Closing Thought–15Nov18

Recently a new program for Medicare has been offered….a program that my late father could have benefited from if it had already been policy…….

Medicare is experimenting with a new direction in health care. Starting next year, seniors in many states will be able to get additional services, such as help with chores and respite for caregivers, through private Medicare Advantage insurance plans, the AP reports. There’s a growing recognition that such practical help can have a meaningful impact on patients’ well-being—and reduce some costs for taxpayers. A couple of hundred dollars to install grab bars in the shower can prevent a fall leading to a broken hip, a life-changing injury. That may also help elderly people stay in their homes longer. The newly covered services are similar to what people might need if they required long-term care, said Howard Gleckman, a senior researcher at the nonpartisan Urban Institute think tank.

Change is starting slowly. Policymakers have yet to figure out how to bring similar benefits to traditional Medicare, still the choice of 2 out of 3 seniors. The new services will be offered by some Medicare Advantage plans in more than 20 states next year, and that’s expected to grow over time. There has to be a health-related reason to qualify, and costs will vary among plans. In some plans, there’s no added cost. But limits do apply. For example, a plan may cover one day per week at an adult day care center. For years, Medicare has permitted private plans to offer supplemental benefits not covered by the traditional program. Think free gym memberships, transportation to medical appointments or home-delivered meals following a hospitalization. The new benefits take that to a higher level.

(Read more Medicare stories.)

This program could have been a big help for my father was just months away from bankruptcy because of medical problems…..this is a program that needs to expand to all 50 states….

Plus I am an old fart and will most likely need some sort of program soon….

“Making America Great Again”–Part 17

This part of the series touches on the American Civil War and the aftermath…..the Southern strategy and the so-called Union invincibility….Maj. Sjursen looks at the war and aftermath with different eyes…..

Part 17 of “American History for Truthdiggers.”

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union.” —President Abraham Lincoln, in a letter to the abolitionist Horace Greeley (Aug. 22, 1862)

It is nearly impossible to illustrate the magnitude of the American ordeal of civil war. It is not just the hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians killed, but the fact that this war—perhaps more than any other—utterly transformed the United States. The bookshelves simply overflow with fascinating military histories of the conflict, and I’ll leave that part of the story to their distinguished authors. Rather, let us here examine how, in the course of just four years, the war moved from being dedicated solely to the preservation of the Union to becoming a war of liberation to emancipate slaves.

The war is over….now what?  Next part he looks at the experiment of ‘reconstruction”……

Learn Stuff!

Class Dismissed!

Let’s Go To 1933

My regulars know how much I like history and historic events……I look for history that is not common knowledge……

There some points in history that historians prefer to ignore….but they were events that shape our country whether we like the events or not…..and this is one of those forgotten points.

85 years ago this year FDR was inaugurated and his  policies to turn the country around…..his was an ambitious plan for the country….

On March 4, 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt is inaugurated as the 32nd president of the United States. In his famous inaugural address, delivered outside the east wing of the U.S. Capitol, Roosevelt outlined his “New Deal”–an expansion of the federal government as an instrument of employment opportunity and welfare–and told Americans that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Although it was a rainy day in Washington, and gusts of rain blew over Roosevelt as he spoke, he delivered a speech that radiated optimism and competence, and a broad majority of Americans united behind their new president and his radical economic proposals to lead the nation out of the Great Depression.

To say that all Americans were on the side of change would be just plain wrong……as a matter of fact there was a planned coup in 1933 and a very familiar family name was part of this operation…..the elder Bush….not GHW but rather Prescott…..

To help you get your head around this…..a short video…..

Then in 1934 the sh*t hit the fan…….

I’m back from the land of heather and thistles, not to mention wee drams and lukewarm ale, but on my way out a friend at the BBC alerted me to this, a not-to-miss program on the BBC this morning, accessible over the next several days by internet. It’s the story of the Plot Against America. I don’t mean the Philip Roth novel, nor even the Sinclair Lewis book, It Can’t Happen Here, but rather the historical events upon which these two works of fiction were based.

In November 1934, federal investigators uncovered an amazing plot involving some two dozen senior businessmen, a good many of them Wall Street financiers, to topple the government of the United States and install a fascist dictatorship. Roth’s novel is developed from several strands of this factual account; he assumed the plot is actually carried out, whereas in fact an alert FDR shut it down but stopped short of retaliatory measures against the plotters. A key element of the plot involved a retired prominent general who was to have raised a private army of 500,000 men from unemployed veterans and who blew the whistle when he learned more of what the plot entailed. The plot was heavily funded and well developed and had strong links with fascist forces abroad. A story in the New York Times and several other newspapers reported on it, and a special Congressional committee was created to conduct an investigation. The records of this committee were scrubbed and sealed away in the National Archives, where they have only recently been made available.

Ever notice the history that academics have forgotten?

Well the old professor tries to bring the stuff to light whenever he can…..

Class Dismissed!

Turn The Page!

When Women Step Up

You would think that this close to the end of Midterm voting I would be talking about female candidates….well you would be mistaken…..

Throughout history women have stepped up when they were needed to…..they are the protesters that many listen to for they have the weight of family as well as society on their shoulders.

Countries like France, Russia, South Africa, etc….women have taken to the streets….least we forget the Women’s March on DC in January 2017……

On Saturday, 150,000 people are expected to take to the streets for the Women’s March on Washington. The progressive demonstration is expected to be the largest of inauguration weekend as well as one of the largest in US history, and sister marches will be held in cities across the country and around the world.

One of the biggest protest were anti-war and in Russia in 1917……some say the beginning of the Russian Revolution…..

The first day of the Russian Revolution – 8 March (23 February in the old Russian calendar) – was International Women’s Day, an important day in the socialist calendar. By midday of that day in 1917 there were tens of thousands of mainly women congregating on the Nevsky Prospekt, the principal avenue in the centre of the Russian capital, Petrograd, and banners started to appear.

The slogans on the banners were patriotic but also made forceful demands for change: “Feed the children of the defenders of the motherland,” read one; another said: “Supplement the ration of soldiers’ families, defenders of freedom and the people’s peace.”

What made me think about women and protests was an article I read the other day…..

About 1,500 women and allied men marched on the Pentagon on Sunday to demand an end to perpetual war and the funding of education, health care and other social needs instead.

Stopping U.S. military involvement in Syria and Yemen and closing U.S. military bases around the world were among the demands voiced by the protestors who set out from Pentagon City and marched to the seat of American military power along a one-mile route.

With the Pentagon in the background, the protestors shouted slogans and waved signs calling for, “No More War.”

Finally!  Someone has stepped up and protested the constant wars that are draining this country of blood and treasure….and it was women that stepped up and showed courage something that most men seem to lack.

Plus there are several antiwar protests that the media has ignored for whatever reason……but I can help the memory of those protests…..

 A friend told me yesterday that he hadn’t seen an antiwar protest in America in ten years. It was a sincere comment; he genuinely hadn’t seen any coverage on any peace activism in his country during that time. And of course he hadn’t; it is mainstream media’s job to distort public narratives in favor of the war-hungry plutocratic class which owns the media outlets. But I’ve actually been noticing a lot of antiwar activism lately which, while often far from the spotlight of mass media attention, has given me much hope for the future.

And now for the musical interlude……..

Keep in mind if anyone has a RIGHT to protest war it is the people that fight them……Period!

Veterans were especially outspoken in their opposition. Retired generals and admirals feared such a demonstration would embarrass the U.S., placing the nation in the company of small-time authoritarian regimes that regularly parade their tanks and missiles as demonstrations of their military might. And some veterans’ organizations opposed the parade because they saw it as a celebration of militarism and war.

Veterans of past wars, as I document in my book “Guys Like Me: Five Wars, Five Veterans for Peace” have long been at the forefront of peace advocacy in the United States.

Just think how much better this country could have been if the war bill of $5.6 trillion (post forthcoming) had been spent on infrastructure or other programs?

Use your voice!

National Strategy For CounterTerrorism

Last month the Trump admin issued its national strategy for for fighting terrorism…..and ever since I have been trying to download the paper and the White House sucks at transparency… it or not it sucks big time… be fair…..I can read the document but I cannot print it out…..

So I shall give you the breakdown that they, the White House, floated to the media…..

The Administration is outlining a new approach to counter and prevent the evolving terrorist threat, making it clear that we will take all steps necessary to keep our country safe.

President Trump’s National Strategy for Counterterrorism focuses on:

Pursuing terrorists to their source;

Isolating terrorists from their sources of support;

Modernizing and integrating the United States’ counterterrorism tools;

Protecting American infrastructure and enhancing resilience;

Countering terrorist radicalization and recruitment; and

Strengthening the counterterrorism abilities of our international partners.

The new strategy focuses the United States on countering all terrorists with the intent and ability to harm our country.

The strategy emphasizes the use of all of America’s tools to prevent and counter terrorism, strengthening military approaches while delivering a new emphasis on non-military capabilities.

Many United States Government agencies have important roles to play, including our law enforcement, diplomatic, and treasury officials.

The strategy places America first, emphasizing strong borders, strengthening security at points of entry, protecting critical infrastructure, and facilitating preparedness.

However, America First does not mean America alone.  The new strategy commits us to expand our partnerships at home and abroad to encourage partners’ assistance in counterterrorism activities.

This includes working with our North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Allies and partners.

All this is generalities and NO specifics……but then why would they give specifics?

Read the National Strategy for Counterterrorism here.

The document cloud site……

I was not impressed with this “strategy” and apparently I am not alone……

The Trump administration released its new National Strategy for Counterterrorism (NSCT) last month, just before two major terrorist plots transpired – the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and a series of mail bombs sent to Democratic figures. The NSCT shows flaws in the White House’s counterterrorism policies that allowed these recent attacks to transpire. Though the strategy outlines some important CT efforts, such as bolstering international CT alliances and leveraging non-military initiatives to prevent radicalization, the administration has failed to properly implement many of these policies and programs. Thus far, the Trump administration’s domestic and international counterterrorism policies have been too reactionary and are insufficient to ensure long-term success.

Trump’s rhetoric on the shooting in Pittsburgh and attempted attacks on top Democrats highlights a major oversight in his administration’s counterterrorism policy: it fails to consider right-wing domestic terrorism as a serious threat. Though Trump has refused to label these recent attacks as acts of terrorism, academic discourse and even definitions used by U.S. law suggest that terrorism is exactly what they are. The U.S. Code of Regulations defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”[i] Given that both Robert Bowers and Cesar Sayoc intended to use violence in pursuit of a domestic political goal, we should not hesitate to deem their actions terrorism.

We are trying to defeat a tactic……that is never a good idea to claim it can be defeated…..this strategy is about what I have come to expect from anything from the Trump administration……not much substance….to be honest sounds a lot likie the Obama strategy also……

IST News From The Middle East

The Middle East has not been in the news lately….the  midterms are an ever consuming story that just keeps on giving and the rest of the world just will have to wait…..

As an analyst on the Middle East I keep an eye on the news that could effect the US and its policies……

Since 1919 the Middle East has been ruled by authoritarian dictators and henchmen…..but these days those ways seem to be falling away from the norm…….

Two perfect storms have struck the Arab world in the past decade. In 2011, in what was at first optimistically called “the Arab Spring,” popular uprisings unseated autocrats across the region. Hopes ran high that these peaceful protest movements would usher in a new era of democracy in the Middle East. But except in Tunisia, they ended in turmoil or deadly civil wars. Then, in 2014, the region’s leaders were dealt another blow when the price of oil plummeted, threatening the basic model of governance on which their power rested. Low oil prices since have made it difficult for regimes to fund bloated budgets, buy off elites, and hold up long-postponed reforms. This is not a temporary aberration: it is unlikely that the price of oil will ever again rise to its pre-2014 levels.

On the surface, many Arab states appear to have weathered these two storms—however shakily. But there is more turbulence ahead. The shocks of 2011 and 2014 were just the first symptoms of a deeper transformation under way in the region: the fundamental bargain underpinning stability in Middle Eastern states is coming undone, and unless regional leaders move quickly to strike new bargains with their citizens, even larger storms will come.

We hear such promises as ISIS has been defeated…..I do not agree with that assertion…..and the next flash point in the Middle East will be American ally, Jordan…….

Israel’s government has been rarely so surprised by a close ally. But on the 23rd anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Jordan’s King Abdullah II reversed one of the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s most important achievements.

On Twitter, the monarch announced that he was annulling an attachment to the peace treaty that his father had signed with Rabin in 1994. The treaty concerns two enclaves that Jordan leased to Israel for agricultural use for 25 years. They were considered a prime example of Israeli-Arab cooperation. According to the agreement, Israelis were given free access to areas that were Jewish privately-owned and farmed before Israel’s foundation in 1948.

And more on this prediction……

A look into the future of the Middle East……

Regionalism and globalism are two of the leading phenomena in world politics. In the age of globalism, regionalism can be treated as a complementary and interacting phenomenon – or as a competing and conflicting one. Globalization creates powerful demands for regionalism that are not particular to one specific region, but to all regions. Considering the global-regional nexus as an unavoidably synchronized and complimentary set of processes concerning the Middle East, the chapter primarily draws attention to the state of regionalism in the Arab Middle East and its spillovers. With nationalist and protectionist trends on the rise with the election of Donald Trump in the US and the UK’s Brexit decision, it is perhaps not a popular time for commenting on the state of regionalism in the Middle East. A scarcity of regional cooperation in the area has also led interested commentators and scholars to label the Middle East as “the region without regionalism” (Aarts 1999, 91) or a space of weak regionalism.

The Gulf region has the US picking sides in the many disputes….but with all said there is NO reason to pick sides by the US……

Iran and Saudi Arabia are each capable of keeping the other from establishing regional control.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s decision to back out of Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative, “Davos in the Desert,” is the first smart move the Trump administration has made in the aftermath of the killing of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi. Trump promised a foreign policy guided by a strategy of “Principled Realism,” yet his administration’s handling of the crisis has been neither principled nor realist.

Instead of working to reassure the Saudis and sweep this issue under the rug, a more realist policy would take advantage of Riyadh’s mistake to stand up for our interests and values, bring balance back to our relationship, and get a better deal for America.

The problem, the biggest problem is that US is not capable of a diplomatic mission to the Middle East under the Trump presidency……

Finally, The Saudis have a hatred for Iran, Sunni vs Shia thing, but yet Iraq a majority Shia country and the Saudis are trying to make nice with the news government…..

Saudi Arabia appears to be pursuing a policy of pragmatic diplomacy with Iraq by aiming to build ties across the sectarian landscape. After more than 25 years of disengagement from Baghdad, Riyadh is now attempting to repair relations in order to build greater influence and counter Iran’s presence. Saudi Arabia’s regional strategy emphasizes curbing Iran’s influence, and it has recently embraced a series of bold foreign policy moves with Yemen, Qatar, and Lebanon. By contrast, the strategy in Iraq is largely consonant with the approach of gradual cooptation that Saudi Arabia has often adopted in the past.

Saudi Arabia has a number of political and economic tools to use in Iraq. Politically, it has sought to limit the influence of pro-Iranian groups by exploiting a growing intra-Shi`a rift, as many Shi`ite leaders and citizens are growing weary of Tehran’s overreach. Economically, it seeks to strengthen integration and build interdependencies with Baghdad, as well as benefit from the potential export market and trade that has been dominated by Iran and Turkey.

One question….why cannot the Saudis make nice with Iran….if they can in Iraq then why not Iran?