Hollywood; instead he brought it into Jack’s campaign and presidency and, if another rumor is taken seriously, caused Giancana to order his death (always for me the most plausible of them all).

Also, having undertaken the years of in-depth research before writing my book, Daughter of Derry: The Story of Brigid Sheils Makowski, I know what sorting through prevailing myths and misconceptions entails so I’m in awe of what you undertook and accomplished. Aside from this being an exposé of Kennedy, the book is also a basic social history of the early years of Hollywood. As such, it should be on the core reading list of all film studies curriculum. Additionally, the book's notes are a gem in and of themselves!

But more than anything, I was left with such a bad taste in my mouth about the Rosemary saga! I can understand Joe trying out this latest hyped lobotomy treatment on her, but after its failure, he literally and figuratively ‘disappeared’ her and apparently Rose never questioned the why of it or even appeared to be concerned about her absence from the family circle. So this, along with all the other family duplicity, gives a new definition of a dysfunctional family!


Thursday, July 02, 2009

Theatre of Witness

Click on 'Theatre of Witness' title above to reach an article published on the Culture Northern Ireland Webpage, about a current project of The Playhouse in Derry, N. Ireland.

The Playhouse is a community arts facility that uses the neutural venue of art in all it's manifestations as a means to give expression and to open dialogue between opposing factions in a given community.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Open Letter to President Obama and Members of Congress re U.S. Health Care Reform

I am a United States citizen currently a legal resident of Ireland. In order to achieve residency I had to live here one-year and give proof of my income (currently just under the U.S. poverty level for a single person--pension & SSI). Once residency was granted (eight-years ago), the only restriction was that I may not seek or accept employment here. However, as a resident of Ireland, I am entitled to all the benefits provided its retired citizens -- free health care, free prescriptions, free dental care, free eye exam and glasses, a travel pass that allows me to travel free all over the island by bus or rail. And, due to my low-income, I receive a rent subsidy.

Two-years ago, I needed orthopedic surgery to replace my right knee. Once diagnosed, I waited only two-months for the operation. When completed I was in hospital for ten-days then went to a resident nursing facility for one-week where I received daily physical therapy. One-year ago, I was diagnosed as having pulmonary embolisms in both lungs and was hospitalized for twelve-days. The cost to me of these hospital stays, nursing facility, therapy and administered medication, was zero.

I currently am taking several prescribed medications but have no idea what they cost as I obtain them free from my local pharmacy. Appointments at my local clinic to see the physician of my choice are also free.

Sadly, the end result of having all the benefits I receive in Ireland renders it financially impossible for me to even consider moving back to the U.S. Needless to say, I do not intend to become an economic burden on my family who, themselves, have had difficulty maintaining their own heads above the financial flood of these past few years. Therefore, unless there is resolution of the health care crisis in the U.S., including remedying the paucity of the current Medicare Program, a move back to California in 2012 when I turn eighty is near impossible.

At minimum, one would hope that the United States, which has a GNP/GDP immensely greater than that of Ireland, would at least provide its retired citizens the free medical and prescription benefits I enjoy here.

My question to you is: Why am I denied the free medical care and prescription medication in my own country that I am provided by my resident country?

Best wishes,
Margie Bernard

Thursday, June 25, 2009

U.S./Iran History -- A Cautionary Tale

As the familiar adage states: Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it. As so aptly stated in this article by the Editors of Black Power, so much of what former U.S. administrations did in Iran in the past is haunting our present.

What The 1953 U.S.-Backed Overthrow Has To Do With Today
"In 1953, the US overthrew Iran's democratically elected leader. Obama is proceeding more cautiously."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Link by Link - As Blogs Are Censored, It’s Kittens to the Rescue -

This article about attempts by governments to censor what information its citizens send and receive via the internet provides all the fodder needed to guard and protect this invaluable source of people-to-people communication.

Link by Link - As Blogs Are Censored, It’s Kittens to the Rescue -

Friday, June 19, 2009

I.F. Stone -- Izzy Remembered

The last time Izzy and I spoke was by happenstance when we were both on a bus from Bethesda, MD to Washington, DC. on our way to the Institute for Policy Studies where Izzy was to speak.

I had been an avid reader of his I.F. Stone Weekly during the 60's & 70's and realize that today, more than ever, we need journalists of his ilk---those that speak truth to power.

In an interview on the 20th anniversary of Stone's death, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! interviews D.D. Guttenplan, author of American Radical: The Life and Times of I.F. Stone, a new biography of Stone.


"Twenty years ago today, I.F. Stone died at the age of eighty-one. He was the premier investigative reporter of the twentieth century, a self-described radical journalist. I.F. Stone's legacy of work spanned the New Deal, World War II, McCarthyism, the Cold War, Israel-Palestine, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War and beyond. He scooped reporters right and left. As the FBI tracked him, he tracked down the story. He is best remembered for his self-published I.F. Stone's Weekly. At its peak in the 1960s, the one-man publication had a circulation of about 70,000. We speak to his biographer, D.D. Guttenplan, and air historic recordings of I.F. Stone at the 1965 Vietnam teach-in in Berkeley, CA, and on The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour."

The Iranian Nightmare
Roja Bandari, 16/06/09

These past days have been a nightmare. I and my fellow Iranians have been watching the small amount of democracy present in Iran erased within a day. Everything we hear from Iran is heartbreaking but more than anything, I have been anxiously watching the international media. Although some reports are accurate, many huge mainstream media sources still frame the events in a way that really feels as if they are twisting the knife in our wounds.

What media does in this situation can make a difference in saving lives in Iran. If those in power in Iran realize that the western media has become sympathetic to them, they will be as brutal as they desire. I'm asking you to please use all your resources and connections to raise awareness about a few things and spread the word.

Some media are framing the protests as "people whose candidates didn't win are now angry". This is not true. People (including myself) are not angry because Mousavi didn't win. We are angry because we feel the election was stolen. We are in the streets to defend our right to decide a president (at least out of the 4 we could choose from). We are angry because something has happened that is changing our system fundamentally.

The allegations of fraud are portrayed as only brought up by Mousavi or only the reformists. But the other conservative candidate, Mr. Rezaei, has in fact filed a complaint about this election as well, asserting that the vote counts don't make sense. So this is not a complaint among two candidates, or two sides. This is about committing electoral fraud.

Some call the peaceful protests "riots." People are not rioting. Yesterday's protest which ended in killing of innocent people was a "silent" protest. People were walking in complete silence for the majority of the march. We are not hooligans. We are citizens who are very aware of what is happening and we will not stay quiet.Protesters are portrayed as pro-western and young. While most are young, and many might be interested in improving relations with the west, this is an inaccurate generalization. In pictures of large protests you can see older people, and you see many who seem more religious. It's really not about the west.

If Iranian state media (currently completely in the hands of a certain political segment) post any news in this regard, most mainstream media regurgitate it exactly, amplifying their voice and making it resonate all around the world. Often it is propaganda that gets amplified which is carefully crafted with the aim of crushing the protests. Most Iranians have no doubt that the results are fraudulent. A president with 24 million votes, does not face such persistent protests with people, whole families even, coming out in the face of blind violence. If you cheat a whole nation people will not accept it.

Maybe there is a subconscious attitude among western spectators that thinks Iranians can not take the results of a democratic election if it's not who they liked most. But we are not savages, in fact that is exactly why people are in the streets. If the right to vote was taken away in the US or Europe, everyone would be protesting. That's why Iranian people are coming out day after day after day.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Anti-War Democrats Who Stood Firm

Below is a list of those anti-war Democrats who, to paraphrase Jeremy Scahill, didn't sell out and support the White House's request for increased funding for the Afganistan War. They need to receive our thanks and continued support. This is an excerpt from a longer article that may be found at the link at the end.

The 'Anti-War' Democrats Who Sold Out
By Jeremy Scahill June 16, 2009

Tuesday's vote was another one of those moments in Congress where heroes are made, like the day when Sen. Russ Feingold stood alone as the sole Senator to vote against the USA Patriot Act. To paraphrase Bush, it was one of those days when we truly discover who is for war and who is against it.

Below are the Democrats who stood against Obama's expanding war the day their votes mattered: Tammy Baldwin, Michael Capuano, John Conyers, Lloyd Doggett, Donna Edwards, Keith Ellison, Sam Farr, Bob Filner, Alan Grayson, Raul Grijalva, Michael Honda, Marcy Kaptur, Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, Zoe Lofgren, Eric Massa, Jim McGovern, Michael Michaud, Donald Payne, Chellie Pingree, Jared Polis, Jose Serrano, Carol Shea-Porter, Jackie Speier, John Tierney, Nikki Tsongas, Maxine Waters, Diane Watson, Peter Welch, and Lynn Woolsey.

Jeremy Scahill is the author of the New York Times bestseller Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Reuniting Families Act ~ H.R. 2709 / S. 3514 | Democrats Abroad

Reuniting Families Act ~ H.R. 2709 / S. 3514 Democrats Abroad.

This legislation proposed by Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) in the House and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) in the Senate is one of the priorities of Democrats Abroad which, collectively, are considered by the DNC as the 51st State of the Union.

I am currently Vice Chair of Democrats Abroad Ireland and urge you to contact your US Congressperson and US Senator to support passage of this legislation.