Category Archives: healthcare

Hiring Amy

I was looking for a contractor to dig a new foundation the other day and I came across Amy Coney Barrett. Contractor extraordinaire. Referred by Don the Con Construction Advisory Panel. So I had her come in and do an estimate.

Me: Hello Amy, I am happy to see you. So, what is your experience as a contractor?

Amy: I am certified as a contractor by Home Advisor and the Federalist Society.

Me: OK. So, need you to provide some references.

Amy: Certainly, just look at my website. It is all about me .

Me: I did that already. Yes, well your website says you are a contractor and that you are an honest contractor. No examples of your work. But, do you have any references from places you have done work for in the past?

Amy: That is a good question. I am well aware that references exist and that references are something that all contractors should have. However, divulging references at this point may prematurely influence your decision to hire me. However, at some time in the future I may or may not divulge references.

Me: I see. Well how many foundations have you dug and what kinds of materials do you use?

Amy: Excellent, thoughtful question. As you may or may not know, there are many types of foundations. It is important to find the type of foundation that best fits every individual’s needs. Some foundations are better than others. There are a variety of styles of foundations. As well as sizes.

Me: Ok. So what kind of foundations have you constructed in the past.

Amy: I would like to answer that question as fully as possible. I am certified to build foundations of many types and styles. At this time I cannot really commit to any one foundation, although I can assure you that I will faithfully build a foundation. Foundations are the foundation upon which buildings are built. Before I can discuss a foundation I will need you to sign my contract. Here is my contract.

Me: (Reading the contract). Hmm. Ok, it says here that I am hiring you for life. That is a pretty big commitment.

Amy: Yes. Before I can start to explain what a foundation is and what I may or may not build, I need a lifetime commitment from you that I will be the sole contractor you ever hire. And I will be paid regularly, of course, for the rest of my life. Whether or not I actually build any foundation is not the issue. It is the lifetime guarantee of employment that is important.

Me: I see. Well, so, can you tell me what you plan to build the foundation out of, before I sign the contract. And are there any guarantees on my end?

Amy: That is a good question. I would like to explain to you exactly what I do and how I will do it. However, to do so may influence how I make my foundation building decisions in the future. Certainly that would be unfair to any future construction. Premature. Just sign.

Me: Well, what about guarantees? What if the foundation collapses or leaks?

Amy: Interesting point. In the past there have been some contractors who would guarantee their work. In that case there is a guarantee. In other cases there is no guarantee. I feel it is premature to discuss any guarantee until you have signed and returned the contract to me. At that time I may, or may not, discuss guarantees.

Me: What about foundations you have dug in the past? Can you give me some addresses so I can look at them.

Amy: A very astute question. Which I think I already answered. Delving into the past is not needed. Whatever I may or may not have built in the past is not important. What is important is the future. I keep an open mind on each foundation I dig. If I dig foundations. Which I do. Or maybe I don’t .Can’t discuss it until the contract is signed.

Me: So, you want me to give you a job for life even though I have no idea how you are going to build a foundation or if you will guarantee your work. Or even if you will show up at all?

Amy: Well, to be clear. As I said in the past and I will say in the future. A contract is a contract and a guarantee is a guarantee. That said, I cannot commit at this time to the actual building of the foundation until the contract is signed. At that point I will open to discussions of all contractual arrangements.

Me: What if the foundation collapses and harms or kills my wife or kids.

Amy: That is a good question and I would like to discuss it now. However, any discussion of possible damages or injuries may be premature. There is nothing in the original Constitution that requires me to build a foundation that will not collapse. I refer you the the original document.

Me: Ok. Sounds like a good deal to me. I will give you a lifetime contract. You will not answer any questions about your past foundations or plans for building my foundation. You accept no responsibility for faulty work. I guess I could sign.

Amy: Good. Sign here and here and here. Ok. I will be back sometime in the future to perhaps perform a function for which you will pay me for the rest of my life. As for now, I have another appointment. Don’t call me, I’ll call you.

Me: Thanks Amy. Sure is good to know I am in the hands of an honest professional.

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Filed under abortion, ACA, Constitution, GOP, healthcare, Obamacare, Politics, right to life, Senate, Supreme Court, Trump, United States

Acceptance Speech Dilemma

Mr Trump, who has not allowed any opposition within the GOP to his nomination, has to decide where to make his acceptance speech. According to news sources has has narrowed down his choices to the White House and Gettysburg. Two of the most important sites in US history.

However, I have learned though White House sources that these are not the only two places under consideration. The White House brain trust of Donald Junior, Ivanka, Jeb the night janitor and Bobo the One Eyed chimp are looking at other options and their pros and cons. They have formed a committee to investigate the possible itinerary for the speech, the Committee to Investigate Territory Now, (Comintern). I was able to speak with the most articulate member of the Committee, Bobo just last night.

Me: Hi Bobo. So, have a banana. What can you tell me about the possible speech sites?

Bobo: Hoot..hoot…hoot. (Through our interpreter, Jane) We have good sites. Many good sites.

Me: For example, what is on your list?

(Note : For simplification the rest of Bobo’s account will eliminate his actual words or hoots. They are the words of the Interpreter. Also, for clarification, Bobo did consume 3 bunches of bananas during the process)

Bobo: First thought was Mount Rushmore. Maybe taking a jack hammer to Lincoln to make room for a carving of the best president ever. Imagine. Donald Trump making the speech below a massive carving of Donald Trump. It boggles.

Me: So, what else?

Bobo: Then we thought, well, this was Ivanka’s idea, maybe fly to China. Have a great photo op in one of Ivanka’s purse factories. Donald could be surrounded by smiling faces of happy kids . Happy because they have a 30 minute break (unpaid, of course). But Xi would not agree. So that got nixed.

Me: So, other options?

Bobo: We tossed around the idea of Florida. Anywhere in Florida. At any hospital. Donald would go into a Covid-19 ICU and spray the patients with Clorox bleach. Show some real leadership fighting the pandemic. But no hospital would give us permission. Something about the Hippocratic Oath. Guess there are a lot of hypocrites in Florida.

Me: So, that one went down the tubes. Any other possibilities?

Bobo: Donald Junior suggested a golf course. One of Trump’s own golf courses. What symbolizes a connection with the white working class better than a country club? Donald would drive out in a gold plated golf cart onto the first tee. He would be followed by Pence in a silver plated golf cart. Pence would lie down on the tee box, balance a golf ball on his nose and Donald would smack it into the fairway. Then, they would ride down to the green of the first hole, Pence always 5 lengths behind Donald. Donald would drive his cart right up to the hole, lean down and take out a golden golf ball with MAGA emblazoned on it. Then give the best speech ever. We had a minor problem when we practiced this one. Pence is still recovering at Walter Reed hospital. Thank god for Obamacare.

Me: Well, Bobo, I hate to say it, but you guys really haven’t come up with much.

Bobo: Think not? You haven’t heard our back up emergency plan.

Me: Emergency plan?

Bobo: Yep, if Donald keeps dropping in the polls. And if the Manhattan district attorney gets a hold of Trump’s tax returns. We will fly the entire family along with Roger Stone and Bill Barr to the Kremlin. Kindly ask permission for an audience with Donald’s boss. Then the Donald will drop to his knees and deliver his farewell address at the feet of Vlad. It’s the last resort, of course. But certainly an option.

Me: Well, if that happens there will be a lot of angry Americans. And even more happy ones.

Bobo: No kidding. One thing for sure. Once we land in Moscow, they will never see Air Force One again. Pass that banana over here, would ya?

 

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Filed under candidate, Democrats, Elections, GOP, government, neoconservatives, Obamacare, Politics, president, Society, Trump, United States

Vladimir Appleseed

In the early 19th century a man named John Chapman wandered around Pennsylvania, Ohio and other states planting orchards. Orchards of apples. As time went on and stories about his life changed he became a legend.

Images and stories of Chapman wandering across the country flinging apple seeds hither and yon. Creating orchards in his wake. So John Chapman earned the nickname of “Johnny Appleseed”. An American folk hero.

Of course there is a lot of truth in these stories. Johnny did plant orchards of apple trees. Then he protected them from wild animals by  fencing, as any good horticulturalist would do. He did travel across many states. He did spread apples across the “western”states.

Those seeds took root. He came out every year and tended those orchards. He made sure his wide ranging plantings were protected and managed. It worked. In the early 19th century clean water was not easy to come by. Which is why “cider” was a popular drink. The trees Johnny planted were not good for eating apples, but were great for cider. A real public service.

Now, on the internet, we have a new Johnny Appleseed. His name is Vladimir. He trolls through the vast web of on line information and plants the seeds. The seeds of dissent. The seeds of doubt. Flinging them hither and yon. Hoping they take root.

He is seeding and tending orchards of misinformation. Of false news. Of divisive, negative nonsense. He pretends he is a black man and sows seeds trying to divide blacks from whites. He pretends he is a Democrat or a Republican and sows seeds of hatred for the other side. He pretends he is a doctor and sows seeds of confusion concerning Covid-19. And it is working. Americans are confused. Divided as never before.

It worked in 2016 and it is working today. Vladimir Appleseed planted the misinformation of “Clinton Corruption” in 2016 and many folks devoured the apples. I recall doing a “search” on the name “Hillary Clinton” during the campaign. At one point the first 2 pages of links were all about the Clinton “health issues”

Of course, there were no health issues. But seeding the internet with false reports and bots, Vladimir Appleseed was able to push Clinton “health issues” to the top of the Google research pages. Because stories are placed in the order of how many others have clicked on the site. Not based on accuracy, just numbers. It worked.

So, Vladimir Appleseed is at it again. Joe Biden is some kind of child molester. Joe Biden has mental issues. Joe Biden is some kind of crook with contacts with the Ukraine. It’s all out there. Joe Biden is a racist. Joe Biden is a socialist. Seeded.

Now, Johnny Appleseed is an American hero. He was a fine man who spread the “good news”of apple trees. An overwhelmingly positive force. Except.

Except. John Chapman also planted a medicinal herb called “dogfennel”. An invasive, quick growing plant that has a certain odor. Unfortunately dogfennel is also poisonous. John didn’t know it, but he was spreading the seeds of poison as well as the seed of cider.

Johnny Appleseed spread apples and dogfennel. A great crop and a poisonous plant.

Vladimir Appleseed has skipped the apples and gone straight to the dogfennel. He knows exactly what he is doing. Spreading the seeds. The lies. the misinformation. And people are unaware of its poisonous properties.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Appleseed

https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/eupatorium-capillifolium/

 

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Filed under Clinton, Democrat, GOP, healthcare, Joe Biden, news, Politics, Republicans, Society, United States

Finally, An Honest Man

A friend of mine, Diogenese Lamplighter, was walking around with a big smile on his face. Which is quite unusual for him. So, being curious and always willing to throw a blanket over happiness , I had to intervene.

Me: Dio, old boy. What have you got to smile about?

Dio: Well, cranky one, I have finally reached my goal. I have found an honest man. Just one. But he is an honest man.

Me: Needless to say, Dio, I am a bit skeptical. A truly honest man?  Are you sure or have you been hitting ouzo again?

Dio: A man who tells it like it is. No bullshit. He says what he means and means what he says. Total honesty.

Me: Wow. Where did you find this guy? In a monastery or church…wait.. of course not. Hmm. In a cave somewhere far away from civilization? Where, oh, wise one, where?

Dio: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC.

Me: OK. Let me google map that…hmmm… hey… wait a minute, Dio, that’s the White House! You mean there is someone in the White House who is an honest man? That would be a first.

Dio: Oh yes. A completely honest man. A man who hides nothing.

Me: (kind of excited now, which doesn’t happen much) Who? Who? Jared? No way. Maybe Steve Miller? Nah, can’t be. I know, I know..it’s got to be Barron? Right?

Dio: No, my foolish, disillusioned friend, it is none other than Donald J Trump, President of the United States.

Me: Sheesh. Now I KNOW you have been not only hitting the ouzo but also soaked the grape leaves in too much white wine. Trump? Honest? Give me a break.

Dio: I will do better. I will give you my analysis. After all these years of searching for an honest man, it has only been Donald J Trump, President of the United States, who has dared to speak the truth.

Me: But… but… he is a racist, a xenophobe, a climate change denier… even some Republicans don’t like him.

Dio: Oh, but you are missing the point. For the last 40 years the Republican party has done everything it legally can to support big business. At the expense of workers. And at the expense of the small business owner. They have pretended to care about workers but oppose the minimum wage. They say they want health care but have opposed health care reforms for years. They are in court right now, trying to destroy the ACA.  As Mr Reagan said, in the eyes of the GOP the “government is the problem”. Because “government” is the only thing preventing corporations from driving out small business and keeping wages low.

Me: Well, I don’t know. Seems to me that the GOP over the last 40 years have just been advocating for following the Constitution.

Dio: Did the Constitution say corporations are “persons”? Or that voting should be suppressed?  Or that black folks should not have equal protection under the law? Or that the post office should be destroyed? Or prisons privatized?

Me: So, what is your point?

Dio: My point is that the Republican party has been a party of racism (remember the Willie Horton ad), bigotry, sexism and anti-working man and anti-small business for at least 40  years. But they pretend to be otherwise. I mean, how can you win an election if  you tell people that you’re main motivation is to screw them?  How can you win an election if you tell folks ahead of time that you are giving millionaires massive tax breaks because it is good for people making $7.25 an hour (the minimum wage)? How can you win an election by telling working people that they would be better off without government protection of their water? But Trump. He is honest.

Me: So , you are saying that Trump just says what the GOP has been afraid to say?  But that they really do support him and his racism and misogyny and general disdain for science and  working people?

Dio: DUH. Mr Trump just says out loud what the GOP has been saying, with their policies, for the last 40 years. Now, I admit, he is a bit more vulgar than many in the GOP would like, but he has given them the government they want.  Corrupt. Racist. Incompetent. Authoritarian.

Dio: I can snuff out the flame on my lamp. Finally, an honest man.

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Filed under ACA, candidate, Constitution, Democrat, Elections, GOP, government, minimum wage, Politics, president, racism, Republicans, Society, Trump, United States, workers

Forget About It

When I taught high school, like almost all high school teachers, I needed to supplement my income. Like many teachers I volunteered to coach a variety of sports. I say “volunteered” because often the hourly wage was pretty minimal. But, still, it helped pay the bills.

One of the key ideas I tried to impart to the kids was that we all make mistakes. You will hit the rim and miss the shot. You will take a third strike instead of swinging the bat. You will commit a foul in the penalty area. You will simply do the wrong thing. Sometimes physically. Sometimes mentally.

Micheal Jordan, perhaps the best basketball player ever to walk onto a court, missed about 50% of his shots. He seemed to make the shot at the crucial time, but he missed plenty as well. He failed half the time.

I saw the major icon of soccer, the great Pele, in person in Rochester, New York in the 1970s. He was playing for the New York Cosmos. Pele had his shot stopped by the Rochester Lancers keeper on the modified penalty kick. He walked up to the keeper and shook his hand.

Bottom line. Everyone fails sometimes. The point is not the failure, but what happens next.

I tried to impress on my teams that they needed to forget, immediately forget, any mistake they had made. Forget about it. Then go on and do what you are supposed to do. Get back on track. We can analyze later. In the middle of the game is no time to feel bad or become dislodged from the task at hand.

Maria Jones (not her real name) was my best goal scorer. On Tuesday she missed a penalty kick that would have tied the match. We lost. As fate would have it, on Friday, the next match, we were again awarded a penalty kick. The team looked over to the bench. Who should take the kick? I yelled out that Maria should. She put it in the back of the net and we won the game (I think we won 2 that year). I knew her mental state. I knew that she was able to forget about it and get the job done.

Which brings us to May 25, month number 5 of the Covid-19 pandemic. A lot of people have screwed up. Made mistakes. Done the wrong thing. Governor Cuomo waited too long to institute stay at home orders. Lives were lost. Mayor DeBlasio of New York city was even slower to respond. The Trump administration was unprepared and waited way too long to close borders. And coordinate a national response.

We could go on and on and second guess what SHOULD have happened. A recent study shows that over 30,000 lives could have been saved if the USA had just acted one week earlier to shut down non-essential services. Mistakes were made. Mistakes are always made.

As Judge Judy says: Coulda, shoulda, woulda.

It matters not. What does matter is the now. What are we doing now? It’s never too late to act. The game is hardly over.

We need a national response. We need states to coordinate. We have Texas and Florida and Georgia and California all going their own way. The team, which should be working together, is breaking apart. Where is the coach?We need national, enforceable guidelines for essential and non-essential services. We need help for the 40,000,000 plus unemployed. We need testing. The lack of focus is causing us to make the same mistakes again. And again.

We need to move on. Ignore what happened in January of March or early May. Where are we now? Where do we need to go. What comes next? What’s the plan?

Mr. Trump, you missed the penalty kick. But the game is not over. Place the ball carefully on the penalty spot. Take a deep breath. You missed it last time. Forget about it. Step up and blast it into the back of the net.

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Filed under Economy, government, governor, healthcare, NYC, Politics, president, Society, Trump, United States

Exploding Heads

I was watching an interview with Joe Biden on MSNBC  last night. Also, on the show was the Georgian Democrat, Stacy Abrams. There seems to be a push by some on the left to make her Biden’s vice presidential candidate. That, in my opinion, would be a massive mistake. She is a nice enough lady but lacks the experience  and recognition that Biden needs in a running mate.

So, I got to thinking. Always a unique and dangerous activity.

Want to watch Rush Limbaugh’s massive cranium blown apart like a giant pumpkin after a meeting with a shotgun blast?

How would you like to see Sean Hannity whining and crying (well, that’s nothing new) like a 3 year old as his noggin develops nodules and the bile spills out?

How about seeing the three Fox and Friends taking turns running in circles and jumping up and down like  Mexican jumping beans (ILLEGAL Mexican jumping beans) while their noodles wilt like ice cubes in the sun.

Picture Lindsey Graham pouting, shouting, pounding, sounding, kazooming and glooming while his cranium is crushed like an anvil dropping on Wiley Coyote . Like that picture?

How about sitting back in your easy chair watching the Tweeter-in-Chief’s “biggest brain in the world” implode, explode, overload and miggletoad like a rotting tomato in the claws and jaws of a hungry squirrel ? Totally obliterated. OUCH.

Want to see that? Want to see unbridled panic? Want to see a political party and news network brought to it’s knees slobbering and babbling about a series of non sequitor non sequitors?

Easy. Joe Biden should select Michelle Obama as his running mate.

In a poll in 2018, Michelle Obama placed second among voters as the person they would want to see as the Democratic nominee. Only Joe Biden did better. Yes, even though she was not running and had no intention of running she placed better than Sanders, Harris, Warren, Booker…you name them.

In poll after poll, national and international, Michelle Obama is rated as either near the top or the most popular woman. Most respected. Classiest.

Imagine a campaign in which Joe Biden, Michelle Obama and Barack Obama are all in the Democratic  limelight. Imagine the right wing misery to see one of the most popular former presidents and one of the most popular females in the US  joining forces with Biden to win the election. Imagine how much excitement would be generated by this combination.

Imagine Michelle Obama, an advocate of decency and women’s rights, going up against Pence, Trump’s wooden soldier.  Discussing voting rights, women’s rights, health care and general competency. She would have him for lunch. As a salad. Easy on the French dressing.

Obama -Biden won in 2012 and 2016. Biden-Obama can win, and I think win easily, in 2020.  The Trump team knows it. There is no one they fear more than the Obamas, Barack and Michelle. The models for what a president and first family SHOULD be. (The reason for the Obamagate fantasy is precisely because they fear Barack and Michelle so much)

What a contrast that would be. Biden-Obama vs. Trump-Pence. What a contrast in the area of decency. Competency. Empathy. Experience. But best of all….

Just imagine the fun of watching the exploding heads on the right wing. KABOOM!

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Filed under ACA, candidate, debates, Democrats, Elections, GOP, government, Joe Biden, liberals, obama, Obamacare, Politics, POTUS, Republicans, Society, Trump, United States

Fake Numbers

News flash:

“A new report claims President Trump and members of his coronavirus task force are pushing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to modify its coronavirus death-toll methodology in a way that could lead to fewer deaths being counted.

The report from The Daily Beast Wednesday cited five anonymous administration officials working on the federal government’s response to the pandemic. The outlet reports Trump has privately questioned the number of COVID-19 deaths in the United States, which topped 80,000 this week, and suggested they may be incorrect or inflated by the current methodology. ”

Over the past weeks we see members of the “real news” (right wing ) questioning the reporting of Covid-19 deaths. On one hand, most experts are convinced that the numbers, as reported are low.  Probably a lot more than the 85,000 reported deaths. People have died at home or people died before the the virus deaths were being counted. Nebraska has solved this problem by refusing to release the actual numbers of deaths. A truly Trumpian solution.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/05/12/nebraska-coronavirus-case-numbers-meatpacking/

But the Trump position is that the numbers of deaths have been inflated. Trump’s political opponents have been using the death numbers to make him look bad. Many of these people who are reported as victims of Covid-19 are actually victims of other illnesses. It’s all a plot !

Based on this new interpretation of data it is time to look at other statistics and see if they have also been misinterpreted by the so-called experts. To investigate this I called my good friend Barney Flopbottom. Barney is a self-educated statistician who has never been tainted by a college education. He does have a degree in Statistical Science from Trump University. It cost him $25,000. But Barney says it was money well spent. Where else can you get a degree without attending a class?

So, I called Barney to discuss the nature of statistical data.

Me: Hi ,Barney, how you doing?

Barney: Well, I have a temperature of 105 and have been coughing up blood for 3 days. But those are just numbers. I’m ok.

Me: So, Barney, you have said in the past that gun death statistics, put out by the federal government, are wrong. Can you explain?

Barney: Well, not only are they wrong, they do not exist. We have no gun deaths in the US.Never did, never will. Same is true of the coronavirus. No one has died form the virus. Zero.

Me: Well, what about the murders of little children at Sandy Hook, or the shootings at Columbine or the Las Vegas shootings?

Barney: What about them? None of these were caused by guns. It is a hoax. A Democratic hoax. A libtard hoax.

Me: Well, we saw pictures of the deaths. We saw the children being murdered. In fact about 30,000-35,000 Americans die each years from gun violence. That means since the terror attacks on 9/11, over 600,000 American men, women and children are now dead because they have been shot with a gun.

Barney: HA! What a bunch of nonsense. Just like the fake numbers of Covid-19 deaths. The fact is , not a single man, woman or child has been killed by a gun or by the virus. It’s all fake news. Put out by people who hate Trump.

Me: Are you saying that 600,000 Americans were not killed by guns? Or 85,000 Americans have not been killed by the virus?

Barney: Exactly. Let me explain. Let’s say you were a 7 year old at Sandy Hook. going to school. Happy to be with your friends and teachers. A sweet little 7 year old. Now, some guy comes in with an AR-15 and shoots a bunch of kids and one or maybe 17 of the bullets hits you. Did the gun kill you? NO Did the bullet kill you? NO. What happens is this. The bullet enters, let’s say, your little beating heart. Now, the heart stops pumping blood so you die. It was the HEART that killed you, not the bullet. Or if the bullet hits your brain it is the brain damage that kills you, not the bullet!

Same with the coronavirus. The virus does not kill anyone. Use grandma as an example. Let’s say the virus enters grandma’s lungs and she stops breathing. It is the ABSENCE of air in the lungs that kills grandma.  So, stop blaming guns and the virus. Stop blaming Trump.

Me: So all the data on coronavirus deaths is wrong?

Barney: Amen. We need to redo all the statistics. Not a single death of the 85,000 has been caused by the virus. The cause of death should be: “Lung disease” or “heart failure” or “unknown” or “act of God”.  It’s all a plot to make Trump look bad. Time for the CDC to put out new, accurate numbers. ZERO.

Me: Well, Barney, I have to admit. It is hard to argue with that type of logic. I guess the numbers are all wrong. So, does this mean, what I think it means? We need to go back and change some of our historical misconceptions? For example, does this mean that the Holocaust deniers are all correct? That the Nazis did not kill 6,000,000 people?

Barney: Yep. Exactly. We need to rewrite the history books. The Nazis did not kill millions of Jews. That is just another example of fake news. It was a lack of food that killed some of them. Starvation. For others it was because they were breathing Zyklon B gas. Lung failure. Others died from exposure to the cold. Hypothermia. Isn’t it time we stopped trying to make Hitler look bad?

https://thehill.com/changing-america/well-being/longevity/497602-trump-administration-pushing-cdc-to-change-how-it

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Filed under Democrats, Economy, GOP, healthcare, logic, nazi, news, Politics, Society, Trump, Trump University, United States

Herd Immunity

“What is herd immunity?

When most of a population is immune to an infectious disease, this provides indirect protection—or herd immunity (also called herd protection)—to those who are not immune to the disease.

For example, if 80% of a population is immune to a virus, four out of every five people who encounter someone with the disease won’t get sick (and won’t spread the disease any further). In this way, the spread of infectious diseases is kept under control. Depending how contagious an infection is, usually 70% to 90% of a population needs immunity to achieve herd immunity.” (from the John Hopkins School of Public Health website).

So, being exposed to a virus and surviving tends to give a person immunity from further problems caused by that same virus. And when enough people are immune, they stay immune. The population is no longer affected by the disease. That is the key point. They can be exposed over and over and the disease will have no effect on them.

Now, let’s take that principle and apply it to evidence and facts.

I was struck by the few hundred Michiganders who intimidated the Michigan legislature this week. They were carrying guns and screaming. Some had masks. Most did not. They were mad because the Michigan governor told them to engage in reasonable behavior in the midst of a pandemic.

It was a herd. A herd of ignorance. A herd threatening violence. A herd immune from reason.

We have seen over the past 20 years or so a development of herd immunity in the area of facts and evidence. Fox news  and right wing websites, along with help from Russian agents, have spread the idea that evidence and facts are not evidence and facts. Real evidence is “fake news”.

I have relatives who have inoculated themselves from facts and evidence. They watch a steady stream of Fox news, filled with distortion and misinformation. Over time, this steady stream of distortion has made them immune from contracting the “virus” of evidence and facts. It has made them immune from reality.

Like immunity from smallpox or the flu, Fox news has prevented real facts or evidence from taking hold in their bodies. If some real news does seep through it is quickly attacked by anti-bodies. So, we can quantify the evidence  that the US government has failed miserably to deal with the Covid-19 crisis, but that evidence is quickly dispelled. Since the facts cannot be refuted, the information is attacked  as fake and sent out of the body. The anti-bodies do their job. They destroy reality.

So, according to Fox news, the crisis is the fault of the Democrats, the press, the Chinese, the liberals. And when that does not work, the claim is made that it’s not so bad, etc.  While over 1,000,000 Americans are infected with the virus, that fact is attacked and minimized. So what? What is a 1,000,000 compared to the need to keep our economy going. We have 325,000,0000 people, we can afford to  lose a few million. Etc.

Looking at the few hundred gun toting imbeciles attacking the Michigan governor, it is clear that they are immune from reality. Herd immunity. In their herd facts and evidence are attacked and destroyed. The inoculation of Fox news and other right wing media has destroyed the capacity of evidence and facts to enter their worldview.

Which is why no amount of facts, evidence or common sense will ever get through to these folks. They are beyond facing reality. They have constructed a safe place in which to live. In their minds. Try as much as you want to use reason or facts. It will do you no good. These people are beyond hope.  They will continue to reject evidence and facts from their bodies. They are immune. They have joined the Fox herd and from that herd there is no return.

Herd immunity.

 

https://www.jhsph.edu/covid-19/articles/achieving-herd-immunity-with-covid19.html

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Filed under Economy, government, governor, healthcare, Politics, Republicans, Rubio, Society, Trump, United States

A Sh*thole Country

In January, 2018 Mr Trump complained about the “sh*thole countries” of Africa and the Caribbean. He didn’t like people coming from those countries. And he did not like the way those countries were being run.  Furthermore, there was no way Mr Trump was going to help these countries. They are on their own.

Now, no one really identified the characteristics of a sh*thole country. Of course they are all black, but the administration would deny that. Nothing to do with skin color, everything to do with how a country is governed.

So, in that sense what Mr Trump was really talking about was sh*thole governments.

I did some research and discovered some universally agreed on characteristics of a sh*thole country.

First, a sh*thole country has a government not elected by the people. The leaders come to power with support of a minority, usually a violent minority. And once in power they use that power to expand their power. They pack the courts so any actions they take will have a veneer of “legality”. They harass or jail or murder their political enemies. They manipulate the process so it seems democratic but actually seeks to minimize the voices of people.

Second, in a sh*thole country the leadership tends to be family-based. In other words, family members and close personal friends of the leader are placed in power. As a result, the economic interests of a small group of people become the main focus of the national government. Any person of integrity is weeded out and a chorus of sycophants sings in the choir.

Third, in a sh*thole country any crisis or potential crisis is politicized. Any crisis is the fault of the enemy. The enemy could be any opposing political groups. Different ethnic groups. Outside groups. No crisis is ever the responsibility of the ruling family. The ruling family always is able to identify the “other” and then take actions accordingly. Never at fault. And to criticize the ruling family is considered anti-patriotic.

Fourth, in a sh*thole country there are systemic failures in a number of areas. Since the wealth of the nation is controlled for the benefit of the few, it is inevitable that there will be shortages in key areas. For example, many people rely on private charity for food. Many people do not have access to quality health care or insurance. Unions are crushed or criminalized so workers cannot get good wages or benefits. In a sh*thole country working people live hand to mouth, if at all.

Fifth, in a sh*thole country there comes a time when it is laid bare. A real crisis hits. Something the government cannot control by propaganda. Something outside the ruling family’s ability to control. An invasion. A terror attack. A pandemic.

When that happens the people of the sh*thole country are left to their own devices. There is no planning or attempts to help them. The ruling family and friends blame the people themselves. In a sh*thole country the government takes no responsibility for the welfare of the people. Because the ruling family is there only to raid the treasury, not govern for the common good.

So, when Mr Trump says he will not help any sh*thole country he is telling the truth. For once. If you live in a sh*thole country you are on your own. Get used to it.

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Filed under Constitution, Economy, government, healthcare, Politics, POTUS, Society, Trump, United States

It’s Not the Economy, Stupid

When Bill Clinton was running for president against George Bush 1 the economy was not in great shape. Now Clinton and Bush had divergent ideas about the role of government, voting rights, social issues, etc. But Clinton’s key adviser told him to minimize those issues.

He had one phrase that he reminded Clinton of every day.

“It’s the Economy, Stupid”.

Talk about the economy. The failure of the Reagan-Bush supply side economics. Emphasize the economy. The economy. The economy.

It was good advice. Clinton won and by the end of his second term the US was actually paying DOWN the national debt. That ended, of course, when the Supreme Court told Florida to stop counting votes and installed Bush 2 as POTUS. He went right back to supply side and, well, you know the rest.

Now, we are engaged in a real crisis, not just an economic downturn. In fact, The MIPOTUS (Mentally Ill President of the United States) inherited the best economy since the end of World War 2. The crisis we face is a pandemic, not an economic crash.

Our current person in charge (I cannot force myself to call him a “leader”) has spent the last 3 months concerned about one thing and one thing only. The economy. No, I take that back. He has been concerned with the Stock Market. Period. Which is part of the economy, but hardly the entire economy. He has identified himself as the man behind the Obama boom he inherited. As the man who created a great economy from nothing. A legend in his own mind.

To such an extent that he and his sycophants have all but ignored the pandemic. We can easily go back to his various statements about how it was a hoax or a plot or was being overblown by the “fake news”. As long as the stock market looked good, he was unconcerned.

February . We have it under control. It will disappear. It will be like a miracle.

Now, due to the inaction and hubris of those in charge, we see the economy on the verge of a major shutdown. It is temporary, of course, because it is caused by a medical emergency, not an economic one.

But still, every chance he gets, the man in the bubble talks about how we had the greatest economy on Earth, until this pandemic hit.  There will be plenty of time to dissect all the incompetency and corruption that has led us to this point. And there is plenty.

But what needs to be done now (actually 2 months ago) is an honest, open explanation of what the government is actually doing to help the states and cities fight this war. Instead of vague comments about how he is doing a great job, perhaps listing specific, reliable actions he is taking at the national level would help ease some of the fear. Of course, the problem is that the federal government is doing very little. The anti-big government mentality still holds sway. Let the states worry about it, not our problem.

To Mr. Trump and his cadre of ass kissers: It’s not the economy, stupid.

It’s a pandemic. It’s a national emergency. If you cannot handle it perhaps now is the time to announce you will not seek re-election. Then, perhaps, you can sit quietly in Mar-a-Lago and let the experts take over. The “best of your ability” is not good enough. It’s killing people.

 

 

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Filed under Clinton, economics, Economy, government, healthcare, Neoconservative, Politics, POTUS, president, SCOTUS, Society, Supreme Court, Trump, United States

Virus Cures a la Trump

I don’t know why I watch. But I do. It is the same reason, I suppose, folks gawk at accidents. A bit morbid. Curiosity. How bad is it?

I am referring to the “news” conferences of Mr Trump regarding the coronavirus. You know, the big Democratic hoax! My wife won’t watch him any longer but I find him fascinating.

We must face the fact that the GOP has given us the first mentally ill president. A total narcissist. The man with the biggest brain.

Well, yesterday he talked about the “immediate” cures that are available. Specifically about a drug used to control malaria. A drug used to control malaria. Malaria.

OK. Well, malaria is not caused by a virus. Or a bacteria. It is a parasite. It is a parasite that a person may get if they are bitten by a mosquito carrying the parasite. It is not transmitted by sneezing or coughing or screwing. So, it has no relationship in any way to a virus. Especially an unknown virus.

But the good news about the anti-malarial drugs is that they are safe. If you have malaria they will fight the parasite and not kill you. A plus. So, Mr Trump  considers malarial drugs a good fit to fight SARS-like virus. Hey, it could work! You never know? What have you got to lose.

As usual, the man with the biggest brain is thinking “outside” the box. In the “box” is science, technology, common sense, data, intelligent thought and “book learning”. The man outside the box rejects all that. So, I thought I would join our commander-in-chief in this time of crisis and also think outside the box. After all, you never know. So,here goes some possible coronavirus cures. Hey. You never know.

Tom’s of Maine Toothpaste Cure. Take some toothpaste (Tom’s of Maine has been found by the FDA to be safe) and stick it on the end of a pencil. Shove it up your nose until blood oozes out of a nostril. Repeat on other nostril. It’s possible that this may force the virus out of your body. Hey, you never know.

Norland Potato Cure. Buy some Norland potatoes. They are the red ones. Russets will NOT WORK for this cure. Cook 7 potatoes with 4 quarts of olive oil and dishwater. Rinse and drain. Mash the potatoes with chopstick. DO NOT USE A FORK. That is very important. Smear the potatoes between your toes and under your armpits. Let sit for 3 hours. This cure may kill any coronavirus through osmosis. You MAY be cured. Hey, you never know.

The Singing Cure. Find a copy of the words to “Jeepers, Creepers”. Standing on one foot and holding a banana in your left hand, sing the words backwards through three verses. Immediately afterwards peel the banana, eat the peel and place the fruit of the banana in a cup of boiling Ooolog Tea. That should destroy the virus. Hey, you never know.

The Smashing Cure. Put on the tightest running shorts you can find. Also, the heaviest snowboots you have in your closet . (If you have no snowboots you can substitute high heel shoes). Put 3 ice cubes in your mouth. Run as fast as you can into the nearest tree. Walk backwards 30 feet. Run as fast as you can into the same tree. Walk backwards 30 feet. Repeat until..A. the ice cubes in your mouth have melted….B. Your teeth have fallen out ..or C. You go unconscious. This cure should dislodge and expel any coronavirus in your body. Hey, you never know.

I could go on, but I won’t. The point is, cures for the coronavirus are ALL AROUND US. Just think outside the box. Use your biggest brain. Be a real leader.

 

 

 

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Filed under government, healthcare, logic, Politics, POTUS, Trump, United States

The Death of a Whistle Blower

The whistle blower is dead.

No, not the whistle blower who saw the illegal actions of Trump and reported them to the proper authorities. Not yet, anyway. This whistle blower was  Chinese doctor from Wuhan province. He is dead from the highly contagious deadly virus we call coronavirus.

Dr. Li Wenliang was only 34 years old. When he discovered the fact that his patient had an unknown virus and was spreading it, he took action. He thought it might be SARS.  It was too late for him, since he had no way of knowing how virulent the virus was before he treated his patients.

As soon as he understood the possible repercussions of the virus he immediately informed his colleagues on a web site. On December 31 he put out the warning. This was bad. This was transmitted human to human. This was highly contagious and deadly.  Take precautions . Get on top of this. He blew the whistle on the virus.

The Chinese government did not like it. Bad PR. Might lead to panic. So, Dr . Li Wenlaing was arrested. YES. Arrested for blowing the whistle. Then he was silenced.

Then he was forced to plead guilty. To spreading rumors. From an interview he did a few days before his death.

How did you feel when the police accused you of spreading rumors?

The police believed this virus was not confirmed to be SARS. They believed I was spreading rumors. They asked me to acknowledge that I was at fault.

I felt I was being wronged, but I had to accept it. Obviously I had been acting out of good will. I felt very sad seeing so many people losing their loved ones.

How long will it take you to recover? What do you plan to do afterward?

I started coughing on Jan. 10. It will take me another 15 days or so to recover. I will join medical workers in fighting the epidemic. That’s where my responsibilities lie.

But the good doctor did not survive. At 34, he is dead, leaving behind a wife, a 4 year old and an unborn child. According to Dr Li Wenliang if the government had disclosed the possible problems with the virus earlier, it may have limited the spread.

So, the whistle blower is dead. He was guilty, under Chinese law, of spreading rumors. He was silenced.

We don’t silence whistle blowers in the US. They are protected. We want them to come forth with information the public needs. Or information about government wrongdoing.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has a different idea, however. He follows the Chinese model. He plans to call the whistle blower and make him pay for blowing the whistle on Trump’s illegal activities.

“During an interview with Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo over the weekend, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham vowed to compel testimony from the whistleblower in order to get to the bottom of what led to impeachment against President Trump. He also reiterated his plans to investigate the Bidens for their involvement with Burisma, the most corrupt company in Ukraine. ….

“”The day of reckoning is coming for congressional and Senate oversight of Joe Biden and the FISA warrant process,” Graham said.

A day of reckoning. For all whistle blowers. President Trump agrees. And president Xi of China concurs.

 

 

https://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2020/02/03/lindsey-graham-ill-be-calling-the-whistleblower-for-testimony-a-day-of-reckoning-is-coming-n2560619

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Filed under Chinese, Congress, Elections, government, healthcare, impeachment, neoconservatives, Politics, Society, Trump, United States

The Ten New Things

As the three people who read my blog know, I am pretty good at predicting things. I predicted that Jeb Bush would win the presidency in 2016, that Medicare for all would be enacted and that all Republican gun owners would turn in their weapons as a show of support for children murdered every day in America. OK, so maybe no so good. HOWEVER, here is part of my end of the year prediction from December , 2017, when the GOP controlled both houses…

“Finally. Congress votes itself a 50% pay raise for a “job well done”. The legislative branch passed a total of three bills. They were: 1. “The Amazing Trump is the Best President Ever” bill awarding the Trump Medal of MAGA to the best person in America. This year’s recipient? Donald Trump. 2. “The FBI Traitor” law. Which labels all members of the FBI, former and current, official “enemies of the people” and subject to immediate permanent detention and prosecution for doing “bad stuff”. Mueller is the first to be perp walked. 3. “Congressional Vacation Act” which allows Congress to take a vacation for a period including January 2 through December 30, with pay and expenses for fact finding travel.  Mr Trump signed all three bills and praised Congress for their services… which will no longer be necessary.”

I was watching the pundits on Morning Joe this morning talking about the demise of the Democratic Party because of the APP problems in counting the Iowa Democratic caucus votes. Their main theme was the incompetency of the Democratic Party. And by extension any Democratic administration. Okey Dokey.

This was similar to another Democratic government run debacle with the roll out of the Affordable Care Act. We all remember how Obama and the Dems screwed that up. Big government at its worse. Except.

Except both the ACA roll out and the Iowa caucus problems were not caused by “big government” at all. Both were major technical  problems made by private contractors, not the government. In a nation where the prevailing narrative remains that business is more efficient than government, we see the opposite. It is the private contractors that screw things up. Regularly.

Now, let’s look at really BIG government, the Social Security administration and Veterans administration. These are the government folks who send out your Social Security and Veterans benefit checks. And have been doing so for decades. Ever miss a payment? Ever have a check bounce. Ever have a failure to deliver? I rest my case.

But, back to the pundits who are already predicting the end of the Democratic Party. It is February 4, 2020. Between now and Election day there will be at least 10 new things that will once again give the pundits something new to predict. And they will be just as certain of themselves and just as wrong as they always are. As a self-made pundit, here are my 10 new things.

1. One of the Democratic candidates will be physically assaulted, by weapon or by fist. And she will punch back.

2. A major US corporation will file for bankruptcy. And be given tax dollars as compensation.

3. Kim Jung Un will announce that he has a nuclear weapon and the ability to reach the US with it. Also announces a contract for new Trump Tower in Pyongyang.

4. Donald Trump, Jr will announce the best trade deal ever with China, and the details will be forthcoming. The details never come forth.

5. A number of global warming catastrophes around the globe will prompt the UN to hold a global warming summit, which the US will refuse to support.

6. The GNP will continue to hover around 2.3% but no one knows what that means. Although 76% of the population is certain it has something to do with the Super Bowl.

7. Photos will emerge of Mike Pence leaving a room with a woman. She looks scared. So does he.

8. Israel will announce that they accept the Kushner peace plan which allows Palestinians to look at their former homes on the West Bank during Ramadan. For 2 minutes.

9. Mike Bloomberg will buy North Dakota, Mississippi and Arkansas, giving him enough votes to win the election. He complains that he has used up all his pocket change for the week.

10. Vlad Putin will make a surprise appearance at the Republican convention and will graciously accept the nomination for president by acclimation of the party. Why not eliminate the middle man? Vlad  will then appoint Ivanka Trump as his running mate.

So, those are my predictions. And after each event the pundits will all-knowingly tell us what it means. Again.

I know what you are thinking. Most of these are WAY OUT THERE and probably not going to happen. But  number 10 is just obvious.

https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2017/12/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/techonomy/2013/11/10/the-unhealthy-truth-about-obamacares-contractors/#1a8f06bf644f

 

 

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Filed under ACA, candidate, Congress, Conservatives, Democrat, Economy, Elections, GOP, government, liberals, neoconservatives, Politics, Senate, Society, Trump, United States

The Cruci”fiction” of Donald Trump

A Republican congressman made this statement during the debate on the impeachment of Donald Trump.

“Before you take this historic vote today, one week before Christmas, keep this in mind,” Loudermilk exclaimed. “When Jesus was falsely accused of treason, Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers.”

“During that sham trial, Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than Democrats afforded this president in this process,” he concluded…..

https://www.thedailybeast.com/gop-rep-barry-loudermilk-compares-trump-to-jesus-says-pontius-pilate-was-fairer-than-democrats?ref=scroll

And so it goes. The finest man ever to don the robes of the presidency of the US has been impeached. Unfairly. Crucified. Beaten. Handed a crown of thorns. Just like Jesus.

Some may claim that the comparisons between Jesus and Trump are unfair. After all, the Christ guy never won the popular vote in an election. Other than that, the parallels in the lives of these two men…er, gods…is pretty telling.

Until recently we knew little about Jesus outside of the gospels, but a recent discovery of scrolls in a cave in Israel has shed more light on the life of the Chosen One. (I mean Jesus). The actual trial transcript of the trial of Jesus has now emerged.

The title of the document: The Roman Empire versus Jesu bin Joseph, AD 31. It is a blockbuster.

The transcript outlines how Jesus sent his lawyer, Matthew the younger, to Sumeria to dig up dirt on John the Baptist. In return, Jesus implied he would send some magic loaves and fishes to help the King of Sumeria deal with the famine. He was explicit, however, that there was no “quid pro quo”. (Since people back then spoke Latin they actually knew what what meant.)

Lawyer Matthew also paid off Mary Magdelane to keep her mouth shut about her “contacts” with the Chosen One. Twenty five silver coins and a jar of holy water, turned into a mild chablis. That did the trick.

At the trial Jesus refused to let any of his disciples testify. He invoked the highest executive privilege. He claimed that God the Father himself refused to allow any testimony. In fact, he claimed that God the Father Himself wrote a legal opinion that Jesus could not be indicted. Even if he used his slingshot and killed a Samaritan on the road to Jerusalem. Above the law.

Now, the prosecutors claimed that Jesus had defiled the temple by throwing out the money changers, a clear case of assault and battery. And obvious socialism. He worked on the Sabbath, which was against union rules. He turned water into wine and served it to minors. He even gave end of life care to Lazarus, and never left an invoice.

Worst of all, he gave out free food and free health care to the poor. And some of the poor were illegal immigrants from Egypt. Not even Roman citizens. Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Jerusalem was not happy. They were losing plenty of denarii on their prescription rider charges.

Since the transcript is incomplete we will never know how the trial turned out. But, I suspect with a jury foreman like Mitch McConnell it was an easy acquittal.

Like Jesus before him, let us hope that Mr Trump, the new son of the GOP gods, has the same fate as the first Jesus. If so, it would be a miracle.

Amen.

 

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Filed under Christianity, Elections, GOP, government, healthcare, immigrants, Politics, Republicans, Society, Trump, United States

Full Military Honors

The McConnell Supreme Court just issued a very fascinating ruling about fetuses. They upheld a portion of an Indiana law, signed into law by the most holy Pence,  that requires the proper burial or cremation of a fetus that has been aborted. Also, if the woman has a miscarriage.

Now, in Indiana about 99% of abortions are performed within the first 13 weeks. At that point the fetus is less than 4 inches long. The size of a nice string bean. Some of these fetuses will be much shorter, of course.  And the fetus weighs in at a rather hefty…well…less than 2 ounces. Less than half of a quarter pounder at McDonald’s.

According to my understanding of the Indiana law this pea pod, tiny bundle of cells is now going to be given full burial rights. For purposes of disposal, this little package will be required to be buried or cremated. It’s the LAW.

This raises some interesting issues.

How many burials or cremations will this entail? Well, the last year I could find stats showed that abortions are up in Indiana. Close to 8,000 each year. That means 8,000 new burials. That comes to about 154 burials per week. That is a lot of cemetery plots. Tiny plots, to be sure, but still…..

Who decides whether the fetus is buried or cremated? Does the law take into account the wishes of the fetus? Some fetuses may object (if they could talk) to being buried. They might prefer cremation. Others, of a more fundamentalist persuasion, might demand to be buried. Otherwise, how could they rise from the dead in glory in the “Last Days” when all of god’s children meet with him ?

Which brings us to another issue. Baptism. Can the fetus be baptized? If so, into which religion? You might say the religion of the mother. But, obviously the mother is a slut who just killed her own fetus. Certainly she is going to hell. Why should she be able to decide? Perhaps a committee of religious leaders in the community could decide? A lottery system? Eenie-meenie-minee -mo? Or, heaven forbid, what if the woman is a Jew??!!!

Miscarriages are another issue. I mean, a woman who aborts her fetus is obviously evil. But what about the woman who miscarries? Well, now, in addition to the sorrow and pain she feels, she will be required to decide how to dispose of her potential offspring. additional pain and suffering. As well she should. After all, she should not have miscarried in the first place.  “Sorry lady, but you should not have had that diet Coke. It’s your own fault”. Lesson learned.

Interestingly enough, the law allows for mass incineration of fetuses. The health clinic can scoop a bunch of them together and burn the little guys all at once. This hardly seems appropriate. Mass graves. Mass incinerations.  Hmmmmm. What does this remind you of? Consider. Some fetuses may have names (Yes, the woman is asked whether or not she wants to name the fetus) , Some will be Jews! Some will be Muslims. Some will be Catholics. Some will be unnamed. Others will be named Roy, or Donald, Jr. or Maria Germania Cynthia Honoraria Pence. All thrown together helter skelter into one mass cremation. Awful.

What about the fetuses of our military? What if the father, for example, was in the Army or Navy? What if the father was a general? In that case, I would suggest that the 3 inch bundle of cells requires a military burial with full military honors. I am shocked that somehow the highly intelligent  members of the Indiana legislature forgot to include this in the bill. An unfortunate oversight. (Or perhaps an Obama plot?)

Let us imagine. The drummers are drumming. An honor guard carries a tiny coffin draped in a tiny American flag (made in China). The bugles blow. A tiny hole is quickly dug in the cemetery. As the tiny coffin is lowered into the tiny hole the uniformed honor guard shoots into the air. A 21 condom salute.

Isn’t that the least we can do?

 

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/5/28/1860923/-The-Burdens-of-Indiana-s-Fetal-Remains-Law

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/05/state-mandated-mourning-for-aborted-fetuses/482688/

 

 

 

 

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Filed under abortion, GOP, healthcare, Politics, Supreme Court, United States

Treat Me Like A Dog

For the past two years I have been contacting my state legislators about the Medical Aid in Dying bill proposed for New York state. And for the past two years I have not been able to get an answer from either one on where they stand and why.

Being in a rural, conservative part of New York, they both appear opposed. But neither has been willing to state the precise reason for the objections.

Which makes sense. Because there are no non-religious objections. The New York bill is modeled after the Oregon bill and New Jersey bill, which just passed. The Oregon law has been in place for about 20 years and has had no complaints about abuse. These bills do not force anyone or any institution from participating in end of life assistance. They are careful to allow anyone with an objection not to be required to take part in any end of life actions. They protect everyone.

So any objections are primarily religious. And the bill takes those into consideration.

When I think about this issue 4 names come to mind. Bill, Margaret,Lucy and Zoey.

Bill was my father-in-law. He served in WW2 in the British air force before the US entered the war. Once the US entered he was transferred to the US military. After the war he came home and built a house. He started a business selling eggs door-to-door. Yes the Egg man. Goo goo ga-choob. And he was successful and raised a family. He liked the nice glass of wine and a pipe full of cheap tobacco.

It was probably the wine and pipe smoking that lead to his cancer. I think it was throat or esophagus. At any rate, he couldn’t eat . He refused to go to a hospital because he did not want to be kept alive artificially. He slowly starved to death, his wife feeding him morphine to ease the pain.

The last time I saw him he looked like an Auschwitz prisoner. All skin and bones. He was so light we were able to carry him. Like a living skeleton. A man who had fought in a war to free the world from Nazis ended up looking like a victim of the Nazis.

Margaret was my sister-in-law. She was only about 62 when she passed away. Like my father-in-law she also had some type of throat cancer. Since she lived in California I did not see her at the very end. But she also insisted on dying at home. She also starved to death.

She was an active, healthy woman of Dutch heritage. She was an airline stewardess who flew international flights. She raised two great kids . She did everything right. She took care of my brother. She starved to death.

I don’t know if Bill would have taken advantage of a Medical Aid in Dying law. He had no choice. I do know that Margaret would have done so. She expressed that she wished she was back in her native Netherlands where aid in dying was legal. She had no choice.

Which brings me to Lucy and Zoey. Our two dogs. we had them since they were puppies and as they got older and more infirm it became obvious that it was cruel to allow them to live in pain. It would be unconscionable to allow them to suffer. Inhumane.

First Zoey, then a few years later Lucy had to be “put down”. Our local kindhearted vet came to the home. I petted Zoey as Christine administered a shot to put Zoey to sleep. The, after she was unconscious, another shot to stop her heart. I felt the life drain out of her as she slowly became dead weight. A humane death.  A death with dignity. A death without pain or suffering.

All I ask of the state of New York is this:

When my time comes, please “treat me like a dog.”

Home

https://www.nysenate.gov/senators/thomas-f-omara

https://nyassembly.gov/mem/Philip-A-Palmesano/

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Go Fund Me, Please

Some new Go Fund Me accounts that all of us should support.

Donald To Deutschland. Accepting all variety of coin (rubles preferred) to send Donald back to the homeland of his father. His father, Herr Frederich von Trumpenhausen, was born in a nice place somewhere in Germany. Help Donald return to der fadderland. Help him find a nice place. A place where the black folks don’t roam. A place where they had a wonderful wall that worked…well, maybe not so much. A beautiful place. The best place ever. A place he could love to call home…if it was 1936.  A long way from here. One way ticket only.

DeVos Year Abroad Fund. Betsy grew up in Holland , Michigan and after her private high school (in Holland, Michigan) went to a small private religious college called Calvin College. Also in Holland, Michigan. There she studied the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes, who encouraged the subjugation of all to absolute authority. So, her thought processes have been formed by those of Calvin and Hobbes. Once, in 1978, she left Holland, Michigan when she took a wrong turn on a side street. Never made that mistake again. We feel that sending her overseas may broaden her knowledge of the world, since she is the Secretary of “Education”. Then, again, maybe it won’t. Perhaps a trip to a foreign country, like Puerto Rico, might do the trick.

Pills For Pence. Obamacare just doesn’t cover everything. Mike Pence cannot control his sexual urges. He refuses to have lunch or dinner or be in a room with a woman alone. The temptation to attack her and sexually assault her is too great . (Not a problem for the commander-in-chief, however).  He cannot trust himself. Of course, so far in his lifetime there has never been a woman who would eat lunch with him or be in a room with him by herself. But that is another Go Fund Me. This account will fund an adequate supply of Rohypnol for the veep. It is hoped that by ingesting this drug his personality will be elevated above the current comatose state.

Bears For Biden. This crazed hugger cannot control his emotions. Maybe it is that he misses his first wife and young  son who were killed in a car accident in 1972. Or maybe he misses his other son who died in 2013 of brain cancer. Or maybe he just likes people. Who knows? But, in 2019, it is inappropriate to show any affection to anyone at anytime. Period. So, Joe needs a big , fat Teddy Bear to hug. One of those gigantic bears that can take having the stuffing hugged out of him,or, preferably, her. Hug away Joe. Just look out for the MeBearToo movement.

Bribes For Bibi. Bibi needs cash. Cold hard cash. Under the table cash. Untraceable cash. It’s just not fair. Everyone else is doing it, why can’t Bibi? OK, so he got caught taking a few little payments. Big deal. His mother told him he should have been a doctor. Anyway, Bibi’s cash flow is drying up. In Israel, they CAN indict the leader for crimes. What a crazy Idea. Who knew? So, keep Bibi above water. Send your shekels ASAP. What else can you do? (Shrug).

Mensches For Miller. You have to feel for Stephen Miller.  He raises ugly to new heights. I don’t mean his physical appearance, I mean his entire persona. (OK, also his physical appearance).This guy couldn’t get a date from a palm tree. He is wrapped tighter than Oprah’s butt in a string bikini (Now that you read it, try to get THAT IMAGE out of your head). Let’s face it . Miller needs a MAN. A real MAN. Someone he can look up to for guidance. Someone with whom he can “redirect” his outflow of hostility, his expulsion of anger, his eruption of animosity, his explosion of malevolence. In short , he needs a man. Not just any man. He needs to buy himself a night with a mensch. He needs to blow off some steam. Mensches  for Miller … send real US money… no Jews need contribute.

Gonads for GOPS. This is an emergency. Like, a MAJOR emergency. Someone has stolen the gonads from the entire GOP. Every last one. Since McCain died, there has not been a gonad in sight. Lindsey Graham donated his to Donald. McConnell had his surgically removed . Romney left his in Utah. Rubio’s were too small to locate in the first place. Barr’s are in a bottle. The only GOPer with any left is Ann Coulter, and she ain’t about to share hers with anyone. So, send your bucks to buy some artificial gonads. We can get them in bulk from Russia. Putin has an entire room full of em. He might even send out at a discount.

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Filed under Democrat, Education, GOP, Judaism, liberals, Obamacare, Politics, Republicans, Rubio, Society, Trump, United States

Understanding Trump

If you are a logical person or a reasonable person Mr Trump may be hard to understand. His decisions, the way he treats people, his lies, his tweets may all seem the rantings of a loon.

After 3 years of campaigning and watching him on the stage I have come to some understanding of why he makes the kinds of decisions he makes. While on the surface they make no sense, if you can put yourself in his mind (and there is plenty of room) you may be able to make sense of him.

I was trained as an anthropologist, which is important. What an anthropologist tries to do is understand people who think in ways that are quite different from what we might consider “normal” in our society.

For example, the Yanomami (or Yanamamo) have a ritual they perform when someone dies. They cremate the body and mix the ashes of the deceased into a “stew”. The family then passes around the stew and everyone takes a drink. On the surface this is pretty disgusting and makes no sense.

However, to the Yanomami this action shows the highest regard for the dead. The dead become part of the living.The dead person becomes one with those who are still alive. It is the ultimate spiritual and physical connection. Odd behavior to us, but completely “normal” under their belief system.

So, when we look at Trump’s decisions we should not assume he holds the same values, beliefs, life experiences, etc. as a normal American. We should instead, an an anthropologist, try to understand his motives and beliefs by his actions. We should assume nothing, but rather look for a pattern of behavior to better understand the motives of that behavior.

For example, Trump is obsessed with destroying the ACA, also called Obamacare. Now, this program provides health insurance to millions of Americans. When the GOP tried to destroy it the outrage was so great that they could not do so. People like it. It guarantees health insurance for the working poor and supports the private insurance industry. Yet, Mr Trump insists he wants it ended, with no plan to help the 20-40,000,000 Americans who would lose insurance if he succeeds.

A logical person might ask: Why? Why try to destroy a popular program that is working? Now, if a better alternative was offered there might be a reasonable discussion. But there is no alternative offered, just the end of Obamacare.

Combine this with his other illogical actions concerning the border wall. His call for an investigation of Smollett, the black guy in Chicago, his history of discrimination against African-Americans in housing, etc. and a clear picture emerges.

He is a racist. Anything Obama did, no matter how helpful to the citizens, he is intent on undoing. While he criticizes black Americans and calls for all kinds of “investigations”, he never criticizes white supremacists or calls for investigations of police who kill blacks.

If you look at Mr Trump’s decisions and take the view that he is a racist, they all make perfect sense. His attacks on the people of Puerto Rico , Mexicans, ripping brown children from their parents, saying he wants more folks from Norway, etc. The overall , inevitable controlling factor, from the point of view of an anthropologist, is that this man makes policy decisions based on skin color.

Another area where Mr Trump’s decisions seem incomprehensible is his relationships with various foreign leaders. While he “loves” Kim Jung Un and respects Putin, he criticizes the leaders of democracies.

Why would an American president humiliate himself before Putin. Why kowtow to the dictator of Saudi Arabia? Why talk about his love relationship with Kim Jung Un? All three of these men are vile dictators who murder their political opponents. They kill newsmen. They destroy all critics. All three have raided the wealth of their own people and live like kings while so many in their countries have nothing.

What is the underlying attraction these men have as far as Trump is concerned? What is it about his value system that makes them attractive to him?

The conclusion I have reached is not that they “have anything on him”, like “compromat”. Rather, he admires brutality and physical strength. He sees the way these men “control” their populations with terror and he admires that. He sees that as a positive value. Leaders who are feared and bowed down to. Above questioning.

Why has he gone through so many cabinet members and advisers? He needs “yes men” around him. People who will tell him he is the greatest thing on Earth. Sycophants. Anyone who would disagree with him is put in his place or fired. No opinions other than that the the supreme leader can be allowed.

So, any decisions he makes must be unquestioned. He values complete loyalty to him and a disregard for any legal or normative structures. He losses the battle for the wall, so he simply says he will violate the law and build it anyway. If his political opponents disagree they should be destroyed. The free press must be destroyed, as well. There can be no exchange of ideas, only capitulation. In his world view that is the way a “great leader” acts.

Now, I am not justifying Mr Trump’s actions. Only trying to make sense of them. He does have guiding principles, even though he is probably not even cognizant of them himself.

He believes in strong man rule and the inherent superiority of light skinned people. If you keep in mind those 2 principles all of his actions, tweets, speeches, violations of the law and norms make sense.

It also helps one understand that so many Americans share that world view. After all, Mr Trump has plenty of support. You will never understand Mr Trump unless you understand that fact as well. He is not alone in his core beliefs. Admiration for authoritarian rule and racism. A lethal combination.

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Filed under ACA, african-american, blacks, Immigration, liberals, logic, obama, Obamacare, Politics, POTUS, president, racism, Society, Trump, United States

National Emergency 101 Quiz

If the following IS a national emergency answer YEPPER. If not, answer, NOPER.

1. Russia actively interferes with the 2016 election and helps Donald Trump get elected?

2. The Trump administration cuts funding for the FBI task force investigating and trying to prevent Russian election interference in 2020?

3.At the World Trade Center catastrophe of 9/11/2001,  3,000 Americans were killed. Since then, an average of 3,000 Americans each month have been killed by guns . That is a total of over 612,000 Americans killed by guns. National emergency?

4. The hottest, driest years on record due to global climate change have lead to extensive fires and droughts?

5. The US and Russia pulling out of the arms reduction agreements?

6. Over 25,000,000 Americans without quality health insurance due to the recent erosion of the ACA?

7. A record 22 trillion dollar debt, built up largely due to the 2 trillion dollar tax giveaway to the wealthiest 1%?

8. Growing and eventual insolvency of Social Security unless action is taken immediately?

9. Selling off of national parks, created long ago by Teddy Roosevelt,  to the fossil fuel industry for the short term economic gain of a dying industry?

10. A family of Guatemalans, including a 5 year old and a 3 year old,  fleeing death in their homeland, are posing a major threat to US safety and security?

If you answered YEPPER to # 10, you are an idiot.

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Sore Winners, Sore Whiners

In 2016 the folks who voted for Donald Trump got what they wanted. Donald Trump. The Republican party took control of the Senate, the House of Representatives, the White House and the Supreme Court.

Since the election Mr Trump and the Republican party have been able to name 2 new justices to the Supreme Court. These justices will help determine the laws for the next 30 years. They will likely overturn a woman’s right to choose. They will likely continue to support voter suppression laws. As promised.

Since the election Mr Trump and the Republican Party have passed a $1,500,000,000,000 tax cut, with $1,200,000,000,000 of that going to the top 1%. As promised.

Since the election Mr Trump and the Republican Party have done much to gut the Affordable Care Act and cut spending on social programs. They have gutted environmental protections. Sold public land to gas and oil and timber leases for corporate profit. Built the pipeline. Added billions to the military. As promised.

Since the election Mr Trump and the Republican Party have dropped out of the Global Warming agreements, dropped out of the US-Asian trade agreements, imposed tariffs on China and Europe and in general done everything possible to destroy international treaties and cooperation. As promised.

So, why are they so mad? Why are they so unhappy? Why are the Trump supporters still chanting “Lock Her Up”? Why are they frightened  all the time? Why do they fear 5 year old Honduran girls? Why so much hate? Why so much whining and complaining?

They wanted a conman, a xenophobe and a racist. They got it. They wanted a political party that suppressed the votes of minorities and that redefined American as “white”, not “diverse”. They got it. They wanted a political party that put profits ahead of people. They got it.

So why the whining? The Republican Party and Donald Trump have had complete control of the political process for 2 years and have accomplished almost everything they wanted. So, why the whining?

There is nothing they cannot make a law about. So, why the whining?

Never in US history have so many “winners” turned into so many “whiners”.

It would be interesting to find out why the folks who won the last election are so miserable.

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Filed under abortion, ACA, Congress, Constitution, Democrat, Foreign policy, Free Trade, GOP, government, healthcare, NAFTA, Obamacare, Politics, president, Republicans, right to life, SCOTUS, Social Security, Society, Supreme Court, Trump, United States

Extreme Ithaca Liberals

My congressman, Tom Reed of NY-23, has once again started his biennial smear campaign against any candidate who dares run against him. Those of you who follow Mr Reed may remember his previous campaigns in which he simply outright lied about the political positions of his opponents. Or maybe you are familiar his lockstep support of Mr Trump. With most of his financing coming from out of the district organizations and PACs , and corporate organizations like ALEC, he is very successful in flooding the mailboxes with lies and half-truths. (97% of Reed’s money comes from PACs and large donors, 2.5% from small donors). It works.

This year one of his managers  has started a website devoted to the “Extreme Ithaca Liberals”, which is supposed to be an insult to his mostly  moderate, mainstream and slightly liberal opponent, Tracy Mitrano. Some of his supporters even show up at rallies with “Extreme Ithaca Liberal” banners.

I guess when you can’t run on your accomplishments all you can do is try to smear the other guy. To his credit, Tom Reed does have a couple accomplishments. He has voted to end the ACA a number of times, taking away health care from his constituents. He voted for the billionaire tax giveaway, to the tune of $1.5 trillion which I suppose does benefit a couple of his constituents here in the economically depressed western NY. And he wants to pay for that tax giveaway by cutting Social Security and Medicare. Fair enough.

But enough about Tom. Let’s investigate the “Extreme Ithaca Liberals“. Those of you not familiar with this part of the country may wonder why he uses the word “Ithaca“. After all, his opponent, Tracy Mitrano lives in Penn Yan, not Ithaca.

Well, “Ithaca” is a dog whistle for “highly educated”. Home of Cornell University. On that account Mitrano stands guilty as charged. She does have a BA, MA and Ph.D. from different institutions. As well as a JD from Cornell, (hence the “Ithaca” connection.)  While many would consider being educated a plus, I suppose to Reed and his supporters that may be a disqualifying if not terrifying quality in a lawmaker. Who knows?

But, I digress. Back to the “Extreme Liberal” part of the equation. Let’s look back over the years and see what “extreme liberals” have done for America. Or, as Tom would say, how have they destroyed America?

I offer a partial list of “extreme liberal” programs, all of which were opposed at the time by conservatives as being either “socialist” or “communist” or an infringement on “states’ rights”. I would like to see Tom respond to these extreme liberal programs and tell his constituents which ones he wants to do away with. Which ones made America a worse place to live? Here they are:

Social Security. Before the Social Security program was out in place over 50% of elderly Americans lived below the poverty level. And many more were just on the cusp.  FDR and the extreme liberals passed the program. At the time the opponents called it “communist” and predicted it would quickly lead to the downfall of America. Today, that number of elderly below the poverty level is 8%. Is that a bad thing?

Medicare. Before Medicare many elderly could not afford to purchase health insurance of any kind. The emergency room was their only option. Now all older Americans get preventative and necessary health care through Medicare. The extreme liberals made it happen.  Is that a bad thing?

Medicaid. Before Medicaid millions of poor Americans could not afford health care. Including millions of children. Now, the poorest of the poor can at least get basic preventative care and treatments. The extreme liberals passed this law. Is that a bad thing?

The ACA, (Obamacare). Before the ACA was enacted over 40,000,000 still had no heath insurance. They would get their health care at emergency rooms.. People with pre-existing conditions could not get insurance. Basic preventative care was denied to millions. Now, Mr Reed WAS able to get health care. Because of his obesity problem he and his doctor agreed to an operation.  He and his doctor thought that was the best treatment for him. Extreme liberals support that. Extreme liberals are happy that Mr Reed and his doctor were able to make that decision. Extreme liberals believe that all Americans should have access to the same quality of care. Is that a bad thing?

Social Security Disability. Before this program the disabled and children who lost a parent simply had to fend for themselves. When Tom was a little boy his father died. Luckily the extreme liberals had provided that his mother could get extra money for baby Tommy to help with the bills through the Social Security survivors program. Is that bad? Oh…by the way.. In 2015 Tom Reed  proposed a rule to stop funding the Social Security Disability program when it gets low. This has always been done by reallocating funds from Social Security. A fix that had been done under both GOP and Democratic administrations.  This rule would mandate the disability program  to cut benefits instead.

The Voting Rights Act. Many states, especially in the south, had laws designed specifically to keep African-Americans from voting. Poll taxes. Literacy tests. Grandfather clauses. Simply refusing to register blacks. The voting Rights Act changed that, trying to make sure all citizens can vote. The extreme liberals made that happen. Was that bad?  (Evidently so, since many states have re-instituted voter suppression laws now that the Supreme Court has overturned parts of the Act.)

Equal Accommodation Laws. After World War 2 men who fought and were injured fighting totalitarian governments came home. Some of them were told they could not eat in restaurants. Could not use the bathroom. Could not drink from the water fountain. Could not sit at the lunch counter. Had to ride in the back of the bus. Could not buy a house in this neighborhood. Could not send their children to the good school. Could not enter the university. The extreme liberals thought that was wrong and changed the law to prevent discrimination based on skin color. Was that bad?

I could go on and on and on, Food Stamps, Environmental Protection laws, minimum wage laws, worker safety laws, etc.  The bottom line is that most of the progress we take for granted in our daily lives was due to the “Extreme Ithaca Liberals” types.

So when Mr Reed’s supporters show up with signs and post websites about those “Extreme Ithaca Liberals” we might take a moment to ponder what our society would look like today without Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Minimum Wage Laws, the EPA, The ACA, Voting rights and a host of other programs we take for granted as normal.

Tom Reed would take those programs away if you give him the chance to do so. He is not an “Extreme Ithaca Liberal“.

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Filed under Democrat, Elections, GOP, government, healthcare, liberals, Politics, Republicans, Social Security, Society, Tom Reed, Trump, United States, US

More Donuts, Please

There is an epidemic of gun violence in America. That is not even debatable. And there have been a multitude of solutions offered over time.

Most recently the President of the United States, the NRA and many members of Congress have offered the latest solution. Arm teachers. More armed guards. More guns. And more guns. And more guns.

A creative and exceptionally innovative solution to the problem of gun violence. More guns. So, I said to myself, why stop there. Maybe we can apply that same “reasoning” and “logic” to the many other problems we face. Let’s try.

Obesity is a major problem in the US. Anyone who has ever traveled to Italy or France or Spain immediately notices that there aren’t so many obese folks walking around. It could be limited to urban areas, perhaps. But, at least in my experience, folks in those countries  as a rule, seem not so chunky as Americans. I , myself, have done my patriotic duty by increasing my body mass significantly over the last 50 years or so. A proud American. A BIG proud American.

What is a reasonable solution to the health issues caused by obesity? Well, former First Lady Michelle Obama started a healthy eating program to encourage kids to develop good eating habits at a young age. She was vilified by the right wing extremists for that. Big government interfering with the proper parental role. Then Sarah Palin showed up at an elementary school with cookies for kids. She passed them out. She didn’t bother to ask parents if they wanted their kids to eat cookies or perhaps had allergy issues. The right wing applauded. More cookies. More cookies. More cookies.

So, a reasonable solution to the obesity problem is more donuts. More junk food. Less fruits and vegetables. The problem of obesity can be solved by increasing the availabilty of junk food. Yepper.

Drunk driving kills thousands of Americans each year. Currently we have DUI laws and put folks in prison for that. Take away licenses for driving drunk. But that has not solved the problem.

What we need is more and better access to booze while on the road. Every gas station should have a liquor license. Every driver should be given a free beer with a fill up. End DWI laws and impose DWS laws (Driving While Sober). Pull over anyone who is not weaving side to side at 50 MPH in a school zone. Fine em. Drink or don’t drive. The obvious solution to drunk driving is more access to alcohol by automobile operators. Yepper.

The opioid epidemic. Killing thousands every year. These opioids, many prescribed legally, have wreaked havoc on families and individuals. They have destroyed families. They are agents of death. So, what is the solution?

Easy. We need complete and total access to opioids . No prescription necessary. Over the counter. At the supermarket. The drug store. In our schools. Free opioids with every order of fries at Mc Donald’s. (Solving two problems at once)  The only way to stop the madness is total access to opioids. The more the better. Every teacher should be armed with opioids in case of an emergency. The emergency being that Billy forgot his opioids today. Yepper.

We could go on and on. But the message is clear.

The best way to solve a problem, according to our current leadership, is to make it even bigger.

Which reminds me, where are those donuts?

 

 

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Filed under Congress, crime, debates, gun control, healthcare, logic, obama, Politics, POTUS, Republicans, Society, Trump, United States, US, violence

2nd Amendment and Guntrol, Part 2

The DC v Heller decision of 2008 established 3 things, according to the majority opinion written by Justice Scalia. (See https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2018/02/22/2nd-amendment-and-gun-control-part-1/ for details.)

First, individual citizens, not part of a militia, have the right to own weapons.

Second, the government has the right to regulate who can have weapons.

Third, the government has the right to determine the legality of specific weapons. 

So, any attempt by any member of Congress to suggest that any gun control violates the 2nd Amendment should be referrred to the Scalia opinion. Gun control is constitutional.

So, what kind of gun control , which does minimal damage to the desire (not right) of gun owners to certain weapons, are possible?  Here are some possible gun control measures which Congress could take.

  1. A mandatory background check for any gun purchaser. Using a nationwide data base that identifies felons out on parole, individuals convicted of spousal abuse, individuals convicted of any violent crime, individuals currently charged with a violent offense pending trial.
  2. A ban on the ownership and sale of military-style assault weapons and any devices that can be used to enhance the firing capacity of weapons, including bumpstocks. (Except in licensed shooting ranges).
  3. A ban on the sale and/or transportation of weapons across state lines.
  4. Mandatory written and field and safety tests for anyone purchasing a weapon, including a screening for emotional and mental stability.
  5. A ban on any sale of guns other than that of a registered gun seller. This includes the ban on trading, swap meets or other gun sales not taking place in an established,  permanent location.
  6. The registration of all weapons with the local authorities. Including the free transfer of weapons to immediate famiy members, which would be legal.
  7. Establishment of shooting ranges for those who wish to fire military style weapons. These establishments would be able to legally rent military style weapons to shooters to be used only at the shooting ranges.
  8. The ban on any bullet or projectile designed to explode on entering the body or designed to pierce armor.
  9. The licensing of any gun owner, renewable every five years, to determine that the person keeps up with the skill, visual acuity, mental capacity to handle a weapon safely  and understands the law relating to weapons.
  10. Establishment of free clinics and classes to teach and train gun owners as to the proper and safe use of firearms.
  11. A Right To Know Law which gives parents the right to know which households have guns in them. A parent could then decide for themselves if they want to expose their child to a household which has a weapon. (Many children die playing with guns each year).
  12. A yearly weapons licensing tax to help defray the costs of gun safety programs.
  13. A health care premium Gun Violence Tax for gun owners. This would help defray the massive costs to hospitals,police, courts, jails and the insurance industry for costs related to the care of victims and perpetrators of gun violence nationwide. Hang on to your six-shooter. The annual estimated cost of gun violence in the USA is $8,600,000,000 (billion) in direct medical care. And the overall cost of gun violence to the economy is $229,000,000,000. See references at the end of this blog for details.

I am confident that many or all of these solutions, taken as a whole, would significantly reduce both intentional and accidental gun mortality.  All of these ideas are constitutional and easily implemented. I am also sure that people more astute and informed than I have even more and better solutions.

We license people to drive cars. We renew auto license plates every year or two. We tax vehicles and gas  used in those vehicles. We let people know if there is a sex offender living in the neighborhood so parents can protect their children. We heavily tax tobacco to reduce usage and pay for the costs of medical care caused by tobacco. So, none of the ideas above, if applied to weapons , is radical or unusual.

Would these solutions stop ALL gun violence? Of course not. Even places with strict gun control laws have some gun violence. But the likelyhood of desth by gun in these nations is minimal compared to the USA.

In Austria you are as likely to drown in a swimming pool as be killed by a gun.  In New Zealand, your chances of death by gun are the same as falling from a ladder. In Poland, the chance is the same as being killed on your bicycle. And in Japan you are just as likely to be hit by lightening as killed by a gun.

Think about that last statistic the next time you watch a thunderstorm brewing.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/get-there/wp/2018/02/22/the-enormous-economic-cost-of-gun-violence/?utm_term=.e68d8c3d5463

http://www.businessinsider.com/gun-violence-costs-america-more-than-229-billion-every-year-2015-4

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The Party’s Over

“The party’s over
It’s time to call it a day
They’ve burst your pretty balloon
And taken the moon away

It’s time to wind up the masquerade
Just make your mind up
The piper must be paid…”

http://www.songlyrics.com/bobby-darin/the-party-s-over-lyrics/

The Congress just passed a massive budget, increasing the deficit by a trillion dollars. And, over time, increasing the debt (with interest payments) by much more. The military and domestic spending were both increased. Disaster relief for the hurricanes was finally passed. Mr Trump, thankfully relegated to  the sidelines during the process , signed the bill into law.

This was an example of compromise. The House of Representatives needed over 60 Democrats to work across the aisle and vote for this. Why? Because even though they “control” the House, the GOP does not control the “Tea Party”. And the Tea Party radicals insisted that this bill spent too much on citizens. They voted “No”.

My own representative, Tom Reed of NY 23, voted “No”. He claims to be a member of the “Problem Solvers” caucus. You know, the guys who reach across the aisle to compromise. But one thing Tom will not compromise on is spending money on “entitlements”. Spending money on citizens. Like the poor. Or elderly. According to Tom, this budget is bad because it raises the debt! It spends too much on people.

Keep in mind, this is the same Tom Reed who bragged about passing the massive tax cuts for corporations. That law drove up the debt AT LEAST $1.5 trillion over 10 years. No platitudes about fiscal responsibilty when to comes to tax breaks for the top 1 %. No crocodile tears about the future of our children. What, me worry?

This is the same Tom Reed who has bragged about the renewed funding for rural hospitals. Taking credit for bringing the pork into the district. The same Tom Reed who voted over and over and over and over to defund the ACA. A vote which, if passed,  would have destroyed so much of our rural medical infrastructure. The same clinics he brags about saving. The same guy. The guy who cares about women’s health care  so much he voted to end funding for Planned Parenthood. Thank god Tom was born with both sides of his mouth intact.

Which brings me to the party. The Tea Party. The young guns who won their places in the House and Senate based on fantasy economics, throwning in a dollop of homophobia, a dash of racism and sprinkling of xenophobia. With a cherry of misogyny on the top.

Tom is not a member of the Tea Party. Tom knows that in New York, even rural New York, being labeled as a Freedom Caucus or Tea Party member will not win him any votes. (The Tea Party has really morphed into the “Freedom Caucus”) So Tom is a member of the “Problem Solvers” caucus, except that he votes like a true believer of Tea Party ideals. He is just too clever to call himself that.

But this last budget deal shows that the Tea Party is over. Their radical ideas and non-solutions certainly live on in a minority of the GOP, like Mr Reed. But, for the most part, the party is over.

We can thank the Democrats for this budget deal. When Mr Obama was POTUS the GOP refused just about any compromise. Lead by McConnell. Supported by Reed. And the forces of the far right are still alive in Congress, make no mistake. Be clear, the Democrats COULD have stopped this budget from passing. They could have given Ryan no votes and the bill woudl be dead. The government shut down. But they didn’t. They decided to compromise.

A glimmer of good news for the country. But for the more radical fringe, not so much. The Tea Party is over.

“The party’s over
It’s all over, my friend
Now you must wake up
All dreams must end

Take off your makeup
The party’s over
It’s all over, my friend”

 

 

 

 

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The Strange Case of Baby M

I met Baby M a couple weeks ago. She was approximately 2 and a half months old, but she was actually born 6 weeks prematurely.  So, she was still pretty tiny and just starting to grasp with her little fingers.

Baby M was born to two immigrant parents. Legal immigrants. One is working full time.

In the United States approximately 10% of newborns are born  prematurely. The costs associated with a preemie are pretty high. On average about $ 49,000 – $65,000, sometimes much higher depending on the services needed.

https://www.romper.com/p/heres-how-the-new-trumpcare-would-affect-premature-babies-kids-with-pre-existing-conditions-2414543

Under the ACA (Obamacare) insurers are required to cover births and babies. They cannot disregard “pre-existing conditions”. Before the ACA a pregnancy could be considered a pre-existing condition. For example, if a man changed jobs while his wife was pregnant and had to buy a new health insurance policy, his wife’s pregnancy could be considered a “pre-existing” condition. The insurer could legally avoid paying for the pregancy and birth.

In the United States, before Obamacare, it was even possible  for folks with good insurance to be stuck with big hospital bills. For example, in some hospitals the care for preemies is handled by a contracting service, not the hospital itself. So, while the health insurance company may cover the birth, it would not cover the special services needed by preemies. In some cases parents were on the hook for hundreds of thouslands of dollars. That was before the ACA.

The GP wants to repeal the ACA. Mr Trump wants to repeal Obamacare. If we repeal Obamacare we will repeal all the benefits.

The Cost of Premature Birth: For One Family, More than $2 Million

Back to Baby M. Baby M was not born in the United States. She was born in Ireland. To two immigrant parents.

All of the expenses associated with Baby M’s birth and the special care in the hospital under the care of professionals were paid for by the Irish health care system. All of them. (Remember that $49,000- $65,000 estimate).

Baby M needed a medical professional to come to her home once a week for a few weeks.  Typical for preeemies. All expenses were paid for by the Irish health care system.

Baby M will have all of her  health care expenses paid for, by the Irish health care system, up to the age of 6, except for dental. (Did I mention that neither of Baby M’s parents, nor Baby M herself, is an Irish citizen?).

Until she is 18, Baby M’s parents will receive a monthly stipend from the Irish government to help pay expenses for this new human being. This will amount to about 120 euros each month ($142.00 US). I am not sure if everyone qualifies for this or it applies only to couples where one person stays home to raise the child.

Of course, this must be paid for. The Irish do pay high taxes, by US standards. Workers who are married pay 20% of the first 42,000 euros ($ 50,000) and higher income workers pay 40% of whatever they earn above that amount.

http://irishlinks.co.uk/income-tax-ireland.htm

But, there is no income tax filing. The government just takes it all out of your pay each pay period. And there is no health insurance sign up for . No need to wade through dozens of different “plans” to try to figure out what you need.  Or go online to find a deal. When you change jobs your insurance is not impacted. So, no paperwork or research.

The case of Baby M is strange in the US. The automatic benefits she receives would be strange in the US. The idea that she gets free health care without filling out insurance forms is strange. The fact that Baby M will get a stipend to help her parents care for her is strange.

The good news for Baby M? She was born in Ireland where they seem to put their money where their mouth is. Where they put into practice a thing called “family values”. You know, that thing the GOP is always referring to. While they vote to end the ACA.

 

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