Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Pentagon to Tap Leftover Military Pay Funding

“The Pentagon is planning to tap $1 billion in leftover funds from military pay and pension accounts to help President Donald Trump pay for his long-sought border wall, a top Senate Democrat said Thursday.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL ‘It’s coming out of military pay and pensions. $1 billion. That’s the plan.

The funds are available because Army recruitment is down and a voluntary early military retirement program is being underutilized.’

The development comes as Pentagon officials are seeking to minimize the amount of wall money that would come from military construction projects that are so cherished by lawmakers.

‘Imagine the Democrats making that proposal — that for whatever our project is, we’re going to cut military pay and pensions.'”

Gee, did anyone ever think of tossing this into the VHA funding since the VA now has to pay for the Choice program which Trump said he will not fund.

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The Lost People . . .

Over heard in the Comments Section:

EMichael: “I do love the term ‘Goober Safari’”.

“I am as tired as anyone else is at the seemingly endless Goober safaris into those benighted precincts of Americans who helped hand us El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago as our president*. I am even more tired of being told that the prescription for getting rid of this guy is to romance the daylights out of the unreconstructed ignorami who voted for him in the first place.

So imagine my complete lack of surprise when The New York Times sent yet another expedition out into the hinter-boondocks to see what the plaid-cap and camo set is thinking these days.

‘But, listening to strategists and voters in a critical state for Democrats, the midterms feel like a long time ago. Instead, there are widespread worries that the momentum in Pennsylvania, and in other key Rust Belt states, could screech to a halt if the issues in the 2020 presidential primaries and the party’s eventual nominee stray too far left for the region’s many centrist voters. “The more we have presidential candidates or newly elected congresspeople talking about the Green New Deal, talking about ‘Medicare for all,’ talking about socialism, the more that plays into the Trump campaign’s hands,” said Ed Rendell, a former Pennsylvania governor and national Democratic chairman.’

Jesus H. Christ in a wax museum, have we not heard enough from Ed Fcking Rendell? No presidential candidate—except Donald Trump—is “talking about socialism.” The Green New Deal and Medicare For All are new policy proposals growing from policy positions and philosophies held by Democrats for at least 40 years.

Both are “a Yuengling order for a Pennsylvanian right now,” said Ryan Costello, a former Republican congressman from suburban Philadelphia. That is, someone as familiar as the beer brewed in Pottsville. Mr. Costello said that by nominating a progressive in 2020 — he named Mr. Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — the general election would become a referendum on far-left policies rather than the president.

“The whiplash on the left right now, it’s almost like they didn’t learn the lesson of why they were successful in 2018,” Mr. Costello said.

One of the reasons “they” were successful, of course, was that people like Costello ran like rabbits away from their congressional seats because they saw what was coming at them. So, sure, let’s make certain that Democrats listen to the likes of him. And, of course, there is that stubborn Economic Anxiety in some of these areas that just won’t go away.

We had eight years of nothing,” said Diane Pappert, 75, a retired school guard, referring to President Barack Obama, “and this guy’s trying to clean up everybody’s mess.” Her daughter Angie Hughes, 55, a nurse, had cast the first vote of her life for Mr. Trump. She said she would never vote for a Democrat because she believed that the party favored generous welfare benefits. “When you see people who have three, four, five children to different fathers, they have no plans of ever going to work,” she said.

and then there is . . .

Lou Iezzi, 68, who still works at an auto garage he opened at 19, had voted Democratic for decades before casting a ballot for Mr. Trump. He liked the way he sounded as if he were on the next barstool, and Mr. Iezzi chuckled approvingly recalling Mr. Trump’s dismissive remarks about the newscaster Megyn Kelly in 2015 that were widely interpreted as referring to menstruation. Mr. Iezzi could vote for a Democrat in 2020 if the nominee “sounds like he’s talking honestly,” he said. His choice of the male pronoun was deliberate: “I just can’t see a woman running this country.”

Whadda guy! Buy him a Yuengling. But, for the love of god, don’t tailor a single policy position toward gaining his support. He’s hopelessly lost.”

These People Are Lost. Democrats Shouldn’t Bother Chasing Them., Charles P. Pierce, Esquire Magazine

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Who Beats Out Sanders Other Than Biden?

A Hill-HarrisX poll released Tuesday found that 25 percent of Democrats said they would back Michelle Obama in the party primary over nine other declared or potential candidates, including Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas). 5% error in Democrat only questioned.

Cited reasons for her being a top choice? She is mostly an unknown, never a candidate, never been on a ballot, avoided a candidate’s public scrutiny, always seems nice, etc. People love her for who she has been, what she has said, and what she exemplifies. There is nothing bad about her. The closest to her, Biden is a real trip and has been in the pocket of Delaware Bankers forever. He personally sponsored bills which have created much of the student loan debt issues today and he comes right out and says it is the student’s fault. The old “I got mine, now you get yours” routine. Biden is as bad as the Bush’s for politics and being beholden.

Hell, I would vote for Michelle.

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Again, Healthcare Cost Drivers Pharma, Doctors, and Hospitals

This should come as no surprise as I have written on the topic of Healthcare Costs and Its Drivers before. In particular, the overriding statistic from an earlier post was 50% of the increase in healthcare costs was due solely to price increases between 1996 and 2013 (JAMA, Factors Associated With . . . . Adjusting for inflation, “annual health care spending on inpatient, ambulatory, retail pharmaceutical, nursing facility, emergency department, and dental care increased from $1.2 trillion to $2.1 trillion or $933.5 billion between 1996 and 2013.” This was broken down into 5 fundamental factors contributing to rising healthcare costs.

– Increased US population size was associated with a 23.1% increase or $269.5 billion
– An aging population was associated with an 11.6% increase or $135.7 billion
– Changes in disease prevalence or incidence (inpatient, outpatient, ED) resulted in spending reductions of 2.4% or $28.2 billion
– Changes in service utilization (inpatient, dental) were not associated with a statistically significant change in spending
– Changes in service price and intensity were associated with a 50.0% increase or $583.5 billion.

Five fundamental factors (Population size, Population aging, Disease prevalence or incidence, Service Utilization, and Service Pricing) were collectively associated with a $933.5 billion increase in annual US health care spending between 1996 through 2013. Represented pictorially, stated objectively, and categorized numerically, I can not make it any more obvious.

Some Explanation

The change in disease prevalence or incidence was associated with a spending reduction of 2.4%, or $28.2 billion while the change in service utilization did not result in a statistically significant change in spending. Said another way, these two factors had little or no impact on the rising cost of healthcare.

The increased healthcare costs from 1996 to 2013 were largely related to Healthcare Service Price and Intensity and secondarily impacted by Population Growth and Population Aging in order of impact. The bar chart reflects all of the impact in changes.

So the aging tsunami of baby boomers has not hit yet and population growth has not greatly impacted the results of this study. In patient stays at hospitals are down as well as out patient use of facilities. The big issue is the change in pricing for inpatient hospital stays and pharmaceuticals. Hospital/clinic consolidations leads to the former even though insurance has been fighting for a reduction in stays. Pharmaceutical has instituted new pricing strategies which we have all read about in the news. Old drugs such as Humalog, Viovo, and the infamous Epipens as well as others are now more expensive. This study points to pricing for pharma and service as the issues.

An example?

There is a tendency to challenge the lifestyle practices of people who indulge in too much. One factor did come out in the increased cost of healthcare. The increase in annual diabetes spending between 1996 and 2013 was $64.4 billion of which $44.4 billion of this increase was pharmaceutical spending. Said another way, two-thirds of the increase in treating diabetes was due simply to the increased pricing of pharmaceutical companies.

And yes, there should be time spent on changing habits where it can be changed and providing the means to do so. However, in 1996 Eli Lilly’s Humalog was $21 per vial. By 2017, the price increased to $275 (700%) for a vial which equates to a one-month supply.

Why has the cost of Humalog increased? “The truth is the improvements in new formularies of old versions which are marginally different, and the clinical benefits of them over the older drugs have been zero.” Just like slapping “new and improved” on the labels of food products with a change of ingredients (which qualifies under USDA and FDA labeling regs)., pharmaceuticals can play the same game and they do.

As the article (“Eli Lilly Raised U.S. Prices Of Diabetes Drug 700 Percent Over 20 Years”) explains, “most patients do not pay the full cost/price of a drug up front and absorb their portion of the cost via an increase in monthly healthcare premiums.” This leads to pharmaceutical companies charging as much as the U.S. insurance companies will let them. Both parties profiting from increased prices. Perhaps Alex Azar the Secretary of Healthcare can explain it better as he was an officer of Eli Lilly when Humalog began its ascend?

Another Study via Health Affairs

A shorter time period extending one year longer than the Jama study, the Health Affairs study supports what is being said in the JAMA study. According to data from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, total health spending on the privately insured in the United States increased in real terms by nearly 20 percent from 2007 to 2014.

A more recent study funded by the Commonwealth Fund and published by Health Affairs examined other costs impacting healthcare. Commonwealth Fund supported researchers recently analyzed hospital and physician prices for inpatient and hospital-based outpatient services as well as for four high-volume services: cesarean section, vaginal delivery, hospital-based outpatient colonoscopy, and knee replacement. Its findings were as follows:

– From 2007 to 2014, hospital-prices for inpatient care grew 42 percent compared to 18 percent for physician-prices for inpatient hospital care
– For hospital-based outpatient care, hospital-prices rose 25 percent compared to 6 percent for physician-prices
– There was no difference in results between hospitals directly employing physicians and indirectly employing physicians
– Hospital prices accounted for over 60 percent of the total price of hospital-based care.
– Hospital prices accounted for most of the cost of the four high-volume services included in the study. The hospital component ranged from 61 percent for vaginal deliveries to 84 percent for knee replacements.

Sound familiar? The JAMA study looked at both in and out patient costs/prices associated with hospital services and said they were up. The Health Affairs study looks at in patient services for four high volume inpatient services stating they have increased significantly from 2007 to 2014.

What the Health Affairs study Showed

The Health Affairs study also presents a comparison of hospital pricing growth rates as compared to physician pricing growth rates. The study is only a few weeks old and I am surprised I am able to access as much information as I have. While Health Affairs admits the study is a start and more work differentiating other aspects must be done, the study suggests there are significant growth in the bargaining leverage of hospitals as compared to physicians.

If you recall Rusty “Tom” and I engaged in a number of different conversations on healthcare with one of them being hospital consolidations (2013). It is a power grab, as Rusty pointed out, for more market segment and pricing control with those having name-recognition gaining the most. Maggie Mahar also referenced the same issue.

In my own commentary On the Horizon After Obamacare (2014): As it stands and even with its faults, the ACA is a viable solution to many of the issues faced by the uninsured and under-insured; but in itself, it only addresses the delivery-half of the healthcare problem. The other half of the problem rests with the industry delivering the healthcare and the control of pricing through the inherent monopolistic power coming and pushing the industry into greater integration of delivery. As Longman and Hewitt posit,

“the message from Department of Health and Human Services stresses the vast savings possible through a less ‘fragmented and integrated’ health care delivery system. With this vision in mind, HHS officials have been encouraging health care providers to merge into so-called accountable care organizations, or ACOs”; “while on the other side of the Mall, ‘pronouncements from the FTC are about the need to counter the record numbers of hospitals and doctors’ practices merging and using their resulting monopoly power to drive up prices.”

Two different messages from government, greater efficiencies in healthcare through consolidations as ACOs versus monopolistic pricing control in healthcare by large hospital and pharmaceutical corporations an unintended result. There is large amounts of inefficiencies, waste, and rent-taking in healthcare as well as in Medicare which is touted as the go-to by politicians and advocates of it. Lets not make a similar mistake, the creation of any forthcoming healthcare system must first address the costs of healthcare and then the delivery of it not ignoring the quality of the product and its outcome after treatment. Again Maggie Mahar was big on promoting this result emanating from any new system.

While Physician fees grew at a compounded annual rate of 6% for baby deliveries and 1% for office visits between 2003 and 2010, hospitals fees during a similar period grew at 17%.

A measurement of the competitiveness of a hospital within a certain area of the country is done utilizing the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI). It has been used to measure competition in and around cities. The results of the HHI revealed an increase in the concentration of hospitals from mergers and acquisitions, going from moderately concentrated in 1990 with an HHI numeric of 1570, to more concentrated in 2009 with a HHI of 2500, and with some cities purely monopolistic at 10,000.

Rigorous action by the FTC would certainly go a long way in improving compositeness; however, the FTC has been purposely understaffed by cutting its funding. In place at the FTC is a staff 22 lawyers and economists to monitor a $3 trillion healthcare industry. It is too understaffed to take on such a large industry which would overwhelm it with legalese and paper. Maybe in the next election will bring forth the right person to take on healthcare.

Resources

Hospital Prices Grew Substantially Faster Than Physician Prices For Hospital-Based Care In 2007–14, Zack Cooper, Stuart Craig, Martin Gaynor, Nir J. Harish, Harlan M. Krumholz, and John Van Reenen, HealthAffairs, February 2019

Hospital Care Prices Rose Faster Than the Cost of Physician Services, Zack Cooper, February, 2019

After Obamacare Phillip Longman and Paul S. Hewitt, Washington Monthly, January – February 2014

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WaPo Sued for $250 million

This is really, really Rich . . .

Nick Sandmann, high school junior who faced off with Native American elder Nathan Phillips on the Lincoln Memorial steps is suing WaPo for $250 million. It is “only the beginning said attorneys Lin Wood and Todd McMurtry, on their firm’s website, noting that it was the ‘first lawsuit’ on Sandmann’s behalf.”

The Nathan Phillips MAGA smirker “video went viral in January as multiple groups collided after Sandmann attended the Right to Life March and Phillips attended the Indigenous People’s March, two separate events. Sandmann did not give way upon Phillp’s approach at the Lincoln Memorial.

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Damn Socialists, Commies, and Libruls – Updated February 24th

In an editorial, the publisher of the Democrat-Reporter newspaper in Linden Alabama confirmed to the Montgomery Advertiser on Monday that he authored the Feb. 14 editorial calling for the return of a white supremacist hate group.

In a conversation, Goodloe Sutton added to the editorial.

“If we could get the Klan to go up there and clean out D.C., we’d all been better off.”

Asked to elaborate what he meant by cleaning up D.C., Sutton suggested lynching.

“We’ll get the hemp ropes out, loop them over a tall limb and hang all of them,” Sutton said.

(Finally, someone who know what hemp is used for besides medicinal. As an 18 year old, I would help my dad rig rope-scaffolds on the buildings in Chicago. I can still splice Manila – hemp ropes up to 1 inch as my hands have growth weaker over the years.)

When asked if he felt it was appropriate for the publisher of a newspaper to call for the lynching of Americans, Sutton doubled down on his position.

“It’s not calling for the lynching of Americans. These are socialist-communists we’re talking about. Do you know what socialism and communism is?” Sutton asked.

Montgomery Advertiser reporter Melissa Brown

Update:, February 23, 2019: In a, I do not give a damn – Melissa moment, Goodloe Sutton, decided he had had enough as did his family with Goodloe.

“Lady, I don’t give a shit. I’m quitting. You can tell everybody you ran me out of the newspaper business.”

The Sutton family: “Effective February 21, 2019, Elecia R. Dexter will be the Publisher and Editor of the newspaper going forward.” Elecia is a Black woman and it is hinted she may now be the owner.

Montgomery Advertiser reporter Melissa Brown

So much for white-trash.

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Kapernick

It was September 2017, and bad boy Trump spouts off; “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out,’” He’s fired. He’s fired!’” The crowd of supporters erupted in cheers.

With just a few words and by the close of that weekend, Trump had managed to get hundreds of NFL players taking a knee like Kaepernick or staying in the locker room during the playing of the National Anthem. Kaepernick was on his way out the door and Trump managed to slam the door shut and turn it around for him. In one weekend and a few stupid words by Trump and Kapernick, as Atlantic’s David Graham pointed out, became an icon of protest.

And now? After the NFL’s plea to dismiss the case was rejected by an arbitrator last August, the NFL folded and agreed to settle before the next hearing in a month. Too much at stake and too much to be exposed in depositions by owners and coaches. And as Jemele Hill said in yesterdays Atlantic; “Technically, Colin Kaepernick withdrew his collusion case. Technically, the NFL did not admit that it conspired to blackball Kaepernick from the league after he began taking a knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice. But nontechnically speaking, the NFL lost. Massively.”

Kapernick may never play NFL football again; but, he did win a much bigger game for all of us.

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The Wrongness of the Green Lanthern Theory of the Presidency

Just one of the many mixes of comments and publications I see at AB in the comments sections. Not sure where EMichael got the Goldwater comment.

“What’s wrong with the Green Lantern Theory of the Presidency?

Basically, it denies the very real (and very important) limits on the power of the American presidency, as well as reduces Congress to a coquettish collection of passive actors who are mostly just playing hard to get.

The Founding Fathers were rebelling against an out-of-control monarch. So, they constructed a political system with a powerful legislature and a relatively weak executive. The result is that the US President has little formal power to make Congress do anything. He can’t force Congress to vote on a bill. He can’t force Congress to pass a bill. And even if he vetoes a bill Congress can simply overturn his veto. So in direct confrontations with Congress — and that describes much of American politics these days — the president has few options.

Green Lantern theorists don’t deny any of this. They just believe that there’s some vague combination of public speeches and private wheedling that the president can employ to bend Congress to his will.”

The Green Lantern Theory of The President Explained

We’ve certainly seen this theory pushed in here many times over the last decade (and we’ll see it down the road), but I bring it up here now as it explains another mental issue trump has.

He believes in the green lantern theory. You can see it many, many times over his first two years. And it now appears in Andrew McCabe’s book:

“After we agreed on a time to meet, the president began to talk about how upset he was that Comey had flown home on his government plane from Los Angeles—Comey had been giving a speech there when he learned he was fired. The president wanted to know how that had happened.

I told him that bureau lawyers had assured me there was no legal issue with Comey coming home on the plane. I decided that he should do so. The existing threat assessment indicated he was still at risk, so he needed a protection detail. Since the members of the protection detail would all be coming home, it made sense to bring everybody back on the same plane they had used to fly out there. It was coming back anyway. The president flew off the handle: That’s not right! I don’t approve of that! That’s wrong! He reiterated his point five or seven times.

I said, I’m sorry that you disagree, sir. But it was my decision, and that’s how I decided. The president said, I want you to look into that! I thought to myself: What am I going to look into? I just told you I made that decision.”

Every Day Is a New Low in Trump’s White House

Then again, there is also just plain mean:

“Toward the end of the conversation, the president brought up the subject of my wife. Jill had run unsuccessfully for the Virginia state Senate back in 2015, and the president had said false and malicious things about her during his campaign in order to tarnish the FBI. He said, How is your wife? I said, She’s fine. He said, When she lost her election, that must have been very tough to lose. How did she handle losing? Is it tough to lose?

I replied, I guess it’s tough to lose anything. But she’s rededicated herself to her career and her job and taking care of kids in the emergency room. That’s what she does.

He replied in a tone that sounded like a sneer. He said, “Yeah, that must’ve been really tough. To lose. To be a loser.”

In the 1964 elections we saw the Dems employ this against Barry Goldwater:

“In your guts, you know he’s nuts.”

A Johnson campaign barb.

It needs to be brought back for 2020. But 1964 and Goldwater was the beginning of the modern GOP, and that is easily shown by:

“In 1960, Goldwater’s book, The Conscience of a Conservative, publicizes his views—including strong opposition to creeping Communism. His message taps into post-war anxieties about the communist revolution in China, expansion of the Soviet Union, and a growing club of nations armed with nuclear bombs.

At the ’64 Republican convention, Goldwater wins the presidential nomination over objections from centrists. Many are worried he could start a nuclear war-and worried with good reason, given Goldwater’s record of comments such as, “Let’s lob one into the men’s room at the Kremlin.” The Johnson campaign uses groundbreaking TV ads to zero-in on voter anxieties.

On election night, Johnson wins by a landslide. Goldwater picks up Arizona and five Southern states, where white Democrats like his opposition of the Civil Rights Act of ’64 (a position consistent with Goldwater’s view of states rights). The election is a political watershed. After ’64, the South becomes a dependable Republican stronghold, contributing to the election of seven Republican Presidents during the next 10 elections.”

The Sixties, The Years That Shaped a Generation.

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Congressional Representative Ilhan Omar, A Semite

My new Congressional Representative likes to use Facebook to inform her constituents of what she is doing in the House. I do engage in Facebook and probably shouldn’t do so. Facebook is too much of a waste of time and it is filled with advertising and silliness. Then too, I like knowing what our Rep is doing so I use Facebook. I also connect with various people I hope to keep in contact with as their status allows me to input my thoughts and ideas. Here is what my Congressional Representative had to say:

“I would like to make the following statement regarding Rep. Omar’s comments of Feb. 10. Her comments traffic in age-old stereotypes and anti-Semitic bias, drag down public conversation, and are counter to our fundamental values of religious freedom and mutual respect – the very values that led to Rep. Omar’s historic election last year. While I recognize Rep. Omar’s apology for her comments, I call upon her to strictly avoid anti-Semitic speech, particularly when violent anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise, as we saw in the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue. Elected officials must lead by example, particularly now, and carry out their responsibility to unite rather than divide the American public.”

Well ok and she joined a chorus of others including Pelosi, McCarthy, Trump, and the other female Semite in the House. Seeing it was safe to bash Omar and not have anyone take issue, Pence joined the crowd yesterday. For Ilhan Omar, its gotta be a lonely life when you screw up, do not make your point clear enough, the sharks with which you hang with come in to feed off of your wounds, and everyone starts to call you an anti-Semite.

A little history: anti-Semitism was coined in 1879 by Wilhelm Marr to designate the anti-Jewish campaigns under way in central Europe then. The term has a broad and extensive usage which is a misnomer since it implies a discrimination against all Semites of which Arabs and other peoples may also be Semites. Yet other peoples identified are not the targets of anti-Semitism as it is usually understood today. The term is inappropriate as a label for the anti-Jewish prejudices, statements, or actions of Arabs or other Semites.

Others may take exception with my definition or citation above. I am fine with it and am going to move along in my complaint. In his editorial “Representative Ilhan Omar is Not Anti-Semitic (So Says this Jew)” Political Writer for “Paste Magazine” Jacob Weindling starts off: “First off, Representative Omar is a Semite. Secondly, even if the people claiming that Omar is being anti-Semitic in the anti-Jewish sense are right (which again, they’re not), equating AIPAC with ‘all Jews’ is being FAR more anti-Semitic than what these folks claim Omar is asserting.

It all began with a tweet that admittedly was far too vague, and for a certain kind of person who looks at Omar’s hijab and thinks of anti-Semitism (again, she’s a Semite, just like me), or simply someone who isn’t plugged in to the day-to-day political madness, this looks like it could be another George Soros-type ‘Jews control the world’ conspiracy.

GOP House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, who published anti-Semitic memes after George Soros received a pipe bomb in the mail, decided that he was done being an anti-Semite who ginned up support from the anti-Semites in the GOP, and was now an anti-Semite who virtue signals towards the Very Serious People in our nation’s capital to gain their support. Luckily for him, this kind of anti-Semitism is tolerated in our nation’s capital, and he has bent the Democratic Party to his will.

Omar quickly corrected her sole error of vagueness, and specifically identified who she was talking about when she insinuated that a political leader was taking money to advance an agenda.”

In this case Ilhan Omar called out the Israeli PAC “AIPAC!.” As Jacob further explains: “AIPAC is the Israel lobby in Washington D.C. To add to this, there is a difference between Israelis American Jews. This basic nuance is completely lost on much of major media, many of whom echoed McCarthy’s false charges of anti-Semitism, favoring the vagueness of Representative Omar’s first tweet over the specificity of her second one. As a Jew, this kind of stuff is so much more hurtful than the traditional stereotype that Omar is falsely accused of perpetuating:

The first-term Democrat suggests GOP support for Israel is fueled by campaign donations.

Jacob adds . . . AIPAC does not represent most Jews. Eighty-five percent of Israelis supported Trump moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, while just 46% of American Jews did. This hurtful conflation of two very different things reduces people like me to caricatures of whatever AIPAC wants, as if all Jews are united on the topic of Israel. We’re not—far from it. We are very divided and it is frankly, exhausting. I didn’t even want to write this column even though I knew I had to. Jews in Israel are different from Jews in America the same way anyone in Israel is different from anyone in America.

I can’t believe I even need to type those words, but the constant stream of bad-faith attacks on Omar from major power brokers in both the political and media establishment demonstrates an extremely narrow—D.C.-centric—view of the world. I’d bet half the people in our nation’s capital arguing that Omar committed some unforgivable sin haven’t been west of Philadelphia or south of D.C. since the 20th century.”

The rest you can read for yourself the balance of what Jacob has to say at Paste Magazine under his title; “Representative Ilhan Omar is Not Anti-Semitic (So Says this Jew).” Of interest might be Jacob’s comments on Chelsea Clinton’s opinion and the other side’s opinion by Batya Ungar-Sargon who Jacob finds falsely characterizing what AIPAC does.

And if I am wrong in my thoughts? There are enough learned people such as Barkley Rosser, Robert Waldman, Mike Kimel, and Dan who can critique my thoughts. I do place value in having a mix of Congressional Representative from different cultures, races, and genders. The country is evolving and has changed much since my ancestors arrived at the Rock.

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Sunday News

Texas AG Claims Noncitizens Voted in 2018, Liam Stack, NYT

Texas AG Ken Paxton: “Every single instance of illegal voting threatens democracy in our state and deprives individual Texans of their voice.” Texas has called into question 95,000 registered voters who in the past have identified themselves as noncitizen and legal residents of the United States.

Other authorities are skeptical of the AG’s claim 58,000 noncitizens of the 8.2 million registered voters listed voted in 2018. A spokesman for the AG followed up stating the identification of the 95,000 is not proof of voting. Texas is asking each of the identified for additional proof of citizenship. Texas has one of the strictest voting laws in the nation. Nonvoting citizens is a felony, oops a mistake, noncitizens voting in Texas is a felony and noncitizens registering is a misdemeanor.

Civil Rights Attorney Kristen Clarke: “Texas has a rich history of undertaking action to make it harder for people to vote,” she said. “Whenever you’re invoking the threat of criminal prosecution, the chilling effect becomes almost unavoidable.”

From Celebrated to Vilified Sheryl Gay Stolberg, NYT

As symbols of diversity when they were sworn in last month, Congressional Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota joined the other 435 members of the House of Representatives.

One month later and after bringing their views on Israel to the forefront, they have found themselves to be the most vilified of the Democrats by their own party and that of Republicans. The president of the J Street a liberal Jewish advocacy Ben Ami said the two are “opening up a discussion that is absolutely needed on American policy.” They are helping to pull the Democratic Party more toward the view espoused by J Street and “younger liberal Jews” who believe that “you can be sympathetic to the state of Israel and also sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinian people.”

Both women are under fire for their views and comments.

the smirking face of Trumpism in America Rafia Zakaria, The Bafler

This comes a bit late. I was off visiting family in Chicago and helping my wife keep two young, challenging grand daughters busy while temperatures plummeted in the minus twenties at night and the winds off the lake did not make the minus teens any better during daylight. I can not recall in my 60 plus years temperatures of this kind even living further north. And neither can I recall the outward arrogance of teens on display at the Lincoln Memorial.

As Rafia writes; “Just as many seemed to be coalescing against the shamefulness of young men deriding a Native American veteran, another story, the cherished ‘other’ side with which the pain of non-white Americans is trivialized, was gathered up. Solemn faced television anchors and their off-air Twitter colleagues now dished up ‘context.’ Whether or not it was intended for this purpose, its effect was to muddle up the story that the original video told, a story whose racist truth cast in the arrogance of a young man and the fortitude of an old one had galvanized an America of ever-dwindling empathy to actually care.”

What other side of this can there be? A teenage white-boy standing in front of a native American veteran with a smirk on his face wearing a red “MAGA” cap to a protest designed to protect the unborn. The Catholic church caves to the white parents of the white students. There was a moment when this could have gone the other way. The young teen could have left his red cap at home, could have stepped out of the way, could have watched with respect of another culture practicing a religion unknown to most of us, etc.

There was a defining moment and the young man in question showed one example of it, an image of American intolerance of minorities in a mostly white American. There is no other side to this story. It is strictly what can be observed.

I have been asked to talk about my global travels at a Jesuit University from where I earned my Masters. There is a great example here of how not to be an Ugly American. There is another side also and it is “how to behave as a minority” in another country.

Millions of College Students Go Hungry While Pursuing a Degree, Marcella Bombardieri, The Atlantic

From a 2017 survey, 42 percent of community-college students nationally experienced food insecurity within a previous month. This could mean missing meals altogether or not being able to afford balanced meals. Twelve percent of students were considered homeless at some point in the previous year.

Among Amarillo College students who took the same survey, 54 percent had experienced food insecurity within the past month, and 11 percent had been homeless in the past year. The Amarillo student body is not significantly needier than those of other institutions, but the college leadership’s interest in highlighting the extent of the need is much more unusual.

Amongst college students food insecurity is a real issue. A new report from the Government Accountability Office highlights the breadth of those students affected. Three common risk factors for food insecurity were identified among low-income students; being a first generation college student; receiving SNAP (receiving SNAP can be considered a risk factor in that it may reduce and not entirely eliminate food insecurity); and being a single parent. Of the approximately 7.3 million low-income students, 31 percent were first-generation college students, 31 percent reported receiving SNAP, and 25 percent were single parents.

‘Show of force’, Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner

In a show of force, the Trump administration has flooded a Texas border town sitting just over the river from the Mexican city of Piedras Negras. 1,800 caravan migrants arrived earlier in the week as well as hundreds of law enforcement personnel across the river. Both sides of the river have been watching this caravan move. And of course every news media glorifying Trump’s actions is out carrying the “you will not pass this way” message. “To me, it is showing force. It would give a message to the immigrants wanting to come illegally through Texas that it is always prepared and has a lot of manpower at the border — that they should go to another state,” County Sheriff Tom Schmerber.

“100 U.S. law enforcement vehicles lined a one-mile stretch of the Rio Grande River in Eagle Pass, Texas on a Saturday afternoon. Sixty sat together in one section of the river on a local golf course.”

I wonder what the fairways look like now? I am sure the golf course and the resident golfers were thrilled. And they will blame the supposedly wretched illegals for trying to escape a condition the US helped to create.

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