Friday, August 31, 2012

Max Abramson: We should cherish our nation's whistle-blowers


Aug. 24 — To the Editor:
As the Portsmouth Herald reported in an Aug. 24 business page story, "Whistle-blower program draws thousands of tips," whistle-blowers have spoken out publicly about everything from abusive IRS tactics to corporate embezzlement and consumer fraud, from wasteful no-bid contracts in government to substance abuse and graft in local school districts, state agencies, police unions, and even the military. Although theoretically protected by freedom of speech, many of these brave, patriotic citizens have faced retribution over the years from political insiders.
At least two former IRS agents are behind bars after speaking out against unethical auditing practices by the agency. The infamous Franklin Boys Town child abuse scandal led to the prosecution of some of the victims, but not the perpetrators. Police officers like Bradley Jardis, who advocate dash cams or an end to the drug war, have found themselves being driven out of their department. According to an examiner.com story, former U.S. Marine Brandon Raub, 26, was arrested, held, and "ordered Monday to undergo a forced 30-day psychiatric investigation at John Randolph Medical Center" for posting statements on Facebook questioning the government and its official explanation for 9/11. Even the Rockingham County Attorney's Office has a reputation for retaliation against those who speak out. And RidleyReport.com shows video of Adam Mueller being convicted and sentenced last week for airing video showing a public school security guard beating a high school student.
From Seabrook's Budget Committee, I saw millions spent on no-bid contracts, double charging, double-dipping of pensions, and the frequent "employment" of friends and relatives, rather than the most qualified candidates. Working as a merchant mariner for 10 years, I've seen some merchant marine officers lie to superiors, cover up unsafe work practices, and even send out dock-side work to favored contractors, bilking the company of millions. According to KTVU and other news outlets, APL Marine Services, "agreed to pay the government $26.3 million to settle allegations that it fraudulently inflated bills for shipping cargo to the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan." That time, the whistle-blower was paid $5.2 million.
Others, like Adam, are in jail.
Max Abramson
Seabrook

Monday, August 27, 2012

Madeline Crabb: America: A Nation of Laws?

 August 27, 2012

John Adams once wrote, "There is no good government but what is republican. The very definition of a republic is an empire of laws, and not of men."If our laws can be applied willy-nilly at the discretion of a few powerful men, how can we ever trust that there will be equal justice under the law?

In my last column, we talked about how one man's belief in traditional marriage caused multitudes in the "silent majority" to rebel against politically-correct forces of the radical left. For far too long the left has bullied those who adhere to traditional values and morals. Also, for far too long, we have acquiesced — to our own peril. We have seen our rights and freedoms be stripped away by the proverbial "squeaky wheel," the one that gets all the grease. The savvy leftists know that if they complain long enough and loud enough, we will do anything to simply have peace, even surrendering our freedoms. Of course, while we are surrendering said freedoms, we don't actually realize it's happening.

When laws against "hate speech" are enacted, we simply accept the argument that some things people say really are "ugly," and might make people "feel bad." Consequently, to protect a few people from "feeling bad," the many must have their speech censored.

What about when laws are enacted that tell us when we rent our homes — our personal property — that we must rent to whomever the government approves? What if we are Christians who are told we must rent to homosexuals or even unmarried couples, even though we believe such people are living in sin, according to our fundamental belief system? In these cases, the government is violating our rights to religious expression and the practice of our beliefs, and in a way, is taking control of our personal property by telling us what we must do with said property. And what if we don't comply? We will be humiliated by the radical left and their minions from the lamestream media. And the government will punish us through either fines or imprisonment, or perhaps in the future, with confiscation of our property. What, you don't think that can happen?

Or how about the government arresting and either imprisoning or hospitalizing us when we write our beliefs on Facebook? About two weeks ago, ex-Marine Brandon Raub opened the front door of his home to FBI agents who wanted to search his home. Raub asked to see their warrant, and when they explained they didn't have one, they were told they could not do a search. The agents decided Raub wasn't being cooperative, so he was handcuffed, placed in a police car, and taken to a mental facility for detainment of up to 30 days. His only crime was that he was practicing his First Amendment right to freedom of speech, but in doing so, was saying things the government didn't like.

John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute represents Raub, who was released last week when the judge proclaimed there were no grounds on which to detain him. In an interview with Glenn Beck, Whitehead said this sort of thing is happening across America — that we've been asleep. He said he keeps asking the question: "Is this America?" Because of civil commitment statutes, he said we are moving into a "psycho-therapeutic mentality" across the country; in Virginia alone there are 20,000 people who have been similarly committed. Finally, he added that most cases are because of political statements, and that there seems to be a targeting of the military.

According to Whitehead, James Madison believed that the First Amendment was written to protect the minority against the majority. Since Madison is known as the Father of the Constitution, it seems he and his colleagues believed unalienable rights of future Americans would be in jeopardy. And they weren't even aware of danger from groups like the communists who are hell-bent on destroying America. Goal #39 of their 45 communist goals for America is: "Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose communist goals." And yes, silencing political speech in America is a goal of socialist/Marxist/communist/radical/progressive leftists. Remember that President Obama is a card-carrying socialist who has surrounded himself with appointees and friends who are radical socialists, communists, and even murdering terrorists.

"Anybody the government perceives as a threat can be arrested and put in a mental institution now," commented John Whitehead. Further, he explained that we're moving into a surveillance state, so we have to be very careful. America isn't some third world country overtaken by dictators who exercise total control over the people...yet. It does seem, however, that Mr. Obama is heading in that very direction. When a president says he will simply issue an executive order if Congress doesn't do what he wants, he acts more like a thug dictator than an elected representative who serves the people.

It really is time for ALL Americans to get re-acquainted with our heritage. We owe it to our forefathers to understand why so many of them sacrificed so much to allow us to live in freedom. Keeping America free is the least we owe to future generations. Unfortunately, if government is allowed to run roughshod over our rights, we will become nothing more than subjects to our master. Americans need to read and re-read our important founding documents, the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution. Both can be purchased at the local bookstore, and are relatively inexpensive. They can also be read on the Web from many sources. Just google...nothing can be so easy. Wallbuilders.com is an excellent site for learning about our nation's founding and history.

And dear fellow Americans, we should never let the left make us believe these documents cannot be understood. We can understand them. And there are many, many other materials that can be accessed at the library, or on Web, that can help us understand our founders' reasoning. One such book that I own and cherish is "Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787," reported by James Madison. Reading this book is like being there at the Constitutional Convention with all those great men. Educating ourselves about our government will make us better citizens, and more capable of making sound, wise decisions in choosing how, and by whom, we will be governed. It will also give us the courage to stand for our beliefs. In a free society, we should be able to have discussions with one another — conversation about ideas. But in the new politically-correct America, some people must be silent or face being ridiculed, labeled, imprisoned, or even hospitalized in a mental institution like Brandon Raub. We are being forced to live in a state of paranoia and fear of our own government.

Thomas Jefferson wrote, "Does the government fear us? Or do we fear the government? When the people fear the government, tyranny has found victory. The federal government is our servant, not our master!" However, in 2012, Americans are discovering that we have indeed become slaves to our master, Big Daddy government.

Again, we live in a nation governed by laws, not men. The U.S. Constitution is the basis for the Rule of Law by which we are governed. Big Daddy is not supposed to be picking and choosing which laws are followed, and which are disregarded. But that is exactly what is happening. Our representative government was founded to protect the unalienable rights of ALL citizens. The law is not a tool that government can us to silence citizens it disagrees with. Perhaps it is time for government to fear We the People. Let's not surrender to tyranny. To anyone willing to hear....

© Madeline Crabb

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Impending Collapse of American Medicine


Reflections on a Medical Career by Robert S. Dotson, M.D.
Just as is every issue in the US, Obamacare and the wider question of the state of American health care are obscured by propaganda and disinformation. In the article below, Dr. Robert S. Dobson looks back on a lifetime of medical practice and provides facts and insights that might help us to understand our situation.
The US medical system is the most expensive on earth without being the best and without providing full coverage. One-sixth of the American population has no medical coverage.
There are two main reasons that US medicine is so expensive. One is that profits are piled upon profits. In addition to wages and salaries for doctors, nurses, and medical personnel, the American health care system has to provide profits for private hospitals, diagnostic centers, insurance companies, and for the accountants, attorneys and management consultants made necessary by the enormous litigation and regulatory compliance cost. American medicine is the most regulated in the world and the most criminalized.
What “Obamacare” does is to divert Medicare and Medicaid monies to the profits of private insurance companies. Instead of providing medical care to those in need, the taxpayers’ money will provide bonuses for insurance executives and profits for their shareholders. It is the height of folly for Obama worshipers to defend a law written by the private insurance companies that uses public revenues to provide insurers with 50 million more customers and to add yet another layer of profits to the cost of American medicine.
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Reflections on a Medical CareerRobert S. Dotson, M.D.
All lovely things will have an ending, All lovely things will fade and die; And youth, that’s now so bravely spending, Will beg a penny by and by. 
-Conrad Aiken (“Disenchantment IV”- 1916)
Thirty years have passed since a much younger physician opened his ophthalmology practice in East Tennessee. A lifetime of hopes and expectations, intermingled with the usual collection of fears and uncertainties, has sped past at blinding speed. Children came, grew up, and moved on to their own lives. Parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, many friends and colleagues have returned to dust in advance of their fading photos.
Patients and their parents and children and grandchildren have moved in and out of this world, too, inextricably woven into the fabric of my life. Sadly, a few may have been hurt by lapses in judgment or the arrogance of youthful physician pride and overconfidence. But, at the end of the day, most were helped. I was fortunate to be recognized as a “doctor’s doctor” early on and, though there was no attendant reward other than the respect of peers, that was a sufficiently gratifying laurel to carry.
As in any human story, joy and pain, love and sorrow, have marked these same years. The Millstone of Time has also worn away foolish aspirations and vainglorious pretensions. There is no one left to impress, no accolades to seek, no rank to which to aspire. Consequently, I feel freed to offer some end-of-life reflections on my profession and career.
Any thinking American knows that there is something terribly wrong with the health care system in this country. Throughout my career, the political ruling elite has been enacting piecemeal a version of “universal” healthcare coverage to satisfy the demands of an increasingly vocal, but also increasingly disenfranchised citizenry. Our overlords, of course, have been more motivated by enhancing corporate bottom lines and enriching themselves, than in genuinely helping the peasantry.
Every U.S. President since Kennedy in 1962 has dealt with the issue in one way or another – by policy statement or passage of legislation. LBJ oversaw the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. Nixon oversaw the passage of the HMO Act (Health Maintenance Organization) in 1973 and ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) in 1974. Amazingly, he also introduced CHIA (Comprehensive Health Insurance Act) in 1974. Even more incredible was the spectacle of Ted Kennedy working to ensure its defeat. Doubtless, Kennedy regretted that in future years. Following the untimely departure of the 37th President, Gerald Ford signed ERISA into law in 1974 on his behalf, thereby introducing some minimal regulations to ensure that separated employees could maintain benefits, such as health insurance, for a limited time.
Carter campaigned in favor of National Health Insurance, but failed to pass anything similar during his time in office. He cited Kennedy’s opposition to CHIA and to his own proposals as the main reason for failure. Reagan’s era witnessed the passage of EMTALA (Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act) and COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) in 1986 that, among other things, provided for emergency medical treatment coverage for anyone who could drag themselves into an emergency room (of course, such a visit might bankrupt them unless they were lucky enough to be an illegal alien). Medical labs and imaging centers (and, the providers staffing them) were given “special attention” under CLIA (1988).
The first President Bush had little time for national health care issues, as he was primarily focused on launching the NWO. Poppy’s “Thousand Points of Light” degenerated into in-coming tracers from the illuminated Angel of Death – simply more “peace, freedom and liberty” being delivered to millions of innocents across Battlefield Earth. It seems so trivial now, but Bush was unseated after reneging on his pledge of “no new taxes,” not for offshoring the US economy or taking the first step toward turning US foreign policy into the pursuit of world hegemony.
The Clinton administration tried to force through “Hillarycare” in 1993, but met with stiff opposition from their Republican opponents (of course, the opposition was due to perceived threats to corporate profit margins). Nonetheless, Team Clinton was able to push through HIPAA (1996) (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and SCHIP (1997) (State Children’s Health Insurance Program) which, contrary to the titles of the acts, neither improved health insurance portability or accountability nor improved the health of children.
The Clinton White House had more important fish to fry: war in the Balkans; the liberal distribution of depleted uranium and cruise missiles across the globe; test wars on Americans at places like Ruby Ridge, Waco, and Oklahoma City (OKC); the appearance of numerous “Arkan-cide” victims whose mortal remains seemed to be discovered at the most inconvenient times; and, a semen-stained blue dress. The first versions of the Patriot Act were trotted out in response to the false flag event of OKC, but Congress and even the Imperial Senate balked at moving so precipitously toward the New Amerikan Security State.
The ascension of son Bush and his neoconservative cabal turned the government to the drive toward world hegemony. The serendipitous events of 9/11 opened the door for passage of the neocon’s PATRIOT Act and for the still on-going implementation of their Project for the New American Century (PNAC). New alphabet agencies like DHS and TSA were created to augment existing departments and agencies (FDA, DHHS, IRS, FTC, FCC, EPA, FEMA, DEA, BATF, FBI, NSA, CIA, and DOD) charged with dominating the nation and the planet beyond. Orwell’s dystopia, 1984, became reality: “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength.” President Bush modeled Big Brother’s third slogan for an admiring populace more concerned with Harry Potter and Janet Jackson’s nipple than with the deadly machinations of the psychopath in charge.
It seems likely that steps toward the Third World War were taken during Bush II’s reign with “war, war, WAR” being unconstitutionally declared against the nebulous (some might say, non-existent) terrorists lurking under every bed and in every closet, cave, and country on the planet. In spite of a premature proclamation of “Mission Accomplished” from a flag-festooned carrier in 2003 by the Decider-In-Chief, the killings have continued with little pause up to this day. The Great Decider used the opportunity of “victory” abroad, however, to turn his attention to the healthcare needs of his subjects.
What could be a better bone to throw to the peasants than the expansion of pharmaceutical coverage for those under Medicare? And, what could be a better pay-off for corporate buddies than massive new government wealth transfers of taxpayers’ dollars to Big Pharma via such a plan? It was a perfect “win-win” for the oligarchs at the top of the pyramid and a “lose-lose” for the peons at the bottom. To the great joy of Big Pharma, the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act (Medicare, Part D) was launched in 2003 to insure unimaginable profits for its corporate members and more expense for the common people it was alleged to help. As in any casino, our healthcare croupiers are well trained to leave no dollar on the table.
President Obama, a corporate stooge par excellence, was able to ram through “universal healthcare” with the help of a Howdy Doody smile, his corporate sponsors, and the slavish devotion of an ever-delusional, pseudo-Left. It mattered not that the legislation was written by the insurance companies who had been profiting from the misery of patients for decades.
It is no accident – and would be comical, if it were not so serious – that there will be no true, equitable national health care system under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (aka, “Romneycare II” or “Obamacare” or, lately, “Robertscare” in homage to a Supreme Court judge) and its accompanying legislation, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act. No Single Payer. No mutual insurance system that provides a basic level of healthcare for the proles of this collapsing Security State. Instead, we are witnessing the imposition of a system that will further enslave and impoverish the peasants here in Gulag Amerika. How poetic that a self-identifying “black man” is the front for resurrecting a 21st century version of chattel slavery in the twilight years of Empire.
Obama was positively beaming in his many photo-ops with the sponsoring corporatist representatives of Corporate Medicine, Big Insurance, Big Pharma, and Big Government who enabled the Prince of Change to achieve this milestone deception of America. The very fact that this “wonderful” new system – lauded by supporters as “revolutionary” – is to be enforced by a projected army of 16,500 new IRS agents should give us pause.
Notwithstanding passage of the legislation, decades of bad healthcare policy and corporatist plunder are finally taking their toll. The collapse of the ill-conceived US health care system might be near.
Ever more intrusive regulations are driving up the cost of medical care, and the practice of medicine is being criminalized. Even with all of their flaws, Medicare and Medicaid have provided a safety net for the elderly and disadvantaged since their inception. Those systems’ days are numbered, however, as they are being gutted to turn health care into profits not for doctors and hospitals but for insurance companies and Big Pharma. For starters, large sums have been ear-marked to be taken from Medicare and Medicaid to help fund PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act). Is looting Social Security and Medicare “change one can believe in”?
If this system is bad for patients, what does it mean for doctors? It means falling reimbursement rates and rising overhead costs for providers, onerous government mandates and regulations, and institutionalized, legalized larceny by Big Pharma, Big Insurance and Corporate Medicine. As an example of how time and circumstance have affected my own profession of ophthalmology, one need only look at Medicare approved reimbursement rates for cataract surgery.
In reflecting back over my many years in the field of ophthalmology (as of this writing, I am 63 years old and feeling pretty shop-worn), I am staggered by the changes that have occurred. When I opened my practice in 1982, Medicare approved surgical fees for cataract and implant surgery were near $1200. By 2012, that approved charge had dropped to about $570 in Tennessee. (There is some variance within states based on rural versus metro areas and between states where some are declared to have higher costs of doing business.)
Additionally, the US dollar has declined in value an average of almost 2.5% per year over the past 30 year period. Needless to say, overhead operating costs – salary, rent, insurance, personnel costs, taxes, and normal business expenses – have exploded during this same 30 year period. My office rent was raised 20% in the Fall of 2011, for instance.
To further illustrate the absurdity of the situation, it is worth recounting an anecdote. Several years ago, a patient excitedly told me of the vision restoring cataract surgery that her poodle had received at the local veterinary college. It “only cost $2600 for both eyes!” At the time, Medicare was paying about $1400 for two eyes in a human – including work up, surgical fee, post-op care for 90 days, and the very real liability associated with being a physician in a litigious society.
I do not begrudge my animal doctor friends their success, but surely the worth of human care should at least approximate that for a poodle. Although I know veterinarians who are struggling in their own practices due to the economic recession, at least they do not have to deal with government fee-setting and the liability and costs associated with treating humans. They are able to price their services sufficiently to keep their practices open and to provide for their own health care and retirement.
In my own practice, the amount of “write off” on charges for legitimate services rendered began to climb as we entered the 21st Century. For years, the “disallowed” charges by Medicare and private insurers resulted in “discounts” of 20-25%. As the economic upheaval of 2008 rolled around, those fee adjustments (actually theft of labor from providers) began to climb – 30%, 32%, 35%, and in my last year of practice over 60%! For years, I had been able to subsidize my Medicare (cataract) side of the practice by offering elective refractive surgery procedures (LASIK, PRK, etc.) to my patients. As these were private pay cases, they offset the draconian cuts in Medicare and insurance fee “adjustments.” The economic collapse of 2008, however, reduced that income stream for many ophthalmologists and, subsequently, led to the closing of many practices throughout the country.
Most general ophthalmologists are, by definition, primarily cataract surgeons. Many people – including Medicare recipients – do not realize that the fees paid to their physician are fixed by the U.S. Government after consultation with its many corporate sponsors within Big Insurance, Big Pharma, and Corporate Medicine. Patients also do not realize that those reimbursement levels are set by central planners at below-cost levels.
Medicare issues cut across all specialties, and ophthalmology has not been alone in experiencing cutbacks. Primary care physicians have increasingly become “piece good workers” – managed by corporate pencil pushers to see a patient every 6-8 minutes while being forced to carry all the liability and manage all the data and coding previously done by insurers. Who can diagnose, much less treat a patient in 6-8 minutes?
My own solo cardiologist was forced to close his practice last Fall and seek employment with an area hospital, due to declining reimbursement levels. More than 51% of cardiologists in the U.S. are now hospital employees. One of my medical school classmates, a successful internal medicine specialist, has recently given up the fight and has plans to enter some other line of work. Several friends in Radiology have seen their incomes decline as more and more work is “outsourced” to tele-docs in Asia. Still other long-time friends who are general surgeons are struggling to survive (a surgical fee for incisional cholecystectomy, for instance, is now under $400). Several have retired prematurely and others are looking for other work to do. As a final example, another of my friends is one of five physicians in a busy urology practice (2 offices and 26 employees) and they are now borrowing from the bank to make payroll. A recent article from CNN, “Doctors Going Broke,” confirms the growing problem. http://money.cnn.com/2012/01/05/smallbusiness/doctors_broke/index.htm 
As income reductions are being imposed on private practice, costs are being driven up by exploding regulations. In addition, the plethora of new mandates and laws have increasingly criminalized every aspect of the practice of medicine and created vast new armies of armed bureaucrats whose sole aim is to impose civil and criminal penalties on any provider unlucky enough to be singled out for attention. The old Soviet dictum attributed to Lavrenti Beria (Stalin’s NKVD chief), “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime,” is in full force in Amerika.
The present puppet in the White House has completed the work begun by his predecessors in moving the nation into a police state. The NDAA passed in the Fall of 2011 was the final nail in the coffin of personal freedoms guaranteed by the US Constitution. By suspending habeas corpus and even trial by judge or jury, the Act has made certain that no person is safe from being violated by a power-mad Security State. At the mere movement of the Unitary Executive’s pen, it is now permissible to “disappear” or even execute anyone on the planet – all on the whim of the unaccountable psychopath in charge. Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, has reported that our present Unitary Exec spends every Tuesday morning reviewing and signing off on a kill list supplied by his loyal minions. Nobel Peace Prize worthy stuff, indeed!
One is presumed guilty now in Amerika until proven otherwise and nowhere has this been more demonstrated than in the policing of medicine. Heaven help the poor provider who is targeted by the Medicare Police – or now, one supposes, by the new IRS Medical Special Branch. If targeted, his or her practice will be shut down without due process. His or her assets will be seized without due process (assuring the inability to even defend oneself). Finally, the unlucky guilty-until-proved-innocent physician will be permanently discredited (libeled) in his or her community with the ready help of the Government’s countless propaganda organs – press, radio, and TV – all before any day in court is seen.
New restrictions, rules, and regulations on healthcare – on providers and patients alike – have imposed legal constraints with which full compliance is impossible. Medicare rules and regs alone fill tens of thousands of pages, and ignorance of any of them is no defense for the unlucky. The original HIPAA legislation has been amplified with many additions since its inception in 1996: FERPA, HITECH, ARRA (2009). Each additional act or regulation has further criminalized the practice of medicine.
Finally, the entire health care system is being forced to switch to electronic health records (EHRs) and, soon, to a completely new coding system (from ICD-9 to ICD-10). Failure to comply with these mandates will result in further reductions in provider payments with every year that they remain unimplemented. For a solo physician practice, it is estimated that each mandate will cost as much as $80,000 to implement initially and, then, $10-15,000 annually to maintain. For multi-physician practices, costs run as high as three times (or more) that of a single provider practice. Of course, the purpose behind all of this is to make each person’s most private and personal information available to government bureaucrats and regulators while also ensuring its accessibility to the Security State’s many law enforcement tentacles and to all the corporate members of the Medical-Industrial complex.
Unfettered access to this information will ensure that the Corporate State can maximize its profits, largely avoid all risk and liability, and eliminate any potential competition (such as, often cheaper and more effective alternative medicine providers and therapies, non-GMO whole foods, and nutritional supplements). It will also ensure that medicine is practiced/delivered within strict cookbook guidelines that are carefully written by non-physician bureaucrats to maintain corporate profits and government power. All of this is well along in implementation.
A recent article, “Efforts to implement Obamacare law raise concerns of massive government expansion” from Fox News, 5 July 2012, (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/07/03/efforts-to-implement-obamacare-law-raise-concerns-massive-government-expansion/#ixzz1ziuZDCSV ) informs us that lawyers have already “drafted more than 13,000 pages of Obamacare regulations and that this number will increase further over coming months. In addition, we are told that DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) has been given more than one billion dollars to date in order to begin oversight of this mess and that more than 180 “commissions, boards, and bureaus” within the Agency are already hard at work implementing the final destruction of American medicine.
Widespread vaccination of the population with untested “stabs” will be mandated and enforced. As long predicted by Tin Hatters around the planet, this will permit biometric “nano-chipping” of the citizenry without the unpleasant need to ask their permission.
Vast sums will be committed to “preventive” medicine which will prevent nothing and will only expand the reach of the Medical-Industrial complex into every nook and cranny of a person’s life – and, into every wallet. Certain corporate profit-driven diets and treatment regimens will be mandated and enforced; access to nutritional supplements and alternative medicine practices will be limited or banned altogether; behavior patterns of all types will be monitored and carefully scripted and controlled (what we see, hear, read, do, eat, drink, and breathe – where and how we work, play, and live) under the guise of State Security concerns and its new companion, Public Health or Public Good; and, finally, the Corporate State will deploy “death panels” to decide when a person has outlived his or her economic usefulness to the State. In spite of Obama’s denials that such bodies exist and Palin’s diversionary, hysterical rantings at Tea Party rallies, there is clear provision in the Act for bureaucratic decision-making bodies which will make end-of-life decisions for us all. These entities are already being formed and deployed across the land. Our Anglo cousins in the UK are showing us the way by withholding food and fluids from as many as 29% of their hospital patients now who are judged to be living beyond their government-dictated “use-by” dates (pragmatically justified “to free up beds” – oh, those Brits and their refined sense of humor).
What can be done about the failing American health care system and the wider collapse of the economy and civil liberty? Frankly, very little. The system is rigged against the people as it has always been, only now one can be “black-bagged” and disappeared at any time. Protest too loudly and one is liable to literally see a grim Reaper overhead with one’s personal biometrics programmed into its fire control system. Like every other institution within the United States, the medical system is totally and completely broken. It can no longer be fixed by “voting” for the lesser of evils, by printing bales of fiat currency, or even by deploying fleets of obsolete aircraft carriers across the planet.
If as it seems we are arriving at the end of an age, if we can survive the end, something better might arise from the ashes. The prospect of collapse turns one’s thoughts to escape and survival. Can you do either? Volumes have been written about preparedness in a time of chaos, so I will spare readers a rehash. But, a few comments about healthcare, in particular, might be in order.
In a perfect world, it is my opinion that we should have some form of single payer healthcare system and divorce ourselves from corporate medicine. In my opinion, this will not happen without the complete collapse of the present system. Since that is unlikely to occur before more seasons of national election fraud are imposed on us, a few “in-the-meantime” suggestions follow:
Avoid contact with the existing health care system as far as possible. Yes, emergencies arise that require the help of physicians, but by and large one can learn to care for one’s own minor issues. Though it is flawed, the internet has been an information leveler for the masses and permits each person to be his or her own physician to a large degree. Take advantage of it! Educate yourself about your own body and learn to fuel and maintain it as you would an expensive auto or a pet poodle. One does not need a medical degree to:
1. avoid excessive use of tobacco or alcohol or, for that matter, caffeine;
2. avoid poisons like fluoride, aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, and addictive drugs (legal or illicit);
3. avoid unnecessary and potentially lethal imaging studies (TSA’s radiation pornbooths, excessive mammography, repetitive CT scans – exposure to all significantly increases cancer risk);
4. avoid excessive cell phone use and exposure to other forms of EMR pollution where possible (the NSA is recording everything you say and text anyway);
5. avoid daily fast food use and abuse (remember: pink slime and silicone) ;
6. avoid untested GM foods (do you really want to become “Roundup Ready?”):
7. avoid most vaccinations and pharmaceutical agents promoted by the establishment;
8. avoid risky behaviors (and, we do not need a bunch of Nanny State bureaucrats to define and police these);
9. exercise moderately;
10. get plenty of sleep;
11. drink plenty of good quality water (buy a decent water filter to remove fluoride, chloride, and heavy metals);
12. wear protective gear at work and play where appropriate (helmets, eye-shields, knee and elbow pads, etc.):
13. seek out locally-grown, whole, organic foods and support your local food producers;
14. take appropriate nutritional supplements (multi-vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3);
15. switch off the TV and the mainstream media it represents;
16. educate yourself while you can;
And, lastly…
17. QUESTION AUTHORITY!
Doing these simple, common-sense things will add healthy years to a person’s life and help one avoid most medical encounters during his or her allotted time on earth.
Finally, we have a responsibility to our neighbors and our families. We need to reach out to those around us – talk to them, listen to them – sympathize and empathize. Take time especially to listen to those who are in pain and are suffering and to help them by being humane. If you do this, you will discover that we have more in common with each other than the ruling elite wants us to believe. Governments obtain power and control by taking advantage of divisions along religious, ethnic, class, economic, ideological, and nationalistic lines. We must awaken to this fact if the 99% are to prevail against the 1%.
As for me, I was finally forced to close my practice earlier this year. Nearly two years of consulting with multiple attorneys, accountants, practice management consultants, and bankers, and expending most of my resources in a vain effort to keep operating, were simply not enough. It seemed only poetic that April Fool’s Day 2012 should be chosen for turning out the lights and ringing down the curtain. Patients and employees and suppliers were notified of the end. Many had been with me for my entire career and leaving them was and remains painful. More than nine thousand active charts were transferred to the care of a younger ophthalmologist still trying to stay afloat.
I share the heartache of many physicians forced out of medicine by the high cost of practicing it. As the health system is stripped of medical care in behalf of corporate profits, its exploitative character will become clear to all. In the meantime, don’t give in or give up. Plan for something better on the other side of chaos.
I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end. -Gilda Radner
Glossary of Terms:
ARRA American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
CHIA Comprehensive Health Insurance Act
CIA Central Intelligence Agency
CLIA Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 – administered by CMS 
CMS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
COBRA Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985
DHHS Department of Health and Human Services
DHS Department of Homeland Security
DOD Department of Defense
EMR Electromagnetic radiation
EMTALA Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act – part of COBRA1986
EPA Environmental Protection Agency
ERISA Employee Retirement Income Security Act
FEMA Federal Emergency Management Agency
FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation
FDA Food and Drug Administration
FERPA Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (1974 original legislation)
GM Genetically modified
HCERA Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 – supplement to PPACA
HIPAA Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
HITECH Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (2009)
HMO Health Maintenance Organization
ICD-10 International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision
IRS Internal Revenue Service
NDAA National Defense Authorization Act 
NSA National Security Agency
NWO New World Order
PPACA Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
SCHIP State Children’s Health Insurance Program
TSA Transportation Security Administration
USAPA Unifying and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism – aka, The Patriot Act

Friday, August 17, 2012

"A Practical Guide to Registering an Independent Expenditure Committee for New York State Elections”


August 17, 2012
By Richard Winsten, Thomas Hartnett, and Deanne Braveman 
Labor Press 
LINK

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, decided by the United States Supreme Court in 2010,  expanded the ways that unions can participate in elections.  The Court found that restrictions placed on unions and corporations participating in independent expenditures violated the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. Therefore truly independent expenditures cannot be limited in amount as campaign contributions can be limited.  The court, however, has upheld disclosure requirements for permissible independent expenditures in a line of cases. As a practical matter this allows unions to engage in unlimited spending for campaign activity (i.e. spending to support or oppose a candidate), subject to disclosure, where the candidate did not authorize, request, suggest, foster or cooperate with the unauthorized committee.
This article is meant to serve as a practical, nuts and bolts guide for unions interested in establishing and registering an independent expenditure campaign in New York State. Independent expenditures in New York State differ from those in federal elections because they are still subject to the contribution limits applicable to New York State elections as well as those limits placed on contributors. Of course, these limits are not explicit in the NYS election law and regulations and an interpretation can evolve as cases are presented. Also, the interpretation above may present constitutional issues.  Because the State law is newly developing in this area and because New York State Law has severe criminal and civil penalties for missteps with respect to unauthorized committee contact with candidates and campaign, we strongly urge you to consult legal counsel before venturing into these waters.
Unfortunately, as we are seeing in the current Presidential and Congressional campaigns opponents of organized labor have jumped into independent expenditure with both feet. Union friendly candidates are in danger of being overwhelmed by massive negative independent expenditures sponsored by billionaires, anti-union corporations and right-to-work front organizations. Unions cannot afford to sit on the sidelines; but they must participate in strict observance of the New York State laws and rules. Legal caution and prudence must be a priority for unions engaging in independent expenditure campaigns.   
UNAUTHORIZED COMMITTEES   

Independent expenditure committees in New York State are called “unauthorized committees.”  These committees are different from the typical politicalaction committees (PAC) because of the strict requirement that the unauthorized committee not coordinate with a candidate. Again, a candidate cannot authorize, request, suggest, foster or cooperate with an unauthorized committee in any of its activities.  

An unauthorized committee can engage in the activities usually engaged in by PACs other than by making contributions to candidates. They can run advertisements for or against candidates, reach out to voters, etc. These unauthorized committees can use what are commonly thought of as electioneering words such as support or oppose candidate x. They are not limited to non-partisan voter participation or issue oriented messages.  Unauthorized committees must comply with all New York State laws related to registration of the committee and reporting of receipts and spending and activities.   

Unlike independent expenditures in federal elections there are contribution limits on NYS unauthorized committees. The NYS BOE has interpreted the law to apply contribution limits for the primary and general elections of statewide and legislative elections to unauthorized committees. Contribution limits for these elections are set each cycle by the BOE and are available on their website.  Unauthorized committees are subject to these limitations as well as those placed on the contributor. Maximum contributions to an unauthorized committee are based on what elections the unauthorized committee is registered with the BOE to participate in.  If an unauthorized committee is registered to participate in three senate primaries a contributor could give the maximum amount for three senate primaries. Where the contributor has reached the limit of the amount they can give for all elections an unauthorized committee cannot accept more than this limit.
UNAUTHORIZED COMMITTEE REGISTRATION

Registration of unauthorized committees for state elections must be completed before any receipt of funds or spending by the committee. Participants in local elections must also register with the required entity (i.e. New York City Board of Elections).The NYC Campaign Finance Board recently issued rules that purport to define independent expenditures in NYC campaigns and mandate disclosure of spending. These rules are now more specific than NYS election laws and rules.  

This article will focus on state elections (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Assembly and Senate) and the registration and filings required to be completed with the New York State Board of Elections (BOE). Registration must be done within five days of picking a treasurer and a depository bank.    

Two forms are necessary to register an unauthorized committee. Form CF-02 is the Committee Registration Treasurer and Bank Information form.  When filing this form for a new registration you must indicate what level of government the unauthorized committee will be working on (state or local campaigns). In Section A the name of the committee as well as any acronym associated with it are indicated. Section B asks for the committee type, in the case of an unauthorized committee you would report “9 - unauthorized committee”.

Section C requires information on the treasurer of the unauthorized committee. The person designated here will be individually legally responsible for completing the required filings and ensuring that information is correct on these filings. Personal information for the treasurer such as name, address, mailing address and phone numbers are required. The form asks for the social security number of the treasurer, reporting this information is optional.

Section D requires a depository/bank to be designated. The bank account does not have to be opened prior to registration. Some banks require proof of registration with the BOE prior to opening an account for an unauthorized committee. You must report the bank and the branch you intend to use on your registration. The bank must be licensed to do business in New York and the branch you use must be located in New York State.  

In order to open the bank account for your unauthorized committee you will need a tax id number from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The number you need is an “employer identification number” commonly referred to as an “EIN.” This number can be applied for online or by telephone. If you apply online you will receive your number immediately.     
The remainder of the CF-02 requires you to list which elections the unauthorized committee will be working on. Information required includes the candidates to be supported or opposed and the ballot issues to be supported or opposed. Anyone other than the treasurer who is authorized to sign checks must be indicated as well. When completed the form is signed by the treasurer.    

The second form required for registration of an unauthorized committee is a CF-03. This  form designates the committee authorization status. An unauthorized committee would fill out section B of this form indicating that the committee is not authorized by the candidate.  You must include the date of election, office/district, and the candidate’s full name. This form is signed by the treasurer and must be notarized. Both forms must be sent to the BOE with original signatures.
Upon receipt of the forms by the BOE they will be reviewed. If the forms are complete a packet will be issued to the treasurer and mailed to the mailing address provided on the CF-02 form. The usual turn around time is about a week but can be longer, particularly around busy times for the BOE (reporting periods and elections). Your registration packet will contain your filer id number and information on required reporting and filings. You may not spend or receive money until you have received this information acknowledging your registration.
AMENDMENTS   

Amendments to both forms are required when there are any changes to information covered by the form. When amending either form be sure to provide your filer id number.  CF-02 should be amended when there are any changes to contact information for the treasurer or any changes on contact information for individuals authorized to sign checks. An amended CF-03 form is necessary when there are changes to the candidates that your unauthorized committee will be supporting or opposing. When amending the CF-03 to add an election that your unauthorized committee is working on you must list all elections that the committee is working on. It is not sufficient to submit an amendment containing only the new election. When you make changes to the elections your unauthorized committee is working on you will only need to amend the CF-03 and submit with the original signatures of the treasurer and the notary.
REQUIRED REPORTING AND FILINGS  

There are two types of filings associated with unauthorized committees: periodic filings and election related filings.  Both types of filings require you to report activities of the committee related to receipts and expenditures. There are two periodic reports due in January and July of each year. Election related filings include a 32 day pre election filing, 11 day pre election filing, and a post election filing (10 day for primary and 27 day for general election).  Post election filings must include copies of campaign materials purchased or produced. Originals are not required, but pictures of buttons or signs and transcripts of radio and television advertising are acceptable.  In addition there are 24 hour filings that require a committee to report any contribution or loan over $1,000 within 24 hours of receipt. These filings are required after the 11 day filing cut off until the election.
Committees working on campaigns for state office must complete these filings electronically. The BOE has an electronic filing system (EFS) that committees working on state elections must use. The information required by these filings is similar to that on form CF-01. The software doesn’t directly correspond with the form, but the form can help you to keep track of items that need to be reported. Each year the BOE releases a calendar specifying the due dates for each filing that can be found on its webpage. Each period covers the day after the cut off date of the previous report up to and including the cut off date for the report you are making.
Filings are required even when your unauthorized committee has no receipts or expenditures to report. An unauthorized committee is not allowed to file an “in-lieu-of statement” but may file a “no-activity report” (form CF-18) in this case. All filings must be completed, even if there are no receipts or expenditures, until the committee is terminated. The treasurer is responsible for the completion of all reports as well as termination of the committee when necessary. If the treasurer for your unauthorized committee changes you must contact the BOE and complete the required paperwork to change the treasurer.  

Unauthorized committees can be used by unions to effectively participate in elections. Unions must be careful to not coordinate with the candidate.  Unauthorized committees that coordinate with a candidate run the risk of being determined to be authorized which would apply contribution limits to them on what they could accept. An unauthorized committee found to be coordinating with a candidate can face huge fines and potential prosecution.
About the Authors
Richard D. Winsten is Co-Chair of Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C.’s Government Relations practice, based in the New York State capital of Albany. Thomas F. Hartnett is Co-Chair of the firm’s Government Relations practice and a part of the firm’s Labor practice in the Albany office. Deanne M. Braveman is an Associate, where she also practices with the firm’s Government Relations group in Albany.  
All NYS BOE forms mentioned in this article, as well as the Campaign Finance Handbook and guides to using the Electronic Filing System, can be found at this website: http://www.elections.ny.gov/CampaignFinanceForms.html
Information on Employer ID Numbers, including where to apply for free online, can be found by going to www.irs.gov and searching for “Employer ID Numbers.” 
The Campaign Finance Filing Calendar can be found on the NYS BOE Campaign Finance website located athttp://www.elections.ny.gov/CampaignFinanceForms.html

Rinku Sen: Look Beyond Police For Solutions


Look Beyond Police for Solutions
A Response to "Reconsidering Hate" 
Rinku Sen
LINK

The dominant story about race in the United States goes like this: in the past, we had troubling racial patterns, including genocide, slavery, and segregation. Then heroic individuals took spontaneous action and showed America the error of its ways. We changed all of our racist laws and became colorblind, evidenced by the election of President Barack Obama. When race is evoked today, it is only by people of color aiming to avoid responsibility and gain "special rights." If some people still act on extremist notions of White supremacy, then punishing hate crimes is the best we can do about such behavior which seems to be innate to human beings. 
In this narrative, racism is defined as individual, intentional, and overt, causing an enormous problem for those of us working on the institutional and structural causes of inequity. If there isn't a noose hanging, too many Americans think, then there isn't a racial problem. A similar gap between dominant thinking and the reality of systemic oppression affects LGBT people, immigrants, and people of certain faiths. The issue of hate violence is particularly tricky because it offers both expansions and limits in the fight for justice. Hate crimes are a form--sometimes the only form--of racism, homophobia, xenophobia, or religious intolerance that most Americans will recognize. It has emotional impact that generates action because hate crime violence is indeed taking so many lives. In addition, we can see the need for structural solutions in the criminalizing policies that have been adopted to address it. On the surface, hate crimes legislation appears to join the individual and the structural in ways that few other issues do.
In her insightful discussion paper, Kay Whitlock points out some severe limits of the hate frame, which ultimately amount to the fact that the problem isn't actually being solved. The criminal justice system on which we've pinned our hopes is itself responsible for generating and reinforcing deep bias against the people who are most frequently victimized: queers, people of color and especially queer people of color.

Whitlock's discussion of the role that police officers play in hate crimes mirrors a similar pattern found in domestic violence. The National Center for Women and Policing notes that "most departments across the country typically handle cases of police family violence informally, often without an official report, investigation, or even check of the victim's safety." This "informal" method is often in direct contradiction to legislative mandates and departmental policies regarding the appropriate response to domestic violence crimes."1 Between 1990 and 1997, the Los Angeles Police Department reported 91 sustained allegations of domestic abuse among its officers, but only four resulting in criminal prosecution.

By relying on criminal justice as our only recourse, we ask the system that puts our very humanity in question to reverse the consequences of such dehumanization. One of the things we should fight for is the implementation of hate crimes legislation that addresses the role police officers play in perpetrating it. Given how difficult it has been to reform police departments, however, we'd better start looking at some other options.

These options might exist in other institutions. The dehumanization of "protected classes"--people of color, immigrants, queers--is generated not just by criminal justice systems. Racial, sexual, national, and religious profiling takes place in our immigration, energy, education, employment, and health care systems, among many others. In June, the Sikh Coalition in New York City announced the settlement of a lawsuit that forces the Metropolitan Transit Authority to abandon its post-September 11 rule requiring employees with headdresses either to put an MTA logo on it or work away from public view.2 If the public transit system of the nation's largest city thinks it's okay to "hide" its Muslim and Sikh employees, then many individuals will think it's okay to send such people into hiding permanently. 

Hate crime legislation has been one issue around which LGBTQ, immigrant, religious groups, and native-born communities of color have joined forces. If we want to prevent such violence, we need to seek a broader range of campaigns to engage together. In the Applied Research Center's "Better Together" report, which focuses on the relationships between racial-justice and LGBTQ-liberation groups, issues, and communities, we argue that people concerned with both issues need to move beyond abstract moral support to concrete, strategic interventions.3

These strategic interventions suggest themselves in every institution of our society. Schools provide a great place to start; we should endeavor, for example, not to replicate the limitations of the hate crimes approach in creating anti-bullying policies. Health institutions and their treatment of victims might be another site of collective struggle. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act offers some options. 

There are solutions we haven't thought of yet, because our collective notions of justice are still oriented toward punishment rather than prevention. We need to begin work, together, on breakthrough agendas that uphold the dignity and safety of all our people, in all our institutions. We have to be able to connect individual pain to systemic rules, not only when violence is the result, but any form of dehumanization. We can do it, but only if we're completely honest with ourselves about where the current range of hate crimes solutions have taken us, and where they haven't.
Rinku Sen, president and executive director of the Applied Research Center (ARC) and publisher of ColorLines, is the author of The Accidental American: Immigration and Citizenship in the Age of Globalization and Stir It Up: Lessons in Community Organizing. She is the Chair of the Media Consortium, an association of progressive independent media outlets, and the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards for activists and journalists.