John McCain was a rare commodity in U. S. politics. He was a war hero, full of good-natured irreverence, and a contrarian in the Republican Party. McCain made it abundantly clear that he put America before party politics. And when they both served in congress, McCain and Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer became good friends.
I met and visited Senator McCain on one occasion at the invitation of Roemer. The meeting was at the former governor’s Baton Rouge office, and McCain made it very clear to me that he loved Louisiana. He told me outside of his home state of Arizona, “there’s no place I’d rather be to enjoy the great food and the company of really lively and interesting folks than down her in Louisiana.”
Buddy Roemer had been out of the limelight for seventeen years, once he stepped down as Louisiana’s Governor in 1991. But when Senator John McCain wrapped up the Republican presidential nomination, Roemer found himself back in the catbird’s seat as a major player on the national scene.
Roemer signed on with the McCain team over a year before the election when the Arizona senator was just one of many in the pack. The Louisiana governor was on my syndicated radio show early on, touting McCain’s credentials when his campaign seemed to be in free-fall. By then Roemer had emerged as a key McCain adviser, and was featured in TV spots nationwide.
Buddy Roemer has always been a gambler. When he was governor, his campaign disclosure statements regularly showed winnings at poker games held at the Governor’s mansion. And Roemer has never been averse to playing a long shot, even on his own campaigns. He fought uphill races to get elected to Congress in the 1980s, and was in the rear of the pack in governor’s race when the campaign began back in 1987.
During the 2008 presidential election, Louisiana Senator David Vitter had initially pushed Louisiana republicans to support the quixotic campaign of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. But when Giuliani’s campaign crashed and burned, Roemer quietly began lining up support and raising campaign funds for McCain. If the Republican candidate had ended up being successful in that coming fall presidential election, Roemer would have emerged as a cabinet secretary, ambassador, or hold some other high post in a McCain administration.
When George Bush was elected president in 2000, Roemer was under serious consideration to be Ambassador to China. He used to play tennis with the former President Bush 43, and stayed in touch with a cross-section of Republicans throughout the country.
After getting out of elective office, Roemer had been involved in several successful bank ventures. But the lure of public service was still there. If John McCain became the next president, the odds were pretty good that a former Governor of Louisiana was going to be heading to Washington, DC.
McCain’s presidential aspirations were unsuccessful, but he did carry Louisiana with 60% of the vote. After being side tracked by Barack Obama, he went on to spend 10 more successful years in the U.S. Senate. Roemer built more banks and became a popular Louisiana author.
If you had to sum up John McCain’s life in a couple of words, they would be “honor and character.” He ruffled the feathers of a number of republicans by working with democrats across the aisle on issues he felt were good for America. His philosophy was simple - put country before party politics.
Knowing of his impending death, McCain said about his life: “ I don’t have a complaint. Not one. It’s been quite a ride. … I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times. I hope those who mourn my passing, and even those who don’t, will celebrate as I celebrate a happy life lived in imperfect service to a country made of ideals, whose continued service is the hope of the world. And I wish all of you great adventures, good company, and lives as lucky as mine.”
Sums up a pretty darn good life.
Peace and Justice
A study has found those who grill meat on charcoal, wood, or coal have a 12% increase risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke or heart failure.
Researchers from the University of Oxford studied 341,000 people in China, measuring their exposure to cooking mediums and their risk of heart death (8,300 died of heart disease unrelated to smoking and other factors). They additionally found that for every decade after one switched to cooking with gas or electric, their risk factor lowered by 5%.
Study authors suggest if one would switch to a gas or electric grill, the risk could be reversible. Daily Mail reports the following:
Last Spring, scientists found grilling may increase one’s risk of high blood pressure. In this study, reported by medical xpress, they found high blood pressure risk to be:
Chinese researchers find the smoke released during grilling to expose one to cancer- causing chemicals.
As we head into the summer, grilling burgers, hotdogs, and steaks are a favorite pastime. But a small study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology suggests PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), produced during grilling, are inhaled and absorbed through the skin, potentially causing genetic mutations that may cause cancer.
The study, out of Guangzhou, China, found those consuming the grilled meat had the highest exposure to PAH’s. Next came those exposed through skin, and finally those inhaling the smoke to be at next greatest risk.
Clothing provided some protection, but once smoke saturated, should be removed to lessen exposure.
The average person is considered safe if they grill in moderation, but excessive exposure could put them at higher risk of PAH-induced cancers such as lung, bladder and skin cancers.
For more on the study read here.
The heating of foods to high temperatures can cause chemical reactions among the amino acids, fats and sugars in foods, producing toxic substances. Acrylamide, as discussed below, can be formed when heating starches such as potatoes, to high levels.
Acrylamide is a chemical used in many industrial products that produce plastics, adhesives, food packaging and the treatment of drinking water. It can also be produced when foods are heated, fried, baked, or roasted to above 120 degrees Celsius (248 degrees Fahrenheit). In 2002 reports came out regarding acrylamide in french fries, and in 2013 the FDA issued guidance to the food industry on how to minimize producing the chemical.
Roasting coffee requires the beans to be heated to close to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. This heat produces a chemical reaction between the amino acid asparagine and sugars resulting in the formation of acrylamide.
The amounts however are miniscule. Much smaller than other modes of acrylamide exposure such as cigarette smoking and exposure at work when working in industries that use acrylamide such as plastics, food processing, mining, paper, agriculture and construction.
In rodents, acrylamide was found to increase several types of cancer. But the doses were 1,000-10,000 times greater than what the average human is exposed to.
According to the American Cancer Society, most of the studies done so far have not found an increased risk of cancer in humans. For some types of cancer, such as kidney, ovarian and endometrial cancer, the results have been mixed, but there are currently no cancer types for which there is clearly an increased risk related to acrylamide intake.
As noted earlier, acrylamide can be in a variety of products we use throughout the day. Large quantities, however, can be consumed through cigarette smoke, hence avoiding smoking is key. Moreover, avoiding frying foods, especially starches, greater than 120 degrees Celsius/248 degrees Fahrenheit if possible. Frying and or toasting to a light gold, rather than crispy dark brown color, may limit your exposure as well.
But keep in mind, numerous studies have found coffee drinkers to lower their risk of cancer, especially liver, uterine, prostate and mouth cancer. However 4-6 cups had to be consumed in order for researchers to notice a benefit.
More research still needs to be done on all fronts when it comes to grilling mediums, crispiness of our cooking and coffee. So while we wait for the verdict let’s kick back with something safe…..I guess a cup of water??