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BeckyDem's Journal
BeckyDem's Journal
November 1, 2018

At War: My Deployment Was Not an 'Adventure,' as a Children's Book Tried to Tell My Daughters

By Zachary Bell

Nov. 1, 2018

One of the hardest parts of parenting is reconciling what I did during the war with who I am now in the eyes of my children. I served as a rifleman in Alpha Company, First Battalion, Sixth Marine Regiment. My time in the corps took me to an especially violent area of Afghanistan and left me emotionally and mentally numb. When I came home, my wife said that I never smiled anymore. When my daughters, Alyssa and Audrey, asked what I did while I was gone, I said, “Daddy helped fight bad guys and slept outside.”

The first time I deployed was two days after Alyssa was born. I did not return for seven months. Audrey was born during my second deployment. I didn’t meet her until I got home. The only exposures they have to that time are the photographs from a strange desert land that adorn the walls of our home, and the people they call “uncles” who visit me. Some of these men are covered in tattoos. Others have prosthetic limbs.

This summer I found myself grappling with what I know about war and what my daughters, now 10 and 8, know about it in a way I didn’t expect: via a children’s book called “War in Afghanistan: An Interactive Modern History Adventure,” which they brought home from the local library. The history in this book, which was published in 2014, intersects with my own. My first deployment was to Garmsir in Helmand Province in early 2008, and the second deployment, when I was an infantry squad leader, was in 2010 to the farming town Marjah, where we were a part of Operation Moshtarak, a major offensive for coalition and Afghan forces. Our mission was to seize an agricultural zone that was both a Taliban stronghold and the center of the opium production and trafficking network, and then turn it over to Afghan forces and the government they were supposed to usher in. It didn’t turn out that way. But it did forever change many of us who fought there.

The book is part of the You Choose series published by Capstone Press, a popular children’s format in which young readers are asked to make decisions throughout the story that lead them down different paths. The “War in Afghanistan” edition, written for children aged 8 to 11, includes a chapter set in Marjah in 2010, in which the reader is a squad leader with First Battalion, Sixth Marine Regiment — this was my old unit, on a deployment I was on, as part of the offensive operation I fought in. My daughters’ adventure began with a helicopter insert into the fields before sunrise: “You and the three teams that form your squad, along with the Afghan soldiers, climb into the CH-53 Super Stallion helicopters. Their blades whir, drowning out all other sounds. Within minutes you are airborne and speeding through the night.” The next few pages have the reader navigating a perilous battlefield, with decisions and canal crossings culminating in the sighting of two military-age males, the military’s euphemism for people whom troops profile as possible threats. As we went page by page, Alyssa’s first question startled me: “Dad, Captain Sparks ordered you not to fire unless you are fired upon. But what if the men are snipers?”


October 18, 2018

Former top Scott Walker appointee quits $208K job in disgust and destroys his ex-boss on the way out

Tom Boggioni
18 Oct 2018 at 13:12 ET

A former top secretary for Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) ripped into the embattled governor on Thursday after stepping down from his high-paying job late Wednesday so he could speak freely about his contempt for the man who appointed him.

According to the Wisconsin State-Journal, Paul Jadin, the first CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., walked away from the $208,000 salary he was paid by Madison Region Economic Partnership on Wednesday because he was about to go public with his complaints about Walker.

In a scathing letter co-signed by former Corrections Secretary Ed Wall and former Financial Institutions Secretary Peter Bildsten, Jadin slammed the governor for making decisions based solely on increasing his national political profile while ignoring the needs of his constituents.

All three men endorsed Walker’s opponent, State Superintendent Tony Evers, a Democrat.


October 16, 2018

Joseph Stiglitz: The American Economy Is Rigged And what we can do about it- Policy & Ethics

By Joseph E. Stiglitz | Scientific American November 2018 Issue

Americans are used to thinking that their nation is special. In many ways, it is: the U.S. has by far the most Nobel Prize winners, the largest defense expenditures (almost equal to the next 10 or so countries put together) and the most billionaires (twice as many as China, the closest competitor). But some examples of American Exceptionalism should not make us proud. By most accounts, the U.S. has the highest level of economic inequality among developed countries. It has the world's greatest per capita health expenditures yet the lowest life expectancy among comparable countries. It is also one of a few developed countries jostling for the dubious distinction of having the lowest measures of equality of opportunity.

The notion of the American Dream—that, unlike old Europe, we are a land of opportunity—is part of our essence. Yet the numbers say otherwise. The life prospects of a young American depend more on the income and education of his or her parents than in almost any other advanced country. When poor-boy-makes-good anecdotes get passed around in the media, that is precisely because such stories are so rare.

Things appear to be getting worse, partly as a result of forces, such as technology and globalization, that seem beyond our control, but most disturbingly because of those within our command. It is not the laws of nature that have led to this dire situation: it is the laws of humankind. Markets do not exist in a vacuum: they are shaped by rules and regulations, which can be designed to favor one group over another. President Donald Trump was right in saying that the system is rigged—by those in the inherited plutocracy of which he himself is a member. And he is making it much, much worse.

October 16, 2018

Trump Steering Economy To An Outdated Model: Stiglitz (Radio)

October 15, 2018 — 1:06 PM EDT

Joe Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate in Economics and Professor at Columbia University, discusses the deficit, trade wars, and how America is being pulled back into an outdated economy. Hosted by Pimm Fox and Lisa Abramowicz.

Running time 15:45


October 14, 2018

Neil deGrasse Tyson on How Space Scientists Have Long Been an 'Accessory to War'

By Emily Eakin

Oct. 12, 2018

In the spring of 2003, as the United States launched its invasion of Iraq, the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was attending the annual conference of the Space Foundation, in Colorado Springs. The conference brings together professionals from various fields who share an interest in space — scientists, commercial satellite makers, as well as government and military officials — and as the invasion got underway, some of the attendees drifted to a television screen to watch the spectacle unfolding live on CNN.

Whenever the anchor would announce a strike by, say, a cruise missile, employees of defense contractors in the crowd whose companies had helped make the missile would cheer. For Tyson, a popular television and podcast host as well as the director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York and a man who was raised in the city’s generally liberal and antiwar milieu, the experience was a discomfiting epiphany. It forced him to consider that scientists like him had been intimately involved in the development of warfare’s destructive capabilities. (He also understood that some conflicts are justified.)

“I realized that my professional ancestors have been handmaidens to this kind of exercise since the beginning of time,” Tyson said. That insight has now yielded his 15th book, “Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military,” which he co-wrote with his longtime editor Avis Lang and which just ended a three-week run on the nonfiction list. There it joined Tyson’s “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry” (2017), a witty guide to cosmological science that spent 73 weeks on the list.

“Accessory to War” took Tyson and Lang more than a decade to write in part because the history of space scientists’ entanglement with military might turned out to be so rich, encompassing technologies from maps and compasses to satellites, drones, GPS and rockets. “Do you realize that George Washington wrote lovingly of his telescope in waging the Revolutionary War?” Tyson asked. “This was known by the artist who painted ‘Washington Crossing the Delaware.’ Zoom in and look at what he’s holding in his right hand.”


October 10, 2018

Role of regulation in value-based health care

Role of regulation in value-based health care
Patient-Centered, Value-Based Health Care Is Incompatible With The Current Climate Of Excessive Regulation

By John O'Shea
Health Affairs Blog, October 3, 2018

Although still a subject of debate, the fee-for-service health care payment system that reimburses providers for individual services is widely indicted for promoting care that is inefficient, uncoordinated, and too often fails to meet the needs of patients. Whether or not fee-for-service is the main culprit, the escalating cost and inconsistent quality of US health care highlights the need for a better system. In discussions about what that system should look like, the terms “patient-centered” and “value-based” have become buzz words for payment and delivery reform in health care.

Unfortunately, many well-intentioned efforts to move to a more effective system are adding to the already substantial administrative and regulatory burden on physicians, hospitals, and other providers. In turn, these cumbersome new initiatives stifle innovation and obstruct meaningful payment and delivery reform. The current administration has appropriately recognized that this over-regulation is impeding the transition to a truly patient-centered and value-based health care system. Recently announced initiatives such as “Meaningful Measures” and “Patients over Paperwork” are promising because they aim to reduce the amount of time physicians spend on record-keeping and administrative tasks, allowing them to re-focus on patient care. However, the administration’s recent refusal to consider new payment and delivery models recommended by the Physician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee (PTAC) throws into question whether the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is serious about removing barriers to innovation.

The Impact Of MACRA


October 7, 2018

America will come out of CONSTITUTIONAL ROT, if at all, through political action

( Long and excellent - good honest people will never give up ! )

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Constitutional Rot Reaches the Supreme Court


The fight over the Kavanaugh appointment exemplifies our country's advanced case of constitutional rot. The rot has been growing for some time, and has now reached the Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court is unlikely to save us from decay. We will have to do that ourselves.

As I have argued in this lecture, our country has gone through cycles of constitutional rot and renewal throughout its history. We are at (what we can only hope is) the most extreme point in a cycle of constitutional rot. Unfortunately, we are also at the high point of a cycle of party polarization. And, to make matters worse, we are also at the end of the debilitated Reagan regime, with a new political regime yet to be born. The endings of political regimes are highly confusing periods regardless; extreme party polarization and advanced constitutional rot make our current period even more difficult.

A few week's back I gave a Constitution Day lecture at Drake Law School. The question I asked was this: How does the cycle of constitutional rot affect the Supreme Court and the federal courts? Can courts help us come out of constitutional rot? Does judicial review help counteract the slide into political corruption, or the accelerating loss of democracy and republicanism?

The answer, sadly, is no. In times of severe constitutional rot, coupled with high party polarization, courts are not the solution. They are part of the problem. Courts will not drag us out of a period of constitutional rot; they will either do little to help or actively make things worse. Moreover, as we have seen, the courts are a special prize in these periods, and politicians are likely to engage in ever more outrageous hardball tactics to entrench their power in the judiciary.

Consider the last two periods of pronounced constitutional rot in American history: the years just before the Civil War, dominated by the Slave Power, and the Gilded Age, dominated by what Teddy Roosevelt called "the malefactors of great wealth." In neither age was the U.S. Supreme Court the great protector of democracy and republicanism. Quite the contrary, the Supreme Court behaved very badly during both periods, and produced Dred Scott in the first period, and Plessy, Pollock, Lochner and Coppage in the second. The corruption of an age rubs off on the courts of that age. In a period of constitutional rot, the Supreme Court will be sullied as well.


October 6, 2018

The Yield Curve and Monetary Policy in 2018

Christopher Waller
Executive Vice President and Director of Research
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
May 22, 2018

What Is the Yield Curve?

The yield curve is a plot of a Treasury bond’s maturity against its rate of return at a given point in time.•
While the curve normally slopes upward, on rare occasions the slope turns negative.


September 21, 2018

NYT columnist Charles Blow defends Christine Blasey Ford with his own story


New York Times Op-Ed columnist Charles Blow defends Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, by sharing his own experience.
Source: CNN

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