Friday, January 29, 2016


I came to see what's fueling the passions of voters in the 2016 election. If you happen to be one of the tens of millions of Americans who are working harder than ever but getting nowhere, and you feel the system is rigged against you and in favor of the rich and powerful, you will go in one of two directions.

Either you will be attracted to an authoritarian bigot who promises to make America great again by keeping out people different from you and recreating high-paying jobs in America. Someone who sounds like he won't let anything or anybody stand in his way, and who's so rich he can't be bought off.

Or you'll be attracted to a political activist who tells it like it is, who has lived by his convictions for 50 years, who won't take a dime of money from big corporations or Wall Street or the very rich, and who is leading a grass-roots "political revolution" to regain control over our democracy and economy. In other words, you will be enticed either by a would-be dictator who promises to bring power back to the people, or by a movement leader who asks you to join together with others to bring power back to the people.

...Bernie Sanders is the most qualified candidate to create the political system we should have because he's leading a political movement for change.

By Robert Reich

The Democratic contest has repeatedly been characterized as a choice between Hillary Clinton's "pragmatism" and Bernie Sanders's "idealism" – with the not-so-subtle message that realists choose pragmatism over idealism.

But this way of framing the choice ignores the biggest reality of all: the unprecedented, and increasing, concentration of income, wealth and power at the very top, combined with declining real incomes for most and persistent poverty for the bottom fifth.

The real choice isn't "pragmatism" or "idealism." It's either allowing these trends to worsen, or reversing them. Inequality has reached levels last seen in the era of the "robber barons" in the 1890s. The only truly pragmatic way of reversing this state of affairs is through a "political revolution" that mobilizes millions of Americans.

Is such a mobilization possible? One pundit recently warned Democrats that change happens incrementally, by accepting half loaves as being better than none. That may be true, but the full loaf has to be large and bold enough in the first place to make the half loaf meaningful. And not even a half loaf is possible unless or until America wrests back power from the executives of large corporations, Wall Street bankers and billionaires who now control the bakery.

I've been in and around Washington for almost 50 years, including a stint in the cabinet, and I've learned that real change happens only when a substantial share of the American public is mobilized, organized, energized and determined to make it happen. That's more the case now than ever.

The other day Bill Clinton attacked Sanders's proposal for a single-payer health plan as unfeasible and a "recipe for gridlock." But these days, nothing of any significance is politically feasible and every bold idea is a recipe for gridlock. This election is about changing the parameters of what's feasible and ending the choke hold of big money on our political system. In other words, it's about power – whether the very wealthy who now have it will keep it, or whether average Americans will get some as well.

How badly is political power concentrated in America among the very wealthy? A study published in the fall of 2014 by two of America's most respected political scientists, Princeton professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern's Benjamin Page, suggests it's extremely concentrated.

Gilens and Page undertook a detailed analysis of 1,799 policy issues, seeking to determine the relative influence on them of economic elites, business groups, mass-based interest groups and average citizens. Their conclusion was dramatic: "The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically nonsignificant impact upon public policy." Instead, Gilens and Page found that lawmakers respond almost exclusively to the moneyed interests – those with the most lobbying prowess and deepest pockets to bankroll campaigns.

I find it particularly sobering that Gilens and Page's data came from the period 1981 to 2002. That was before the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United opinion, which opened the floodgates to big money in politics, and before the explosion of Super Pacs and secretive "dark money" whose sources do not have to be disclosed by campaigns. It stands to reason that if average Americans had a "near-zero" impact on public policy then, the influence of average Americans is now zero.

Most Americans don't need a detailed empirical study to convince them of this. They feel disenfranchised, and angry toward a political-economic system that seems rigged against them. This was confirmed for me a few months ago when I was on book tour in America's heartland, and kept hearing from people who said they were trying to make up their minds in the upcoming election between supporting Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump.

At first I was incredulous. After all, Sanders and Trump are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. It was only after several discussions that I began to understand the connection. Most of these people said they were incensed by "crony capitalism," by which they meant political payoffs by big corporations and Wall Street banks that result in special favors such as the Wall Street bailout of 2008.

They wanted to close tax loopholes for the rich, such as the special "carried interest" tax break for hedge-fund and private-equity partners. They wanted to reduce the market power of pharmaceutical companies and big health insurers, which they thought resulted in exorbitant prices. They were angry about trade treaties that they characterized as selling-out American workers while rewarding corporate executives and big investors.

Somewhere in all this I came to see what's fueling the passions of voters in the 2016 election. If you happen to be one of the tens of millions of Americans who are working harder than ever but getting nowhere, and you feel the system is rigged against you and in favor of the rich and powerful, you will go in one of two directions.

Either you will be attracted to an authoritarian bigot who promises to make America great again by keeping out people different from you and recreating high-paying jobs in America. Someone who sounds like he won't let anything or anybody stand in his way, and who's so rich he can't be bought off.

Or you'll be attracted to a political activist who tells it like it is, who has lived by his convictions for 50 years, who won't take a dime of money from big corporations or Wall Street or the very rich, and who is leading a grass-roots "political revolution" to regain control over our democracy and economy. In other words, you will be enticed either by a would-be dictator who promises to bring power back to the people, or by a movement leader who asks you to join together with others to bring power back to the people.

Of the two, I would prefer the latter. But what about the "pragmatic" Hillary Clinton? I have worked closely with her and have nothing but respect for her. In my view, she's clearly the most qualified candidate for president of the political system we now have.

But the political system we now have is profoundly broken. Bernie Sanders is the most qualified candidate to create the political system we should have because he's leading a political movement for change.

About author ROBERT B. REICH, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock" and "The Work of Nations." His latest, "Beyond Outrage," is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His new film, "Inequality for All," is now available on Netflix, iTunes, DVD, and On Demand.


Monday, January 25, 2016

Why cursive handwriting is still important

It's unfortunate that in this technological age, while adding in so many new skills, we are leaving important ones behind in the education of our children.  It's almost as though we are ignoring human traits that need nurturing for a positive development of the personality.  Printing and typing aren't a sufficient substitute for the feelings/emotions that can be expressed and conveyed to others in cursive writing. 
I agree that handwriting is important for all the reasons given in this article -- and not even mentioned in it:  the science of graphology* can tell a lot about a person as well. 

Graphology is the analysis of the physical characteristics and patterns of handwriting helpful in being able to identify the writer, indicating psychological state at the time of writing, or evaluating personality characteristics.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Hillary blames Bernie for economic hustle authorized by the Clintons

A must-read for everyone before casting your vote in the primaries.  "Chutzpah" is too nice a word for it.  "Hypocrisy" covers it better, but a new word must be invented for this kind of political chicanery.  Bernie Sanders stands tall (and getting taller every day) against the lies and accusations being flung at him by the ever-more-nervous Clintons who now see Bernie as a major threat to their second-time-around White House residency plans.   Please share this with friends.

Hillary Blames Bernie for an Old Clintonite Hustle, and That's a Rotten Shame

By Robert Scheer

The Clintons have no shame, that much you can count on. That stupefying arrogance was on full display in the most recent presidential campaign debate when Hillary Clinton countered Bernie Sanders' charge that she was compromised by her close ties to Goldman Sachs and other rapacious Wall Street interests with the retort: "Sen. Sanders, you're the only one on this stage that voted to deregulate the financial markets in 2000, ... to make the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission no longer able to regulate swaps and derivatives, which were one of the main causes of the collapse in '08."

Hillary knows that the disastrous legislation, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act (CFMA), had nothing to do with Sanders and everything to do with then-President Bill Clinton, who devoted his presidency to sucking up to Wall Street. Clinton signed this bill into law as a lame-duck president, ensuring his wife would have massive Wall Street contributions for her Senate run.

Sanders, like the rest of Congress, was blackmailed into voting for the bill because it was tucked into omnibus legislation needed to keep the government operating. Only libertarian Ron Paul and three other House members had the guts to cast a nay vote. The measure freeing Wall Street firms from regulation was inserted at the last moment in a deal between President Clinton and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm, R-Texas, who had failed in an earlier attempt to get the measure enacted. Clinton signed it into law a month before leaving office.

Sanders soon figured out that he and almost all other Congress members had been tricked into providing a blank check for the marketing of bogus collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps made legal by the legislation, of which a key author was Gary Gensler, the former Goldman Sachs partner recruited by Clinton to be undersecretary of the treasury.

Eight years later, when President Obama nominated Gensler to head the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, it was Sanders who put a temporary hold on the nomination, stating: "Mr. Gensler worked with Sen. Phil Gramm and [former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman] Alan Greenspan to exempt credit default swaps from regulation, which led to the collapse of AIG and has resulted in the largest taxpayer bailout in U.S. history."

Today, Gensler is the top economic adviser to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. And the CFMA—key legislation that was "one of the main causes of the collapse in '08," enabling the great recession—is an enormous embarrassment that her husband on occasion reluctantly has conceded was drafted by his top aides and signed into law by him with great enthusiasm.

In an awkward power-couple footnote, Greenspan, chief prophet of radical banking deregulation, is married to NBC journalist Andrea Mitchell, one of the two debate moderators Sunday night, who pointedly challenged Sanders with questions about his integrity in his call for reform of the economy. But not as awkward as Hillary having been prepped by her debate adviser Gensler to attack Sanders for his vote for legislation that Gensler wrote when working for her husband.

Who are these Clintonites who now have the temerity to blame Sanders for the economic hustles they authorized?

Gensler in 1999 testified before Congress in support of the total deregulation of toxic derivatives: "OTC derivatives directly and indirectly support higher investment and growth in living standards in the United States and around the world." As for the credit default swaps, the phony insurance packages that brought AIG to its knees and almost destroyed the world economy, Gensler testified that they should be exempted by his proposed legislation from regulation existing under the Commodity Exchange Act: "swap transactions should not be regulated under the CEA." Had they been, the financial crisis could have been avoided.

Along with Gensler, Robert Rubin, who was Clinton's treasury secretary and a former Goldman Sachs chairman, and Lawrence Summers, a Rubin aide who succeeded the treasury secretary before the bill was passed, engineered this legislation, which became law and which Hillary Clinton now has the effrontery to blame on Bernie Sanders.

The same Rubin-Summers wrecking crew had also destroyed the sensible restraints on Wall Street greed, implemented as the Glass-Steagall Act by the administration of Franklin Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression. Hillary Clinton defends the repeal of Glass-Steagall's separation of commercial and investment banking, while Sanders wants it reinstated.

That repeal, as well as preventing any regulation of the toxic mortgage packages and swaps that still hobble the world economy and wiped out the fortunes of black and brown people with particular severity, is Bill Clinton's horrid legacy, and it is one that his wife now attempts to blame on Bernie Sanders. Shame.



I see Trump is bringing in Sarah Palin to endorse him in Iowa today -- what a pair, truly made for each other.  Wouldn't it be something if Trump chooses Sarah for his Vice President running mate?  This is one match-up that John McCain would most certainly applaud and encourage.  McCain hates Trump and would be delighted to see "the Donald" saddled with "the Sarah."  Who knows better than McCain what THAT is like? 

It's interesting that Trump thinks Sarah will be a benefit to his campaign.  I think most Republicans (except for some mouth-breathing knuckle draggers in the Tea Party) would have learned their Sarah Palin lesson by now and see her as a "yuge" detriment.  Trump seems to know what type his supporters are -- he is banking that there are a few morons left in the TP who see Sarah as intelligent (perhaps in comparison to them). 

The ruin of the GOP is upon them and the Trump/Cruz supporters don't even realize how far they have sunk into comic absurdity as their party crumbles beneath them.  The following article tells the tale well:

By P.M.Carpenter

One can always count on David Brooks to exacerbate his party's snarled predicament while attempting to untangle it. He's adrift in pronounced panic over the haunting spectres of Trumpism and Cruzism, and yet he can't see the fundamental source of either's strength, which is America's presumed and sudden weakness; its debilities, its deformities, its unspeakable decline, all of which are GOP fictions hustled by both tea partiers and Brooks' Establishment for seven distorted years.

Messrs. Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Christie and others in the Republican presidential sewer are the voices of hyperpartisan darkness because their party demands it; years of Obamian foulness (or so the party line has gone) have brought the nation to the brink of doom and Lordy Lord what is to be done, indeed what can be done? America is in free-fall collapse, its enemies laugh at us and manipulate us and in general have their way with us, while at home a dystopian stench has set in.

President Obama is an iron-handed dictator who accomplishes every evil he dreams of, although he accomplishes these evils while being hopelessly incompetent. "Feckless" is the GOP's Orwellian word for the president's ruthless effectiveness. And just part — there are many, many parts — of Obama's entrenched evil is that he's indifferent to everyday Americans. Nay, he is positively hostile to everyday Americans. Unlike Trump, who attended Wharton, and quite unlike Cruz, who attended Princeton and Harvard, Obama is an Ivy League elitist who simply cannot "relate" to anyone clinging to guns and religion. Such has been the Brooksian, Establishment party line.

What has Obama's wickedness yielded? Trump and Cruz, of course, who of course terrify the dazed and disoriented David Brooks. Yet Obama's wickedness, indifference and unprecedented despotism have, according to Mr. Brooks today, also yielded a mass of "less-educated voters [who] are in the middle of a tidal wave of trauma." No less than a tidal wave, mind you, and no less than a traumatic one. "Labor force participation is dropping," continues Brooks, "wages are sliding, suicide rates are rising, heroin addiction is rising, faith in American institutions is dissolving."

Let's put aside that labor participation is dropping because America is aging, and that employment gains, under Obama, have been brisk. Let's put aside that though sluggishly, wages have in fact been rising — not sliding. And let us put aside that your average American neighborhood is hardly an opium den of addiction marked by mass suicide, or that American institutions, while weaker, are still standing. Let us try to put all this aside.

Can we — that is to say, can most of Brooks' readers? No they cannot. Why? Because David Brooks and propagandistic friends have been pounding their Establishment message of dystopian gloom ever since the giddy Elysium of George W. Bush faded. Whenever they haven't been labeled absolute evils, healthcare expansion and financial reform and even economic recovery and employment gains have been dismissed by the right's commentariat as mere nothings. Fear, anxiety and fatalism have instead been promoted — dangled relentlessly and recklessly before the reading base and viewing rubes, who've swallowed every last hyper-alarming word of it. The Republican Party is now draped in nothing but darkness.

This, it should be noted with equal relentlessness and no apologies, is what the GOP Establishment hath wrought. It is not a creation of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz; it is, rather, the creation of John Boehner, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, David Brooks & Ink-Slinging Friends. It has damned them to the narrowest of electoral hells — a damnation they're just now noticing.

Reader's Comment

the blame game

The mystery of the 2016 election looms. We were on the "slippery slope" long before, but the tumble down the mountain side began in earnest as of the 9-11 cataclysmic disaster and its aftermath. While it was mostly an evil "miracle" that it was so successful, that all the details fell in place unnoticed in its planning, it was most definitely planned with the highest players in the US government. In short, a conspiracy. But as in most conspiracies, a lot of accidental things happened along the way to bring it off.

It was the starting point of the present, rotten mess we got, all of which was as well calculated and advanced by a few ring leaders, and the multitudes of greedy vultures on the edges playing along. After bush/cheney, we got obama/geithner. We were totally blind-sided by these last two, and I suppose with the bush business too. This crash was not an accident.

So, now we are playing the blame game, as tho' there is much else to do right now. What is different now than with the guys who precipitated the crash, for them it was easy to derail the train. All you gotta do is screw up the track a little on a steep grade going down, and gravity does the rest. Clearing the wreckage and manufacturing a whole new train takes time and work and money. And a lot of good organization and expertise.

This is where we are now with the crash, only we don't have the money, organization, or insightful expertise to get it done, plus that, we still got a whole bunch of secret saboteurs interrupting the rescue and recovery. And that's not an accident either.

To keep the money flowing to the top and most of us too deep in shock to realize what is happening, just trying to survive, we need all the mayhem, war, and terrorism. It keeps us preoccupied first of all and helpless and losing our rights, scared, and not willing to admit what has been done to us. We refuse to believe people in power could be so conniving and ruthless. It is too horrifying even to imagine.

And to compound our incredulity, we now are fussing over our candidates, arguing and fighting over which candidate can, or will be willing, to do anything about our mess.

And in truth, none of them have the foggiest idea what can be done, first of all, the options are so limited, and second, any candidate who becomes president will be facing the same stacked deck as did Obama. They will be all alone facing an army of well disciplined psychopathic private mercenaries who intend to keep citizens disoriented, and the money flowing to the top.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Great video: 102-year-old woman sees herself on film as 1930s dancer

Can't help but smile seeing this video (~.~)  What a beautiful woman (both then and now)!  Hers has been a life well lived.  ENJOY!

Another Medical OOPS! Common heartburn drugs linked with kidney disease

Common heartburn drugs linked with kidney disease

Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid are part of a class of heartburn drugs called proton pump inhibitors. A new study links them to increased risk of kidney disease.

A type of heartburn medication called proton pump inhibitors may be linked to long-term kidney damage, a new study suggests.

Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid belong to this class of drugs, which treat heartburn and acid reflux by lowering the amount of acid produced by the stomach.

People who use proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) have a 20 percent to 50 percent higher risk of chronic kidney disease compared with nonusers, said lead author Dr. Morgan Grams, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

The study was published Jan. 11 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study doesn't establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the drugs and chronic kidney disease. However, Grams said, "We found there was an increasing risk associated with an increasing dose. That suggests that perhaps this observed effect is real."

Proton pump inhibitors were used by more than 15 million Americans in 2013, according to background notes.

But as many as 70 percent of these prescriptions have been handed out inappropriately, and 25 percent of long-term users could stop taking the medication without suffering increased heartburn or acid reflux, the study authors said.

Use of the prescription heartburn drugs already has been linked to short-term kidney problems such as acute kidney injury and an inflammatory kidney disease called acute interstitial nephritis, Grams said.

Newer studies now show a link between the drugs and chronic kidney disease, in which the kidneys lose their ability to filter blood effectively.

Over time, chronic kidney disease can lead to kidney failure, forcing someone to undergo regular dialysis and possibly a kidney transplant, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

In this new study, researchers used data on self-reported proton pump inhibitors use among more than 10,000 people taking part in a national study on hardening of the arteries. The researchers also evaluated data on outpatient PPI prescriptions among nearly 250,000 patients of a health care system in Pennsylvania.

From the start, PPI users in both groups were more likely to have health problems, such as obesity, high blood pressure and heart problems, the study noted.

In both groups, researchers associated use of the drugs with an increased risk of chronic kidney disease over 10 years.

The researchers also compared people using the drugs once a day with people who used them twice a day. They found twice-daily use was associated with a 46 percent increased risk of chronic kidney disease, versus a 15 percent increased risk in those taking one daily dose.

No one is sure how the drugs might damage the kidneys, but a couple of leading theories exist, Grams said. The medications can cause magnesium levels to decline in the body, and a lack of this important mineral could damage the kidneys. The kidneys also might become damaged over time if patients suffer repeated bouts of acute kidney inflammation due to proton pump inhibitors.

Gastroenterologists already are cautious regarding the use of the drugs, because they've been tied to other health problems such as bone fractures and infections of C. difficile and pneumonia, said Dr. Arun Swaminath, director of the inflammatory bowel disease program at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

"We have started to limit the time you have to be on it, and limit the amount you take," Swaminath said.

Because the new study isn't a clinical trial, it doesn't prove that PPI use causes chronic kidney disease, said Dr. Kenneth DeVault, president of the American College of Gastroenterology and chair of medicine at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla.

"These types of studies, these big data studies, can sometimes suggest a signal that something's going on, but I don't know if they prove it," DeVault said.

It's possible that the drug users suffer chronic kidney disease more often because they have overall poorer health, he said.

Grams said the study authors tried to address that concern by comparing PPI users to people using another heartburn medication called H2 blockers. Both patient groups tended to be equally unhealthy, but PPI users had a 39 percent higher risk of chronic kidney disease, the researchers said.

While this study shouldn't lead anyone to knee-jerk stop using proton pump inhibitors, people who use them regularly should talk with their doctor about whether they really need them, Grams and DeVault said.

"If you don't need these medicines, you shouldn't take them," DeVault said. "That said, there are reflux patients with heartburn who really need the PPIs to help them with their symptoms."

Doctors also might opt to prescribe an H2 blocker like Pepcid, Tagamet or Zantac. "To me, this is a cheaper, safer alternative that might work as well with some patients," Swaminath said.


Friday, January 08, 2016

Cruz's mother's birth certificate has been "found" Yeah, Right!

But do you believe it? I sure don't!  I'll bet it is a forgery! It sure looks fake to me!  I mean, who would believe a photo of something spurious like this, purporting to be a real birth certificate?  The Republicans taught us how phony these things can be with all of their relentless birther investigations re. Obama. Trump still doesn't believe Obama is a legitimate citizen of the U.S.  He and the Tea Party supporters have never believed he is an American citizen, no matter how many birth certificates or proofs have been shown. 

Thankfully the Republicans, for whom there will never be enough proof, have taught us that these things just can't be believed simply because a birth certificate has been presented -- and any such "proof" should always be questioned unendingly--forevermore.  Therefore, Ted Cruz can't possibly be an American citizen, no matter what this phony certificate says about his mother.  No, I'll never believe it!  Please join me in my Birther March against Ted Cruz, starting this afternoon in the downtown area (wherever you live).  We will be joined by John McCain, who just said today that Cruz's claim to U.S. citizenship needs to be looked into further.