Bolton War(s)?

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It is unambiguous!  Any war ensuing due to the Bolton appointment can now be squarely  blamed on Zeldin and his fellow Republicans  who have endorsed Bolton for National Security Adviser.

The reations from different law makers were recently reported in the NY Times and they include this:

Representative Lee Zeldin of New York: “Ambassador John Bolton is ridiculously knowledgeable and will be a great national security adviser. The leaks coming out of the National Security Council will end, Obama administration holdovers will be gone, and the team, chemistry and work product will all be improved. Ambassador Bolton is a very underrated, amazing American, and I applaud this extraordinarily talented pick. I look forward to working closely with Ambassador Bolton on the many national security concerns facing our exceptional country.”

Unfortunately, this appointment did not require Senate confirmation. Unlike Bolton’s unsuccessful nomination for the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 2005.

Let me sum up why Bolton is so dangerous. Bolton has been preaching pre-emptive war for decades: war in Iraq, war against Iran, war in Syria, war against N. Korea.

John Bolton, who served as United States Ambassador to the United Nations under former President George W. Bush, had a recent Op-Ed in The Wall Street Journal calling for pre-emptive war against North Korea.  According to foreignpolicy.com/:

Trump shocked the world by agreeing to meet with Kim sometime before the end of May. Reports suggest that the timing of Trump’s move to replace McMaster with Bolton, as well as the president’s earlier decision to fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replace him with Mike Pompeo, is an effort to put key personnel aligned with his views in place leading into the summit. Yet if Bolton reflects, or influences, Trump’s position on North Korea, the entire endeavor is doomed. Indeed, Bolton reacted to news of the summit by dismissing any prospect for success and rooting for a quick failure. According to Bolton, the only value in having this “unproductive” leader-to-leader meeting now, instead of starting with a more deliberate set of working-level talks, is to “foreshorten the amount of time that we’re going to waste in negotiations that will never produce the result we want, which is Kim giving up his nuclear program.”

John Bolton has a history of skewing intellingence and is known to retaliate against people he disagrees with.  Here is a sample from talkingpointsmemo.com:

A biological warfare analyst wrote back that Bolton’s proposed comments overstated what U.S. intelligence agencies really knew about the matter, and, as routinely happens, suggested some small changes.

The analyst was summoned to Bolton’s office. “He got very red in the face, and shaking his finger at me, and explained to me that I was acting way beyond my position,” the analyst, Christian Westermann, recalled later during a Senate inquiry. Bolton then demanded that Westermann’s supervisor remove him permanently from the biological weapons portfolio, thundering that “he wasn’t going to be told what he could say by a mid-level munchkin.”

Jimmy Carter is warning of a looming nuclear war!

 

My Sources

http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/john-bolton-is-foolishly-calling-for-preemptive-war-against-north-korea/

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-legal-case-for-striking-north-korea-first-1519862374

https://www.theaustralian.com

http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/03/23/john-bolton-is-a-national-security-threat/

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/john-bolton-skewed-intelligence

https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/938108/North-Korea-news-World-War-3-Donald-Trump-Kim-Jong-un-USA-Jimmy-Carter-latest-video

 

 

 

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Posted in GOP, Iran, israel, Religion & tolerance, Trump, Uncategorized, war, Zeldin | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Zeldin: Trump Apologist Extraordinaire

Published as a Letter to the Editor in The East Hampton Star, 5/10/18

National Disgrace

East Hampton

May 7, 2018

To The Editor:

With his refusal to release his tax returns, taunting of Gold Star families, ridicule of P.O.W.s, derision of the press, attacks on the F.B.I., threats to jail political opponents, demonization of immigrants, defense of neo-Nazis, disrespect for women, and so much else, Donald Trump has demolished many of the standards of decency citizens of this country once expected from their president.

Now he is pushing America toward a full-fledged constitutional crisis. In desperation to hide whatever it is he is hiding, Trump is signaling that he’ll pardon witnesses who may implicate him in crimes, refusing to testify in the investigation into Russian election interference, and maneuvering to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the leadership of the Department of Justice. His lawyers are even suggesting that because he’s the president he cannot commit obstruction of justice, and that he doesn’t have to comply with any subpoenas issued.

If President Trump is allowed to flout the law, as he has already flouted propriety, the safeguards that have protected America from tyranny for over 230 years will be destroyed.

It is a national disgrace that the Republican-controlled Congress is abetting and even encouraging the president to defy the rule of law. But it is a local disgrace that Lee Zeldin, Trump apologist extraordinaire, is our representative in that Congress. With his obsequious defense of anything Trump does or says, Zeldin is mocking all the law-abiding citizens of his district.

In November, the First Congressional District needs to toss Zeldin out of office, and vote for a Democratic representative who will defend our democracy.

Sincerely,

CAROL DEISTLER

Posted in Civil Rights, DACA, Trump, Uncategorized, Zeldin | 1 Comment

Scrapping the Iran Nuclear Deal: War?

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Netanyahu in the Golan Heights looking out at Syria and warning Iran not to “test” Israel’s resolve, on Feb. 6, 2018. From his twitter feed.

 

Scrapping the Iran Nuclear Deal (or JCPOA as it is formally called) is likely to have all sorts of bad side effects.  I have collected some thoughts from friends and experts:

  1. Scrapping JCPOA undercuts the moderate wing within Iran and empowers the hardliners;
  2. Will likely lead to a return to nuclear enrichment and possibly a military program for nuclear weapons too — if only to strengthen their hand in negotiations
  3. The U.S. is seen to ally itself with Saudi Arabia and the UAE against Iran, Syria (and Iraq).
  4. Emboldens Saudi Arabia to step up its attacks on Yemen and Lebanon.
  5. Further increases the refugee flow.
  6. Emboldens Netanyahu to do whatever … (Israel has been flying sorties over Syria and attacking different targets in the vicinity of Damascus over the past week, killing Syrians and apparently some Iranian troops as well).
  7. We will have a realignment with Iran and the Syrians becoming even closer to Russia and possibly giving Russians the option of air bases on Iranian territory for the first time, while the US will become even more closely tied to Saudi Prince Mohamed Bin Salman whose  grip on his own country is almost certainly very fragile after he has violently burned all his bridges with those who have real power in the country.
  8. A subdued Iran would lead to an unfettered Saudi Arabia with an aggressive leader, Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi Arabia has been the most important exporter of radical Wahabi/Salafi fundamentalism around the world
  9. Then of course there is the question of how Trump’s performance is perceived by Kim Jong Un and how he feels he has to position himself in the upcoming negotiations. “If I were Kim, I would definitely not give up nuclear weapons — it really is the only significant card that he holds.”
  10. Sanctions won’t work any longer (e.g. when not everyone is on board), and it was the sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table.
  11. It looks very much like a strategy to have an excuse to bomb…or “regime change”, meaning war.

A bipartisan group of more than 100 US national security experts — including nearly 50 retired military officers and more than 30 former ambassadors –had urged President Donald Trump to remain in the Iran nuclear deal.

On the other side we have John Bolton, Trump’s new National Secrutiy Advisor, who repeatedly advocated regime change in Teheran.  Bolton’s hawkish views on Iran mirror those of Israel, Saudi Arabia and one of his key ideological partners, the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK).  It is also a victory for Netanyahu who has viewed Iran as the arch enemy for the past 25 years!  Recently Israel has been bombing missile stock piles in Syria, apparently from Iran and meant for Syria and for Hezbolah.  CBC news reports:

“The worry for Israel is that Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement could embolden Tehran to retaliate against Israel for a number of recent airstrikes in Syria, believed to be carried out by Israeli warplanes.

The most recent incident unfolded about an hour after Trump spoke in Washington, when explosions were reported near Damascus. Syrian state media reported that eight Iranians were among the 15 killed in the attack.

This  is yet another in a string of bombings that are thought to be part of the shadow war Israel is engaged in with the Iranians, who have built up their military muscle — including stockpiling surface-to-surface missiles — inside Syria. “

Our reperesentative, Lee Zeldin, is an unabashed cheer leader for Trump and John Bolton.  He also cheers on the Israeli war mongers and Netanyahu.  And by-the-way, that same John Bolton led a superPAC that employed Cambridge Analytica !  Yes, those are the people that got your FB info and sold it to the Trump campaign.  Sound like a swamp?

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

Medical Billing Obfuscation versus Vaccines

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I am one of those guys who never goes to see a doctor!  But in 2016 I became a grandfather.  The pediatrician of the newborn child warned the parents that everyone in contact with the child needed to have received a flu shot.  Dutifully I got my flu shot at a local clinic staffed by GPs.  The bill was $435.  As an MD myself, I tried to understand the billing which has dragged on for nearly 1.5 years and wondered whether I could draw some lessons for healthcare consumers in general.

$435: Provider bill for flu shot, Tetanus booster (which I apparently agreed to), and the visit per se (consisting of vital signs and a few questions about allergies and whether I had had adverse reactions to prior immunizations, etc.).

$128:  Medicare determines this amount is admissible and the doctors office can’t charge more

$48: Medicare pays this amount.

$80: The remaining amount that Medicare passes on to myself because of a yearly deductible

$45: collected by doctors office from my secondary insurance (Aetna)

Total collected by provider: $173 (37.5% of the bill). Total outstanding that provider will forgo:  $262 (62.5%)

Republicans currently in power would have a free-market style healthcare system.  Most people, including myself,  have no idea how much their medical care or procedure might cost.  Therefore we can not make educated decisions on what to buy, as you might do if you were buying a TV or a car.  I had heard that flu shots cost about $25 (as advertised in a local CVS store) and I assumed that would be my bill, roughly speaking.

In addition, Obamacare and Medicare/Medicaid are supposed to cover immunizations.  The thinking here is sound: if I have the flu and I have to travel to work using the New York subway or a bus, I will likely spread the virus to others.  So this becomes a public health problem.  This is how epidemics start. The problem has been around since the early days of small pox and polio vaccinations. Remember the massive programs of the 1950s when all school kids received free polio vaccines.  Have we simply forgotten?

Just out of curiosity I searched the web.  Here are the prices for flu shots at Costco:

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Here are the prices for flu shots at CVS:Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 1.49.01 PM

But there is a HUGE caveat.  Prices really differ from store to store! And some people who are unwilling to pay extra fees, charged at some stores, are simply turned away.

You should really read the blog entries and comments on the various sites, like this one for example!  Some people report having been charged up to $1000 for a vaccine.  Here is one comment from a patient who received a tetanus shot while in the hospital:

Charge for tetanus booster was $820. $215 for vaccine, $165 for administration of vaccine by the nurse, & $440 for the hospital pharmacy to take the vaccine out of their cupboard.

 

Containing an infectious epidemic is VERY expensive for the government (and for us as a society).  Just think of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa (2013-2016).

In addition to the loss of life, the outbreak had a number of significant economic impacts. In March 2015, the United Nations Development Group reported that due to a decrease in trade, closing of borders, flight cancellations, and drop in foreign investment and tourism activity fueled by stigma, the epidemic resulted in vast economic consequences both in the affected areas and throughout Africa. A September 2014 report in the Financial Times suggested that the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak could kill more people than the disease itself.

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Here is a visual of the cost of aid from outside the affected countries.  There was good reason for spending money: Ebola cases made it on to the US mainland!  Containing the virus in West Africa was paramount.  Infectious diseases don’t need passports and they don’t care about immigration policies such as those of Donald Trump.

Perhaps it is now clear that prevention of epidemics, including the flu, by vaccine programs is a lot cheaper than trying to contain an epidemic when it is in full swing.

Vaccine programs are the ultimate public health measure and have saved more lives historically than any other medical intervention. Vaccines should be totally free – it is a good investment.

 

Posted in ACA, Health Care, Medicaid, medicare, science, trumpcare, Uncategorized, Zeldin | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

ACA in Reverse!

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  • About 4 million working-age people have lost insurance coverage since 2016
  • The uninsured rates among lower-income adults rose from 20.9 percent in 2016 to 25.7 percent in March 2018

Check out the story here!

This is also interesting:  Survey shows reversal in ACA coverage gains.

  • Gains in health insurance coverage made under the Affordable Care Act are beginning to reverse, according to the seventh iteration of The Commonwealth Fund’s ACA Tracking Survey.
  • According to the survey, the rate of uninsured people between ages 19 to 64 has increased to 15.5% from 12.7% in 2016, with higher rates in states that have not expanded Medicaid. Uninsured rates are higher in southern states.
  • Commonwealth attributes its findings to the repeal of the individual mandate, the rise of non-ACA-compliant insurance policies and support for Medicaid work requirements.

 

  • Continued drops are expected. Commonwealth estimates that 5% of currently-insured adults plan on dropping their insurance coverage because of the individual mandate penalty repeal.
  • The Trump administration is promoting expanding short-term health plans and association health plans, which supporters say will allow more affordable options for currently uninsured Americans. Several industry organizations and associations have criticized the move, arguing the expansion of short-term plans would undermine consumer protections, lead to higher premiums in the ACA-compliant individual market and jeopardize market stability.
  • Additionally, the Trump administration’s plans for short-term expansion would primarily impact the middle class, as lower-income people are protected from premium increases through the use of federal subsidies, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation report.
  • Gallup found that the uninsured rate increased in all demographic groups last year except for senior citizens, who are eligible for Medicare.

 

If you are worried about your healthcare, it is time to vote and boot out Lee Zeldin in Nov. 2018

 

Posted in ACA, Health Care, Medicaid, medicare, trumpcare, Uncategorized, Zeldin | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Jobs? Where are they?

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From: John Tepper Marlin, Ph.D., President, Boissevain Books LLC,  Principal, CityEconomist
WHERE ARE THOSE GREAT NEW JOBS FOR LONG ISLAND THAT TRUMP AND ZELDIN PROMISED

These figures were released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They are for Nassau and Suffolk Counties. March 2018 compared with March 2017 (the numbers are not seasonally adjusted, so you have to use year-over-year monthly comparisons).

Unemployment
4.2%
4.6%
Up .4 of a percentage point
Payroll Jobs
1,482,557
1,464,134
Down 18,423

YOU CAN BE SURE IF THE NUMBERS WERE GOOD, ZELDIN WOULD BE TRUMPETING THEM.  BUT THEY ARE NOT GOOD.


Long Island’s unemployment rate rose to 5.1 percent in February, from 4.8 percent in February 2017, state data released Tuesday show. It was the fifth consecutive year-over-year increase since October.

The rate rose in 10 months of 2017 and has been steadily moving away from what is considered full employment, which is 4 percent or below.

The number of employed residents fell by 9,500 last month, compared with a year earlier, to 1.39 million, the lowest for the month since 2015. The number of unemployed Long Islanders rose by 3,300 to 74,300, the Labor Department said. That was the highest for the month since 2015.

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Southampton has the worst jobless rates for the entire island!

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Trickle down economics = voodoo economics = fool me once, fool me twice…
Posted in economics, economy, Employment, jobs, Labor, long island, Trump, Uncategorized, Zeldin | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

FDR should have done more about the Holocaust

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Children looking at Statue of Liberty, June 4, 1939; on view at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)
Letters to the Editor Opinion, WaPo

The April 22 Arts & Style article “Reconsidering FDR on refugees” was a useful review of the American reaction to the Holocaust. I used to look up to Franklin D. Roosevelt as a president who had to deal with economic disaster and a world war and managed to lead effectively.

Unfortunately, the ruthless political calculations required of him were very harmful to the Jewish victims of the evil of the Holocaust. The War Refugee Board created in 1944 was a paltry response that was too late, a mistake that cost too many lives. The fear of allowing people into the United States should not override humanitarian acts. I think the purpose of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has been furthered by this exhibit. Elie Wiesel commented that the museum doesn’t provide answers; it raises questions. The question remains regarding FDR: Why didn’t he do more?

Steven A. Ludsin, East Hampton, N.Y.
Posted in immigration/deportation, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment