Monday, March 31, 2014

Weird Enuf Fer Ya? News From Barbaria: #51

GOP's Anti-Medicaid Expansion Body Count, By State

Not just selfish but murderous.


The Hard Central Fact Of Contemporary Conservatism

The hard, central "fact" of contemporary "conservatism" is its insistence on a socio-economic threshold above which people deserve government assistance, and below which people deserve to die. 

The sooner the better. 

Unless conservatives are showing n'er-do-wells The Door of Doom, they just don't "feel right." 

To allay this chthonic anxiety, they resort to Human Sacrifice,  hoping that spilled blood will placate "the angry gods," including the ones they've made of themselves. 

Having poked their eyes out, they fail to see  that self-generated wrath creates "the gods" who hold them thrall.

Almost "to a man," contemporary "conservatives" have apotheosized themselves and now -- sitting on God's usurped throne -- are rabid to pass Final Judgment

Self-proclaimed Christians, eager to thrust "the undeserving" through The Gates of Hell, are the very people most likely to cross its threshold. 

Remarkably, none of them are tempted to believe this. 

Despite the catastrophic launch of the web site last fall, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is on pace to hit and surpass the CBO's most recent forecast of 6 million private insurance subscribers by the March 31 enrollment deadline. All told, at least 13 million people will obtain insurance coverage as a result of Obamacare, including 3 million young adults under age 26 added to their parents' (a majority of them Republican) policies. As with President Bush's Medicare Part D prescription rug plan 8 years ago, ACA approval is climbing. The markets, too, have spoken, with stock prices for major insurers surging as their CEOs signal their pleasure with the total number and age mix of their new customers.
But given the unprecedented four-year Republican war to smother it in its cradle, Obamacare's recovery is all the more remarkable. A seemingly unending torrent of court challenges by state Republicans and right-wing front groups has held up ACA implementation in many states. (If they succeed in Halbig v. Sebelius, they will effectively undo the Affordable Care Act in 34 states altogether.) A misinformation campaign about make-believe deficits, mythical "death panels," a pretend "government takeover of health care" and a supposedly simultaneous insurance industry "death spiral" and "bailout" left Americans—especially the uninsured—fearful, confused and shockingly ill-informed.
Yet as damaging as that uncertainty and chaos has been, the Republican Party's scorched-earth opposition to Obamacare is producing something far worse: a body count. That's not hyperbole, but a grim reality. Due to what might be the greatest act of political spite in modern American history, Republicans will needlessly leave millions of people uninsured, many hospitals on the edge of financial ruin and thousands of Americans dead, mostly in the states the GOP itself controls.
Here's how the Republicans' killer math works.
Prior to the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, studies from the Urban Institute,Families USA and Harvard Medical School estimated the numbers of preventable deaths among America's 50 million uninsured at between 22,000 and 45,000 a year. But as 25 plus million Americans gain coverage over the next decade (according to the nonpartisan CBO), that unnecessary death toll would drop dramatically. Just not, it turns out, in the GOP-dominated states that refused to accept the Affordable Care Act's expansion of Medicaid to millions of their currently uninsured constituents.

That's the conclusion a team of researchers from Harvard Medical School recently published in Health Affairs. The authors of "Opting Out Of Medicaid Expansion: The Health And Financial Impacts" tallied up the coming body count in the Republican states that rejected the ACA's extension of Medicaid to millions of their residents:
Nationwide, 47,950,687 people were uninsured in 2012; the number of uninsured is expected to decrease by about 16 million after implementation of the ACA, leaving 32,202,633 uninsured. Nearly 8 million of these remaining uninsured would have gotten coverage had their state opted in. States opting in to Medicaid expansion will experience a decrease of 48.9 percent in their uninsured population versus an 18.1 percent decrease in opt-out states...
We estimate the number of deaths attributable to the lack of Medicaid expansion in opt-out states at between 7,115 and 17,104. Medicaid expansion in opt-out states would have resulted in 712,037 fewer persons screening positive for depression and 240,700 fewer individuals suffering catastrophic medical expenditures. Medicaid expansion in these states would have resulted in 422,553 more diabetics receiving medication for their illness, 195,492 more mammograms among women age 50-64 years and 443,677 more pap smears among women age 21-64. Expansion would have resulted in an additional 658,888 women in need of mammograms gaining insurance, as well as 3.1 million women who should receive regular pap smears.
To put those findings in terms Republicans can understand, up to 3,000 of Rick Perry's Texans will needlessly die each year. Those dead will be joined by up to 671 from Scott Walker's Wisconsin, 1,176 in Nathan Deal's Georgia, 2,221 in Rick Scott's Florida and 1,145 in Pat McGrory's North Carolina. It's no wonder Ohio GOP Gov. John Kasich got biblical on Buckeye State Republicans to extend Medicaid coverage to 300,000 of their state's residents:
"When you die and get to the meeting with St. Peter, he's probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small, but he's going to ask you what you did for the poor. You'd better have a good answer."
The impact, if not the death toll, of red state rejectionism even got the attention of the reliably Republican Wall Street Journal. Six months after outlets like McClatchy warned of the looming "coverage gap," the Journal reported:
For now, nearly five million people ages 18 to 64 get no financial help to buy coverage because of the gap, according to estimates by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Many of those people are clustered in the South, living in states where income limits for Medicaid coverage have historically been among the lowest in the U.S.
Which is exactly right. Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government provides subsidies for individuals and families earning between 138 percent and 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to purchase private health insurance. Below that level, Uncle Sam pays for Medicaid coverage. Unless you happen to live in one of the 24 GOP-controlled states which said no to the Medicaid expansion.
In those states, generally the very ones where health care is the worst, the current reach of Medicaid is shocking. As the Journal noted, Alabama's Medicaid program has an income ceiling of $2,832 for a family of two, after deductions. As the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler explained three years ago:
Mississippi provides some of the lowest Medicaid benefits to working adults in the nation. A parent who isn't working can qualify only if annual family income is less than 24 percent of the poverty line. Working parents qualify only if they make no more than 44 percent of the federal poverty level. Seniors and people with disabilities are eligible with income at 80 percent of the poverty line...
Translated from the federal poverty guidelines, that means a working Mississippi couple with one child could earn no more than $8,150 a year and still qualify for Medicaid, seniors and people with disabilities could earn no more than $8,700, and a pregnant woman could earn no more than $20,000 a year.
It's no wonder McClatchy described the coverage gap as "a bureaucratic twilight zone where people with poverty-level incomes don't qualify for Medicaid and can't get tax credits to help buy coverage on the new insurance marketplaces."
To call the Medicaid-denying states "bureaucratic twilight zones" is being kind. In a very real sense, their leaders are true death panelists, condemning thousands of their constituents annually by refusing to accept billions of dollars from Washington that are virtually free.
The federal government will pay for 100 percent of the cost of the Medicaid expansion until 2017 and 90 percent after that. Each state is then on the hook for the other 10 percent. The loss to rejectionist red state coffers, the Commonwealth Fund found, is staggering. As USA Today summed it up:
By 2022, Texas could lose $9.2 billion by not expanding Medicaid as allowed under the Affordable Care Act, while Florida could lose $5 billion over that period, the study conducted by The Commonwealth Fund shows...Also during that period, the study showed, Georgia could lose $2.9 billion, while Virginia could lose $2.8 billion.
"There are no states where the taxpayers would actually gain by not expanding Medicaid," said Sherry Glied, lead author on the study. "Nobody wins."
Nobody wins, analyses show, because the Republican Medicaid deniers are being penny wise and pound foolish. The billions the "opt-out" states saved by not expanding Medicaid in future years will be more than offset by their extra costs to compensate hospitals and other providers for the care of the uninsured. As Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas summed up an analysis by the RAND Corporation of 14 Medicaid rejecting states last year:
It finds that the result will be they get $8.4 billion less in federal funding, have to spend an extra $1 billion in uncompensated care, and end up with about 3.6 million fewer insured residents.
So then, the math works out like this: States rejecting the expansion will spend much more, get much, much less, and leave millions of their residents uninsured. That's a lot of self-inflicted pain to make a political point.
A lot of pain, indeed, especially in Georgia. There, Gov. Deal said no to $33 billion in new federal Medicaid funding over the next decade. But as the federal government significantly reduces funding on Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments for the care of the uninsured, states like Georgia which turned down Obamacare's Medicaid dollars will be on the hook to make up the difference. For Grady Memorial Hospital, the largest in the metro Atlanta area, what could have been an annual boon of $60 million and coverage for 27,000 uninsured patients instead will be a $45 million loss. In February, a fourth rural hospital announced it was shutting its doors due to a lack of patients who can pay for their medical expenses. As the New York Times reported in November, Memorial Hospital in Savannah, Georgia, "is now facing the loss of nearly half of its roughly $100 million in annual subsidies known as disproportionate share hospital payments."
The Times explained how the Republican temper tantrum after the Supreme Court made Medicaid expansion optional for the states is putting red state hospitals at risk:
Now, in a perverse twist, many of the poor people who rely on safety-net hospitals like Memorial will be doubly unlucky. A government subsidy, little known outside health policy circles but critical to the hospitals' survival, is being sharply reduced under the new health law.
The subsidy, which for years has helped defray the cost of uncompensated and undercompensated care, was cut substantially on the assumption that the hospitals would replace much of the lost income with payments for patients newly covered by Medicaid or private insurance. But now the hospitals in states like Georgia will get neither the new Medicaid patients nor most of the old subsidies, which many say are crucial to the mission of care for the poor.
Which is just one of the reasons why an increasing number of red state governors are accepting the dollars from DC. GOP governors in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio ran the numbers. In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich's decision to take Washington's money will actually produce a $400 million surplus for the Buckeye State (one which Republican legislators want to give away in the form of more tax cuts). The simple math-and simpler consideration in insuring millions of indigent patients as the DSH funding is reduced over time is precisely why hospital associations in TexasKentuckyMississippiNorth Carolina and every other state pleaded with Republican governors and legislatures to take Obamacare's money for Medicaid expansion. In October, the Fitch ratings agency released a special report titled, "Adverse Expansion: Hospitals, States and Medicaid," which warned that:
"Hospitals operating in states not expanding Medicaid, which usually have higher uninsured and poverty rates, will have to absorb the full impact of the ACA reimbursement cuts without the full benefit of increased insured volumes," said Adam Kates, Director in Fitch's Public Finance group. Texas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina are not expanding Medicaid and have among the highest uninsured and poverty rates, and some of the most stringent Medicaid eligibility requirements. Fitch believes hospitals in these states, particularly those with weak payer mixes, will be particularly vulnerable.
It's no wonder Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, certainly no friend of Barack Obama, explained her decision to extend Medicaid coverage to 300,000 more people in her state this way:
"It's pro-life, it's saving lives, it is creating jobs, it is saving hospitals."
Just not in the states where Republicans said no.
The GOP's poisonous opposition to the Affordable Care Act is proving toxic to red state residents in myriad other ways as well. Despite the fact that Medicare has used a virtually identical outreach program for over 20 years, Missouri, Texas and seven other GOP-dominated states have erected draconian barriers to the work of so-called Obamacare "navigators."The network of community groups, non-profit organizations, hospitals and universities receiving funds to assist and enroll new insurance subscribers are being blocked from doing so. As the Texas Tribune reported, the result is that "only 12 percent of Texans who are estimated to be eligible for subsidies have actually enrolled," leavings tens of millions of dollars in federal subsidies on the table. In Florida, by contrast, the Democratic Party's extensive infrastructure and outreach to nonprofits has helped overcome the intransigence of the Republican-controlled governor's mansion and legislature:
More than 440,000 Florida residents had been enrolled through the federal marketplace through the end of February, putting Florida on pace to exceed the federal government's initial projections by the time enrollment closes March 31.
The numbers are impressive for a state where Republicans control the governor's mansion and both houses of the Legislature. By comparison, Republican-leaning Texas has enrolled 295,000 through the federal site, even though its population is about a third larger than Florida's.
The conservative skullduggery doesn't end there. Several Representatives, like Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), announced they would not answer constituent calls about the Affordable Care Act. In August, Texas joined Arizona, Alabama, Missouri, Oklahoma and Wyoming in refusing to guarantee that insurance companies follow the ACA's new regulations. Residents of those states encountering abuses by insurers will have to contact the feds instead.
Now, the roll-out of Obamacare hasn't been derailed in every red state. Idaho and North Carolina have blown past the projections for private insurance purchases. In Kentucky, a state that supported Mitt Romney over Barack Obama by a two-to-one margin, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear has led a model implementation of the state's health care exchange and Medicaid expansion.
During the 2012 presidential campaign, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus made a startling statement. The president, Priebus charged, "stole $700 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare," adding, "If any person in this entire debate has blood on their hands in regard to Medicare, it's Barack Obama." That was a pretty remarkable claim for the RNC chief to make. After all, 95 percent of Republicans in Congress have voted three years in a row for the Paul Ryan House GOP budget that uses the exact same $700 billion in savings from Medicare providers to help fund a massive tax cut windfall for the wealthy. (That farce was repeated last fall, when the Republicans who shut down the government over their aborted effort to "defund Obamacare" nevertheless wanted to keep very dollar in revenue the Affordable Care Act raised or saved.)
But Priebus' slander was absurd for a more basic reason. Thanks to his Republican Party and its all-out war on the Affordable Care Act, up to 17,000 Americans will needlessly die each year. Not because Republicans fear Obamacare will fail, but because they fear it will succeed. With the Affordable Care Act now the law of the land, the GOP's red state death toll can't be attributed to philosophical or budgetary objections, but instead just to sheer spite.

Weird Enuf Fer Ya? News From Barbaria: #50

Tom Tomorrow: America's Facade Of Rationality

Frontline: "God In America" - A Six Part History Starting With "The Puritans"

Lincoln was persistently troubled by Christians who considered themselves absolutely right.


"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction." 
Devout Christian, Blaise Pascal


I just concluded Episode 3 of Frontline's five part "God In America" - a surpassingly good production. Episode 1 reveals Anne Hutchinson as progenitor of The Tea Party. Episode 2 focuses the spread of evangelical Christianity into The Bible Belt... followed by bitter contempt for Catholic immigrants more beholden to the Roman Church than the "exceptional" American state. Episode 3 reveals a side of Lincoln previously unknown to me - how this witty, melancholic man engaged The Civil War, the emancipation of slaves, and following beloved Willie's death, his new "sense" of God and how God "informed" The Civil War.

Willie, left
Tad, right
Mary Todd Lincoln

"The Lincoln Photo Album"

Imagine Saying This

"Advice for a Happy Life" by Charles Murray

Charles Murray Interview Video:

Consider marrying young. Be wary of grand passions. Watch "Groundhog Day" repeatedly. Charles Murray, author of "The Curmudgeon's Guide to Getting Ahead," joins the News Hub with some advice for young adults on living a good life. 
The transition from college to adult life is treacherous, and this is nowhere more visible than among new college graduates in their first real jobs. A few years ago, I took it upon myself to start writing tips for the young staff where I work about how to avoid doing things that would make their supervisors write them off. It began as a lark as I wrote tips with titles such as, "Excise the word 'like' from your spoken English."
But eventually, I found myself getting into the deeper waters of how to go about living a good life. At that point, I had to deal with a reality: When it comes to a life filled with deep and lasting satisfactions, most of the clichés are true. How could I make them sound fresh to a new generation? Here's how I tried.
1. Consider Marrying Young
The age of marriage for college graduates has been increasing for decades, and this cultural shift has been a good thing. Many 22-year-olds are saved from bad marriages because they go into relationships at that age assuming that marriage is still out of the question.
But should you assume that marriage is still out of the question when you're 25? Twenty-seven? I'm not suggesting that you decide ahead of time that you will get married in your 20s. You've got to wait until the right person comes along. I'm just pointing out that you shouldn't exclude the possibility. If you wait until your 30s, your marriage is likely to be a merger. If you get married in your 20s, it is likely to be a startup.
Merger marriages are what you tend to see on the weddings pages of the Sunday New York Times: highly educated couples in their 30s, both people well on their way to success. Lots of things can be said in favor of merger marriages. The bride and groom may be more mature, less likely to outgrow each other or to feel impelled, 10 years into the marriage, to make up for their lost youth.
But let me put in a word for startup marriages, in which the success of the partners isn't yet assured. The groom with his new architecture degree is still designing stairwells, and the bride is starting her third year of medical school. Their income doesn't leave them impoverished, but they have to watch every penny.

5 Rules for a Happy Life

Charles Murray offers some tips on how to live to the fullest, adapted from his new book, 'The Curmudgeon's Guide to Getting Ahead.' Luci Gutiérrez
What are the advantages of a startup marriage? For one thing, you will both have memories of your life together when it was all still up in the air. You'll have fun remembering the years when you went from being scared newcomers to the point at which you realized you were going to make it.
Even more important, you and your spouse will have made your way together. Whatever happens, you will have shared the experience. And each of you will know that you wouldn't have become the person you are without the other.
Many merger marriages are happy, but a certain kind of symbiosis, where two people become more than the sum of the individuals, is perhaps more common in startups.
2. Learn How to Recognize Your Soul Mate
Ready for some clichés about marriage? Here they come. Because they're true.
Marry someone with similar tastes and preferences. Which tastes and preferences? The ones that will affect life almost every day.
It is OK if you like the ballet and your spouse doesn't. Reasonable people can accommodate each other on such differences. But if you dislike each other's friends, or don't get each other's senses of humor or—especially—if you have different ethical impulses, break it off and find someone else.
Personal habits that you find objectionable are probably deal-breakers. Jacques Barzun identified the top three as punctuality, orderliness and thriftiness. It doesn't make any difference which point of the spectrum you're on, he observed: "Some couples are very happy living always in debt, always being late, and finding leftover pizza under a sofa cushion." You just have to be at the same point on the spectrum. Intractable differences will become, over time, a fingernail dragged across the blackboard of a marriage.
What you see is what you're going to get. If something about your prospective spouse bothers you but you think that you can change your beloved after you're married, you're wrong. Be prepared to live with whatever bothers you—or forget it. Your spouse will undoubtedly change during a long marriage but not in ways you can predict or control.
It is absolutely crucial that you really, really like your spouse. You hear it all the time from people who are in great marriages: "I'm married to my best friend." They are being literal. A good working definition of "soul mate" is "your closest friend, to whom you are also sexually attracted."
Here are two things to worry about as you look for that person: Do you sometimes pick at each other's sore spots? You like the same things, have fun together, the sex is great, but one of you is controlling, or nags the other, or won't let a difference of opinion go or knowingly says things that will hurt you. Break it off.
Another cause for worry is the grand passion. You know a relationship is a grand passion if you find yourself behaving like an adolescent long after adolescence has passed—you are obsessed and a more than a little crazy. Not to worry. Everyone should experience at least one grand passion. Just don't act on it while the storm is raging.
A good marriage is the best thing that can ever happen to you. Above all else, realize that this cliché is true. The downside risks of marrying—and they are real—are nothing compared with what you will gain from a good one.
3. Eventually Stop Fretting About Fame and Fortune
One of my assumptions about you is that you are ambitious—meaning that you hope to become famous, rich or both, and intend to devote intense energy over the next few decades to pursuing those dreams. That is as it should be. I look with suspicion on any talented 20-something who doesn't feel that way. I wish you luck.
But suppose you arrive at age 40, and you enjoy your work, have found your soul mate, are raising a couple of terrific kids—and recognize that you will probably never become either rich or famous. At that point, it is important to supplement your youthful ambition with mature understanding.
Years ago, I was watching a television profile of David Geffen, the billionaire music and film producer. At some point, he said, "Show me someone who thinks that money buys happiness, and I'll show you someone who has never had a lot of money." The remark was accompanied by an ineffably sad smile on Mr. Geffen's face, which said that he had been there, done that and knew what he was talking about. The whole vignette struck me in a way that "money can't buy happiness" never had, and my visceral reaction was reinforced by one especially memorable shot during the profile, taken down the length of Mr. Geffen's private jet, along the rows of empty leather seats and sofas, to where he sat all alone in the rear.
The problem that you face in your 20s and 30s is that you are gnawed by anxiety that you won't be a big success. It is an inevitable side effect of ambition. My little story about David Geffen won't help—now. Pull it out again in 20 years.
Fame and wealth do accomplish something: They cure ambition anxiety. But that's all. It isn't much.
4. Take Religion Seriously
Don't bother to read this one if you're already satisfyingly engaged with a religious tradition.
Now that we're alone, here's where a lot of you stand when it comes to religion: It isn't for you. You don't mind if other people are devout, but you don't get it. Smart people don't believe that stuff anymore.
I can be sure that is what many of you think because your generation of high-IQ, college-educated young people, like mine 50 years ago, has been as thoroughly socialized to be secular as your counterparts in preceding generations were socialized to be devout. Some of you grew up with parents who weren't religious, and you've never given religion a thought. Others of you followed the religion of your parents as children but left religion behind as you were socialized by college.
By socialized, I don't mean that you studied theology under professors who persuaded you that Thomas Aquinas was wrong. You didn't study theology at all. None of the professors you admired were religious. When the topic of religion came up, they treated it dismissively or as a subject of humor. You went along with the zeitgeist.
I am describing my own religious life from the time I went to Harvard until my late 40s. At that point, my wife, prompted by the birth of our first child, had found a religious tradition in which she was comfortable, Quakerism, and had been attending Quaker meetings for several years. I began keeping her company and started reading on religion. I still describe myself as an agnostic, but my unbelief is getting shaky.
Taking religion seriously means work. If you're waiting for a road-to-Damascus experience, you're kidding yourself. Getting inside the wisdom of the great religions doesn't happen by sitting on beaches, watching sunsets and waiting for enlightenment. It can easily require as much intellectual effort as a law degree.
Even dabbling at the edges has demonstrated to me the depths of Judaism, Buddhism and Taoism. I assume that I would find similar depths in Islam and Hinduism as well. I certainly have developed a far greater appreciation for Christianity, the tradition with which I'm most familiar. The Sunday school stories I learned as a child bear no resemblance to Christianity taken seriously. You've got to grapple with the real thing.
Start by jarring yourself out of unreflective atheism or agnosticism. A good way to do that is to read about contemporary cosmology. The universe isn't only stranger than we knew; it is stranger and vastly more unlikely than we could have imagined, and we aren't even close to discovering its last mysteries. That reading won't lead you to religion, but it may stop you from being unreflective.
Find ways to put yourself around people who are profoundly religious. You will encounter individuals whose intelligence, judgment and critical faculties are as impressive as those of your smartest atheist friends—and who also possess a disquieting confidence in an underlying reality behind the many religious dogmas.
They have learned to reconcile faith and reason, yes, but beyond that, they persuasively convey ways of knowing that transcend intellectual understanding. They exhibit in their own personae a kind of wisdom that goes beyond just having intelligence and good judgment.
Start reading religious literature. You don't have to go back to Aquinas (though that wouldn't be a bad idea). The past hundred years have produced excellent and accessible work, much of it written by people who came to adulthood as uninvolved in religion as you are.
5. Watch 'Groundhog Day' Repeatedly
The movie "Groundhog Day" was made more than two decades ago, but it is still smart and funny. It is also a brilliant moral fable that deals with the most fundamental issues of virtue and happiness, done with such subtlety that you really need to watch it several times.
By the end of 'Groundhog Day,' Bill Murray's character has discovered the secrets of human happiness.Everett Collection
An egocentric TV weatherman played by Bill Murray is sent to Punxsutawney, Pa., to cover Groundhog Day. He hates the assignment, disdains the town and its people, and can't wait to get back to Pittsburgh. But a snowstorm strikes, he's stuck in Punxsutawney, and when he wakes up the next morning, it is Groundhog Day again. And again and again and again.
The director and co-writer Harold Ramis, whose death last month was mourned by his many fans, estimated that the movie has to represent at least 30 or 40 years' worth of days. We see only a few dozen of them, ending when Bill Murray's character has discovered the secrets of human happiness.
Without the slightest bit of preaching, the movie shows the bumpy, unplanned evolution of his protagonist from a jerk to a fully realized human being—a person who has learned to experience deep, lasting and justified satisfaction with life even though he has only one day to work with.
You could learn the same truths by studying Aristotle's "Ethics" carefully, but watching "Groundhog Day" repeatedly is a lot more fun.
This essay is adapted from Mr. Murray's new book, "The Curmudgeon's Guide to Getting Ahead: Dos and Don'ts of Right Behavior, Tough Thinking, Clear Writing, and Living a Good Life," which will be published April 8 by Random House. He is the W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Charles Murray Interview Video:

The Borowitz Report: Sheldon Adelson Says No Republican Candidate Worth Buying

LAS VEGAS (The Borowitz Report)—The casino billionaire and Republican kingmaker Sheldon Adelson met several 2016 G.O.P. candidates available for purchase over the weekend, but decided to buy none of them, Adelson confirmed today.
After hearing speeches by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and several others who were for sale, Mr. Adelson concluded that none of them are worth owning.
“I don’t want to spend millions on another loser,” said Adelson, who purchased both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney in 2012.
The casino magnate was scathing in his assessment of the candidates he declined to buy, calling them “a third-rate grab bag of has-beens and dimwits.”
“I guess the Republican Party is thinking, Here comes crazy old Sheldon, he’ll blow his money on the first washed-out wingnut we throw out there,” Adelson said. “Well, guess again.”

"Western Looting Of Ukraine Has Begun," Paul Craig Roberts

Dear Fred,

Roberts is insightful enough to heed; idealistically libertarian enough to warrant suspicion.

Pax tecum


Western Looting Of Ukraine Has Begun

By  (about the author)     

Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He is a contributing editor to Gerald Celente's Trends Journal. He has had numerous university appointments. His book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is available here. His latest book,  How America Was Lost, has just been released and can be ordered here

From The Rape of Ukraine: Phase Two Begins
The Rape of Ukraine: Phase Two Begins
(image by YouTube)

It is now apparent that the "Maiden protests" in Kiev were in actuality a Washington organized coup against the elected democratic government. The purpose of the coup is to put NATO military bases on Ukraine's border with Russia and to impose an IMFausterity program that serves as cover for Western financial interests to loot the country. The sincere idealistic protesters who took to the streets without being paid were the gullible dupes of the plot to destroy their country. 

Politically, Ukraine is an untenable aggregation of Ukrainian and Russian territory, because traditional Russian territories were stuck into the borders of the Ukraine Soviet Republic by Lenin and Khrushchev. The Crimea, stuck into Ukraine by Khrushchev, has already departed and rejoined Russia. 

Unless some autonomy is granted to them, Russian areas in eastern and southern Ukraine might also depart and return to Russia. If the animosity displayed toward the Russian speaking population by the stooge government in Kiev continues, more defections to Russia are likely.

The Washington-imposed coup faces other possible difficulties from what seems to be a growing conflict between the well-organized Right Sector and the Washington-imposed stooges. If armed conflict between these two groups were to occur, Washington might conclude that it needs to send help to its stooges. The appearance of US/NATO troops in Ukraine would create pressure on Putin to occupy the remaining Russian speaking parts of Ukraine.

Before the political and geographical issues are settled, the Western looting of Ukraine has already begun. The Western media doesn't tell any more truth about IMF "rescue packages" than it does about anything else. The media reports, and many Ukrainians believe, that the IMF is going to rescue Ukraine financially by giving the country billions of dollars.

Ukraine will never see one dollar of the IMF money. What the IMF is going to do is to substitute Ukrainian indebtedness to the IMF for Ukrainian indebtedness to Western banks. The IMF will hand over the money to the Western banks, and the Western banks will reduce Ukraine's indebtedness by the amount of IMF money. Instead of being indebted to the banks, Ukraine will now be indebted to the IMF.

Now the looting can begin. The IMF loan brings new conditions and imposes austerity on the Ukrainian people so that the Ukraine government can gather up the money with which to repay the IMF. The IMF conditions that will be imposed on the struggling Ukraine population will consist of severe reductions in old-age pensions, in government services, in government employment, and in subsidies for basic consumer purchasessuch as natural gas. Already low living standards will plummet. In addition, Ukrainian public assets and Ukrainian-owned private industries will have to be sold off to Western purchasers.

Additionally, Ukraine will have to float its currency. In a futile effort to protect its currency's value from being driven very low (and consequently import prices very high) by speculators ganging up on the currency and short-selling it,Ukraine will borrow more money with which to support its currency in the foreign exchange market. Of course, the currency speculators will end up with the borrowed money, leaving Ukraine much deeper in debt than currently.
The corruption involved is legendary, so the direct result of the gullible Maiden protesters will be lower Ukrainian living standards, more corruption, loss of sovereignty over the country's economic policy, and the transfer of Ukrainian public and private property to Western interests.

If Ukraine also falls into NATO's clutches, Ukraine will also find itself in a military alliance against Russia and find itself targeted by Russian missiles. This will be a tragedy for Ukraine and Russia as Ukrainians have relatives in Russia and Russians have relatives in Ukraine. The two countries have essentially been one for 200 years. To have them torn apart by Western looting and Washington's drive for world hegemony is a terrible shame and a great crime.

The gullible dupes who participated in the orchestrated Maiden protests will rue it for the rest of their lives.

When the protests began, I described what the consequences would be and said that I would explain the looting process. It is not necessary for me to do so. Professor Michel Chossudovsky has explained the IMF looting process, along with much history.
One final word. Despite unequivocal evidence of one country after another being looted by the West, governments of indebted countries continue to sign up for IMF programs. Why do governments of countries continue to agree to the foreign looting of their populations? The only answer is that they are paid. 

The corruption that is descending upon Ukraine will make the former regime look honest.


Dear James,

I forwarded your Ukraine email to a friend with this cover letter.

Dear Fred,

Roberts is insightful enough to heed; idealistically libertarian enough to warrant suspicion.

Pax tecum



My abiding suspicion of libertarianism is that "It's too true to be good."

It is such an idealistic system that it never has opportunity to implement actual policy and therefore never risks "real world" fallout.

The following Thomas Merton quotation cuts to the quick of any system that is "too true to be good."

"The terrible thing about our time is precisely the ease with which theories can be put into practice.  The more perfect, the more idealistic the theories, the more dreadful is their realization.  We are at last beginning to rediscover what perhaps men knew better in very ancient times, in primitive times before utopias were thought of: that liberty is bound up with imperfection, and that limitations, imperfections, errors are not only unavoidable but also salutary. The best is not the ideal.  Where what is theoretically best is imposed on everyone as the norm, then there is no longer any room even to be good.  The best, imposed as a norm, becomes evil.”  
"Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander,” by Trappist monk, Father Thomas Merton

More Merton

Pax contigo