No government intrusion in our lives is more direct, personal and threatening than Obamacare’s intrusion in the care of our own health.
But Obamacare will harm us on a broader scale, as the underlying nature of the health law’s provisions, and the tactics used to implement them, affect all areas of public and business policy.
The suppression of liberty in health care choices will take all privacy down with it. Tight government control of electronic medical records—which used to be private—seems a minor contribution to the destruction of the Fourth Amendment compared to the seizure of everyone’s communications with everybody, without individual court orders based on probable cause.
How can we protest loss of privacy in any communications when we must surrender it for our medical records?
In 2014, virtually no new physicians will be available to treat millions of new Medicaid patients, but 10,000 newly hired IRS agents will impose fines on those unwilling to buy mandatory insurance.
Hopefully this will distract the IRS from persecution of nonprofit organizations that oppose the party line coming from Washington, DC.
As the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) just reported, businesses will continue to cut jobs and implement reduction in the working hours of millions of employees to avoid the insurance mandate in 2015. Then they will cut insurance policies for employees in favor of paying fines and saving billions of dollars in rising insurance costs.
Who could have imagined they would do such a thing?
We will get more bad news when insurance companies announce far higher premiums for 2015, as young people are not rushing to sign up for more expensive insurance to subsidize their more affluent elders.
Who could have expected that?
President Obama could have expected it, just as he knew that insurance commissioners would generally reject his one-year reprieve from the lie that if you like your insurance, you can keep it.
The president will continue to delay or set aside any provision of the law without authorization of Congress or reference to the provisions of the law. In fact, the replacement of law approved by Congress with arbitrary and vague administrative regulations—approved by countless anonymous bureaucrats—is not just a consequence of Obamacare but an explicit objective of the president.
After the recent deal with Iran that supposedly prevents their development of nuclear weapons, President Obama essentially told the government of Israel that if they like their current security arrangements, they will be able to keep them.
Iran knows what the White House policy is, now: When you lie, make it a big lie and feature it prominently and frequently in all of your statements; if and when you are finally called on it by your friends as well as your opponents, keep repeating it anyway—even when the truth vanishes like a red line in Syria.
When Iran does complete and deploy nuclear weapons, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will undoubtedly explain that the president’s previous promise that the United States will never allow Iran to build nuclear weapons was true in 2009, but foreign policies change every year.
Our government will be no more consistent and reliable on national security than on health care. Both can easily go up in smoke.
The wreckage of Obamacare will expand through all of government as it becomes a model for rule by presidential decree.
We must not let the damage to medicine resulting from Obamacare distract us from the fact that it is just the leading edge of increasing government control over every aspect of our lives.
Found at Americans for Free Choice in Medicine.
30 Million Americans On Antidepressants And 21 Other Facts About America’s Endless Pharmaceutical Nightmare
Has there ever been a nation more hooked on drugs than the United States? And I am not just talking about illegal drugs – the truth is that the number of Americans addicted to legal drugs is far greater than the number of Americans addicted to illegal drugs. As you will read about below, more than 30 million Americans are currently on antidepressants and doctors in the U.S. wrote more than 250 million prescriptions for painkillers last year. Sadly, most people got hooked on these drugs very innocently. They trusted that their doctors would never prescribe something for them that would be harmful, and they trusted that the federal government would never approve any drugs that were not safe. And once the drug companies get you hooked, they often have you for life. You see, the reality of the matter is that some of these “legal drugs” are actually some of the most addictive substances on the entire planet. And when they start raising the prices on those drugs, there isn’t much that the addicts can do about it. It is a brutally efficient business model, and the pharmaceutical industry guards their territory fiercely. Very powerful people will often do some really crazy things when there are hundreds of billions of dollars at stake. The following are 22 facts about America’s endless pharmaceutical nightmare that everyone should know…
#1 According to the New York Times, more than 30 million Americans are currently taking antidepressants.
#2 The rate of antidepressant use among middle aged women is far higher than for the population as a whole. At this point, one out of every four women in their 40s and 50s is taking an antidepressant medication.
#3 Americans account for about five percent of the global population, but we buymore than 50 percent of the pharmaceutical drugs.
#4 Americans also consume a whopping 80 percent of all prescription painkillers.
#5 It is hard to believe, but doctors in the United States write 259 million prescriptions for painkillers each year. Prescription painkillers are some of the most addictive legal drugs, and our doctors are serving as enablers for millions up0n millions of Americans that find themselves hooked on drugs that they cannot kick.
#6 Overall, pharmaceutical drug use in America is at an all-time high. According to a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, nearly 70 percent of all Americans are on at least one prescription drug, and 20 percent of all Americans are on at least five prescription drugs.
#7 According to the CDC, approximately 9 out of every 10 Americans that are at least 60 years old say that they have taken at least one prescription drug within the last month.
#8 In 2010, the average teen in the United States was taking 1.2 central nervous system drugs. Those are the kinds of drugs which treat conditions such as ADHD and depression.
#9 A very disturbing Government Accountability Office report found thatapproximately one-third of all foster children in the United States are on at least one psychiatric drug.
#10 An astounding 95 percent of the “experimental medicines” that the pharmaceutical industry produces are found not to be safe and are never approved. Of the remaining 5 percent that are approved, we often do not find out that they are deadly to us until decades later.
#11 One study discovered that mothers that took antidepressants during pregnancy were four times more likely to have a baby that developed an autism spectrum disorder.
#12 It has been estimated that prescription drugs kill approximately 200,000 people in the United States every single year.
#13 An American dies from an unintentional prescription drug overdose every 19 minutes. According to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, accidental prescription drug overdose is “the leading cause of acute preventable death for Americans”.
#14 In the United States today, prescription painkillers kill more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined.
#15 According to the CDC, approximately three quarters of a million people a year are rushed to emergency rooms in the United States because of adverse reactions to pharmaceutical drugs.
#16 The number of prescription drug overdose deaths in the United States isfive times higher than it was back in 1980.
#17 A survey conducted for the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that more than 15 percent of all U.S. high school seniors abuse prescription drugs.
#18 More than 26 million women over the age of 25 say that they are “using prescription medications for unintended uses“.
#19 If all of these antidepressants are helping, then why are more Americans killing themselves? The suicide rate for Americans between the ages of 35 and 64 increased by nearly 30 percent between 1999 and 2010. The number of Americans that die by suicide is now greater than the number of Americans that die as a result of car accidents every year.
#20 Antidepressant use has been linked to mass shootings in America over and over and over again, and yet the mainstream media is eerily quiet about this. Is it because they don’t want to threaten one of their greatest sources of advertising revenue?
#21 The amount of money that the pharmaceutical industry is raking in is astronomical. It has been reported that Americans spent more than 280 billion dollars on prescription drugs during 2013.
If many of these drugs were not so addictive, the pharmaceutical companies would make a lot less money. And pharmaceutical drug addicts often don’t fit the profile of what we think a “drug addict” would look like. For example, CNNshared the story of a 55-year-old grandmother named Cynthia Scudo that become addicted to prescription painkillers…
For Scudo, her addiction began — as they all do — innocently enough.
She sought relief from hip pain, possibly caused by scarring from cesarean sections she had delivering several of her children.
Her then-husband recommended a physician.
“There was no physical therapy offered,” she said of the doctor’s visit. “The first reaction was, let’s give you some drugs.”
He put her on OxyContin.
By the second week, she was physically addicted.
She was popping so much of the painkiller and other drugs such as anti-anxiety Valium that they equated to a dosage for three men.
There is lots and lots of money to be made from addiction. In fact, if the U.S. health care system was a totally separate nation it would actually be the 6th largest economy on the entire globe. We are talking about piles of money larger than most people would ever dare to imagine.
And with so much money floating around, it is quite easy for the pharmaceutical industry to buy the cooperation of our politicians and of the media.
Some time when you are watching television in the evening, consciously take note of how often a pharmaceutical commercial comes on.
It has gotten to the point where we are literally being inundated with these ads.
They are already making hundreds of billions of dollars, and they think that there is room for even more growth.
Will they ever be satisfied?
Never Open the Door for the cops, but if you do, never consent to warrantless searches.
War as a Fact of Life
Younger generations can be forgiven if all they know of war is what they have learned in school or seen dramatized on film and television. For most Americans, the Civil War, the two World Wars, and the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam are events that occurred “a long time ago.” For my generation, born just prior to or during World War Two, wars have been a constant element of our lives.
Anyone with an interest in U.S. history knows that America was born out of a long war (1775-1783) with Great Britain which eventually led to the writing of the Constitution in 1787 whose ratification became official in June 1788. A year later George Washington, the wartime general, became the first President and, thereafter, nearly every President has had to dispatch U.S. naval, land and air forces in combat. This is why the Founders concluded that the President also had to be Commander-in-Chief in order to respond to threats to the nation whether near or far.
Not all Americans were eager to engage in various conflicts and most of the larger ones have had to address a fair measure of opposition. Even the Revolution was resisted by those who felt being a colony was a wiser choice than being independent.
In the greater world, wars have been constant somewhere, a shaper of history, and, according to Benjamin Ginsberg, a prolific historian and director of the Center for Advanced Governmental Studies at Johns Hopkins University, it has some beneficial aspects. His latest book, “The Worth of War”, explores this aspect of history.
“Organized warfare is among the most common and persistent of human activities,” says Prof. Ginsberg. “As terrible as it is, war and the possibility of war exert considerable pressure upon societies to think and plan logistically in order to protect their security interests and, sometimes, their very existence.”
“In the decades since World War II, of course, the United States has been at war on a continual basis. The nation has fought large engagements in Korea, Indo-China, and the Middle East, as well as numerous smaller conflicts throughout the world.” Americans are now debating having to return to the Middle East a third time since the Persian Gulf War 1990-1991 to undertake the vital mission of destroying the newly declared Islamic State that threatens the region and, should it grow more powerful, the West.
It may strike the reader as odd to think of war as a good thing, but Prof. Ginsberg points out that “Bureaucracies developed from war. Once built, they expanded the scope of their operations to handle purely civilian tasks as well. War also required societies to learn the rudiments of fiscal policy” because “armies and war are expensive.”
Much of the technology we take for granted emerged from the need to succeed in warfare. “Europe’s lead in military technology widened sharply with the European industrial revolution of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries (and) with their weapons, their ships, and their tactics, European armies conquered the Americans, Africa, portions of Asia, and the Indian subcontinent.” In the process, the Europeans exported their technological advances to those they conquered, spreading knowledge.
The concept of being a “citizen soldier” developed out of war. “During the medieval and early modern eras, wars were fought by small feudal levies and professional or mercenary armies” but “beginning with the French revolution and Napoleonic eras, the size of national military forces began to increase substantially.” Not only did war become very expensive, a nation’s people had to be given a reason to feel they were defending or expanding the interests of the nation, having loyalty to the state. They had to be paid; funding had to be raised via taxes and bonds and, beyond conscription, others had to feel inspired to participate in making the instruments of war.
“In the modern world, military success requires a strong economic base to support the armies, weapons, training, and logistics need to prevail in serious or protracted combat.” Indeed, “the level of economic development is the single most important variable explaining military outcomes over the past century or so.”
The United States has enjoyed the greatest, thriving economy since the end of World War II, but public opinion has played a significant role, via Congress, elections, and public displays of support or resistance to whether the U.S. has entered a war or relinquished combat. The role of the President to encourage participation or resist combat is the other significant factor.
President Obama, who was elected twice on the promise to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, now faces the decision whether to employ military power to attack the Islamic State. Failing to retain our troops in Iraq or to engage jihadists in Syria is credited with its emergence and its threat.
The images of Islamic State barbarity, as well as its deliberate slaughter of Christians in the Middle East, is tending public opinion to the need to destroy it before it exports its violence to the U.S.
As Prof. Ginsberg points out, “Tolerant, politically liberal individuals shrink from using violence under almost any circumstance” but “in the international realm, by opposing war and violence they are effectively condemning many peoples to live under tyranny.”
At home, “America is a country whose citizens are connected to one another and to their government less by the blood in their veins than the blood they have shed—their own and that of others.” We honor our veterans. We have national holidays to celebrate our past victories.
We need a victory in the Middle East. We had one in Iraq until President Obama militarily abandoned it. We have troops in Afghanistan that are the only thing between its modernization or a return to the oppression of the jihad.
One way or the other, whether we respond to the current threat or not, wars will be fought, won or lost.
This has got to be the most pointless sign ever. Either that or they just do not want cool dogs in.
Ukraine, Iraq and a Black Sea Strategy
The United States is, at the moment, off balance. It faces challenges in the Syria-Iraq theater as well as challenges in Ukraine. It does not have a clear response to either. It does not know what success in either theater would look like, what resources it is prepared to devote to either, nor whether the consequences of defeat would be manageable.
A dilemma of this sort is not unusual for a global power. Its very breadth of interests and the extent of power create opportunities for unexpected events, and these events, particularly simultaneous challenges in different areas, create uncertainty and confusion. U.S. geography and power permit a degree of uncertainty without leading to disaster, but generating a coherent and integrated strategy is necessary, even if that strategy is simply to walk away and let events run their course. I am not suggesting the latter strategy but arguing that at a certain point, confusion must run its course and clear intentions must emerge. When they do, the result will be the coherence of a new strategic map that encompasses both conflicts.
The most critical issue for the United States is to create a single integrated plan that takes into account the most pressing challenges. Such a plan must begin by defining a theater of operations sufficiently coherent geographically as to permit integrated political maneuvering and military planning. U.S. military doctrine has moved explicitly away from a two-war strategy. Operationally, it might not be possible to engage all adversaries simultaneously, but conceptually, it is essential to think in terms of a coherent center of gravity of operations. For me, it is increasingly clear that that center is the Black Sea.
Ukraine and Syria-Iraq
There are currently two active theaters of military action with broad potential significance. One is Ukraine, where the Russians have launched a counteroffensive toward Crimea. The other is in the Syria-Iraq region, where the forces of the Islamic State have launched an offensive designed at a minimum to control regions in both countries — and at most dominate the area between the Levant and Iran.
In most senses, there is no connection between these two theaters. Yes, the Russians have an ongoing problem in the high Caucasus and there are reports of Chechen advisers working with the Islamic State. In this sense, the Russians are far from comfortable with what is happening in Syria and Iraq. At the same time, anything that diverts U.S. attention from Ukraine is beneficial to the Russians. For its part, the Islamic State must oppose Russia in the long run. Its immediate problem, however, is U.S. power, so anything that distracts the United States is beneficial to the Islamic State.
But the Ukrainian crisis has a very different political dynamic from the Iraq-Syria crisis. Russian and Islamic State military forces are not coordinated in any way, and in the end, victory for either would challenge the interests of the other. But for the United States, which must allocate its attention, political will and military power carefully, the two crises must be thought of together. The Russians and the Islamic State have the luxury of focusing on one crisis. The United States must concern itself with both and reconcile them.
The United States has been in the process of limiting its involvement in the Middle East while attempting to deal with the Ukrainian crisis. The Obama administration wants to create an integrated Iraq devoid of jihadists and have Russia accept a pro-Western Ukraine. It also does not want to devote substantial military forces to either theater. Its dilemma is how to achieve its goals without risk. If it can’t do this, what risk will it accept or must it accept?
Strategies that minimize risk and create maximum influence are rational and should be a founding principle of any country. By this logic, the U.S. strategy ought to be to maintain the balance of power in a region using proxies and provide material support to those proxies but avoid direct military involvement until there is no other option. The most important thing is to provide the support that obviates the need for intervention.
In the Syria-Iraq theater, the United States moved from a strategy of seeking a unified state under secular pro-Western forces to one seeking a balance of power between the Alawites and jihadists. In Iraq, the United States pursued a unified government under Baghdad and is now trying to contain the Islamic State using minimal U.S. forces and Kurdish, Shiite and some Sunni proxies. If that fails, the U.S. strategy in Iraq will devolve into the strategy in Syria, namely, seeking a balance of power between factions. It is not clear that another strategy exists. The U.S. occupation of Iraq that began in 2003 did not result in a military solution, and it is not clear that a repeat of 2003 would succeed either. Any military action must be taken with a clear outcome in mind and a reasonable expectation that the allocation of forces will achieve that outcome; wishful thinking is not permitted. Realistically, air power and special operations forces on the ground are unlikely to force the Islamic State to capitulate or to result in its dissolution.
Ukraine, of course, has a different dynamic. The United States saw the events in Ukraine as either an opportunity for moral posturing or as a strategic blow to Russian national security. Either way, it had the same result: It created a challenge to fundamental Russian interests and placed Russian President Vladimir Putin in a dangerous position. His intelligence services completely failed to forecast or manage events in Kiev or to generate a broad rising in eastern Ukraine. Moreover, the Ukrainians were defeating their supporters (with the distinction between supporters and Russian troops becoming increasingly meaningless with each passing day). But it was obvious that the Russians were not simply going to let the Ukrainian reality become a fait accompli. They would counterattack. But even so, they would still have moved from once shaping Ukrainian policy to losing all but a small fragment of Ukraine. They will therefore maintain a permanently aggressive posture in a bid to recoup what has been lost.
U.S. strategy in Ukraine tracks its strategy in Syria-Iraq. First, Washington uses proxies; second, it provides material support; and third, it avoids direct military involvement. Both strategies assume that the main adversary — the Islamic State in Syria-Iraq and Russia in Ukraine — is incapable of mounting a decisive offensive, or that any offensive it mounts can be blunted with air power. But to be successful, U.S. strategy assumes there will be coherent Ukrainian and Iraqi resistance to Russia and the Islamic State, respectively. If that doesn’t materialize or dissolves, so does the strategy.
The United States is betting on risky allies. And the outcome matters in the long run. U.S. strategy prior to World Wars I and II was to limit involvement until the situation could be handled only with a massive American deployment. During the Cold War, the United States changed its strategy to a pre-commitment of at least some forces; this had a better outcome. The United States is not invulnerable to foreign threats, although those foreign threats must evolve dramatically. The earlier intervention was less costly than intervention at the last possible minute. Neither the Islamic State nor Russia poses such a threat to the United States, and it is very likely that the respective regional balance of power can contain them. But if they can’t, the crises could evolve into a more direct threat to the United States. And shaping the regional balance of power requires exertion and taking at least some risks.
Regional Balances of Power and the Black Sea
The rational move for countries like Romania, Hungary or Poland is to accommodate Russia unless they have significant guarantees from the outside. Whether fair or not, only the United States can deliver those guarantees. The same can be said about the Shia and the Kurds, both of whom the United States has abandoned in recent years, assuming that they could manage on their own.
The issue the United States faces is how to structure such support, physically and conceptually. There appear to be two distinct and unconnected theaters, and American power is limited. The situation would seem to preclude persuasive guarantees. But U.S. strategic conception must evolve away from seeing these as distinct theaters into seeing them as different aspects of the same theater: the Black Sea.
When we look at a map, we note that the Black Sea is the geographic organizing principle of these areas. The sea is the southern frontier of Ukraine and European Russia and the Caucasus, where Russian, jihadist and Iranian power converge on the Black Sea. Northern Syria and Iraq are fewer than 650 kilometers (400 miles) from the Black Sea.
The United States has had a North Atlantic strategy. It has had a Caribbean strategy, a Western Pacific strategy and so on. This did not simply mean a naval strategy. Rather, it was understood as a combined arms system of power projection that depended on naval power to provide strategic supply, delivery of troops and air power. It also placed its forces in such a configuration that the one force, or at least command structure, could provide support in multiple directions.
The United States has a strategic problem that can be addressed either as two or more unrelated problems requiring redundant resources or a single integrated solution. It is true that the Russians and the Islamic State do not see themselves as part of a single theater. But opponents don’t define theaters of operation for the United States. The first step in crafting a strategy is to define the map in a way that allows the strategist to think in terms of unity of forces rather than separation, and unity of support rather than division. It also allows the strategist to think of his regional relationships as part of an integrated strategy.
Assume for the moment that the Russians chose to intervene in the Caucasus again, that jihadists moved out of Chechnya and Dagestan into Georgia and Azerbaijan, or that Iran chose to move north. The outcome of events in the Caucasus would matter greatly to the United States. Under the current strategic structure, where U.S. decision-makers seem incapable of conceptualizing the two present strategic problems, such a third crisis would overwhelm them. But thinking in terms of securing what I’ll call the Greater Black Sea Basin would provide a framework for addressing the current thought exercise. A Black Sea strategy would define the significance of Georgia, the eastern coast of the Black Sea. Even more important, it would elevate Azerbaijan to the level of importance it should have in U.S. strategy. Without Azerbaijan, Georgia has little weight. With Azerbaijan, there is a counter to jihadists in the high Caucasus, or at least a buffer, since Azerbaijan is logically the eastern anchor of the Greater Black Sea strategy.
A Black Sea strategy would also force definition of two key relationships for the United States. The first is Turkey. Russia aside, Turkey is the major native Black Sea power. It has interests throughout the Greater Black Sea Basin, namely, in Syria, Iraq, the Caucasus, Russia and Ukraine. Thinking in terms of a Black Sea strategy, Turkey becomes one of the indispensible allies since its interests touch American interests. Aligning U.S. and Turkish strategy would be a precondition for such a strategy, meaning both nations would have to make serious policy shifts. An explicit Black Sea-centered strategy would put U.S.-Turkish relations at the forefront, and a failure to align would tell both countries that they need to re-examine their strategic relationship. At this point, U.S.-Turkish relations seem to be based on a systematic avoidance of confronting realities. With the Black Sea as a centerpiece, evasion, which is rarely useful in creating realistic strategies, would be difficult.
The Centrality of Romania
The second critical country is Romania. The Montreux Convention prohibits the unlimited transit of a naval force into the Black Sea through the Bosporus, controlled by Turkey. Romania, however, is a Black Sea nation, and no limitations apply to it, although its naval combat power is centered on a few aging frigates backed up by a half-dozen corvettes. Apart from being a potential base for aircraft for operations in the region, particularly in Ukraine, supporting Romania in building a significant naval force in the Black Sea — potentially including amphibious ships — would provide a deterrent force against the Russians and also shape affairs in the Black Sea that might motivate Turkey to cooperate with Romania and thereby work with the United States. The traditional NATO structure can survive this evolution, even though most of NATO is irrelevant to the problems facing the Black Sea Basin. Regardless of how the Syria-Iraq drama ends, it is secondary to the future of Russia’s relationship with Ukraine and the European Peninsula. Poland anchors the North European Plain, but the action for now is in the Black Sea, and that makes Romania the critical partner in the European Peninsula. It will feel the first pressure if Russia regains its position in Ukraine.
I have written frequently on the emergence — and the inevitability of the emergence — of an alliance based on the notion of the Intermarium, the land between the seas. It would stretch between the Baltic and Black seas and would be an alliance designed to contain a newly assertive Russia. I have envisioned this alliance stretching east to the Caspian, taking in Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan. The Poland-to-Romania line is already emerging. It seems obvious that given events on both sides of the Black Sea, the rest of this line will emerge.
The United States ought to adopt the policy of the Cold War. That consisted of four parts. First, allies were expected to provide the geographical foundation of defense and substantial forces to respond to threats. Second, the United States was to provide military and economic aid as necessary to support this structure. Third, the United States was to pre-position some forces as guarantors of U.S. commitment and as immediate support. And fourth, Washington was to guarantee the total commitment of all U.S. forces to defending allies, although the need to fulfill the last guarantee never arose.
The United States has an uncertain alliance structure in the Greater Black Sea Basin that is neither mutually supportive nor permits the United States a coherent power in the region given the conceptual division of the region into distinct theaters. The United States is providing aid, but again on an inconsistent basis. Some U.S. forces are involved, but their mission is unclear, it is unclear that they are in the right places, and it is unclear what the regional policy is.
Thus, U.S. policy for the moment is incoherent. A Black Sea strategy is merely a name, but sometimes a name is sufficient to focus strategic thinking. So long as the United States thinks in terms of Ukraine and Syria and Iraq as if they were on different planets, the economy of forces that coherent strategy requires will never be achieved. Thinking in terms of the Black Sea as a pivot of a single diverse and diffuse region can anchor U.S. thinking. Merely anchoring strategic concepts does not win wars, nor prevent them. But anything that provides coherence to American strategy has value.
The Greater Black Sea Basin, as broadly defined, is already the object of U.S. military and political involvement. It is just not perceived that way in military, political or even public and media calculations. It should be. For that will bring perception in line with fast-emerging reality.
Michelle Obama porn…..