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On Monday, April 3, 2017 President Donald Trump welcomed Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi to the White House.
The two had met once before, on Monday, September 19, 2016, during the presidential campaign. Al-Sisi also met with Hillary Clinton that day in a separate exchange. As I explained in my post of September 23, Al-Sisi’s meeting with Trump was much more rewarding. Sensible Egyptians do not like Clinton because she was friendly with the wife of Mohamed Morsi, Al-Sisi’s predecessor, and had sympathies with his regime, which had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
the talk was about an exceptional chemistry between the two men, who saw eye to eye on the need to combat militant Islamism and to find a holistic approach to resolving Middle East issues, including the Israeli-Palestine conflict and the instability in Syria and Libya.
I understand from online comments that this month’s historic meeting went uncovered by Big Media, which focussed on Trump’s notionally chaotic White House instead.
However, the Egyptian press gave it careful coverage.
On April 1, 2017, Daily News Egypt reported (emphases mine):
A number of politicians and experts have praised the importance of the five day visit of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to the US capital Washington, DC, where he will meet with US president Donald Trump following an official invitation.
Al-Sisi is also scheduled to meet with a number of US cabinet members and representatives of the decision-making circles in the US, as well as Republican and Democratic members of the US congress and the heads of a number of committees.
The meeting will include reviews on Egypt’s economy and political conditions, discussions over boosting bilateral relations, and ways of increasing investments between both countries …
Regarding topics that Al-Sisi will focus on, the president will review what Egypt has recently achieved, especially with its new national projects. The primary focus will also include challenges Egypt is facing, particularly with terrorism and the circumstances that led to the signing of the agreement with the International Monetary Fund.
Egyptian pundits looked forward to a cordial, constructive discussion, the newspaper said:
Political science professor Hassan Nafaa told Daily News Egypt that the visit is of great importance for the two countries, as there were tensions between both countries that occurred after the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated regime. He stated that this visit would contribute to more Egyptian-American cooperation.
During the administration of former US president Barack Obama, the relations deteriorated, as he believed the ouster of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi by the armed forces in 2013 was a military coup. The US, as a result, cut its military aid to Egypt, but decided to continue payments and shipments of military goods in 2015.
Relations between the El-Sisi regime and the Barack Obama administration were not particularly comfortable, given the hesitation of the previous US administration in acknowledging the political change that occurred in Egypt in June 2013.
A meeting between El-Sisi and Obama in New York a year later, following the election of El-Sisi to the top executive job in June 2014, secured stable bilateral relations, including strong support from the Obama administration for Egypt in getting an IMF loan last year. However, it failed to move beyond that.
El-Sisi never visited the White House during the Obama administration.
Today, he is hoping to turn a new page in bilateral relations with a new administration.
The media outlet also reported that there is hope that Egypt and the US could resume a relationship the two countries have not enjoyed for 40 years:
According to Egyptian officials involved in the preparation for El-Sisi’s visit, Cairo wants to see advanced security cooperation that goes beyond anything that the two countries have had since the construction of a close alliance in the late 1970s in the wake of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty.
The following video shows Trump and Al-Sisi speaking of their objectives for the trip and for the future. Al-Sisi’s interpreter addresses Trump as ‘Your Excellency’ more than once. Al-Sisi calls terrorism an ‘evil ideology’ (2:15) and pronounces it the ‘problem of the century’ (4:25). He said he is confident that the Trump administration will ‘resolve this issue’ (4:28). Trump responds, ‘We will do that together. We will fight terrorism and other things and we’re going to be friends for a long, long time’ (4:35):
You can read more from Time‘s Zeke Miller.
Globalist heads no doubt exploded at this news, which, coupled with the expected visit by the King of Jordan, is sure to disrupt their NWO plans in future. Together, these three men could bring peace to the Middle East.
CBS’s Mark Knoller tweeted:
Trump posted photos from the meetings:
The Conservative Treehouse has great close-up photographs of Al-Sisi’s arrival at the White House. Trump is starting a new presidential tradition of greeting official guests at the front door, something his predecessors did not do.
Here is a photo of Al-Sisi’s departure that day:
This is the first time in eight years that an Egyptian president has visited the White House.
On Wednesday, April 5, Al-Sisi gave an interview to Brett Baier of Fox News. The Conservative Treehouse provided a partial transcript, including this:
al-Sisi: “I first saw the campaign of his excellency President Trump, and I listened to his speech of the neccessity of facing and confronting terrorism all over the world; that he is a great personality and a unique individual, and that he will find great success.”
“I fully trust the capabilities of President Trump, and I have full conviction that he can do things, exert efforts, that very few people can do. And he can succeed in so many fields that others cannot. I trust him wholeheartedly. And again, I congratulate you for having him.”
Many older readers will join me in hoping that the two countries can recoup the warm co-operation they had in the 1970s. This looks like a great start.
It is interesting that the King and Queen of Jordan visited the White House on the same day that Al-Sisi gave his interview to Baier.
Trump addressed the press concerning this significant meeting between the two leaders. He said, in part:
The King has been a leader in calling for a plan to defeat ISIS once and for all. And I’m with you on that. We’re both leaders on that, believe me. That’s what we speak about today, and that is what we are going to do. And it will be a shorter fight than a lot of people are thinking about, believe me. We’ve made tremendous strides as we discussed.
As you know, we had a very, very fine delegation come over from Egypt and also from Iraq, and they said more has been done in the last six weeks than has been done in years with the previous administration. And believe me, we’re going to keep it that way.
We will destroy ISIS and we will protect civilization. We have no choice — we will protect civilization. King Abdullah and I also discussed measures to combat the evil ideology that inspires ISIS and plagues our planet. In addition, we also acknowledge the vital role that Jordan has played in hosting refugees from the conflict in Syria. We have just announced that the United States will contribute additional funds to Jordan for humanitarian assistance. This aid will help countries like Jordan host refugees until it is safe for them to return home. The refugees want to return home. I know that from so many other instances. They want to return back to their home. And that’s a goal of any responsible refugee policy.
Finally, we discussed to advance the cause of peace in the Middle East, including peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. And I’m working very, very hard on trying to finally create peace between the Palestinians and Israel, and I think we’ll be successful. I hope to be successful, I can tell you that.
The Conservative Treehouse points out:
Jordan’s King Abdullah and Egypt’s Fattah al-Sisi have a very close regional relationship.
It would be interesting to find out if they met privately as they were both in Washington on the same day.
While the King of Jordan met with President Trump, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos took First Lady Melania Trump and Queen Rania for a tour of a local school. They visited a science class.
I’ll leave the last word to The Conservative Treehouse (emphasis in the original):
Think of the nationalist possibility. ♦ Fattah al-Sisi (Egypt), ♦ King Abdullah II (Jordan), ♦ Benjamin Netanyahu (Israel), ♦ Mahmoud Abbas (Palestinian Authority), ♦ King Salman and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (Saudi Arabia), and ♦ U.S. President Donald Trump. Together they have a remarkable canvas.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is an American association with 14,000 members.
For 20 years, the NAM has polled its members on economic confidence and published the results in the NAM National Outlook Survey.
The latest one concerns the first quarter of 2017. These manufacturers express strong optimism for President Donald Trump. In fact, more importantly, this is the most optimistic they’ve ever been in 20 years!
The presidents over that time period have been Clinton, Bush II and Obama. What does that tell us about President Trump? Plenty.
The overview is on page 2 of the PDF. A few highlights follow:
- Percentage of Respondents Positive in Their Own Company’s outlook: 93.3% (77.8% in December 2016)
- NAM Manufacturing Outlook Index: 63.7 (53.3, December 2016)
- Expected Growth Rate for Full Time Employment Over the Next 12 Months: 2.3% (1.0%, December 2016)
- Expected Growth Rate for Inventories Over the Next 12 Months: 0.8% (-0.1%, December 2016)
Then, there’s this:
“Do you think the United States is headed in the right direction, or is our country on the wrong track?”
RIGHT TRACK: 59.9% WRONG TRACK: 9.4% UNSURE: 30.8%
(December: Right Track: 25.7%, Wrong Track: 27.0%, Unsure: 47.3%)
What a change in those numbers, particularly the last set, in such a short space of time. Incredible.
This survey is worth more than a mountain of polls. These are statistics from 14,000 manufacturers nationwide, taken by their own association — not a thousand or so people surveyed by an agenda-driven polling company.
President Trump met with members of the NAM and its president and CEO Jay Timmons at the White House on Friday, March 31, 2017 (H/T: The Conservative Treehouse).
Those who do not have time to watch the 12-minute video will find the transcript very interesting with regard to the variety of industries and businesses represented.
Excerpts follow, emphases mine.
THE PRESIDENT: Great job, Jay.
My administration is working every day to make it easier for manufacturers to build, hire, and grow in America. We’re removing job-killing regulations and lifting the burdens on American industry like I would say have never been lifted before. We’ve done a lot of work over the last 60, 70 days, and I think you’re seeing some real production …
Earlier this week, I signed an executive order to end the war on coal. We had coal miners up at the office. It was an amazing scene. You had very tough, very strong, very powerful men that were crying actually; and they were crying with happiness. And produce more American energy and more American jobs, which is how I got elected in the first place …
One of the reasons we’re here today is to announce the extraordinary results of a new survey from the National Association of Manufacturers. Your survey shows that 93 percent of manufacturers now have a positive outlook on the future of their business in this country — 93 [percent]. And it was just a few months ago, 56 [percent]. That’s a slight difference. (Laughter.) That’s a slight difference. (Applause.)
That’s a 20-year, record high — highest it’s been in 20 years, and it’s going higher. Believe me, you could come back next month, Jay. (Laughter.) I don’t know how much higher it can go. And so I’m very proud of that, and we’re all very proud of that. And the manufacturers are really starting to invest big money, and a lot of things are happening. It’s a new surge in optimism, which is sweeping all across our land.
These survey results are a further vote of confidence in our plan to bring back jobs, lower taxes, and provide a level playing field for our workers. The manufacturing companies represent — and represented here today — are just an extraordinary group of people. They’re leaders. They’re brilliant in so many ways. The field has not been a level field. Jobs have been leaving our country, going to China and Mexico and lots of other places.
And you’ll be seeing what’s happening over the next few weeks. It should be very interesting for you to watch. As you know the President of China is coming to Florida. We’re having a meeting — big meeting — at Mar-a-Lago. We call it the Southern White House, which it actually is. It was originally built as the Southern White House, a lot of people don’t know …
MR. TIMMONS: … I want to reemphasize for the media here that this quarterly survey of our 14,000 members has been going on for 20 years. And to the point you made, this was the highest level of optimism that our manufacturers have expressed in 20 years.
MR. TIMMONS: And the other statistic that I think you’ll find interesting is the right-track/wrong-track question that our manufacturers answered. Just the month before Inauguration Day, the right-track number was only 26 percent. Today it is over 60 percent. So that’s a huge growth, as well. And that’s because of the focus on taxes, regulations, infrastructure investment. We appreciate your commitment to investment in job creation and manufacturing. And we’re going to deliver.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Jay. That’s really nice.
MR. TIMMONS: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Patricia, would you like to say something? Pretty outstanding what you’ve done.
MS. MILLER: Thank you. I appreciate being here today. I own a plastics manufacturing company in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. We’re a three-year entrepreneurial in growth phase with a 40-year legacy. It’s great to be part of manufacturing in the U.S.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s a really great job. You’ve done a great job. Really great.
MR. EDDY: Good morning, Mr. President. My name is Joe Eddy. I’m the president and CEO of a company in northern West Virginia called Eagle Manufacturing. We’re 125 years old this year; a family-owned business. We manufacture products out of steel and plastic. We make over a thousand industrial safety and hazardous materials handling products. And I bring from West Virginia a major thank you for the work you’ve done for coal …
MR. GREENBLATT: My name is Drew Greenblatt. I’m the owner of Marlin Steel. We’re a steel factory, make wire baskets for the automotive industry and the pharmaceutical industry. We make everything in Baltimore City, Maryland. We import nothing. We use steel from Illinois, we use steel from Indiana. We’re thrilled with the policies that you are pursuing. We feel great optimism, and we’re thankful for those approaches you’re taking. Obviously — we’re 45 miles from where you’re sitting right now — we’d love for you to come visit us …
MR. RIORDAN: Mr. President, good morning. My name is Tom Riordan. I’m the CEO of Neenah Enterprises. We’re a casting and forging operation in Wisconsin — 145 years old. First products were plowshares back in the Civil War. Today most of our products are related to infrastructure in terms of street casting, sewer covers, and so on. The other half of our business is really tied to on/offload vehicles with folks like Caterpillar and John Deere. We’re very much dependent upon your policies moving forward …
MR. MAGYARI: Nice to meet you. My name is Doug Magyari. I’m the CEO of IMMI, Inc. We’re a Troy, Michigan company, suburb of Detroit. And we’re very much a leading-edge research and development company on advanced technologies, and in particular, we’ve built the most advanced augmented reality and virtual reality glasses in the world. And it’s an extremely important technology that’s going to affect not only everybody at this table, but really every facet of our lives. And there’s military applications and all sorts of medical applications, as well as entertainment …
MS. BUCHWALD-WRIGHT: Hello. It’s nice to see you again. I’m Karen Buchwald-Wright. And I’m the president and CEO of a family business that manufactures natural gas compressors. We’re from Mt. Vernon, Ohio. And gas compressors are used in both the oil and gas industry, so I’m especially thankful that you have gotten the Keystone —
THE PRESIDENT: Very busy.
MS. BUCHWALD-WRIGHT: Yes, we are going to be.
THE PRESIDENT: You have to be. Big difference. That industry has changed over the last couple of months — actually, over the last couple of weeks, that industry has changed …
MR. BARR: Good morning, Mr. President. I’m Matt Barr with Carolina Color. We manufacture colors for the plastics industry. We’re a family-owned business — we also celebrated our 50th anniversary this year, 120 employees. We’re in Delaware, Ohio, and we’re headquartered in Salisbury, North Carolina …
MS. JOHNSON. Good morning, Mr. President. I’m Kellie Johnson, president of ACE Clearwater Enterprises. It’s a 16-year-old family business — third generation. We’re a supplier to the aerospace and power generation industries. We build products out of metal. If it flies or is launched, our parts are on it. We employ 200 of the best men and women in our industry. And on behalf of all of them, thank you for what you’re doing.
And we would love to have you come and visit next time you’re in southern California. In fact, I’ll never forget my husband and I approaching you in the lobby of your golf course in Palos Verdes when the flag controversy was going on. And we respected your position and we are so proud that that flag is flying today. Thank you. It worked out well.
THE PRESIDENT: It worked out. That was a very good decision …
Anyone moaning about Trump really needs to stop going to Big Media as the main source for news. Turn off the television, put down the newspaper and get online.
Trump’s is the most transparent administration in modern history. All of Trump’s presidential activities are on the White House site, along with videos. All of Sean Spicer’s press briefings are there, too.
Trump is my kind of president!
On Wednesday, March 29, 2017, Theresa May triggered Article 50 to begin the process of the United Kingdom exiting the European Union.
May signed the letter on March 28 and a British official presented it to Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, in Brussels the following day around 12:30 p.m. BST.
This tweet by Financial Times columnist Janan Ganesh is dated March 28, 4:15 p.m.:
Tusk takes receipt of the letter on March 29:
Nigel Farage, former party leader of UKIP who pressed hard for the 2016 referendum, gave an interview earlier that day:
He also discussed it on his talk radio programme in London:
Contents of May’s letter
Bloomberg is one of the few news sites to have the full text of Theresa May’s six-page letter to Donald Tusk.
The first four paragraphs follow (emphases mine):
Dear President Tusk
On 23 June last year, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. As I have said before, that decision was no rejection of the values we share as fellow Europeans. Nor was it an attempt to do harm to the European Union or any of the remaining member states. On the contrary, the United Kingdom wants the European Union to succeed and prosper. Instead, the referendum was a vote to restore, as we see it, our national self-determination. We are leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe – and we want to remain committed partners and allies to our friends across the continent.
Earlier this month, the United Kingdom Parliament confirmed the result of the referendum by voting with clear and convincing majorities in both of its Houses for the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill. The Bill was passed by Parliament on 13 March and it received Royal Assent from Her Majesty The Queen and became an Act of Parliament on 16 March.
Today, therefore, I am writing to give effect to the democratic decision of the people of the United Kingdom. I hereby notify the European Council in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union. In addition, in accordance with the same Article 50(2) as applied by Article 106a of the Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, I hereby notify the European Council of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Atomic Energy Community. References in this letter to the European Union should therefore be taken to include a reference to the European Atomic Energy Community.
This letter sets out the approach of Her Majesty’s Government to the discussions we will have about the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union and about the deep and special partnership we hope to enjoy – as your closest friend and neighbour – with the European Union once we leave. We believe that these objectives are in the interests not only of the United Kingdom but of the European Union and the wider world too.
The European edition of Politico has the full text of Article 50, which is brief and comprised of five provisions. Wikipedia explains it further.
These are the salient items:
3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.
4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.
A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.
This means that the UK is still part of the EU until the exit process is complete.
However, we are no longer allowed to participate in European Council discussions. In fact, it was interesting that the English text ‘European Commission’ has been removed from signage in Brussels. It has been replaced with another European language, with the French words underneath.
From March 29 onwards, news reports will refer to 27 EU nations instead of 28.
The UK is in an EU limbo until our exit. We must still pay monies to the EU and are subject to EU law.
Article 50 means simply that the exit process begins.
The Telegraph has more. Briefly:
A withdrawal agreement, covering financial liabilities, citizens’ rights and the border in Ireland, will need to be accepted by a majority of 72 per cent of the EU’s remaining 27 member states.
The agreement would then need to be approved by the European parliament, voting by a simple majority.
The motion makes clear that the UK will remain bound by the rules of the EU and that trade talks with third party countries are not allowed for as long as it remains a member.
The irony of Article 50
There is a certain irony behind Article 50.
It was written by a Briton between 2002 and 2003 to apply to EU countries that could become dictatorships.
drafted the text that sets out the procedure for leaving the European Union as part of an effort to draw up an EU constitutional treaty in the early 2000s.
That initiative was scuppered by referendum defeats in France and the Netherlands but some elements ended up in the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, which came into force in 2009.
One of the sections pasted across became Article 50 …
“I don’t feel guilty about inventing the mechanism. I feel very sad about the U.K. using it,” Kerr told POLITICO. “I didn’t think that the United Kingdom would use it.”
When he was writing the text 14 or 15 years ago:
the rise of Austrian far-right leader Jörg Haider was a big worry for mainstream EU leaders and some southern European EU members had returned to democracy only in recent decades. Kerr imagined that the exit procedure might be triggered after an authoritarian leader took power in a member country and the EU responded by suspending that country’s right to vote on EU decisions.
“It seemed to me very likely that a dictatorial regime would then, in high dudgeon, want to storm out. And to have a procedure for storming out seemed to be quite a sensible thing to do — to avoid the legal chaos of going with no agreement,” Kerr said.
He calls attention to the fifth provision of Article 50, the possibility of reversing a decision to leave the EU:
In other words, during the two-year negotiating period set out in the text, Britain could decide not to leave after all and simply remain an EU member. However, he says he cannot imagine how politics in Britain would allow such a U-turn.
Kerr summed up the exit process simply:
The process outlined in the text is, he noted, “about divorce … about paying the bills, settling one’s commitments, dealing with acquired rights, thinking about the pensions. It’s not an article about the future relationship.”
What is the timetable?
The BBC has a full timetable from now through March 2019. Of course, it is not written in stone, but it is the Brexit objective.
On Thursday, March 30, Brexit Secretary David Davis presented the Great Repeal Bill to Parliament, which will come into force as soon as the UK leaves the EU, i.e. in 2019 (all being well).
On Friday, March 31, Donald Tusk will publish negotiation guidelines that the EU will use.
In April, the 27 remaining EU members will adopt negotiation guidelines at the EU summit.
When Parliament opens again in the Spring, the Great Repeal Bill will be announced in the opening statement.
Michel Barnier, representing the EU, will begin participating in negotiation talks with the UK by late May or early June.
Late this year, Parliament will review the Great Repeal Bill in greater detail. If laws must be passed in certain areas to close any gaps, this will be done by mid-2018.
By the end of 2017, it is expected that Michel Barnier will have concluded the first round of negotiations. He expects to complete the negotiating process by September 2018.
At the beginning of 2019, both the UK and the EU will hold separate votes in Parliament and the EU Council, respectively, on the exit plan.
It is expected that the UK will leave the EU sometime in March 2019.
Impact of negotiations
The next 18 months will require careful negotiation to ensure that the UK is not adversely affected.
Attention to preserving human rights — including those for EU residents living and working in Britain as well as British expatriates living in Europe — will be essential.
Also essential will be negotiations concerning EU-sensitive industries such as farming and fishing.
Trade on food will also be negotiated. Currently, UK supermarkets sell a lot of EU fruit, vegetables and dairy products. We also export comestibles to the EU.
Banking and educational institutions are also weighing up their options. On March 30, Lloyd’s of London confirmed they will be opening a branch in Brussels. Oxford and/or Cambridge might open satellite universities in EU countries.
I’ll have more on Brexit soon and what we might expect to see over the coming months.
As I wrote on March 27, 2017, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s plan for healthcare was pulled on Friday, March 24, 2017. There wasn’t enough support to even hold a vote in the House of Representatives.
It wasn’t a very good plan, anyway: too many vested interests. In fact, much of it was not too different from Obamacare.
Ryan’s plan — Ryancare — was the AHCA, the American Health Care Act of 2017.
Obamacare is the ACA or PPACA, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law in 2010.
Below is a brief review of healthcare in the United States.
Before the 1980s
When I was growing up in the US, until the 1980s, general practitioners (family doctors) had their own practices. You made an appointment and paid for it. The doctors also made house calls, when necessary. The charges for both were reasonable. Those men knew you, your family, your health problems. They were also friendly and reassuring.
There also used to be community hospitals in most towns, even small ones.
Hospitalisation insurance — for catastrophic and/or unexpected healthcare — was affordable.
During the 1980s
In the 1980s, HMOs became popular and most employers paid for their employees’ insurance.
I left the US during this time and was not on an HMO plan myself, although I did have employer-paid insurance with a reasonable $100 per annum deductible (‘excess’ for my British readers).
Everything was straightforward.
I didn’t even have a family doctor.
I saw two specialist physicians during that decade by ringing their offices for an appointment. I used a walk-in clinic once. Walk-in clinics were new that decade.
I can’t comment further personally.
After the 1980s
American readers are free to comment on HMOs and PPOs.
It seems that, by the 1990s, everything was run by big healthcare corporations or a large consortium of local doctors.
A new development in primary healthcare arose around the turn of the century: concierge medicine.
Concierge medicine differs from the walk-in clinic or other types of direct primary care in that one pays a membership fee monthly, quarterly or annually for one’s healthcare.
This type of primary care was developed in 1996 by the two physicians who founded MD2 (pronounced “MD Squared”) International in Seattle.
Concierge medicine expanded from there, particularly after the Millennium. Initially, it was rather exclusive and expensive. Patient membership was limited.
However, that has been changing over the years. Some concierge care is incredibly affordable. Visit the YourChoice Direct Care site to see one example. YourChoice Direct Care is in Brighton, Michigan, and is referenced below. The membership fee covers much of the care provided. Drugs dispensed are generic and dirt cheap.
Of course, even if one is a member of a concierge or direct care medical practice, one still needs health insurance.
Health insurance under Obamacare
The obligation to purchase health insurance has become a problem with Obamacare, because premiums skyrocket this year. I have read only one anecdotal account online of someone who was grateful for Obamacare. That person is in a different situation to most, however. All the other accounts I’ve read are from middle class people who are now hit with five-figure deductibles in addition to eye-watering premiums. And we mustn’t forget the co-pay when seeing the doctor. A patient must pay for his part of the doctor’s visit on the day.
My readers who are not American should note that Obamacare is insurance, not treatment.
Another point worth remembering is that American legislators have their original healthcare plans and are not subject to Obamacare.
One can see why Americans are disgruntled with Obamacare — ACA, PPACA.
The proposed Ryancare — AHCA — was no better.
Why did Americans need Obamacare?
In a post from March 22, 2017, Karl Denninger of Market Ticker explains that the bottom is falling out of healthcare. Excerpts follow, emphases in the original.
Denninger has studied figures released by the Treasury Department which show:
the Federal Government spent $1,417 billion last fiscal year on Medicare and Medicaid, up from $380 billion in 1998, which incidentally was 37% of all federal spending last year — and it’s accelerating at ~8-9% a year as it has been for the last several decades (with some notable outlying years.)
At this rate it will cross $2,000 billion, or more than half (by a good margin) of the current federal budget within 5 years. That will blow a $600 billion additional annual deficit hole in the budget into a rising rate environment which the government will not be able to finance.
That’s math, not politics.
This is because high-risk pools of patients began increasing in the 1990s:
That’s a fact, and it was cited as one of the reasons we had to pass the PPACA – to put a stop to their collapse by forcing everyone into paying for those who were very sick or nearly dead! The stories of people who were unable to get into those pools at all due to lack of funding were well-circulated and the crimp put on treatments paid for by them were both well-documented and publicized — again, due to lack of funds.
By 2008, he says the medical and insurance industry were quickly heading towards collapse:
See, while health care counts toward GDP, and is nearly 20% of it today (up from about 3% 30ish years ago) most of it doesn’t produce anything. Not one car, one house, one television set. Oh sure, it might allow someone to keep making those things — maybe — but at what cost? Yes, there are exceptions, but most of those exceptions (e.g. childbirth) are actually quite cheap in percentage terms.
The ugly part is that much medical care is actually negative to GDP. Why? Consider the drug addict who mainlines opiates and destroys his heart valves. “Fixing” it costs upward of $500,000, all said and done. Will that person ever produce more value than that with their remaining life? Definitely not if they keep using drugs; they’ll die. The sad reality is that most of them do exactly that.
How about the Type II diabetic that winds up running through a quarter-million bucks in drugs, amputations, dialysis, blindness and death because they won’t change their food intake and stop eating carbohydrates? How far does he or she go before the ability to produce is destroyed, at which point they’re on disability and go from producing something to a net consumer of everyone else’s production? By the way that specific instance when you add it all up nets out to somewhere around $400 billion a year for Medicare and Medicaid now! That’s crazy on any objective basis; you could literally give everyone in the country — man, woman and child $1,000 a year instead with money left over — or adequately feed everyone who is hungry in sub-Saharan Africa (all ~230 million of them!) with a lot of money left over.
Ethical considerations aside (emphasis in purple mine):
you can’t escape the mathematical outcome that results from allowing these people to impose their costs on everyone else. There are plenty of people in the lower and middle economic strata — in fact, most — who can easily wind up being a net negative to GDP and the problem becomes much worse when medical costs ramp by a factor of six compared against GDP and not all of the conditions in question come as the result of voluntary lifestyle choices.
But in all cases you eventually run out of people who can and will pay when exponential cost expansion occurs, especially when at the same time you ramp cost the income base you rely on to pay taxes to fund it is being destroyed one drug addict or Type II diabetes sufferer at a time.
Why Obamacare failed
The PPACA was basically a bailout of the medical industry engineered to force a more-level slam of the cost on everyone in the country.
But… it failed. It failed because nothing was done about the actual problem and costs continued to ramp. The PPACA managed to get a lower spend in Medicare and Medicaid for one year (and a modestly-better increase in the two bordering it) but spending then returned to its previous trend! The negative GDP problem got worse rather than better in aggregate and moved even further up the income scale on an individual basis. The government tried to finance that through even more deficit spending but doing so just destroyed productivity and tax receipts.
Obamacare does not solve the cost problem:
It just moves the problem somewhere else. Where it moved it was on the back of productivity and tax receipts, both of which have been horrifyingly bad since the 2008 crash. Last fiscal year tax receipts rose by less than 1% despite all the new taxes in the PPACA and higher rates generally while productivity improvements have all but disappeared.
Why the AHCA was a bad remedy
He notes that the AHCA did not address cost, either, and:
if we do not address cost and thus drop that $1,417 billion precipitously the government’s budget will be destroyed and thus collapse on the clear evidence and trends published by our government’s own Treasury Department.
The AHCA failed to even achieve a vote partly for this reason and, had it passed, would have helped to:
further advance the collapse of our federal government’s ability to fund itself, and thus operate!
The AHCA cannot resolve this problem because it intentionally refuses to address the driver of the problem in the first instance. Returning to “High Risk Pools” is idiotic because those very pools were on the verge of collapse prior to the PPACA and were a big part of why Obamacare was written and passed! The insurance and medical lobbies wrote the PPACA to get rid of those problems and pools, or so they thought.
They tried denying math but failed because the laws of mathematics are not suggestions. You can’t get rid of a cost by making someone else pay it; you simply move it and eventually it comes back and bites you.
… It just moves money around, something I noted back when it was first released (and much to the detriment of state budgets.)
What needs to happen
Denninger says 15 USC as well as State Consumer Protection laws must be enforced.
Prices and charges must be posted and must be uniform:
Forcing published pricing and charging everyone the same price for the same service or product of like kind and quantity, disconnecting it from alleged “insurance” using existing law, will force competition into the market immediately.
He says prices will drop dramatically and links to the aforementioned Your Choice Direct Care:
Medical costs will instantly drop like a stone. How much? Let me point out that from one “direct concierge care” site we have some examples of what market prices for common services and drugs look like – $4 for an A1c test, $3.13 for a CBC (complete blood count), $7 for a PSA screen, $275 for an MRI (damn close to what you can buy it for in Japan – cash, of course), $37 for an X-ray and $167 for a CAT scan. On drugs how about $1.98 for 90 Prozac pills, or $1.44 for 30 Prilosecs? This place claims these offers are “at their cost” with your “membership”; note that they are not selling at a loss and the maker/operator of same is still making a profit! Why would you fork over a “co-pay” of $10 or $20 when you can pay $1.50 for your prescription in cash?
Why would you need “health insurance” to cover routine medical care and prescriptions if you could buy services and drugs at prices like that — or at a 20% markup from them with a bunch of competitors in a given area?
We can have that sort of pricing for medical care today, right now, right here, everywhere in the country: Enforce the damned law today and that’s the pricing we will have for medical services and drugs TOMORROW.
Let me make this clear for you because we have proof of what the outcome will be: The known pricing we will obtain if we were to do this is, for most treatments and drugs, 80 to 90% LESS than paid today. In fact most of the drugs listed on that concierge site are 10-20% of your copay under existing so-called “insurance” and so are the imaging and lab prices!
He says any reform legislation should cover — and President Donald Trump has mentioned this — prescription drugs:
repeal the reimportation ban on pharmaceuticals, and we need to add to Robinson-Patman inclusion of international sales. That will force “best price” everywhere and pharmaceutical costs will fall like a rock here in the United States. Oh, those other nations? They’ll get to pay their ratable share of the development of drugs — and it’ll be about damn time.
Conservative media remain silent
For some reason, no conservative commentator ever discusses healthcare reform.
Here’s a list from Denninger’s readers:
Hannity HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Rush HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Levin HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Beck HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Savage HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
O’Reilly HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Hewitt HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Malkin HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Ingraham HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Cain HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Bruce HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Bennett HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Boortz HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Let me add to your list of those who refuse to address this.
Hannity and Ingraham have been sent this info a dozen or so times as well as my Congressman which gets a “generic” health care response letter.
Tucker Carlson HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Ann Coulter HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Stuart Varney HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Even the “supposed” legal commentators have not touched this.
Judge Napolitano HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Judge Jeanine HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Kimberly Guilfoyle HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Then lets not even get started on the inability to actually contact or send a real email to any of these people. You have to go through some inane message system on social media or use some ridiculous web form that will not even recognize hyperlinks or colored, bold, italicized text for emphasis …
It appears social media accounts for all of these above are mostly designed for promoting book sales and personal aggrandizement and “look at me” posts.
At this point, every person that seemed like they might actually be willing to listen or discuss this has been notified and has revealed themselves by their refusal to discuss any of this.
Someone replied with regard to those in the list who work for Fox News:
Start asking the wrong questions on that network and you are gone. These media organizations exist not to promote freedom or uncover truths to protect the people but to inflame passions and promote propaganda. This is what happens when only a few large corporations control the majority of the media.
Someone else blamed it on the public:
Because TV , Facebook, Youtube and Twitter have reduced John Q Public’s attention span to about ninety seconds
… fact based essays don’t get traction.
Karl Denninger answered many of the questions I had been asking myself about healthcare in the US.
I hope he has answered some of yours, too.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s plan for healthcare was pulled on Friday, March 24, 2017. There wasn’t enough support to even hold a vote in the House of Representatives.
It wasn’t a very good plan, anyway: too many vested interests.
However, the media and other opponents of President Donald Trump said he failed.
Dilbert’s Scott Adams sees this as a good thing, because Trump has now risen from being a dictator to merely incompetent (emphases in the original):
The real story is happening in parallel with the healthcare story, and that’s what renders it invisible. Something enormous is happening that has nothing to do with anything you are seeing in the news. In fact, you’ll probably read it here for the first time.
I’m dragging this out to see if you can guess the big news before I tell you. It is something I predicted would happen. It is something the country needs MORE than healthcare. It was, until yesterday, perceived as the biggest problem in the United States, if not the entire world.
And that problem almost totally went away yesterday. The smell might linger, but the problem has ended. We should be celebrating, but instead we will be yammering about healthcare …
With the failure of the Ryan healthcare bill, the illusion of Trump-is-Hitler has been fully replaced with Trump-is-incompetent meme. Look for the new meme to dominate the news, probably through the summer. By year end, you will see a second turn, from incompetent to “Competent, but we don’t like it.”
I have been predicting this story arc for some time now. So far, we’re ahead of schedule …
In all seriousness, the Trump-is-Hitler illusion was the biggest problem in the country, and maybe the world. It was scaring people to the point of bad health. It made any kind of political conversation impossible. It turned neighbors and friends against each other in a way we have never before seen. It was inviting violence, political instability, and worse …
No one wants an incompetent president, but calling the other side a bunch of bumblers is routine politics. We just went from an extraordinary risk (Trump=Hitler) to ordinary politics (The other side=incompetent). Ordinary politics won’t spark a revolution or make you punch a coworker. This is a good day for all of us …
As Adams illustrated in his post, that day, CNN came out with an article by Trump’s biographer Michael D’Antonio, ‘Why Trump the deal-maker came off looking incompetent’. It’s a shame D’Antonio didn’t use the word in his article. D’Antonio has a bee in his bonnet over Trump and trashed him last year. (For more information, see this Podesta WikiLeaks email from March 2016 and a LifeZette article from last October.)
However, we have a video of Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on CNN calling Trump incompetent. Way to go!
Of course, this could start calls from Democrats for action to be taken against Trump’s presidency. (On Sunday, March 26, an article appeared in The Atlantic discussing what would happen if Trump were impeached.)
Let’s hope Adams is right with his prediction of ‘Competent, but we don’t like it’.
On Thursday, March 23, 2017, RMC (French talk radio) had a morning discussion on the London attack which occurred the day before.
Les Grandes Gueules (The Big Mouths) discussed the trend for vehicle terrorism, an ISIS-approved method which started with the July 14, 2016 attack in Nice. The Berlin Christmas market attack on December 19 was the next spectacular. On Wednesday, it was London:
The day after the London attack, Belgian police detained a man in Antwerp for driving at speed along a main pedestrian-only street. Reuters reported:
“At about 11 a.m. this morning a vehicle entered De Meir at high speed due to which pedestrians had to jump away,” a police spokesman told a news conference, referring to the street name.
He added the driver was later arrested and additional police and military personnel had been deployed to the center of Antwerp, but did not give any further details.
The Daily Mail reports that the attacker is French-Tunisian. The article has good accompanying photographs.
French media now call such attacks ‘low cost’ terrorism, meaning that no equipment other than a vehicle is required. The radio show panel debated on whether this was appropriate terminology. Opinion was divided. Some found it demeaning to the victims. Others thought it described the situation objectively.
Regardless, the London attack has raised the same reactions and the same questions of previous attacks.
American military veteran, author and film maker Jack Posobiec summed it up on Twitter:
An Englishman, Paul Joseph Watson, Infowars editor-at-large, tweeted:
He also made a short news video in which he put forth the inconvenient truth about the London attacks and others:
People have been speculating incorrectly on the significance of the date the London attack took place. Reuters has the answer (emphases mine below):
The mayhem in London took came on the first anniversary of attacks that killed 32 people in Brussels.
The article also stated that Khalid Masood — formerly Adrian Elms, then Adrian Ajao — whom police shot dead:
was British-born and was once investigated by MI5 intelligence agents over concerns about violent extremism, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Thursday.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement issued by its Amaq news agency. But it gave no name or other details and it was not clear whether the attacker was directly connected to the group.
Police arrested eight people at six locations in London and Birmingham in the investigation into Wednesday’s lone-wolf attack that May said was inspired by a warped Islamist ideology.
About 40 people were injured and 29 remain in hospital, seven in critical condition, after the incident which resembled Islamic State-inspired attacks in France and Germany where vehicles were driven into crowds.
The assailant sped across Westminster Bridge in a car, ploughing into pedestrians along the way, then ran through the gates of the nearby parliament building and fatally stabbed an unarmed policeman before being shot dead. tmsnrt.rs/2napbkD
“What I can confirm is that the man was British-born and that some years ago he was once investigated by MI5 in relation to concerns about violent extremism,” May said in a statement to parliament.
So far, four people have died:
It was the worst such attack in Britain since [July 7] 2005, when 52 people were killed by Islamist suicide bombers on London’s public transport system. Police had given the death toll as five but revised it down to four on Thursday.
that Europeans would not be able to walk safely on the streets if they kept up their current attitude toward Turkey, his latest salvo in a row over campaigning by Turkish politicians in Europe.
While that is strange, it probably remains a coincidence. Erdogan is angry with the Netherlands and Germany at the moment.
Once again, we have the lone-wolf narrative. Patently wrong, as it has been in other terror attacks. Notice Reuters says police arrested eight people. Therefore, how could it have been a lone-wolf operation?
On the notion of normalising terror in big cities, Tucker Carlson had this to say:
Although it sounds clichéd, it is true that prayer — public and private — help greatly at a time like this.
We can pray for the families and friends of victims PC Keith Palmer, fatally stabbed by the attacker, as well as the two civilians who died: Aysha Frade (wife and mother of two daughters), Kurt Cochran (an American tourist, husband and father) and the latest victim, a 75-year-old man. We can pray for Mrs Cochran, who was injured in the attack and is in hospital. We can pray for the 40 injured. Their lives will never be the same again. They will need God’s help for physical and mental recovery.
In closing, The Sun has an excellent set of photographs which tell the horrific story of the March 22, 2017 attack.
In Britain, Mothering Sunday — Mother’s Day — is always Laetare Sunday.
This year, mums are shortchanged, as our clocks change to British Summer Time on Sunday, March 26, 2017.
Laetare Sunday is the joyful Sunday of Lent. Some traditional Anglican and Catholic clergy wear a pink chasuble. The faithful look towards the promise of the Resurrection on this day.
The traditional Epistle read on this day was from Galatians 4 and included this verse (Gal. 4:26):
But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
Hence the ancient tradition called Mothering Sunday, when people made the journey to their ‘mother’ church — often a cathedral but sometimes a large parish church — for worship. Afterward, some congregations ‘clipped’ the church, which involved worshippers gathering outside, forming a ring around the church and holding hands to embrace it.
The notion of the church as spiritual mother began to extend to earthly mothers, which is how Mothering Sunday developed.
Find out more in my post from 2012:
I wish all my British readers who are mothers a very happy day.
On Friday, March 17, 2017, an anti-Trump billboard went up at a prominent intersection in Phoenix to coincide with the Art Detour event last weekend.
Local NBC affiliate 12News reports:
The billboard art was commissioned by the billboard owner, Beatrice Moore, a longtime patron of the arts on Grand Avenue.
“Some of these issues are so important you can’t not speak out,” Moore said in an interview …
Moore said it would remain up as long as Trump is president.
The billboard is in a can’t-miss location at 11th Avenue and Grand.
The artist is California resident Karen Fiorito, who has collaborated before with Moore (emphasis mine):
This isn’t the first time Fiorito and Moore put up controversial billboard art.
In 2004, Fiorito created a billboard of President George W. Bush and top government officials for her master of fine arts thesis on political propaganda at Arizona State University.
“Dear America,” the billboard said, “we lied to you for your own good. Now trust us.”
Of course, the billboard of America’s 45th president elicited strong reactions:
Moore and Fiorito did expect blowback from Trump supporters.
Fiorito said she has received death threats over the Trump billboard.
“A lot of hate. Things have gotten a lot more escalated now,” she said.
“I just hope that everyone involved in helping bring this message out is safe and that we all get through this unharmed,” Fiorito said.
Death threats — if, indeed, they were made — are beyond the pale.
However, as the old saying goes: if you’re gonna play, you’ve gotta pay. No one sensible can put up something like that without expecting a negative reaction.
According to tweets that Twitchy published in their article about the billboard, the left-wing artist depicted the symbol of a fringe group called the Capitalist Right.
In other news, an Arizona man was arrested for bestiality with a goat: details and photo.
It’s a mad, mad, mad world.