November 2005 Archives

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Circular reasoning defends "Roundness Syndrome"

By Michael Fumento

The food and beverage lobby calling itself The Center for Consumer Freedom (Unofficial motto: "Eat, drink, and be merry; for tomorrow we get paid!) claims there's new evidence that a study last April by Karen Flegal and others was correct in "putting the number of overweight- and obesity-related deaths at 26,000," although the CDC had previously been using a figure of 365,000. It noted that "some critics questioned [Flegal's] science." Yes, many did including me. It contradicted a slew of studies that came before and has been supported by none since. Now, pray tell, who is the one scientist they actually quote supporting the Flegal study? Why, it's Karen Flegal!

Sorry folks, but reading press releases from lobbyists who line their pockets by encouraging people to pad their bellies has not been demonstrated to lower the risk of overweight and obesity.

November 29, 2005 09:23 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Obesity

Just what does "withdrawing" from Iraq mean?

By Michael Fumento

Everybody's talking about it, but nobody in public at least seems to realize how exquisite a maneuver drawing down U.S forces in Iraq is unless you just want to cut and run and let the country collapse as Pennsylvania Dem. John Murtha does. It isn't a simple mathematical formula of being able to withdraw X number of Americans as soon as Y number of Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) reach a certain fighting ability.

The most important complicating factor is that the ISF are almost entirely light infantry. They have little armor or artillery, no close air support, virtually no air reconaissance, a couple of dozen small boats for a navy, and not even the proper bureaucracy to make sure men are supplied or paid. Without all of these, they have absolutely no hope of prevailing.

Some of the assets can continue to be operated from Kuwait or offshore, such as fighter/bomber support. But even air support from slower, shorter-range helicopter gunships, the awesome AC-130 fixed-wing gunships, and A-10 "Warthogs" must be based in-country. Why Iraqis are not being trained with and given these weapons is a good question, one they are asking, and the answer seems to be that if a civil war breaks out we'd rather they have access to nothing bigger than a RPG or mortar. Be that as it may, until they have this equipment and are proficient with it, we'll have to provide on-site support. This is one reason setting timetables is as dumb as the Bush Administration and military strategists say. A timetable for what?

That said, a modest draw-down of the right units in the short term and a more substantial one in the longer term could make a lot of sense. With few exceptions, the enemy wages war not with the rifle but the improvised bomb. Fewer Americans mean fewer American targets. It could also help deflate terrorist claims that America plans to be a permanent occupying force. Iraqi leaders are also claiming the U.S. is holding them back from fighting the sort of war necessary to defeat savage terrorists, according to a Sunday Washington Post story. This echoes the only complaint I heard from Marines and soldiers when I was in Iraq, that we were trying to win with a "kindler, gentler military."

But a complete pullout should no more be considered than was withdrawing from South Korea in 1953 or Germany in 1945. Nor will the world, especially the Islamist enemy, be oblivious that the country that sacrificed 58,000 lives over nine years in Vietnam couldn't stomach much more than 2,000 deaths and three years fighting in Iraq. Further, the chief "insurgent" is a Jordanian and about 10% of the enemy hail from outside countries. Whatever the merits of invading Iraq, it is now the focal point of the war on terror. It is neither just nor reasonable to expect the Iraqis to carry the burden of this fight alone.

November 27, 2005 06:25 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Iraq

You can't be taken seriously if you don't toe the MSM line

By Michael Fumento

After the Volokh Conspiracy posted my Weekly Standard avian flu piece, one commentor remarked: "Fumento is smart, but he's a contrarian by profession and I think that might affect his objectivity." Yes, I was indeed contrarian when we were told "Now No One Is Safe from AIDS," that Ebola posed a pandemic threat, that SARS could overrun the U.S. hospital system (it killed no Americans), that the avian flu hysteria of 1997-98 was just that, and on countless other issues as recent as Herceptin being portrayed as a "cure" for breast cancer when the very studies cited showed women dying while on the drug. If that doesn't detract from a person's credibility, what should?

What a strange world we live in.

November 27, 2005 05:31 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Media

Michelle Malkin's Dark Secret Revealed!

By Michael Fumento

In what appears to be a desperate effort to provide material for a second Michelle Malkin book on the Unhinged left just weeks after the first was published, the moonbats are coming out of the woodwork to attack her on absolutely any grounds other than the accuracy and relevance of her work. The main thrust, bizarrely enough, is that Michelle Malkin, well, isn't. You see, it's really her brilliant Rhodes Scholar husband who's doing the work while Michelle kicks back and eats juju fruits all day. Or at the very least, it's a combined effort. The evidence? Golly, she's just too darned prolific.

Never mind that anybody familiar with Jesse Malkin knows that his main interests are health issues and economics, which are just about the only two issues Michelle doesn't write about. Why accept an obvious explanation such as that Michelle has a genius IQ and works like a dog when conspiracies are so much more fun? Well, I say Michelle should just do the right thing and fess up. Yup, admit that Jesse writes all the columns and all the blogs.

That might leave you a bit confused if you've ever seen Michelle defending her, uh, Jesse's positions on TV with such expertise but there's an explanation for that, too. Does Jesse look good in a long black wig or what? In fact, this conspiracy keeps getting deeper. The couple's two children? Through the bizarre tinkerings of biotechnology, it was Jesse who carried them both to term in his abdominal cavity. Heck, Michelle couldn't even be bothered to donate the ova -- she was on Swiss skiing trips both times. (Didn't know that Filipinas skiied, did you?)

And there you have it. Michelle Malkin is a complete and utter fraud. So all you moonbats who have been taking nasty potshots at Mrs. Malkin need to turn those guns around and fire for effect on Mr. Malkin. Until, of course, it's revealed that all of his alleged work is done by a consortium of aliens from the planet Niklam. But that, my children, is another tale.

November 21, 2005 06:39 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Media

White phosphorus has no place in a kinder, gentler war

By Michael Fumento

Here we go again. It's not enough that every time we bomb a terrorist safe house we're accused of killing 40 civilians but missing the terrorists. (Why is it always 40?) Then we're told we must turn both Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo into facilities fit for Martha Stewart. Now the defeat-niks are screaming about our use of white phosphorus shells during the bloody battle for Fallujah last year. Known to U.S. troops as "Willy Peter" or "Willy Pete," and capable of being packed into a huge array of munitions, WP is a burning agent that can be used as a smokescreen, a smoke marker, or an anti-personnel weapon. It's hardly new, having been first used in the 19th Century while becoming a fixture in World War I. Nor should it be news that it was used at Fallujah. "The Fight for Fallujah," in the March-April 2005 issue of "Field Artillery gives explicit detail on how WP was used in the battle, for screening, marking, and killing.

Yet it's being treated as a major new revelation because of an Italian video made available on the Internet titled "Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre" -- as if the use of WP necessarily involves a massacre or as if there haven't been awful massacres in recent years using nothing but knives, machetes, and clubs.

The accusations against WP are two-fold. First, it's allegedly outlawed by the Geneva Convention because it's a chemical weapon. And, being a chemical weapon, our using it puts us in the same category as Saddam, or so says the popular leftist blogsite Daily Kos. But according to the authoritative website, "White phosphorus is not banned by any treaty to which the United States is a signatory." Is it a chemical? Sure! So is something else you may have heard of. It's called "gunpowder." And those chemicals used in high explosives? Yup, they're chemicals too.

Second, supposedly WP is allegedly quite horrific in that when it makes contact with a soldier, even just his clothing, it can burn his flesh all the way down to bone. Nasty, yes. But remember this was being used against men who were sawing off civilians' heads with dull knives. Which is a more terrible weapon?

Fact is, the American weapon of choice remains high explosives. WP's best use against personnel is to flush them out of foxholes and trenches where they can either surrender or be shot or blown up.

Finally, it's claimed that some civilians were hit by WP. Unfortunately, when you have an enemy that not only hides among civilians but hides as civilians (in total violation of the Geneva Convention, you Daily Kosers), any weapon is a potential threat to non-combatants. As we see on a daily basis, the terrorists' primary enemy is Iraqi civilians. If you want to save civilians, kill terrorists.

November 16, 2005 03:40 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Iraq

Another breakthrough with adult stem cells and hearts

By Michael Fumento

It's becoming old hat that infusions of stem cells from marrow rebuild both heart tissue and vessels after coronaries, something once thought impossible. But a large new German study considered what would happen if the marrow cells were administered shortly after the heart attack, as opposed to waiting until the tissue had already scarred over.

Heart attack survivors infused with stem cells from their own marrow showed nearly twice the improvement in the organ's pumping ability as patients given a placebo. Those who benefited the most were those who had suffered the greatest damage, the researchers said at the American Heart Association annual scientific meeting. The lead author noted that current intervention are "intended only to limit further damage to the heart," while stem cell therapy has the potential not only to limit further damage, but to regenerate heart function."

Meanwhile the number of humans helped in any way, shape, or form by those "miraculous" embyronic stem cells remains at, um, let's see here. Ah, there we go: Zero.

November 14, 2005 02:15 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Stem Cells

Medical Journals Join Criticism over Herceptin "Cure"

By Michael Fumento

In the wake of three studies published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, news outlets around the world pronounced the highly-expensive drug Herceptin to be literally a "cure" for breast cancer. As I pointed out in my column last week, for about three-fourths of women it's utterly useless. It only helps if the tumor emits a certain protein that most do not. Yet even for such women, on whom the studies were conducted, the studies were far too short and the data far too unconvincing to possibly justify such hype. Now Britain's Number One medical journal, The Lancet, and America's Number Two medical journal, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), have weighed in. Conclusion. We're looking at Herceptin Horse Hockey.

"The available evidence is insufficient to make reliable judgments," The Lancet stated in an online editorial. "It is profoundly misleading to suggest, even rhetorically, that the published data may be indicative of a cure for breast cancer." The editor told reporters, "Study results are preliminary, inconsistent and raise extremely serious concerns about safety."

JAMA, meanwhile, ran a letter critiquing the policy of cutting drug trials short simply because it looked like the group receiving the medicine was doing better than that which wasn't. The Herceptin trials (which were originally announced last May) were examples. The idea of "breaking the code" and giving everybody the drug is that it's the ethical thing to do; but in reality you lose a tremendous opportunity to distinguish the value -- and potential harm -- of a drug over a longer period of time. In some cases a drug that in the short run appears effective in a slightly long trial loses its effectiveness.

Now I'm getting letters from women with breast cancer (or who have friends with it) blasting me for NOT lying to them. Go figure; they can't tell the difference between a responsible science writer and a politician.

November 11, 2005 05:14 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Diseases (other than AIDS and cancer)

Update on Avian Flu piece in Weekly Standard

By Michael Fumento

"Fuss and Feathers: Pandemic Panic over the Avian Flu Threat" will be the cover of the Weekly Standard on November 14. When I found that out last week I wrote to my editor and asked him, "If it turns out I'm wrong and we all die of flu before the piece comes out do I still get a kill fee?"

November 11, 2005 04:53 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Diseases (other than AIDS and cancer)

Michelle Malkin's new book is a kick in the a--, er donkey!

By Michael Fumento

Michelle Malkin, a.k.a., "a know-nothing, empty-headed pseudo-intellectual who gets aroused by the smell of totalitarianism," according to one of her politer critics, has just produced one funny yet poignant book: Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild.

She did make at least one serious error, namely not dedicating the book to me. Actually she made another, not stringing up by the heels Molly Ivins. Ivins is the "index case" of the anti-Bush pathology, a virus that eats away at the victim's brain until he finds he wants his country to lose in Iraq and turn the country over to al Queda just to make George W. look bad. But perhaps Malkin is setting us up for a sequel. (Dedicated to me.)

The best part about Unhinged is that aside from some snort-inducing quips (Don't read this while drinking carbonated beverages) she lets her victims tie their own nooses and kick over their own chairs. It is often unbelievable what these people say in public (Michelle doesn't often resort to wire taps), some of whom are widely accepted as being a tad bit saner than the usual suspects like Howard ("YEARGGHHHH!") Dean or Prof. Ward Churchill. Thus she quotes Walter Cronkite, "the most trusted man in America," on CNN's Larry King that the surprise bin Laden tape that surfaced just before the presidential election: "I'm a little inclined to think that Karl Rove . . . who is a very clever man, he probably set up bin Laden to this thing."


No wonder "Cronkite" is German ("Krankheit") for disease. But there are countless other unhinged and disease individuals stripped and mocked in this book. Get a copy now or Osama (via my buddy Karl) will declare jihad on your Thanksgiving turkey.

November 8, 2005 07:37 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Media

France's catch-and-release program for rioters

By Michael Fumento

According to today's International Herald Tribune, "Nearly 400 people have been detained [for rioting], but few have been jailed; many of the rioters are teenagers, and the vast majority of underage detainees have been released."

Nifty! Shoot a cop, wear cuffs for an hour, and then burn three Peugots. Repeat as necessary. Again, France shows why it is truly the sick man of Europe.

November 8, 2005 01:35 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Crime

New theory on cause of AIDS

By Michael Fumento

In a demonstration I observed in McPherson Square today that comprised about 100 individuals (and that organizers will claim comprised a million) I saw signs reading: "Bigotry causes AIDS." As a health writer I feel quite foolish because I always thought that it was a virus, one primarily transmitted by anal sex and shared needles. Other signs declared: "Bush Has Declared War on AIDS." Indeed, in a sense he has. His administration has spent more per year on both AIDS research and medical and non-medical assistance to AIDS victims than that of any other president. Glad I'm not completely in disagreement with those million protesters.

November 7, 2005 01:42 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  AIDS

You dirty rotten non-liar!

By Michael Fumento

It's not too often readers accuse me of not lying, but one has regarding my "Breast Cancer Herceptin Hype" piece.

Dear Michael.

Please tell me what good came out of your column this morning. All you did was take away any hope women had of recovery. Did you give them an alternative to Herceptin?

Will it help them to know they may die? You certainly didn't do anything for their quality of life. All you did was try and be the big shot on the block with news that kills the hope of dying women. You are a grand stander---no one cares that you disclosed information that may or may bit be true. Right now you don't have anything better to offer. Obviously you have never been faced with a life threatening disease yourself, or you would know that hope is sometimes all anyone has. I'm sick for anyone reading your column today. I happen to have a good friend on that new medicine and it has given her hope. Thanks for nothing.


Leominster, Massachusetts

November 6, 2005 05:46 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Diseases (other than AIDS and cancer)

Who leaked my upcoming Weekly Standard "bird flu" piece?

By Michael Fumento

From a blogsite posting of November 2:

The Truth About Avian Flu
Michael Fumento has written an excellent article about the 'avian flu':

Actually, this is about my 1998 piece for the Wall Street Journal, as the blogger points out at the end. I guess panics are like fashions; wait long enough and everything comes back in vogue.

November 3, 2005 02:03 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Diseases (other than AIDS and cancer)

Bad News for Vaccination Conspiracy Mongers

By Michael Fumento

The only serious harm associated with the mumps-measles-rubella (MMR) vaccine is the risk to the health of children who don't receive it, an international team of investigators announced today.

"In particular we conclude that all the major unintended events, such as triggering Crohn's disease or autism, were suspected on the basis of unreliable evidence," said Vittorio Demicheli, M.D., of the Servizo Sovrazonale di Epidemiologia here and his colleagues in a systematic review from the Cochrane Collaboration. The Cochrane Collaboration is an international non-profit and independent organization, dedicated to making up-to-date, accurate information about the effects of healthcare readily available worldwide. It produces systematic reviews of healthcare interventions that are considered the gold standard in the business.

On the other hand, said the Cochrane group, "Mumps, measles and rubella are serious diseases that can lead to potentially fatal illness, disability and death."

As I wrote early last year, the idiocy over autism and the MMR probably wouldn't exist but for a tiny yet massively-publicized British study that turned out to have been paid for by trial lawyers who -- you got it -- were suing vaccine makers. In fact, some of the children in the study were their clients! When the news got out, the chief author was fired (he now works for the vaccine conspiracy nuts), the medical journal disavowed the study, and the co-authors also disavowed their participation. None of which mattered a bit to the conspiracy-theorists, who prize "real life" X-Files episodes over children's health and blasted me with more hate mail than I'd received on any subject to date.

November 1, 2005 01:52 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Vaccines