Healthcare Debate: Your Crazy Uncle’s Huge Theater Production

Uncle

Yep. Crazy.

America’s partisan debate about healthcare reform is like a couple who lives together and has a recurring argument about what to do with a crazy uncle who lives with them.

Crazy Uncle has a habit of robbing — and sometimes harming — people in the couple’s neighborhood.

One of the partners suggests addressing the problem by moving to a different neighborhood. Crazy Uncle has a problem with that idea since he doesn’t want to move.

The other partner thinks the best solution is to make the neighbors move. Or give them helmets. Or perhaps give them no protection and let a few more robberies and beatdowns convince them to move.

The ideas make no sense.

Moving Crazy Uncle to another neighborhood only displaces the problem, but never solves it.

Making neighbors move is a ridiculous idea.

The helmet idea isn’t much better.

And the couple continues to argue while Crazy (and greedy) Uncle continues to rob neighbors.

The problem is Crazy Uncle. Any solution that doesn’t directly deal with Crazy Uncle isn’t really a solution.

Crazy Uncle is also rich — obviously from all the strong-arming he’s done — and pays the couple large sums of money to stay with them. You could say Crazy Uncle takes good care of the couple. This explains why the couple will argue for days about what to do about “the problem” but never point a finger at Crazy Uncle.

Democrats and Republicans have done an incredibly agile job of presenting their arguments for or against Obamacare without mentioning Crazy Uncle: the health insurance companies.

Other industrialized nations don’t experience this sort of robbery — known to Americans as excessive healthcare costs — because these countries didn’t allow Crazy Uncle to serve as the middleman between patients and doctors.

But directly dealing with the problem of Crazy Uncle would mean disintermediation: implementing single-payer, universal healthcare for all Americans. The public option would be a compromise.

Instead, we keep hearing solutions like health exchanges, interstate competition and elimination of coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions.

And we have Crazy Uncle to thank for this. He paid more than half a billion dollars in 2016 amongst the two major political parties so that neither side discusses disintermediation.

This means the current Congressional debate you’ve been witnessing is nothing but theater.

I think it’s time to show Crazy Uncle the door. And while we’re at it, let’s have a public talk with Congress about the top-shelf healthcare plan they receive …

song currently stuck in my head: “brotherhood” – kamal abdul alim

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The Decision to Murder Jordan Edwards

 

roy oliver arrested

Former Texas police officer Roy Oliver’s mug shot. (Source: Parker County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

As the car carrying then-alive teenager Jordan Edwards departed a house party where everyone in the vehicle collectively felt was no longer safe to remain, Balch Springs, Texas police officer Roy Oliver’s calculations went from zero to I-need-to-kill-somebody within sub-seconds.

Or perhaps Oliver was able to arrive at his deadly conclusion so quickly because he was already traveling at a sufficient cruising speed to use deadly force … ?

Let’s keep this conversation real. Police officers are not trained to draw and fire weapons to injure someone — they are trained to kill. Except the decision to use deadly force is typically driven by the officer’s judgement of whether his life or the lives of others are in danger.

Therefore, a trained-to-kill Oliver’s real-time calculus allowed him to accept the idea that death can be an outcome when he raised his AR-15 rifle to shoot several rounds into a car filled with teenagers — moving away from him — who presented no threat to anyone. One of Oliver’s bullets split open Edwards’ skull.

This means Edwards’ death at the hands of a trained killer, in the absence of a threat, is nothing less than murder.

But what was behind Oliver’s motivation to murder Edwards?

jordan edwards shooting

15-year old Jordan Edwards — shot and killed by Roy Oliver.

Likely the same reason that Oliver initially used to justify the murder when he said the car he shot at moved aggressively toward him: the perception that African descendants are dangerous animals — worthy of fear and the occasional bullet to the skull.

I rapped about this last July in “Police Reform Alone Won’t Save Black Lives”:

In other words, there’s no amount of police reform or legislation which can erase generations of social programming that depicts African descendants as crime-prone, bottom-dwellers of the world’s social ladder.

What policy can you introduce that will immediately erase hundreds of years of negative media imagery, distorted history, the Curse of Ham and crazy-azz thoughts about super powers?

Given that perception, Oliver likely thought he found his get-out-of-jail-free card. I covered this a couple of years ago:

If a person of African descent has been shot dead, all the shooter needs to do — which works well when the victim is no longer on the planet to refute testimony — is tell a judge or jury that “I feared for my life.”

Oliver has been rightfully fired, arrested and charged with murder. In addition, I also think every officer at the scene of this murder who enabled the release of the initial false police report to their chief should be fired and arrested.

But none of this changes the reality that we have people with badges and guns patrolling our society who are ruled by prejudice and fear.

Or as Toni Morrison tells us:

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song currently stuck in my head: “long black limousine” – o.c. smith

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94 Percent — The Sad Truth About Democrats and the Obama Economic Recovery

hillary clinton

Hillary Clinton blaming the calendar for why she’s not your President today elucidates my earlier points about the Democratic Party running from salvation — as if they’ve discovered a shortcut to redemption.

The calendar fails to adequately explain one of several reasons why traditionally-Democratic voters either switched parties or stayed home last November: the economic “recovery” under President Barack Obama.

There was no recovery. Or at least not the kind of recovery that kept Democrats in a safe position on Election Day.

I know — few of you will push back with the same talking points used by Team Obama like “ecord jobs growth,” “72 consecutive quarters of jobs growth,” “near full employment” and “better than President George W. Bush’s record.”

But even President Obama’s former Council of Economic Advisers chairperson, Alan Krueger, dismantled the “recovery” story in a report [PDF] last year.

The Princeton economist, in collaboration with Harvard’s Lawrence Katz, found that 94 percent of the new jobs created by the US economy between 2005 and 2015 were in the “involuntary part-time” category. These jobs generally fall under the “alternative work” category.

We’re talking about millions of people who want full-time jobs, but can’t find them. Instead, they entered the lower-paying “gig economy” of contract work, accepted temporary jobs or spent a few hours a week working below their earnings potential in a restaurant, coffee shop or retail store.

Nope, the Affordable Care Act did not drive people to ditch their full-time jobs to pursue their passion for making cappuccino art, or prompt employers to create part-time jobs as a response to the ACA employer mandate. The Economic Policy Institute explains:

The [ACA] provision requires that certain employers pay a fee if they don’t offer a minimum level of health insurance to employees working 30 or more weekly hours. Had these health care–related labor costs prompted employers to reduce more positions to part-time hours, there would be a number of trends in the data that suggest a structural change in involuntary part-time working or hours worked, and these trends do not appear.

With 11 years of fewer work hours, along with lower wages and annual earnings — not to mention the large number of people who involuntarily left the workforce — how happy do you expect these people to be about the political party in power on election day?

The Democratic vanguard has been aware of this jobs problem well before Krueger and Katz’s report. Remember what former DNC interim head Donna Brazile wrote in a February 13, 2016 email, now made famous by Wikileaks, to Clinton’s Presidential campaign chair John Podesta:

I think people are more in despair about how things are—yes new jobs but they are low wage jobs. HOUSING is a huge issue. Most people pay half of what they make to rent…

In addition, the Democratic Party leaders played themselves by tethering their campaign messaging on a recovery that’s been absent in many parts of the country.

This invisible recovery is not confined to Appalachia or the Rust Belt. For example, cities like New York saw income inequality rise during the Obama years.

History shows that poverty and desolation can draw out people’s worst fears and prejudices. Donald Trump’s rise in relevance was inevitable because a part-time jobs recovery did not translate into a substantive change in the fortunes of many Americans.

So, what is the Democratic Party doing to confess their sins of forsaking their poor and working class followers for the allure of Wall Street and drones?

Not much.

Except blame the calendar. Despite facts to the contrary.

Or blame THE RUSSIANS.

Or Wisconsin.

Or James Comey.

Or blame the poverty and working classes Democrats claim to represent.

Okay — let’s include the “Resist” movement that Clinton just joined as something Democrats are doing. I tackle that topic later.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of  people who voted Democrat last November have regrets today, despite Trump’s Presidency.

The most astonishing part is that Democrats — having learned absolutely nothing from November’s election meltdown and blindly clinging to all beef against anything or anyone who didn’t enable Hillary Clinton’s presumably inevitable crowning — have neither a resonating campaign message nor a pragmatic set of policies which will convince a wider circle of voters that the party, once a sinner, is now born again …

song currently stuck in my head: “i can’t help it (original demo)” – michael jackson

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Jazz Mix: Incantations II by NuffCed

incantations ii jazz playlist nuffced

Image source: DJ NuffCed.


While today is International Jazz Day, it’s always a perfect time to hear a vocal Jazz mix from DJ NuffCed for New Morning Radio. Warms my heart to hear Horace Silver, Billie Holiday, Marlena Shaw, Freddie Hubbard, the High Priestess of Soul and other gems in one set.
Press the play button below and vibe …

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Racial Segregation and Death Through Secession — Jefferson County, Alabama Schools and the Rest of America

woodlawn school birmingham alabama boycott

We’re witnessing an social crisis in Jefferson County, Alabama — a county with one of the worst measures of income inequality [PDF, page 15] in a state with one of the worst measures of income inequality, nestled in a country whose Gini Coefficient among industrialized nations is embarrassingly topped by only Mexico and Chile — that runs deeper than the recent judicial approval for Gardendale, Alabama, a predominantly White town, to secede from Jefferson’s school district for racially motivated reasons.

In the Greatest Democracy on the Planet. In 2017.

Judge Madeline Haikala added to the surrealism when she observed how the bigotry behind Gardendale’s aspirations hits on themes that “assail the dignity of black schoolchildren” but still granted the secession so that the county’s Black students wouldn’t be caught in the middle.

So, we now nobly segregate communities for the dignity and protection of Black folks?

Plus — in the spirit of keeping it real — we’re talking about Alabama.

This is a state where we still have living officials who likely grew up in school districts that taught from the Learn Alabama textbook through the 1970s.

“Oh hell no,” some if you will say. “No one internalized those textbooks in grade school, especially not the part about the Ku Klux Klan only trying to ‘bring back law and order’ and ‘get the government back in the hands of honest men who knew how to run it!’”

Nope. We’re expected to believe none of that figures into adult Alabamian’s social lens at the policy layer …

Anyway, I’ve read enough patterns of White flight through the years to know that if Mars has gold and space travel becomes more affordable, Black folks would finally inherit the Earth.

But let’s save that for another time …

Let’s go back to Judge Haikala’s strange ruling — she seems to have her observations twisted. Black students have been and continue to be caught in the middle.

While much of the media’s attention has been placed on how racist Gardendale seems to be, we’re ignoring a recurring scheme to undermine one of the most essential paths to erasing income inequality: education.

Jefferson County Alabama poverty map

Student poverty rate in Jefferson County, Alabama is 49%.

Jim Crow only changed his name and never really departed from Jefferson County, where EdBuild has identified 13 mostly-gerrymandered school district borders and found six of them to be among the 50 most segregating borders in America.

Jefferson is also no stranger to school district secession.  Other towns have also separated from Jefferson over the years to create their own districts, which removes essential tax revenue from the county, thus further underfunding the school system and adversely impacting Jefferson students — most of whom are poor, people of color or both.

In other words, Black students have been caught in the middle for years.

The result becomes a death spiral. More families — if they can — leave in search of better-resourced school districts, and then Jefferson further deteriorates.

And that means income inequality remains the same or worsens.

I would love for any judge to explain how granting White secession translates into Black student success.

The difference between Gardendale, Alabama and its counterpart towns Vestavia Hills and Mountain Brook (highlighted in above image) is that Gardendale made the press with its outward-facing bigotry.

But this sort of segregation and death spiral by secession happens across the country.

Like I’ve said several times before, you can’t legislate love for other humans.

Although I will add here that school curricula based on diverse ideas and teaching modalities can help to broaden horizons, as well as enable students to embrace the differences in others.

Equitable school funding, resource and education achievement plans also have prominent places in a solution set for addressing this crisis in education.

However, a harsh reality mitigates the effectiveness of those ideas — there are many more Know Alabama-oriented policymakers in counties across the US who make life-altering decisions about education everyday, but somehow manage to keep their names out of the Washington Post.

Still, all we want to do is rattle cans about Gardendale …

song currently stuck in my head: “remembrance” – yussef kamaal

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Latest Polls Show Democrats Are Still Running From Salvation

democratic party

Some of you ⸺ well, fewer of you, assuming the latest polling news is accurate ⸺ will groan as I resurface an earlier point I made about how redemption shall remain a fleeting fantasy for the Democratic National Committee until they first pursue salvation.

While the DNC has spent much of its post-November implosion state spitting “Agent Orange is the St. Petersburg Candidate” memes, a new survey conducted by ABC News and the Washington Post shows that only four percent of Trump voters have buyer’s remorse.

And the woes of Democrats crash down even harder. Look at this chart:

When comparing the percentage of voters who believe the two major parties and Trump are out of touch with everyday Americans, the Democratic Party ranks the worst with 67.

ABC explains why this is worse news for Democrats:

That’s a steeply negative turn for the Democrats, 19 percentage points more critical than when last asked three years ago, including especially steep losses in their base.

Now, I would like for someone to coherently explain to me what any Russian has to do with the DNC’s deterioration in relevance.

While I admit that gerrymandering is a state and local problem that needs to be addressed, this poll sends a clear message: even with a level, electoral playing field and do-over, Trump would still become Commander-in-Chief.

Still not convinced? Well, the ABC/WaPo poll is about to break your heart some more.

Here’s the setup: the percentage of survey respondents who said they voted for Clinton or Trump respectively reflect the popular vote margin that tilted toward Clinton in November’s general election.

And now for the hammer: the survey shows that 85 percent of those Clinton voters would not vote for her in a do-over election. Only two percent of her defectors would switch to Trump, but the remainder would support a third-party candidate or stay home.

(Laughing) Did Russia hack the survey?

The DNC also can’t blame Bernie Sanders’ primary supporters for these issues of relevance. ABC explains:

Still, there’s no strong evidence that defectors primarily come from groups that favored Bernie Sanders in the primary. There are no broad differences by age, and liberals are 9 points more likely than moderates and conservatives to stick with Clinton.

The DNC played themselves attempting be the Party of Hillary Clinton and hoping that working-class Americans could not tell the difference between a progressive values-driven candidate and a neoliberal shrill for the rich. Implosion became the result.

And not because Trump is so likeable. His approval ratings continue swim near the bottom of the scale.

It’s because the Democrats ignored its past sins of becoming the party of bankers, Hollywood and free trade agreements, and then doubled-down on its bad behavior by not delivering a clear vision America’s future while supporting an damaged brand called “Clinton.”

I’ll remind you of a reason why I call Democrats the Party of no Guts.

Salvation is hard work, plus it requires admission of past sins like ⸺ in the case of Democrats ⸺supporting the financial deregulation scheme that nearly destroyed Western civilization in 2008.

Such an admission ⸺ one of several transgressions, I must add ⸺ requires Democrats to revisit the political franchise they’ve built from donations of oligarchs who have no regard for the working families Democrats claim to represent, and then vow to build new roots.

That kind of admission can be scary. And embarrassing. Plus, it’ a sure-fire way to lose a handful of your rich friends.

Needless to say I’m not surprised by any of this.

Read the survey’s more detailed findings here [pdf] …

song currently stuck in my head: “opus de funk” – johnny hammond

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Iraq and Vietnam Saw False Flag Attacks — You Just Witnessed One in Syria

Syria Gas Attack
You already know by now I have strong suspicions that the Syria chemical weapons attack in Khan Shaykhoun either didn’t happen or sarin gas was not used to kill those civilians, as the US has claimed.

I said back then about the video evidence found on YouTube:

All the hospital personnel either wore surgical masks or nothing over their faces at all.

So, why did we NOT see medical personnel dropping to the floor on camera due to exposure?

Anything less than wearing a hazmat suit and protective headgear when near sarin gas attack victims who were immediately exposed to the agent means trouble.

But doctors are wearing leather jackets for protection?

Ted Postol also has doubts about the chemical attack as well as the evidence presented by US intelligence that points to Syria being responsible — except Postol is Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a recognized expert in missile systems and weapons of mass destruction.

Postol went much deeper than my leather protective gear observations and GIFs to not only prove the evidence produced by US intelligence to connect the Syrian government with the April 4 gas attack is faulty, but he also presents a strong case that the attack and its evidence were staged.

We’re talking about a using false flag to justify subsequent acts of warfare. “Iraq has WMDs” style. Gulf of Tonkin-type stuff.

I read Postol’s observations of the video evidence on turcopolier’s Sic Semper Tyrannis blog, where I saw yet another image of an investigator dressed more like he was out gardening for the weekend than tending to ground zero of a sarin gas attack:


The guy in the image has no hazmat suit but was able to pick up a bird, recently killed by sarin gas, without risk of death or illness? Not even a cough? 

C’mon, he’s wearing sandals!

The image came from this video.

I then learned that Postol published an exclusive report [PDF] on Washington’s Blog that further destroyed the US intelligence assessment of the gas attack. By the way, I suggest you bookmark Washington’s Blog.

Based on the US’s story version that says Syria carried out the gas attack by dropping a bomb from a jet fighter and the bomb’s blast distributed the lethal gas, Postol analyzed weather conditions, the most likely path taken by the gas plume and the crater resulting from the gas bomb’s explosion to not only conclude that the explosion was staged from the ground, but he also determined that the sarin gas attack didn’t happen.

In addition, Postol studied a series of photos from ground zero over time and pointed out that the site went through a series of revisions (PDF). In other words, evidence tampering appears to be at work.

But something awful indeed happened. Postol’s analyses beg for the US and Russia to jointly endorse a formal investigation of whatever happened on April 4.

For example, Postol points to this photo of the crater supposedly forged by the gas bomb dropped from a Syrian military jet plane. The bomb’s ruptured fuselage — which Postol says looks more like the section of an artillery missile than a bomb dropped by a plane, but that’s another story — is bent as if an explosion occurred OUTSIDE of the missile, as opposed to an explosion from INSIDE.


Light firecrackers (common sense advisory: don’t do this) that are placed inside a long, thin beer can so see what Postol’s talking about. The can will rupture, but not bend like a banana or the supposed sarin bomb container in the photos.

Or as Postol puts it:

If this is in fact the mechanism used to disperse the sarin, this indicates that the sarin tube was placed on the ground by individuals on the ground and not dropped from an airplane.

On the ground. In a territory controlled by jihadists at the time.

Postol also analyzed the travel path of of the sarin plume — given the wind direction, temperature and sun’s position during the time of the alleged gas attack — and determines that there would be mass casualties at a hamlet approximately 300 meters from the supposed bomb strike site

However no one reports of any mass deaths in the hamlet. Instead, we see waves of video posts of more or less the same gas victims in a different area.

We could resolve the inconsistencies found in the US intelligence report by conducting a properly-resourced investigation of the attacks

Except Team Trump has no interest in such an exercise. They accused the Syria government of the April 4 attack, fired cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase three days later and then shared its intelligence report to justify the missiles on April 11.

View Postol’s analyses here …

A Quick Turnaround Assessment of the White House Intelligence Report Issued on April 11, 2017 About the Nerve Agent Attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria (Formatted version, with images)

Addendum to A Quick Turnaround Assessment of the White House Intelligence Report Issued on April 11, 2017 About the Nerve Agent Attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria (PDF version with images)

Video Evidence of False Claims Made in the White House Intelligence Report of April 11, 2017 (PDF version with images)

The Nerve Agent Attack that Did Not Occur [PDF version with images]

song currently stuck in my head: “blue, green, gray and gone” – sarah vaughn and michel legrand

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Trump — Assimilated

President Donald Trump was set to dump “obsolete” NATO — until he changed his mind.

In the name of efficiency, Trump imposed a federal hiring freeze — and then cited “efficiency” when he lifted the freeze.

Fed chairperson Janet Yellon was “toast” in Trump’s bold new world — and then he began to have second thoughts.

Abolishing the Export-Import Bank was a Trump priority — and then it wasn’t.

Trump’s stance on Syria signaled America’s shift away from the regime change business. And then that stance began to change.

And now Trump has changed his mind about attaching the “currency manipulator” label to China, his one-time nemesis.

The China policy is admittedly more complicated. I’ll explain that in a separate post.

Still, I’m sure that Trump and former President Barack Obama could have an interesting tea conversation one day about their first time being borged …

song currently stuck in my head: “we know we have to live together” – eugene blacknell

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Fire Spicer; Shut Down Pepsi; United Still Not Down

Sean Spicer, Pepsi, David Dao

Leave it to Sean Four-Fingers.

Politics aside, US Press Secretary Sean Spicer should be fired for being an idiot.

President Trump is free to choose any Conservative he wants to serve as his mouthpiece. I’m just asking that he chooses among the smart ones.

No need for me to break down Spicer’s waves of failing “Assad worse than Hitler” remarks during Passover(!) when Wonkette did a thorough job of that.

Spicer must’ve had the same communications training as United Airlines
… a company I’ve avoided flying with even before 9/11, when I became convinced that terrorists actively think about bombing any American company or physical asset around the world that contains a permutation of the words “America” or “United States.”

But United’s depiction of David Dao — the physician they manhandled and “reaccommodated” from their plane TWICE, after issuing him a boarding pass — as a guy with anger management issues makes me wonder about the synchronization of United CEO Oscar Moñoz’ statement and the news story about Dr. Dao being a gay, illegal drug-dispensing emotional firebomb.

As if It’s okay to yoke gay, illegal drug-dispensing emotional firebombs …

Speaking of yoking 69-year olds, Why should the airport security guard, who was asked by United to remove Dr. Dao, be placed on leave before disciplining the requestors?

It’s not like the officer was asked to invite the good doctor out for tea — I’m sure the guards involved would have been fired if they went back to Untied and said “Hey boss, the doctor won’t to leave, so he rides, right?”

Whoever dispatched the guards knew the outcome could be violent. This is just another corporate game of deflecting root causes.

Looks like my decision to stay the hell away from United’s Friendly Skies remains on point.

Which reminds me of this hilarious Pepsi-United mashup:

#NoWords #Pepsi #AmericanHorrorStory #HoldMyBeer

A post shared by Måyå (@str0ng_medicine) on

I think boycotting Pepsi for trivializing people’s decades of struggle for equality and justice is too lenient.

I say let’s shut Pepsi all the way down.

Put ‘em out of business.

No negotiations, no acceptance of offers to kick in a few dollars to some National [fill in the organization’s name here]’s annual banquet. Lights out. Bye-bye, sugar.

Perhaps you’re a Doritos fan (I’m not). Then just shut down Pepsi’s soda division. Or decommission the company’s existence in chunks.

Individuals like Spicer, Muñoz — along with the institutions they represent — are quite accustomed to Twitter critics and marches.

That’s why you have to kick them in their vital organs: the polling spot and the market cap …

song currently stuck in my head: “got to give in” – neil diablo

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Download This Soul Music Podcast Now.

soul music podcast

If you love modern, independent Soul music creators like Kindred the Family Soul, Angela Johnson, Moonchild and Amp Fiddler, give thanks to Soulsorts’ Roger Williams for this three-hour show of top-shelf tracks.

Click the pic below or go here to listen, get the track list and download. Be sure to follow his podcast to get the latest show uploads. Thanks for the Soul fix, Roger!

soulsorts roger williams

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