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

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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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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Scales of Justice Played Out in Madison County, Indiana

There is quite a bit of Medicare fraud occurring in the nation and there has been a coordinated attack on it. The fraud can be measured in the $billions. Commercial healthcare Insurance fraud is also a problem and insurance companies spend quite a bit of money fighting it which adds to their administrative fees of 15 and 20%.

99.9% of the time the theft goes into the pocket of the thieves. People get rich off of this stuff.

In Madison County Indiana, a school superintendent resigned her position. The reason? She took a student to a healthcare clinic seeking treatment for him because he had symptoms of Strep throat. Not a big deal and an act of kindness and charity.

The problem arises with her claiming him as her son and having her insurance pay the $233 bill. Except, this was not her son, she committed fraud, and her kindness and charity does not count.

The Madison County prosecutor Rodney J. Cummings who has tried “100 major felony and homicide jury trials” has charged the school superintendent with three felonies and one misdemeanor. Yes, it is an act of theft. I admit it and I am sure others will dispute my cavalier attitude here on crime and justice.

$233 to help a child and committing fraud to get him care is now worthy of three felony charges plus a misdemeanor? What was I thinking when the state news in Indiana is talking about $billions in Medicare, healthcare, and opinion fraud? Perhaps, not much is happening in Madison County just northeast of Indianapolis.

But then there is the plea deal going on here. One year of checking in with the county to make sure you are still behaving and admit to the crime. As measured against the $thousand which will be spent on court dates and administering the sentence for one year. Mr. Prosecutor, don’t you have something better to do?

Scrap the three felonies and misdemeanor. There is no evil act going on here and move on to other things. She can pay the insurance company back, court costs, get a stern warning, you will still look like you are cracking down on fraud, and also show you have a heart

Now here is a potential real felony: “Two days after accidentally firing his handgun into the floor of an Anderson restaurant, Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings acknowledges he could have done more to prevent the mishap.”

Awww, sorry folks, it was a new gun. Go back to eating your steaks (Texas Roadhouse).

“It was a new gun. I’ve only had it for a couple weeks, who noted he has carried a firearm for 36 years as a prosecutor and a police officer.”

Cummings told the newspaper he plans to have the gun examined by an armorer to ensure there are no mechanical problems. He also plans to buy a holster.

“I will not in the future have a round in the chamber, It’s just not worth the risk.”

Another JA wannabe cowboy.

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Martin Luther King – Walls Separating Mankind

Martin Luther King when asked about the Berlin Wall: This is my first vision of the Wall. “And do you find it depressing?” Yes, I certainly do. It symbolizes the divisions of mankind. “Have you ever seen anything as disastrous as this?” Not really. Suddenly there are the divisions that continue to exist but when these divisions are symbolized by an actual wall, it becomes very depressing.

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MSU Pays for Former MSU President’s Criminal Defense

This does not come as a surprise to anyone in Michigan. Mostly it is quiet here and people are still stunned about something of this magnitude could go on for years. There were numerous complaints by female student athletes of various college ages and under which span 20 years. Complaints made to the university, administrators, coaches, trainers, etc. quietly fell to the wayside with conciliatory answers.

“he is an Olympic doctor and he should know what he is doing”, “filing a report would involve an investigation, making an accusation against Nassar, and requires a statement that I felt what Nassar did was unprofessional or criminally wrong”, “you could file a report if you were uncomfortable; but, there may be consequences”

Lindsey Lemke is a “Sister Survivor,” the name taken by the 256 survivors of Larry Nassar’s physical sexual assault. She and the others spent the last 18 months fighting “not just for justice for Nassar;” but, they also fought for accountability, “the accountability of Michigan State University who enabled Nassar’s continued abuse” by not reacting.

People are stunned this could happen at a state university. And there still is a battle going on for accountability beyond Nasser.

Former MSU President “Lou Anna Simon and Coach Kathie Klages face charges of lying to police about when they knew about sexual abuse reports against Nassar.” MSU is paying for their legal defense which is in the $milions along with half of Dean William Strampel’s defense. The mental harm done will never be erased for the hundreds of young women (one as young as 6) which is something MSU forgets when it comes discusses its image and the costs of going to court.

Recently, Interim President and former Governor John Engler resigned (requested) from the position. Some of his comments to victims and publicly in defense of the university were totally wrongheaded lacking empathy. The university is still learning there image is not as important as the harm done to the students who were abused under its watch. As attorney John Manly believes states:

“I think it’s sexism, misogyny, and you know, it’s not college football, it’s gymnastics. And the audience for gymnastics doesn’t generate hundreds of millions or billions of dollars.”

To hell with the money . . .

References:

Larry Nassar gymnastics scandal costs Michigan State in legal fees so far

Sister Survivors

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Healthcare News

Massachusetts ACA Enrollment Exceeds Last Year, Charles Gaba, ACA Signups Blog

Massachusetts: (January 14, 2018) saw an increased 285,000 signups for healthcare for 2019 which is up 6.6% YOY and with 9 days left until the ACA signup deadline. This comes even though Republicans and Trump have been sabotaging the ACA. Even more impressive, 97.2% (90% National Average) of enrollees have paid their 1st month fees.

Republicans and Trump Implement the CSR again, Ban Silver Loading, and then Kill the CSR in 2021, Andrew Sprung, xpostfactoid blog

The Trump administration has called for an appropriation to fund CSR the old way — by reimbursing insurers directly for providing it. This comes after President Trump revoked the CSR subsidy used to help pay for deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. When the CSR was revoked, ACA companies loaded the costs solely into the Silver plans in which they were used and resulted in Bronze and Gold plans to become less costly. Income-based ACA premium subsidies are based on a silver benchmark and silver loading generated major discounts in bronze and gold plans.

“For the first half of 2018: 16% percent of enrollees were enrolled in a plan with zero premiums after application of advance payments of the premium tax credit, 19 percent of enrollees paid a premium of less than 5 percent of the total plan premium.” This is largely the result of Silver plan loading, which created $0 premium bronze plans widely available and less costly gold plans which doubled in enrollments in 2018. There was also an increased enrollment of approximately 300,000 enrollees in 2018 with the likelihood of a 2-3 million boost in subsequent years.

So what is the issue? CMS released the annual Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters (NBPP) January 17th. In its efforts to kill the ACA, CMS is calling for an elimination of Silver loading in 2021. Given the lowered cost of various plans resulting from Silver loading, Democrats should not be willing to sacrifice the silver loading windfall without trading it for a less haphazard boost to marketplace funding.

As xpostfactoid blog suggests, perhaps a cap on premiums as a percentage of income for all enrollees up to 600% FPL and improved subsidies for the 200 – 400%FPL.

Healthcare Job Growth Outpaces Nearly Every Sector in 2018, MedPage Today, John Commins

For 2018, healthcare created a total of 346,000 jobs or nearly 29,000 new jobs each month which is up from 284,000 jobs created in 2017. The 2018 figure includes 219,000 new jobs in ambulatory services and 107,000 new hospital jobs.
Healthcare job growth outpaced nearly every other major sector of the economy in 2018, including food services (261,000), construction (280,000), manufacturing (284,000), and retail sales (92,000).

The new data is in line with Bureau of Labor Statistics projections that healthcare sector employment will grow 18% from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 2.4 million new jobs.

The VA’s Choice Program Meant to Eventually Replace the VA Gave Companies Billions and Vets Longer Waits, Isaac Arnsdorf & Jon Greenberg, Politifact

As a short-term response to a crisis, the VA paid contractors at least $295 every time it authorized private care for a veteran. The fee was high because the VA hurriedly launched the Choice Program to meet a ninety-day deadline from Congress in response to an Arizona VA facility not responding quick enough to veteran’s needs for healthcare and resulting in deaths.

Four years later, the fee never subsided — it went up to as much as $318 per referral.

Since 2014, 1.9 million former service members have received private medical care through Choice. It was supposed to give veterans a way around long wait times in the VA or travel long distances to be seen. But their average waits using the Choice Program were still longer than allowed by law, according to examinations by the VA inspector general and the Government Accountability Office. The watchdogs also found widespread blunders, such as booking a veteran in Idaho with a doctor in New York and telling a Florida veteran to see a specialist in California. Once, the VA referred a veteran to the Choice Program to see a urologist, but instead he got an appointment with a neurologist.

While it was true officials at the Phoenix VA were covering up long wait times, the inspector general eventually concluded that no deaths were attributable to the delays. However, critics seized on this scandal to demand that veterans get access to private medical care. As a safety valve for veterans, the Choice program is an alternative provided the quality of outcomes is there. My own experience with the VA has not been bad nor did my appointments take months. On the other hand, there are times I end up at clinics or the ED when I can not see my PCD.

An IG of the Choice program found the VA overpaid by $140 million besides other issues with the program.

Access to VA Health Services Now Better Than Private Hospitals? Nicole Lou, MedPage Today

Researchers find some wait times generally improved since 2014.

In 2014, the average wait for a new VA appointment in primary care, dermatology, cardiology, or orthopedics was 22.5 days, compared with 18.7 days in private sector facilities (P=0.20). Although these wait times were statistically no different in general, there was a longer wait for an orthopedics appointment in the VA that year (23.9 days vs 9.9 days for private sector.

The study, published in JAMA Network Open, found that wait times in 2017 favored VA medical centers (17.7 days vs 29.8 days for private sector facilities). This was observed for primary care, dermatology, and cardiology appointments — but not orthopedics, which continued to produce appointment lags in the VA system (20.9 days vs 12.4 days), the authors stated.

As resources in the VA are increasingly diverted to purchase care in the community, it remains to be seen if access to healthcare services can be maintained while access in the private sector continues to deteriorate, adding that virtual care may be one way to improve access given the non-infinite supply of face-to-face appointments.”

Fee-for-Service Must Go Says Ex-Vermont Governor Howard Dean, Joyce Frieden, MedPage Today

Dean, an internist and former Democratic governor of Vermont: “Under the current system, you only make money if people get really sick. Every financial incentive we have in American healthcare is to spend as much as we possibly can.

“We’re not getting paid for keeping people healthy in our system. I don’t believe that doctors think it’s a wonderful idea to have people get sick. But incentives work in every system … and monetary incentives always work in human beings. If you keep the incentive system the way it is, you have a distorted system that works against good health.”

As for universal care in the U.S., I’m not necessarily opposed to Medicare for All, but the problem is it’s a fee-for-service system so we’d have to fix that. The only way you can really save money is with capitated care.”

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McConnell’s WaPo Rant on H. R. 1

Twenty-two hours ago McConnell posted an op-ed on the Washington Post. If you have not read it and can get into the Washington Post I included a link. If you can not get into the Washington Post; here is a link from the Intelligencer. Formerly of the Washington Monthly, Ed Kilgore takes McConnell to task.

Never let it be said that Mitch McConnell can be shamed into silence or introspection. In response to H.R. 1, House Democrats’ new package of campaign finance and voting rights reforms, the saturnine Senate leader issued a Washington Post op-ed that reads a lot like a series of spell-checked Donald Trump tweets, guffawing his way through an extended attack. McConnell, of course, intends to bury H.R. 1 in the Senate without a hearing or a vote. Here are some low-lights:

It should be called the Democrat Politician Protection Act … Why else would the bill scrap the neutrality of the Federal Elections Commission and set it up for a partisan takeover? Since Watergate, the commission has been a six-member body so neither party can use it to punish political opponents.

Perhaps because the Republicans on the six-member FEC have paralyzed its ability to discharge its responsibilities, as a recent chairman of the FEC bitterly observed:

[A] controlling bloc of three Republican commissioners who are ideologically opposed to the F.E.C.’s purpose regularly ignores violations or drastically reduces penalties. The resulting paralysis has allowed over $800 million in “dark money” to infect our elections since Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court decision that allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited sums to elect or defeat candidates.

McConnell, of course, is one of the most absolutist of opponents to any kind of campaign finance regulation, even of the sort the conservative majority on the Supreme Court has allowed. So it’s not surprising that he goes on to treat Democratic proposals for reviving campaign finance regulation and providing voluntary public financing — or even donor transparency — as somehow illegitimate:

Under this bill, you’d keep your right to free association as long as your private associations were broadcast to everyone [that’s disclosure of “dark money” sources]. You’d keep your right to speak freely so long as you notified a distant bureaucracy likely run by the same people you criticized [that’s reporting political spending by tax-subsidized non-profits]. The bill goes so far as to suggest that the Constitution needs an amendment to override First Amendment protections [that means overturning Citizens United, which did not precede enactment of the First Amendment].

(my $.02) I really do not want to post all of Ed’s comments on AB as I think it is worth the read at his site. McConnell has certainly dished out a number of lies in a similar proportion as what you may find in a Trump diatribe. For example, the harvesting of ballots in California is not legal as McConnell claims, it still is a crime and earn you three years in the jail or prison the same as one may occur in North Carolina in a clear example of “ballot harvesting” by Republican operatives. I stand in awe of a person who can lie about and construe the facts and not blink an eye while doing so. This is not the same as Trump. McConnell (not worth being called a Senator) knows full well what he is saying.

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More News

A National Emergency Believe It or Not Version, The Hill, Republican Congressional Representative Andy Bigg

It is hard to believe someone would write this stuff with any degree of being serious. This is why it should be reprinted as this Representative is an idiot.

“In this time of stasis in Congress and a national security crisis at the border, the president should strongly consider declaring a national emergency on the border and temporarily diverting a small fraction of the national budget to build the border wall. The invasion of illegal aliens has reached the point of a national security threat. Failure to recognize the gravity of the issue is willful submission to cognitive dissonance.

The border is wide open, and hundreds of thousands are entering the country illegally. On average we are interdicting more than 10 people every day who are known or suspected terrorists. While not all illegal aliens commit violent crimes against Americans, there are still dangerous gang members and other malevolent intentioned people who are pouring into America.”

There is no national security issue, no need to declare a national security crisis, no need to divert any money, no need for a wall, no invasion of illegal aliens, no suspected terrorists, no serious issues, no hundreds of thousands, no violent crimes, no large numbers of dangerous gang members, etc except in this man’s man.

Guaranteed’ Healthcare for All Residents – NYC, MedPage Today, Joyce Frieden

The program, which will cost $100 million annually, involves several parts. First, officials will work to increase enrollment in MetroPlus, which is New York’s public health insurance option. According to a press release from the mayor’s office, MetroPlus provides free or affordable health insurance that connects insurance-eligible New Yorkers to a network of providers that includes NYC Health + Hospitals’ 11 hospitals and 70 clinics. MetroPlus serves as an affordable, quality option for people on Medicaid, Medicare, and those purchasing insurance on the exchange.

Mayor de Blasio: “While the federal government works to gut health care for millions of Americans, New York City is leading the way by guaranteeing that every New Yorker has access to quality, comprehensive access to care, regardless of immigration status or their ability to pay.”

Grocery Store Chain Dismantled, investors recover their money, and Labor pensions short $millions. The Washington Post, Peter Whoriskey

The owner, a private-equity firm, sold off the vast retail empire, piece by piece, selling more than 100 convenience stores, pharmacies, and closed some of the 115 grocery stores. It previously auctioned off the real estate. In May 2017, the company announced the closure of the remaining 44 stores.

Founded in 1931, Marsh Supermarkets, filed for bankruptcy.

They didn’t treat employees right, and since the bankruptcy, everyone is out for their blood. The anger arises because although the sell-off allowed Sun Capital and its investors to recover their money and then some, the company entered bankruptcy leaving unpaid more than $80 million in debts to workers’ severance and pensions.

Many People are Dying in Canadian Clothing Donation Bins, National Post.

It was the third such Canadian death since November and at least the seventh since 2015.

The victims were homeless or suffering from addiction issues, and appeared to have been trying to remove clothing from the bins. “She climbed to get clothing and got hung up and succumbed to her injuries,” Assistant Vancouver Fire Chief David Boone said after a woman was killed by a bin in the city’s West Point Grey neighborhood.

Saudi Woman Fleeing Family admitted to Thailand, Bangkok Post, AGENCIES AND ONLINE REPORTERS

Hey I’m Rahaf. My father just arrived as I heard which worried and scared me a lot and I want to go to another country that I seek asylum in. But at least I feel save now under UNHCR protection with the agreement of Thailand authorities. And I finally got my passport back.

Australia said Tuesday it will “carefully consider” the asylum claim of an 18-year-old Saudi woman who fled alleged abuse from her family and is now in the care of the UN in Bangkok, after she fended off deportation in a gripping, live-tweeted ordeal.

Canada gave her asylum.

Shifting from Oil to Sun, The Manila Times, EI SUN OH

Tropical countries, Malaysia and the Philippines included, with their almost year-round exposure to hot sun and often breezy winds, should do a serious job of mapping out the most suitable locations for extracting solar and wind energy, not to mention harnessing geothermal and even wave energy. It is fortunate that some of us are blessed with oil and gas reserves, but all of us here in the tropics should cast our eyes far and wide and make our baby steps toward decoupling ourselves from the yoke of oil and perhaps also coal, and start taking energy nourishment directly from the sun, to name but one alternative energy source.

Merkel Appears to Take Aim at Trump with Vow to take on ‘More Responsibility’, Independent, Eleanor Busby

It appears to have been delivered as a veiled rebuke to Donald Trump as she vowed Germany would in the future play a larger role in the world. In her new year’s address, the German Chancellor said the concept of international cooperation was “coming under pressure” – which has been interpreted as a reference to strained relations with the US president.

Ms. Merkel said her country must “stand up for, argue and fight more strongly for our convictions” and “take on more responsibility in our own interests”.

The Chancellor devoted a large part of her speech to the benefits of bringing a multilateral approach to international problems – which she has defended in the face of Mr. Trump’s “America First” foreign policy.

Ms. Merkel said Germany will push for “global solutions” as it takes up a two-year seat on the UN Security Council, and she noted that the country is spending more on defense and humanitarian aid.

Ms. Merkel, who will step down as chancellor in 2021, pointed to curbing climate change, managing migration and combating terrorism as the kinds of challenges that benefit from international cooperation.

“We want to resolve all these questions in our own interest, and we can do that best if we consider the interests of others.

“That is the lesson from the two world wars of the last century. But this conviction is no longer shared today by everyone, and certainties of international cooperation are coming under pressure.”

What a White Boy Taught A Black Woman About Resistance, Medium, Autumn Allen

Two parent teachers had cookies and gave them out to the brown-eyed children only. The blue-eyed children sat and watched while the brown-eyed children enjoyed their cookies. Most of the blue-eyed children waited patiently, with hurt and confusion evident on their faces.

After the brown-eyed children had finished, the blue-eyed children were told to come up to get a cookie. They came eagerly except for Mark. Even though offered, Mark refused to line up with the rest.

The parent teachers then told the blue-eyed children they could have a cookie for one penny.

Shoulders drooped and hopeful eyes looked down to the floor. One boy dug in his pockets, hoping he could find a penny not realizing the rule was made specifically for his kind.

The experiment lasted for 5 minutes. In the end everyone received a cookie except for Mark who refused to take one even after the children were each given a penny. The teachers asked the brown-eyed children how it felt to take being privileged. Did they feel bad when the blue-eyed people were left out? Did anyone consider not eating their cookie until everyone got one?

They asked Mark why he didn’t come for his cookie. “Because I knew that  you were unfair. You were just gonna to keep being unfair. You were lying.”

The anger mirrored young black boys and also men who recognized the injustice and realized the whole system is corrupt and that participating in the system keeps you at its mercy while privileging others.

The Failure of Walls

There is speculation in some historical accounts as to why the Great Wall of China was built. The tribes in the north of China were militarily ahead but culturally behind the South of China. The northern tribes would drop down and raid southern China whenever possible to steal the riches of their neighbors. This is one reason as to why the Chinese opted to build the Great Wall.

Another speculation is the Great Wall was nothing more than an ambitious project contrived by a vain and glory seeking emperor. The Great Wall was supposed to show the world China’s superiority, making a clear distinction between civilized people of the north and the barbarians of the south. A simple barrier and very similar to what we are faced with today.

If you have not walked it, it is worth the effort to go to it and spend some time at it. North of Beijing and south of The Wall you will also go past the Ming Tombs.

In and around 122 AD, the Roman Emperor Antoninus Hadrian built a 70 + mile or what is called Hadrian’s Wall across England. Its purpose too was to keep the uncivilized from the south of England. was built after Hadrian had died by the new Emperor Antoninus Pius. Legitimately they were a defensive wall against the Picts; however, it was meant more for showing power and controlling the flow of people for purposes of taxation.

The Berlin Wall was built to keep people in Eastern Berlin preventing their escape to West Berlin. Thousands of ordinary Germans tried to breach these fortifications, to escape the GDR. Attempts were punished, and 138 people died trying, many of them shot, even pregnant women.

The Israel−Gaza security barrier is a border barrier first constructed by Israel in 1994 between the Gaza Strip and Israel. The barrier runs along the entire land border of the Gaza Strip.

The Maginot Line was a defense wall between France and Germany. Germans went around it. The Warsaw Ghetto was walled in and people still escaped from the ghetto.

Walls do not work and in each case people will eventually cross over or go under them to get to where they want to be. It is better to take the $billions and create a better environment on the other side of the wall or fence.

Texas: The time of parole cannot exceed the length of sentence ordered by the judge, Free Advice Staff

For example, if you were sentenced to ten years in prison, and released after three years, the length of your parole would be the balance of your sentence or seven years. If you were paroled after receiving a life sentence, then you would be on parole for the rest of your life.

If that is not cruel and unusual punishment, then what is?

White People Are Broken Medium, Katherine Fugate

Racism is not just an attitude or a feeling toward people who are different than you; racism is also a structural, institutional system which has benefited white people from the day Europeans landed on this soil.

White America owns the majority or wealth in this county. White people own the majority of real estate, run the vast majority of corporations, determine the cost of the products, and the pay of the employees. We control the political system, the judicial system, the educational system, the health system, and the legal system.

But none of these systems are broken. They were built this way. White people are broken. We built these systems this way.

That we live in a country where anyone would have to assert they matter at all, should tell you something is very wrong.

White people are broken, but we don’t have to be. Broken is not evil. Broken means something needs to be fixed. Healed. Changed.

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PBS NewsHour “Then” Edition with Kevin Hassett

Kevin Hassett (chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers) talking to PBS NewsHour:

“Federal workers who are without pay as the government shutdown drags on actually have it pretty good.

A huge share of government workers were gonna to take vacation days, say, between Christmas and New Year’s. And then we have a shutdown, and so they can’t go to work, and so then they have the vacation, but they don’t have to use their vacation days. And then they come back, and then they get their back pay. Then they’re, in some sense they’re better off.”

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