Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Name:
Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

WAR


Long ago America’s foreign policy, became an insidious force around the globe.  Marine Corps officer, Major General Smedley Butler was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor twice for separate acts of outstanding heroism.  In 1933, he delivered a speech stating: “War is just a racket.  A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people.  Only a small inside group knows what it is about.  It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.”

Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini’s opinion of war was different.  He claimed: “And above all, Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace... War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the people who have the courage to meet it.”

Not unlike Mussolini’s Italy, America’s wealthy elite covet the assets of weaker nations and historically have used our military to gain an economic stranglehold on the natural resources of weaker nations.

Instead of money going to serve the needs of our nation’s middle class and poor, it flows into the coffers of American corporations.  We had the highest standard of living on the planet as a direct result of imperialism, but on 9/11, we paid the price.  Unfortunately, many Americans only learn to hate on that day, and nothing else.

Do you still considered Iraqi oil more valuable than hundred of thousands of dead Iraqis and the lives of brave Americans who sacrificed so much for the benefit of American corporations?  Is it really one’s patriotic duty to serve the interests of corporate America?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Nuclear North Korea


President Truman recalled General MacArthur because our Constitution provides that an elected Commander-in-Chief  make policy decision concerning the conduct of a war.  However, Truman didn’t order our troops to retreat, during the Korean War.

The Communist Chinese entered the war and swarmed across the frozen Yalu River into north Korea.  Marines were forced to redeploy.  They brought their dead and wounded with them in temperatures reaching 30 degrees below zero.  They fought their way south to a seaport and were evacuated.

Eisenhower promised that if elected he’d bring an end to the Korean War and he made good on that promise.

Six years after President George W. Bush decided to drop President Clinton’s policy of engagement with Kim Jong-il, North Korea conducted its first nuclear test. 

Clinton used Wendy Sherman as a special policy adviser on North Korea from 1997 until the end of his term.  She explained that when Bush took office, America was involved in negotiation to stop the development of missiles, which might deliver nuclear weapons.  

Colin Powell thought continued negotiations were a good idea, but he was overruled by Bush.  Consequently, today we have a 400 percent increase in the amount of plutonium North Korea possesses.  North Korea might decide to sell fissionable material for nuclear weapons to terrorists.  And, nothing is more terrifying than terrorists getting their hands on a nuclear weapon. 

“The Proliferation Security Initiative” is a useful technique, but it’s not likely to stop North Korea from having nuclear weapons or transferring some of that technology.  A blockade can’t stop them from transferring nuclear weapons.  Plutonium can be a size of an orange, and it can be put in a suitcase and carried across a border.  Blockading a ship coming out of a port isn’t going to stop a transfer. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Korean War


The North Korean invasion of South Korea came as a surprise to our government.  Our greatest concern was not that the invasion was a border dispute between two dictatorships, but that many democracies feared that it was the first step in a communist campaign to take over the world.  Nonintervention was not considered an option.

In April 1950, a National Security Council report known as NSC-68 recommended that our country use military force to contain communist expansionism where it was occurring, “regardless of the intrinsic strategic or economic value of the lands in question.”

At first, the war was to get the communists out of South Korea.  However, by the end of the summer, President Truman and General Douglas MacArthur had decided on a different goal.  The Korean War became a war to liberate North Korea from the communists.

An amphibious assault at Inchon pushed the North Koreans back to their side of the 38th parallel.  American troops crossed that boundary and eventually moved north to the Yalu River, the border between North Korea and Communist China.  The Chinese Army poured across the border to allegedly protect themselves from an “armed aggression against Chinese territory.” 

Our military was warned to keep away from the Yalu boundary unless it wanted full-scale war.  Truman didn’t want a war with China, but General MacArthur insisted anything short of a wider war represented appeasement, an unacceptable knuckling under to the communists.

On April 11 1951, Truman fired the General MacArthur for insubordination.  In July, Truman and his new military commanders started peace talks at Panmunjom.  

The fighting continued for two more years, until an armistice was signed.  A new boundary near the 38th parallel gave South Korea an extra 1,500 square miles of territory; and created a 2 mile-wide demilitarized zone.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Cuban Missile Crisis


After the failed attempt to overthrow the Castro regime in Cuba with the Bay of Pigs invasion, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev reached a secret agreement with Fidel Castro to place Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba to deter any future invasion attempt. 
A U.S. U–2 aircraft took pictures, that clearly showed sites for medium-range and intermediate-range ballistic nuclear missiles under construction. 
All of the Joint Chiefs of Staff argued for an air strike to destroy the missiles, followed by a invasion of Cuba.  JFK went on national television to inform the public of the developments in Cuba, and the potential global consequences if the crisis continued to escalate.  He announced: “It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.” 
On October 26, Kennedy told his advisors it appeared that only a U.S. attack on Cuba would remove the missiles, but he insisted on giving the diplomatic channel a little more time.  That afternoon, an ABC News correspondent John Scali reported to the White House that he had been approached by a Soviet agent suggesting that an agreement could be reached in which the Soviets would remove their missiles from Cuba if the United States promised not to invade the island. 
The next day, Khrushchev sent a message indicating that any proposed deal must include the removal of our Jupiter missiles from Turkey.  Attorney General Robert Kennedy met secretly with Soviet Ambassador and indicated that our government was planning to remove the Jupiter missiles from Turkey anyway.  The next morning, Khrushchev issued a public statement that Soviet missiles would be dismantled and removed from Cuba.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Bay of Pigs


During the presidential campaign, between Dwight Eisenhower's Vice- President, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy, Eisenhower was accused of not doing enough to prevent Fidel Castro from overthrowing the American-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista.  However, the Eisenhower's administration had already planned an invasion of Cuba, which was to be handled by the CIA.  By the time of JFK's inauguration, the order to invade was the only piece of the plan to be put into place.

The Eisenhower plan was to overthrow a government with which our country was not at war.  And, it included a directive that our government should not appear to be involved.

By October the Castro administration had already presented evidence to the United Nations that our CIA was hiring and training mercenaries.  Our involvement had never been much of a secret.

Senator William Fulbright told Kennedy that this sort of hypocrisy was just the sort of thing of which the United States accused the Soviets.  Under Secretary of State Chester Bowles advised Secretary of State Dean Rusk that the plan was wrong on both moral and legal grounds.

Those in favor of the invasion plan included former Vice President Richard Nixon, Robert F. Kennedy, and Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara.

On April 12, 1961, JFK announced that he had no intention of intervening in Cuban affairs, but five days later, an invasion force that had been assembled in Guatemala departed in six ships from a port in Nicaragua, and a day later American-backed Cuban exiles began to bomb airfields near two points in the Bay of Pigs and the Zapata swamps in Cuba.

The Bay of Pigs invasion was intended to provoke an uprising against Castro.  Instead, it became a military victory for Castro and remains a symbol of Cuban resistance to American aggression.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Nemesis


Chalmers Johnson wrote about “Blowback” in which he links the CIA’s clandestine activities abroad to disasters at home.  In “The Sorrows of Empire,” Johnson explores how the growth of militarism and the garrisoning of our troops around the world has jeopardized our safety at home.  The final volume of what has become known as the “Blowback Trilogy” is “Nemesis: The Last Days of The American Republic.”

The CIA’s term “blowback” is a metaphor for the unintended consequences of it’s activities, which are kept secret from the American people.  In 1953, Eisenhower’s CIA feared there would be blowback from its reprehensible interference in the affairs of Iran.  By installing the Shah to power, the CIA brought twenty-five years of tyranny and repression upon the Iranian people, which concluded with the Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution, and the staff of the American embassy was held hostage for more than a year.  That covert operation helped convince many people throughout the Islamic world that America was its mortal enemy.

Unfortunately, most American’s don’t have a clue regarding what has been happening for the last six decades.  We think of our country as peaceful, happy, hard working, and law abiding.  Readers might be shocked to learn that the Islamic extremists we are now fighting are the very group we supported and subsidized throughout the 1980s in the name of fighting Communism in Afghanistan.  And, during the 1990s, our government attempted to starve the population of Iraq, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths.

Bush claimed that suicidal Sunni assassins, who attacked us on September 11, 2001, were “evil”, and that we are “a beacon for freedom” and “this is civilization's fight.”  The abstract values such as a “clash of civilizations” is a way of evading responsibility for the blowback that America’s imperialism has generated.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Mindless Killing


Colin Powell’s "My American Journey" related the My Lai atrocity, when American soldiers "herded 347 old man, women, children and even babies into a ditch and shot them."

After years of mindless killing, dying and widespread atrocities in Vietnam, the moral of some components of our military plummeted and drug use became widespread.  Officers and N.C.O.'s were targeted for death by resentful enlisted men.

The reputation of our military, which had been meticulously rebuilt after Vietnam began falling victim to lowered standards in Iraq.  Breakdowns in discipline and a series of atrocities occurred, which was a betrayal of our honorable men and women.  Apparently, we hadn't learn from Vietnam.  Many of us were again reminded of the My Lai massacre, when Marines were accused of slaughtering 24 Iraqis, including women and children, in the western town of Haditha.  

The nightmare of Vietnam still haunts us, because it took from July 1959 until March of 1973 to quit.  In 1965, Under Secretary of State George Ball recommended that we cut our losses.  He recognized that it was a quagmire, but LBJ considered it unacceptable, because our national honor was at stake.  After, Ball’s recommendation an additional 55,000 Americans died, while LBJ and Nixon sought to save their honor.

Six months after the draft lottery started in December of 1969, four students in the vicinity of an anti-war protest on the campus of Kent State University were killed by National Guardsmen.  Those killings sparked hundreds of protest against the war across college campuses.

Nixon began a token withdrawal in June of 1969, but the withdrawal of combat troops wasn’t completed until March of 1973.  Since, leaving Vietnam we discovered that the dreaded domino theory was propaganda designed to frightened us into supporting the lucrative adventures of the military industrial complex.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Unintended Consequences


We should have learned a lesson, from Vietnam and Iraq, that spilling American blood and treasure will weakened our country.   

We have the most powerful military on Earth.  We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined.  No nation dares to attack us or our allies because they know that is a path to their destruction.  

China’s economy is growing at its slowest rate in the last 25 years.  Russia is pouring military resources to prop up Syria to prevent them slipping away from their orbit.  

Our military, CIA, and FBI are focused on destroying ISIL, in Syria, Iraq, and, the terrorist among us, who are plotting to kill civilians.  Terrorist aren’t a threaten our national existence, but that is the propaganda ISIL uses to recruit.  We must not confirm their propaganda, because terrorist don’t represent of one of the world's largest religions.  We must not push away our Muslim allies.  We simply need to recognize that terrorist are religious fanatics, who kill innocent people and continue to hunted them down.  

The Obama administration led a coalition of more than 60 countries to cut off ISIL's financing, disrupt their plots, and stop the flow of terrorist fighters.  Over 9,700 air strikes in Iraq and Syria depleted their leadership, oil supplies, training camps, weapons and a cash storage facility.  We’re training, and arming forces who are steadily reclaiming territory in those countries.  

Justice is being done.  Osama bin Laden, and the leader of al Qaeda in Yemen have been killed.  The perpetrator of the Benghazi attacks is in a prison cell.  It may take time, but we have long memories, and the reach of our military has no limit.

Carpet bombing of innocent civilians, or a preemptive nuclear attack on North Korea could result in catastrophic unintended consequences.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

ISIL, aka ISIS


Fifteen of the nineteen perpetrator on 9/11, were Saudi Arabian Sunni Muslims.  None were Shiites from Iraq or Iran.  The fact is that 60 percent of the people in Iraq are Shiites, and only 20 percent are Sunni.

In retrospect removing Saddam Hussein was a victory for Iran, because his regime had kept the pro-Iranian Shiite majority repressed.  Instead of freedom, Iraq disintegrated into a Sunni-Shiite civil war that has spread instability throughout the region.

ISIL, aka ISIS fighters that overran Iraq were a creation of the Iraq war.  They gained strength in numbers in the midst of the cauldron of violence that was unleashed by the Iraq war.

Congressional Republicans ignore the fact that the withdrawal plan from Iraq was put in place by President Bush.  The Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq required, that it be approved by the Iraqi parliament, but our Congress was never consulted.  Bush signed the deal requiring our combat troops to be out by 2011, and congressional Republicans didn’t complained at that time.

In 2010, Iraqi Shiite politicians refused to grant our troops immunity from prosecution.  At first, Iraq’s Prime Minister Abadi a Shiite didn’t want our combat troops in Iraq.  Consequently, Obama urged the Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds to come together to defeat ISIL on the ground.

Keep in mind that what happened in Mosul was that 30,000 Iraqi troops turned and fled in the face of 800 ISIL fighters.  Those troops were mostly Sunnis, who had no desire to risk their lives, for what they consider to be a completely Shiite dominated government hostile to their interest.  It’s doubtful that leaving a residual force of American military trainers could have done anything to prevent their advance.

In 2015, twenty thousand Iranian Shiite militiamen fought ISIL to retake Tikrit.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Truth


Marine General Anthony Zinni established his impeccable credentials during nearly forty years of military service.  After retirement, he served as Colin Powell’s special envoy to the Middle East, before disagreements over the Iraq war and its probable aftermath caused him to resign.  Zinni is quoted by Tom Clancy in "Battle Ready;" a segment entitled "The Obligation to Speak the Truth."

Zinni said: "In the lead-up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw at minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility; at worst, lying, incompetence, and corruption.  False rationales presented as justification; a flawed strategy; lack of planning; the unnecessary alienation of our allies; the underestimation of the task; the unnecessary distraction from real threats, and the unbearable strain dumped on our overstretched military, all of these caused me to speak out."

For speaking out Zinni was called a traitor and a turncoat by Pentagon officials.  Zinni strongly disagrees with the mentality which says: "As long as guys are dying out there, it is morally reprehensible to criticize the flawed policies and tactics that put them into the predicaments."

Career counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke served under four presidents beginning as an analyst on nuclear weapons under Reagan and established a record for continuous service in national security policy positions.

In his book “Against All Enemies”, Clarke wrote: “We invaded and occupied an oil rich Arab country that posed no threat to us...We delivered to al Qaeda the greatest recruitment propaganda imaginable.” 

On 9/11, Clarke was the nations crisis manager in Bush’s White House situation room.  He reports that within hours of the 9/11 attack, Donald Rumsfeld was suggesting Iraq as a battlefield.  Not because al Qaeda was there, but because it offered better targets than the elusive bin Laden in Afghanistan.

The aftermath was ISIL.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Preemptive War


Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote "The Charge of the Light Brigade" to memorialize a tragic cavalry charge made in 1854. 

"Not tho' the soldier knew.  Some one had blunder'd: Their's not to make reply, Their's not to reason why, Their's but to do and die: Into the valley of Death"

We’re told that our young men and women have died for a noble causes, but what will be our next noble cause.  An honest answer to that question is that grief stricken parents must accept that children of the elite are not going to be making the supreme sacrifice, because they are not expendable.  Gold Star mothers are expected to graciously accept a neatly folded flag and quietly enduring lifelong grief.

Trump supporters and especially Gold Star mothers will be expected to conduct themselves as if they are in the military. "Their's not to make reply, Their's not to reason why" -- Their's but to demonstrate unwavering support for a blundering Commander-in- Chief.

Those who made the supreme sacrifice in Iraq never knew that their alleged noble cause was first revealed by Paul Wolfowitz a decade before 9/11.  Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Wolfowitz were among 18 signatures on a letter to then President Clinton in 1998, which urged a preemptive war against Saddam Hussein.  Of the eighteen signers of that letter; eleven held posts in the Bush administration, when Iraq was invaded.  Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill confirmed that ten days after Bush's inauguration the focus at his first National Security Council meeting was war with Iraq.

The invasion of Iraq served to invite more terrorism and was an avarice, calculated, imperialistic plan to gain control of the world's second largest oil reserve.  Allowing our troops to be used as economic cannon fodder for multinational oil corporations is unconscionable.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Summit’s Walter Wouk


The following is an excerpt from a letter that Walter Wouk wrote to a newspaper regarding what he imagined President Trump felt like in the Mar-a-Lago situation room following the launch of his missile strike against Syria, and wishing that he could push the buttons.
“Noticeably absent from the room was CIA Director Mike Pompeo.  Apparently, he was persona non grata, according to investigative reporter Robert Parry, who wrote that Pompeo had personally briefed Trump on April 6 about the CIA’s belief that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was likely not responsible for the lethal poison-gas incident in northern Syria two days earlier.  Consequently Pompeo was excluded from the larger meeting after Trump rejected the CIA chief’s assessment of reality and substituted one of his own.
“ABC News reported that U.S officials confirmed that Russia had been informed about the pending attack on Syria, and it appears that it warned Syria.  The base Trump wasted $93 million attacking was essentially empty.”
Keep in mind however that Trump owns congressional Republicans, and has a majority on the Supreme Court.  He knows that Republicans won’t oppose him, because Vladimir Putin and Russian spies not only conducted cyber attacks on documents from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, but also has information from hacking the Republican campaign committee, and Trump.
Putin is a very cruel and cunning dictator, who’ll keep that information to extort favors from Trump and congressional Republicans.  It’s a possibility that he may have initiated the entire plan to make it look as if Trump was standing up to him.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Foolishness and Stupidity


 “JP” Pasquale’s most recent letters published in The Oneonta Daily seem to be disputing the factual information that Bob Parmerter  provided in a previous letter that pointed out that Trump said: “Our prisons are bursting with illegals right now.”  In fact, 1.6 percent of immigrant men aged 18-39 are in prison compared to 3.3 percent of American-born men aged 18-39 in prison.  Furthermore, in the past 25 years, the number of immigrants in the U.S. has increased, but crime has dropped.

Mr. Parmerter also pointed out, that Trump said: “Immigration is killing us, really killing us, and it’s bad for the economy.”  Actually, immigrants are 12.9 percent of the population, who start 28 percent of new businesses.”

Millions of undocumented people are contributing to our economy, because they’re consumers, who pay sale taxes and $12 billion a year into Social Security.  

There are over 200 cities, counties, and states, who are considered sanctuaries that protect undocumented immigrants from deportation.  Immigrant-rich communities are much safer compared to the national average, because when a segment of the local population fears that law enforcement will try to determine immigration status, they usually don’t come forward as witnesses to help prevent crimes or solve crimes that have been committed.

By the way Mr. Pasquale, I haven’t abandoned my heritage, which goes back to my great grandmother Julia Livingston Sweetzer, who was a direct decedent of Robert Livingston.  During the Second Continental Congress, Livingston was one of five committee members, who helped draft the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

I’m also not a “fool” who would allow anybody to enter my home illegally to rob, beat, and kill my family.  And, I’m not so “stupid” as to believe the inflammatory, ridiculous, over- generalizations that you have made regarding undocumented immigrants.    

Monday, April 17, 2017

Pittsford’s William Whitaker


William Whitaker of Pittsford wrote: “My children (ages 10 and 12) came home from school and asked, ‘Dad, is there going to be a war?’  I realized the bellicose words and nature of our president had led them to ask this question.
“I am a retired naval officer, was at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during the 1962 missile crisis (Note, General Curtis LeMay recommended that the U.S. strike first with our bomber force) and was in Vietnam during the 1968 Tet offensive (note General Westmoreland: ‘Give me 50,000 more men and I will win’).  The former caused a rethink about nuclear weapons; the latter a rethink about entering a conflict.
“Sadly, by 2003, the lessons were forgotten, and we have been at war ever since with little to show for it (unless you are a munitions manufacturer). We now have a president who believes we can throw our weight around, tell other nations what to do and make military threats.  My advice to the president is, first, do not listen to the generals; they will tell you they can do it, whatever it, is.
“Second there are seven billion people on this planet who need to be considered.  Third, we happen to live in a country that, in aggregate, has more natural resources, more space, has not had a foreign force on our soil since 1812, and has received immigrants from around the world who have contributed mightily to our prosperity.  These are the circumstances that have led to our good fortune, not any type of national superiority.”

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Different, Diverse and Wonderful


Yesterday, the Oneonta Daily Star published a guest commentary entitled: “People are Different, Diverse and Wonderful” that had been submitted by Judy Welch, who is now a high school music teacher in Helotes, Texas.  

“In 1987, I became a single mother in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  My Texas teaching certificate was not valid in that state.  It would take quite a while before I could afford the courses for certification in Minneapolis.  So, despite being a college graduate, I took a job at a Perkins restaurant.  I had to support my children.

“My ex-husband and I worked out a schedule.  He would pick the children up on Wednesday afternoon and keep them through Sunday morning.  I would keep them Sunday through Wednesday.  That way I could work the weekends —  when waitresses make the most money.

“I enjoyed waiting tables.  People are so diverse, so different, and I loved to study their personalities.  Since Perkins is a family restaurant, we had several regular groups.

“One group came in every week on Wednesday after their Bible study at a church up the street.  It was usually a group of eight or 12 people.  They were polite and dressed conservatively.  The women wore modest dresses, usually calf-length, often in floral prints.  The men would wear white shirts and black ties.  They would stand and pray when I brought their salads to their table. They carried their Bibles and small pamphlets that they would leave in the lobby and on the table.

“These pamphlets changed about every two months.  The message was always the same.  “God wants to save you!”  The small books contained nine pages of illustrated Jesus stories showing you the steps to salvation.

“Unfortunately, they were not good tippers.  I shrugged it off.  I hoped that someday they would realize a quarter left by each plate was not going to help feed my children.  Eventually, some of the men started putting dollar bills under their dessert plates.  They all called me by name.

“On Thursdays, I had a much different group.  It was eight men — funny, loud, intelligent men.  As soon as they would walk in, I would make them eight blue cheese dressing salads.  I would greet them at the table with the salads and ice-cold lemonade.

“Then the fun would begin.  The first time they came in they were not in my section.  The waitress I was working with came back to the workstation and loudly said, ‘I can’t wait on them.  There is no way my mama would ever let me.  It’s just wrong.’

“The eight of them were coming in after their weekly support meeting.  I don’t know if it was called LGBT in those days.  I think that terminology came along in the 1990s.  Four of them were openly homosexual, one bisexual and three were transgender.  The three ‘Trans,’ as they called themselves, openly dressed as women.

“I have no problem with differences in people.  I told the other waitress I would take the table. After that, they were my regulars.

“They were amazing tippers and always made me feel special.  They asked about my children and my life.  They told funny, witty stories.  I looked forward to visiting with them every week.

“One night they were the only people in the restaurant.  I wasn’t allowed to sit and talk to them, but I could stand there awhile.  That was the night they told me about ‘Kendra.’  She was a member of the group.  In three weeks she was flying to Europe.  She finally had enough money saved to have her operation.  She had tears in her eyes when she told me the news.  They were going to have a huge celebration the night before she left.

“I was used to calling her ‘she.’  The homosexuals at the table also were happy for her.  They did, however, make jokes.  Homosexuals are men who love men or women who love women.  They enjoy and love their bodies.  The idea of any man cutting off that part of his body is terrifying to them, as it is to most of us.

“That is when I had a realization of my own.  Why would someone alter his body so drastically? Why would someone spend years to save money for the operation?  Why would someone face being outcast from the rest of the world?

“The answer was simple to me.  That is who she is.  She was born that way.  It was what she needed to be happy and live the life she wanted.

“I had no idea that one night at the restaurant these two worlds would collide.  The church group members were on time — 8:30 on the dot.  I had the table put together and ready for them.  Just as they began their salad prayer, I heard a loud group coming in the door.  It was my Thursday night group.

“Kendra’s plane was leaving at 12:30 a.m.  They came to eat before taking her to the airport. They wore New Year party hats.  They had streamers.  Party blow pops.  She had flowers and a corsage on her bright-blue dress.

“One of my favorite men in the group was about 6-foot-3.  He was wearing a full-length mink coat.  He was in a jubilant mood.  He was definitely not quiet.  I quickly put a table together for them on the far side of the room.  I continued to run back and forth between tables. 

“The church table folks began to mumble.  I think, without meaning to, I changed personalities whenever I would change tables.  I was formal with the church table, then casual and funny at my other one.  I did fear a confrontation could happen.

“I was right.  The church table was finished with their desserts when one of the middle-aged women — dressed in her flower print calf length dress — stood up.  She grabbed one of the pamphlets and headed for my other table.  As she approached them, she spoke in a loud, angry voice, ‘You are an abomination to God.  You will be punished in the fires of hell.  Here is your last chance for redemption.’  She slammed the pamphlet onto their table.’

“My mink-laden customer stood up slowly, all 6-foot-3 of him.  He took two steps away from the table, then twirled around three times in his beautiful floor-length coat.  He calmly said, ‘And you, my lady, will never be able to afford this fabulous coat.’

“She didn’t know what to say.  The church table quickly packed up and left, all the while mumbling and complaining to each other.

“No one won that night.  One group did not change how the other group felt about life.  However, it did clarify things for me.  People are different, diverse and wonderful.  I cherish them all.

“The news is controversial again.  People are so afraid that the new ‘public bathroom laws’ will threaten their children.  We will suddenly have men capturing our babies and raping them in the stalls.

“Even before this law, I never let my children go to a public bathroom by themselves, for a simple reason.  They were little.  They needed Mommy.  They were in public and I had to make sure they don’t get lost.  They needed to be safe.

“There are bad people in the world.  There will still be children abducted in the candy store or the toy aisle in a department store.  The difference now is some will yell loudly that it is because a transsexual used the bathroom. 

“The definition of transsexual, homosexual, lesbian, bisexual is not a child molester.  It is far more likely that a transgender person like Kendra will be assaulted by a man because she is using the bathroom that correlates with the sex she was given at birth.  Some men have even murdered people for being who they are.

“Think about it: Are we going to have Potty Police?  ‘Potty Patrol coming through.  Please have your birth certificate available when you walk into the restroom.  Knock, Knock, on the stall.  Are you sure you are in the right restroom?  Are you standing up while you pee?  I am calling the authorities.’

“I met Kendra close to 30 years ago.  As far as I am concerned she is welcome in any bathroom I am or will be in.  I hope you are well, Kendra.”

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Intercepts


Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) is the British intelligence organization, that routinely intercepts communications of Russian officials and passes on information to US intelligence agencies.  The US and Britain are part of the so-called "Five Eyes" agreement (along with Canada, Australia and New Zealand), which requires open sharing among member nations of intelligence.  The British GCHQ and other intelligence agencies were not targeting members of the Trump team, but rather gathering communications, and passing on those communications to their US counterparts, during what’s known as incidental collection.

FBI Director James Comey has confirmed that an investigation was opened last year into Russia's efforts to influence our presidential election.  And, the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation will scrutinized Russia's efforts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.
GCHQ's surveillance became politically sensitive when President Trump cited an uncorroborated Fox News report, that claimed the British intelligence tapped Trump Tower phones in at the request of former President Obama.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer repeated Trump's claim and cited a Fox News' report about GCHQ's surveillance to reporters in the briefing room.  Spicer told journalists: "Judge Andrew Napolitano had said: ‘Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command (to spy on Trump).  He didn't use the NSA, he didn't use the CIA ... he used GCHQ.’''
The GCHQ issued a statement saying: “Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct wire tapping against the then President-elect are nonsense.  They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”
Republican Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr confirmed: “based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016.”

Friday, April 14, 2017

Right- Wing Politics


Religious zealots believe that liberal Democrats have strayed too far from God, while secular liberals fear that religious zealots in the White House, Congress and Supreme Court have undermined our secularist Constitution.

In “The Left Hand Of God” Rabbi Rabbi Michael Lerner wrote: “unfortunately, the political and religious right has blamed selfishness and materialism on liberals of our society."  In Europe, the political right used to blame selfishness and materialism on the Jews.  In America, they now blame gays and lesbians, feminists and secular liberals.

Rabbi Lerner understood that selfishness and materialism are deeply rooted in the ethic of capitalism, and all religious and spiritual traditions have a common wisdom that love, caring, kindness and generosity can counter selfishness and materialism.

In “Our Endangered Values” President Carter explained that the Bush administration made a radical break from the basic values of equality, opportunity and justice, which past presidents embraced as core governing principles.  Those core governing principles have been replaced with rigid fundamentalism, which disregards the truth, demonstrates contempt for people that disagree, and repudiates basic human rights.

In “Called to Question” Sister Joan Chittister asks: “Do we want the religion of the Crusades and the Inquisition and the witch burnings and segregation and slavery, the oppression of women and Puritanism?”  

Sister Chittister pointed out that the religious right deletes some of the commandments, while accepting corporate and political greed.  They sit by and say nothing about a doctrine of preemptive war.  Either the religious right considers life is of value or it’s not of value.

The political right has succeeded in convincing people that religion only means right-wing politics.  They focus on divisive issue, like abortion, stem cell research, and homosexuality, and forget that the Bible calls for a redistribution of wealth to the people in the society.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Conflicts of Interest


The FBI and Congress are looking into the extent of Russian intelligence's cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign to determine to what extent those attacks influence the presidential election.  
Those investigations should also look into the extent to which President Trump's current debt, or his previous business partnerships, obligate him financially to Russian oligarchs aligned with Putin.
In 2008, Trump's son in law claimed: “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.  We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”  Trump's debt increased from $350 million to $630 million at a time when American banks were reluctant to extend him credit.  
Trump advisors' Paul Manafort and Carter Page have long histories of collecting enormous profit from Putin-aligned politicians and oligarchs in Russia and Ukraine.  The FBI and Congress should be investigating to what degree Trump's current and past senior advisers posed a conflict of interest when they were advising Trump during his presidential campaign.
Thorough investigations could determine if there is any information in Trump's tax returns that might indicate previously undisclosed financial ties to Russian interests in close alignment with Putin's dictatorship.
Several members in Trump's crony cabinet have very disturbing ties to Russia.  Most notable is his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has a strong history of business dealings with Vladimir Putin and other Russian government officials.  As Exxon-Mobil CEO, Tillerson oversaw a major partnership with the Russian government-owned oil company and was awarded Russia's Order of Friendship by Putin,
Investigations should look into why the Trump’s campaign stayed away from nearly every aspect of the Republican Party platform, and why his campaign worked behind the scenes to ensure the party platform didn’t support Ukraine.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

French Mercenaries


As a Marine with the Fleet Marine Force our troop transport ship docked in Oran, Algeria next to a French hospital ship that carried wounded French Foreign Legionaries, who had recently seen combat in Indochina, which a decade later became our Vietnam.  Those Legionaries were professional mercenaries and many were former members of Hitler’s army.

While on liberty in Oran, a group of street urchins surrounded me and one of them stole my wallet.  The next day, I visited the Sidi-Bel-Abbes the home base of the French Foreign Legion.  I told them about my encounter with the street urchins and they laughed.  They told me that they had put a stop to it, by grabbing the child by the wrist holding the child’s hand to the curb, and with their boots breaking the bones in the hand and fingers of the child.

Mercenaries tend to be cruel.  Consequently, sixty years ago, Legionaries were not allowed to be stationed in France.  Today, French citizenship may be applied for after three years' of service, and any mercenary who becomes injured during a battle for France immediately becomes a French citizen under a provision known as “French by spilled blood.”

The Bush regime used taxpayer money to employ Blackwater USA, a private military of tens of thousands of mercenaries in Iraq.  An illegal immigrant version of the Foreign Legion would have help solve our immigration and recruitment problems and been much less expensive than Blackwater.

A path to eventual citizenship could start with illegal immigrants volunteering for a special branch of our military, which would be stationed outside the contiguous United States.  Those illegal immigrants would earn citizenship after three years of honorable military service, or a Purple Heart.  

That arrangement should appeal to Trump supporters simply because many admire cruelty.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Hired To Kill


On 3/17/07, robinea posted the following information on line regarding mercenaries such as Blackwater USA.

“It is no secret that President Bush and his administration have sought to contract private mercenaries, who operate above and beyond US laws, to perform some of the filthiest and politically most delicate tasks in Iraq, including torture.  Where, occasionally, a member of the US Armed Forces has had to face some kind of 'justice' for, say, the rape and murder of a young Iraqi girl and the murder of her parents and baby sister, as in the case of the former soldier, Steve Green and his comrades, these 'for-profit' mercenaries have extra-territorial and extra-judicial authority placing them beyond the laws of both Iraq and the United States if they commit crimes in Iraq.

“The profits of war-making have been privatized mostly for the benefit of Bush's supporters, although a lot of Democratic Party supporters have had their share of the loot too.  Experienced soldiers are recruited directly from the Armed Forces, where they had once 'sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States' they now become private mercenaries where they are committed to their own enrichment and the enrichment of their 'bosses'. This outfit attracts the worst kind of sadists and opportunists.

“There are tens of thousands of private mercenaries working through such companies as Blackwater and others, including Israeli companies...in Iraq and elsewhere in this endless series of wars (Clash of Civilizations?).  Their commitment is to private profit and nothing more or less.  If a Blackwater 'Humvee' runs over your wife and children on their way to school...you are out of luck in Iraq.  Neither the Iraqi puppet government nor the US judicial authorities have any power over these 'heroes of free enterprise'.

“This is becoming the new face of power in our country.  Before there was some semblance of accountability, now there are secret bank accounts and powerful private armies.  Machine-gun totting Blackwater commandos, not all of whom were US citizens, patrolled the streets of New Orleans after Katrina - while the National Guard troops from the Gulf States were away securing the Empire in Iraq.

“The historic precedent for this use of private armies in controlling the masses, here and abroad, are the notorious Pinkertons, who slaughtered striking coal miners in Pennsylvania in the late 19th Century.  At one time there were said to be more armed goons in the Pinkertons, protecting the interests of the Robber Barons, than there were soldiers in the US Armed Forces.”

Monday, April 10, 2017

Blackwater


In 2007, Blackwater USA, was a secret private military company based in North Carolina.  It was run by Eric Prince a very wealthy Christian conservative. 

In a sworn statement a former Blackwater employee said, that Eric Prince: “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe.”

Prince has ties to White House Strategist Steve Bannon, and was a major donor to both George W. Bush’s and Trump’s presidential campaigns.  He’s also the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. 

Before Donald Trump's inauguration, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan a crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, a Persian Gulf nation strongly opposed to Iran, arranged a meeting on Seychelles, a remote island nation in the Indian Ocean, between Eric Prince and a Vladimir Putin confidant to establish a possible back channel of communications between Moscow and the incoming Trump administration.
The Washington Post reported the UAE wanted to weaken the alliance between Russia and Iran, a move that would likely “require major concessions to Moscow on U.S. sanctions.” 

NBC News quoted an intelligence source saying the Seychelles meeting focused on U.S. policy in the Middle East. 
CNN contributor Carl Bernstein reported that during the transition, Prince met with members of Trump's incoming national-security team, and has boasted about the influence that he had with the administration.

A spokesman for Prince claimed that the meeting “had nothing to do with President Trump” but wouldn’t explain the purpose of the meeting.

If Trump officials knew of or sanctioned Prince's meeting additional questions would be raised about Trump's agenda for Russia and ties between Trump associates and the Kremlin.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

More Regarding the AHCA


House Republicans were unable to gain enough votes in their own caucus to pass the American Health Care Act.  House Speaker Paul Ryan didn’t bring their very carefully disguised corporate welfare bill to the House floor for a vote.
The AHCA was just another scheme to reward the people who spent millions of dollars lobbying Republican members of Congress and bankrolling their political ambitions.
People are struggling to meet the costs of rising premiums, deductibles and prescription drugs.  Democrats have an opportunity to explain why a non-profit, single-payer, government-run system is the best way to fix our health care problems.
Allegedly, the reason the cost of medical care has increased so dramatically compared to inflation is due to medical technology progressing by leaps and bounds.  However, other countries in the industrialized world have been able to provide national health care for all their citizens.  Our patchwork system of private insurance has resulted in more than 30 percent of every health care dollar being spent on administration costs.  By eliminating private insurance, a single-payer system would reduce administrative spending by over $400 billion annually.  Those savings would provide every American with comprehensive health insurance, without increasing total spending.
President Trump was pushed to change his promise to force all health insurers to cover crucial services like maternity care, mental health and prescription drugs.  Nevertheless, the Freedom Caucus stood firm, by insisting the AHCA  plan was Obamacare lite, because it simply swapped the subsidies of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act for tax credits.  Trump even offered to repeal the insurance mandate, but the Freedom Caucus insisted the entire insurance regulation infrastructure of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, also known as ACA or Obamacare be repealed.
For years, the self-anointed Tea Party Patriots (currently known as the Freedom Caucus) claimed that the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act was unconstitutional.  Ironically, they’ve saved it. 
If the Affordable Care Act is eventually repealed, members of Congress will received the same healthcare insurance benefits other federal employee receive through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.  However, approximately 20 million working Americans would lose their coverage.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Drinking Water


In 2014, Toledo, Ohio had to announce a ban on drinking water.  A massive toxic algae bloom on Lake Erie resulted in a tap water ban for over 400,000 people in Toledo for two days.  For decades our drinking water has been at risk across America, due to climate change, crumbling infrastructure, and lax environmental regulations. 

The consequences of drinking contaminated water could be dire, since bacteria in algae blooms can cause skin rashes, vomiting and liver damage.  Scientists have known for a long time, that a number of man made factors have been contributing to the outbreak of these algae blooms.

In 2011. Lake Erie saw its largest algae bloom in history over 1,900 square miles of the lake was contaminated with the toxic algae, and the situation is getting worse.  The blooms scientist saw in 2011 was two and half times worse than the blooms that were seen back in the 1960’s and 70’s.

After the algae blooms in the ’60s and ’70s, phosphorus was banned in detergents.  That curbed the blooms for awhile but they have resurfaced, and more rigorous regulation are needed. 

The main culprit is phosphorus runoff from farms using fertilizers, but the effects of climate change also plays a role, because rising temperatures and increased moisture during the summer has provided a perfect breeding ground for the bacteria.

Aging water treatment infrastructure are also be blamed.  Sludge from sewage processing plants, leaky septic tanks, and outdated storm water drains that flow directly into Lake Erie has provided food for the bacteria. 

Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency explained that toxic algae blooms are a major environmental problem in all 50 states.  The problem is that President Trump and many uninformed, anti-regulation, science denying Republican voters and politicians could care less about our environment. 

Friday, April 07, 2017

Rolling Back Protections


When Scott Pruitt was Oklahoma’s Attorney General thousands of e-mails showed that there was significant collusion between him and the fossil fuel industry.  He abused his power and serious conflicts of interest occurred.  He collaborated with the oil and natural gas industry to cripple the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  

Obama’s Clean Power Plan and Clean Water Rules were gutted after President Trump told the EPA to rewrite a 2015 rule that cracked down on greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants.  Trump also instruct the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to redo another 2015 rule that gave the federal government more regulatory power over waterways.  Furthermore, he lifted an Interior Department moratorium on federal land coal leasing. 

The Clean Power Plan was the centerpiece of Obama’s climate change agenda.  The measure sought a 32 percent reduction in the electricity sector’s carbon emissions by 2030.  It was considered our nation’s most important step ever in the fight to reduce carbon pollution and transition to a clean energy economy.  Environmentalists supported the measure but many Republicans claimed it gave our government too much power and the energy sector said it threatened fossil fuel industries.

The Clean Water Rule gave our federal government regulatory jurisdiction over small waterways across the county.  That measure has been stayed by a federal judge after states filed law suits against it.  The Clean Water Rule explained pollution protections for our drinking water.  Without it, water for 1 in 3 people in America are at risk.

Trump signed a congressional resolution undoing a variety of coal mining regulation, and the Senate is expected to send him a resolution blocking methane restrictions on federal natural gas wells.

Scott Pruitt and Trump have put the interests of polluters over the air we breathe and water we drink. 

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Sanctuary Policies


White House press secretary Sean Spicer has announced that sanctuary cities don't deserve federal funds for law enforcement, arguing their policies mean they don't care enough about stopping crime.

President Trump issued an executive order in January that would take away federal funds from sanctuary cities, however the details for implementing that policy remains unclear.

Reporters from Philadelphia and Chicago have asked the Trump administration, if it intends to make good on its threat to cut federal funding to those jurisdictions that have "sanctuary" policies.  The term refers to some degree of not cooperating with federal immigration enforcement.

Sean Spicer told a reporter from WWDB-AM in Philadelphia: "Immigrants, both legal and illegal, are not safe when criminals who have committed egregious acts are free to roam the streets."

According to the University of Chicago's Crime Lab most victims and suspects of gun violence in Chicago are African-American men.  The increased gun violence is disproportionally located in a handful of neighborhoods on Chicago's south and west sides.

Mayor Steve Adler of Austin Texas told Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly that many sanctuary cities have far less crime than other cities.

Many large city police chiefs supported sanctuary policies in order to preserve trust with the community so that they report crimes and serve as witnesses without fearing deportation.  The policy serves to free up resources to fight local crime rather than perform the function of federal immigration officers.

The Trump administration has threatened retaliation toward those jurisdictions who have policies of declining detainer requests from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.  Those requests ask local law enforcement agencies to detain individuals in jail that ICE believes could be deported for up to 48 hours after they would otherwise be released based on criminal procedure so that ICE can pick them up.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Delhi’s Katherine Mario


Katherine Mario recently pointed out: “As I drove through Walton and Colchester last week, I noticed the big Farmers for Trump signs on barns.  It’s no secret that Mr. Trump won big here.  But I feel sorry for the farmers who put their hope in him.  Budget information reflects a 21 percent cut in the Agriculture Department seemingly the biggest cut for any agency.  He is slashing programs that invest in rural infrastructure, that target rural public radio stations and destroy food-aid programs that buy the food our local farmers produce.
“One specific program is WIC, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, the federal nutrition program aimed at pregnant women and young children that now covers half of all infants born in the U.S.  This program is cut almost entirely!  Sad and cruel for the families who need it and for the farmers who produce the food it provided.  One in four children in rural America lives in poverty.  And we have already heard that Meals on Wheels will probably be gone.  Even House and Senate Republicans are against the president’s cuts.
“Heck, using that trickle-down economics that Republicans love, what will this mean for our little town businesses?  And, with fewer tax dollars coming in, how will our municipalities function?

“Thank goodness the country’s largest food program, Food Stamps, is mandatory.”

It seems to me that most of the people, who live in rural areas in every state have been figuratively shooting themselves in the foot on election day for many years.

President Trump named his budget proposal "America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again."  It would increase defense spending by $54 billion.  He’s asking our Republican representatives in Congress to strip money from more than 18 other agencies.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Treadwell’s Joel Canfield


Joel Canfield wrote: “It seems like on a daily basis, no matter which new source you rely on, one reads or hears of the nefarious deeds of drug dealers whose activities lead to misery, crime and even death.  Any sane-minded person must look incredulously at the actions of former President Obama, who in his tenure in office, pardoned or commuted almost 10 times the number of prisoners than the last 11 presidents did.  A large number of these prisoners were guilty of drug-trafficking crimes.”  
In 2013, Attorney General Holder announced a “Smart On Crime” plan to the American Bar Association, that gave U.S. attorneys throughout our country a greater amount of prosecutorial discretion.   He said: “Some issues are best handled at the state or local level.”

Thus, the policy shifted to allowing defendants, who didn’t have ties to drug gangs or cartels to avoid draconian mandatory minimum sentences.

He directed the United States Attorney community to develop specific, locally-tailored guidelines, that are consistent with our national priorities, for determining when federal charges should be filed, and when they should not.  The intention of the policy was to lower the overall federal prison population.  He wants elderly prisoners who committed no violent crimes and had served a significant portion of their sentences to be eligible for early release.

Holder explained: “Today, a vicious cycle of poverty, criminality, and incarceration traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities.  However, many aspects of our criminal justice system may actually exacerbate this problem, rather than alleviate it...

“By reserving the most severe penalties for serious, high-level, or violent drug traffickers, we can better promote public safety, deterrence, and rehabilitation, and at the same time make our expenditures smarter and more productive.”

Obama’s pardons furthered the “Smart On Crime” policy.


Monday, April 03, 2017

Livingston Manor’s “JP” Pasquale

“JP” wrote: “But the media rarely tells the stories of the undocumented criminals and terrorist who reside among us and cause us harm.  We should care for and educate and protect the undocumented widows, elderly and children but these people need to be educated and given a Social Security number and put to work when and if able, so they can pay their taxes.  Please just remember every undocumented immigrant that we care for with our tax dollars takes money away from U.S. citizens who are students, elderly and disabled and pushes our multiple and various taxes through the roof.”
Perhaps, “JP” missed the statistical information that Bob Parmerter  provided in a previous letter to The Oneonta Daily Star, when he pointed out: “President Trump says ‘Our prisons are bursting with illegals right now.’
“Fact: 1.6 percent of immigrant men aged 18-39 are in prison compared to 3.3 percent of American-born men aged 18-39 in prison.
“Fact: In the past 25 years, the number of immigrants in the U.S. has increased, but crime has dropped.
“Fact: 41 percent of immigrants have a college degree, while 30 percent of American-born have a college degree.
“Fact: In 2013, 41 percent of newly arrived immigrants had completed at least a bachelor’s degree.  They’re also more likely to hold an advanced degree.
“Trump says ‘immigration is killing us, really killing us, and it’s bad for the economy.’
“Fact: Who is starting businesses?  Immigrants — 550 out of every 100,000 businesses.  American-born — 270 out of every 100,000 businesses.  Immigrants are twice as likely to start a business.
“Fact: Immigrants are 12.9 percent of the population but start 28 percent of new businesses.”
Furthermore, millions of undocumented people are contributing to our economy, because they’re consumers, who pay sale taxes and $12 billion a year into Social Security.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Afton’s Jean Jones


Jean Jones wrote: “Certainly major news media are hypocrites to the way they report the news of Democrats and Republicans.  This has been obvious to me for 25 years with each year becoming progressively worse.  These outlets are nothing more than political hacks, an extended arm of the Democrat Party.”

Major news outlets reported Trump claimed: “I did not support the war in Iraq.”  Actually, he supported the invasion of Iraq before it took place and only said that he opposed the war after the war started.

Last year, Trump claimed the unemployment was as high as 42 percent.  However, after his first month in office the unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent from 4.8 percent in the previous month, and the number of unemployed persons were almost unchanged at 7.5 million.  Trump no longer questioned economic data provided by the Labor Department. 

Trump claimed: “One of the great giveaways of all time, of all time, including four hundred million dollars in cash nobody’s ever seen that before that turned out to be wrong.”

Actually, the money belonged to Iran, for military goods never delivered after the Iranian Revolution.  The payment were the first share of a $1.7 billion settlement resolving claims at an international tribunal at The Hague.  Those claims were linked to a failed arms deal, when Shah Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi ruled Iran.  The Islamic Revolution toppled the brutal regime of the Shah of Iran in 1979.  Our country cut ties with Iran, and we were left with the disputed Iranian funds.

A democracy can only function on the basis of truth.  Sadly, Jean Jones believes that Trump is an honest person, and has given him her undeserved support.

Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels insisted: “A lie, repeated often enough, will end up as truth.” 

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Essential Health Benefits


Before the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, 62 percent of the people in the insurance market had plans that didn’t cover maternity care.  Furthermore, 34 percent had plans that didn’t cover substance use treatment; 18 percent had plans that didn’t cover mental health; and 9 percent had plans that didn’t cover prescription drugs.

Reportedly, the White House and House Republican leaders negotiated with House Freedom Caucus members to eliminate federal minimum benefit (“Essential Health Benefits”) standards for individual and small-group market plans.  Had the House Freedom Caucus prevailed in those negotiation people with pre-existing conditions would have been unable to find the coverage, and women would have been charged more than men.

Eliminating the “Essential Health Benefits” would have allow insurers to discourage enrollment of people with costly healthcare need, by cutting covered health services and raising out-of-pocket costs.  Insurers would restructure the benefits to entice healthy people to enroll, but bypass those with pre-existing conditions.

Currently, federal minimum standards require that individual and small-group health plans cover: emergency services; hospitalizations; outpatient care; maternity and newborn care; mental health and substance use disorder treatment; prescription drugs; rehabilitation services; laboratory services; preventive services and chronic disease management; and pediatric care.  

Without Essential Health Benefit standards, many insurers would most likely stop covering pre-existing conditions by discouraging enrollment of sicker, more costly enrollees.  Eliminating Essential Health Benefit requirements would mean that women would be charged more than men, since they’d have to pay more for plans with maternity coverage.

Before the ACA, millions of people had health insurance that wouldn’t actually cover them if they got sick.  The ACA  prohibited annual and lifetime limits and set an annual limit on what enrollees could be required to pay in out-of-pocket for deductibles.