Thursday, April 17, 2014

The government is coming after you…even if you did nothing wrong

It seems each day I am reminded of how poorly informed the average American is.  This is especially true for the average African American, who speaks of politics through the jaundiced lens of faux progressivism and protecting our president and his political party no matter what they do. But for some reason, I think this is because as a community, things have changed.  When I was growing up in Memphis during the city sanitation strikes, African Americans never trusted the government or politicians, even if they were black.  I mean when someone like Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. goes out of his way to threatened to accuse Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bayard Rustin of having a homosexual relationship, just to protect white racist democrats, unless the protest they had planned in 1960 at the Democratic Convention was cancelled, it is easy to see why such was the case and why the majority of us, traditionally never trusted democrats or republicans regardless of race.

Today, African Americans actually believe in and trust the government to do what is best albeit facts suggest otherwise. The stark reality is that things will only continue to get worse and we with our heads in the sand, will accept anything our political puppet masters tell us. Unfortunately, by the time we wake up, it may be too late and like everybody else, we will find out that the government is coming after us…even if we did nothing wrong.

Some may say this is an overstatement, but for the folk that do assert such, I suggest you read the Bill of Rights and the history of the French Revolution, as well as observe the parallels for themselves. The problem is that having a Mulatto President got black folk thinking it is all good.  Just the presence and appearance of our swarthy-skinned President makes people think it is alright, making them accept without question, or even more problematic, not paying attention to the real world around them.

But if we would just look around, we would see that the gap between what the poorest make and what the wealthiest bring home has reached levels not seen since the Great Depression. According to the current administration, we are in year five of the “economic recovery” yet we have no job creation in concert with many companies cutting their payrolls. Add to this the observation that U.S. food prices are up nearly 20 percent so far this year and steadily rising, to believe the words of any politician, in particular this administration about the economy is getting better borders on psychosis.
What did we get by awarding the current administration with 93 percent of the African American vote in 2012 and 95 percent among that group in 2008? Economically we are worse than we were in 2009 and our participation in the labor market has been steadily falling farther since that same year. Simple truth is that since his election, economic improvements have occurred for all other ethnic groups in America with the exception of blacks.

Now the next step is domination by police and military enforcement.  Now "the most transparent administration in history" has just ordered U.S. Army to seize every Apache helicopter in use by the National Guard and prior to this, the U.S.Postal Service, EPA, IRS, NOAA, the Department of Education & 90 agencies, have been and are purchasing and storing BILLIONs of round of hollow point ammo & thousands of military rifles for domestic use only. Not to mention that recently, the administration convinced their plutocratic buddies in the cell phone market to agree to add a phone kill switch beginning in July 2015 which they say is about the rash of cell phone thefts but is really about is about disabling cell phone cameras to keep the free people from posting and sharing government abuse and violence to other via the internet. Maybe even worse is that the FBI  just announced that they plan to have 52 million photos in its NGI Face Recognition Database by next year (everybody, not just criminals).

And if you want to see two examples of this, that have nothing to do with race, all we have to do is look at what happened with Miriam Carey and more recently with Nevada rancher Clive Bundy. The Carey story tells us one thing: that if you are a black woman, you cannot get scared with men in swat regalia in mass pull guns out on you when you are with your child.  Doing so gets you murdered legally and the Whitehouse will cover for this murder, call all the news media and tell the world you was shooting at police, trying to attack the Capitol, was crazy and on major medication when in fact she had no gun, and the autopsy report, made public six months after she was shot dead revealed that the 34-year-old woman had no drugs in her system and was struck by five bullets from behind, two of which were in the head.

Clive Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management, whose Director was Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) former senior adviser and son (RoryReid), is being forced by the government to give up his land, or have his cattle killed until he does: land which his family has worked over 140 years. Why, because Reid’s sons represents a large Chinese energy company that wants to build on the land. Some say well both were wrong. I just disagree, if the government can say any land is federal, and then they can even claim your land or do this.

Fact remains, no matter where we look, we see the military training in public streets and preparing for martial law right in broad daylight,  and we don’t say anything. Likewise we see Nationwide,Police assaulting and murdering innocent people with zero consequences, even when they are handcuffed in the back of cars .Why? Because we are silient, don’t want to rock the boat and say nothing about the administration of our current President even if it is true. They way things are today, policing in USA is roping in as many people as you can, see how many have guns or warrants, and then basically throw back the innocent ones. The problem is that they end up sweeping up a lot of innocent people and charging them with pointless crimes, fueled by a war on drugs that only results in the mass incarceration only the poor and people of color and more prisions. And each year, Obama’s Budget show federal prisons (not Education) is here he sallocates most of our tax dollars. For example, Obama’s FY 2014 Budget requests a total of $8.5 billion for federal prisons a 3.5 percent increase over the FY 2012 appropriated level.

We as a people and a nation need to be honest with ourselves. As it currently stand, we are immaterial and disposable. The United States is no democracy, but actually an oligarchy run by plutocrats, inclusive of our present President. Ours now, due to our own ignorance, is a government dominated by the political influence of the elite and wealthy Americans for their benefit alone over what is best for ordinary citizens. Don’t sleep, what they did to Miriam Carey and are doing to Clive Bundy, has nothing to do with race and they will do it to you and I also.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Books Read Thus Far 2014

  • Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War by Pepe Escobar
  • Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge by Pepe Escobar
  • Obama does Globalistan by Pepe Escobar
  • How the Economy Was Lost: The War of the Worlds by Paul Craig Roberts
  • The New Color Line: How Quotas and Privilege Destroy Democracy by Paul Craig Roberts
  • The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation by David Brion Davis
  •  No Exit from Pakistan: America’s Tortured Relationship with Islamabad by Daniel S. Markey
  • The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth by Mark Mazzetti
  • Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States, and an Epic History of Misunderstanding by Husain Haqqani
  • The China-Pakistan Axis: Asia’s New Geopolitics by Andrew Small
  • Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst
  • German Colonialism: A Short History by Sebastian Conrad
  • The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China by Jay Taylor
  • The Negro In Illinois:The WPA Papers edited by Brian Dolinar
  • The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap by Matt Taibbi
  • Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East  by Scott Anderson
  • The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 by Margaret MacMillan
  • The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind – and Changed the History of Free Speech in  America by Thomas Healy
  • All the Presidents' Bankers: The Hidden Alliances that Drive American Power by Nomi Prins
  • Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis
  • The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap by Matt Taibbi
  • Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism by David Harvey
  • Utopia or Bust: A Guide to the Present Crisis (Jacobin) by Benjamin Kunkel
  • To Catch A Thief by David Dodge
  • Death and Taxes by David Dodge
  • Bullets For The Bridegroom by David Dodge
  • Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty
  • The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor by William Easterly

7.1 Million Sign-ups Don’t Say Nothing

Unlike most folk of my ilk (poverty stricken African Americans), I find it troubling that we have given our Federal government the ability to make us buy a flawed product, or any product regardless if we want to or not. But putting that aside, I want to briefly discuss How I view the metrics of the Affordable Care Act or what is frequently called Obamacare (actual law in picture).

It seems as if many of its supporters are hooping and a hollering that the program has proven to be a success just because it had 7 million plus sign up. I on the other hand, can’t even understand how anyone can use this as an indication of success. Personally, to use this number I would have to know how many who signed up actually had insurance before but lost it due to the law itself. Next, I would have to know how many of those that signed up actually will be receiving Medicare. For example, currently, more than half the states and the District of Columbia are proceeding with a Medicaid expansion which allows them to extend medical coverage to single and childless adults, of which has encouraged jail operators in many of those states to use this criteria to enroll and provide coverage to inmates under ACA.

Last, I won’t be able to see the law in action until all the exemptions and waivers the President unilaterally awarded to businesses and other entities go into effect. Just looking at Maryland for example, we know that only 60,000 people have signed up for Obamacare through the state’s exchange although more than 70,000 in the state lost their health insurance. Is this a marker of success (I know more than 250,000 in total but I am not including Medicare).  But I digress.

Yet still, even without such, that I can see where the Affordable Care Act is going and all I have to do is look at the only other major health delivery operation the government runs is functioning, and that is the Veterans Administration Hospitals.

Everywhere you look the VA is having problems, both with patient enrollment and service delivery. In South Carolina recently, it was noted that problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Columbia covered everything but the kitchen sink including but not limited to problems with surgical procedures, operating rooms not always being stocked with backup surgical instruments and equipment and not monitoring patient care close enough. More importantly, problems associated with infection control and rarely following up to ensure problems are solved adequately. And this is after reports of six deaths due to delayed screenings for colorectal cancer at the Hospital.

At the Buffalo Veterans Administration, New York, more than 700 patients at the Center may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C because of accidental reuse of insulin pens, between Oct. 19, 2010 and November 2012.  Then there are the, three deaths that occurred at the Memphis VA, of which one of the deaths occurred because the patient was given a drug despite a documented allergy to that medication and another due to receiving a lethal dose of a painkiller. The last because VA staff did not give the patient the proper medication.

A drug abuse rehabilitation program at Miami’s Veterans Affairs hospital failed to monitor patients, provide sufficient staff, control access to the facility or even curb illicit drug use among patients because Staff members were frequently absent or in a back room instead of monitoring patients in the drug abuse rehabilitation unit. As expected numerous deaths have resulted as a consequence, specifically due to cocaine and heroin overdoses. The Miami VA is part of a network which also saw five cancer patients die because of long waits and delayed care. Not to mention that in 2009, the Miami VA revealed that nearly 2,500 veterans might have been exposed to HIV and other illnesses during colonoscopies performed with improperly cleaned equipment. In 2010, the St. Louis VA hospital may have exposed more than 1,800 patients to HIV and hepatitis in 2010 as a result of contaminated dental equipment. At the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center a 47-year-old Air Force veteran had the wrongtesticle removed during surgically which left him without any functioning testes.

I could go on and on but the fact remains that what we see with the government run VA is what we can expect from the government run Affordable Care Act. The delays that new veterans facebefore receiving disability compensation and other benefits often is way way longer than the private sector, with an average wait time of 273 days. Even worse are those veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan filing their first claim, wait nearly two months longer.  And don’t live in New York, Los Angeles or Chicago because that time is doubled.

Across the VA system we observe benefits claims taking longer than ever to process according to a recent report by the Center for Investigative Reporting. Before 2009, the number of veterans waiting more than a year for their benefits was 11,000. Since 2009 that figure grew to 245,000. And all the Federal Government does is asking for and gives more money as if that is the solution.  It is not. The problem with the VA, which is indicative of how the federal government manages health systems. It is one of management, administration, lack of understanding about health care delivery and oversight.  And this is the case for other VA hospitals around the nation in places like Dayton, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Jackson,Mississippi.

All of the aforementioned is happening even after five years ago the president made a pledge to repair the VA bureaucracy. There should be no way in the world that a dysfunctional systemlike the VA top brass keep getting millions and gain capacity in only by underserving the millions veterans. Yet VA network directors get tens of thousands of bonuses every year on top of six figure salaries.
Rica Lewis-Payton, the network director of the South Central Health Care Network, which includes Jackson, got almost $36,000 in bonuses last year: Washington, D.C., Diana Rubens, the VA executive in charge of the nearly 60 offices that process disability benefits compensation claims, collected almost $60,000 in bonuses. Rima Ann Nelson, the former director of the St. Louis VA (where HIV and hepatitis exposure is believed to have occurred),  had received close to $25,000 in bonuses since 2009; At the  Atlanta VA Medical Center, three of which VA’s inspector general linked to widespread mismanagement, former director James Clark received $65,000 in bonuses over four years.

Again, the issue is management. If we do take the 7.1 or 10 million as a metric of success, we must acknowledge that less than a million of that number did not have insurance, meaning folks who had private insurance were forced to purchase government insurance, allowing the federal government to run and control 16 percent of the U.S. economy. If this isn’t a corporate takeover or monopoly, nothing is.  Second, the ACA to reduce the cost of CARE and or better management. Insurance is based on math and the actuarial sciences. 

Fact is that comparatively speaking, young men use very little health care when compared to young women use more than young men. No way in the world would folk stand for young men saying they should pay the same rates of women, when the fact is that young men driving habits dictate they should pay more than young women.

But like I said, numbers won’t tell the story, but if you look at how the government currently runs health care from filing claims to service delivery, we need only look at the VA and the disproportionately negative health outcomes occurring compared to the private sector. And if Obamacare is managed in the same inept manner, as long as hospitals and insurance companies raking in the loot, money will go to huge profits before health care is provided. And as a result, all the regular folk gonna see is higher co-pay, higher deductibles, higher premiums, folk losing their doctors, not having access to the hospitals in their community and the same old federal mismanagement practices. I mean, is it feasible to expect that people who never read the ACA prior to voting to pass it as law, actually know what it does to manage it even modestly? The real issue is not having coverage but lowering cost and improving service delivery. Unfortunately politicians have people equating health insurance to improved health care or even just health care when it is not. Having health insurance makes you no healthier than having auto insurance makes you a safer driver.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The Cosmic Microwave Background and U.S. Sanctions on Russia

Amidst the searching for a foreign 777 aircraft and the shooting at Fort Hood, there has been limited discussion if any regarding the response of Putin to the announcement on the pinprick sanctions Obama has levied against the former Soviet Union.

Though it is not often that I can take concepts of physics and apply them to the maladaptive reasoning and practices of U.S. foreign policy, when I do I try and take complete advantage of it. To start with in Physics, there is a concept called cosmic microwave background and it refers to the radiation in the universe that is around as a consequence of the Big Bang, assuming you accept the Big Bang. Also known as relic radiation, it is the oldest light in the Universe and for our purpose keeps in mind the word ‘relic.”

Now traditionally, the manner in which the U.S. and the west have approached international diplomacy and foreign policy can be compared to as a form of cosmic microwave background. Namely because the manner of our foreign policy and the way in which we practice it is not associated with any give nation (star), yet still it maintains the same background glow and radiation. Applying this to Russia one can assume that Russia is a star like no other, albeit we approach it as if what we enact with respect to Iran, Cuba and Syria for example, and worse, even think it will be just as effective and that as a nation (star) we are sagacious in doing such.

Since President Obama announced he would be attempting to pressure Russia via economic sanctions, one would hope he has observed that the practice of saying and doing the same thing regardless of if the light being targeted is from the star, or some other background manifestation is troubling and we all should be able to see such based on Putin’s response. Since Obama’s announcement several things have happened since then.  Not in any particular order, the first is that Russia has indicated that it may counter sanctions with a foreign real estateban for officials in their government. A high level Russian official has asked that the United Russia parliamentary caucus Lower House Committee for Security and Countering Corruption to complete an amendment to an earlier bill that will forbid top level Russian officials, both elected and appointed, to hold foreign bank accounts and possess shares in foreign companies.

In addition to this, after U.S. “to big to fail” bank J.P. Morgan Chase blocked a remittance from the Russian Embassy in Kazakhstan to an insurance agency, Putin ordered the Russian Central Bank (RCB) to start producing a 5 Ruble gold coins “containing .1244 Troy ounces of .900 pure gold” which Russia anticipates would become an alternative (and even worse the standard) for pursuing energy over the dollar and the Euro. This plan also includes the creation of a national payment settlement system completely new and outside of western oligarchical banks that could rival the Society for Worldwide Interbank financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) transactions, of which it is more than plausible that the other BRIC nations will join and applaud. Plus, none of the aforementioned includes the recent oil deal Russia inked with China for an estimated $85 billion or the multi-billion dollar oil for food deal they recently negotiated with Iran

Although I suspect President Obama knew that any mention of economic fiats against Russia would be bring back some push from Russia, I don’t know if he realizes that it will be impossible for him to get complete corporations with the world leaders of the largest national economies. Especially nations such as China, India and Brazil.

First India and Brazil are not interested in helping Washington punish a fellow BRIC member, especially given that India is mad about that little thang with their diplomat in New York and Brazil still fuming about the NSA spying allegations. Not to mention that historically, neither supported the U.S. actions in Libya (albeit they did not vote against it) and despises U.S. actions in Syria. Again, assuming all actions to light are the same, as if we expect other nations to take the same political position of the U.S. on all foreign policy matters.

Even at home, there are a few problems, mainly the fact that ExxonMobil and Russian Energy giant Rosneft are exploring for oil together as part of a $500 billion joint venture in the Artic. Of which Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Rex Tillerson to let Russia be and not try and isolate them with sanctions. Then there is the difficulty the U.S. government finds itself in trying to get Europe to support even tougher sanctions.

Regardless of the prior fact, the point is that the laws of Physics always will defeat man made laws, views, beliefs and policies because they are natural laws and not contrived, Obama need to recognize, his sanctions don’t mean jack, even if he had Germany, Switzerland and Brittan with him, because there will always be a Cosmic Microwave Background in the Universe of international politics and foreign policy.