Posts Tagged Women

DONALD TRUMP PLANS TO EVISCERATE THE STATE DEPARTMENT BUDGET, BY 30%! DOES HE STILL HATE HILLARY CLINTON THAT MUCH?

When Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, heard that the State Department Budget would be slashed by 30%, he said: “I’m going to need a lot more bullets!”   As a retired Marine General, Secretary Mattis understands that the dollars spent by State are worth more than those in the Pentagon’s Budget.  Similarly, 150 retired generals and admirals signed a letter to Mr. Trump, asking him to re-consider this down-sizing; because, they know how State Department programs can partially offset the need for Military action!

Throughout the entire Trump Regime, there are only a handful of key staff positions—Deputy and Assistant Secretaries—that are filled.  Also, since these are political appointments, they would need to go through the often tedious Confirmation Process.
While 200 key positions remain vacant at State, it is expected that the Department might not be up to full-strength, at the key levels, until well into 2018.

Due to the size of the State Department, with some 170 overseas locations, the void at the top is especially debilitating.  Secretary Tillerson must travel quite extensively, mostly out of the country.  Who, then, would be in-charge when the Secretary of State is overseas?  He surely needs several key assistants to keep things functioning properly.

Donald Trump appears to know nothing about Foreign Policy, nor does he seem intent on learning.  Rex Tillerson, his Secretary of State—who should be his Chief Foreign Policy Advisor, was the CEO of Exxon-Mobil Corporation, and is a diplomatic novice, as well.  With both Trump and Tillerson lacking in any form of Foreign Policy experience, who do they call when they need help…NOW?

Secretary Tillerson, in his former career at Exxon, knows that any confident executive would have screamed holy murder at a 30% budget cut.—especially for no apparent reason!  Budget-size reflects relative importance—in government, as well as business. Mr. Tillerson, however, apparently didn’t bat an eye.  What kind of message does that down-sizing send to the world, at large, about how America views Diplomacy?

Besides America’s vast global network of Embassies and Consulates, the State Department provides leadership and financing for numerous vital programs: eradicating illnesses such as malaria and diphtheria; empowering women in combatting rape, incest, honor-killings and sex-trafficking; promoting education and micro-banking; and providing clean water and sewer systems to rural area.  Such programs help enable disadvantaged regions to become more economically aligned with the rest of the world.

Given the Importance of the State Department, as the face of America to the rest of the world, I can only wonder why its Budget was slashed so significantly.  Besides the many geopolitical trouble spots, let’s not forget growing starvation due to Climate Change, and the potential for medical pandemics. Why…WHY is Donald Trump trying to eviscerate the very Department of State?  Does he hate Secretary Hillary R. Clinton that much?

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THE METAPHORICAL WORKING MOM!

Ivanka Trump presents herself as a Champion of Working Moms.  Accordingly, she assumes to speak for those who must work–to support their child(ren), as well as for those who don’t (need to)!  I cannot honestly speak for women who are, or were, working moms; however; whenever I hear her speak, I hear mostly the typical GOP income-divide.

In fact , whenever I hear any of the Trump Clan speak, I hear a very practiced form of Bait and Switch.  Perhaps the Trumps are really descendants of visitors from the planet Metaphor.

When Ms. Trump touts Health Savings Accounts, tor sodden to finance Maternal Leave; let’s be clare, this is no benefit–the woman pays for it.  Why isn’t there a provision  for Paternal Leave., as well?  Of course, most women would need employer approval and, in many cases, the lower-paying jobs would not be held for them.  The proven benefits of parental leave, both to children and parents, abound!  Oh, for some mysterious reason, the Trump Program will only apply to married women!

And Daddy Donald, of course, touts how hard his daughter works; but, giving of herself, is merely drumming-up support for one more program, intended to display both his and her  humanity.  When Donald and Ivanka Trump role out such programs, which are intended to appeal to the working class,  the should remember to remove the strings and GOP tickers:  they’re dead give-aways!

The linked column, by Jill Abramsom, “Ivanka Trump thinks she is in Beauty and the Beast: more like Macbeth”, from The Guardian (UK), most scathingly deflates “Princess I’s” PR balloon, back down to earth.

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WHEN DID HEALTH CARE BECOME A POLITICAL ISSUE, RATHER THAN A MORAL ONE?

President Barack Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, was designed to provide health insurance for poor Americans who could not afford it.  Many people already have health insurance through employer-sponsored programs, or through Medicare, for Senior Citizens.  Small businesses, however, often do not offer insurance, and minimum-wage workers cannot afford it anyway.  Uninsured Americans were just left to fend for themselves and, of course, private insurance has always been quite expensive.

The Affordable Care Act provide subsidies for poor Americans, including seniors who could not even afford Medicare, and to extend the Medicaid program to more low-income citizens.   Many GOP-controlled states, such as Florida and Texas, have not accepted the Extended Medicaid, even though the Federal Government picks-up most of the cost for the first ten years.

Prior to ACA, cheap health insurance policies, designed for young adults, excluded “pre-existing conditions”, and even maternity was often excluded for young women. For older Americans, the premiums were exorbitant, and out of reach for many.  Policy holders took comfort in being “insured”; however, they didn’t realize how little the policies actually covered—that is, until they became sick or injured!

The total number of previously uninsured Americans, who were able to buy subsidized health insurance, through ACA, approaches 30 million, when the 11 million covered by the Medicaid Extension is included.  Many state Legislatures, that have Republican majorities, have not even allowed their Insurance Commissioners to negotiate for lower premiums, with the insurers.  Basically, those states were working against ACA—and against their own residents.

ACA was assumed to be the first step in providing Affordable Health Care for all Americans.  Like Medicare, some 50 years before, this comprehensive program was expected to need to be amended and modified over time.  But the Republicans, at the Federal and State levels, just fought against the program every step of the way.

TChe Affordable Care Act also required the Health Insurance Industry to meet certain goals:  pre-existing conditions would be covered; contraceptives and maternity must be included for women; equal premiums for males and females; premiums for the elderly could not be more than three times those paid by the younger insured; and no more than 20% of customer premiums would go toward expenses.  Many of these requirements have been dropped, or watered down, under the GOP’s AHCA.

When people do not have health insurance, they only seek medical assistance when they are gravely sick or injured, generally at hospital Emergency Rooms.  By then, the medical condition is usually more aggravated, and the medical personnel are working without any knowledge of the patient’s medical history.   The cost of health care, in this advanced stage, is normally much more expensive, and society and the hospitals bear the expense.

The most humane, as well as the most cost-effective, way to address the need for Affordable Health Care, is to make it available on a regular preventive basis.  Should we ignore the grievously sick, and allow them to die on the streets?  Do we continue to just ignore the overall costs—assuming that they will just go away?   Realistically, we should take pre-emptive action!

Among all of the world’s industrialized nations, American spends the most on health care; but, it gets the lowest return on its investment, by most every metric.  Is this how we wish to continue on?  Should we address the need for providing Health Care for all, in a caring and effective manner?   Or do we, as a Nation, just continue to sink. further and further into the bowels of Humanity.

NOTE:  I was wondering who Donald Trump would try to make the scapegoat when his first foray into major legislation had to be canceled twice, for insufficient support.  Would it be House Speaker Paul Ryan or the entire GOP?  No, he blamed the Democratic Party since they were perfectly happy with the ACA, which they passed seven years ago!   Next stop: Trump’s Tax Scam!

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CHINA’S SOCIAL ENGINEERING CONTINUES TO HINDER ITS ECONOMIC PROSPERITY

China’s economic growth, over the past 35 years, has enabled its Economy, by measure of the Gross Domestic Product, to rise to be second only to that of the U. S.  Ironically, many of the other nations of East and Southeast Asia have also done so, by similarly educating the girls, as well as the boys.  Educating females doubles the labor force and, as the economy grows, the Chinese People advance into higher pay-scale jobs. The larger workforce also enables country to move-up, into more-advance ed industries, as we as increases the Nation’; several standard-of-living.

China, like India, is held back, however, by its extremely large 1.35 billion population.  Unfortunately, China has been slow to expand beyond its initial economic explosion.  Currently, only 25% of Chinese workers are employed in the Industrial Sector, while the remaining 75% are still less-educated, and work mostly on small family farms, or repair and retail shops.  China should hardly be considered a fully-developed economy.

During the early years, following the Chinese Communist Revolution, babies were encouraged, and the birth rate per woman of child-bearing age rose to around six.  In 1956, Premier Zhou Enlai encouraged women to voluntarily curb the number of babies they had, but that didn’t work.  So finally, Chairman Deng Xiaoping established a One-Child Policy in 1980, which carried harsh penalties for non-compliance.  Over time, the Chinese birth rate per woman declined from 4.4 to 1.64, which is now far too low to sustain a stable work force.

Such Social Engineering has been a considerable hindrance in maintaining a reliable labor pool, where one generation replaces another.  Currently, only one-quarter of China’s population has high-paying jobs in the cities, while the large majority of Chinese are still living and toiling in small, inefficient jobs, and barely existing above subsistence levels.  China also has some questionable policies, which seem intended to keep city dwellers tied to their home provinces. (But, that is beyond the scope of this post.)

There are three main problems, that I see, with the One-Child Policy: it has disrupted the natural rotation of generations into the labor pool, as a large portion of the current workforce is approaching retirement; although there were multiple exceptions to the One-Child Policy, they were not disseminated by regional and local officials; and parts of the policy—especially the Forced-Abortions—have caused anger and frustration on the part of many young couples.

Just last year, the Telegraph (UK) newspaper posted the linked article about a Chinese woman, who was eight-months pregnant, being forced by government officials to have an abortion, in order to save her husband’s job: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11858723/China-Forced-abortion-late-term-to-avoid-one-child-policy.html.
Additionally, consider the effect that forced-abortions, mostly involving girls, has had on the boy-girl ratio.  When the babies born today reach age 20, consider the potential side-effects of many frustrated men looking for wives.

Yes, China has pulled-off an economic miracle; but, it has also created a social disaster.  Educate the girls: yes, by all means!  But, leave the social engineering to Mother Nature.  Here’s my rough outline of what China needs to do:  build infrastructure out to the rural areas, including lower and medium-level factories; emphasize consumer spending in order to increase domestic consumption; totally eliminate the One-Child Policy: and pay bonuses to move young women, from one region to another, in order to massage the deficiency of women in some regions–or even consider recruiting some from other countries, such as Malaysia, Singapore or Taiwan.  China needs to clean-up its mess!

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WHY DOES THE REPUBLICAN PARTY CONTINUE TO EMBRACE DONALD TRUMP EVEN THOUGH IT CLEARLY HAS NO CHANCE OF CONTROLLING HIM?

It is hard to comprehend the Republican Party Leadership, many of whom have denounced Donald Trump’s words and actions time and again, but they continue to embrace him as the Party’s Candidate for President.  I believe that Trump has combined his usual snake-oil and showmanship with false promises to the populace, which also appeals to his Party’s ideology of Small Government.  Small Governments theoretically assess the smallest taxes possible, eliminate virtually all regulations, and let the people fend for themselves.  But, can you name any?

Thomas Jefferson first espoused the Small Government concept and, it might have worked well in the Pre-Industrial Agrarian America, in the early 1800s, when many people grew much of their own food, tended livestock and, perhaps, bartered for other goods in the small village squares of the day.  But, given today’s modern society, with the industrial age transforming to digital, and increasing life expectancy, are we ready to turn away from personal and mass transportation, an abundance of consumer products and the myriad of advances in medicine?

This is the charade that both Trump and the GOP would have us believe.  It reminds me of Pope John Paul II’s first visit to Manila, in 1981.  Since the motorcade from the airport passed through an extremely poor suburb, First Lady Imelda Marcos had facades erected along the way, so that “El Papa” would see nothing, but happy Filipinos.  My wife pointed it out to me on TV, at the time, since we had just flown over that same area on our departure, the year before.  And, the Republicans expect us to be happy with a similar facade, although a more modern American version?

But, what would the America that the GOP’s Candidate want us to believe in be like?  Consider just a few of the policies that Trump would have us accept:  Tax cuts skewed toward the wealthy, but add $6.2 Trillion to our National Debt over ten years;  Social Security would be “privatized”, with part of new Payroll Tax contributions going into the stock market;  with the repeal of Obamacare, 20 million newly insured Americans would lose their coverage, and HSA’s and health care coverage would be subject to the whims of the insurance companies; eliminate a Woman’s Right-to-Choose; many of the Jobs promised have already been replaced by the service industry or robots; and horror of horrors, Donald Trump would control the nuclear codes… Must I go on?

The Republican Party has continued to embrace Donald Trump because he is going to reduce the American Government as much as he can.  Expect a National Sales Tax, which would most impact the poor, to be added to State Taxes. The Party Leadership seems to believe that, as long as their ideological needs are met, they will have accomplished their goal.  And, the American People be damned!

To sum up Donald Trump’s willingness to meet all of his false promises, I am reminded of former NYC Police Commissioner, Bill Bratton’s, response when asked to comment on Trump’s pronouncement, the night before, that he would be the “Law and Order President”. Bratton responded, “What’s his experience?”  Seriously, what has Donald Trump ever done for anyone, but himself? And why should we expect him to change now?

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WHAT’S BEHIND THE DAILY AVERAGE OF 22 VETERANS COMMITTING SUICIDE?

Before I start:  Let me point-out that I am not a Mental Health Care Professional.

I had already decided not to write any more about Donald J. Trump since he seems to be self-destructing right before our eyes.  But On October 3, before the Retired American Warriors, a group of military veterans, in Herndon, Virginia, he stated that military (and veterans) who develop mental health issues, are not “strong” and “can’t handle it”.  He went on to suggest that others saw many of the same things, like the members of his audience; but they were strong, and could handle it.  Now, that’s coming from a Draft-Dodger!

What Trump said certainly didn’t help those in the mental health care field, who have been trying to remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues for decades, and to move it out into the mainstream. Although similar issues abound in civilian life, the difficulty in encouraging diagnosis and treatment is more greater in the military, where strength and bravery are celebrated.

Several years ago, I ran across a blog by Steve Rose, Ph.D., a Canadian psychologist, who has done a great deal of research on PTSD among Canadian soldiers returning from Afghanistan.  I have linked his most recent blog post, in which he specifically reports some of his findings regarding the average 22 man suicide rate in the U. S:  https://steveroseblog.com/2016/08/27/who-are-the-22-veterans/.

I personally found the VA chart, which Steve included, that provides a demographic break-down, in ten-year age groupings, of suicide rates for both civilians and veterans, to be of great interest. The chart reflects the percentage of suicides in each of these groups, between 2009 and 2010, broken-down by the age demographics. Take a few moments to study the table from the report. Can you spot what is happening?

veteran-suicides

Notice the Main Finding, right below the chart: 69% of the veteran suicide rate is among those 50 years old, and older.

In his research, Steve began to look behind the numbers.  The non-veteran suicide rate is higher than that of the veterans, up until the 50-59 year-old demographic, during which the veterans group shifts slightly higher.  In the next age group, 60-to-69, the suicide rate for Civilians drops significantly, while that of Veterans remains relatively higher.

As I look at this chart, I can only make two unprofessional observations:

1. The suicide rate for civilians is significantly higher in the younger age groups, than that of the veterans. Then, they appear to criss-cross—with civilians veering lower and veterans remaining relatively higher in the older demographic.

2. The fairly-consistent, higher suicide rate among older veterans, at least to me, suggests that military service might have something to do with the different outcomes.  I am assuming that the veterans’ statistic might be more skewed toward “lifers”, who retired within the past ten-to-fifteen years, after having served for 20-to-30.

As Professor Rose points-out, there are a number of factors, which come into play, regarding the suicide rate among veterans.  I will leave the possible medical reasons for the professionals; but, let’s consider the various societal reasons that might be causing suicide among veterans.  Research indicates that the rate is highest among white males, with a high school diploma.

There are some gender-related factors, such as the male focus on masculinity, competitiveness and accomplishment.  Oftentimes, men tend to be more geared toward work, hobbies or other “instrumental” activities, whereas women—with that maternal instinct—are somewhat less competitive, have greater empathy, and are more societal in nature.  Professor Rose points out that there can be a loneliness factor among men, whereas women tend to have more social relationships that provide some protection from depression.

A major problem for some military veterans is making the transition into civilian life.  In the service, oftentimes your co-workers might be your neighbors, or people you see around the post or a small town, on a regular basis.  That communal atmosphere can take-on greater significance in overseas assignments, and yet be even higher yet in combat units, where each member of the unit’s life depends upon the others.

As I consider what I have read on Steve Rose’s blog, as well as other things regarding communal and even tribal societies, with regard to returning veterans, I have the following points to make:

1.   Having a support group—family, friends, co-workers—can help prevent depression.
2.   Finding a job helps and, if necessary, use the GI Bill to gain job skills.
3. In the current All-Volunteer Military, roughly only one percent of Americans are either serving in the military, or has a family member that is. The makes the transition, from military to civilian life, that much more difficult.
4. I wonder if education beyond high school, possibly reflecting greater job skills, has any effect on the outcome?

NOTE:  Ladies, I am not in any way suggesting that you cannot be intelligent, accomplished and focused!

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FINALLY! A REPUBLICAN WOMAN WHO IS WILLING TO SAY WHAT NEEDS TO BE SAID ABOUT DONALD J. TRUMP!

This link from, today’s Miami Herald, is provided without comment. I certainly couldn’t say it better:

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/election/donald-trump/article106951737.html

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