Friday, April 23, 2010

Maybe We Should Dump (Some) Sodium, But Hold Fast on the Iodine Mr. President

The Obama Administration's assault on individual freedoms and liberties has opened a new front, this time aimed at personal nutrition and the amount of sodium - salt - we ingest as part of our daily diets.

Obama wants the feds to develop regulations governing the amount of salt that food manufacturers can use when they package food, whether it be frozen, canned, vacuum packed or whatever. If you package food and sell it to the public the government wants to say how much salt you can use as a preservative.

This is a response to, and an escalation of, concerns that too much salt in our diets can cause high blood pressure, hypertension, strokes and heart attacks. On one level this may not seem to be such a bad thing, as long as you don't mind the federal government looking over your shoulder at meal time - each meal, every day.

As those of you who have purchased my latest book Granny Snatching, How A 92-year Old Widow Fought The Courts and Her Family to Win Her Freedom are already aware, insufficient salt in our diets also can have adverse impacts on our health. (You can get a signed copy on this website or at if you'd like to learn more.)

I was confronted with this issue when my then 91-year-old mother moved in with us in December 2008. She was in good health for the most part, but suffered some nutritional deficiencies due to imbalances in her daily diet, which were corrected by proper nutrition. These included low potassium - hypokalemia - which can cause a plethora of physical and mental problems, and hypothyroidism - an underactive thyroid gland. More on that in a minute.

Salt intake is an issue because in the last 60 years or so, our eating habits have changed drastically. Until the 1950s American families ate far more fresh food, and table salt was a mainstay at mealtime. In addition to providing us with our daily requirement of salt - in the form of sodium chloride - it also was a primary source of iodine, which is an essential nutrient that helps regulate metabolism.

Much of the salt we put into the salt shakers was 'iodized' meaning it had iodine added to it. Canned food, which used salt as a preservative, was common, but as refrigeration became more dependable and efficient - and as more families needed two adults in the workforce, thus limiting the amount of time available to prepare food for dinner - frozen foods, TV dinners, and other forms of packaging took over increasing shares of the market. The salt content went up, but not necessarily the iodine supplement.

In addition to seeing increases in diseases related to blood pressure, doctors also saw spikes in thyroid disorders, as families took the iodized salt off the table in an effort to reduce sodium in their diets.

Metabolism, the means by which our body turns food into energy, can be too fast or too slow depending on the operation of our thyroid glands, and our thyroids operate at optimum efficiency when we ingest trace amounts of iodine.

If the thyroid is not doing enough to regulate our metabolism we can develop hypo-thyroidism, and if it is doing too much we can develop hyper-thyroidism. These are two entirely different conditions and only hypothyroidism is directly impacted by iodine. Hyperthyroidism requires medication, a doctor's care and has far reaching symptoms that aren't the subject of this article.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include extreme sensitivity to the cold, dry skin that also is itchy, and a bloated or puffy appearance around the face and neck. Soon after my mother moved in with us I noticed that she complained a lot about the cold, and that she also was complaining of dry, itchy skin. So I looked up the symptoms on the Internet and found everything you could ever want to know about hypothyroidism.

Like many American families we took the salt shaker off the table years ago. I figured we got enough salt, probably far more than we needed, from processed foods, and since we take a multi-vitamin mineral table each day we still were getting enough iodine and other trace elements.

That was not the case with my mother. So we brought back iodized table salt and started her on a multi-vitamin mineral tablet too, one that is specifically for older adults. Within a matter of days her symptoms disappeared.

The government is right to have concerns about what is in the food sold to the American public. I have long believed that there are far too many ingredients that we can't pronounce, much less understand, in the packaged food we purchase. I go to great lengths to avoid prepared foods as much as possible, using the harvest from my garden to supplement our meals during the summer, and freezing as much as possible for the winter.

When I absolutely, positively have to buy packaged food I take an extreme measure that I recommend to everyone else in deciding which brands pose the least potential harm. I read the labels.

I would much rather see the Obama Administration initiate an across-the-board education program that encourages people to read the packaging, and understand the meanings of the ingredients. I would rather see the Obama Administration require all food manufacturers to spell out exactly what all that scientific mumbo-jumbo means, in understandable English, and what impact it could have on our health if we eat it.

Most nutrition experts say that two grams of salt a day is sufficient for the average diet. I use considerably less, about half that much actually and it doesn't seem to have had a negative impact on me. But I encourage people to see their doctors, get an annual checkup and ask the mundane questions, like "How much salt do you recommend for me, at my age, weight and body composition, Doctor?"

How hard is that? Do we have to have a government program for everything? Especially one that focuses on one aspect of our nutritional life while ignoring another that is equally important?

Education and a little individual effort will go a long way here, while avoiding another increase in the size of the federal bureaucracy and the taxes needed to support it.
Friday, April 16, 2010

Blumenthal Plummets, GOP Soars in Connecticut Senate Battle; Heading For A Real Horse Race

A new poll by Rasmussen Reports shows Democratic US Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal's supposedly impenetrable ratings among Connecticut voters dropping dramatically, and support for at least one GOP challenger soaring.

While Blumenthal's popularity is dropping like a rock, former US Congressman Rob Simmons is surging, narrowing the gap between his campaign and Blumenthal's to an entirely manageable 14 points. The Rasmussen poll shows Blumenthal at 52 percent to Simmons' 38 percent, a 6-point drop for Blumenthal and a corresponding 6-point increase for Simmons in the last month.

This is bad news for Blumenthal, currently the state Attorney General and arguably the best known politician in the state, because thus far Simmons has not been advertising to the general public at all. Rather, he is focusing his efforts on the local Republican Town Committees and convention delegates who will be selecting their preferred candidate for the US Senate race at the state convention in May.

This also is not good news for Simmons' main GOP opponent, Linda McMahon, co-owner of World Wrestling Entertainment, who is five points behind Simmons in the Rasmussen poll, with voters giving Simmons a significant edge in his ability to defeat Blumenthal.

McMahon's unfavorable ratings also are climbing dramatically. Her overall unfavorable rating now stands at 45%, with 27% "very" unfavorable. Pollsters and campaign professionals say the "very unfavorable" number is key in terms of measuring the intensity of opposition to her, and how many voters she has little to no chance of winning over. Her "very unfavorable" number has been marching upward steadily from 14% in February, to 21% in March, to 27% now.

What's worse, especially from the standpoint of the McMahon camp, is that her campaign's first-quarter 2010 financial report shows that she has spent $14 million dollars thus far, $8 million of it in the last three months, in a massive advertising blitz to convince Connecticut voters that she is a viable GOP candidate.

McMahon's campaign seems to be heading in the direction of the vast majority of other self-funded candidates who throw millions upon millions of their own dollars into vanity campaigns, only to lose on election day. In Connecticut, Democrat Ned Lamont's woebegone campaign against Sen. Joseph Lieberman comes to mind.

Simmons meanwhile, is raising considerably less, but is using it far more effectively and his money is coming from more than ten thousand individual voters who certainly will be there for him in November.

Despite her lavish spending, however, McMahon also has increasingly come under scrutiny from the mainstream media. In fact three issues that could certainly have an impact in future polls surfaced in state newspapers last week. These included allegations of interfering with a 1990's federal investigation of World Wrestling Entertainment which she owns with her husband; inaccurate answers to a questionnaire she filled out for Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell before Rell appointed her to the state Board of Education last year (including getting her college major wrong); and lesser issues of hypocrisy in her claim to be a political outsider when she has spent millions on top-of-the-line Washington lobbying firms to press her issues in the nation's Capitol.

McMahon also is the object of continuing ridicule over the name of her luxury yacht the Sexy B**ch! I use the asterisks, but the second word is spelled out on her yacht.

It would seem that McMahon's inability to buy the hearts and minds of Connecticut's voters is weighing heavily on her campaign. This was apparent considering the haste with which she issued a press release touting a fluff piece done on her by the New York Times this week, two days after the Rasmussen Report was issued.

The Times article, which primarily discussed Blumenthal's gaffes and weaknesses, also anointed McMahon as the GOP candidate who will face him, not mentioning Simmons even though he leads her in the latest poll.

However, considering The Times' reputation among many conservative voters as a despicable left-wing rag and propaganda tool for far-left national Democrats that delights in exposing our armed forces and intelligence agents to potential harm, McMahon's decision to promote the Times' back-handed endorsement may not have been a smart move.

It is far too early to make any predictions about where all this is headed. We are talking about politics after all and many things can and do happen with great haste and frequency.

But I will point out that of the three front-runners for their respective party's nomination, Simmons, McMahon and Blumenthal, only Simmons has regularly been through the wringer of voter examination and emerged with his career intact.

Blumenthal has not had a serious challenge to his status as Attorney General in more than a decade, possibly two. Linda McMahon has never run for public office and there are strong indications that the media has only scratched the surface of issues that could further erode her support among likely voters.

As the polls are showing, Blumenthal is not invincible. But if the New York Times is successful in pressing McMahon as its chosen candidate, he at least will be able to counter any charges she lodges against him, with counter-charges of his own against her. It is unlikely that she will be able to overcome his long-term popularity, even if his margin is slipping.

Simmons on the other hand, has been through a series of brutal campaigns, winning eight out of nine, despite Democratic voter registrations that always favored his opponent in his district.

If Simmons faces Blumenthal, the campaign will have to focus on real issues, which would be great for the voters, but not so great for Blumenthal. Then again, the New York Times and other liberal news outlets already know that.
Sunday, April 11, 2010

Three Strikes For McMahon in One Week! Dodd Looks Like a Choir Boy in Comparison; But is the Joke on Us?

If it was any other politician in any other race, Linda McMahon would be holding her head in her hands, contemplating withdrawing her bid to be the Republican nominee to fill the Senate seat now held by Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd.

"Any other politician in any other race" are the operative words here.

First, the Hartford Courant revealed that McMahon had - how can we say this nicely - lied on her sworn application form when she asked Gov. Jodi M. Rell to appoint her to the state Board of Education last year. That appointment apparently was to give McMahon some form of government experience credibility.

But the form, obtained by Courant reporter Jon Lender through a Freedom of Information request, revealed that McMahon apparently doesn't know what she studied in college, she didn't know that she testified before Congress on the highly charged issue of steroid abuse in sports and her World Wrestling empire, nor that she had ever written anything for public consumption. She has a degree in French, but she thought it was English; she wrote for her corporation's fan magazines under a pen name but didn't think to mention it; and if you don't know that steroid abuse is controversial - even if your company hasn't been investigated by Congress and brought up on charges by the Justice Department - then you really aren't paying attention.

One would presume that an applicant for appointment to the state Board of Education would be paying attention, at least some of the time.

McMahon abruptly stepped down from the State position after receiving a call from the Courant asking about the discrepancies in her sworn answers, but she said her resignation had nothing to do with the Courant's investigation.

Hard on the heels of the Courant's revelations was an article in the Connecticut Post showing that while McMahon's ongoing television ad blitz portrays her as an outsider who wants to go to Washington to put things in order, she actually has been paying big, big bucks to powerful insider D.C. lobbying firms for years when she needs to get her point across to Congress. Hardly an outsider looking in; more like an insider dressed in outsiders' clothing.

Scarcely had the ink dried on the Post story than the New London Day ran an article at the end of the week revealing that McMahon had tipped off a WWE doctor that he might be might be a target of Justice Department investigators looking for evidence that he provided steroids to WWE "wrestlers." The Justice Department probe of steroid abuse in McMahon's company fell apart when it couldn't provide documentation to prove its allegations.

So in one week we have false sworn statements on a public document, followed by revelations of hypocrisy in campaign ads, (OK, so what's new; this is after all politics) and then revelations of witness tampering in a federal probe.

Three strikes? Up to bat and back to the dugout? Big whiff?

Is she? Considering the potential impact of these stories in the GOP race for the Senate nomination you'd think they would be Page One news all across the state. You'd think that state GOP leaders would be calling McMahon to headquarters for intense, hushed, private discussions about how she is making a mockery of the candidate selection process and how it would be better for everyone if she took her $50 million and went back to Greenwich, or for a cruise on Sexy B**ch, her luxury yacht.

But the articles received scant attention outside of their originating newspapers' circulation areas. I didn't see the Post article until a friend sent me a link to it; I didn't see the Day article until I found a version of it buried in the Journal Inquirer's inside pages Saturday; and I didn't see Jon Lender's blog article reproduced anywhere except in his blog.

What gives? Is this all part of what really appears to be shaping up as a conspiracy to get McMahon the nomination so the likely Democratic nominee, Atty. Gen. Richard Blumenthal, will be a shoo-in?

Have the millions of dollars - mostly to be spent in campaign advertising - promised by McMahon totally corrupted not only the Republican nominating process, but the alleged "journalism" practiced by many of the state's most influential newspapers too? Are the advertising departments now totally in control of the newsrooms?

Let's take a look. The reporters are obviously doing their jobs, yet my experience in the world of print journalism - nearly two decades as a reporter, editor and columnist - indicate that while one or another of these stories might be temporarily ignored by competing news outlets until they could confirm the details on their own, the totality of this week's revelations should have created a huge buzz by now.

But I don't see anyone anywhere talking about it on the local or national political shows. McMahon's candidacy has definitely caught the attention of national Republicans who believe her opponent Rob Simmons can beat Blumenthal. At the national level McMahon is regarded as a joke or even a Democratic plant who will gladly use her millions to prevent the Republicans from winning a crucial tenth Senate seat this year, needed to blunt the Democrats' rush to "European socialism, aka, Communism light."

So why is there a big HO-HUM amongst the wider chorus of political pundits? That McMahon has succeeded in splitting the GOP is obvious. She is paying her campaign manager a reported $300,000, and her communications manager (who is the wife of GOP state Chairman Chris Healy) a reported $125,000. Both salaries are well above the going scale for that work in this state. She has co-opted Healy whose objectivity is being questioned across the state, despite his protestations that his wife can work for anyone she wants at any salary she can command and it won't have any impact on his actions.

McMahon has attempted, successfully in many cases, to buy good will from local Republican Town Committees with donations of $250 and $500, ostensibly to help elect local Republicans 18 months from now, but realistically considered to be for securing convention delegates who are chosen by the local RTCs.

Her millions will certainly help the bottom lines of newspapers, and television and radio stations that run her ads. But have we become such a coldly cynical state, and more to the point such a coldly cynical party, that we will continue to allow our country to be sold down the drain in Washington for the chance to be in line for some of her political welfare?

From this vantage point it is increasingly clear that while Chris Dodd decided not to run because the voters didn't like the appearance of conflicts, cronyism and corruption that erupted in recent years, he is looking like a choir boy when compared to Linda McMahon.

Some on the national level are saying McMahon's campaign is a joke. But if the real story on her background continues to be relegated to political blogs and the deep inside pages of local newspapers, the joke won't be on Linda McMahon, it will be on the voters, and we won't think it's all that funny when we finally see the truth.

Don't say I didn't warn you.
Friday, April 02, 2010

National Republicans to Connecticut: Senate Seat In Play, Blumenthal Vulnerable, Pro-Simmons, Anti-McMahon

Connecticut Republicans received some welcome news from their national colleagues Wednesday night - "We need to recover 10 US Senate seats, Connecticut is definitely in play, and only Rob Simmons can win!"

The message was delivered by national Republican strategist Dick Morris to an enthusiastic crowd at a jam-packed, high-end fund-raiser for Simmons at a private home in Greenwich. Surrounded by couples and individuals who made significant contributions to attend - the minimum suggested donation was $1,000 - Morris waxed prolific on the status of national politics and how Connecticut fits into the overall puzzle.

But Morris really caught the crowd's attention when he delivered the welcome news that on the national level Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is considered not just vulnerable, but beatable - if Simmons emerges as the GOP candidate. Otherwise, the country will continue its downward financial spiral that will result in annual deficits in the trillions of dollars within a few years.

Referring to the current health-care debacle, which ultimately will cost tens of thousands of jobs nationally, many of them in Connecticut, as well as other out-of-control spending initiatives forced on Americans by Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress, Morris said it is not enough to win back nine Senate seats.

"Joe Biden will just keep coming down to break the tie," Morris noted. But by recovering 10 Senate seats, a Republican majority can hold the line on any further efforts to turn America into a European-style socialist government (or for that matter a Chinese-style communist government), and halt the Obama Administration's headlong plunge into financial ruin.

Morris also displayed an in-depth knowledge of Blumenthal's political history and especially his weaknesses. Simmons noted that Blumenthal has not run a seriously contested campaign in well over a decade, but that will end this fall if Simmons wins the GOP nomination.

On that issue Morris made no effort to hide his disdain for the campaign of Simmons' main opponent, Linda McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, who took a leave from her job last year to run for the Senate seat. But that was when incumbent Senator Chris Dodd was still thought to be the Democrats' candidate. Dodd has since announced his retirement and Blumenthal - considered much tougher to beat than Dodd - has emerged as the front-runner for the Democrat nomination.

Until last year McMahon also was considered a major contributor to Democratic candidates and Political Action Committees, including Rahm Emanuel who was working for Obama's election and now serves as his White House Chief of Staff. But McMahon now says she will spend as much as $50-million of her vast fortune to convince voters that she should be a Republican Senator.

If the reaction of the Republicans in Greenwich Wednesday night is an accurate barometer, McMahon may have had some success in fooling the general public with her millions of dollars worth of mass mailings and television commercials, but not Republican leaders and especially Republican contributors.

Many in the crowd discussed McMahon's contributions to Democratic causes, which helped eliminate all Republican Congressional representatives in Connecticut, giving Democrats just enough votes to pass Obama's nationalization of the health care insurance industry.

Other comments focused on McMahon's most recent headlines involving the name of her luxury yacht - The Sexy B**ch! When questioned by reporters on the name of her yacht, McMahon's campaign initially responded that Sexy B**ch is OK with the US Coast Guard which approved the name, thus it should be OK with everyone else. That statement was followed by a clarification that the name Sexy B**ch came from McMahon's husband Vincent, presumably meaning if it is OK with him it is OK with her!

The upshot of the evening's commentary was that a McMahon candidacy would be a disaster, leading to a certain Blumenthal victory, but that Simmons' extensive experience in economic issues, national security, and foreign relations would give him the edge over Blumenthal. The message was received with an enthusiasm that has been lacking in Connecticut's GOP ranks in recent months.

Some GOP insiders, buying into the Democrats' propaganda that Blumenthal is invincible, have been saying they should just nominate McMahon, even though she is a sure loser, to take advantage of - and presumably get their hands on - some of the millions she will spend on her campaign.

But with national Republicans supporting Simmons, and spreading the message that Blumenthal can be beaten - and must be beaten - the defeatist strategy of conceding the Senate seat to Blumenthal while separating McMahon from a large chunk of her wrestling fortune loses whatever minimal credibility it may have had.

Simmons still has a long way to go, first by winning the nomination at the May GOP convention, and then beating McMahon in the primary that she threatens to wage in the summer.

Some of those who seem willing to throw the state and the nation to the dogs just to line their own pockets also are claiming that Simmons needs to match McMahon dollar per dollar to win the nomination. That isn't necessarily true. He will have to spend more money on advertising to the wider party membership of course, but so far his battle is within the party, and particularly with those who will be delegates to the May convention.

McMahon meanwhile has been advertising to the general public and spreading some of her funds around to Republican Town Committees in the state, apparently hoping it will bring her some goodwill and delegates. (Officially the donations to RTCs - typically in the range of $250 to $500 - are to help elect municipal candidates in the November 2011 elections 18 months from now - not to attract votes for the 2010 convention, primary and election. Oh, and McMahon gave $500 to the chairman of my local town committee last month, but this month the committee voted unanimously to give it right back!)

Nonetheless if Wednesday's gathering in Greenwich is an indicator of things to come, Simmons will be on the receiving end of some serious assistance from national-level Republicans if it comes down to a primary battle, and beyond if he emerges victorious.

McMahon, despite her tens of millions of personal wealth to spend on a job that pays $174,000, can't even begin to compete with Simmons on the numbers of people who have supported their campaigns. She apparently will go it alone, with the vocal backing of some Connecticut Republicans, especially those on her payroll, but little in the way of meaningful support.


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