History can Repeat Itself

Letter published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 30, 2018, by Steve Ludsin (East Hampton, NY):

History can repeat itself

Dispatch From Squirrel Hill: Dread in a Peaceful Place” by David M. Shribman (Oct. 27) was moving and eloquent. The sadness of the murders of 11 innocent victims killed just for being Jewish evokes the horrors of the Holocaust.

I visited Pittsburgh many years ago, and I sensed a feeling of community. I spent most of my life in the New York metropolitan area, so being Jewish doesn’t make you feel like an outsider or threatened. Those days are over. I imagined myself back in Nazi Germany in the ‘30s while Hitler’s words bellowed in the air.

The tragedy is that history can repeat itself. We cannot be deaf, dumb and blind to the rise of hateful words and, even worse, hateful deeds. I am reminded of Elie Wiesel’s closing words at the first meeting of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust in February 1979. He said, “I don’t know what we accomplished today, but we all said oy. Let’s turn oy into deeds to protect the Jewish community. We have no choice.”

STEVEN A. LUDSIN
East Hampton, N.Y.

The writer was a member of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust and the first U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, which built the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

 

 

Yesterday, the leaders of Bend the Arc’s Pittsburgh Moral Minyan and their allies literally interrupted Trump’s visit.

“Trump’s motorcade forced to turn around after thousands of protesters
flood Pittsburgh streets” — RawStory

“Donald Trump, Meet America’s Jews.
They Are Protesting Your Hate.” — Forward

pittsburghmarch.jpg

Pittsburgh March (Oct. 31st 2018)

 

Fight White Nationalism here TODAY:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1932358347068816/

Posted in bigotry, israel, Religion & tolerance, Trump, Uncategorized, Zeldin | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trick or Treat with this Sign:

pumpkin?

I am canvassing this evening AND handing out this  s-c-ar-y  sign(Courtesy of Nigel Noble)

Let’s have some fun.

 

 

Posted in Trump, Uncategorized, Zeldin | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Congressional Debate: Perry Gershon and Lee Zeldin

About 500 people attended a real live debate Oct. 30th, at the high school in Hampton Bays.  This was the only debate in the Southfork area of Congressional District NY CD-1.

Watch the entire debate (1:34 min) here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_-PCF4ckso

or here on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ResistandReplace/

Screen Shot 2018-10-30 at 11.21.32 AM.png

 

 

 

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Depressing Half-hour Meeting with Lee Zeldin

Ken Dorph 7:05pm Oct 27
I wrote this letter to a Long Island newspaper in reaction to my depressing half-hour meeting with our local Congressman, Lee Zeldin, to discuss the Middle East.
Let’s hope it gets published. Feel free to read and share.

Lee Zeldin, the Middle East, and Me

I knew before meeting Congressman Zeldin that our views would differ. He avidly supports President Trump’s bullying approach to foreign policy. But I did not expect to get massively depressed afterwards.

Received wisdom is that Long Island voters don’t give a whit about foreign policy. This is a shame, given that our disastrous overseas adventures have sucked our economy dry and ruined our global standing.

I’ve lived in the Middle East for a good portion of my life, from Morocco to Syria. I was invited to share my views with Congressman Zeldin based on my unusual experience. I was told that Zeldin wanted me to send detailed questions beforehand. I painstakingly constructed seven questions of concern, from the war in Yemen to the plight of the Palestinians. In each case, I shared my own experience on the ground.

When we were settled in Zeldin’s office, I asked if we should start with the prepared questions that he’d requested. Puzzled, he looked at his assistant. He hadn’t seen them. Fortunately, I had a copy with me.

I am now working on my third project in Iraq since the invasion. Zeldin puts himself forth as a veteran of the Iraqi war. Someone told me that they thought he had been a parachutist. I was curious.

So I told him about my various projects in Iraq – always out there with the Iraqis, sleeves rolled up. I am now on working a project in Mosul, trying to entice small businesses back amid the ruins.

I asked about his experience in Iraq. He was cagey, evasive. I later pressed him a second time and again, no details. I later learned from a fellow politician that Zeldin’s war experience consisted of a few weeks in Iraq as a JAG officer working in some back office with Americans, no contact with the Iraqis. Our perspectives could not have been more different.

I am also working on a project with the woebegone Yemenis. The Saudi-American destruction of that country is at the forefront of my mind. So I asked why we are taking sides in a tribal war in Yemen that’s killing so many civilians.

“There is a plan of the Iranians of a growing regional influence that is a threat for US Interests, whether it’s the US itself or Israel, in the region.”

Yemen is really far from Israel, so that was a puzzling response. In the Middle East, it is widely believed that US foreign policy is concocted in Israel. His response seemed to affirm that.

I asked why he and the President are so rabidly anti-Iran and pro-Saudi. I’ve lived in Saudi Arabia, the country that supplied most of the perpetrators of 9/11. I personally like many individual Saudis but their government is less democratic and less free than Iran. Why were they the good guys?

A muddled answer for that one, except that we’re ‘defending American interests.’ I took this to mean cheap gas and weapons sales. It’s hard to defend Saudi Arabia as a beacon of human rights, and this before Khashoggi’s brutal murder and dismemberment.

Ok, but then how do we get back to peace in Yemen? I didn’t understand how selling all these arms to the Saudis was going to help. Shouldn’t we stop supplying the weapons and logistical support that are killing so many civilians, including children?

His response: “Not unless there’s, not unless … I’m not completely … No one’s read members of Congress like myself completely what strategically the big picture is with that deal. So I’m left to speculate. I don’t believe that that is a solely Yemen play, what the President agreed to in Saudi Arabia. That there is more of a regional play there that’s going on right now. Yemen is a piece of it. If everything got narrowed down to that we’re giving weapons in order to fight in Yemen, it would be a different analysis of what I am speculating to be part of the picture, not all of it.”

I then questioned our foreign aid to Egypt, almost all of it military in a country where over two thirds of the people have no bank account. Since Camp David, Egypt has been the second largest recipient of our funds after Israel. Together the two have received almost half of all US foreign aid for decades. Egypt is a dictatorship arising from a coup. According to US law (Section 508) we must cut aid to countries whose democratic leaders are overturned by a military coup. I personally know Egyptians who have been arrested or have fled for speaking their minds.

Why didn’t we question what’s going on in Egypt?

Long silence, then: “I don’t know exactly what the play is as far as leveraging the money [to Egypt].” Zeldin changed the subject to cutting foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority, whose aid has been cut to zero. Egypt still gets billions. But they are the good guys. Like the Saudis.

Tunisia is the Great Hope for democracy in the Arab world, which we Americans purport to care about. Yet the day before our chat, the US Government had cut the already paltry aid to Tunisia from US$120 to US$70 million. Meanwhile Israel, less than half Tunisia’s size, gets several billion in aid a year, receiving each day more than Tunisia’s yearly package. Why in the world would we cut back such critical aid?

“I don’t know, how much did we cut?”

Almost half. This happened yesterday. You voted to support the cut, as I understand.

“I have to dig into that one deeper.”

Well, I never heard back on that, but I didn’t expect to.

We ended on the most delicate of issues, Israel and the Palestinians. I said I thought it was fairly simple: One state or two. Most Americans, including most American Jews, oppose Israel’s colonizing of the occupied territories. The massive settling of the West Bank by Israeli Jews was clearly ending the possibility of two separate states. A single state that absorbed the Palestinian lands, if democratic, would mean the end of the Jewish state, since the majority would be non-Jewish. So how could he support the settlements if he supported two states, as he claimed? Zeldin started to talk about the occupied territories, then corrected himself and said, “the disputed territories.” I’d heard about this trick of right-wing Israelis to falsify the narrative. I corrected him, a bit heated now: I pointed out that since the territories were taken in war, they were occupied, as per the Geneva Convention, to which the US is a signatory. Colonizing occupied territories is illegal. I tried to get him to commit to opposing the settlement project, but he refused.

By this time we realized we had no common ground, and it was time to go. I shook his hand but was deeply saddened to think that this man represented me on the world stage. No wonder Americans are so unpopular.

I went home and went to bed for three hours with the blanket over my head. If this is the best we have to offer, there is little hope for anything but more needless confrontation and endless war.

We are at a crossroads. Lee Zeldin personifies the wrecking ball diplomacy of Sheldon Adelson, John Bolton, and Donald Trump: Tear up treaties negotiated by people of good faith, make enemies of old friends (Canada!), and bully nations big and small. This election we can choose a grown-up who can play well with others. I have met Perry Gershon several times and the difference cannot be more dramatic. Folks like Zeldin gave us the disaster of the Iraq war, trillions of our good money down the drain, and whole nations laid waste. This same clique now wants to do battle with Iran, an even more terrifying prospect. More than half our discretionary budget goes to the Pentagon and our foreign wars, leaving us with a failing national infrastructure and a growing national debt.

Great nations die by battling on all fronts while letting their heartlands wither. Let us not follow that path.

 

 

Posted in israel, perry gershon, Trump, Uncategorized, war, Zeldin | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Trump’s Use of ‘Nationalist’

LTE in the New York Times from my neighbor (!)

A reader says the president is “rolling out the dog whistles.”  Oct. 25, 2018

 

CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

To the Editor:

“‘You Know What I Am? I’m a Nationalist’” (news article, Oct. 24) was sobering. We see that President Trump has enthusiastically embraced words and ideas such as the slogan “America First,” which was used by the isolationists and Nazi sympathizers before World War II, to describe his foreign policy.

He repeatedly calls some journalists the “enemy of the people” despite the association with Stalin’s mass murders.

We need to counterpunch as aggressively as this pugilistic president does. He is coddling up to dictators today and reviving the tactics of dictators from the past. He is pitting people against one another and rolling out the dog whistles.

The time has passed for us to shrug our shoulders and just dismiss the rhetoric as drumming up his base. We must pay heed.

Steven A. Ludsin, East Hampton, NY

 

 

…and Lee Zeldin? Complicit.  So sad.  David Posnett MD

Posted in Fake News, first amendment, GOP, Religion & tolerance, Trump, Uncategorized, Zeldin | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Trickle Down Hate Crimes

Devastatingly awful. The rise of hate crimes & Trump’s vitriol are not independent or coincidental. It’s not the media, it starts in the oval office and trickles down.

Trump

(and his minions)

VITRIOL
HATE

direct INSTRUCTIONS for violence

5bd347222100005204c98c5c

 

And the NRA / Trump / Zeldin, they are promoting more guns.  Guns for the nutcases, guns in schools and guns in the churches and synagogues.

 

Common Defense

 

 

Barbara —

 

The news coming out of Pittsburgh this morning is unspeakably tragic. A Synagogue — a place of worship, peace, and safety — invaded. 8 dead. Dozens wounded. All at the hands of a hate-fueled anti-Semite with a powerful military-style weapon.

The President is talking about how we need more weapons of war in our streets and places of worship. The NRA is silent. GOP politicians are “deeply troubled” yet again. But they don’t act. They won’t act. Even though it’s right-wing bigots committing the mass-violence, they’re fully bought-and-paid-for by the NRA and the giant corporations it represents. That’s the truth.

As veterans, we stand in solidarity with all who face these acts of violence — violence that Donald Trump has encouraged and fueled through his extremist rhetoric since day 1. And we’re devoting every resource available to make sure Congress does the right thing this time and puts an end to this terrorism in our communities.

I need you to make a pledge: can you promise to either vote for, donate to, or volunteer with a candidate who OPPOSES the NRA’s agenda of using bigotry and division to fuel corporate profits?

Oppose the NRA »

For years, the NRA has fed violent, paranoid rhetoric to their massive audience. And since his campaign begun, Donald Trump has done the same. They share apocalyptic, terrorizing propaganda videos, openly threatening peaceful protesters with menacing violence. They spew hateful rhetoric about Muslims and people of color in our neighborhoods. And Congress is fine with this as long as the campaign contributions keep flowing.

We have to break that cycle, and call out the NRA for what they really are: propagandists who will use racism and bigotry to stir up fear and hate, and watch mass-shootings from the sidelines as long as it means they can sell more guns and maintain control over Congress.

Join us today in pledging to support as many candidates as possible who will fight for peaceful and secure communities.

Our hearts ache for the people of Pittsburgh, the Jewish community, and for all who’ve been subjected to such terrorism. I know we can’t undo what happened today, but we can fight tooth and nail and hopefully reduce the chances of it ever happening again.

In solidarity, 

Alexander McCoy
U.S. Marine Corps veteran
Common Defense

 

Stop the madness and

VOTE PERRY GERSHON

on Nov 6th

Posted in bigotry, Civil Rights, Congress, GOP, Guns, NRA, perry gershon, Religion & tolerance, Trump, Uncategorized, Zeldin | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drug Prices: How Pharma Games the System

We have all seen the TV ads for Humira…

What they don’t show is the cost.  For instance there are a number of different TNFalpha blockers, including Humira (adalimumab) and Embrel (etanercept). The following site lists their comparable pricing: https://www.goodrx.com/tnf-blockers

These drugs are used for autoimmune disorders like Rheumatoid Arthritis (32%), Psoriasis (30%), Ulcerative Colitis (19%), Crohn’s Disease (19%).  These are chronic diseases that can not be “cured”.  In stead they are rendered manageable by medication that may have to be taken life long.

Why are these drugs so expensive?  Priti Krishtel explains:

A Humira Prescription Costs $38,000 A Year Because Our Patent System Is Being Abused

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Sue Lee, 76, has plaque psoriasis, an incurable, chronic skin condition that causes itchy, painful sores. To give her some relief, Lee’s doctor prescribed Humira, a patent-protected drug with no generic option. In 2012, the drug cost about $19,000 a year. Today, it costs more than $38,000 a year. Even with Medicare, Lee, who retired last year and lives in Kentucky, would have to drain the little savings she has in order to afford the drug.

Retirement should be the peaceful denouement of a lifetime of work. Instead, millions of seniors are being forced to draw down on their retirement savings or forgo necessities like food and rent to pay for arbitrarily and mercilessly high-priced prescription drugs. Some skip doses to make ends meet or, like Lee, simply suffer in silence. As the proportion of seniors to the total population grows, the problem is only going to get worse.

Not surprisingly, older Americans are hit especially hard by high drug prices. People ages 65 and older use far more prescription drugs than younger Americans; at any given time, older Americans are taking an average of 4.5 different prescriptions. Seniors are also three times more likely than those in their 20s to need costly specialty drugs, like Humira, that treat relatively uncommon conditions and have few, if any, generic alternatives. Making matters worse, over the last decade drugs widely used by older Americans have tripled in price on average, far exceeding the rate of inflation.

With 1 in 5 Americans expected to be 65 or older by 2030, the country is staring down the barrel of a massive health care and fiscal crisis.

There are a lot of reasons why drug prices in the U.S. are so high. They aren’t regulated, so pharma companies can and do set prices as high as they want. And Medicare, the largest purchaser of drugs, is forbidden from negotiating those prices down. But another important and often overlooked factor is the ongoing manipulation of our patent system.

An analysis released last month by my organization, the Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge, shows that there have been an astonishing 247 patents filed on Humira, nearly half of them in just the last four years. Richard Gonzalez, CEO of the drug’s maker, AbbVie, has said that “any company seeking to market a biosimilar version of Humira will have to contend with this extensive patent estate, which AbbVie intends to enforce vigorously.” In other words, the company has created such a morass of patents around Humira as to deter generic competition in the U.S. for years to come.

It’s a deliberate strategy designed to prolong the company’s monopoly, and AbbVie isn’t alone in using it. In a separate report released by I-MAK in August, we found there are an average of 125 patent applications filed and 71 patents granted for each of the 12 highest-grossing drugs in America. In many cases, these “add-on” patents were for minor or obvious modifications — a different dosage form, for example — that don’t meet the standard for breakthrough invention that the patent system was designed to reward. Still, they have often succeeded in prolonging exclusivity well beyond the 20 years of protection intended under U.S. law. For example, the U.S. patent on Humira expired in 2016, but add-on patents and reported settlements made with generic suppliers will keep generic alternatives out of reach of patients until at least 2023.

For Lee in Kentucky, the high cost of Humira in the U.S. means her psoriasis hasn’t been treated in nearly a year. When the sores get really bad, she puts ice packs on her body, sits at her desk and fights back tears.

With 1 in 5 Americans expected to be 65 or older by 2030, the country is staring down the barrel of a massive health care and fiscal crisis. Unless something is done to stop frivolous patents from delaying generic entry, Medicare and the millions of seniors who rely on it will experience unprecedented strain.

Overpatenting is a problem that needs to be brought into full public view, starting with our representatives in Congress holding hearings so that patent abuse can be exposed. Right now, America’s patent system is far more sympathetic to claims of “originality” than those of other countries, and less likely to consider public health impact. It will ultimately take a motivated and mobilized citizenry to enact the necessary reforms to stop this root cause of high drug prices.

If we don’t act now, every one of us will one day face the nightmare of not being able to afford and access the medicines we need. For the millions of Americans like Lee who are in desperate need of relief, that nightmare is right now.

Priti Krishtel is the co-founder and co-executive director of I-MAK.org, a global nonprofit organization of attorneys, scientists and health experts who have worked to lower drug prices for 15 years.

 

Posted in Health Care, Medicaid, medicare, Pre-existing Conditions, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment