Friday, July 31, 2015

Choosing wisely

I've mentioned this before, but as I have completed my clinical hours this year, I have been blessed to work with an MD who is very, very cost conscious. He has been in medicine for over 30 years, he has taught in hospitals, he has done research, he has provided expert testimony in malpractice trials, and he has run his own practice. It may surprise some, but he is fully in favor of a single payer system, and though he admits he might chafe some at changes he believes should be made, he fully believes that the way current doctors practice has a lot to do with why medicine is so expensive.

I asked him directly if he really believed tort reform is that answer, and further if he really believed that doctors order a lot of unnecessary test to just cover their ass. His response to the test part of it was that he really didn't believe that doctors did it out of covering their ass legally, rather, at least in his case, he has a fear of missing something. He also sheepishly acknowledged that providers tend to have big ego's and like ordering a test that confirms what they have already figured out. As for tort reform, he told me that in most of the cases he gave testimony in, he felt there was a clear lack of due diligence. It wasn't a matter that a test wasn't ordered as much as it was a matter that a doctor didn't really make much of a case in their notes for why they did or didn't do something. He has also said to me a few times, "You can be wrong, but you need to have a rational for why you did what you did"

This week, he showed me an awesome article in JAMA that I can't link because those bastards won't let you read anything for free on their site. In a nutshell, a patient started to develop chest pain that was basically a stable angina, IE his chest pain stopped when he sat down and rested. He was told at first he needed to go for a stent. When he asked if it would lower his risk for heart attack and whether he could be treated with just medicine, he was given a "take it or leave it" ultimatum. He went for a second opinion, and was told again to get a test without being given any real rational for what this test would do for him. In the office of a third MD, who wrote the short submission, the patient relayed his story and the third MD addressed his questions and admitted that the research is not there to support getting an aggressive procedure like a stent for his condition. So, the patient diligently worked to lose weight, change his diet, and also started a statin and an aspirin and did just fine.

The moral here, that my preceptor has been drilling into me is that the system orders and pays for countless tests and procedures that have little science to show they improve outcomes. Some maybe to cover their ass legally, but not enough to fully explain the problem. A big part of the problem is that patients are not medically literate, and countless MDs simply don't have the time to explain anything. Just this week, we saw a new patient who has had atrial fibrillation for 15 years, after I explained what that meant, she and her granddaughter said that no one had ever explained that to them. I found an interesting link I wanted to share This link talks a little more about this. For some, I understand that a single payer system will merely be a horseman of the apocalypse that indicates the end of freedom is neigh. For me, I see it as something that is long overdue if for no other reason to start to wring out the enormous inefficiency our system has. On that link, there is a section called "lists" that I think has really good information for patients.

A Dilemma

This will probably surprise no one here, but I am appalled by the case of the Dentist from Minnesota who went to Zimbabwe to kill a lion purely for sport. I simply don't understand the desire to hunt something down and kill it. It's not an even contest, and when you have to wait a day and half for the animal to die from the wounds, I'd say you aren't even giving the animal a chance to see whether it can best you. To then keep the head of the animal as a "trophy" suggest to me major, major psychological issues. After all, this is also the behavior of serial killers. I suppose those who hunt and eat what they kill are in a slightly different category and though I'm not a huge fan of that either, I kind of get it. This asshole, however, seems to do it just to feel.........something when he kills a wild animal.

Right now, his practice, his livelihood is being destroyed by protestors. From the looks of it, I don't think he could step anywhere near his practice right now, and one report said he shut it down. Looking at the protestors outside of his office, I actually was kind of reminded of what it looks like outside of abortion clinics. Abortion is legal, and on the surface, what this guy did is legal, repugnant as it may be. Now, he is on the run and though nobody would probably go through with it, I bet he has had his life threatened. The outrage and very aggressive response to this guy might actually prompt enough uncomfortable scrutiny that something is done to end the barbaric practice of big game hunting. Judging from how abortion opposers operate, it seems like they hope for basically the same thing.

Does the end justify the means?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

“Your 2014 Social Security Statement.”

See that asterisk?

The law governing benefit amounts may change because, by 2033, the payroll taxes collected will be enough to pay only about 77 percent of scheduled benefits.  Pretty sad isn't it.  If you retire and take benefits at 62.5, your looking at another reduction in benefit in 2033.

With an asterisk, my beloved government was informing me that they will be unable to fulfill their part of a financial arrangement into which, as their statement attested, I had been making mandatory contributions.

An interesting thing, I pulled my 2009 statement.
The law governing benefit amounts may change because, by 2041, the payroll taxes collected will be enough to pay only about 78 percent of your scheduled benefits.
The pain will be much, much greater when monthly Social Security benefits are rationed. Now is the time for Baby Boomers to force their elected leaders to confront this issue and take action. The planned benefit reduction should be a major talking point for every 2016 presidential candidate, but somehow it is not.  
Save you money boys and girls.  The money you thought the government was going to give back to you in your old age may be less than you expect.

How many people actually read the entire statement?

Tea Party Core Values

Core Values
Fiscal Responsibility: We support fiscal responsibility through reasonable spending, balanced budgets and reduced debt at the federal, state and local levels. Assuring that government honors and respects the freedom of the individual to earn and spend the money that is the fruit of their own labor. Deficit spending as now practiced in Washington D.C. compels us to take action as the increasing national debt is a grave threat to our national sovereignty and the personal and economic liberty of our children.

Constitutionally Limited Government: We support a constitutionally limited government of the people, by the people and for the people to protect the personal liberty of the individual, within the rule of law. We believe in the original intent of our founders and reject the flagrant disregard of the Constitution as practiced in the courts. We support states' rights for those powers not expressly stated in the Constitution. We are inspired by our founding documents and regard the Constitution of the United States to be the supreme law of the land.

Free Markets: A free market economy is the foundation of the country and its people. Government's interference distorts the free market and inhibits the pursuit of individual and growth. Therefore, we support free market principles on which this nation was founded and oppose government intervention into the operations of private business through unfounded rules and regulation.

Windows 10 - FYI

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What is the purpose of the parties?

 Why does the democratic party exist.  To serve their constituency.  When a Democrat is elected as president are they the president of the US or the president of the Democratic party serving it's following.  The ACA is the perfect example of a president serving his followers and not representing the majority.

I would argue their president serves their party and it's members.  Majority means nothing.  The rest of the country means nothing.  Serve the party faithful is everything to a democrat president.  The current president is the president of the Democratic party.

Why does the republican party exist?  Perhaps you believe the Republican Party exists as the party of limited government and free markets.
Not likely as the Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell went so far as to blatantly make the lie he told his fellow Senators that no deal had been cut with interested Democrats during an earlier debate to reanimate an entity of pure corporate welfare, the Export-Import Bank – a priority so critical he would box out all other attempts to attach amendments to what is considered a “must-pass” measure, the Highway Bill. 
Perhaps you believe the Republican Party exists as a national security party, which believes in a clear-eyed trust but verify approach to dealing with our enemies. This is impossible after the past few months, where the Senate Republicans completely ceded their Constitutional duty regarding the Iran deal, putting them in the wonderful position (so politically advantageous in the realm of domestic policy) of decrying this deal as awful without being on the hook for anything that happens because of it.

As the purpose of the Democratic party is clear, the purpose of the repub's seems unclear and undefined.

The democrats serve a minority and the repubs serve themselves.  Seems it's time for a party for the rest of America.

A Rebellion in the Republican Party?

This report form Fox News:

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., sure knows how to party.
Meadows marked his 56th birthday Tuesday, by scheduling to move with his wife Debbie from one apartment to another in Washington, D.C. And somewhere in between packing dishes into corrugated boxes, Meadows filed an unprecedented resolution to oust House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
In a single stroke, the rebellious congressman has not only infuriated the GOP leadership but scrambled their plans of using the August recess to focus on the Iran deal and a web of other issues. Now, the House goes into recess with this debate churning, even if the push stands little chance of succeeding.    
"We will be getting bogged down on who is speaker over the August recess," seethed Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y. "We could end up like a European parliament. We should be talking about Iran. It's terrible."
Incidentally, the resolution also had to do with moving furniture. It seeks to compel Boehner to give up the speaker's suite, with a parliamentary motion known as "vacating the chair."
"The Speaker has, through inaction, caused the power of Congress to atrophy, thereby making Congress subservient to the Executive and Judicial branches, diminishing the voice of the American People," Meadows wrote in his resolution to bump Boehner from his leadership perch.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hey Tough Guys, You Happy With Obama Now?

So, now we have apparently reached a deal with the Turks to create an "ISIS Free" zone in Syria. This map here shows the zone. What it doesn't show is that basically all of the rest of the border on either side of the zone, is more or less controlled by the Kurds from the Syrian side, and this, of course, does not sit well with the Turks.

How, exactly, we are going to participate in creating this zone is not entirely clear. Apparently our planes will be taking off from Incirclik in Turkey, and the land in question in the zone to be created, appears to contain at least one city that is VERY important to apocalyptic radicals who believe the end of the world starts there. Prior to this, the Turks, allegedly, have shown very little willingness to police their border and have allowed quite a few Jihadists to pass through the border into Syria. Considering that Obama is a well known ignorer of border infiltrations, it seems odd that that we should be joining forces with Turkey, especially since the US has been helping the Kurds fight Assad.

The participants, of course, deny that this is the start of a bigger incursion into Syria. However, it seems quite interesting that the Turks finally decided enough was enough when some ISIS asshole blew himself up inside of Turkey. It seems that for some time now, ISIS has desperately wanted to pull us into combat with them, on their land (or at least on the land they have conquered) and we have refused giving that to them. So, question of the day for the warmongers who think Obama has been too much of a pussy to topple Assad and "take it to ISIS", are you happy with this latest move?

Looking at how badly Iraq has gone off the rails, I feel like we have a perpetual problem dealing with this region, that problem is that the sectarian allegiances there are simply nuts. Saddam was really bad, but more or less secular in his government, which provided a counterbalance to the endless Islamic faction fighting. We seemingly don't control the outcome of any land that we won't physically occupy, which leaves us in a spot of constantly backing rag tag rebel groups, like the Kurds, despite the fact that the Kurds are kind of also disliked by people like the Turks, with whom we have better relations. So what are we doing here? Is this the first step into occupying Syria? What happens when and if Syria goes completely up of grabs?

The American ISIS

After hearing the Huckseter's comments (noted elsewhere) and after hearing Cruz say that Obama will become the leading financier of radical Islamic terror and of course, after listening to Trump on any day of the week, I have become convinced that the far right in this country has become an Americanized ISIS. Whereas the real ISIS seems to thrive on finding as many sadistic ways possible to horrifically murder people, the far right ISIS of America thrives on finding as many bombastic ways possible as they can to denounce Obama and claim that liberals are destroying everything sacred that given to us as a gift from the Christian God.

Admittedly, I have long felt that in terms of ideological driven fervor, there is little that separates the far right from the radical Imams of Islam, minus the wholesale slaughter of the unbelievers that is. The radical Islamists make the claim that the wickedness of the infidels, is a threat to their vision of purity. In this country, replace the Koran with the Constitution, and you have pretty much the same fervor and radical belief that all of our problems are due to the fact that we do not maintain a mindset rooted in the 1700's. True, when we invaded Iraq, the war was well supported by Democrats in Washington, but I have to rhetorically ask if we would have been there if W Bush was not so beholden to Cheney and the other neocons. The bombast, the fervor that I hear in people like Cruz, Huckabee and Trump sounds a lot like the screaming of the purist radical Imams. Once the flap over these latest remarks die down, a new flap will arise when a couple of these fundamentalists say something else because their base will demand it and strategically, they will need to keep out crazying each other to keep drawing new hoards of pissed off people who will contribute as much rage (and hopefully money) to the cause as they can.

ISIS seems to be drawing hoards of young people from all over the globe to go fight and take part in the slaughter of non believers. Though nobody is being slaughtered in THIS country, yet, I hear a seething rage in the far right rhetoric. Further, I hear a promise that if given the chance, the contenders will throw down and bring wholesale slaughter to the middle east to anyone who utters a word of contempt toward Israel. There is a growing militancy in this country that alarms me. When I start to hear calls to arms and exponentially growing bombast, I start to think that history has plenty of examples of how such movements go horribly wrong.

The Other Side Of The Same Coin… Another Perspective

I’ve been quite preoccupied of late and have only stopped in occasionally for a read of the current arm waving and some recent articles about slavery, the confederate flag and the state of race relations in America have ….well… Agitated me..   Any time the subject touches on race and racism in the US on this forum I have been compelled to chime in but the subject has so many facets that brief comments do not suffice ….so as time permitted, I cogitated, jotted down a few thoughts, checked some facts and tried to put them into something readable..  Sorry for the length but this isn’t just some short story or one act play and the myths… they do run deep.  A particular apology to King who finds lengthy reads a physical chore.

Let’s cut to the chase here and talk about what is really going on with this long and continual rewrite and scrubbing of history.  The truth can certainly be written out of history and that will surely affect the future.  The last 50 years of social indoctrination via public education is proof of that. It doesn’t change the facts and until the Ministry of Truth is totally up and running plenty of text exists to dispute the distortions which unfortunately dominate most of the internet reading on this subject… IF you are really interested looking for it and not just trying to affirm your own bias.

Fact is, the north (present day Northeast) has always attempted to manipulate and control the rest of the country to its advantage and so it is with the history of slavery and the economic issues surrounding it.  It has done so to its own enrichment and quite cunningly managed to extricate itself from any real ownership of blame or responsibility.

As the story has been evolved… folks in the north never had many slaves, and the ones they did have were practically family. “We let them marry, we taught them to read, and soon enough, we freed them.”  New England is the home of abolitionists and underground railroads. In the story of slavery — and by extension, the story of race and racism in modern-day America — northerners are the heroes while southerners were and still are the racist villains.

Traveling the historic cities and townships of the northeast ( I have lived in Maine, New York and New Jersey) you begin to see these great seaports and historic stately homes everywhere you look. You can follow the wealth back to the agricultural trade of the West Indies, to the trade of bodies in Africa, to the unpaid labor of black people in both the north and the south. … Profits that compound day by day and year by year right up to the present …. Profits which pays for all the influence necessary to rewrite the uncomfortable and promulgate the desirable…. In our schools, our papers and the increasingly skewed interpretation of our founding documents…

William Faulkner once said, “To understand the world, you have to understand a place like Mississippi.”

Of course the state was swept along by the global economic force created by its favourable climate for growing cotton, the demand by cotton textile manufacturing in Europe, and New York’s financial and commercial interests. Mississippi did not exist in a vacuum. So, in a sense, Faulkner’s words could be reversed: “To understand Mississippi, you have to understand the world.”

The northern colonies were the first to enshrine into law perpetual slavery (Mass in 1641)as opposed to indentured servitude that obligated so many who travelled to the new world and did so a full generation before any colony in the south(S.Carolina 1682).  The influence of the Dutch was felt mostly in the middle states; they had long embraced perpetual slavery. Again the story is told that the north never had many slaves but we never talk about main reason why… the weather.  Agriculture, land clearance and building were side-lined for long periods of the year with slaves sitting dangerously and expensively idol for months at a time.  That limitation did not exist in the south.  The question here of coarse is, if the conditions had been more favourable would the north have embraced its moral stance quite so readily.  This however wasn’t a total impediment to the use of plantation slaves in the north.  While Wikipedia provides a lengthy list of plantations it fails to show any in Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York yet there is a growing library of historical evidence that they existed in quantity and some, like one near Salem Mass were as large as 13,000 acres.

Commercially New England was the financier and slave merchant to the US.  Slaves traded and the crops produced by them enriched banks, insurance companies, ship builders, textile mills, railroads, clothiers, distilleries and slave traders of the north.  The profits were so lucrative that it actually fuelled the industrial expansion of the north... 

If you are interested,  study the founding and early profits of these companies (a short list)… keeping in mind the power of compound interest over two or three hundred years and the influence that money has had on what you know of the subject and your life from birth to present.

Lehman Brothers
JP Morgan
New York Life
Norfork Southern and CSX railroads
USA Todays
Fleet Boston financial
Brown Brothers Harriman
Brooks Brothers

Look at the history of Wall Street… and who built the wall….

One company of many with an interesting history of ‘diversity’ is DeWolfs. Founded by James DeWolf one of the ‘Grand Folk’ of Bristol Road Island.  Member of Bristol general assembly and later US Senator with family business in privateering, Banking, textiles, shipping , molasses, sugar cane, rum distillation. His successor son dodged the war of 1812 and continued illegal slave trade after the war and long after it was made illegal in the US.  All of the family businesses were interlinked.. Banks bought the boats from New England ship builders and the trading companies that sailed them.  They owned sugar cane plantations in Cuba and when the price of slaves was low, they worked them in the Cuban fields waiting for favourable prices anywhere in the western hemisphere.  When slaves were outlawed in New England they bought them cheap and sailed to  New Orleans by way of Cuba to trade slaves for cotton… returning the cotton to their textile mills in New England or sugar cane for their rum distilleries.

The book Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited From Slavery by Anne Farrow, Joel Lang and Jenifer Frank catalogues how New York City after Paris and London were built on bricks of cotton and how individuals like Philadelphia doctor Samuel Morton with is ‘scientific research’ fuelled the belief and extended the effects of the French Code Noir (Black Code) published as an edict by Louis XIV in March 1685 and the Arab beliefs before it, that black Africans were inferior in both intellect, capacity and character thus placing them in a sub human category and helping to insure that blacks all over the world still exist as second class citizens in the minds of a significant percentage of other races and cultures… not just whites and not just America.

Of course the northern cities of Boston and New York were none too shy about hosting plantation owners who escaped the hot southern summer’s spending money in it hotels, restaurants and theatres, selling them the fine textiles produced with cheap southern cotton and a durable and functional range of slave attire which gave Brooks Brothers its start. The Adirondack’s in New York saw an explosion of resorts on the back of the wealth both northern and southern in the 1850’s. Cape May New Jersey became a thriving seaside destination for plantation owners and politicians… Sen. Abraham Lincoln and his family vacationed there.

Slavery was part and parcel of the building and creation of the northern aristocracy and by extension, its prosperity. As pointed out in the book by Craig Wilder Ebony and Ivory the Universities(NYTimes review)  of Brown, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Yale, Dartmouth, Pennsylvania, and William and Mary all have founding connections to either slave labor in building the structures or slave money to fund them.

I see no reason here why some of Americas leading and most prestigious institutions would have an interest in deflecting the story away from themselves… do you?

The collective amnesia about local slavery's existence and the standard of living enjoyed because of slavery in general became a significant component of New England regional identity; An identity that tenaciously persists in American race relations today.

I do not argue about the hideousness of slavery but that the focus of the subject is much broader than some, for their own political and perhaps economic narrative would choose to ignore.  It is in this denial that race relations and what it would actually take to repair them is actually rooted.

The common retort to all of this is that the north outlawed slave imports in 1808 and in 1804 the last northern state outlawed slavery.  In some technical measure this is true but significant evidence exists showing that exemptions existed in New York until 1827, Connecticut until 1848, Delaware and Maryland until after the war.

 Rather noble, the call for dismantling slavery, when you consider how minimal the actual disruption to the economy of the north was.  Easy thing to do when you can just refocus your investment banks away from loans that built the plantations to new endeavours, continue to import your slave produced sugar cane and molasses from the Caribbean for your rum distilleries, repurpose your ships to carry different cargo and find new products to insure and ultimately raise tariffs so that southern producers were forced to sell their products to the north rather than the open market.  While many slaves in the north were indeed freed, many found themselves sold to traders, put on slave ships and transported to the many sugar producing islands outside of the US only to later be resold in the US south or transferred directly from north to south… if they lived.  One might call that ‘cutting your losses’ rather than benevolence.   This doesn’t even address the subject of just what life was like as a freed slave in the northern culture that freed so many blacks into conditions worse than slavery itself especially if you had a family to care for as they could expect to receive the lowest wages of anyone… if they could even find a job at all. 

Walking away from the slave culture was not quite so easy when the monoculture of ‘King Cotton’ was as important to the south as oil is to the Middle East and when it is the financial bases for US industrial expansion and government revenue.   To understand our racial problems today, getting to the root of all of this faux nobility is important.

Right up to the civil war northern merchant’s ships, fitted for slaves carried rum to Africa and slaves to the American south, the Caribbean, Cuba and Brazil.  As a matter of fact 1859-1860 was a peak period in this trade from northern American ports.  The American navy wasn’t particularly zealous in capturing these ships and while the British navy was much more robust, America would not allow its US flagged ships to be boarded … other vessels soon found the benefits of flying a US flag and set up companies in New York and Boston for the purpose..   While the US is singled out because it would not allow US ships to be boarded one must take note that the importation as much as half of the Brazilian slave population occurred after 1808 and the US was hardly the sole supplier. Brazil was the last country in the western hemisphere to officially end slavery with its own emancipation proclamation in 1888 although the integration of blacks into Brazilian life was much faster given that the freed black population was large and comparable in size to the indigenous population… it became a majority in 2009.

The New York Times wrote this article in July 1860 about the state of the slave trade and while acknowledging the work that had been done it admonished the government for its less than assertive enforcement of US Law.  It gives a list of ships leaving New York harbour in the previous year asking just how serious the government was that these known ships could clear US customs…. From a northern harbour.

Of course for all noise of northern abolitionists, New York City was none too interested in harming the hand that feeds it.  On Jan. 7, 1861, two days before Mississippi became the second state to secede, Mayor Fernando Wood delivered a message to the Common Council, the city’s governing body, proposing that New York assert its independence as a “free city” by “disrupting the bands which bind her to a venal and corrupt master” — that is, the Union.  The purpose of course was that New York was the harbour to many slave ships and its docks and streets full of warehouses, trade operations, banking and insurance companies heavily vested in their success.

“With our aggrieved brethren of the Slave States, we have friendly relations and a common sympathy.”

While support for secession was not high and support for preservation of the union was generally positive, for a number of reasons after the change in rational for the war with the emancipation proclamation and the national inscription act forcing people into service, people took to the streets in the draft riots of 1863.  One of the many reasons was that the change of reason for the war meant fighting a war that they no longer believed in as well as the many jobs supported by the cotton growing south.

Much of the South’s cotton exports passed through New York, and the city’s merchants took 40 cents of every dollar that Europeans paid for Southern cotton through warehouse fees, shipping, insurance and profits. Cotton — and hence slavery — helped, as told by a 2011 New York Times article,  build the new marble-fronted mercantile buildings in lower Manhattan, fill Broadway hotels and stores with customers, and build block after block of fashionable brownstones north of 14th Street.

Most New Englanders did not care that the cotton that clothed and employed them was produced by slaves because for them it became sanitized once it left the plantation.  For all of the bravado we hear about northern abolitionist, a boycott of cotton products never gained any significant support or enough to significantly influence the northern mills or stockists… or the pay checks of their many workers.

Liverpool, the Wirral, Lancashire and most of the surrounding area in England, had strong political, emotional and financial connections and sympathies with the Confederate States during the Civil War. Indeed, so strong were these connections that it has been quoted that at one time "more Confederate flags fluttered above Liverpool than over Richmond"

While the recognition that slavery was, by moral and economic necessity, coming to an end, many in England saw the hypocrisy of a President Lincoln starting a war over a Union preservation crisis fuelled by tariffs that greatly effected them and then issuing the emancipation proclamation a year and a half after the war had started to garner sympathy and were very cognisant of the fact that it did not affect the border states.  They were little impressed with the letter that Lincoln sent to Lancashire seeking their support.  Even the aristocracies of both France and England had strong sympathies with the South because up to the later part of 1862 the north had explicitly stated that the reason for war was the preservation of the union, a democratic creation not particularly admired by European governance.  The starting of the war to them was never the moral issue of slavery.

The CSS Alabama was one of several ships built in Liverpool shipyards… what made it unique was that it was manned almost exclusively by British sailors.  While both France and England were threatened to stay out of the war much opposition arose first from the tariffs which created a ‘cotton famine’ displacing large numbers of workers in both countries but when the focus switched from taxation to emancipation both countries understood the problems of freeing large populations of slave all at once as folly and considered gradual emancipation is the proper solution.

As I said at the beginning, the north-eastern states have always used their money and influence to push the country in a direction that best benefited their own pockets and political interests.  In this discussion, taxes and the tariffs enacted in their name have a large part to play in sectionalism between north south.  While Lincoln may have used the war to preserve the union and stop the expansion of slavery, he too had no desire to cut off the revenues that streamed from the sale of cotton, but much like the colonies relationship with Britain, the lopsided way the states were taxed caused considerable friction.  This friction is dismissed as a distraction to the ‘real’ cause of the civil war… slavery(Read Lincolns inaugural address )… but they were part and parcel of the north south divide ever since the constitution approved direct taxation and apportionment.  It was clear from the beginning that some saw this as a way to control the US economy rather than just a method to fund federal government functions…something the northern states exploited time and time again in its economic contests with the south and later with the agricultural and mining west. As inconvenient as it may be for northern apologists, the subject of tariffs were bitterly argued over long before slavery was an issue.

The issues of the purpose for tariffs, states’ rights and the concept of nullification came up along sectional lines with the tariff of 1828 branded the “tariff of abominations.”  The tariff enacting up to 62% tax on most all imported manufactured goods and was designed specifically to protect northern industry.  It was seriously opposed as unconstitutional in that the federal government had no right to pick business winners and losers using tariffs agreed upon to be a method of revenue collection and not economic manipulation. Previous to the Morall introduced taxes in 1861 the south already provided over 65% of the federal revenue but received little in return for its contribution.

Army Engineer officers surveyed and selected routes, planned, designed, and constructed rights-of-way, track, and structures, and introduced the Army's system of reports and accountability to the railroad companies. More than one in ten of the 1,058 graduates from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point between 1802 and 1866 became corporate presidents, chief engineers, treasurers, superintendents and general managers of railroad companies.  These railroad companies had no problem using slave labor it the construction of their networks either. 

The federal government provided financing for a national road that connected the Ohio valley with the east coast and land grants that benefited railroads expanding to the Midwest.  These expenditures came directly from the federal coffers and were used mostly in the north.

With respect for the reasons the south seceded I would like to point out the Corwin amendment… also known as the original 13th amendment.  Passed by both houses of congress on March 2 1861, the amendment if ratified would enshrine slavery as a specific tenet of the constitution under the direction of state and not federal law. This amendment only required 3 more states to ratify it.  President Lincoln personally sent letters to each state informing them of this reality.  The question is, if secession was about slavery and not oppressive taxation then why did the southern states not re-enter the union knowing slavery would be safe and why, if Lincoln cared so much about ending slavery, did he use it as an enticement only to later give the emancipation proclamation to rev up support for a war he was losing?

An unfortunate consequence of this use of revenues to manipulate commerce was the broad expansion of the original intent of the commerce clause and with these precedents set, the welfare clause as well as necessary and proper.

While the issue of slavery was a morally messy issue prior to the civil war and much ink was spilled over it in the creation of the constitution (that agreement between the parties under which they would agree to join into a union in the first place) it was never the less legal under the constitution.  While the resolution of that compromise can be debated from many different angles, it is perfectly clear that the outcome of the civil war which created the 13th and 14th amendments unequivocally altered the relationship of the US with slavery and both federal and state governments’ responsibilities to its citizens with respect to the US Constitution.

There was no ambiguity, yet time and time again the US Federal government failed miserably to live up to its responsibilities under the constitution.  I have said previously that had the federal government utilized in a non-discriminatory way, citizens as defined after the emancipation in its own functioning, the subject of racial division after the 13th amendment would have started to heal 150 years ago.  The fact is that the Federal government itself, in contravention of its own operating instructions perpetuated discrimination and racial division between whites and blacks into the 1950’s and acted as a ‘do as I do’ example to state governments; some of which were culturally predestine to follow the federal lead.  It had segregated work and military forces and glass ceilings everywhere in its structure. One thing that happened in the south after the end of the war was a repeat of what had happened to freed slaves of the north only with exponential magnitude.  They were given the poorest wages and the least opportunities only in the south the population disparity made assimilation and tolerance even that much more difficult. 

After the 13th amendment we get the 14th. An amendment that brought state constitutions under the same restrictions with respect to citizens’ rights as the US constitution yet we get a hideous decision of the Supreme Court in 1896 somehow interpreting the constitution as allowing government to forcibly separate citizens by race and by extension in any fashion that struck its fancy.  So for another 70 years we give permission for a southern culture raised in racial division to remain that way.  While only rationalization can provide the excuses for southerner’s treatment of blacks, the Supreme Court of the United States gave them permission…. The US government gave them example. 

The interesting thing about Plessy v. Ferguson 163 U.S. 537 (1896) is the makeup of the court that gave racial segregation legal cover.

Name                                             POR        POB      
Henry Billings Brown (Author)     Mich         Mass. 
Melville Weston Fuller                Ill.            Maine 
Stephen Johnson Field               Calif.       Conn.
Horace Gray,                              Mass.       Mass.
George Shiras, Jr.,                      Pa.           Pa.
Byron Raymond White,               La.*          La.
Rufus Wheeler Peckham ,           N.Y.          N.Y.

John M. Harlan,                             Ky.          Ky.

With the exception of Byron White who hailed from the state which brought the lawsuit, all the other justices to the affirmative were born in the north and either resided in the state of birth or moved to another ‘free’ state.

In his lone dissenting opinion, which would become a classic of American civil rights jurisprudence, Associate Justice John Marshall Harlan insisted that the court had ignored the obvious purpose of the Separate Car Act, which was, “under the guise of giving equal accommodation for whites and blacks, to compel the latter to keep to themselves while traveling in railroad passenger coaches.” Because it presupposed—and was universally understood to presuppose—the inferiority of African Americans, the act imposed a badge of servitude upon them in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment. The effect of the law, he argued, was to interfere with the personal liberty and freedom of movement of both African Americans and whites. Because it thus attempted to regulate the civil rights of citizens on the arbitrary basis of their race, the act was repugnant to the principle of legal equality underlying the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal-protection clause. “Our Constitution is color-blind.” 

His decent here expresses my exact sentiments with regards to this case but equally with the provisions of the1964 civil rights act which installed forced integration which again denied people their rights as citizens to free association.

Harlan and his family had owned slaves in Kentucky, and during the Civil War he staunchly defended the right to slavery as a constitutional provision. At the same time, however, he also joined the Union Army to fight to preserve the Union. After the Civil War ended, he, in line with the constitutions amended principles became a defender of civil rights for African-Americans... a justice who followed the constitution and not is prejudices.

Once again it would seem the north has through sleight of hand and in disregard of the constitution which bound the individual states together, found a way to continue the subjugation of not only a race but a region of the country it had serious economic dispute with.

Of course defenders of the northern righteousness focus on the fact that separate but equal allowed the racist southern states to keep doing what they were doing.  This rhetoric provides not a hint of recognition that in New York City in the 1960s provided a woefully inadequate state of black and Puerto-Rican majority schools…the schools’ obvious inequality with white schools due to de facto segregation.

Blacks in New York City, due to housing discrimination, poverty, and white flight, found themselves forced into living in already-existing slums in Harlem.

A scene usually widely publisized with desegregation of schools in the Deep South, occurred at Charlestown High in Boston, Massachusetts. Boston had been regarded as the "cradle of liberty" ever since it played a pivotal role in the American Revolution, but two hundred years later, a court-ordered plan that utilized busing to achieve integration of the city's public schools led to frequent protests, demonstrations, and confrontations between blacks and whites. Northerners who had called for desegregation in Southern schools for decades soon discovered that their own schools were just as segregated and that integrating them was just as difficult.

The fight to desegregate Philadelphia schools began in 1970 when the state Human Relations Commission filed a complaint against the Philadelphia School District for its segregated school system. The commission ordered the district to eliminate its racist segregation by 1974.

Delaware, after Plessy v Ferguson changed its constitution to mandate separate schools not only for whites and black but for Indians and instituted similar segregation for orphanages, old age homes and athletic programs.  Elsewhere the state maintained its racial separations in communities as it was before the civil war.

One could go on with comments like this for Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago and almost all areas of the north east… point is, Plessy v Ferguson wasn’t just a green light to southern racism. The spotlight on the souths adamant and vocal belief in states’ rights and rights of association as well as clear and open racial animosity provided the diversion northerners needed to deflect the subject of racism away from themselves.

Dismantling the myths of slavery doesn’t mean ignoring the activities of New England movements in ending it. In the 1830s and ’40s, an entire network of white Connecticut abolitionists emerged to house, feed, clothe, and aid in the legal defense of Africans from the slave ship Amistad, a legendary case that went all the way to the US Supreme Court and helped mobilize the fight against slavery… but celebrating that does in no way diminish the responsibility for the introduction and perpetuation of slavery in the US nor does it grant unlimited license to bury its continued manipulation of this entire country for its own power and enrichment.

Nothing presented here in any way absolves the south for its responsibility in the history of slavery and racial strife in the US.  The small 3% of the population that actually owned slaves, including my own relatives, have a special cross to bear.  The other 97% with their fears of such a large angry population being freed or the loss of their livelihoods or the belief in the inferiority of the black race are culpable for standing by, much like a group of people watching a helpless woman being beaten and raped without anyone lifting a finger.  The south owns its part for slavery and racism in America… now it’s time for the rest of the country to admit its part…

 One fact that is seldom told is that race relations in America are improving year on year even in the very demonized south, in spite of government meddling…  at lease up until this president.  Of course the media and the political factions that use race in their power plays hate it….  Unfortunately because these people need racial division for their own gain, they now as in the past, create distortions in law, government power and history that prevents us from putting racial tensions in the past… that prevent blacks from learning to stand on their own two feet… to succeed or fail on their own terms.   As a matter of fact these laws and distortions of the constitution restrain us all from our pursuit of happiness.  Then again, independent minded individuals are as much of a threat to the people in control of our country present day as independent slaves threatened the power structure of the south.

Today, progressives are justly suspicious of the high-flown “freedom” rhetoric our government deploys to advance American empire. But we need always to be sceptical of reductive, righteous narratives. Far from promoting morality, such fictions allow us to hide our worst impulses from ourselves.

The United States and indeed most of the western world is destine to destroy itself if it doesn’t wake up and realize the truths and realities as they are.  Firstly whites were not the first to enslave people nor are they destine to be the last.  Every culture on this planet has, at one time or another subjected people, White, Black, Brown and Yellow, against their will, to the desires of their masters… they still do.   To blame the ill effects of the world on whites in general and American whites in specific is to deny the rather mean spirited trait that runs through humanity…  Its not much different than the propensity for the rather unique human trait of killing for pleasure… it certainly isn’t a manifest of whites but within America we need to honestly come to terms with the fact that some people don’t want equal justice under the law… some people… people who actually pull the strings in this country do not, even today consider ‘all men’ to be equal under the law.

Just the other day in the New York Times was an article about Hillary addressing a heavily African-American audience in which she stated, in a rather feeble attempt to sway votes,  “It’s essential that we all stand up and say, loudly and clearly, that, yes, black lives matter.”   The audience it would seem wasn’t impressed. Why? Because they knew that she has no idea what it means to rid America of institutional racism… she has no idea how to rid America of institutional anything because at the end of the day, she is part of the institution and so close to the problem that she can’t see that she is part of it.  Bush it would seem made similarly incognizant comments in New Hampshire.

As time went on in the south, folks on the religious right used their faith to guide their actions with respect to the blacks living there.  They rationalised blacks as incapable of taking care of themselves. They found it to be a religious obligation to care for them because absolute freedom, absolute choice, education without the necessary skills to use it would, without question, result in failure and hardship for these less than capable beings and consequently for the society that surrounded them.

This rational from the civil war forward has kept black people under the paternal care and supervision of the white man… enforced by law.    Society has indeed evolved but even as the methods have changed, the chains remain…  Ever since the New Deal northerners took charge, blacks have once again fallen under the benevolent hand of the white man and the constitution continues to fade into the background. Black unemployment is high(government unsuccessfully pulls the levers of business and plays favourites), school grades low(government creates standardized failure and refuses to allow people to escape it), incarceration high(government created a new industry that feeds itself with an overly policed state), success low(if your trapped in a government built  ghetto or a government program breaking free of that orbit is tough).. but through 100’s of government programs and in their magnanimous benevolence they will give you what exactly what they think you need…

As Hillary told here audience yesterday in a manner that projected absolute authority of conviction (sarcasm)…“And we all have a responsibility to face these hard truths about race and justice honestly and directly.”

The bad thing is that the paternalism that controls the blacks of America also attempts to control us all…  It is time that the federal government live up to its obligations under the constitution and leave citizens to sort out their relationships with each other.

Today 40 states have passed or have legislation in process reaffirming there sovereign rights under the constitution of these United States; coincidentally (or not) not one of those states are located in the North East…

Monday, July 27, 2015

This map shows the US really has 11 separate 'nations' with entirely different cultures

11 Nations

In his fourth book, "American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures in North America," award-winning author Colin Woodard identifies 11 distinct cultures that have historically divided the US.
"The country has been arguing about a lot of fundamental things lately including state roles and individual liberty," Woodard, a Maine native who won the 2012 George Polk Award for investigative reporting, told Business Insider.
"[But] in order to have any productive conversation on these issues," he added, "you need to know where you come from. Once you know where you are coming from it will help move the conversation forward."
Here's how Woodard describes each nation:


Encompassing the entire northeast north of New York City as well as parts of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, Yankeedom values education, intellectual achievement, communal empowerment, and citizen participation in government as a shield against tyranny. Yankees are comfortable with government regulation. Woodard notes that Yankees have a "Utopian streak." The area was settled by radical Calvinists.


A highly commercial culture, New Netherland is "materialistic, with a profound tolerance for ethnic and religious diversity and an unflinching commitment to the freedom of inquiry and conscience," according to Woodard. It is a natural ally with Yankeedom and encompasses New York City and northern New Jersey. The area was settled by the Dutch. 


Settled by English Quakers, The Midlands are a welcoming middle-class society that spawned the culture of the "American Heartland." Political opinion is moderate and government regulation is frowned upon. Woodard calls the ethnically diverse Midlands "America's great swing region." Within the Midlands are parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska.


Tidewater was built by the young English gentry in the area around the Chesapeake Bay and North Carolina. Starting as a feudal society that embraced slavery, the region places a high value on respect for authority and tradition. Woodard notes that Tidewater is in decline today, partly because "it has been eaten away by the expanding federal halos around D.C. and Norfolk."


Colonized by settlers from the war-ravaged borderlands of Northern Ireland, northern England, and the Scottish lowlands, Greater Appalachia is stereotyped as the land of hillbillies and rednecks. Woodard says Appalachia values personal sovereignty and individual liberty and is "intensely suspicious of lowland aristocrats and Yankee social engineers alike." It sides with the Deep South to counter the influence of federal government. Within Greater Appalachia are parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Indiana, Illinois, and Texas.


The Deep South was established by English slave lords from Barbados and was styled as a West Indies-style slave society, Woodard notes. It has a very rigid social structure and fights against government regulation that threatens individual liberty. Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, Georgia, and South Carolina are all part of the Deep South.


Composed of the borderlands of the Spanish American empire, El Norte is "a place apart" from the rest of America, according to Woodard. Hispanic culture dominates in the area, and the region values independence, self-sufficiency, and hard work above all else. Parts of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California are in El Norte.


Colonized by New Englanders and Appalachian Midwesterners, the Left Coast is a hybrid of "Yankee utopianism and Appalachian self-expression and exploration," Woodard says, adding that it is the staunchest ally of Yankeedom. Coastal California, Oregon, and Washington are in the Left Coast.


The conservative west. Developed through large investment in industry, yet where inhabitants continue to "resent" the Eastern interests that initially controlled that investment. Among Far West states are Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Washington, Oregon, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Nebraska, Kansas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California. 


A pocket of liberalism nestled in the Deep South, its people are consensus driven, tolerant, and comfortable with government involvement in the economy. Woodard says New France is among the most liberal places in North America. New France is focused around New Orleans in Louisiana as well as the Canadian province of Quebec.


Comprised of Native Americans, the First Nation's members enjoy tribal sovereignty in the US. Woodard says the territory of the First Nations is huge, but its population is less than 300,000, most of whom live in the northern reaches of Canada.

Woodard says that among these 11 nations, Yankeedom and the Deep South exert the most influence and are constantly competing with each other for the hearts and minds of the other nations.
"We are trapped in brinkmanship because there is not a lot of wiggle room between Yankee and Southern Culture," Woodard says. "Those two nations would never see eye to eye on anything besides an external threat."

Woodard also believes the nation is likely to become more polarized, even though America is becoming a more diverse place everyday. He says this is because people are "self-sorting."

"People choose to move to places where they identify with  the values. Red minorities go south and blue minorities go north to be in the majority," Woodard explains. "This is why blue states are getting bluer and red states are getting redder and the middle is getting smaller."