Monday, December 29, 2014

Hospital Closures under ObamaCare

Photo courtesy of Lazar Dinu
Colentina Hospital Patients 1989
A remarkable photograph taken by Lazar Dinu in 1989 shows patients from a hospital in Bucharest, overjoyed that the communist dictator was gone and they would be able to find drugs in pharmacies, doctors would treat them without bribes and would not kill them during simple surgeries, hospitals would be modernized and actually heal patients, and happiness would be restored.

I wrote about socialized medical care in communist Romania in my autobiographical book, “Echoes of Communism,” (http://www.amazon.com/Echoes-Communism-Lessons-American-Choice/dp/1456535080/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419872185&sr=1-1&keywords=Echoes+of+communism) and in a recent article on ObamaCare. http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/68532

Judging by the comments of Romanians today, twenty-five years later, not much has changed.  A few private hospitals were built, the bureaucrats and politicians are getting rich off the EU funds that are supposed to go into health care, a Palestinian doctor wants to install a monopoly over healthcare, state-run hospitals are still dirty, deficient, money run out early in the year, doctors and nurses still take bribes to care for patients, patients are still housed in wards and cared for by their families, drugs are more easily available when bought out of pocket, and medical insurance pays modest and inadequate sums for various procedures and for drugs.

If you might think the situation in Romania is bad because they have to overcome 44 years of communist totalitarian dictatorship, you would be right, however the socialized medical care in many EU countries is not much better. Take for instance Ireland - their overworked doctors and nurses are wonderful but conditions in some hospitals are dreadful.

The patient named Maureen I described in my previous article (http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/68077) had to share a room recently with five men. One was 94 years old and had dementia, shouting incessantly, and another was a mental patient who kept his clothes piled on the floor, while two security stood guard at the door in case he became destructive or dangerous.

There was one bathroom for all six patients, with no rails to hold on to and the shower did not work. The entire room stunk to high heaven. There were two holes in the wall where the rail had been. Maureen was lucky that a kind nurse gave her a sponge bath each day.  On the day Maureen’s husband was visiting, one of the men urinated into the water jug. 

Family members were told not to alert the media in case their loved ones needed to be hospitalized there again.  One visiting family member who wanted to speak to the media was asked not to do so.

The hospital was supposed to be closed down but people marched and it was kept open under these horrible circumstances. People felt that a hospital with such ghastly conditions was better than no hospital at all.

Apparently co-ed wards are now the norm. When wards are full, it is common to keep patients on gurneys in the hallways. Most doctors come from third world countries and have limited training. There is not enough money for adequate medical staff or hospital administration. Medical personnel are frustrated because they cannot provide proper care to all patients.

If you are lulled into a false sense of security because this cannot happen in the United States, think again. ObamaCare is causing a wave of small hospital closures across our country. According to Paul Bremer, “Eighteen acute-care hospitals across the United States shut their doors in 2013. At least 12 more hospitals have closed this year in rural areas alone. More are getting out the plywood to nail over windows and barricades for doors.” http://www.wnd.com/2014/12/obamacare-blamed-for-killing-hospitals/

Small and mid-size hospitals are closing in inner cities and rural areas with a disproportionate number of Medicare/Medicaid patients.

Reasons for closures are low reimbursements rates, bureaucrats telling doctors that some patient services are “not medically necessary,” physician practices heavily dependent on government reimbursement, ObamaCare regulations that are too expensive to implement, high out of pocket expenses for the insured under ObamaCare, causing less people to go to the hospital, and economically depressed rural farming towns where locals cannot afford to go to the doctor or to the hospital.

Additionally, California hospitals are in danger of closing their doors due to the overwhelming influx of illegal aliens who are treated for free and have their anchor babies delivered free at huge costs to taxpayers.

Madeleine Pelner Cosman wrote a five-page report titled “Illegal Aliens and American Medicine,” in the spring 2005 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons in which she stated that “84 California hospitals are closing their doors as a direct result of the rising number of illegal aliens and their non-reimbursed tax on the system.” http://www.jpands.org/vol10no1/cosman.pdf

Lee Hieb, M.D., orthopedic surgeon, wrote, “Today, all over America, small and mid-size hospitals as well as hospitals in inner-city, poor areas are closing.” In her book, Surviving the Medical Meltdown: Your Guide to Living Through the Disaster of Obamacare, Dr. Hieb said that “Events happening now give us some idea of what medicine will be reduced to in the future.” http://www.naturalnews.com/048141_Obamacare_hospital_closures_health_care_system.html

For people like me who survived the maltreatment and lack of proper medical care under socialized communist healthcare, there is no surprise; we know exactly what is coming. If Americans would only listen to the voices of reason and experience! If something sounds too good to be true in this “fundamentally transformed America,” it is going to be rationed and miserable.

 

 

 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Communism Left So Many Scarred Lives Behind

On Christmas 1989, twenty-five years ago, the brutal communist dictatorship of Romania ended with the execution of the tyrant Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena in front of a firing squad at Tirgoviste, following a brief trial. His reign of terror lasted 24 years (1965-1989).

The first communist despot, Gheorghe Georghiu-Dej (1945-1964) was so ruthless, the citizens felt like “hunted” animals during his regime.
Almost forty-four years of brutal communism left a deep and festering wound that would be hard to heal and would scar a few generations. In 1990 the world found out about the dreadful orphanages where hundreds of thousands of “orphans” were institutionalized under the benevolent “care of the state.”

These children were abandoned by their parents out of desperation because they already had too many children to support at home and it was impossible to feed them in an economy in which everything was rationed and the grocery stores were empty. It was a choice between death by starvation or accepting the magnanimous “care of the state” who promised them gentle care, food, and education.

Other children were abandoned because they were born imperfect or became sick, and the state refused to treat them medically in the substandard hospitals and polyclinics. Rationing medical care in the utopian paradise of communism dictated that the weakest in society, the elderly and the very young, be neglected and institutionalized to a miserable existence in unimaginable hell holes.
Izidor Ruckel spent 11 years of his life in such an institution, a “Camin/Spital pentru Copii Deficienti.” His parents abandoned him there when he contracted polio at an early age and the hospital institutionalized him.

Vaccines, just like drugs and medical care, were scarce, and doses often ran out before all children were immunized.  Many villagers were too uneducated to understand the importance of vaccinating their children against polio and other childhood diseases.

After ABC’s “20/20” aired a special on the plight of these terribly neglected children, Izidor was adopted by a California family and brought to San Diego.  He describes the trepidation and excitement when the family promised to come back and get him, the dreams to come to America of the show “Dallas,” his let-down when he thought he had been stood up, and the elation when they came back for him.

In a Washington Post video, Janice Tomlin, former “20/20” producer, talks about the megalomaniac Ceausescu who controlled Romania with an iron fist. “He basically destroyed the country. He outlawed abortion, he outlawed contraception, and every woman was required to have five children. In order to have a strong country, he needed to populate the country,” she said. http://www.washingtonpost.com/posttv/entertainment/romanian-orphan-tries-to-close-the-chapter-on-his-troubled-past/2014/01/30/596f8ee0-69ce-11e3-ae56-22de072140a2_video.html

While she is correct that he destroyed the country, it was not because he outlawed contraception and abortion.  He condemned 20 million people to a life of total control, from cradle to grave, when sometimes death was a relief from the pain and misery of exploitative egalitarian life for the masses, while the communist elites lived in the lap of luxury in fancy homes, took expensive vacations, shopped in their own stores, and were treated in their own hospitals by western-trained doctors.

Contraceptives were not known well or easily available in socialist/communist Romania; women used abortion as a form of contraception. If they could find contraceptives on the black market, they were expensive, and women did not take them daily.

Women were certainly encouraged by law to have children to replenish the dying population but were not dictated to have five. The more children a woman had, the more welfare she received from the communist state. Country folks in general had lots of kids in order to have enough hands tending the co-operative farms and a place to stay in the old age in the absence of nursing homes.
Sighetul Marmatiei where Izidor was born is certainly a very impoverished area, and was so particularly during the communist regime.

Tom Jarriel’s report from ABC showed the cruel treatment of children in these orphanages. People were full of outrage yet nobody in this country bats an eye knowing that more than 40 million babies were aborted in this country since Roe v. Wade – it is considered a “choice” to murder a baby in the womb.
“Izidor was not abandoned into another family, he was abandoned into a hell hole,” said Janice Tomlin.

Dr. Jane Aronson, adoption specialist, described the children, “They were emaciated, skeletal… I’ve never seen that anywhere except in Romania.” I wonder if she had equal access to orphanages in communist North Korea, Cuba, Soviet Union, or China of that time.
Watching these children, most of whom have never been touched by human hands, hugged, loved, kissed, spoken to, read to, rocking themselves endlessly with a blank stare was heartbreaking.

Dr. Charles Nelson, professor of Pediatrics and Neuroscience at Harvard University, explained how the adopting families in this country were not prepared to intervene in the development of their children who still remembered what had happened to them while raised in an institution that neglected them during their most important formative years.
He also explained that institutionalized children have “lower IQs, hyperactivity, attention deficit disorders, anxiety, attachment problems, difficulties in interpersonal relationships,” and show on scans smaller brains and less electrical activity. “Interventions may not yield the expected outcomes” even in cases when the children were not raised in institutions but were severely mistreated early in life.

Izidor is now in his early thirties and wants to rebuild his life, to help others. He said, “Sighetul Marmatiei is always going to be my hometown. My life is awareness, speaking for those orphans who did not get out.”  
Yearning for his real identity, for his biological roots, Izidor concluded with sadness and determination in his voice, “I’ve been known more as an orphan for 22 years now, that is my identity, and I would like to close that chapter and not be known as an orphan.”

The scars left on the soul and minds of so many surviving victims of communism are hard to heal.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Antikythera Mechanism, the First Analog Computer

Antikythera Mechanism computer-generated
Source: Wikipedia
The advanced computer age has conditioned us to take for granted all the electronic devices surrounding us that bring us instantaneous access to our friends and family, and eliminates the need for the NSA to do any field work to find out everything they ever want to know about us.

Anonymity has disappeared. Thanks to developments in the second half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first century, we are now in the age of nanotechnology. Computers have changed in size from an entire building to the size of a credit card and even smaller.

I was very surprised to find out that we had an analog computer in 87 B.C. made of bronze. Captain Demetrios Condos sent his bored crew around the Antikythera Island to dive for sponges shortly before Easter 1900. His boat had been driven off course an entire week by gale winds off the Island of Crete into the calmer waters of the northern tip of Antikythera Island, Greece.

The most exceptional seaman, Elias Stadiatis, dove to 140 feet, aided by lead weights attached to his diving boots. He yanked the rope to be pulled up and, instead of bringing up sponges, he told Captain Condos about “naked women and horses” he saw on the bottom.  The next dive revealed a shipwreck dating back to 80 B.C. Treasures and statues were scattered and plainly visible on the sea floor. The shipwreck find was so exciting! The happy sailors were imagining a treasure trove of gold coins and jewels.

When the salvage operation finally commenced in November 1900, the difficult and dangerous work lasted nine months. Dangerous weather conditions and primitive techniques made scuba-diving so precarious and perilous that one deep-sea diver died and two were seriously hurt.  

Among the treasure trove found in the Mediterranean and later housed at the National Archeological Museum in Athens, an archeologist named Valerios Stais discovered one single encrusted bronze mechanism  in a pile of discarded debris and marble pieces. It appeared to be a clock of sorts.

Fractured later into three pieces, the mechanism lost smaller pieces later during handling and cleaning. Since the initial find, 82 fragments have been discovered by subsequent expeditions, including that of Jacques Cousteau. Seven fragments are actually significant because they contain the mechanism’s gears and inscriptions in Koine Greek.

Valerios Stais announced in 1902 that his find, half the size of a portable typewriter at that time, was an ancient Greek astronomical device. Some thought it was an astrolabe, a tool used by navigators to measure angles of distances between planets and stars above the horizon. Others thought it was a planetarium.  Some believed the mechanism was too complex to be either one and must have been “created by aliens from outer space.”

Professor Derek de Dolla Price of Yale concluded that it was a computer made in 87 B.C. comprised of 30 bronze gears to calculate the movement of the Sun, Moon, and planets. Professor Price described the discovery as “finding a jet plane in King Tutankhamun’s tomb!”

The Antikythera Mechanism, also called the Rhodes calculator, “the forerunner of the computer age” was described as the “wheeled computer of the heavens.” It mathematically calculated the movements of planets and celestial bodies during a period of time when humanity believed that the Earth was a disc floating on a great ocean with the sky above like a bowl. “The planets and the Moon were thought to move along certain geometrical paths.” The mechanism was to calculate and determine the celestial bodies’ exact movement, making further calculations unnecessary.

In 1976 Jacques Cousteau and his crew found coins at the wreck site dating between 76-67 B.C. Cousteau’s coins may point the origin of the mechanism to the city of Pergamon.

Because the mechanism was so complex, The Antikythera Mechanism Research Project concluded in the late 2000s that it was probably made in the Corinth colonies of ancient Greece such as Syracuse.

The Rhodian style vases may point to the city of Rhodes. Rhodes was a center of astronomy and mechanical engineering and home to Hipparchus with his theory of the motion of the Moon.

Michael Edmonds of Cardiff University described the mechanism in 2006 as “more valuable than the Mona Lisa” because the astronomy was correct.

Carman and Evans, in their 2014 study dated the mechanism to 200 B.C. and attributed it to the Babylonians. If that is so, why is the inscription in Koine Greek?

A new expedition is planned for spring 2015 by the Hellenistic Ministry of Culture and Sports. They are hoping to find new parts of the Antikythera Mechanism.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

How Obamacare is Destroying our Health Care

Romanian hospital 2014
Photo courtesy: Digi24 on line
Virginia is one of the few states in the nation who has taken the bold step to automatically enroll all Virginians covered by the traditional Medicare/Medicaid plan into a Humana managed health care plan. By managing elderly care (read rationing), money will be saved by denying needed medical tests, surgery, care, and physical therapy to elderly Americans who have paid into Medicare/Medicaid for decades.  How else will millions of illegal aliens recently granted amnesty by executive action receive free ObamaCare?

There is an option to opt out of the Humana managed care in Virginia and return to the traditional Medicare/Medicaid plans but few patients understand the language in the letter or are able to read it for themselves. This is one of the veiled moves to strip Medicare of $719 billion dollars in order to help fund and support the (Un) Affordable Care Act.

If you like your rationing of care, you can keep your rationing of care. If you like the loss of your well-trained physician, you can keep your third world doctor who is yet to be licensed in this country.

If you enrolled in a plan that fit your budget and your medical needs last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed the rule to strip that option from your list of choices, they are going to enroll you this year by December 25 into a cheaper plan of their choice. Too bad you forgot to choose a plan annually. They will select what is best for you, without knowing your medical history, your financial situation, your current treatment under a specialist, and maybe take away access to your favorite doctor who did not play by the new government rules.

When the open enrollment ends, the government would have effectively stuck you with a plan you did not want. Rep. Mark Meadows from North Carolina wrote, “I sent a letter to CMS demanding they immediately strip this provision from the pending rule and abandon any future attempts to single-handedly choose Americans’ healthcare plans.” I am sure the bureaucrats will listen, just like they listened when a majority of Americans asked them to defund ObamaCare. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/dec/19/rep-mark-meadows-obamacares-christmas-surprise/

Because there is a “war on doctors,” as Dick Morris so aptly described it, we will eventually have a sort of CastroCare in this country that Americans are not prepared to deal with but will be forced to accept it.

The double reimbursement for procedures that doctors in a hospital setting receive when compared to doctors in private practice, will eventually regulate doctors into a 8-4 hospital employment which I witnessed recently when my mother was in a hospital for 8 days and I never saw the doctor visit her once, she was treated by a nurse practitioner the entire time. There was not much hands-on care, just robotic, computer-driven medical care delivered by inadequately trained people. They were more concerned about her falling out of bed and a lawsuit from a potential fall than anything else. She was discharged without a proper diagnosis.

The forced electronic medical records-keeping will make it more difficult and expensive for private practice physicians who would be forced to spend a large part of their day on record-keeping and data entry instead of treating the patient.

In addition to reducing doctors’ income, physicians retiring early because they do not want to practice government-regulated medicine, Congress won’t expand residency programs to train more doctors.

Residency programs are funded by Medicaid/Medicare which gives higher reimbursement rates to teaching hospitals. Since the government refuses to pay for more residency programs, Americans should prepare themselves for substandard care delivered by nurse practitioners, nurses’ aides, and ER treatment replacing high quality medical care.

Hospitals are busy buying up private practices of retiring doctors in order to “capture their patients.” Most physicians are busy forming Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) which combine multiple care providers under a hospital umbrella which has better access to capital.

This will lead to a doctor passing the care of his/her patients after the end of the shift to someone less qualified whom the patient has never met.

I recall the EU-modeled socialized medical care in 2012 Romania where I saw no doctor or RN anywhere in the large hospital in which my uncle was a patient. His wife delivered all his care, meds, diabetic shots, bandage changes, bed linens, bathing, towels, food, and trash removal. She was the de facto medical person caring for her own husband who would otherwise die of medical neglect in one of the largest hospitals in the capital. Incidentally, the courtyard was littered with stray dogs and we had to pay 5 euros to the gate guard to gain access into the hospital with five dingy floors and no operational elevator.

Online magazine Digi24 reported on December 17, 2014 that patients’ rights are often trampled on by medical personnel who refuse medical services unless the patients offer them personal benefits in the form of bribes. The accompanying photograph published by Digi24 is visual confirmation of the unsanitary conditions in some socialized medicine hospitals. http://www.digi24.ro/Stiri/Digi24/Actualitate/Sanatate/Ministerul+Sanatatii+intreaba+pacientii+Cat+de+multumiti+sunteti

According to Zoel M. Zinberg, associate clinical professor of surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, “The new breed of physician-employees will split their allegiances between their employers and their patients.” The employer’s goals of making money and saving a buck every which way and the patient’s welfare will not coincide, and the physician will seldom be allowed to use his best judgment in treating a patient. He continued, “Salaried employees and independent professionals behave differently.” http://www.city-journal.org/2014/eon1218jz.html#.VJO-l_vj7J4.facebook

Dr. Zinberg cited a recent study in Health Affairs which found that …”practices owned by hospitals had 50 percent more preventable admissions than practices owned by physicians.” He concluded that “The days of the family physician who made house calls are long gone. The doctors who would squeeze you in for a visit on short notice and take your calls after regular business hours are disappearing.” http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/33/9/1680

The less discussed issue of economic side effects of the Affordable Care Act should not be overlooked. Casey Mulligan, professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, in his speech
delivered to Hillsdale College on October 24, 2014, explained the three taxes in ACA, two taxes on full-employment and one on income. All three combined have a net effect on employment (3 percent less) and on Gross Domestic Product (2 percent less).  He concluded, “If you like your weak economy, you can keep your weak economy.”

Monday, December 22, 2014

Falling Oil Prices and the Climate Change Agenda

The latest falling oil prices to $55.96 (West Texas Intermediate), dropping from a high of $105 per barrel in June 2014, as a result of increased domestic oil production from fracking, is making the price of $150 per barrel of renewables look ridiculously expensive, not counting the wasted government subsidies in bankrupt solar power companies. The green agenda, which has become a climate change industry, is very lucrative for wealthy climate alarmists and for the United Nations.

Dick Morris said, “The oil price drop is really gutting Obama’s green agenda.” And the reasons are clear:

-          There is no longer a dire need to fund the green agenda

-          There is no climate change other than natural changes occurring over the millennia

-          There is no need to dole out the $3 billion dollars U.S. promised to fund U.N.’s International Climate Fund, a foreign aid slush fund to distribute money to third world dictators in the name of environmental justice; fortunately, Congress has stripped the $3 billion dollars from the budget

-          Natural gas is replacing coal at a faster pace, with half the emissions

-          The administration and progressives can no longer use the faux outrage against oil companies

-          Domestic oil production is destroying the dependence on foreign oil, while OPEC revenues are dropping precipitously

Despite multiple evidence of climate change/global warming fraudulent data and claims, United Nations just concluded its most recent meeting to promote their profitable climate change industry.

According to Newsmax, on December 11, 2014, Walt Cunningham, Craig Rucker, and Marc Morano were rushed from stage after 18 minutes of their approved 30 minute talk at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Lima, Peru.

The three were told to “wrap up” their talk in order to accommodate U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, who was there to promote the U.N. climate treaty (LOST) which failed ratification by the Senate. With all the serious geo-political and economic issues facing humanity, Kerry said that “climate change may be, in fact, the most serious challenge we face on the planet.”

Marc Morano of Climate Depot reported that after the three speakers left, the room remained vacant for 35 minutes. Executive Director Craig Rucker from the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) said, “We are one of the few skeptical voices of reason here at the conference. To interrupt our press conference smacks of a cheap form of censorship.” In his opinion, based on factual data explained in the pamphlet “Global Warming: Facts Versus Faith,” climate alarmism is “one of the biggest frauds in the field of science.”

Walt Cunningham, a NASA astronaut who flew with the Apollo 7 mission in 1968, told the United Nations that “Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Earth’s climate history indicates CO2 is not a major factor in climate change. The U.N. has twisted science in order to enrich itself and inflate its own importance.”

Craig Rucker continued, “It is mind-boggling that, as the world rushes toward adopting a climate agreement, the alleged scientific ‘consensus’ behind global warming is being blown apart. With Antarctic sea ice at record high numbers, polar bears thriving, and no global warming for 18 years and two months, you would think there would be a need to pause and reconsider the evidence for a climate catastrophe.”

As I’ve stated in my book, U.N. Agenda 21: Environmental Piracy, the global warming/climate change agenda did not spring overnight, it has a long history of deception, its insidious and highly profitable agenda covers every facet of our society, it is a master plan of global wealth redistribution, and it will take a miracle to dismantle it. http://www.amazon.com/U-N-Agenda-21-Environmental-Piracy/dp/0615716474/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419266185&sr=1-1&keywords=UN+Agenda+21%3A+Environmental+Piracy

 

 

 

 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Why Do We Give Christmas Gifts?

1881 Thomas Nast depiction of Santa Claus
Photo credit: Wikipedia
The Christmas tradition of gift-giving is tied by many to the Wise Men who gave Jesus Frankincense, Gold, and Myrrh. Frankincense was a perfume used in Jewish rituals of worship. Gold was the symbol of Kings, and myrrh was a perfume used on dead bodies.

The historical Saint Nikolaos of Myra was a fourth century Greek Bishop of Lycia. He is said to have given secret gifts of coins to those who left their shoes outside, a practice celebrated on his feast day, St. Nicholas Day on December 6 in the West and December 19 in the East. He is the model for Santa Claus. The patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, pawnbrokers, and students, he is revered by Anglicans, Catholics, Lutherans, Orthodox, and by some Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Reformed churches.

Saint Nicholas comes in Europe on December 6. Children put their boots outside the door, polished and presentable, in hopes that St. Nick will fill them with candy, not switches. In some parts of Germany children are “kidnapped” in a jute sack and given a pretend “spanking” for their bad behavior or poor school performance during the year.

On Christmas Eve, French children leave their boots in front of the fireplace, to be filled with gifts of candy, nuts, and small toys hung in the tree by Pere Noel.

Romanian kids find small gifts under their pillows, candy, chocolate, oranges, flannel pajamas, or a small toy brought by Mos Craciun (Old Man Christmas) or Mos Gerila (Old Man Frost), the communists’ version.

The Italian La Befana tradition dates back to 13th century. A benevolent old woman with magical powers, she travels on her magical broom to bring gifts on January 5, on Epiphany Eve. The custom of Babbo Natale (Santa Claus) has not been around that long in Italy, only since WWII.

La Befana travels throughout Italy in search of Baby Jesus, bringing gifts to children. The three Wise Men had asked her to go with them to find Baby Jesus but Befana refused at first. She changed her mind and tried to find the Three Wise Men in search of Jesus but was not successful.

La Befana goes down chimneys all over Italy to bring “caramele” (candy) or fruit to good children and “carbone” (coal), onions, and garlic to naughty children. Children leave their stockings and shoes out in hopes to find candy on January 6. To appease La Befana, children leave out notes, food, wine, sausages, and even broccoli.

Russian children receive their gifts under the New Year’s tree from Father Frost (Ded Moroz) accompanied by Snow Maiden (Snegurochka). Father Frost carries a staff, wears valenki (felt boots) and travels in a troika (sleigh pulled by three horses). Christmas is celebrated on January 7 because the Russian Orthodox Church lives by the old Julian calendar which is 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar.

Sinterklaas is the Nordic version of the historical Greek bishop and gift-giver of Myra. An 1881 drawing by Thomas Nast solidified the modern image of Santa Claus in our culture, along with Clement Clarke Moore’s poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”

Hanukkah or the “Festival of Lights” is celebrated by Jewish people for eight days in remembrance of their military victory and the miracle of the oil supply for the Temple. Family and friends eat holiday treats, give gifts to children, and play the dreidel game. This year Christmas and Hanukkah overlap for the fourth time in 100 years.

We give gifts for many other reasons at Christmas time. We are obligated by family customs, job duties, commercialism, consumerism, and societal expectations to overwhelm children with the latest toys, gadgets, and games. A few more traditional parents give books, food, and candy.

Compensation for a job well done is an opportunity for gift-giving, thanking a person for their hard work, for the long hours, dedication and exceptional effort all year long. Some gifts are for bravery in the line of duty or selfless sacrifice in saving another human being.

Exhibition is my least favorite reason to give a gift. It is a well-to do person asserting their wealth by giving away vast amounts of money publicly. Some prefer to remain anonymous but most choose the venue of all-out publicity for their generous gifts.

Compassion is the anonymous way of giving to a person you don’t know and cannot ever thank you for their gift, a person in need who has prayed for a miracle to save them from the abject poverty or the difficult situation in their lives. Gift-giving is always more rewarding in such a charitable circumstance.

Appreciation for someone you know or love who has overcome a professional hurdle after years of difficult effort is a wonderful opportunity for a gift. Reminding someone in your life that they matter and you care about them.

Duty is giving thoughtless gifts to family members, a boss, or colleagues, usually re-gifting  unwanted items received in previous years from relatives and colleagues who also felt a sense of duty to send a present to someone they did not care that much about nor did they put much thought into their generosity.

Love is the gift of togetherness, a symbol of the union of two souls who have found each other after years of searching. It is also the gift to beloved family members.

Tradition is the gift on December 6 when children in Europe put out their boots to receive switches or candy from Saint Nicholas.

The guilt of something from the past, the fundamental belief that wealth and good fortune should be shared at Christmas time is gift-giving driven by the need to share.

Giving a gift in the expectation of receiving one in return, a favor for your gift, a quid pro quo of sorts, is buying benevolence and acceptance into a group.

And then there are those Christians who would like to celebrate Christmas but are too poor and oppressed by their totalitarian governments who forbid them faith-based public displays and celebrations. They are just happy to be alive, to enjoy a good meal with their families, to have food, electricity and heat, and to be able to go to church on Christmas Eve.  Those are priceless gifts.
Copyright: Ileana Johnson 2014

 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Merry Christmas in the Trenches

Christmas Truce 1914 Photo credit: Wikipedia
One hundred years ago, on Christmas Eve, in a muddy and cold place near Ploegsteert, on the WWI front between Belgium and France, surrounded by no-man’s land littered with barbed wire and dead bodies, German and Allied soldiers climbed from their trenches to celebrate Christmas in what became to be known as the Christmas Truce.

It was a spontaneous rise of humanity celebrating their common Christian roots and faith. German soldiers placed makeshift Christmas trees on the bulwark.

Historian Stanley Weintraub wrote in his book, Silent Night, how soldiers, after agreeing not to shoot each other, sang carols in an odd fraternity of inveterate enemies turned into momentary friends by their common belief in God and the tradition of Christmas, Christmas caroling, and Christmas trees. Shaking hands, in the old Germanic tradition of showing that they were not armed, they shared cigarettes and food.

Extending the truce into Christmas Day, the combatants were able to dig graves, bury their dead, and hold memorials. Weintraub mentioned that one Scottish chaplain recited during the memorial the 23rd Psalm in two languages.

“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters…” “Der HERR is mein Hirte; mir wird nichts mangeln. Er weidet mich auf greener Aue und fuehret mich…”

The chaplain was chastised by his Bishop who thought the role of the clergy in war was to drive the soldiers into battle and to tend to their passage into God’s kingdom.

Christmas 1914 became a day of fellowship, sharing food, trading uniform buttons, and playing soccer, a sliver of normalcy in a cruel and unnecessary war.
According to Weintraub, “No one there wanted to continue the war.” Threatened by senior officers, the troops returned to fighting, “went on with the grim business at hand.”

Remembering the truce in diaries and in letters sent home to their families, soldiers described those moments in time as a “marvelously wonderful” Christmas yet a very “strange” event. German and British troops even posed for pictures together.

It was a strange event because Germans, French, and British soldiers were killing each other a few hours earlier, yet for one day, they were celebrating the birth of our savior in the anemic glow of the lit Christmas tree, casting an illuminating shadow over the muddy trenches, their misery, cold, and pain. They were a group of men fighting for the economic cause of greedy elites who were home warm and cozy with their families, celebrating Christmas, while these grunts were dying for nothing.

Director Christian Carion portrayed the truce incident in his award-winning 2005 movie, Joyeux Noel, but on a much larger scale than it actually happened. He took poetic license in order to introduce fictional characters that put a face on the pain, suffering, and the short-lived joy. Officers and troops were punished afterwards for “fraternizing with the enemy.”
World War I was a cruel trench conflict, a special kind of hell on earth, when enemies dug themselves into trenches within earshot of each other, and barbed wire in-between. Soldiers were ordered from time to time over the top, to stand up and advance, which caused them to be swiftly mowed down by machine gun fire. And if machine gun fire did not kill them, they were gassed to death in their muddy trenches, where bits of bones and strips of uniform mingled with the wall supports around the frightened and shivering soldiers, praying to survive.

It is very likely that the men who enjoyed this moment of peace during an expression of the civilized “brotherhood of men” on Christmas Day 1914, died shortly afterwards in the sacrificial gun battles or by poison gas grenade explosions.
Christmas is our beloved tradition that no war or atheist will be able to obliterate. No commercialized elf on the shelf or Kwanza can squash and transform the meaning of Christmas.

Christmas and the celebration of the gift of Christ to the world will always live in the joyful anticipation of children around the world who, with twinkles in their eyes, believe. Christmas will survive in church carols sung around the world, in our faith, in our hearts, and in our homes.

No wars, no atheists, no communists, and no theocracy can stop the Christian faith-based tradition of Christmas welling from the trenches.
Copyright: Ileana Johnson 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Political Journalism Endangers Our Survival

Journalism in this country, if it ever was completely honest and objective, has become in-your-face political journalism, to be more specific, Democrat Party agenda progressive journalism. Dr. Savage called it “narrative journalism.”

We often have to consult foreign news to find out what is going on in our own country. We are no longer watching the news when a talking head on location somewhere is trying to explain what happened, what we are seeing, and who is involved to the best of their knowledge. The actual news reporting is very rare.

What passes for news is the cable news owners’ progressive agenda or the newspapers’ affiliation with the Democrat Party. “News” is sensational videotaping and coverage of one event ad nauseam, the glorification of criminals, and of Hollywood stars who pass away from drug overdoses or other unfortunate accidents.

As my wise Grandma used to say, “The house is burning and the old lady is combing her hair.” Why tend to real issues and news overwhelming the country when there are so many manufactured crises and stories of racism, stoked non-stop by reverends and race baiters, organized protests with looting and burning, and narcissistic people to be highlighted in faux reality shows and in “breaking news” coverage.

How else can progressives and their organized welfare mobs and college-age crowds better redress the social injustice and racism then by looting and burning the property of innocent people and beating bystanders to a pulp or render strangers on the street unconscious in “knock-out games” accompanied by laughter?

We now watch a pretty face made exceptionally taut by plastic surgery, in skimpy clothes, well-toned and exposed arms, a plunging décolletage, and bright lipstick, reading a teleprompter with fed information that, curiously, is repeated often ad litteram by other talking heads across all the alphabet soup networks, and sometimes with little variation from the talking points fed to them by the regime.

Three or four political anchorettes sit together to discuss the “new normal,” the manufactured crisis du jour and what and how we should think. Occasionally there is a raised notch of pretend-journalism when males and females of different backgrounds are brought in to repeat the talking points of the day and to argue the new ginned-up crisis of the week. The “talent” is so made up and metrosexual, it is painful to watch on HD television. Every physical flaw is exacerbated. But it is important to look good and convincing even though content and veracity are sorely lacking.

Professors of Ivy-league provenance are usually the guests, dragged from the formerly objective bastions of academia to impart their socialist views and Leninist teachings to the low information masses that did not make it to the halls of Marxist “enlightenment,” people who work hard every day for a living and hang on to every word these Machiavellian educators spew. If they say it, it must be true, they are tenured, and have many degrees and abbreviations attached to their names. If the lie is repeated enough times, they begin to believe it themselves.

With such political journalism indoctrinating us daily, we are now a suburb of Mexico, criminals are mourned nationally and honored at the White House, criminality is rewarded with citizenship, dissenting opinions are now hate speech, good is bad, bad is good, the justice system must change laws to allow non-judgmental posture towards deviants and criminals, no more apprehension of law breakers, everything is turned on its head, and former enemies hold positions of power in government. When these political anchors and anchorettes are done crucifying the police who are generally staffed with good people who do a hard, thankless job, putting their lives on the line for perfect strangers, who is going to want to be a cop?

Once in a while a piece of accidental journalism escapes through the censorship’s heavily fortified gates, and the culprit disappears, never to be seen again on the prime-time screens.  

We now have fake reverends with criminal pasts and huge tax evasion bills telling us how to behave properly, how to loot and burn a city down in the name of social justice, and to stoke enmity between races for financial gain.

An occasional inconvenient guest who does not go along with the program and dares to contradict or disagree with the anchorette’s points is rudely cut-off and the screen goes blank. Some anchors who fancy themselves the arbiters of truth and politics go postal on someone who disagrees with them, using the f word and other choice on-air expletives.

It is a political hot potato to tell the truth these days and definitely a career-ending move – your brethren will disown you rather quickly. If you love truth anyway, you are likely to be labeled by both sides a conspiracy theorist with a tin foil hat.

No sooner a terrorist has committed an atrocity around the world, as in the case of Sydney’s cafĂ©, while only identifying the perpetrator as a “gunman” (guns are always the problem in the liberal mind), the vacuous anchorettes come out and start damage control by tweeting support for the religion of peace, fearing a backlash against Islam. They feel safe in their ivory towers of television or living in gated communities with armed guards.

The entire planet is under siege by progressive journalists who have taken the western world hostage in their quest to defend Muslim extremists who are terrorizing the world and to find out why these misunderstood savages kill with impunity, behead and enslave Christians according to the tenets of their primitive beliefs and Sharia Law. The MSM keeps protecting them, reporting that a “lone wolf” has done something despicable but the attack is in no way connected to hundreds of other incidents of terror and bombing and to the religion of peace. If we just understand their murderous motives and give up our western world and way of life, they will stop killing us.

Truth in journalism is a “rara avis,” it has become a manufactured agenda of the dangerous progressive mindset. For this reason, millions of Americans have switched to real news sources, away from the disingenuous “useful idiots” and servile main street media.

 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Do People Still Read Books?

Photo: Ileana Johnson 2014
I always thought reading was a dying pastime. I saw it in my former students and the scant reading they objected to, always looking for a synthesized version written by someone who actually read the book, usually Cliff Notes.

It is not just that publishers are mostly progressive; the books printed are usually aimed at the liberal crowd who enjoys perusing for hours books they refuse to buy.  It is much cheaper to drink an expensive cup of coffee and to occupy every available chair in the bookstore for hours while reading a favorite book or magazine for free or taking advantage of the unrestricted Wi-Fi.

Then there are electronic readers who make many books obsolete unless you are a dinosaur like me who loves to touch the photographs, the hard cover, turn the pages, smell the inimitable fragrance of a newly printed book, and highlight or underline memorable passages.

The few publishers who print conservative books choose their authors carefully from the ranks of famous people with name recognition, household names who hold influential positions in society or political office, people who are likely to make them money but do not necessarily make for an interesting read, are worthy of emulating, or have little else to add to the story of their time in office.

An ordinary American with an interesting and heroic story to tell manages to have a book published once in a while, either written alone or by a ghost writer. The book stores give them low billing on the bottom shelves, sometimes hidden from view on an obscure rack nobody is likely to check out.

The occasional science or history nerd, the serious reader, the child prodigy, the book worm, the liberal looking for that out of the galaxy self-help cool book, the computer geek, and children who play with toys and destroy books because their parents are too busy to supervise them can be found on any given day in our local bookstore.

The shelves are stacked with classics, history books, political and military books, travel books, children’s books, brain games, crossword puzzles, math puzzles, cards, knick-knacks, and many self-help books because liberals are always on a quest to find themselves and look up to some new guru who will tell them exactly how they feel and why they are still stuck in their parents’ basement, without a six figure job, and with a worthless degree in women’s studies, social justice, global warming, and basket weaving.

A random “man on the street” survey reveals that men like to spend money on electronic books while others prefer the audio CDs while driving.

Some find the silence disturbing, it is nicer to watch a movie and talk to someone else than read. Another guy refuses to read because cutting down entire forests to print books for libraries is outrageous – “Why cut down the forest and put it into a building?”

“I don’t have time for my own opinions, why would I have time or be interested in someone else’s point of view?” Life is too short, we must live in the moment, he added.

“I don’t read because I’m waiting for the movie to come out, it is much easier. Besides, I can’t read and eat popcorn at the same time and cannot replay a scene while holding my girlfriend in my arms.”

“We now have color television, computer games, Internet, megapixels, videos, and you want me to regress to the past and read something in black and white that I cannot replay or enlarge? It’s a waste of my time,” said another.

“I don’t have time to read. I can learn the same thing from songs and I can dance to it. Can you dance to books?” If I want to learn something, I can ask my friends. Or I can wait for the movie.

“Books limit my imagination. It is better to see a movie, see images, and it only takes two hours. A book takes a few months to a year to read. How can I imagine the words I read if I don’t know what they mean?” https://www.facebook.com/DoZaDeRas.X

While this “man on the street” survey was meant to entertain and perhaps contrived, I wonder what people on our streets would say when asked why they no longer read books?
Copyright: Ileana Johnson 2014
 

 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Con-Con: Solution or Pandora's Box

The Article V Convention Forum: Solution or Pandora’s Box was organized by a coalition of conservative groups and met on December 8, 2014 in Falls Church, Virginia. The moderator and one of the organizers, Sevil Kalayci, discussed the necessity of such a meeting since most of the conservatives who oppose an “Article V Convention” have been shut out of the debate by other conservatives with the exception of Danville, Henrico, and Fair Lakes Tea Parties. “The Convention of states has divided the conservative movement,” she said. Kalayci asked, “How do you enforce the Constitution? How do you enforce the amendments?”

The speakers, who argued against state legislatures asking Congress to call for a convention to amend the Constitution, included:

-       Jeff Lewis, National Director of the Patriot Coalition

-       Richard D. Fry General Counsel, Patriot Coalition

-       Dr. Edwin Vieira, Author and Constitutional Scholar

-       Robert Broadus, former Congressional Candidate in District 4 Maryland

-       Mitchell Shaw, Citizens for Constitutional Government

-       Peter Boyce, political activist and Chairman leading the effort to stop a call for an Article V Convention in New Jersey

Mitchell Shaw was the first to address the audience. He described the Constitutional convention known as “con-con,” “amendments convention,” “article V convention,” all phrases referring to the same event, a “convention held for the purpose of proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution as authorized by Art. V of the present Constitution as it was written.”

He enumerated the conservative groups interested in this “con-con” are the Convention of States, Compact for America, Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force, Middle Resolution, and other individuals interested in addressing what is wrong with America.  

Shaw mentioned many groups and individuals on the left equally interested in amending or potentially replacing the existing Constitution such as “Code Pink, Alliance for Democracy, Wolf Pack, Center for Media and Democracy, Independent Progressive Politics Network, Vermont Single Payer, Sierra Club, MoveOn.org, occupy groups,” and some billionaires.

Are there flaws in the Constitution? Why do we need to amend it in order to rein in an out-of-control government? What “magic language would an amendment adopt,” wondered Mitchell Shaw, in order to force Congress to abide by the Constitution that they are already ignoring? In his opinion, there are no flaws in the Constitution. Congress is ignoring it and American citizens allow it because they are too ignorant of their own Constitution. An amendment is not the solution, Shaw said, the solution is the creation of an informed electorate that understands the power of the state legislators to rein in the federal government. Unfortunately states compromise because they have become dependent on federal money to pay their bills.

Robert Broadus, a Navy veteran and the host of the east coast anti-federalist radio show, presented the anti-federalist viewpoint of an article V convention of the states.

Richard D. Fry explained that our current legislators no longer fear the people and God. They are no longer serving the interests of the American people; they are serving their own interests. We as citizens are not doing our job of holding them accountable. “This article V convention has been promoted for 50 years, starting with the Ford Foundation.” Fry concentrated his speech on the idea of sovereignty of a state with inherent power to regulate itself internally. “The states themselves are sovereign.”

Dr. Edwin Vieira, a Constitutional scholar, summed up the Constitution convention in three words, “imprudence, incoherence, and irrelevance.” He made the most important point of the evening that any kind of amendment, agenda, proposal, or draft are irrelevant in light of the looming national debt which is impossible to repay or manage currently or in the near future.

 “We are on a Titanic right now,” $18 trillion in national debt. If we add unfunded liabilities, we are at over $200 trillion.” That is the biggest threat to our national security. “And the solution is hyperinflation, followed by depression, or hyperinflation with depression.” He continued that the debt is unpayable and must be written off through currency depreciation. “We already have currency wars around the world in reference to the dollar being the reserve currency. This is the run up to WWI again. WWI was ultimately caused by trade rivalries between Germany and England. This war is going to be caused by monetary rivalries.”

Dr. Vieira believes that the Constitutional convention will not happen before “these monetary and geostrategic events come to fruition.” “The Ship is going to come down first,” he said, referring to the irreparably damaged ship of state.

When the monetary system and the banking system collapse, prices will go into freefall, there will be social effects, civil disobedience, a breakdown of society, and other unpredictable events caused by a devastated economy.

Preserving the original Constitution is most important. How long would an amendment take to pass if that is the only intent? Quoting Oswald Spangler and his “Decline of the West,” Dr. Vieira said that the “Untergang” (fall, downfall, doom) of the West will occur first. “The amendment might pass after the Carpathia shows up,” he concluded.

Copyright: Ileana Johnson 2014
 

 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Industry and Economics of Climate Change/Global Warming

Photo: Ileana Johnson 2014
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change met in Lima, Peru, December 1-12, 2014, determined to chisel a new treaty that would mandate a cap and trade on greenhouse gas emissions effective by 2020 and would “eliminate the use of fossil fuels entirely by 2050.”

The hypothesis that rich nations caused climate change by burning fossil fuels to produce energy has never been proven by IPCC’s computer modeling. The fact that now the hypothesis changed its name from global warming to climate change in the face of obvious 18 years of global cooling is enough evidence that the purveyors of the industry of climate change are desperate but are not giving up. Fleecing rich countries with carbon taxes is a very lucrative scam.

“We must leave fossil fuels in the ground and not repeat the steps of the developed countries that brought us to this point,” said Enrique Maurtua Konstantinidis, international policy advisor for Climate Action Network Latin America.

The Climate Action Network, “a conglomerate of 900 radical green groups from about 100 nations, mocked Australia, Belgium, Ireland, and Austria because they have yet to donate to a new Green Climate Fund.” The real agenda of spreading the wealth from developed countries to poor countries and arresting economic development could not be more transparent. http://pjmedia.com/tatler/2014/12/02/exclusive-new-legally-binding-treaty-emerges-on-first-day-of-lima-climate-conference/

Martin Kaiser of Greenpeace stated that, “In Lima, the countries must agree on the long-term goal of phasing out fossil fuel emissions to zero by mid-century while moving towards 100 percent renewable energy for all in a fair transition period. Subsidies for fossil fuel industries must be shifted towards renewable energy deployment and climate adaptation for vulnerable countries. In countries like the U.S., China, and the EU, the phase-out of coal must be accelerated.”

So how are renewable energy industries working out so far across the globe as replacements for fossil fuels? Judging by the number of bankruptcies filed and by the billions in taxpayer dollars wasted so far, with scant energy produced, not very well.

Take Ivanpah Solar Power Facility (ISPF), which cost $2.2 billion to build ($1.6 billion from government loan guarantees and $600 million from private investors, including one third from Google), “was supposed to deliver an energy output of approximately 1.7 million MWh (megawatt-hours) of electricity annually.”

According to Dr. Klaus Kaiser, the Ivanpah facility, which covers 4,000 acres and is located in the Mojave Desert, delivered a very low output of 250,000 MWh during January-August, 2014. The visionaries of solar power did not take into account the blasting of mirrors by sand and dust. To solve the problem, ISPF investors decided to seek extensions on the borrowed money and to use more natural gas, “doubling the amount of natural gas usage permitted for ‘preheating’ of the solar towers,” thus spinning the truth and “fudging the numbers.” http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/67861

Eric Wessof wrote in his article, “Rest in Peace: The List of Deceased Solar Companies, 2009 to 2013,” in which he tallied the solar companies that went bankrupt, were acquired, closed, restructured, sold for a song, or in the endangered category, a lengthy list of 102 companies, hardly a success story. http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Rest-in-Peace-The-List-of-Deceased-Solar-Companies-2009-to-2013

The Washington Post reported on the billionaire Vinod Khosla who invested in a biofuel plant called KiOR in Columbus, Mississippi, that “was supposed to turn wood chips into hydrocarbons that could be poured straight into a refinery, pipeline, or car.”

Instead of producing the magic catalyst, on November 10 2014, KiOR filed for bankruptcy, “leaving behind 2067 creditors, including the State of Mississippi which can ill-afford the bag of $75 million, 20-year, no interest loan.” The promised 1,000 jobs to be created by December 2015 never materialized. (“The Misadventures of a tech billionaire confronting the stubborn economics of the biofuel business,” Washington Post, November 30, 2014)

According to Washington Post, KiOR spent $5-$10 per gallon notwithstanding the cost of building the plant. KiOR’s losses were $629.3 million and had revenues of $2.25 million. The bankruptcy was inevitable even though “Khosla spent $85 million and Bill Gates $15 million in October 2013.”

The project of transforming biomass into fuels by using “catalytic pyrolysis, or cracking,” an invention by a company in the Netherlands, BIOeCON, turned out to be a renewable money pit for KiOR which produced very little energy. http://www.bioecon.com/

Among other energy programs and initiatives for renewable energy, President George W. Bush promised in 2006 “to make ethanol not just from corn, but from wood chips and stalks and switch grass.” http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/infocus/energy/

Using corn as fuel was not such a great idea either; corn that fed billions of people around the world skyrocketed in price in recent years and became scarcer, causing people in many countries to riot.

Wind turbines caused health hazards in humans and millions of bird kills around the world, some on the endangered species list. The energy produced was certainly dirty green and inadequate for most developed countries. Conventional fossil fuels were used to run gears to prevent rusting and to supplant electricity when the wind turbines were idle. Turbines had to be cut off in some areas at speeds of maximum production of electricity because the noise and constant thumping was unbearable to the nearby residents. Just because a turbine rotates, it does not necessarily mean that it produces electricity.

Are most large economies of the world ready to ditch fossil fuels entirely as proposed in Lima Peru by the environmental architects of gloom and doom alarmism and replace them with renewables? The answer is a resounding no, unless we are ready to live in the dark ages again.

Copyright: Ileana Johnson 2014