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25 October 2016


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mike allen

He makes it clear in his other masterpieces that Flashy served first on the confederate side and them having been captured at Gettysburg becomes a yankee and ends up as a brevet BG of volunteers and a buddy of Grant. I can "see" that. Somehow I cannot see you among the dancers in the 128som reel danced out in the Libyan desert. pl

ex-PFC Chuck

re "There's no reason why we need to spend twice per capita for medical care compared to Germany or Canada."

Yes there is a reason. It's to set up toll booths to collect rents for the overhead administrators of the pharma and the for-profit medical and hospital industries, as well as Wall Street and most of all the health insurance companies. It's working just fine.


There doesn't need to be a scam- there only needs to be a medical industry prepared to be aggressive in pursuit of its own interests, and a government that doesn't think it can survive the PR fallout of saying 'no'.

The US medical industry looks to me like a number of other 'big' industries (big pharma, big agriculture, big finance etc) that use massive lobbying to apply pressure to government to protect and enhance their own position at the expense of the rest of the community.

These lobbying efforts are precisely targeted and coordinated to achieve their objective- think of the amounts they spend on lobbying Congress. By contrast, the targets of these campaigns are usually a disparate, loose collection of impecunious interests, ie pretty much sitting ducks.



"Hillary's plan for Syria would lead to World War III", says Trump. He also adds "What we should do is focus on ISIS. We should not be focusing on Syria."

I agree.



Henshaw and EX-PFC Chuck


The Borg has the system rigged to use the power of big government to benefit the few who run big business. Drain the swamp!

robt willmann

pl, Allen Thomson,

I also think that the U.S. Military/Defense Department should do any violence by the U.S. government outside of the borders, because they are trained to do it and have a specific structure. All of the CIA monkey business to try to destabilize countries, overthrow governments, promote violence, and commit violence is just that -- political monkey business -- which creates an enormous temptation for politicians and those outside of government who want such things and might benefit from them.

A number of years ago, a man who had been in the military and was a long-time employee of the NSA, mostly as a civilian from its inception, asked me out of the blue one day at a Mexican restaurant if I wanted to work at the CIA. I politely declined, and told him why. As time has gone by, and more is disclosed about such activities as Benghazi, Libya and Syria -- as directed by the president, of course -- I think my thoughts were correct.

Acquiring good information about foreign lands for policy use is not easy to come by, nor is it easy to analyze and distill. If analysis at the CIA is now chopped up into support groups for separate "operations" sections, then that is not "intelligence" collection and analysis, but is just support for existing policy.

Eric Newhill

You're both a few clicks off zero. Medicine in the US is very high tech and high tech costs big $; especially new high tech. American doctors and patients alike demand the latest and greatest tech in all aspects of their health care. Insurance finances it (simply pays for it for the most part) at the point of purchase. When insurance comes to recup a year or so later via increased premiums, everyone squeals and points the finger at them.

The socialized systems don't permit the latest and greatest tech. They stick with what works pretty well already.

That there outcomes are at least as good proves what we in the insurance industry have been saying (like a voice in the wilderness). A lot of the high tech is a) over priced and b) doesn't provide that much more benefit. Certainly not enough marginal benefit to justify the greatly increased cost.

Then there is high tech that is pretty damn good at fixing things that could never have been fixed in the past. So consumption of the goods and services increases. The socialized systems, considering what they will cover, draw a line at what is absolutely necessary and should be performed versus what is nice, but not critical. Insurance companies try to do this in the US, but then we get Michael Moore splattering us (big insurance) over mass media. So, we give in to demand and then raise the premiums to cover it. Knowing this, the producers of tech and the doctors who want to use it keep driving forward and round and round it goes.

That is all there is to this. No organized conspiracy.

Larry Kart

Speaking of sense of humor, I highly recommend the serio-comic political thrillers of the late Ross Thomas.


You guys both live in the same state?


Zerohedge? They have predicted huge premium increases ever since Obamacare was passed. Didn't happen. Trump's plan? A chicken in every pot. It is easy to promise paradise, but he has no specific plans on how to to do that. Can free markets lower health care costs? They don't have a history of doing that. When Singapore tried to do market based reform costs went up and they had to abandon a lot of market based ideas. It may be possible of markets to lower prices in health care, but no one knows how to do it.


mike allen

Colonel -

128som reel? You lost me. Plus SWMBO always said I was duckfooted.

BTW - I'm just finishing up on the last chapters of Russel Miller's biography of Field Marshall Slim that Fraser served under in Burma. Good read, I recommend it. Fraser, who served as a private and lance corporal in the Fourteenth Army said Slim had: "the head of a general but the heart of a private soldier". Another author, John Masters who led a Gurkha unit, also served under Slim and highly praised him.

Allen Thomson

> I realize that you used to work for Christians In Action and probably don't like them much, but someone has to do covert action. Tell you what, let's transfer the function to DoD. p

That would be fine with me. There was the tension between covert action and intelligence collection/analysis from the very beginning in 1947 or a few milliseconds thereafter. IMO, covert action was the part the White House always esteemed, as it provided a way to get around otherwise annoying legal restrictions. CA and the somewhat mythical HUMINT James Bondish rep has always been a strong underpinning of CIA's overall influence. Well, that and the satellite collectors.

Whether a CIA today could survive as an intelligence-only organization (who cares about intelligence in the Halls of Power?) and whether the DoD would do better in covert ops, I dinna ken.


Yes, on all counts Eric, I'm 66. Went into the Corps at age 17. I was an asshole, so to speak, but, I think, I hope, a well meaning one. Anyway...I just want to 'understand'. In a world of corrupted sources, the people on this Committee, and more precisely, their opinions, mean something to me. Just to learn.

ex-PFC Chuck

A series of ominous blog posts came to my attention over the weekend when the first of the group was reposted last Saturday at Automatic Earth, and again yesterday at Naked Capitalism. They originally appeared last July as guest posts by Louis Arnoux at Cassandra’s Legacy, a blog about the planet’s diminishing resources. The posts are based on a study by The Hills Group, an engineering and management consulting firm focused on the energy industry. Their report of which is behind a pay wall, although at $30.00 it’s not as high as I feared it might be. I know nothing about guest author Louis Arnoux, however Cassandra’s Legacy is hosted by Ugo Bardi, a professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Florence.

The tl/dr is that, because (taking into account the inevitable losses imposed by the laws of Thermodynamics) the world-wide average per barrel Energy Recovery On Energy Investment (EROEI) ratio of newly discovered oil has recently crossed 1.0 in the downward direction, it has become impossible for the aggregate of the world’s oil companies to profitably explore for and produce from new oil-bearing formations. As the EROEI continues to drop, ever more exploration and drilling companies will withdraw from the business and those who don’t will find it ever more difficult to get financing. According to the study as described by Arnoux, the implications are both counter-intuitive and catastrophic. The formers because the price the refiners will be willing to pay for a barrel of oil from the new production can never again rise high enough to earn a justifiable return on the producers’ investments, and therefore the oil industry will wither away as the production from already established fields gradually plays out. The results will be catastrophic because it means the end of the globally industrialized world (GIW) as we know it, since the GIW is built on transport and 96% of the energy used by transportation industries is from liquid fuels derived from crude oil. By 2030. The third and last post in the series, which I’m still wading my way through, presents an aggressive plan for mitigating the decline, but . . . can you spell “politically impossible?” If these folks are anywhere close to the mark everything we’re doing now is arranging deck chairs.

Below are the links to the three parts at Cassandra’s Legacy. I’m also including the Part I link at Naked Capitalism because I found the comment threads at both places helpful to understanding the reasoning. Also below is a link to The Hills Group where you can buy a copy of their report.



Well you know one side that will do NOTHING - America and it's boy-king.


On the one hand, we have a narcissistic immature jerk and on the other hand...the Clinton crime family and the media.
I loathe Trump less than I loathe Clinton and the media - the dishonest, scum bag media.
And the Republicans who have endorsed Clinton?
Seems to be about half those who want jobs or beltway bandit contracts and half who are just inside-the-beltway parasites worried about their rice bowl and that Trump isn't one of "them."
The same bunch that brought us Iraq, TARP, < 2% growth, double the national debt and the icing on the cake, a massive mess in the Middle East.


People had the chance to at least try to end Obamacare in 2012.
They didn't.
Romney has a car elevator, hence he was not qualified to be President.
Now, the piper wants to be paid.
Life's tough;it's tougher when you're stupid.

Eric Newhill

JCJ, et al. I will be voting Trump, but his position on health care insurance is pure nonsensical idiocy. I have no idea what he is talking about and, whatever it is, it isn't going to save anyone any money. He will the ACA and a lot of people that were enjoying healthcare due to a wealth transfer, will go back to not having health care. OTOH, if Trump can bring jobs back to the US, these same people might become employed and gain insurance coverage that way. But don't kid yourselves. Trump is clueless on this one.


Healthcare in the US is no more "high tech" than in any other developed country. Exactly the same drugs will cost up to 10 times more in the US than in other countries, I can personally attest to that. Exactly the same imaging exams done by the same high tech machines, will cost 10 times in the US. I´ll give you an example. A state of the art (latest model high tech machine yada yada) abdominal MRI in the fanciest Bogotá hospital, paying without any coverage (full up front cost) costs 200 dollars. Can get the exam done for less at a more modest place (with the same machine). That has nothing to do with high tech, and everthing to do with corruption in washington (call it lobying, whatever) . The only reason that prescription drugs, treatments and exams are so expensive in the US is because they can get away with it. I work in the pharma sector in Colombia, even at 10% the price of a certain drug vs the US price, the profit margin is usually over 300% for most drugs. Profit margins for drug sales in the US is obscene, but it is imposible to get into that market, its pretty much a well gaurded oligopoly .

Another, example: The other day I had cut in my cornea (eye) from run-in with a twig. Went to a ofphtalmology clinic's emergency room service, was treated within 30 min, very good, profesional attention. Got the treatment (again without any coverage) and eye drugs for less than 100 dollars.

In contrast, some years ago, I got an eye infection in New York City. I didn´t have any coverage. A doctors apointment set me back 250 dollars, plus the medication (normal antibiotics) cost an astounding 150 dollars. I couldn´t belive it, but didn´t have a choice. When I got back to Colombia, found the exact same antibiotic drops, same brand name and everything for 15 dolars (there was also a non-brand generic with the same compound for 5 dollars) .

I´m sure many can atttest that top of the line medical service in a third world country is much better than average US service, for less money than your deductable.


I agree it means nothing to the public, and was thinking he wanted to get back in Hillary's good graces after the email kerfuffle over Hillary's "even Colin Powell used private email" excuse.



Tell me how much illegal immigration those countries have.


So "read Flashman" is what you guys are telling me?

Going up into the mountains tomorrow to try and take a muley. Wish me luck.

The Twisted Genius

Eric Newhill,

I agree that there is no organized conspiracy, but I do think pervasive greed has a lot to do with the high cost of US healthcare. It's probably no worse than in any other aspect of our society. The health industry enjoys a lock on their customers. We can either pay the price or live maimed, in pain or just die. I can't think of another industry that shares that kind of advantage.

Do you have any insight into the liability insurance paid by doctors, hospitals and others for malpractice protection? I'm sure that adds to the cost of healthcare, but I don't know to what extent.

I'd also be interested in your ideas to fix the health care/health insurance cost problem. Like Colonel Lang, I'd like to see universal health care. I'd like to something along the lines of Medicare and the VA to provide baseline health care for all. That would mean not being able to get every freaking procedure or pill or being kept alive long after you're supposed to die naturally.


Numbers wise, it is difficult to see an assemblage of voters that would make a Trump election too likely.

The minority voters will make up perhaps 15-20% of the electorate (more likely 15 than 20, if only for the likely downturn in turnout), but they will be overwhelmingly in favor of Clinton.

The working class (i.e. non-college educated) whites will make up perhaps 35-40% of the electorate (I'm thinking that it might be closer to 40%). While a large majority will be in favor of Trump, the ratio will not be as lopsided as with the minority voters. So, between these two groups, Clinton and Trump would be roughly even, with some advantage for Trump because of geographic concentration of working class whites in key Midwestern states.

The big question for me is how the remainder, the college educated whites, would behave. Overall, Republicans had fairly decent, even if smallish compared to other demographics, advantage among this demographic for decades. Furthermore, these are the voters who tend to stick to their parties more consistently than others. On the other hand, though, polls have been showing that, usually, HRC has been leading among this demographic, even if the magnitude of the lead has been highly variable, and I can supplement the data with personal anecdotes that there really is significant hostility to Trump (even if not necessarily love for HRC) among this group, especially among the populations that had been comfortably Republican.

What got pollsters to discount Trump's chances of getting the Republican nomination too seriously was that they were ignoring the data showing large support (and enthusiasm) for Trump especially among less-likely-to-vote segments of the electorate because they had theories (that I normally insist are not as reliable as they'd like) that suggest a strange outsider cannot beat the party machinery easily on strength of unlikely voters. Now, I seem to be reluctant to abandon social science theories (that say that more educated, more affluent voters stick to their party more consistently) in face of contrary data (that suggest a lot of normally reliable Republican voters of educated/affluent strata are willing to abandon Trump).

In terms of the post-election politics, the crisis of legitimacy that will follow the likely Trump loss is not quite going to be so crushing: A significant proportion of the working class white supporters of Trump will feel that the election result will be illegitimate, but not necessarily even an overwhelming majority. Still, having even 10-15% of the national population openly rejecting the election results will be dangerous for a HRC presidency, were that to pass.

This might be one place where "democracy" as normally practiced might be a bad idea: it does not matter who "won" the election, if the divides are too deep. After the first post-apartheid elections, the South Africans supposedly suppressed the real results (which would have shown ANC winning by a ridiculous margin) so that de Klerk could be Mandela's vice president and a de facto natinoal unity government could be formed. One almost hopes that our leaders are far-sighted enough to consider something like that, although the "outsiders" that need to be invited into the nat'l unity government are not the "Republicans" like Paul Ryan and other clowns in mainstream politics (and they'll probably have the House majority anyways, so they would already be "in," if they like), but actual representatives of the Main Street (which I don't think Trump is, even if he has a better read on them than almost every "politician."). Who exactly could possibly be invited, even if we do decide on a "national unity" government?

Doug Colwell

For the record Tyler, were in a position to vote, this paleo leftist would vote Trump. As David Habukkuk suggested, I would do so after a few stiff drinks.

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