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Sam1

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Gender: Do not display
Hometown: fly over country
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2005, 08:23 AM
Number of posts: 381

Journal Archives

How Hospitals and Health Insurers Collude at Your Expense

Bookies call it the “vig,” insurers call it a “PPO Repricing Fee”

You’ve made your money and you’ve left your skid marks on the world. Now you want to fulfill one of your teenage fantasies – owning a red ’57 Chevy (forget the other fantasies – those women are by now all either deceased or decrepit).

I’m a car broker. You hire me to find your dream car, and I get 20% of any savings I can negotiate.

Seller #1 has the car you want. Asking price is $60,000, and I get him down to $55,000.

Seller #2 has the same car in much better condition for $54,000, but he won’t budge on the price.

Which car will you end up with?

http://wolfstreet.com/2014/09/16/how-hospitals-and-health-insurers-collude-to-keep-prices-high/

Now you're talking - by Tom Sullivan

"Folks, they want to destroy public education," the state Senate minority leader told a room full of supporters last year. He said it as though he had just figured it out.

Since the Republican sweep in 2010, Democrats have spent so much time in state capitols defending against one frontal assault after another coming from yards away. They tend not to notice troop movements on the fringes of the political battlefield. Is The Village any different?

Outside the bubbles, it's been clear for years that destroying public education is where charters, vouchers, and online schools are taking us under the guise of helping the disadvantaged. But one rarely sees it put so bluntly as this week. The WaPo's Valerie Strauss quotes the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce's vice president of public policy and economic development:

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2014/08/now-youre-talking-by-bloggersrus.html

Tomgram: Aviva Chomsky, What's at Stake in the Border Debate

The militarization of the police has been underway since 9/11, but only in the aftermath of the six-shot killing of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, with photos of streets in a St. Louis suburb that looked like occupied Iraq or Afghanistan, has the fact of it, the shock of it, seemed to hit home widely. Congressional representatives are now proposing bills to stop the Pentagon from giving the latest in war equipment to local police forces. The president even interrupted his golfing vacation on Martha’s Vineyard to return to Washington, in part for “briefings” on the ongoing crisis in Ferguson. So militarization is finally a major story.

And that’s no small thing. On the other hand, the news from Ferguson can’t begin to catch the full process of militarization this society has been undergoing or the way America’s distant wars are coming home. We have, at least, a fine book by Radley Balko on how the police have been militarized. Unfortunately, on the subject of the militarization of the country, there is none. And yet from armed soldiers in railway stations to the mass surveillance of Americans, from the endless celebration of our “warriors” to the domestic use of drones, this country has been undergoing a significant process of militarization (and, if there were such a word, national securitization).

http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175885/tomgram%3A_aviva_chomsky%2C_what%27s_at_stake_in_the_border_debate/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+tomdispatch%2FesUU+%28TomDispatch%3A+The+latest+Tomgram%29

Patrick Cockburn, How to Ensure a Thriving Caliphate

Think of the new “caliphate” of the Islamic State, formerly the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney's gift to the world (with a helping hand from the Saudis and other financiers of extremism in the Persian Gulf). How strange that they get so little credit for its rise, for the fact that the outlines of the Middle East, as set up by Europe’s colonial powers in the wake of World War I, are being swept aside in a tide of blood.

Had George and Dick not decided on their “cakewalk” in Iraq, had they not raised the specter of nuclear destruction and claimed that Saddam Hussein’s regime was somehow linked to al-Qaeda and so to the 9/11 attacks, had they not sent tens of thousands of American troops into a burning, looted Baghdad (“stuff happens”), disbanded the Iraqi army, built military bases all over that country, and generally indulged their geopolitical fantasies about dominating the oil heartlands of the planet for eternity, ISIS would have been an unlikely possibility, no matter the ethnic and religious tensions in the region. They essentially launched the drive that broke state power there and created the kind of vacuum that a movement like ISIS was so horrifically well suited to fill.


http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175884/tomgram%3A_patrick_cockburn%2C_how_to_ensure_a_thriving_caliphate/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+tomdispatch%2FesUU+%28TomDispatch%3A+The+latest+Tomgram%29


This has an interesting slant in that the author thinks the U.S. is both opposing and supporting ISIS. That we are opposing them in Iraq and at the same time supporting them in Syria by supporting the opposition a large part of which, according to the author, is ISIS.


Events from Ferguson explain why we are weak

Summary: Events in Ferguson display some of the problems plaguing the Republic — our unresolved racial conflicts, sclerotic governing institutions, and most importantly our weakness as citizens. Decades of propaganda have erased from our minds our history of successful collective action, and replaced it with a mostly false belief in markets and individuals. It’s left us as atomized consumers, incapable of effectively becoming leaders and followers and so governing ourselves. It makes us sheep. We can do better.

“When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”
— Edmund Burke (English statesman and philosopher), Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents (1770)


http://fabiusmaximus.com/2014/08/19/ferguson-michael-brown-riots-causes-70969/

The Coming Race War Won’t Be About Race

Ferguson is not just about systemic racism — it's about class warfare and how America's poor are held back, says Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Will the recent rioting in Ferguson, Missouri, be a tipping point in the struggle against racial injustice, or will it be a minor footnote in some future grad student’s thesis on Civil Unrest in the Early Twenty-First Century?

You probably have heard of the Kent State shootings: on May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on student protesters at Kent State University. During those 13 seconds of gunfire, four students were killed and nine were wounded, one of whom was permanently paralyzed. The shock and outcry resulted in a nationwide strike of 4 million students that closed more than 450 campuses. Five days after the shooting, 100,000 protestors gathered in Washington, D.C. And the nation’s youth was energetically mobilized to end the Vietnam War, racism, sexism, and mindless faith in the political establishment.

You probably haven’t heard of the Jackson State shootings.

On May 14th, 10 days after Kent State ignited the nation, at the predominantly black Jackson State University in Mississippi, police killed two black students (one a high school senior, the other the father of an 18-month-old baby) with shotguns and wounded twelve others.

There was no national outcry. The nation was not mobilized to do anything. That heartless leviathan we call History swallowed that event whole, erasing it from the national memory.

http://time.com/3132635/ferguson-coming-race-war-class-warfare/

How Money Warps U.S. Foreign Policy

The key divide on America’s role in the world is no longer between Democrats and Republicans. It’s between elites and everyone else.

On Sunday, when Hillary Clinton used an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg to take pointedly more hawkish stances than President Obama on Syria, Iran, and Gaza, observers chalked it up to her presidential ambitions. As one Democratic operative told Politico, Clinton’s advisors are “good poll readers.” On Tuesday, when Rand Paul declined to oppose U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, commentators interpreted it the same way.

The assumption that hawkishness is politically smart is deeply ingrained in the media’s coverage of the 2016 presidential race. But it’s bizarre. Because in both parties, the polling data is overwhelming: Americans think U.S. foreign policy is too hawkish already. Foreign policy has always been more elite-driven, and more insulated from public opinion, than domestic policy. But today’s elite-mass gap is the largest in decades. And regardless of your foreign-policy perspective, that’s a problem for American democracy.

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/08/how-money-warps-us-foreign-policy/376035/?single_page=true

Will the Ferguson protest force development of African-American leaders?

Summary: The Ferguson protests lacked leadership, and so quickly devolved into counter-productive riots. It’s a common problem. Will future protests nurture a new generation of leaders?

.

Peasants’ protests are a commonplace in history, such as The Great Rising of 1381. The lack of competent leadership distinguishes peasants’ protests from effective means of social change.

Some peasants’ protests are just mobs. Emergent leadership is a rare gift.

Some peasants’ protests have leaders, but not competent ones. Wat Tyler led The Great Rising, bringing his horde to London. King Richard met with Tyler, courteously listened to the peasants’ complaints, thanked him for coming, and killed him. Competent emergent leadership is an extraordinarily rare gift.

Tomgram: Matthew Harwood, One Nation Under SWAT

Think of it as a different kind of blowback. Even when you fight wars in countries thousands of miles distant, they still have an eerie way of making the long trip home.

Take the latest news from Bergen County, New Jersey, one of the richest counties in the country. Its sheriff’s department is getting two mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAPs -- 15 tons of protective equipment -- for a song from the Pentagon. And there’s nothing special in that. The Pentagon has handed out 600 of them for nothing since 2013, with plenty more to come. They’re surplus equipment, mostly from our recent wars, and perhaps they will indeed prove handy for a sheriff fretting about insurgent IEDs (roadside bombs) in New Jersey or elsewhere in the country. When it comes to the up-armoring and militarization of America’s police forces, this is completely run-of-the-mill stuff.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175881/tomgram%3A_matthew_harwood%2C_one_nation_under_swat/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+tomdispatch%2FesUU+%28TomDispatch%3A+The+latest+Tomgram%29

US Military Fail: Long Asian Land Wars a Route to Disaster since 1963

By Tom Engelhardt via Tomdispatch.com

The United States has been at war — major boots-on-the-ground conflicts and minor interventions, firefights, air strikes, drone assassination campaigns, occupations, special ops raids, proxy conflicts, and covert actions — nearly nonstop since the Vietnam War began. That’s more than half a century of experience with war, American-style, and yet few in our world bother to draw the obvious conclusions.

Given the historical record, those conclusions should be staring us in the face. They are, however, the words that can’t be said in a country committed to a military-first approach to the world, a continual build-up of its forces, an emphasis on pioneering work in the development and deployment of the latest destructive technology, and a repetitious cycling through styles of war from full-scale invasions and occupations to counterinsurgency, proxy wars, and back again.

So here are five straightforward lessons — none acceptable in what passes for discussion and debate in this country — that could be drawn from that last half century of every kind of American warfare:

http://www.juancole.com/2014/06/military-asian-disaster.html
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