Saturday, March 14, 2009

Obama's Weekly Address: Translated; This Week: Peanut Butter, Cold Medicine, Tuberculosis and Diseased Cows. Huh?

Every Saturday, I break down President Obama's address, inspired by Sean Hannity's "Liberal Translation".

WASHINGTON – In his weekly address, President Barack Obama announced the appointments of Dr. Margaret Hamburg as Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and Dr. Joshua Sharfstein as the Principal Deputy Commissioner, as well as the creation of a new Food Safety Working Group. This Food Safety Working Group will be chaired by the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture and it will coordinate with other agencies and senior officials to advise the President on improving coordination throughout the government, examining and upgrading food safety laws, and enforcing laws that will keep the American people safe.

In addition, the President also announced two other measures to protect the American people. The Department of Agriculture will close a loophole to prevent diseased cows from entering the food supply. And, the government will invest in the FDA to substantially increase the number of food inspectors and modernize food safety labs.

President Obama announced his appointments of the following individuals today:

Margaret "Peggy" Hamburg

Dr. Hamburg is a nationally and internationally recognized leader in public health and medicine, and an authority on global health, public health systems, infectious disease, bioterrorism and emergency preparedness. She served as the Nuclear Threat Initiative's founding Vice President for the Biological Program. Before joining NTI, she was the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Prior to this, she served for six years as the Commissioner of Health for the City of New York and as the Assistant Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health.

Joshua "Josh" Sharfstein

Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein is Commissioner of Health for the City of Baltimore. He also serves as chair of the board of four affiliated nonprofit agencies. He has been recognized as a national leader for his efforts to protect children from unsafe jewelry and over-the-counter medication, and ensuring Americans with disabilities have access to prescription drugs. He is a member of the Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice of the Institute of Medicine.

For the record, on You Tube, The White House lists this video as "public domain"! Thanks, considering we all paid for it!

Transcript from White House:

I’ve often said that I don’t believe government has the answer to every problem or that it can do all things for all people. We are a nation built on the strength of individual initiative. But there are certain things that we can’t do on our own. There are certain things only a government can do.

What exactly does Obama consider us capable of doing by ourselves? Brush our teeth, put on socks on and stuff like that? A lot of nerve for a guy who has initiated the largest redristribution of wealth from private to public in U.S. History! Come on, Obama; tell the truth we know what you're up! The complete Socialist take-over of American lives!

And one of those things is ensuring that the foods we eat, and the medicines we take, are safe and don’t cause us harm. That is the mission of our Food and Drug Administration and it is a mission shared by our Department of Agriculture, and a variety of other agencies and offices at just about every level of government.

Well damn! I guess now that the economy is all fixed, the world is such a safe place and we no longer have to worry about enemy combatants who want to kill us; we have time to worry about trivial things like "the foods we eat".

Did I miss something? I thought we had a dire economic crisis and a couple wars going on somewhere!?!

The men and women who inspect our foods and test the safety of our medicines are chemists and physicians, veterinarians and pharmacists. It is because of the work they do each and every day that the United States is one of the safest places in the world to buy groceries at a supermarket or pills at a drugstore. Unlike citizens of so many other countries, Americans can trust that there is a strong system in place to ensure that the medications we give our children will help them get better, not make them sick; and that a family dinner won’t end in a trip to the doctor’s office.

And American's are supposed to trust the Federal Government, which can't manage itself out of a paper bag? Yes, we have safe food and medicine, Mr. President but I fear your nationalized health care plan will make many drugs unavailable, but I guess you don't want to hear about that right now.

The government is going to keep me from getting sick? What a great job the FDA did with that whole peanut butter mess!

But in recent years, we’ve seen a number of problems with the food making its way to our kitchen tables. In 2006, it was contaminated spinach. In 2008, it was salmonella in peppers and possibly tomatoes. And just this year, bad peanut products led to hundreds of illnesses and cost nine people their lives – a painful reminder of how tragic the consequences can be when food producers act irresponsibly and government is unable to do its job. Worse, these incidents reflect a troubling trend that’s seen the average number of outbreaks from contaminated produce and other foods grow to nearly 350 a year – up from 100 a year in the early 1990s.

So more regulation and bigger government is going to fix all of that? "Possibly tomatoes"? Is that like saying, "Peppers, tomatoes, or, I don't really know but believe me! It's scary! It's a crisis! We have to throw money at it and make the government bigger! The sky is falling!"

Part of the reason is that many of the laws and regulations governing food safety in America have not been updated since they were written in the time of Teddy Roosevelt. It’s also because our system of inspection and enforcement is spread out so widely among so many people that it’s difficult for different parts of our government to share information, work together, and solve problems.

"It’s also because our system of inspection and enforcement is spread out so widely among so many people"... uhhhh.... isn't that the problem with big government socialism? Too many cooks spoil the batch?

And it’s also because the FDA has been underfunded and understaffed in recent years, leaving the agency with the resources to inspect just 7,000 of our 150,000 food processing plants and warehouses each year. That means roughly 95% of them go uninspected.

And Obama is going to fix everything! Woo hoo!

That is a hazard to public health. It is unacceptable. And it will change under the leadership of Dr. Margaret Hamburg, whom I am appointing today as Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. From her research on infectious disease at the National Institutes of Health to her work on public health at the Department of Health and Human Services to her leadership on biodefense at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, Dr. Hamburg brings to this vital position not only a reputation of integrity but a record of achievement in making Americans safer and more secure. Dr. Hamburg was one of the youngest people ever elected to the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine.

And her two children have a unique distinction of their own. Their birth certificates feature her name twice – once as their mother, and once as New York City Health Commissioner.

Speaking of birth certificates... can we see yours now? Who signed it? Who is listed as your mother? Zing!

In that role, Dr. Hamburg brought a new life to a demoralized agency, leading an internationally-recognized initiative that cut the tuberculosis rate by nearly half, and overseeing food safety in our nation’s largest city.

Tuberculosis? Was that a problem? Did she cut the plague rate in half? Scurvy?

Joining her as Principal Deputy Commissioner will be Dr. Joshua Sharfstein. As Baltimore’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Sharfstein has been recognized as a national leader for his efforts to protect children from unsafe over-the-counter cough and cold medications. And he’s designed an award-winning program to ensure that Americans with disabilities had access to prescription drugs.

How many unsafe over-the-counter cold medicines are there? Sure, keep our kids safe, but should I be worried?

Their critical work – and the critical work of the FDA they lead – will be part of a larger effort taken up by a new Food Safety Working Group I am creating. This Working Group will bring together cabinet secretaries and senior officials to advise me on how we can upgrade our food safety laws for the 21st century; foster coordination throughout government; and ensure that we are not just designing laws that will keep the American people safe, but enforcing them. And I expect this group to report back to me with recommendations as soon as possible.

Yeah! Another group, council, task force, bureaucracy! And another shadow government White House project because Rahmbo has to run everything!

As part of our commitment to public health, our Agriculture Department is closing a loophole in the system to ensure that diseased cows don’t find their way into the food supply.

How many diseased cows have I eaten already? What are you talking about? How about we ensure that no diseased pork is coming out of Washington?

And we are also strengthening our food safety system and modernizing our labs with a billion dollar investment, a portion of which will go toward significantly increasing the number of food inspectors, helping ensure that the FDA has the staff and support they need to protect the food we eat.

Billion here, a trillion there. *sinister laugh* Pretty soon I, Barack Obama, will be close to enacting the "Cloward-Piven Strategy":

First proposed in 1966 and named after Columbia University sociologists Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, the "Cloward-Piven Strategy" seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse.

In the end, food safety is something I take seriously, not just as your President, but as a parent. When I heard peanut products were being contaminated earlier this year, I immediately thought of my 7-year old daughter, Sasha, who has peanut butter sandwiches for lunch probably three times a week.

Really? You don't let her have any of that $100 steak? Peanut butter is all she gets?

No parent should have to worry that their child is going to get sick from their lunch. Just as no family should have to worry that the medicines they buy will cause them harm. Protecting the safety of our food and drugs is one of the most fundamental responsibilities government has, and, with the outstanding team I am announcing today, it is a responsibility that I intend to uphold in the months and years to come.
And this is probably the last time you'll hear him talk about food safety.

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