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The Real Figure for Military Spending by the US is 66.3% of the Discretionary Federal Budget

In case you were wondering how Europeans have health care, great trains and roads and great schools...

 

Economist Dean Baker, in an article published at NationofChange, complains that the New York Times never explains the federal budget in a way that Americans can comprehend, because it publishes big numbers, like the $17.3 billion budgeted to be spent on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or the $40 billion budgeted to be spent on foreign aid this year, but never notes that neither of those "big" numbers amounts to even 1% of the 2017 federal budget. His critique is correct as far as it goes, but like all too many liberal analysts, Baker studiously fails to note a few really BIG numbers in the budget that also don't get mentioned by the Times and the rest of the corporate media, either as a number or as a percentage.

This is a big failing of the liberal left: not calling out the Hannibal's war elephant in the room.

Military spending, even when it does get reported, is often only referred to in terms of the increase being proposed, without the total budget outlay ever being provided. It is reported (including in the Times!) wrong in so many ways. For example, while the actual Pentagon budget outlay is sometimes mentioned, the amount of the interest on the debt that is for prior military spending that was financed through borrowing is not included. Nor is the spending on veterans' health care, which is surely part of military spending. Nor is the share of the Energy Department budget that is for nuclear weapons included. According to the National Priorities Project, the 2015 budget for the military was $598 billion, which represented 54% of all federal discretionary spending. That number didn't include over $100 billion in veterans spending and $26 billion for nuclear weapons, bringing the total to about $730 billion. 2015 total discretionary spending was $1.1 trillion,so including nuke spending and veterans spending, spending on the military represented 63% of the total. In other words two-thirds of your tax bill!

XX(National Priorities Project chart)
 

Trump in No Hurry to Staff ‘Enemy of the People’ Offices

Hostility towards media or just administrative chaos?:

 

(This article was written on assignment for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) and was published on March 21 at www.FAIR.org
 

The New York Times on March 12 reported that the Trump administration, for a variety of reasons, was filling the offices of administrative agencies at a glacial pace. From the Department of Agriculture to the Weather Service, over 2,000 mid-level political-appointee positions were still unfilled; the Times called it “the slowest transition in decades.”

One place that slowness has showed up clearly is in the staffing of what are variously called Public Affairs offices, Newsrooms or Media Offices of these government departments and agencies—the very offices that reporters in both Washington bureaus and in newsrooms around the country depend on to get routine information about what these departments and agencies are doing, or, in the case of more investigative assignments, to ask basic questions and set up interviews with key personnel...

Image of the 'Media Contacts' page of the Trump Administration Commerce Department on March 22 over two months into Trump's presidencyImage of the 'Media Contacts' page of the Trump Administration Commerce Department on March 22 over two months into Trump's presidency
 

For the rest of this article, please go to: FAIR.org

Don the Con's Health Care Pushes Serious Problems Aside

Ryancare wreckage

 

The desperate scramble of President Trump and Republican leaders in Congress to salvage a cure for their ailing health care proposal to replace Obamacare completely ignores correcting a deadly problem plaguing the very heart of America’s health care system.

The AHCA – the GOP’s American Health Care Act – does nothing to address HAI.

This is the deadly problem that causes nearly 100,000 deaths per year across America.

HAI is healthcare-associated infections. These are infections people get while in the hospital receiving treatment.

CDC data released last year stated that HAI impacts over 700,000 annually. “When people go to the hospital, they should not contract a preventable healthcare associated infection,” noted a CDC publication.
Protestor in Philadelphia opposed to GOP assaults on health care. LBW PhotoProtestor in Philadelphia opposed to GOP assaults on health care. LBW Photo
 

But Americans do contract serious infections while hospitalized and the heavily criticized AHCA, pushed by Trump and House Majority Leader Paul Ryan, omits addressing the HAI scourge that strikes Americans at alarming rates.

Incredibly with all the GOP squeals about soaring health insurance costs, the unaddressed HAI drains an estimated $20-billion in healthcare costs annually, according to the federal Center for Disease Control.

The rancor swirling around health care reform across America overshadows the scandalous inability of this nation’s political and business leaders to address serious problems infecting core health care system pillars – problems that are generally preventable and problems that if eliminated would save billions of dollars.

There Won't Be Another Jimmy Breslin, But We Need More Like Him in the Mainstream Media

It's not that good journalists aren't out there, they just don't get published

 

There only was and only will be one Jimmy Breslin, and after his death last Sunday at 88, he is no more.

Funny, cranky and sometimes boorish, Breslin was a working class journalist who cared about the working class and the under and un-employed class and who, despite achieving wealth and pinnacles of journalistic success, from a Pulitzer and a Polk award to movie options and best-selling novels, never forgot his roots.

How many journalists have your read in a major newspaper or magazine, or heard bloviating on the air, young or old, who've had the courage and fortitude to do as Breslin did in his old age: finding a refrigerator box and setting himself up in the dead of winter on a heating grate on a New York City sidewalk alongside a bunch of other homeless people so he could write with real understanding about how they live? That was some column, and provided a jolting wake-up to New Yorkers who walk by those boxes every day, usually without a thought to who's huddled inside them.

How many have had the courage to call out the likes of Hillary Clinton when she was a carpetbagger running for Senate from New York State, for having "blood on her hands" as she waved to the crowds?

How many have shared his outrage at learning how much money the Standard Oil Company paid to have a marketing company develop a new name and logo for the company, changing Esso to Exxon (that was one of the funniest of his columns I ever read, full of extraneous Xs whose value he placed at something like a million dollars per keystroke after learning what Exxon had paid a naming firm for its new corporate logo).

I'm pretty sure the answer to all these questions is the same: none.

Breslin did all that and much, much more.

New York columnist Jimmy Breslin, 1930-2017New York columnist Jimmy Breslin, 1930-2017
 

But the problem isn't, as most obit writers have been saying, that there aren't journalists out there who have Breslin's sensibility and sensitivity to wrongdoing, if not perhaps his unique gift for getting close to people who don't normally open up to a reporter. There are. It isn't that there aren't journalists out there who are actually writing the kinds of incisive and eye-opening pieces that Breslin spent his life writing. There are. It isn't even that there aren't journalists with a similar literary talent. There are.

The problem is that there are no longer any newspapers whose publishers and senior editors are willing to run such gritty Establishment-demolishing and icon-attacking pieces in their columns and on their opinion pages.

Years ago, newspapers ran columns by the likes of Breslin, Anthony Lewis, Pete Hamill, Mike Royko, Molly Ivens and Joe Bageant -- columns that could leave the reader fuming, racing for pen and paper or typewriter to knock off an angry letter to the paper or to a Congressperson, columns that would have you running to a friend or a spouse to read it aloud to them, columns that simply made you think about something or some people you hadn't though of before. No more. It's the rare column in a mainstream news outlet these days that can elicit outrage, make the blood boil, or even bring a tear to the eye.

Social Security Starves Us Slowly as the GOP Tries to Kill Us by Gutting Health Care

The Gov. Lamm approach

 

I currently receive a Social Security benefit check of $985 a month, which is a spousal benefit I qualified for, one of the last to be able to make use of the so-called file-and-suspend option for married people reaching age 66 that the Obama Administration and Congress agreed to do away with two years ago, in one of many small cuts being applied to the Social Security program.

This year that benefit, like the benefit checks of all 60 million people (one in five of all Americans) on Social Security, rose by a scant 0.3 percent, taking my check from $983 a month last year to its present level -- a rise of $2.00 a month (I was actually screwed out of a dollar because of crooked rounding!).

Now we learn that the Federal Reserve is raising the benchmark interest rate a notch because inflation is actually running at close to 2 percent -- the “target” of the Federal Reserve Bank’s policy makers for achieving what they call a “health economy.”

Now don’t tell me that inflation was running at 0.3 percent last year and that it’s now 2.0% three months later. We didn’t just have a huge 1.7% jump in prices of everything over the past three months.

The truth: This is a screw job on the elderly and the disabled, pure and simple.
XX

The claim that our costs of living didn’t really change over the course of 2016 was a fraud. Everyone knows it. Food prices rose dramatically last year. So did fuel costs, for both heating and driving. Transportation costs rose, and so did car prices. Rents went up, and so did interest rates on borrowing for a home or a home equity loan. And health care costs -- a big one for the Social Security set -- rose 6.5%, which is what they’re expected to rise by this year too. And do you know what percent of their income the elderly spend on healthcare? It’s 20% across the board. Since it’s safe to say that nothing the elderly (or anyone else) has had to buy in 2016 got any cheaper, clearly our cost of living rose a damn sight more than the measly joke of an increase of 0.3 percent that we saw (or didn’t notice) in our benefit checks!

Clearly Congress should be revisiting this year’s cost-of-living adjustment and making it match what the Fed says inflation has really been. It’s wrong for the government to be keeping a double set of books on something like this, yet that is exactly what they’re doing! (The Fed uses the BLS's so-called Core-CPI Index, which has been running at 1-2 percent a year for several years, while the Social Security Administration, by act of Congress, uses the so-called CPI-W Index, which has been under-reporting inflation for years and in the past couple of years, led to a zero increase in Social Security benefits for 2016 and a next-to-nothing 0.3 percent benefit increase for this year.)

But I’m not holding my breath for any action on that front. This is the Congress that at this moment is attempting to pass a bill killing the so-called Affordable Care Act and replacing it with a Republican measure that besides throwing 24 million people (many of them elderly) off their ACA-subsidized health insurance plans, will increase the cost of supplemental health insurance (the insurance that covers doctors and drugs, as Medicare only covers hospital care) by as much as -- hang on to your seats -- 750 percent!

It’s almost like the Republican party took to heart the idea of a wretched former Democratic Governor of Colorado, Richard Lamm, who famously said back in 1984, at the tender age of 48, in a discussion on the rising cost of health care with respect to the elderly who have the gall to make use of costly medical care to try and live longer: ''You've got a duty to die and get out of the way. Let the other society, our kids, build a reasonable life.''

Poet's Notebook: My poem, 'The life expectancy of a homeless person is 50 years,' followed by comments

New poem:

 

The life expectancy of a homeless person is 50 years
 

A crow will never peck out the eyes of another crow.
Perhaps that is why they live longer than men.

(Paraphrase from a poem by Shukrulla.)
 
I am a crow.
Shukrulla is right,
I would never peck out the eyes of another.
 
We fight each other and sometimes we are rough
But mostly we stick to language.
 
“Hey, Garbage Wing, can’t you share?
You be the lookout for a change, I’ll work the field!”
 
Like that.
 
But we watch some of you combing the dumps
To feed your families
And we watch some of you living high above each other
In gleaming towers with blue water on every floor
That you rarely go in and never drink
But lounge beside in the sun
Covering your eyes with dark scales,
Blaring annoying sounds that seem to make you happy.
 
Like that.
 
Caw!
Caw!
Caw!

 
What am I saying?
 
I am saying,
We know you
Better than you know yourselves.
We have watched you very closely
For a very long time!
 

TrumpCare is an Entitlement Program for the Rich and Powerful

Trump continues the rich man’s rampage to maintain power

 While it has been mildly entertaining to watch Trump’s healthcare plan slammed by liberals and conservatives, that’s only a thin silver lining to the unconscionable piece of garbage that has been named the American Health Care Act. While conservatives have been concerned that the tax credits for insurance premiums are simply one more entitlement programs for the poor (which in it of itself is confusing as tax-funded vouchers for private schools have been a longstanding strategy for the Republicans), the reality is that the bill is actually an entitlement program for the already rich and powerful.

Healthcare analysts estimate that 10-20 million Americans will lose their health insurance under this plan. The populations that stand to lose the most? Low-income Americans, our elders, and women. What’s going unsaid is that rich men stand to gain the most.

  The American Health Care Act touts the same fiscal bullshit that has never helped the average American: deregulation and tax cuts. The fact is that tax cuts to the wealthy never “trickle down.” It’s so crazy that we even tout “trickle down” as a reasonable option. Why would we think that under-resourced Americans with the cards stacked against them should get a trickle?!

The same criticism applies to Medicaid block funding, another part of the Republican plan. Not only does Trump want to repeal the Medicaid expansion that was part of the Affordable Care Act; he wants to move to block funding of that program too. That means that states will get a hunk of money without any guidance or regulation on how it must be spent. Legislators will have free reign to redefine who qualifies for Medicaid without any accountability to make sure that our most disenfranchised communities get the coverage. People of Color, Women, those who suffer from mental illness, are wll groups that have never gotten what they deserve when getting it depends upon the goodwill of those in power.

The bottom-line is that deregulation always benefits those in power. For those white, middle-class Americans who voted for Trump because they wanted to “drain the swamp?” This is the opposite and it’s just proving what the rest of us knew all along: Donald Trump is a rich, white man and the definition of the swamp. In fact, that swamp used to be a beautiful pond until people like Trump polluted it in order to amass their fortunes.

Healthcare costs continue to be a major cause of bankruptcy. Under the Affordable Care Act, the credit amount that citizens got towards buying insurance was based on the actual cost of insurance in their local market. Under Trump’s new plan, everybody gets a flat rate voucher that is a pittance compared to actual premium costs. The result? Americans can’t afford health insurance and that only exacerbates the bankruptcy problem.

WikiLeaks Latest Data Dump Undermines Case Against Russia Election Hack

Uh-Oh, there goes the Democrats' whole 'Russia Did It' campaign

 

The so-called Deep State and Democratic Party campaign to demonize Russia for allegedly "hacking the US election," and delivering the country into the hands of Donald Trump suffered a huge and probably mortal blow this week with the release by WikiLeaks of over 7000 secret CIA documents disclosing secret CIA hacking technologies.

The case being made against Russia as being the source of leaked emails of the Democratic National Committee and of Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta -- documents that proved that the DNC had been corrupting the primary process in favor of corporatist candidate Hillary Clinton and undermining the campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and that also revealed the embarrassing contents of Clinton's highly paid secret speeches to a number of giant Wall Street banks -- had always been tenuous, with no hard evidence ever presented. All the intelligence agencies would say was that they had a "high degree of certainty," or "strong reason to believe" that the Russians were the source of the deeply damaging documents late in the campaign season.

Adding to doubts that Russia had actually hacked the DNC was WikiLeaks itself, which insisted that it had obtained the DNC and Podesta emails not from a hack of computers, but from several internal DNC staffers who actually pulled them off computers with a thumb drive and provided them to the organization. One of those leakers was later identified as Seth Rich, who was mysteriously murdered on his way home from DNC headquarters in Washington, shot in the back at night in an unsolved case that the local police quickly labeled a "botched burglary," although nothing was taken from his body by his assailant -- not his wallet or watch even. (Wikileaks has offered a $20,000 reward for information that helps solve that uninvestigated case.)

But one thing the blame-Russia conspiracy theorists did have going for them was their assertion that the leaked DNC documents contained routing information and ISPs that pointed to Russia as the source of the hacks.

Now, however, the new CIA documents released by WikiLeaks -- the first of a much larger trove of such documents that are reportedly going to be released as WikiLeaks goes through them to remove information that might jeopardize agents or national security -- show that among the technologies and hacking tools that the CIA has been using to attack targeted computers, internet servers and even so-called "smart" appliances in people's homes, like Samsung TV sets, are a number of Russian-developed hacking programs.

As the New York Times wrote in its article on the latest Wikileaks document release, which it is calling "Vault 7":
 

Another program described in the documents, named Umbrage, is a voluminous library of cyber-attack techniques that the CIA has collected from malware produced by other countries, including Russia. According to the WikiLeaks release, the large number of techniques allows the CIA to mask the origin of some of its attack and confuse forensic investigators.

The WikiLeaks material includes lists of software tools that the CIA uses to create exploits and malware to carry out hacking. Many of the tools are those used by developers around the world: coding languages, such as Python, and tools like Sublime Text, a program used to write code, and Git, a tool that helps developers collaborate."
 

Trump AG Jeff Sessions is Trapped in the Malodorous Maelstrom of an 'Alabama Hurricane'

The Sessions stench

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the target of demands for resignation due to his triggering yet another Trump Administration scandal related to lying under oath in the Senate about contacts with Russian officials, finds himself in an ‘Alabama Hurricane’ of his own making.

This scandal engulfing Sessions erupted from denials made by the former Republican U.S. Senator from Alabama during his confirmation hearing for the Attorney General post.

Sessions, when questioned during that hearing about his contacts with Russian officials, noted that he had been a Trump surrogate during the campaign yet he flat-out denied having any such contacts.

However, recent revelations document that Sessions did in fact have contacts with the Russian ambassador to the US last year when then Sessions was serving as a prominent advisor to Trump during Trump’s presidential campaign and his post-election transition.
Jeff blows Alabama HurricaneJeff blows Alabama Hurricane
 
An "Alabama Hurricane" –- according to one popular definition –- is a fart released with such stinking force that it smacks those in its path in the face hard enough to cause blunt force trauma.

Claims by Sessions that his denials during that confirmation hearing were not material misrepresentations* because he misunderstood the questions fail even the simplest smell test.

British 3D App Game Features Forgotten Black History

Black history in cyberspace

 

With apps for smart phones and tablets being the rage worldwide it is not surprising that someone would devise an app based on Black History themes.

But a Black History-themed app for the near ubiquitous smart phones and tablets originating from Britain –- really!

Isn’t Britain the land best known to Americans as the home of "The Queen," fish-&-chips and fans with a near religious-reverence for soccer?

The history of blacks in Britain is a subject little known either among citizens of that nation or around the world. Few Brits even know that Black History in their nation dates from the occupation of that island by the Roman Empire two thousand years ago.

And what about the fact that this game app focuses on Black History in the United States not history primarily centered in England, Scotland, Wales and North Ireland, the four countries that comprise the United Kingdom commonly known as Britain.

Nubian Jak 3D appNubian Jak 3D app
 

But Britain is the birthplace of the recently released Nubian Jak 3D Black History U.S. 2017 Edition app.

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Here's the link to prairie radio radical Mike Caddell's Radio Free Kansas program, where you can hear the podcast of the whole group interview that was conducted on Saturday, May 8.

Also, listen to Dave Lindorff on Chris Cook's Gorilla Radio on CFEV Radio in Victoria, Canada.

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