Ryancare wreckage

Don the Con's Health Care Pushes Serious Problems Aside

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.

The Sessions stench

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

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.

Black history in cyberspace

British 3D App Game Features Forgotten Black History

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.

Bigot boy business

Trump Exposes His Ignorance and Intolerance — Again

Twice in recent weeks President Donald Trump reinforced his image of ignorance on African-Americans with astounding statements. Those statements amplified concerns about this president who rose to the Oval Office through a campaign tarred by brazen bigotry from his surrogates, his supporters and himself.

During a recent press conference, where Trump’s deportment was assessed as bizarre by conservatives and liberals, the self-proclaimed “least racist person…ever” evidenced ignorance about the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) –- that 46-year-old Capitol Hill contingent concerned with issues important to African-Americans.

During that press conference Trump bizarrely asked an African-American journalist to arrange a meeting for him with the CBC. Also, Trump falsely stated that a CBC member had rejected his repeated requests to meet with him.

Days before that press conference flub, President Trump made a faux pas regarding legendary 19th Century black activist Frederick Douglass during a White House meeting with a dozen-plus handpicked blacks held on the first day of African-American History Month.

During remarks at that February 1st “listening session,” Trump referenced Douglass as if the fabled abolitionist/orator/statesman was still alive. Trump somehow missed the fact that Douglass died 122-years ago, in February 1895.

Sketch of Frederick Douglass at Blockson Afro-American Collection in Philadelphia. LBWPhotoSketch of Frederick Douglass at Blockson Afro-American Collection in Philadelphia. LBWPhoto
 

Douglass died in DC at his home that is now a National Historic Site located a few miles from the White House. Trump’s faux pas on Frederick Douglass ignited widespread ridicule, from social media postings to mainstream news media accounts.

Hypocrite hits wall

Philly's Ethically Blind Prosecutor Drops Re-Election Bid

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, the top prosecutor with a tarnished reputation for turning a blind-eye to following ethics rules, has clearly seen the proverbial handwriting on the wall.

Williams, a few days ago, announced that he would not seek reelection to a third term. That surprise announcement evidenced belated recognition by Williams that his quest for reelection would be an uphill struggle if not an impossible mission thanks to fallout from his many ethical failings and questionable practices, as well as ongoing criminal investigations into his finances by the FBI and IRS.

That DA career-ending announcement by Williams came weeks after Philadelphia’s Ethics Board slapped this once promising and popular politician with a $62,000 fine for his failure to file mandatory financial disclosure forms for five years. His fine – the largest ever levied by Philadelphia’s Ethics Board – faulted Williams for not reporting over $160,000 in gifts that included fancy vacations and expensive jewelry, including from attorneys with clients prosecuted by Williams’ office.

Williams claimed, improbably, that he merely forgot to file the mandatory disclosure forms from 2010 to 2015.

But that claim fails the laugh test because Williams once served as Philadelphia’s Inspector General, the post tasked with ethics rule enforcement. During his announcement about withdrawing from reelection, Williams apologized for the embarrassment and shame he brought on the District Attorneys Office.

Williams’ re-election prospects were already in doubt due to erosions of support among his core constituency in the black community and his calculated ultimately unsuccessful effort to cultivate support from Philadelphia’s police union. That labor organization, the Fraternal Order of Police, has a history of reflexively backing police brutality and misconduct that primarily impacts blacks in the so-called City of Brotherly Love.

In recent weeks the FOP launched attacks on Williams arising in part from his decisions not to prosecute civilians who had questionable confrontations with police officers. Those FOP attacks included an anti-Williams billboard on the major interstate highway that runs through the center of Philadelphia.
 

DA Williams with Philly FOP prez in better times. LBW PhotoDA Williams with Philly FOP prez in better times.
 

Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s NAACP branch recently blasted Williams for failing to prosecute three white men involved in a fatal building collapse while gaining the convictions of two poor black men connected with that incident. A civil trial jury in that building collapse recently found that the men Williams refused to prosecute were most responsible for that fatal incident. That jury verdict produced a settlement providing nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in damages to victims of that collapse.

Systemic Pain

Profits and Patients: The High Health Costs Killing Americans

When she opened the letter and saw it was a $1,471 bill for her recent visit to a hospital emergency room – a visit that lasted around four hours from admission to discharge –- she got sick.

That bill itself made her physically sick: triggering an intense headache, upsetting her stomach and leaving her with an overall queasy feeling.

It arrived in the mail weeks after she had received a copy of the whopping $14,000+ bill submitted by the hospital to her medical insurance company by the hospital in New Jersey where that ER visit had occurred.

Her medical insurance covered that initial $14,000 bill in full. But now she was supposed to cough up the $1,471 herself.

Now that additional $1,471 bill was making her emotionally sick: a sickening anger that compounded her being sick-and-tired of being sick-and-tired about outrageous medical care costs that surgically dig deeper into her pocketbook seeking to excise more money beyond what she pays monthly for the medical insurance coverage through her spouse’s employer.

It didn’t help that the four-hour stay she was still being billed for had not resulted in the hospital’s ER staff making a determination of the cause of her medical issue or offering a course of care.

These bills –- for $14,000+ and $1,471 — are vivid examples of the acute toxicity coursing through the veins of America’s bloated profit-based health care system.

Trans-Atlantic bigotry

Brexit-Trump Comparisons Miss Key Points

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful.”
— George Orwell, author of “1984.”
 

The election of Donald Trump as U.S. president, upending projections of pollsters and pundits that predicted his defeat, has triggered comparisons with Brexit, the vote earlier this summer where British citizens voted to leave the European Union, also catching the pollsters and pundits by surprise.

And yes, the campaigns for Brexit and the Trump presidency each employed similarities. Each campaign utilized ‘make our country great again’ slogans.

Further, each campaign also targeted immigrants as the source of deep-seated societal problems, particularly in the employment arena. Trump targeted Mexican immigrants while Brexit targeted Eastern European immigrants in Britain, primarily those coming from Poland as well as Muslims and blacks.

Brexit support sign in former home of author George Orwell. LinnWashingtonPhotoBrexit support sign in former home of author George Orwell. LinnWashingtonPhoto
 

Despite accurately citing some similarities, too many of the news media comparisons of Brexit and Trump on both sides of ‘The Pond’ have been simplistic, infused with failures to sufficiently contextualize the array of forces entangled in those stunning votes.

Comparisons on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, for example, have downplayed the upsurge in racist attacks, primarily targeting blacks and Muslims during the immediate aftermaths of both the Brexit and Trump victories.

Joined at the lip

Christie and Trump: Two G-O-Ps in a Rotten Pod

For a quick glimpse of life within a “Trump Nation” look no further than New Jersey, the east coast state led by Trump booster Gov. Chris Christie, the man who heads the transition team assembling top personnel for the administration of a possible President Donald Trump.

A snapshot of Christie’s ruinous reign as governor since taking the helm of the Garden State in 2010 is found in the headline of an editorial published in mid-September by New Jersey’s largest daily newspaper, the Newark Star Ledger:

“Chris Christie’s state is an economic cripple.”

Christie has practiced the economic policies that Trump has promised to pursue: massive tax cuts for corporations plus tax breaks for wealthy individuals.

“What tax cuts have surely given us is a big revenue hole – with no real economic boost to show for it,” that Star Ledger editorial noted.

Trump will improve their lot? Not!  LBW PhotoTrump will improve their lot? Not! LBW Photo
 

Christie push $2-billion in business tax reductions through the Democrat-dominated legislature and opposed modest tax increases on the wealthy.

“In short, the magical thinking that Gov. Chris Christie has relied on to steer the economy is simply not working. Like many Republicans, he clings to the notion that lower taxes are the key to economic growth, despite all the hard evidence to the contrary,” that editorial declared.

Like Trump’s current campaign trail promises for America, gubernatorial candidate Christie pledged to get New Jersey’s fiscal house in order – a pledge he failed to deliver.

Lost Drug War

Pot Decriminalization Produces $9-million in Savings for Philadelphia

A vivid example of value from decriminalization of possessing small amounts of marijuana occurred at the Philadelphia airport recently, a few days after the release of a report from two prominent organizations that called for the national decriminalization of personal use/possession of marijuana and other illicit drugs.

This example, interestingly, occurred on the day of the second anniversary of Philadelphia’s implementation of decriminalization, the enforcement practice that replaces arrests for marijuana possession with issuance of traffic-ticket like citations. That enforcement change has saved the City of Philadelphia at least $9-million in costs related to arrests and adjudication for marijuana possession, according to calculations by local analysts.

The airport discovery of a small amount of marijuana in the luggage of three-time Philadelphia GOP mayoral candidate Sam Katz resulted in embarrassment for Katz but not his arrest and court proceedings. Authorities issued a $25 citation to Katz that allowed the nationally respected municipal-finance-expert-turned-award-winning-documentary-filmmaker to continue to Florida for a planned fishing trip.

Philly pot activist N.A. Poe (center) at decriminalization anniversary. LBW PhotoPhilly pot activist N.A. Poe (center) at decriminalization anniversary. LBW Photo
 

Before Philadelphia became the largest city in America to implement decriminalization of simple possession of marijuana on October 20, 2014, thousands endured arrest annually — arrests that produced the stain of a life-altering criminal record. During the years 2012-2013 before decriminalization in Philadelphia police arrested 8,580 adults and juveniles. Philadelphia possession arrest figures for 2015 and part of 2016, after implementation of decriminalization, list around 1,500 Philadelphians arrested for marijuana possession – a marked decrease from pre-decriminalization days.

“Decriminalization has been a resounding success for the municipal government and for cannabis consumers in Philadelphia,” PhillyNORML official Chris Goldstein said. Goldstein, an expert on cannabis policy, writes a weekly column on cannabis issue for philly.com, the news website for Philadelphia’s two daily newspapers.

Abusing the abused

Philly Police Abuse Case Typifies All-Too-Common Misconduct by Nation's Prosecutors

 
Actions and inactions by Philadelphia’s District Attorneys Office that have blocked Sharif Anderson from his day-in-court for an arrest that took place over 1,200-days ago have elevated this Philadelphia police abuse victim into a prime example of what the phrase “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied” means.

During recent months Philadelphia prosecutors have repeatedy presented specious requests in court that have delayed trial dates for Anderson, who endured a brutal May 27, 2013 arrest when Philadelphia police confronted him as he videoed an incident of police brutality with his cell phone.

Those requests by prosecutors for delays in the Anderson case raise issues regarding adherence of prosecutors to a provision in the Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers in Pennsylvania that states it is “not proper for a lawyer to routinely fail to expedite litigation.”

The Philadelphia District Attorneys Office declined requests for comments on issues raised in the case of Sharif Anderson. “Unfortunately, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office cannot comment…because the case is still active,” stated a self-serving email reply from the DAs Office.

Protestors at march against deadly May 1985 bombing by Philadelphia police. LBW PhotoProtestors at march against deadly May 1985 bombing by Philadelphia police. LBW Photo
 

Disturbingly, it is not unusual for prosecutors in Philadelphia and elsewhere around America to reflexively pursue obstructionist tactics that shield police in cases that contain documented evidence of improper and/or biased actions by police.

The failures of prosecutors to prosecute police misconduct was an underlying element in reports critical of abusive policing issued by the U.S. Department of Justice after high profile examinations of law enforcers in Baltimore, Maryland; Cleveland, Ohio and Ferguson, Missouri — three cities that erupted in protests following incidents of abusive policing.