Coastal Post Online


February 2002

The Greatest Terrorists Are Our Fellow Americans

By Stephen Simac

It's easy to frighten the nation with tales of secret cells of alien terrorists waiting to unleash deadly attacks on Americans. Humans have always been more frightened of the unknown than known risks. We're prone to build fears of even minimal molehills up in our imagination to mountainous proportions, while living in denial of our greatest threats.

The attacks of 9/11 were horrendous and demonstrated airline insecurity, although flying is still far safer than driving on our deadly highways. The estimated death toll on that day has been steadily declining, but the deaths and injuries from domestic terror have dwarfed even the first inflated figures since then.

We glorify deaths from war even as we lament them, but death is terrifying no matter how it occurs, or how little attention it receives. This homegrown terrorism is mostly preventable, if we gave the causes a fraction of the coverage and monies we have lavished on preventing outside threats.

Heart Attacks Or Self-Defense

Cardiovascular disease-heart attacks, strokes, and a variety of other ailments resulting from damages to the heart and blood plumbing system-is almost entirely self-induced. Over half a million Americans a year die from assaulting their hearts for decades, millions more become invalids. Cigarette smoking, couch denting and a diet heavy on grease and empty calories and lacking in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans is the major cause of cardiovascular illness, the leading cause of death and hospitalization in America.

If you laid the cremated remains of victims of CV disease to rest in Ground Zero they'd make a mound larger than the rubble from the twin towers. The bios and pictures of the victims wouldn't fit in a year's worth of NY Times Portraits of Grief pages. Yet we start our children off young in a lifestyle that will ensure half of them falling prey to this domestic terrorism. Almost totally ignored by the media are simple changes in lifestyle that would result in real prevention of heart disease and lowered health care costs from the $260 billion a year it now costs.

It's like neglecting to mention that more terrorists will sprout from the rubble of our War on Terrorism bombing, while changes in our foreign policy would eliminate the causes terrorists claim for their hatred of Americans. There will always be people who use violent actions to gain attention for their causes because the media loves to profile violence, but without popular support they will be isolated.

An Ounce Of Prevention

Cancers are the second leading terrorist killing American. Amazingly enough the same changes in lifestyle that prevent heart disease can also prevent most cancers, but people won't practice healthy lifestyles if you beat 'em with a stick. More Americans might if there was a serious effort to encourage and promote fitness and wellness.

There's no guarantee and there are many environmental causes of cancers, but you'd think that reducing the one in four chance of dying in lingering agony would attract more to follow preventive practices. Promoting these simple remedies of quitting smoking or never starting, exercising regularly, eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans, eating less fat, meat, sugar, refined flours and processed foods and drinking less alcohol and soft drinks would create a much healthier nation.

It would be cheaper and more effective than the trillions spent on the War on Cancer which has concentrated on finding a silver bullet Cure. Every few months for thirty years we've heard of the latest miracle cure for cancer coming soon, but we're still stuck with the tried and untrue- slash/poison/burn, surgery, chemo and radiation.

If cancer patients were violent criminals they could sue for cruel and unusual punishment, but as passive victims they are condemned to mostly die in agony. Dying people are denied even adequate pain medication for both their treatment and their illness because officials in charge of the War on Drugs are afraid they might become addicted.

Holy Crisco, Batman

John Ashcroft, who couldn't even defeat a dead man for the Senate, was appointed attorney general to appease the "Christian fundies". Like a "good Christian soldier" he anoints himself with Crisco grease before he goes into battle to attack medical marijuana suppliers. These compassion clubs are supplying most patients with pot to reduce chronic pain or nausea from chemotherapy. At the same time he's arresting sick people trying to find relief from suffering, he is threatening to take away pain pills from Oregon's physicians who assist suicide.

Most patients who beg for a doctor to kill them aren't given appropriate and sufficient pain medication. The rest are probably destitute Enron victims.

The attorney general is fine with police assisted suicide, all the rage lately. If you can't get a doctor to kill you, just wield a knife or club, even a wallet will do, and roll your wheelchair within the sights of some men in blue. Chances are they will fill you full of lead.

It's ironic that Ashcroft and his War on Drug soldiers are so dead set against marijuana. Some cannabis compounds have been found to reduce or eliminate tumors in rodents. If these results had been found with any other drug, headlines would have announced the next cure for cancer yet no further studies have been funded for human subjects. Cigarette smokers who also smoke pot have fewer lung cancers than those who don't, but you won't find cannabis in the cancer prevention programs.

God Smoked Burning Buds

Ashcroft is a hypocritical Crisco Christian, like so many who are ignorant of the actual practices of Jesus and his forebears. Biblical scholars claim that the ancient Hebrews from Abraham to Moses used copious amounts of burning cannabis for their spiritual revelations. The Hebrew word for "fragrant reed" was mistranslated as calamus instead of cannabis. They burned bundles of pot as psychoactive incense in smoke billowing tents like the Scythians and smeared hash oil on their foreheads as spiritual ointment. Moses' "Burning Bush" was just what it sounds like. Since Jesus was proclaimed Christos "the anointed one," we can assume that his "new wine" was not poured out of "old bags."

Put Some Lime In The Coconut

The third leading cause of death for Americans is medical practices. You won't find this listed in the top ten causes of death by the Center for Disease Control, but as many as 200,000 Americans are estimated to be killed yearly by modern medicine. Because it's such a scandal, the best figures the researchers can come up with are wide ranges of estimates based on a few national studies.

Over 100,000 estimated deaths are from legal pharmaceuticals, deadly side effects from routine prescriptions. That dwarfs the fatalities from illegal drugs, which have no FDA "safety" testing. If you wonder why that agency isn't keeping food and drugs "safe." be advised it's about keeping industrial profits safe.

An estimated 50 to 90 thousand deaths are from simple medical mistakes like illegible handwriting resulting in overdoses or wrong drugs given. There's thousands more deaths from surgery or infections following butchery.

The estimated death toll doesn't even include the fallout from radiation for diagnostic and treatment purposes. Dr. Goffman, a UC Berkeley expert in the effects of radiation on health, claims that 80% of cancers and cardiovascular disease deaths result from medical radiation.

These are known side effects from x-rays, and the American mania for mammograms is adding to the toll. These are recommended to women for breast cancer "prevention". European studies have shown they do not lower death rates from breast cancer while actually causing heart disease, unnecessary surgery, and cancers.

The death rate across the country increases with the number of physicians practicing in a county. The more doctors in an area the more deaths from heart disease and cancer. Industry funded medical researchers claiming there's no proof yet that profitable unhealthy practices are harming people or misguided medical advice aren't counted in that toll of medically caused deaths. From tobacco, asbestos, fluoride, mercury fillings, aspartame, vaccines, cell phone towers even toxic sludge-industries have profited by funding doctors or institutes to sow "scientific" doubts about their danger.

When the truth comes out decades later they are rarely held accountable except for the most blatant serial killers. For decades approved medical advice included using poly-unsaturated oils and margarine instead of butter because they were supposedly heart healthy. Recently they recanted admitting that these actually cause heart disease and cancers.

The medical industry hasn't been sued like tobacco or asbestos companies; there's not even been an apology for killing more people than Stalin. Pundits are quick to claim that we have "The best medical care in the world" without a shred of evidence. What we have is the most expensive care, a $1.5 trillion boondoggle per year while our average lifespan is lower than almost every industrialized nation. We do have pretty good trauma care, since there is so much violent death in America.

Heavy Traffic

Thousands of terrorists are driving on our highways, drunk, distracted or enraged. Traffic fatalities delete more lifespan years than tobacco by far. We spend millions to warn teenagers not to take up smoking and have safe sex, while blithely sending them out on the roads with the most minimal driver training. It's easier to get a driver's license without adequate training than a gun permit, yet there's no hue and cry to restrict the more deadly of the two.

The leading cause of death for Americans from infants to age 25 is traffic accidents. After a decade of Mother's Against Drunk Drivers lobbying in the 1980's, the numbers have been reduced from decades of 50,000 terrorist victims per year to over 40,000. It still ranks up in the top five causes of death right through the senile years. This doesn't even include the enormous health risks from motor vehicle air, water and noise pollution. Traffic is the biggest polluter in the country by far.

In a sense because this carnage has been going on for over a century, it's not accurate to call them accidents. It's an undeclared war, a result of deliberate policies and apathy towards implementing common sense actions to eliminate the causes of this endless terrorism. Decent mass transit is so limited that even the poor, those most likely to use it, have to spend a quarter of their income owning a car just to get to work.

It took decades to mandate seatbelts installed in the death machines by their manufacturers, decades more to require occupants to wear them. These laws have saved thousands of lives, but most highway and automobile safety improvements have only been aimed at reducing the impact on vehicle occupants, not on those they terrorize outside their enclosed wombs.

The popularity of SUV's is at least partly because owners know the greater height and weight will give them the killing advantage in a crash with a smaller car, usually driven by a poor person. The manufacturers designed SUV's so tall that they clear cars' lower chassis frames that provided a limited protection. This greater height also makes SUV's top heavy, prone to rollovers that may kill the occupants. Instead of driving steel and glass behemoths for simple transportation, cars could be made from Styrofoam or other soft materials. They could still have shiny exteriors, which holds such an attraction for people. Henry Ford built a plastic car from hemp in the 30's somehow; it even ran on hemp oil. Then industrial hemp was banned along with "marihuana" by the feds in 1937.

Every summer babies and pets are cooked to death when they get left in a solar heated car. Who's to blame the forgetful parent who probably didn't want to wake their sleeping baby, or the manufacturers who won't design cars to vent off excess heat?

Suicide Is Too Easy

Thirty thousand Americans choose to kill themselves each year, including whole school districts of teenagers scattered and feeling alone across the country. We don't like to talk about this, much less change our society that creates such despair that death seems preferable.

If you are on top in this capitalist culture you seem to have it made, but even the rich kill themselves because consumerism is soul deadening. If you are on the bottom, a cardboard sign is your best friend.

Depression is an illness that can also be healed by practicing a healthy lifestyle. Despite all the headlines about "wonder drugs" like Prozac, these have not lowered suicide rates and have been prescribed to most of the terrorists going on "inexplicable" killing rampages the media loves to cover. Homicide, mostly by guns, ranks right behind suicide as cause of death, but they switched places in the 90's probably because of the economy and the demographic dip in youth population.

I've Fallen And I Can't Get UP

We don't expect to find terrorists in our bathtubs, unless we've been watching psycho, but falls in slippery tubs kill more people than knife wielding wackos. Accidental deaths from falls, fires and gunshots rank right up there with suicides and homicides. Some might really be one of the 'cides. Many accidents are caused by excessive alcohol consumption, although the design of cigarettes, guns, and houses contribute to the death toll. Excessive stress and lack of sleep is as dangerous as alcohol. Individuals under stress or suffering sleep disturbances are much more likely to be involved in accidents and become ill than those fewer and fewer Americans who aren't.

Men are much more likely to die from accidents than women. The male trait for risk taking causes their 51-49% greater numbers at birth to decline to a gender minority by age 30. I've stayed away from high places ever since I saw a friend split his skull wide open after losing his grip while clambering up a granite cliff. Sober but tired, and way too daring. Another friend, one of my biggest fans who could even quote some of my quips, died from a fall in the Marin headlands. Alcohol involved, also too daring. He always claimed he was going to publish a book of my articles. I was in good company because he could also quote Shakespeare at length. It was tragic, his life had much more promise than my book.

I took his publishing claims with a keg of salt, since he was usually a bit sloshed when he said it and seemed poorer than I was. It turned out he had been celebrating the night of his death after coming into his inheritance from the Vicks vapor rub fortune. I loved that blue stuff when my mom rubbed it on my chest for a cough.

If our health care policies made any sense at all we would focus on prevention of the top causes of death and dismemberment, instead of throwing money at treating their symptoms and skewed towards a few diseases that are far less deadly. As it is tax monies and private donations are given out according to popularity contests, those with the most celebrity or cutest victims get the most monies and media attention.


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