Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A fair shake is not too much to ask for

I realize it's a dollar short and a day late and not even really a vegan issue, but I just put up a bug supporting Dennis Kucinich for president. He's already dropped out of the race, so it doesn't matter that much. I try not to be overly political on this blog, but I do want to make a point. Kucinich dropped out of the race because he couldn't get a fair shake in the coverage of the election. He was excluded from debates because TV networks said he wasn't doing well in the polls. He was excluded from stories about the presidential election because he wasn't performing well in the polls. The problem is that you can't fare well in the polls unless you are covered with equal vigor. Michael Bloomberg, who denied his interest, got more presidential campaign coverage than Kucinich, and he wasn't even running. Fred Thompson, who did worse than Kucinich in New Hampshire, got far more campaign coverage than Kucinich. Even in the debates that Kucinich was allowed to attend, he didn't get an equal amount of time or questions as the "leading" candidates. Candidates who have been anointed with the special media buzz get covered by the media. Hillary Clinton got plenty of mention because she is the wife of a former president. Guess where such a public figure starts off in the polls? At the top. As far as I'm concerned, we need campaign reforms that prohibit the reporting of political polls. People get so caught up in perceived leaders that they end up supporting one of them instead of a candidate they identify most with. If a person qualifies to be on the ballot, that should qualify them to be given equal coverage. The media should do stories on the issues rather than on the polls. Let people decide who to support based on where they stand on those issues. Who has the best health-care plan, for instance? I saw a story in The New York Times several months ago about the Democratic candidates' positions on health care. Guess who wasn't mentioned? Kucinich and Mike Gravel. Would it have been so hard for the Times to have put in a few more paragraphs about the other two candidates? Many of the stories that mentioned Kucinich came at the end and said, "Also running are long-shot candidates Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel." What position is the media in to determine who is a long shot and who isn't? Let the voters decide this without interference. Maybe words like "long shot" could be used after early primaries are over. By the way, the public owns the air waves. We should require all networks to run free ads from all of the presidential candidates and dictate that all be given equal coverage. Well, I've said my piece.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Veganism is a win-win for the environment and people's health

I have not been good about keeping up with entries in this blog. I have committed myself to graduate school, and I have a full-time job. Thus, my spare mental energy and time are not there enough for me to keep up with the blog as often as I'd like. I'd like to say I'm resolved to be better about it, but I don't want to make any promises I may or may not keep. Having the blog has been wonderful. It has let me get issues off my chest and provide some education about vegetarian issues to others who live in the Rio Grande Valley. It is one more useful tool to help vegetarians connect with one another. I hope I've conveyed that eating a vegan diet is not difficult, and anyone can do it. Meat is expensive to buy, and it also exerts a tremendous toll physically and environmentally. Long since it printed a column on its opinion pages with blatantly false information about veganism, The New York Times finally printed something honest on Sunday about the cost of meat production called "Re-thinking the Meat-Guzzler" by Mark Bittman. Among his very interesting comments is this nugget: "If price spikes don’t change eating habits, perhaps the combination of deforestation, pollution, climate change, starvation, heart disease and animal cruelty will gradually encourage the simple daily act of eating more plants and fewer animals." The reality is that the planet cannot sustain the current levels of meat eating. It is destroying the environment both in terms of greenhouse gases and pollution to our waterways. It is destroying people's health, and it is making humans desensitized to enormous amounts of pain and suffering by the animals we slaughter.