Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Las Vegas Shooting: Curiouser and Curiouser

To cut through the media hysteria with some basic facts:

Fully-automatic firearms (a.k.a. machine-guns) have been banned from civilian purchase (except for a very few supremely regulated exceptions) since 1934.  Those rare exceptions include:
             a) Federally-licensed firearms dealers who sell exclusively (and provably) to police and military buyers.
             b) People who go through a very extensive, expensive, and time-consuming process of obtaining a special federal license, which must be regularly renewed;  even these are not allowed to own a functional machine-gun made after 1986.

Converting a common semi-automatic to fully-automatic fire is likewise a federal crime.  The “bump-stock”, which makes it possible for a semi-auto to fire repeatedly almost as fast as a regular machine-gun, is a recent invention which just barely managed to slip around the wording of the law.  This is the only aspect of the shooting which a legal ban might have prevented.

Despite the sensational claims, this massacre was not “the largest mass shooting in American history”.  Wounded Knee was.  Go look that up.  While you’re at it, also look up the Sand Creek Massacre, the Mountain Meadows Massacre, Pancho Villa’s Raid, and the Bath, Michigan School Massacre.  Note the similarities.

Other peculiarities revolve around Paddock himself, according to what the police have uncovered so far – at least what they’ve told to the media, and what the media have broadcast.  First, aside from his father being a notorious bank-robber who died in prison, there was absolutely nothing remarkable about him.  He began working as a mail-carrier, made himself into an accountant, finally got into real-estate and made himself a tidy fortune.  He was White, successful, one year short of retirement age, in not any sort of athletic shape, had never been in the military, nor police, nor been a member of any gun-club, and – according to his brother – had no particular political or religious affiliation, nor musical preferences either.  He’d been married and divorced and currently had an Asian girlfriend, Marilou Danley, who came from the Philippines, and that was all the “foreign” connections he had.  Neighbors described him as “reserved”, and otherwise boringly ordinary.       

Now consider the facts that don’t match.  In recent weeks he began doing a lot of gambling in Las Vegas, actually won a surprising amount of money, and gave most of it to his girlfriend – after buying her a plane ticket to Asia.  He’d also spent the last few months buying an amazing number – more than 40 of them – of assorted firearms, mostly rifles.  He also bought 12 Bump-stocks, several pounds of ammunition, some unnamed “explosives”, at least half-a-dozen video-cameras and at least one camera tripod.  His recent financial and email history show that, since January, Paddock – or someone using his financial and electronic identity -- booked rooms in hotels (though he didn’t always go there) in other cities – including Chicago and Baltimore – that likewise overlooked open music-concert venues.  Marilou Danley, now returned and talking to the police, mentioned that before he sent her off to Asia Paddock was taking Valium, and often lay on his sofa for hours muttering “Omigod, omigod…”

According to the sound-tracks from civilian videos of the incident, two full-auto rifles began firing at the same time into the music-festival crowd.  There are local witnesses who swear that they heard gunshots from two hotel windows: one “high up” and one on the fourth floor.  No witnesses saw muzzle-flashes from the 32nd floor.  The muzzle-flashes on the lower floor ended quickly – after emptying perhaps one extended clip – while the gunshots from the higher floor continued for a total of ten minutes.  According to early reports from local police, the reason they were able to target a room on the 32nd floor was that the amount of gun-smoke in that room was enough to set off the fire-alarm.  There was also a report, broadcast once and then cut, about a hotel security-guard who happened to be on the floor, ran toward the noise, and was shot through the hotel-room door.  When the police arrived, they found Paddock dead of a gunshot, his Bump-stock altered rifle beside him, several more altered rifles, pounds of ammunition, cameras set up to cover the room and the approaching hallways, and nobody else in the room.   

Now let’s pause here and consider some physical facts.  A fully-automatic rifle – designed or reconfigured – is not an easy weapon to use. According to firearms writer Mike Adams, (

“Even highly trained Navy Seals would have a difficult time running a full auto weapon for 10 minutes straight. Such weapon systems are brutal on the operator. They require tremendous strength, stamina and expert troubleshooting to keep running. Full-auto weapons overheat and jam. They demand incredible strength to keep aimed on target. They require expert reloading and weapons clearing in the case of jams, and the hotel room would have been so full of smoke and powder residue that it would be almost impossible to keep breathing from that enclosed space.
Far from what the firearms-illiterate media claims, these are not systems that any Joe off the street can just pick up and use to effortlessly mow down 500 people. Running these systems requires extensive training, experience and stamina. It is physically impossible for a guy like Stephen Paddock to operate such a system in the sustained, effective manner that we witnessed, especially when shooting from an elevated position which throws off all the ranging of the weapon system.”
More, Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo publicly affirmed his belief that Stephen Paddock did not act alone. "…[H]e had to have some help at some point," Sheriff Lombardo is now quoted as saying by the UK Express:

And then there’s the question of why on Earth did Paddock target a country-western music festival, of all things.  There are some disturbing reports from witnesses at the concert who saw a woman push her way to the front row and utter death-threats, more than half an hour before the shooting started: “…there was a lady who pushed her way forward into the front row, and she started messing with another lady.  She told us we were all going to die tonight – it was about 45 minutes before the shots were fired.”  The woman was identifiably not Marilou Danley, who was in Asia at the time. 
And then there are the statements from two Australian guests in the hotel, reported to the Australian Courier Mail: 
“An Australian man who was staying in the room next to the shooter in the Mandalay Bay has confirmed he witnessed multiple gunmen involved in the Las Vegas attack.

“‘There were multiple people dead and multiple shooters. I was just hiding waiting for police to come get us. I got outside safely and was hiding in bushes,Brian Hodge told Australia's Courier-Mail.
“Mr. Hodge, who was staying in room 32134, next door to Stephen Paddock in room 32135, also provided important information when he revealed that a security guard was killed by police.
“’My floor is a crime scene. They killed a security guard on my floor.’”

“Wendy Miller from Cooroy, on the Sunshine Coast – another Australian caught up in the Las Vegas shooting – said she was at a bar in the nearby Luxor Hotel with her husband when she saw what she described as a "man of interest" run by.

“Ms Miller said the man sprinted through her hotel after coming off an escalator from the Mandalay Bay. The man that they [security] were chasing was wearing a security jacket like them,’ she said.”

…And there are plenty of other mysteries as well (such as, why do none of the crime-scene photos of Paddock’s “sniper’s nest” not show any of the necessarily thousands of rounds of expended brass? --, but what these all add up to is that Paddock did not act alone; he had considerable help – and this massacre was planned months in advance.  But why?  Who would want to shoot up a country-western music festival?

The usual suspect, ISIL, took credit for the shooting – but the FBI cleared Paddock from any connection with them, in less than 24 hours.  A TV news pundit, who shall remain nameless, sneered that Paddock was an obviously insane “gun-nut” who hit the wrong target, because country-western fans are usually gun-nuts too – but this theory doesn’t jibe with the prolonged and meticulous planning that went into this slaughter.  Some psychologists have compared Paddock’s rampage with the Texas Clocktower Shooting of over 30 years ago -- and guessed that Paddock, like that shooter, had a brain tumor;  again, this doesn’t synch with the long and meticulous planning, or with his use of equally clever associates.  Blaming it on blackmail or gambling debts only begs the question;  who would have blackmailed Paddock into playing the patsy for a mass-murder, and why?  What was the motive?

Call it my old-time-radical practical paranoia, but I insist on asking: who benefits?

Well…  Aside from Hillary, whose political career has been revitalized by her riding the gun-control hobby-horse, and the gun-control lobby itself, which has gotten a marvelous crisis to exploit and is eagerly galloping to Congress with it, gee, I can’t think of anyone.  Can you?

Now, do I really think that Hillary and her wealthier supporters -- like George Soros, Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn and their ilk -- would really orchestrate a mass murder of American citizens in order to push their political agendas?

Having known Ayers and Dohrn back in the day, I have to say, well...  Yes.  They really are like that.  What I've seen and heard of Hillary and Soros leads me to think that they're exactly the same sort of Parlor Pinks, with the exact same attitudes.  I've no doubt there are others.  No solid proof, of course, but if this is the same crowd who manipulated and inflated the Charlottesville protests, then they're escalating the intensity of their tactics;  they've gone from Wagging The Dog to outright Reichstagging.  Knowing the nature of the Parlor Pink beast, I don't think they'll stop there.  Totally crazy?  Well, so was the Las Vegas shooting itself.

As we used to say back in the day, "The worst day of your life is the day you wake up and realize you're not paranoid."   

--Leslie <;)))>< 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Right to Be Stupid in Public

I've heard it said that freedom is the right to go to hell in a hand-basket of your own design and choosing, and the current flap about the NFL players' protest is a splendid example. 

Just why the assorted football players decided all of a sudden that the US was a "racist" country, oppressing Blacks in particular, and that they should  protest by kneeling rather than standing during the national anthem isn't much of a mystery;  'twas inspired by the same Democrat all-out anti-Trump campaign that's insisting that Trump Is A Racist So Are All His Voters.  Now, a moment's thought -- or an hour's thoughtful Internet research -- would readily disprove this theory.  As I've mentioned elsewhere, according to the FBI/DOJ there are fewer than 100 real neo-Nazis and something less than 7000 hardcore active White supremacists of any stripe in the whole country.

Nonetheless, there are a lot of Blacks (and, inexplicably, Whites) who almost desperately want to believe this political myth, and absolutely won't listen to -- let alone look for -- any facts to the contrary.  For example, I've got a Black neighbor who was particularly entranced by my new sword-cane, so I gave him a copy of the BUDK catalog I ordered it from;  next day he threw it out and refused to speak to me, convinced that the catalog's staff and everybody who read it -- including me -- were all racists.  Why?  Because three of the items advertized in it were decorated with Confederate flags.  Never mind that easily 50 of its items featured US flags, a couple dozen sported computer-game characters, another 40 were modeled from the Lord of the Rings movies, and another 100 had no decorations at all -- doubtless reflecting the tastes of its known buyers.  By that logic, less than 3% of the catalog's fans were racists, and the rest were elves, zombies, Union soldiers, and indifferent.  Ah, but no: that -3% magically contaminates all the rest, so everybody's a "racist" by contact -- even people whom you know perfectly well aren't.  Just why so many people want to believe this is a good subject for several books, documentaries, and Ph.D. theses.  My guess is that it's an easy excuse for everything that goes wrong in the life of anybody with a skin-tone one shade darker than an Icelander's.

Well, lazy excuses aside, the whole idea of the NFL players making a big noise over it -- and choosing to protest by kneeling during the National Anthem -- is just plain stupid.  For one thing, after Tebow's much-publicized kneeling to pray before every game, 99+% of the fans/audience/viewers would have to have the action explained to them, or they might just assume that the players had gone through a mass religious conversion.  For another, once it was explained, it made the players look like a bunch of spoiled brats.  As the  public sees it, professional football players make multi-million-dollar salaries (plus more for product endorsements), earn eternal fame, and are treated like heroes almost everywhere;  who are they to whine about being oppressed?

This was a stupid tactic.  It earned them the animosity of a lot of fans -- particularly veterans, who complained about "insulting" the flag that gave them the right to say what they pleased, a right that had been "bought with other men's blood".  It got them worse criticism from long-established Black civil-rights organizations, which pointed out that it would create resentment among both White fans who certainly weren't racist and Black fans who had no chance of ever earning a pro-ballplayer's income.  Trump's comment of "ungrateful" is forgettably mild by comparison.

To be fair, the working life of a professional football-player is short -- four years, on average, last time I looked -- and always ends with some sort of permanent physical damage.  It's understandable that players would insist on getting salaries that will compensate for that damage (if possible) and support them and their families for the rest of their lives.  And yes, they do earn that money by extreme (and dangerous) physical labor.  In terms of permanent injuries and deaths, being a pro football-player is more dangerous than being a cop (Dept. of Labor stats).  They do earn that money.  And yes, they have the same rights as any other Americans to express their opinions -- and to make fools of themselves in public if they want to.

If that stupid tactic costs them money, as annoyed fans stop viewing or attending their games, well, that's often the price of voicing an unpopular opinion.  Heaven knows, there are worse.

One of the worse effects of this dumb move is that it makes supposedly intelligent, well-educated, certainly successful Blacks look like bigoted fools.  If anything is likely to arouse White animosity toward Blacks, that is.

Of course, one of the better effects is that cooler heads (and there are a lot of them), Black and White -- and all other colors as well, don't forget -- will sit down and ask, just how did intelligent, well-educated, successful people get stampeded into such stupid attitudes and tactics?  The FBI and DOJ will be firmly asked to provide the real evidence on all this supposed racism, which will reveal the hoaxes and propaganda as well.  That will leave a lot of people asking: who profited by deliberately fanning the flames of racism, and why?  --which is a far more important question.

--Leslie <;)))><    


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Google the Bigot

For those of you out there who don't believe all those Internet complaints that Google is bigoted, and censors out sites which aren't conventionally Liberal, I propose the following experiment.  First, do you know -- or can you admit -- that there really are racist Black organizations?  After all, even the Southern Poverty Law Center (which has all the objectivity of a Stalinist bureaucrat) admitted a few years back that certain "Black Separatists" belonged on the domestic-terrorist list.  Okay, that's a subject that's terribly embarrassing to the dominant political movement in the US today.  So, now go to Google's search-page and type "Black hate groups" or "Black racist groups" or Black nationalists" -- or any combination thereof -- into the search-box.  See what you get.  Every other listing either is or refers to the SPLC, many of them are editorials by the discredited Huffington Post, and most of them insist on also referring to White "hate groups" as worse, and an excuse.  Dr. King must be spinning in his grave at several hundred RPMs.  One thing none of them claim is that White "hate-groups" are more numerous or powerful than Black ones, because even the SPLC can't pretend that.  Still, it would be hard to doubt the political attitudes that Google is pushing. 

(Sidenote: the FBI was the first government agency to define and track specifically racial and religious hate-groups, back before World War Two.  After that war, the Anti-Defamation League also took up the task from the civilian side;  they began by detecting specifically religious (particularly anti-semitic) hate-groups, and moved outward from there.  They made a point of carefully verifying their data in preparation for legal cases, and were hesitant to accuse a group or individual without solid proof.  The SPLC began in the 1970s, supposedly to provide legal defense for poor Blacks in the south, but it soon made itself the civilian expert on hunting up White racist organizations, despite numerous complaints of slander against it.  In that role, it's become one of the major fund-raisers on the political Left.  What the FBI knows, it doesn't  tend to reveal.)

Now, go to Yahoo's search-page, and plug in the same topics.  Note the differences.  Note the number of other different links and other sources than SPLC.  Note that more of the links are willing to mention the numbers, attitudes, and activities of real Black hate-groups.  On the leading page, there's only one link (to Time magazine, of all places) making excuses for them.  The political attitude is still distinctly Left-wing, but noticeably more balanced.

Using Startpage, which is famous for its privacy and security, as your search-engine you'll see the links much more widely varied in source -- running as far out as Al Jazeera and The Root.  It generally tends more toward Left attitudes than Yahoo, but makes some effort toward balance.

It's difficult to get into DuckDuckGo's search engine, but well worth it.  Along with a cluster of the usual sites, its downright enormous first page lists sites with sources and attitudes all over the scale (including a mild Christian website which tackles SPLC directly -- and reveals the interesting fact that " the FBI, among other law-enforcement agencies, no longer relies on the SPLC’s data").  It covers a wider and more balanced range than any we've seen so far.

There are plenty of other search-engines for the seriously interested, many of which can be found at, though their focus is on user privacy rather than avoiding political censorship or propaganda, and I leave it to more experienced users than I am to compare them.

Point is, comparing just the four search-engines mentioned above, the effect of political bias is obvious and worrisome.  Google, as (AFAIK) the world's largest search-engine, has no business being the most persistently biased of them. 

Internet censorship has been the universal bogeyman of all users, not to mention hackers, since the concept was first formed.  What made the company sell out?  Was it the simple corruption of power?  Or just another part of the steady degeneration of the modern Liberal movement?  

It's sad watching The Peter Principle work its way through a political/philosophical movement as inevitably as through a manager's career.  

--Leslie <;)))><   



Sunday, September 10, 2017


I've said this before, and it seems that I have to say it again, because so many supposedly-educated people insist on believing that ideals are more real than facts.

These are facts: the United States today has the third largest population in the world, and overpopulation is not a good thing.  The country with the largest population on Earth, of course, is China – with one and a half billion people.  The second largest is India, with one and a third billion.  Both those countries are desperately trying to cut their populations down, using methods that wouldn’t be tolerated in the US, and their human rights standing is a growing embarrassment.  The US trails them with a mere 325 million, but even so, our physical, social, political and economic resources are straining at the seams.  The last thing we need is immigration.  If anything, we should revive the use of Exile as a legal punishment. 

I can predict the usual reactions to any such statement, and when you look at them, none of them are reasonable.  First, America is not just “a nation of immigrants”, as any “Native American” can tell you.  (Isn’t it ironic how people who sneer at “Nativism” claim to love the “Natives”, but won’t learn from them?)  Other things the Indians could tell you are that open borders and unchecked immigration are not good ideas, and no, you cannot trust the government.  Second, no, a constantly growing population is not required for an “expanding economy”;  growing technology and innovation are.  Third, and most important, not everybody who wants to come here wants to be like us.  The difference between immigrants and invaders is how much they’re willing to assimilate and how much they simply want to conquer us and take everything we have. All humans may be born equal, but all cultures are not.  And yes, there are whole cultures in the world who believe it’s their duty to be invaders, and conquer the world.  I’ll name no names, but you can tell who the invaders are by peculiarities of their culture;  among other things, they believe it’s their duty to use all women as breeding machines and to outbreed their neighbors.  These are people whom we absolutely do not need, and should not take in, no matter how good their excuses. 

Right now there’s a great wailing about the “Dreamers”— children brought into the US illegally by their parents and allowed to stay under the DACA act, who have grown up in the US and know little to nothing of any other country – close to a million of them.  Surely these kids (many of them no longer minors) are assimilated Americans, aren’t they? 

No, as a matter of fact, there’s no guarantee right now that they are.  But there is a way to be sure;  revive the old law which allowed foreigners of any status to join the US military and, if they served a minimum tour and earned an honorable discharge, to gain citizenship with their discharge.  Anyone who wants US citizenship enough to risk life and limb to gain it pretty clearly deserves it.  Also, US veterans who have been denied citizenship for any reason short of committing felonies or not completing their tours must be lawfully reinstated no matter how they started out.  That should take care of the “Dreamer” problem.

But continuing the usual business of letting illegal immigrants stay has got to stop, and there’s really just one way to do it. 

Congress must declare a ten-year moratorium on all immigration, period.  And order the border patrol, INS, and all related agencies to concentrate their efforts on letting nobody across the border except legal tourists and wild animals.  Yes, use the drones, and yes, build The Wall.  As for all those “asylum seekers” and “compassionate” cases, the US government can pay for compassionate plane-tickets to any compassionate country that’s willing to take them – and their relatives too.  But they can’t come here.  We simply can’t afford this invasion anymore.

--Leslie <;)))><      

Sunday, September 3, 2017


On August 13th, when President Trump had announced a press conference in advance, a  long-planned demonstration – protest and counter-protest – in Charlottesville, Virginia, resulted in a vehicular attack that left one woman dead and 19 people injured,  the TV news (MSNBC, CNN) reported.  They also showed video footage of the attack itself, and a few very brief (less than 2 seconds apiece) video shots of the protesters and counter-protesters – too brief to identify anyone or read any of the signs clearly, but enough to show a large police presence: local, county, and state.  Later the TV news reported that a helicopter holding two state troopers, who had been observing the protesters, had crashed not far from the demonstration, killing both of them.

Those were the facts, and exactly all the facts, reported on the news, TV or otherwise.  Everything else was speculation, exaggeration, errors (at best), and political rants aimed at Trump – for hours. 

When Trump opened his press conference, he was obliged to make a speech about the tragedy, in which he condemned “violence..on many, many sides”, and called for unity and public civility before he got on with the good news: his two bills passed that would reform the VA health system and provide better healthcare for veterans.  The Democrat politicians and media promptly howled that in daring to claim that the protesters – “Unite the Right” – were “morally equivalent” to the counter-protesters – primarily Black Lives Matter and Antifa – Trump had proved that he and his supporters are all “white supremacists”, and therefore Nazis.  This is an odd claim, seeing that for the previous several weeks they’ve been denouncing Jared Kushner, Trump’s smart Jewish son-in-law and chief tactician. 

Annoyed by the illogic, and the runaway speculation based on very few facts, I spent most of the week searching the net and querying on Facebook for anybody who had more verifiable information.  Besides collecting a lot of amazing scolds for daring to demand facts, verification, analysis and logic, I eventually got answers from people who had seen, if not the incident itself, a lot of the background leading up to it.

The beginning of the story is the recent demand by the NAACP that all the Confederate monuments in the southern states be taken down.  Why?  Because the very sight of them is “offensive”, “oppressive”, “reminders of slavery”, “symbols of white supremacy”, and supposedly inspired a white bigot to murder nine churchgoers in 2015.  As to why these old monuments hadn’t been offensive/oppressive/murder-inspiring before Trump was elected – or often for the century and more before that – nobody seemed to have an answer.  For that matter, nobody seems to have thought of a more artful – and less expensive – solution: put up more statues, of Union soldiers, famous Abolitionists, famous Black heroes like Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, Nat Turner, and so on. Such a dialog in art would only have benefited everybody, but today’s political organizers don’t seem to be interested in dialog, or debate. 

The real reason for this campaign is that the NAACP felt obliged to rein in BLM, because BLM’s excesses were turning public opinion against Black activism in general.  To assert its authority, the NAACP had to flex its muscles before the BLM crowd by taking up a showy political campaign – and attacking Confederate monuments fit the bill.

But anyway, when the NAACP set its sights on the Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson memorial statues in Charlottesville, the city council complained.  For one thing, those statues, and the park they stood in, had been constructed in 1929 by a wealthy philanthropist, who had also commissioned a children’s park in a poor Black neighborhood, which included a memorial statue of Booker T. Washington.  For another, removing the statues would cost the city $700,000 – more than enough to create a children’s park in a poor Black neighborhood.  Hopefully the cost could be offset by selling the statues, but raising the money and making the sales would take time.  The city asked for six months.  The NAACP grumbled.

Enter a collection of anti-Trump investors.  Who?  Well, they were obviously very discreet about their identities, but from the results of their planning we can tell that they hated Trump, had the money to pull off a caper of this size, and were either very good at political manipulation techniques or could hire the services of those who are.  This narrows the field of suspects considerably.  The name Soros comes to mind.  So do Ayers and Dohrn.

Actually, this bunch may have been active for quite a long time.  Racism, despite its personal appeal, has been steadily dying in America since World War Two.  Anyone who was there couldn’t help but be impressed by the heroic performance of the Tuskeegee Airmen, the 222nd, the Red-Ball Express, the Code-Talkers, and so on.  Likewise, all the world saw that Nazis were world-class losers;  they started the worst war in history – and lost.  Outside of the Arab countries, racism in general and Naziism in particular grew increasingly unpopular.  This is why the landmark case, “Brown vs. Board of Education”, could reach the Supreme Court, let alone pass, less than 10 years after the war ended.

So, racism was rapidly dying in America.  By the 1980s, the total membership of the once-mighty Ku Klux Klan was so reduced that it couldn’t come up with a salary for its last Imperial Wizard, David Duke.  He was reduced to selling his services as a political Judas Goat, and most of his income came covertly from the blatantly Marxist Southern Poverty Law Center.  According to FBI statistics, the only places where racism still flourished were inside prisons and in Black, Latino, and Asian slums.  Outside of prisons, even long-announced nation-wide conventions of white supremacists – KKK, neo-Nazi, or even Richard Spencer’s “alt-right” – drew crowds of little more than 100 attendees.

Yet racism as a political tool – the “stick” in a stick-and-carrot game – was too useful to be allowed to die.  Certain cynical/mercenary organizations, from political parties to real-estate companies, made a point of fanning the flames for their own gain.  Google-search the term “blockbusting”, and consider the career of the famous Rev. Wright, and particularly the SPLC.

I saw a case of blockbusting when I was young, and to anybody with any grassroots political – or theatrical – experience, the tactic was obvious.  A Black supposed-family had bought a single house in a formerly-White working-class neighborhood, and within a week the “street theatre” had started;  torn and dirty curtains framed the windows, trash and broken bicycles filled the front yard where a large and loud and ugly dog was chained, a fat and slovenly-looking Black woman leaned out a window and yelled “Leroy!  Leeeeeeroy!” constantly, a radio at another window played R&B music at ear-splitting volume all day and much of the night, a skinny Black man sprawled all day in a ragged armchair on the front porch with a bottle of booze in his hand, and a half-dozen young Black men gathered around a half-disassembled trashy car in the driveway – supposedly repairing it, but more likely trashing it further, while swearing merrily in obviously ghetto-punk accents. 

What I did was stroll up to one of the supposed mechanics and whisper to him: “You’re over-acting.  Tone it down or everybody will catch on.”  He indignantly replied, likewise in a whisper: “No way!  These dumb honkies will believe anything.”  I shrugged and walked on – down to my college campus, where I reported the incident not to the police but to the local chapter of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (remember that one?).  I later heard that some impressive-looking Black men in suits, with big briefcases, came to have a talk with the acting troupe about the unwisdom of promoting racial stereotypes.  In any case, by the next day the trashed car, the garbage, the dog, the torn curtains and the loud actors were gone.  The house stayed quiet for a week, and then a respectable Black couple with a little daughter moved in.  They behaved like any other family in the neighborhood, and there was no further trouble. 

That was my introduction to political theater, and I remembered it well.  After that, I and my assorted radical buddies kept an eye out for indications of manufactured racism and political provocateering.  We couldn’t help noticing, as end-of-century approached, that even as we saw racism die out among the common folk and common culture, there were more alarms and reports of “growing right-wing fanaticism” and “increasing racism” among the intelligentsia – usually emanating from the SPLC.  That was when I learned to research actual crime figures from the FBI – and noticed the varying political biases of different government bureaucracies.  I worked for a state Welfare department for awhile, and saw it myself (among other corruptions, which I wound up writing a song about).

In any case, there was a well-entrenched political/economic cabal waiting in the wings to exploit the Charlottesville problem.  I suspect them of having founded BLM (for Blacks only), and then Antifa (for everybody else), based on their experience with blockbusting.  Certainly they were responsible for inflating the “alt-right” out of nothing, for they used the same CoIntelPro trick that we saw the FBI use, decades ago, to cripple the Feminist movement (research Andrea Dworkin, and her ultimate effect on the National Organization of Women).  Richard Spencer had called for a nation-wide “white nationalist” convention a few weeks before, and despite the free advertising the media gave him, actual videos of his convention show that it drew fewer than 125 attendees – and a visible number of those were obviously provocateurs. 

When it came to actually organizing the protest rally in Charlottesville, Spencer was pushed aside and an experienced organizer named Jason Stossel took over.  It’s most intriguing that Stossel became the manager of this whole campaign, seeing that until last year, when he dropped out of public sight, Stossel had been a big wheel in the Occupy movement.  ‘Twas he who applied for the permits, and – when the city council refused – brought in the ACLU to get him the permit on grounds of “freedom of speech” – much as they had 30 years earlier for a proposed Nazi rally in Skokie, Illinois, and actual rally in Chicago – which turned into a marvelous political comedy (long story).  On losing its case to the ACLU, the city govt. of Charlottesville agreed to grant the permit – which had promised all of 500 “alt-right” marchers – but grimly warned Stossel and his crew that the city could not guarantee their safety.  This is an odd notation, seeing how many police – local, county and state – the city began calling up for the targeted day. 

And now things become a bit strange.  Witnesses in Charlottesville, including a Black blogger, reported seeing at least 6 charter-buses come rolling into town and unload passengers toting duffelbags who were wearing yellow T-shirts with black letters on the front reading either “BLM” or “KKK” – passengers on the same buses.  That would have made 300 passengers total. And on getting off the buses, they scattered off to two different staging-grounds for the two different kinds of protesters.  There is no public record that the local police observed any of this, or kept track of where the protesters were staging, yet it’s hard to believe that they didn’t know.  Oddly enough, just a few days before this, notices began showing up on various social media reminding people of CoIntelPro activities the police had pulled off years before, and warning how to tell provocateurs among protest marches.

According to civilian residents in Charlottesville, the day of the torchlight parade, gangs of “Nazis” capered showily around the city, wearing military flak-jackets and big swastikas, carrying Nazi flags and “assault rifles”, yelling racist epithets and insults.  One bunch of them reportedly scampered into a Black neighborhood, until the neighbors went into their houses and came out with shotguns, whereupon the scary Nazis promptly made themselves scarce.  It would be hard to find more blatant provocation. 

That night the “alt-right” protesters held their long-planned torchlight parade in the park.  Apparently the police had talked to them earlier, because this time they showed up in plain casual clothes, with no flags or “assault rifles”, signs or swastikas – only tiki torches.  (Technical point:  if you’ve ever done any camping, picket-line marching or vigils after dark, you know that the tiki-torch is the worst open-flame lighting you can use if you’re going to be moving at all;  it’s fragile, poorly balanced, and likely to spill.)  Whoever decided to buy tiki-torches for the event was ill-experienced at torchlight parades, but – as the extensive videos of the march show – very experienced and skillful at managing picket-lines.  For one thing, the crowd was spread thinly into a circle around the park so as to make its numbers look bigger;  at first glance one might think there were a thousand marchers, but the police estimated not more than 200. 

For another, close observation of the march videos soon reveals three distinct kinds of protesters.  Most obvious are the picket-captains, no more than one-tenth of the crowd, the ones constantly scanning the area and leading the chants.  The second group, making up at least half the marchers, are notable for their demeanor;  they march with the quiet economy of athletes, or soldiers, or people who have walked on a lot of  picket-lines.  They keep a regular watch on the picket-captains, and they pick up almost instantly on changes in the chants – as if they had learned the chants beforehand, and recognized their lines.  Finally there’s the third group, maybe 100 of them, who act enthusiastic, loud, undisciplined and clueless.  These are the ones who break ranks to run up and shout at passers-by, then dash back into the march when any of those passers-by look threatening, wave their tiki-torches around sloppily, burst out with slogans of their own, and take awhile to hear and repeat the chants – and often repeat them wrong.

Pay special attention to two particular chants: “Blood and soil” and “The Jews shall not replace us”.  What do those slogans have to do with old statues of Confederate generals?  Not a thing.  Those slogans were used at Nazi Party political rallies in Germany, leading up to the 1933 elections – and never again afterward.  It would have taken a lot of detailed historical research to discover that, and precisely all those chants are good for is to brand their shouters as Nazis.  What possible political purpose would that serve?

Now, note how those obscure slogans are used by the marchers.  First the picket-captains fall silent, and the second group – call them the trained troops -- quickly follow suit, while the clueless third group keeps chanting until they hear the slogan change.  The picket-captains start chanting, clearly: “The Jews shall not replace us”.   Then, within a few seconds, the trained troops pick up the chant almost accurately, at most cutting it down to: “Jews shall not replace us”.  Eventually the clueless take up the new chant, but – clearly being ignorant of the original and its meaning – repeat what it sounds like to them, which is “You will not replace us”.

The conclusion is hard to avoid.  More than half of that supposedly White Supremacist crowd was made up of trained, experienced professionals – possibly the half of the crowd brought in on those buses who wore KKK T-shirts.  The real “alt-right” marchers, maybe 100 of them including Richard Spencer himself, were not running the show and almost certainly had no idea what was really going on. 

Now let’s look at the real rally in the park the next afternoon.  First, news-videos show the “alt-right” protesters gathering in a staging-area near Emancipation park, and the Antifa counter-protesters gathering in similar staging-area on the opposite side of the  park.  The “alt-rights” wear ordinary sports of casual clothes, and carry two kinds of shields: round wooden black-and-white shields, and full-body clear or white plastic constructions remarkably similar to police riot-shields.  Obviously somebody had warned the “alt-rights” what to expect from Antifa.  News-videos also show the Antifa troops carrying bags of suspiciously-heavy bottles and spray-cans actually being lit into homemade flame-throwers with 3’ flames. 

At the rally’s beginning, a collection of local clergy and their congregations tried to block the “alt-right’s” entry to the park with their bodies and picket-signs – which any experienced picket-line marcher could tell you was an extraordinarily stupid, even unconstitutional, move since the “alt-right” protesters already had legal permission to go into the park and hold their rally.  The “alt-right” response was interesting;  they formed a ragged flying wedge, with the full-body-shield carriers at the point, and charged into the counter-protesters, knocking them aside or to the ground.  Significantly, the “alt-rights” without shields, as they dashed through the opening, barely paused to swat the fallen counter-protesters with sticks or aimed quick kicks at them.  If you’ll look closely at the videos, you’ll notice that the shield-bearing “alt-rights”, while slamming the counter-protesters to the ground also positioned their shields over the fallen counter-protesters, enough to at least partially shield them from those passing kicks and swats. The one of the counter-protesters who took a noticeable injury – a young Black man with a cut on his scalp that bled profusely – was quite capable of standing up and complaining loudly for the cameras just a few seconds later.

The Antifas, being alerted to this activity – How?  By whom? – came running over to the entry to the park and filled in the gap with their own bodies and a a large wooden sign prepared in advance.  This allowed the local clergy-and-congregations counter-protesters time to get out of the way of the “alt-right” second wave.  It’s not surprising that the clergy-and-congregation crowd sincerely believe that the Antifas saved their lives, seeing what immediately followed.  The “alt-rights” and the Antifas joined in a merry brawl, and the news-videos show remarkable differences in their tactics.  The “alt-rights” made excellent use of those shields, particularly against the Antifas’ loaded bottles and spray-can flame-throwers.  If anything, the “alt-right” hand-to-hand techniques showed more characteristics of military training.  In any case, at the point when the flame-throwers came out, the local and state police put in an appearance and – finally! – separated the two groups.  The “alt-rights” accepted the police action stoically, as if they’d expected it, while the Antifas were indignant, as if still spoiling for a fight;  in fact, as they retreated behind the police lines, the Antifas continued to heave loaded bottles at the “alt-rights”, bottles which sometimes fell short and hit the police, who were not pleased. 

Shortly after this, a certified schizophrenic named Adam Fields got into his car, sped down the street beside the park, and rammed into a group of counter-protesters, killing one of them and injuring another 20.  Broadcast videos of the ramming show the car already in motion, so there’s no way to tell what happened before Fields started his run.  Some witnesses have claimed that the Antifas threw their loaded bottles at Fields’ car, after which he accelerated.  The police, who chased after Fields’ car an soon caught him, have kept very quiet about their evidence.

Also intriguing is the fact that a few minutes later a state-police helicopter, which had been flying low over the far end of the park, mysteriously crashed, killing the two troopers on board.  The police were not pleased by this incident either, and are likewise keeping their knowledge of it close to their vests. 

In fact, the behavior of the police, local and county and state, in this whole situation is puzzling.  Their usual method of dealing with conflicting crowds is to keep the groups as widely separated as possible, yet police present on both days complain that the Mayor of Charlottesville had told them to “stand down” until told otherwise.  News-videos confirm that the police stayed away from the confrontations until the serious weapons came out, and generally did a poor job of keeping the crowds separated.  More than one resident has noted that it’s almost as if the city government wanted the “alt-right” and the Antifas to brawl with each other.  Still other local witnesses have commented on how the Antifas came to the city supplied and spoiling for a fight, and how angry they were when the police stopped them. 

What few people have mentioned is the peculiar professionalism of the “alt-right” crowd – at least half of it, anyway -- compared to the behavior of the Antifas.  Just where did the “alt-right” marchers get that expertise, and how did such a twerp as Richard Spencer know how to get hold of them?  The simplest answer is that he didn’t; Jason Stossel, with his previous connections to Occupy, did.  

Around this time news of,, and reports of private armies for hire began showing up on the Internet.  The fact that such things exist is intriguing by itself.  The fact that they advertise their services for “protests and rallies” is disturbing. 

The political reasons for staging such events as we saw in Charlottesville are obvious, seeing what use all the anti-Trump politicians and media made of them.  I find it most interesting that the media’s chief source of outrage at Trump is that he dared to treat the “alt-right” and the Antifas as “morally equivalent”.  Their claims that “Tump is a Nazi” haven’t held water, and their claims that “Trump’s support-base is Nazis” haven’t held up either, but at least they’ve cost him some “popularity” points in the ratings.  Was that enough to be worth the cost – in unknown amounts of money and three innocent lives – of this piece of political theater?  And is it possible that nobody in the media recognized political theater when they saw it?  Has investigative reporting deteriorated that far?

--Leslie <;)))><                  

Thursday, August 24, 2017


On August 22nd, President Trump spoke at a Republican rally at the Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona.  Thousands of his supporters attended, and at least two thousand Antifa protesters showed up outside.  The city was ready for them;  shopkeepers in the area closed early and shut their security-gates, and a very large (undisclosed) number of police came early too – to keep the protesters well separated from the attendees.  Trump, as it turned out, didn’t have that much to say, and the rally itself soon grew boring.  The real show was outside.

Despite common stereotypes – yes, spread by the major news media – Arizona is not a “red state”;  it’s a weird state.  Among other things, it has no racial majority.  Its base population averages a little over 30% White, a little under 30% Indian (mostly Navaho), roughly 30% mixed White and Indian (which is exactly what a “Latino” is, and most of those are Old Spanish, not Mexican – long story), a little over 5% Black and a little under 5% Asian.  This demographic spread is not precisely reflected in the police department (Asians usually have much better-paying jobs, and Indians who go into police work prefer to take jobs as Tribal Police on the reservations), but there are a lot of non-White cops in Phoenix.  This means that Phoenix police can’t afford to be racist. 

Also, this is a “Constitutional carry” state, which means that any non-felon can carry a firearm within the state, concealed, without a permit.  Anybody you pass on the street could be armed, at any time, and everybody knows it;  this means, as Heinlein once noted, that Arizonians tend to be very polite in public.  People who are visibly impolite in public promptly brand themselves as foreigners at best, dangerous at worst – and easily identifiable to the police.

It should not surprise any Arizonian that the police stood calmly, shoulder to shoulder, blocking access roads and keeping the readily-identified Antifa protesters (BLM stayed away;  there were almost no Black faces among the protesters) safely away from the Convention Center and its attendees – no matter how the protesters stamped and waved and yelled – or that the attendees, Arizonians themselves, also remained calm and polite despite the provocation.  And the Antifas did do their best to provoke – but only verbally, until the sun went down.

Now remember, all of this was extensively videotaped by a lot of reporters from a lot of different local TV stations, and shown on those same stations that night.  They rivaled each other to show different angles, physical and political, of everything that happened – and what happened was remarkably revealing.

First, after Trump had left, and the crowds were quickly informed by loudspeaker from overhead circling helicopters, the attendees got up to leave – and that was when the Antifa crowd started its action.  The protesters who had simply come to wave signs and be noticed began to walk away, leaving the serious Antifa crowd – who surged toward the departing attendees, yelling insults at them.  The departing attendees very nicely refused to be provoked – one woman, being railed at by a man claiming to be “Hispanic”, archly asked: “Can you show us your legal immigration papers?  Can you show us your ID?” – before the police gently but firmly pushed the man away.  There was only one man, in an SUV, who responded rudely;  he drove past the Antifas, flipping them a Nazi salute out the window.  The Antifas took after him on foot, throwing those loaded bottles, but police on motorcycles went after him faster and chivvied him out of the neighborhood.

This left the Antifas no target except the police themselves, who were politely but firmly ordering the crowd to disperse.  The Antifas let loose with those loaded bottles, rocks, and hand-cannister pepper-spray, which the police handily deflected.  The Antifas, or course, refused to disperse, but threw more bottles, at al.  The police tossed a few tear-gas canisters, one of which a protester kicked back, whereupon the police kicked it aside and started shooting “pepper-balls” – small balls which break open on impact, scattering powdered tear-gas – much harder to pick up and throw back.  The police also formed arm-in-arm barriers fronted with plastic shields, and moved slowly but steadily forward, pushing the Antifa crowd down the streets and away from the Convention Center.  The Antifas retreated, but formed tight defensive knots from which to hurl their missiles and shoot their own pepper-sprays.  There are no reports that they used lighted hair-spray as small flame-throwers.  The police responded with smoke-grenades and flash-bangs, which spoiled the Antifas’ aim, and continued to push them down the street.  Eventually the Antifas gave up and departed.  Afterward, of course, the Antifas complained to the media about police “excesses” and “brutality”, but the videos didn’t back them up.

The two remarkable things about this incident are, first, how intelligently the police were deployed, and second, how the Antifas’ tactics mirror those which BLM and friends used in Ferguson, Missouri, three years ago.  Back then, for day after day, the local protesters marched in the streets complaining about the police, then gathered at a rally where local preachers spoke, then scattered around sundown to their homes or various churches.  That was the point when the BLM “activists” would peel off from the church crowd and run about the city’s streets, smashing windows, robbing stores, and setting fires – not caring how many of the stores were Black-owned.

The Antifas in Phoenix were thwarted in their hopes of copying BLM in Ferguson because the Phoenix shopkeepers closed and secured their stores, and the police did not abandon the area once Trump had left.  One can almost pity their disappointment.  The media certainly did.  Even the supposedly-impartial New York Times concentrated its attention on the poor protesters who were chased off with tear gas:  “Hundreds of people ran off, streaming into the surrounding streets, coughing and wiping tears from their eyes” after “Trump’s divisive speech”. 

At his speech Trump lambasted the media for lying and bias.  The media – outside of Phoenix, anyway – returned the favor.  The inhabitants of Arizona, who had seen the whole thing, were unimpressed by both of them, and particularly unimpressed with Antifa. 

--Leslie <;)))>< 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Sabotaging Medicine

First, a bit of information that every nurse, EMT, or first-year Biology student is supposed to know by heart: antibiotics must be taken for their full course.  Usually this is two weeks of three doses per day, sometimes it's weeks longer, and rarely it's only ten days.  This is because bacteria have several defensive strategies, just as the antibiotics have several attack strategies, and it can take a long time to deal with them all.  It's vitally important that the bacteria all be killed, because if even one survives, it will pass on the trick/immunity of its survival to its descendants.  This is how bacteria become immune/resistant to antibiotics, and particular antibiotics become useless.  The problem with giving antibiotics too much, too freely -- such as, to livestock -- is not that the livestock get too little, but that small amounts of the antibiotics get passed on to whoever consumes the milk or meat, and kill off only the weaker bacteria while leaving the stronger/resistant bacteria alive.  Under-dosing, by any means, with antibiotics creates bacteria resistant to those antibiotics.  That's what happened to the original form of penicillin.  All healthcare professionals are supposed to know this.  Keep that in mind.

Now my case was just the opposite;  when I was a little kid I got a severe case of pneumonia, bad enough to put me in the hospital, and the doctors shot me up with massive doses of penicillin.  The penicillin killed the pneumonia bacteria completely, but left me permanently allergic to penicillin.  Ever afterward, I had to rely on tetracycline to clear up all my bacterial infections.  That was all right;  tetracycline worked well with my personal chemistry.

The problem was that, over the past ten years or more, it's grown harder and harder to find doctors willing to prescribe tetracycline.  When I asked why, I got dozens of different excuses -- mostly revolving around a theme of "We have much better antibiotics these days".  A few personal experiences showed that those "much better antibiotics" cost about ten times as much as tetracycline, or even classic old penicillin.  Uhuh.

A little more research (gods bless the Internet!) revealed a few more interesting facts about both of those old standbys.  First, both of them were developed so long ago that their patents have run out;  this means that anybody can produce and sell them without paying royalties to the original -- or the last -- patent-holder, which makes them cheap.  Second, both antibiotics are easily found in nature -- penicillin derives from blue bread mold (I wrote a song about that), and tetracycline from an African beer-yeast;  it was only the refining process that could be patented.  The basic breeding-stocks can be readily found, collected, bred and refined -- just about anywhere, by anybody with the knowledge, which is likewise commonly found.  Third, both remain reliable killers of most kinds of bacteria, despite sloppy over-use by everyone from incompetent medics to corner-cutting factory-farm managers.  So, they're cheap, easily made and reliable: everything that big pharmaceutical companies hate.  No wonder doctors are discouraged from prescribing them.

However, I found that by insisting -- and maybe claiming "allergy" problems with the shiny-new expensive antibiotics -- I could still get prescriptions for tetracycline, which still worked just fine, thank you.

Then, about six years ago, I discovered at least one doctor at my local clinic using a new tactic.

I'd gone there with a pesky jaw infection, gave the usual explanation about my allergies, and asked for a "full course of tetracycline".  The doctor frowned, but wrote up a prescription and handed it to me, and started to head out of the exam room.  Fortunately I'm a very fast reader and have a habit of always reading my prescriptions as soon as I get them, so I caught the anomaly before the doctor could escape.

"Hey!" I snapped, "This is wrong.  This is enough for only one week;  a full course of tetracycline takes two weeks.  You'll have to change it."

He didn't like that, and he used the Argument From Authority: "Who's the doctor here?"

"Who's the doctor's daughter?" I countered, "And who's been taking tetracycline all my adult life?  It's never prescribed for less than two weeks."

He retreated to the second line of Argument From Authority: "I've could show you where it's ordered in the Official Publication."

I called his bluff: "Yes, please show me that exact page."  I didn't mention that I intended to xerox it as soon as I got my hands on it.

He shifted to: "It's not convenient.  If you don't like that prescription, give it back, and go see another doctor."  And he grabbed for the paper.

I snatched it out of his reach and replied: "You know perfectly well that it'll take me a week to get another appointment, so I'll make do with this for that long."  And I hurried out before he could come up with another excuse.  I also didn't mention that I wanted to have his signature on that prescription, in case he tried to squirm out of the clear malpractice.

First thing I did on my way home was stop at a copy-shop and get several xeroxes of that prescription.  Second thing I did was stop at a drug-store and get the original filled.  Third thing I did was take the best xerox copy, touch it up a little to make it look like a genuine original, take it to another pharmacy and get that one filled too, just in case (no, I'm not afraid that the DEA or somebody like them will come after me, these long years later, for illegally purchasing antibiotics).

Fourth thing I did was look up the phone numbers of the city health department, the county health department, the state health department, and finally the CDC in Washington, DC.  I spent the rest of the day phoning those various Expert Authorities, asking if anyone knew about this new -- and dangerous -- tetracycline policy, and who had ordered it.  All I was able to reach were various secretaries, none of whom had a clue about any policy of under-prescribing tetracycline, and somehow none of them were able to reach anybody who did know anything about it.  A few more days of phonecalling brought no different results, so eventually I phoned the biggest newspaper in town, told them my tale, and asked if they knew anybody who knew anything.  The reporter I talked to had an eager note in his voice when he promised he'd "look into it", so I guessed that he actually would do a bit of investigating.

He must have raised enough questions with enough of the right people, because the next time I needed to get a prescription for tetracycline, the doctor (a different one) had no trouble writing me a scrip for a full two-week course.  I thought that was the end of the problem.  Silly me!

A couple years later, troubled with another bacterial infection, I went to my local clinic here in Arizona, and tried to get a prescription for tetracycline again.  This time the doctor claimed that tetracycline had been "discontinued", supposedly because so many bacteria were now "resistant" to it, and nobody was even making it anymore.

Surprised by this, I made more phonecalls and Internet searches.  I found that tetracycline was really still being manufactured -- but only for "veterinary" use, and not much (just one company in the US) of that.  Nowadays, you can only find tetracycline -- and penicillin, for that matter -- sold for use in tropical fish tanks.  Other pet owners have advised me on how to calculate the dosage for other animals, but you have to mix the powder in distilled or boiled water yourself.  The interesting part is that these supposedly-useless old antibiotics still work on the majority of bacterial infections.

What I see happening here is a years-long deliberate campaign of sabotaging two old reliable -- and cheap -- antibiotics.  Now, who would have the ability to pull off a campaign this widespread and this effective?  And who would have motive?  Think.     
--Leslie <;)))><  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A REAL Federal Healthcare Bill

I don't usually write posts this close together, but the whole healthcare flap pretty well requires it.  Look, I've worked in the healthcare biz, have been a public healthcare recipient, and have friends in curious corners of the biz -- such as professional medical billers, coders, and clerks: the people who really deal with the nuts and bolts of healthcare funding.  I'm convinced that these are the folks that the federal govt. should be talking to.  But to start:

If Congress simply repealed the ACA/Obamacare bill, federal public healthcare would simply go back to what it was before.  That included Medicare, Medicaid, the Veterans' Administration and, if you please, a division of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  The latter two consist of supplying hospitals, clinics, doctors, nurses and treatment to those two groups of citizens -- for free, or close to it.  The previous two consist of funneling tax money through the state govts. into health-insurance companies, with certain written limitations.  We've all seen repeated scandals about the insufficiency and lousy quality of the VA system, and nobody has asked the Indian tribes what they think, but they've been using the money they're earning through their casinos to fund hospitals of their own.  As for Medicaid, it's full of so many traps and pitfalls that social workers warn their clients against it.  Medicare is, and was, just plain insufficient;  its coverage falls far short, and its paperwork is horrendous -- as any medical clerk can tell you.  And all four of them wasted money at an unbelievable rate.  Those are the shortcomings that the ACA was supposed to deal with -- and didn't.

I recall that while the ACA was being debated, there were protesters marching around waving signs that said "JUST FIX MEDICARE", and looking back, that made far more sense than anything the fed. govt. has proposed since.  Here's how I think the fix could be done.

First, Congress should go, hat in hand, and humbly beg the Government Accountancy Office for another copy of that report it sent to Congress years ago, which was ignored: the report on redundancy, waste, and downright corruption in the federal bureaucracy -- which listed some 1500 govt. departments/offices/bureaus/etc. which should be completely abolished in order to streamline govt. services, save money, and reduce chances of corruption.  This time don't ignore that list, but take the GAO's advice and abolish all those departments, every last one of them.  Take the money that frees up, and dedicate it to funding the improved federal healthcare system.

Then, having shown sufficient respect to the GAO, set it to the task of putting together a healthcare bill that will work.  Tell it to pay due attention to communications from citizens who know something about the problem.  Yes, set it parameters:

1)  An absolute minimum of regulations, especially the sort that create paperwork -- which requires clerks/coders/billers/etc. to deal with the paperwork, which creates excessive bureaucracy and costs.

2) Abolish the ACA and Medicaid outright, but expand Medicare to cover everything that both of those did -- and more: pre-existing conditions, experimental treatments, and all.

3)  Make Medicare pay directly to the healthcare providers, not go through insurance companies.  Medicare is supposed to be the poor folks' insurance, not provide a cash-cow for insurance companies.  Add penalties for any healthcare provider who thinks they're too good to accept direct Medicare payments.  And insist on no co-pays.

4)  Launch a thorough investigation into the pharmaceutical industry, the FDA, and collusion between them to keep prices of medicine high and discredit non-synthetic -- and cheap -- treatments which are more effective.  Apply punishment where it's due.

Then stand back and let the GAO do its work, at which it has shown itself to be quite competent.  Once the GAO comes up with a workable bill, written as much as possible in plain English rather than Legalese or Bureaucratese, pass it with NO amendments.  Don't let anyone hide any cute little bits of pork in the bill.  If repairs are needed later, pass amending bills separately -- and only after fully transparent argument and discussion in Congress.

Now that would produce a really efficient and workable federal healthcare bill, one that would allow people with enough $$ of their own to get their own private health insurance but would provide a basic healthcare safety-net for the rest of us.  It would also give Congress the time and space to concern itself with other serious matters of government.

--Leslie <;)))>< 

The Wave Begins To Crest

The next-to-next-to-latest news gem in the ongoing saga of Trump and the Russians is that Trump is supposed to have questioned some loose-lipped lawyers in the White House about pardons -- i.e. whether he could pardon unnamed people, or even himself.  As more than one news pundit has noted, this is a remarkable echo of Richard Nixon's actions during the Watergate scandal.  Coincidence, or a deliberate tease?

Along with this was another leak by a loose-lipped White House insider that Trump was checking to see if he could fire Mueller.  Oooh, shades of Watergate again!  Enough to keep the Liberals panting.  Mueller himself made it clear that he would not go down easily, nor be swayed by any such threats.  And of course Trump took absolutely no action in that direction.  And why should he?  He was only poking at Mueller to see if he'd fold or fight -- plus teasing the Democrats/Liberals again.  He really wants a guy with guts and integrity in charge of the investigation!  

The next-to-latest juicy bit is that Trump is now throwing Jeff Sessions under the bus, supposedly because Sessions recused himself on the Trump-and-the-Russians investigation when he should have stood fast.  Uhuh.  I'm sure that excuse will satisfy the foaming-reactionary segment of Trump's supporters, seeing that Sessions is the last of their crowd whom Trump appointed to high office -- and who were shot down for various reasons (leaving their jobs to more "moderate" -- or at least rational -- candidates, which I suspect was Trump's plan all along).

Ah, but the latest and greatest piece of news is that Jared Kushner is testifying to Congress -- in a closed (secret) session -- under oath, about all he knows of the Russian Caper.  I daresay they'll get quite an unexpected earful.  Just how much of it they'll be able to leak, in turn, to the media and therefore the public, is a good question.

Pause here for a couple flashbacks. 

Remember that when Trump had that fateful last meeting with Comey, that the then-Director of the FBI at first claimed that there was nobody else in the room.  Only later did anyone mention that there actually was a third person there, whom Comey had overlooked as a mere secretary -- but who turned out to be no less than the Director of the CIA.  How did Comey miss that?  Either Comey was incredibly inept at his job or CIA directors -- like their agents -- are very good at not being noticed.  Or both.    

Second flashback: recall that when Trump Jr. had that meeting with the Russian lawyer in Trump Tower 'way back last June, the number of people at that meeting was enough, as Rachel Maddows pointed out, to have filled the elevator.  There was Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, various other members of the presidential campaign, two or three Russians, and... on the Trump side of the table, an overlooked translator.  An overlooked and forgotten translator.  Uhuh.

So what is Kushner telling that congressional committee in closed session?  My bet is that he'll tell them about his connection with the CIA, and that just might lead into his father-in-law's CIA connection too.  And who/what do you think that "assistant" was that filed the paperwork for his security clearance?  Now think about the implications of that.  It means that the Russians went trawling the Trump campaign, and called up a school of sharks.  No wonder they only talked about the trade-sanctions in distant terms of international orphan adoptions, and Kushner arranged to leave the meeting early.  The Russians, when they exited, left a dossier on the table which was supposed to contain juicy dirt on Hillary, but the Trump team never used it -- most likely because that "overlooked translator" grabbed it first, trotted it over to the CIA office, and then pronounced it untrustworthy.  We do know that the hacked Democrat emails which showed up soon afterwards on Wikileaks didn't have anything really good on Hillary -- and really didn't effect the outcome of the election.

Now, how much of this will Mueller and company agree to reveal to the public?  Tell all, and they pretty well exonerate Trump, embarrass hell out of the Democrats, and discredit huge chunks of the media.  Tell too little, and of course they look as if they're covering up for Trump and the Russians.  Besides, the Democrats and the media will only yell for more blood and demand that the committee put Trump himself on the stand -- and he could reveal a helluva lot more.  The other shoe has got to drop sometime -- and the longer the wait, the bigger the impact.

I think (and I suspect Trump does too) that Mueller will do the honorable thing and tell all.  That means the political wave is cresting and about to break.  The whole Get Trump movement will be discredited, disintegrate into the embarrassed/quiet and the hysterical/loud. 

And you'll hear long laughter from the briar-patch.

--Leslie <;)))><