Friday, July 31, 2015

Medicare Reaches 50 - And There Is No Such Thing As "Mediscare"!

Seniors marching on behalf of Medicare in the early 1960s. At that time, adult children had to declare mortgages, assets etc. to pay any extra money for medical care for their elder parents the state wouldn’t cover. Many seniors,  rather than burdening their charges, simply died alone.

"Mediscare" is the word conservatives use to mock the Democratic strategy of warning seniors what would happen if the Reepos alter it, i.e. according to "free market" value such as issuing vouchers.

Is it all really harem, scarem? Don't believe it for a nanosecond!


Yesterday, the 30th of July, marked the 50th anniversary of the government health benefit program called Medicare. While predictions of its demise have been with us almost since it's inception, all have been proven to be false or overblown. The one thing that has remained constant, however, is the conservative elites' belief it is "socialism" in disguise and needs to be dismantled - replaced by a "free market" solution.

In the December 19, 1960 issue of LIFE magazine, President -elect John Fitzgerald Kennedy referred to a few of the modest requests he would make in his new administration. Modest, because he recognized he had won the popular vote by the barest sliver of a majority- a mere 113,000 votes.

 His ‘requests’ included (p. 31):

-          a higher minimum wage

-          urban renewal

-          Old age medical care operating under Social Security

The last would evolve and become known as "Medicare" which is the system JFK originally foresaw and which is operating today as an ancillary benefit to Social Security. JFK understood that as powerful a benefit as Social Security was, it fell short if seniors' health issues were not attended to. The pre-Medicare era was indeed nasty, brutish and saw most elderly either dying in an impecunious state, or simply alone.....of some disease or infection. This is why JFK felt the issue of elderly medical care as an assured benefit could no longer be excluded.

Over the decades numerous attempts have been proposed to kill it or replace it, but all have been stymied as poll after poll has shown popular support for the program. Indeed, it is so popular that "Medicare for all" has been proposed as an alternative, e.g. to the too center-right formula of Obamacare - where citizens still have to cough up for increasingly higher premiums.  But since all the usual conservative tactics have basically been exhausted, the only one left is to brand any defense of Medicare as "Mediscare". But if seniors probe the underbelly of what's alternatively offered, they should be scared!

Most recently, Sally C. Pipes in her WSJ op-ed from yesterday (p. 11) has advanced the thesis that "Medicare spending is unsustainable" and so a new model must replace it. What is this new model she advances that she claims will provide greater access to medical care and lower costs? She sets out the following aspects:

- The eligibility age to get it ought to be increased to 67 because today life expectancy is 79 - up from 70 in 1965  - and those extra years "put additional strain" on the system.

-The postponement to 67 isn't enough and Medicare also needs to be "converted from an open-ended entitlement to a system of means-tested vouchers."

How would these vouchers work? According to Pipes:

"The government would give every senior a voucher based on health status, income and age. Seniors in better health and those who are wealthy would receive smaller vouchers. Sicker or needier seniors would receive larger onesSeniors would then choose from among privately administered health plans the one that best suited their needs and budget."

 What are the cutoff thresholds? She doesn't say. But, based on past gov't standards we can be sure if it's a Republican congress and President issuing them, they will be stringent to say the least. Probably the "neediest" will have incomes of $13,000- 14,000 a year or less. This would leave open what happens to a middling income couple - say with $50,000/year - who is also initially healthy at time of issuance - but then the husband develops prostate cancer and the wife breast cancer. It could happen! Then what?

Well, she says seniors can "choose" from among private insurance plans for needs and budget, but how would that work out? Really? Let me provide some perspective - including based on her desire to increase the eligibility age to 67.

At the age of 66 - one year short of Pipes' eligibility cutoff- I was diagnosed with stage T1c prostate cancer in six cores, Gleason scores of 3+3, to 3+4.  I elected high dose rate brachytherapy treatment and that bill tabulation, for those who might be interested, came to $42, 776 . This encompassed a breakdown of different contributors, from (epidural) anesthesia ($4,124) to radiology services ($16,768) to recovery room ($2, 090) to operating room services ($14,994).   The bill, after Medicare Part B kicked in, came down to $1,299 of which most was paid by my Medicare Supplement Plan (F).

It doesn't take a genius to see that had I been left with that bill at 66 - and no Medicare to depend on - with Obamacare still years from being formalized - I'd likely have gone bankrupt. By extension, many millions of other 65 and 66 years olds would too under Pipes' plan.

My other alternative, of course, would have been to skip any immediate treatments and hence, do nothing. In that case, the cancer would plausibly have metastasized until - by the time I finally did qualify for Medicare  - the costs of treating advanced prostate cancer would've been drastically more.

Pipes also claims that according to her proposal (ibid.):

"Insurers would have to compete for beneficiaries' business and providers would have to compete to get on the most popular plans".

But one has to wonder what fantasy world she inhabits. Compete for sickly (or soon to be) old folks? You have to be kidding me!

NO private health insurance companies are going to want to compete for senior health care! They only do it now because the Medicare Advantage plans are paid more for their services than the government pays in standard Medicare. Hence, contributing to the standard program’s insolvency (by an excess $12 billion a year according to the GAO).

Let us assume an elderly woman requires hip replacement surgery at an on-paper cost of $30,000. Today, Medicare - standard Medicare, will pay 80% of that or $24,000, leaving her with $6,000 to pay on her own. A goodly amount, but not insuperable. In premium support at the maximum level, however, the woman would use ALL her allotment for one operation and still have $15,000 left to pay, and no more "premium support" voucher for any other needs that may arise.

Worse, why compete for a pool of citizens which is basically going to be sickly most of the time? This is self-evident. Even now health insurance companies factor in the medical loss ratio (the ratio of unhealthy subscribers to the healthy ones that support them via fees, costs) as the most important in getting continued profits. That means they already know that any private plans for seniors on the open market would have vast medical loss ratios meaning the proportion of insurers' profits would be next to nil. Thus, seniors will clearly be shut out, translating to a no win situation for them. (No Medicare, and no private insurer to take them)


As Economics Professor Fiona Scott Morton aptly put it several years ago in referring to any such "voucher" plan, it is merely a demand shedding plan. As she puts it:

 “there’s no evidence many companies will be rushing in to provide health coverage to ailing boomers with competition that ought to lower any premiums"

BINGO!

She added:

"The Republican voucher plan is not solving the problem. It’s solving the problem of the cost of government health care. You have people who can’t afford it and they’ll just die. Economists call that demand shedding”.

Thus the “Medicare revolution” proffered by Pipes and earlier Paul Ryan is NOT to engender market competition to "lower health premiums for seniors", but to shed market demand (by seniors) so they'll be unable to enter or access any private health care, period. And since no government help or insurance will be available (other than other than a meager voucher to try and purchase private insurance in an open market with seniors the only and largest risk pool) the senior will have no choice but to die.)

Thus, we effectively have a "death policy" and there's no gaming it with euphemisms or trying to put any lipstick on this pig.

Apart from that, we know purchasing health care isn’t like buying a car, or i-pad or TV. The elements of objective and cool rational choice aren’t available mainly because the time when people most need health care is when their lives may be on the line: after a serious auto accident or fall, or appendicitis, or contracting pneumonia. Then, they simply need care and cost may not factor into it given that we know costs vary across large geographical regions, see e.g.

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2012/02/why-cant-colorado-follow-grand-junction.html

As shown in that blog post, there is a way to control medical costs, but it doesn't depend on "premium support". It requires a provider network than mandates FIXED pricing for each procedure irrespective of what insurance vehicle one has....or doesn't. In this way, the delivery of care is rendered uniform without wild variations in costs, and in addition, costs can be controlled - especially as unnecessary procedures.

Other ways Medicare's costs can be controlled to ensure it's sustainable into the future include:

1) Allowing Medicare to bargain for the lowest cost prescription drug costs like the VA does.

2) Transferring those currently on "Medicare Advantage" (based on more expensive private plans for which standard beneficiaries must subsidize) to standard, gov't run Medicare.

3) Implement new computer software to detect fraud, e.g. that can distinguish fake M.D. addresses - given by those trying to bilk the system - from actual ones of genuine providers.

The problem with all conservative solutions is that they're based on an exaggerated assumption that ascribes more power to the majority of people than they actually possess. Hence, the conservos can insist with a straight face (cf. WSJ, July 25-26, p. C2 )that "limited government allows individuals to take responsibility for themselves and their families and communities".

Yes, in an ideal world of limited corporate influence, that might be so. But not when corporate power and money can purchase political influence that undermines democracy and inveighs against the will  of the people as well as the general welfare. Then, "limited government" becomes exactly what the corporatocracy wants, a government too weak to protect the interests of its citizens against the array of private power. As FDR once put it:

"The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerated the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism: ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power.”

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Portrait of 3 Reprobates: Walter Palmer, Tom Brady & Mike Huckabee

Walter Palmer, Minnesota dentist hunter, walter palmer dentist, walter palmer minnesotaImage for the news resultImage for the news result
A trio of unrepentant slimeballs: Walter Palmer (top left) with a lion he killed in 2008, cell phone evidence destroyer Tom Brady and hate inciter Mike Huckabee.

I decided that rather than deal separately with the reprobates Tom Brady and Walter Palmer (now wanted in Zimbabwe for murdering Cecil the Lion) I'd treat them alongside the rat's ass fool and Über reprobate Mike Huckabee, to show the singular moral blindness that applies to all three. 

I already ripped into Huckabee in an earlier post, e.g.
http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2015/07/mike-huckabee-exposes-himself-as.html

So will not overly dwell on his moral dysfunction seen through the lens of his vicious conflation of the Iran nuke deal with  the Auschwitz ovens.  In the end each of these characters exhibits a separate "lens", for lack of a better term, by which their lack of principled ethics can be seen.

Suffice it to say, all truly principled people (whether conservative or other)  have come out to thrash Huckabee's rhetorical misfire, including the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. and Richard Haas, President of the Council of Foreign Relations - who observed how it "demeaned" the whole  level of the Iran debate. All three sources emphasized how such calculated, incendiary rhetoric undermined the credibility of those who invoked it - or supported it.  As Haas pointed out, the Holocaust was "a one of a kind historical atrocity" (in terms of magnitude)  and so to invoke any measure of similar outrage at common diplomacy - to conflate it with this singular atrocity-  was to automatically lose the argument.  This Huckabee has done as well as those yapping in his clueless echo chamber.

Even Joe Scarborough, long time conservative mouthpiece on 'Morning Joe' - and vociferous opponent of the Iran nuclear deal -  bemoaned (yesterday morning)  how Huckabee had "cheapened the debate" to below the lowest common denominator. As Scarborough said, "the difference between marching Jews into ovens and negotiating a bad deal is so enormous it's obvious the comments were crass and political".

Mike Barnacle also asserted how the comments "cheapened the debate and also cheapened history in regard to the  purpose for which they were used." That is, for the purpose of political self-promotion. In effect, Huckabee's outrageous "oven" remarks amounted to an insult to all those who perished in Auschwtiz' gas chambers. They'd literally be turning over in their graves with the realization they were being used as rhetorical pawns in a political campaign.

Meanwhile, one of Joe's guests (Sam Stein)  exposed Huckabee as a bald faced hypocrite given he had called for the same balanced measures back in 2008, to bring Iran's nuke aspirations under control. The best ending sound bite from Joe Scarborough?

"Republicans need to be aware that these comments will stay with them"

True, and let's hope that Huck's stupidity sinks them all, especially given 'the Donald' has also chimed in now to support him - disclosing he really is as nutso as many of his earlier comments make him out to be - especially the ones on the Mexicans being "rapists and murderers".


Then there is Bloomington, Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer, currently with less value than the Donald's lickspittle after this jackal (as Jimmy Kimmel called him) lured a majestic and beloved Lion named "Cecil" outside of his game preserve to shoot him on a nearby farm with bow and arrow. Cecil suffered for 40 hours before the vermin pseudo-hunter tracked him down and finished him off - cutting off the beast's head, skinning him and allowing the carcass to rot in the sun.

 The turd is now paying for his crime and being slimed across the internet, as on YELP, where the hate is hot and deep, as well as death threats  e.g.

http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/river-bluff-dental-bloomington?start=0

Of course, while a bit of net hate can have its therapeutic value, I don't approve of death threats, any more than I did when they were launched against my then pastor brother ('Pastor Mike') after he proposed a "National Atheist Registry".  But there is simply no excuse  for threats,  no matter how enraged one might be at a person's actions and/or proposals.

Anyway, Palmer the big, bad Bwana hunter soon became the hunted,  when  the UK Telegraph identified him as the poacher who  killed Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe in early July. The Internet, as is typical when its collective ire has been aroused,  responded with such ferocity you'd have thought Cecil was a personal pet of millions. Brutal reviews of Palmer's dental practice and a cavalcade of online threats followed - many of which can be seen at the highlighted links.  (Eventually forcing Palmer to shutter his dental office and go into hiding as protesters post 'Coward!' and 'Killer!' signs on his doors.)

Within an hour of the Telegraph’s report Tuesday, death threats appeared on Twitter and, soon after, on a new Facebook page called "Shame Lion Killer Dr. Walter Palmer and River Bluff Dental," which had more than 1,000 likes as of early Tuesday afternoon. Palmer's name trended worldwide on Twitter, and many of the posts on Facebook are calling for him to be held accountable and imprisoned.

Shamed at being exposed, Palmer took to social media in an attempt to placate the  Internet haters and scribbled:

"In early July, I was in Zimbabwe on a bow hunting trip for big game. I hired several professional guides and they secured all proper permits. To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted.
"I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt. 
"I have not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or in the U.S. about this situation, but will assist them in any inquiries they may have.
"Again, I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion."

 The problem is that the account given here simply isn't credible. As one animal sanctuary keeper and conservationist explained on a CBS News segment, everyone within 1,000 miles of Zimbabwe knew of Cecil's iconic heritage and reputation, and no "guides" could possibly have existed who could claim they were ignorant. It didn't add up.  Worse for Palmer, he'd  already been caught using a similar modus operandi in Wisconsin in luring a black bear to his lair and slaughtering him.

So yeah, Walter can piss and moan all he wants but he's guilty as hell.

Then there is that rascal Brady, who had to face a ten hour appeal with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, at which time it finally came out he destroyed his cell phone on the same day he was to face investigator Ted Wells. Goodell, no fool, saw this as yet another piece of evidence pointing to Brady's guilt.

As CBS commentator James Brown pointed out:

"Even though he knew investigators wanted emails and texts from his cell phone, Tom Brady ordered his assistant to destroy it. Something he says he does whenever he gets a new one. Brady had the phone for just four months at that point and Roger Goodell pointedly noted that Brady previous cell phone was still around.

The Commissioner concluded Brady 'made a deliberate effort to ensure the investigators would never have access to information that he had been asked to produce."

As one legal commentator (Nancy Armor) put it, after noting Brady had 10,000 text messages on the phone:

"If you're not guilty, if you had no knowledge and had no role in this then why would you destroy your cell phone? "

Goodell himself added that scientific tests showed the balls did not deflate from natural causes. He added Brady's 4 game suspension was justified because "he was an active participant to tamper with the game balls."

Of course, Brady's lapdog agent Don Yee called the Goodell appeal process a "sham" and asserted Brady was "completely transparent" - which is total bollocks that only a Patsie homer could believe. (Or to quote Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy, "It’s time for local loyalists to parachute down from Planet Patriot and get in touch with reality.".) The biggest joke is Yee calling it "junk science" - based on an "alternative study" by economists at the American Enterprise Institute - when no less a REAL science stalwart than Bill Nye already demonstrated how Bellichick's original theory was full of hot air. No pun intended!  I think Yee needs a crash course in physics.

But as Armor pointed out: "It's not the crime itself, it's the cover up".  Brady could have gotten off with just a slap on the wrist, if he'd just 'fessed up, but he, Robert Kraft and the other Patsy assholes were too damned arrogant and believed they were above the law. Bad mistake.

NY Times sports columnist Bill Rhoden appearing on CBS yesterday morning was even more blunt noting how this "completely changes his legacy". As he put it:

"Once you destroy evidence, in any investigation, I don't care where you are, you cannot do this. This is not about football any more, this is almost borderline criminality. Frankly, it even surprises me this guy's still playing.

If I found out this guy destroyed evidence, I'd cut him. I mean he's disrespecting attorneys, disrespecting the league, he's disrespecting the game. He's basically saying 'I'm larger than the game'. It's one thing to tamper with a football, it's another to tamper with evidence."

Rhoden's take, while vehement, is the ethically correct one - as opposed to bloviators (i.e. on ESPN) who mocked the seriousness based on the original ball deflations. After all, the Patriots did blow out the Colts so what's the big deal? The "big deal" is it doesn't matter if the score was 44-7, 10-7, or 250-3, it was the attempted gaming of the system by breaking the rules.  And as I noted in a post earlier this year, if you endorse cheating of any magnitude you will endorse its use in many others.


What is the unifying moral deficit underlying all of these cases? I believe it is flouting the basic cornerstone principle that "the ends never justifies the means".

In Huckabee's case, he became convinced that in order for him to compete in the presidential polls he had to make an outrageous, slanderous statement comparing Obama to Hitler, and Obama's peace plan to marching Jews to ovens.  In so doing, he may have garnered attention and an added point in the latest Marist poll-  but lost whatever 'soul' he had.

Worse, he revealed himself as the most reviled form of politician:  one who will spew any venomous, inflammatory vitriol in order to incite the hotheads who perpetually feed on indignation and anger. Knowing he'd draw them in just as moths to a flame, but not so much light emitted here as incendiary rhetoric that demeans and distorts political debate - with potential poll numbers purchased by cynical manipulation.

In Palmer's case, he became convinced from decades ago the only way to become the big game hunter he fancied was to lure majestic animals to a place outside their protected environments  and then kill them in a canned "turkey shoot" setup.   Whereas a real man would go toe to toe with a predator and not try to bag or kill endangered species, and certainly not take out iconic members of a species like Cecil.

But Palmer, who fancied himself a macho hunter because he could lure big cats or other predators into a trap - was really a coward. In many ways his tactics reminded me of former NFL safety Darren Sharper's who had to resort to putting pills in women's drinks to induce them to have sexual relations with him. He didn't have the manly courage to enter into a conscious relationship to fulfil the sexual ends and face the possible consequence of rejection.

And before we get too carried away by Palmer's transgressions, let's bear in mind there are dozens of rich guy pseudo-hunters just like him still out there, who - according to stats released last night on the news- bag 600-800 lions a year. They pay $50,000 each for a lion, for example, which basically entails setting the lion up for a kill that is near 100 percent assured.  They call this "hunting" but it's a mockery of actual hunting. We need to ferret out these other degenerates and shame them like millions have Walter Palmer.

Then there is Tom Brady, who became fully convinced he was bigger than the game itself, so could justify the ends of trying to spare his reputation and that of his team by using the means of destroying his cell phone - and all the evidence on it.  An act of bankrupt morality which only ensured his rep is tarnished in perpetuity.

As I said, a trio of slime balls.

See also:

https://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2015/07/28/shaughnessy/T32IKjU6IVYjEWml2YfrMI/story.html

And:

http://www.salon.com/2015/07/30/fox_news_and_the_batsht_bump_trump_huckabee_and_the_real_reason_why_the_gop_is_a_national_punch_line/

And:

http://www.salon.com/2015/07/30/the_world_of_trophy_hunting_cecil_the_lions_killing_shines_a_light_on_a_business_rife_with_unscrupulous_conduct/

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

HiTech To The Rescue - To Take Out Drones Where They Don't Belong!



Nuisance small drones, which some idiots treat as exotic toys, are now becoming dangerous nuisances and need to be brought under control. Since the FAA appears impotent to act, there are at least others who are making headway technologically into putting these irritating little bastards out of commission - and potentially rendering them techno-junk.

In the past month alone, there've been over a dozen near misses of drones with commercial aircraft which ought to scare the bejeezus out of any air traveler. In one case the damned drone - one of those small outfits that are the main nuisances - went way over its allowed altitude and came to within 200 ft. of a jetliner attempting a landing. Fortunately, the pilot saw the damned thing in time and was able to dodge it, but next time we may not be so lucky. As one air line safety specialist put it, all it takes is one getting sucked into a jet engine and it would be all over. Yeah, there'd be the usual weeping and gnashing of teeth after the fact, but most of us who've been carping about the litany of such near misses in the past two years would be asking 'Why wasn't something done?'

Then, there've been the incidents barely a week ago where firefighters near San Bernardino CA had to pull back their efforts because the damned drones were hovering over the flames - hampering their efforts. The result? The fire fighting planes were delayed 26 minutes and dozens of cars were burned up on a highway stretch through the fire zone.

Many have been noticing these incidents and are now planning to do something about it. This according to a recent WSJ piece  ('Meet the Drone Killers', July 24, p. B1).

In France, after several drones meandered above nuclear power stations, the government awarded contracts to small military research teams to develop weapons that can be used to bring down the bird-sized nuisances. French defense electronics firm Thales SA is also working on a system to use radar to spot a drone, then use jamming tools to take control  of it.

In the U.S. especially after the near-miss  airline encounters, companies are developing counter drone systems that use microphones or radar to detect nuisance drones then take them out.  Authorities have already used some of these systems to safeguard prisons, secure sporting events and government buildings.  Many of the counter drones have mechanisms in place to capture any unwelcome drones and even destroy them.

These can't come into play soon enough given the FAA can't seem to control airspace after being pushed by a dummy, venal congress to allow U.S. skies to be overrun - thanks to pressure from drone makers.  The existence of the relevant bill was first reported on Feb. 4, 2012 in The Wall Street Journal  ('U.S. Skies Could See More Drones', p. A7)and it came as a shocker of sorts. First, because it disclosed yet another federal agency (FAA) held hostage to the corporatist-industrial complex, now attempting to find new avenues for drone production since the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan are ending (well the first has officially ended, the second nearly may not until 2024). And second, because it discloses how secretive this corporate-benefiting information is.

Medea Benjamin made reference to the spectacle of congressional corporate compliance and being bought out by the drone makers, as she said:

"They’ve been able to write the drone legislation and get their lackeys in Congress to push it through and get the president to sign it.”
 
In other words, the congressional rats and whores placed the bottom line of corporations over citizen welfare. But this is what we expect in a corporatocracy.  In the case of the FAA bill, worth some $63 billion (and nearly four years in the lobbying and rewriting), U.S. skies would be inundated with tens of thousands of unmanned drones sharing airspace with commercial planes.
 
A dozen or more incidents last year were exposed in an investigation by the Washington Post and  include one in which a pilot descending into LaGuardia observed a drone with a 10 -15 foot wingspan above lower Manhattan. In another LA incident, two separate pilots reported a drone "the size of a trash can" perilously close by.  The FAA was not able to pursue or identify the offenders because either "radar data was not available" or "the operators could not be identified." (Denver Post, 'Drone Close Calls', June 25th, p. 17A)   The Post notes that (p. 22A):

"The close calls were the latest in a rash of dangerous encounters between civilian aircraft and drones flown in contravention of FAA rules intended to safeguard U.S. airspace.."
 
The FAA in the wake of these has had to come clean and reveal many other near misses, forcing it to at least appear to be doing something. That includes at least mouthing proposals that would require all drone operators to be subject to testing and have pilot licenses. Sounds good, but up to now I've seen nothing further other than in Neoliberal newspapers where editorials have raked the FAA over the coals for the plan.  But what do these numb nut editors propose given all the nincompoops with drones running loose who ought to be locked up in rubber rooms?

Right now, the Federal Aviation Administration requires that drones remain below 400 feet, making it difficult for most potential users (including farmers, cops etc.) to use them effectively, The problem is when the regulations are flouted for the sake of effectiveness (or by loonies with no business flying them at all) and  hundreds of  people's lives are wantonly put at risk.

This is exactly why we need high tech robot, anti-drone 'police' systems manning the skies to shoot the little bastards down or otherwise neutralize them if their owners flout rules. If we can't trust the FAA for control, and the drone operators act like drunken fools,  at least we might be able to trust anti-drone technology coming onstream!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Mike Huckabee's "Israel to the Ovens" BS Exposes Him As Another Certifiable Fruitcake


Mike Huckabee the latest Reep huckster to prove he's a certified looneytune and moron.

The Reepo-conservative clown circus never seems to end. Just when the sane person thinks he's seen it all (Lindsey Graham putting his cell phone in a blender, Rand Paul taking a chainsaw to the tax code) or heard it all - as from Trump, Scott Walker and Jebbie Bush - someone even more batshit nuts comes along and makes them look tame. Such is the case with bottom feeding Reeptard candidate  Mike Huckabee who takes (so far) this week's Top Moron Prize.

For what you may ask? Well, for comparing Obama's Iran nuclear deal to - get this -  “taking the Israelis and march[ing] them to the door of the ovens,”  Are you shitting me? Seriously? Marching the Israelis (who, btw, possess over 200 nukes - more than any nation in the region) to the "ovens"? Well, I imagine that would be fuckin' hard given the Israelis could - at any time-  launch a first nuclear strike on Iran that would reduce it to cinders and radioactive ash - and most of the Middle East. So WHO would be sending WHOM to the proverbial "ovens" you stupid, cracker dickhead?

Does Huckabee even know what the Holocaust was? Oh, I know he's claimed to have "gone to Auschwitz three times" and "stood outside the ovens", but come on, any moron could do that! What I am asking is if he really grasps what happened there, in a way that would allow him to remotely compare it to the Iran nuclear deal. I doubt it.

Given this cracker- ass Arkansas fool probably can't read anything deeper than a comic, I wouldn't expect him to read a book as demanding (but revealing) as The  The History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War, by Martin Gilbert. (Though he might be able to learn a bit from the photos).  But I suspect what he really needs is to watch the video 'The Liberation of Auschwitz' part of the 'The Holocaust Testaments' series, e.g.

Therein Huckabee will see what Auschwitz was really about in detailed film as the Russians exposed the horrors of that camp, including not only ovens but the experiments of Josef Mengele. Those include an experiment on a 9-year old boy whose arms had been amputated and replaced with the arms of a 9 month old infant.

Huckabee will also see the removed skin (treated with chemicals) from prisoners waiting to made into for chairs, and for use as art 'canvas' by S.S. wannabe artists. If he fast forwards a bit his eyes will focus on a table  laden with the bodies of fetuses expelled by their mothers in the gas chambers designated for autopsies.

If this moron has the patience (and fortitude) to watch this film-video I believe he will see what Auschwitz was really about and why his remarks and rhetoric were those of a certifiable asshole, not a serious candidate for President. Hence, Obama was quite right to call into question the seriousness of any possible Repuke successors to the Oval office. If any of these jokers do get in, I for one am considering a move back to Bim.

Huckabee, compounding his historical ignorance and stupidity, also argued that this “is Neville Chamberlain all over again,” warning “God help us all” if the U.S. Congress does not reject the Iranian nuclear deal. SO which is it Huck? Is Obama like Hitler, sending the Israelis to the "ovens" or is he Neville Chamberlain, who sold out Czechoslovakia  to Hitler at Munich? Make up your mind if you have one! I mean, the two analogies are mutually exclusive!

The worst aspect is this ignorant analogizing of Iran to Nazi Germany has been picked up as a narrative by many in the GOP field, including Lindsey Graham - as well as by conservative commentators like Charles Krauthammer. When comparisons are made to Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler you know you're seeing the worst form of historical misrepresentation. The other aspect noted by Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer is that it distorts the nature of diplomacy and paints it as "appeasement" as if the only alternative is war. But...war with Iran will be a lot different from war with Iraq, which is what these GOOPr morons don't understand.

Also, as Amb. Daniel Kurtzer put it last night on Chris Hayes' 'All In' it amounts to "an incitement to violence" especially the inflammatory horse shit spouted by Huckabee.  Kurtzer referenced similar inflammatory rhetoric 20 years ago leading to the assassination of Yitzak Rabin. Is this what this moron wants? Or, is he trying to out-Trump Trump in a desperate effort to get on center stage in the media? People can diss Trump for his remarks all they want but at least his last one against McCain had some basis in historical legitimacy. In that most of us - when we think of war heroes- think of Audie Murphy - the great WWII hero who as Wikipedia references:

"At the age of 19, Murphy received the Medal of Honor after single-handedly holding off an entire company of German soldiers for an hour at the Colmar Pocket in France in January 1945, then leading a successful counterattack while wounded and out of ammunition"

This is probably the "war hero" model Trump - and many others - were thinking of at the time of the McCain comment which was more anti-PC than disgraceful and egregious. But the point is Trump's remark isn't even in the same nutso ball park as Huckabee's who should now be made to formally apologize for his excess, and also be made to leave the GOP field in disgrace.

But then given the whole gaggle of 16 clowns in that field are unworthy of presidential aspirations,  far less the actual office, it may not make much difference!

See also:

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2015/07/iran-deal-is-best-world-could-get-so.html


and:

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/thom-hartmann/63054/dont-count-out-the-gop-from-trying-to-sink-obamas-historic-iran-deal-theyve-done-it-before

And:

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/robert-parry/63036/the-world-rebukes-Netanyahu


Monday, July 27, 2015

An Observational Boost for Magnetic Reconnection In Earth's Magnetosphere

















No automatic alt text available.

General structure of Earth's magnetosphere (above) and detail near the sunward solar wind plasma flow with X-line shown.

Ever since Walter J. Heikkila's paper on 'The Reconnection Myth' in Eos Transactions, the occurrence of magnetic reconnection as an energy generation (and dissipation) mechanism in solar and space systems has been hotly debated. Does such reconnection actually exist, and in particular - does the conceptual 'heart' of such models - known as the 'X-line' (or 'X-point' in solar situations) exist?

In solar physics the general reconnection model has been associated with the production of solar flares and one of the earliest was attributed to Peter Sturrock. Most often the proposed structures occur as sheets, hence known as 'current sheets'.

In the case of Earth's magnetosphere (see top graphic) magnetic reconnection enters by way of incoming solar wind plasma interacting with the Earth's magnetic field. By this concept, the interplanetary magnetic field divides or disconnects at an "X-line" at the magnetopause with one end going over the north pole and the other the south pole. These polar lines are called "open" with only one end connected to Earth - as the graphics indicate. In each case the total amount of open flux must conform to Maxwell's equations, see e.g.

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2015/03/solar-electrodynamics-part-3-of-3.html

Generalizing, a similar X-line is proposed to occur in the magnetotail with the two ends hypothesized to reconnect with a return flow of plasma and magnetic flux occurring toward Earth.

Obviously, invocation of the reconnection model depends critically on the existence of the X-line, and now that appears to have been validated using the European Space Agency's Cluster satellites, a quartet of satellites that orbit Earth in formation. Specifically, Wilder et al (Journal of Geophysical Research, Space Physics, 2014) have actually observed a retreating X-line and measured its velocity for the first time.

They note as the Cluster craft traversed the Southern Hemisphere in 2005, two of the satellites - roughly 5500 km apart - detected a sharp reversal in the magnetic field direction and the flow of ions -  within 40 seconds of each other. The authors concluded that both craft passed right through an X-line retreating down the Earth's magnetic tail.

More interesting, their data hint at a second reconnection event forming another X-line behind it. The event would have isolated the patch of field lines caught between the two reconnections. The 40-second delay between postulated X-line encounters also enabled the team to make the first direct measurement of an X-line's velocity - clocked at 136 km/ sec- or about the same speed as the flow of ions outside the boundary region called the magnetosheath (see top diagram)

The authors assert their findings lend credence to at least one version of magnetic reconnection theory as it applies to the magnetosphere. It would be nice to see a similar vindication for presence of X-points presumed to be associated with pre-flare magnetic configurations on the Sun. One example, is the reconnection model of Tsuneta (1997) which is basically a more elaborate update of Sturrock's reconnection sheet:

Here, as opposed to an X-line (for Earth's magnetosphere) we have an "X-point" where the magnetic field reversal occurs.  The problem is not trivial and Heikkila's original argument, i.e. that reconnection may be merely a manifestation of anomalous resistivity, could apply. Up to now, no satisfying resolution has been found and current sheets continue to be used because they provide at least a cartoon approximation of the physical agents at work.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

As Alzheimer's Disease Numbers Rise - An Even Greater Need To Label GMO Foods





















John Phillips: Bio-geneticist and nutrition specialist, was one of the first to point out the links between consuming GMO foods and Alzheimer's.


In the latest Bulletin received from 'Food & Water Watch' with assorted added documents, I've been informed the battle is now joined to get GMO foods labeled. Vermont has already passed legislation requiring genetically engineered foods to be labeled and the governor has signed it into law. But make no mistake the big 'guns' of the Neoliberal state are out to try to kill it, since they know labeling could be mandated by other states.

So no surprise that a bill was introduced in the last session of congress which intent is to kill all labeling initiatives for GMO foods.  As with the case of fracking - whereby many state governments have outlawed initiatives to halt it - the momentum of the purveyors is to have the little people live in heaping piles of shit, including unlabeled shit for food. Who or what is behind this anti-labeling campaign? The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) whose 300 member corporations have now poured $54.7 million into bribing our politicos to screw the rest of us. DO they care if we get Alzheimer's disease or cancer? Hell no! Because these vermin - like Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) mastermind of the current legislation - already have "Cadillac"  health plans to deal with any ills. Even if they get pancreatic, kidney, colon or other cancers they won't have to shell out tens of thousands a year for drugs to stay alive.

According to the Bulletin from 'Food & Water Watch' :

"GMO ingredients are hidden in 70 percent of processed food in this country. This is only a 'best guess'  because no one knows for sure as they are not labeled. Also, very little is known of the long term effects of what GMOs can do to your health because they've not been properly tested. But what facts we do have are alarming."

The Bulletin then references:

"Real lab rats fed GMOs have suffered kidney and liver damage, cancerous tumors and even premature death."

Wonder why so many people are now needing kidney and liver transplants? This may be one huge contributing factor.

Among the other alarming facts is the horrific link to glyphosate as exposed by Barbadian geneticist and nutritionist John Phillips, who has noted:

""Among other toxins and other health-disrupting contaminants, GMO foods contain glyphosate, a horrifically destructive chemical that saps nutrients from foods and quite literally makes them toxic to consume."

 Phillips also ties it into the increasing numbers of people in the U.S. suffering from Alzheimer's disease - which destroys the brain and renders victims little more than zombies. (If you can, see the recent film 'Still Alice' to get a grasp of how it destroys a professor's mind and life).  European numbers by contrast are low, well because they are among the 64 intelligent and caring nations that require GMO labeling.

In his excellent Wall Street Journal piece, 'Yes - We Deserve to Know What's In the Food We  Eat' (July 13, p. R1), Andrew Kimbrell lays out the crux of the matter:

"Chemical and food companies claim they shouldn't have to label because genetically engineered foods have not been proven unsafe. But every day we see labeling for food additives or processes such as 'made from concentrates' that have been found safe.

The Food and Drug Administration standard for labeling has nothing to do with danger. Rather, the law requires labeling to inform consumers about novel contents or changes that may not be obvious and the consumer would have an interest in knowing.

Do genetically engineered foods fit the bill? Yes, they do. Virtually all commercialized, genetically engineered food crops come from novel bacterial, viral, or other DNA sources never before seen in foods, often creating novel proteins as well. If the FDA were to actually test GMO foods, which it does not, and find them hazardous, it would not label them, it would remove them from supermarket shelves. "

Kimbrell goes on to write that while opponents often claim GMO foods would be "too expensive" to label, this is really a PR crock. In fact, "food companies change their labels all the time." and that "adding 'produced with genetic engineering' on the package would be of negligible cost."

Kimbrell's piece is potent because it's typeset along side a clear PR piece ('It's Simply a Ploy To Make Consumers  Worry') by a Penn State prof (Nina Federoff) who ought to be ashamed of herself. One wonders in fact if she received as much money for that PR slop as Willie Soon has for his anti-global warming drivel.

Why the desperate refusal to label GMOs? Because it would cut into the profits of the biggest GMO producers like Monsanto which now rings up $11.8 billion a year in sales.

Labeling, as I said and Kimbrell gives a powerful justification for, is rational and 64 other nations already do it. They are determined to protect their citizens from potential Alzheimer's and cancer cases while ours seems more interested in enabling profits for the corporations that benefit from GMO food sales.

Meanwhile, as we await labeling, there are things you can do to avoid consuming GMO foods, as listed in the  'Food & Water Watch'  enclosure:

1. Know the top GMO crops and common GMO ingredients, which include:

- Canola (also called rapeseed oil)

- Corn (including high fructose corn syrup)

-Cottonseed oil (common in vegetable oil and margarine)

- Soybeans (may also appear in ingredients' lists as simply 'sugar')

- Sugar beets ("   "     "      "       "         "      "       "       "    ")


2. Buy organic - since the USDA prohibits GMO crops from being used in certified organic crops for food and animal feed.

3. Look for products that are specifically labelled 'Non -GMO or GMO Free')

4. Shop Local : Most GMO foods are produced on large, industrial farms and by huge corporate food companies. Your best bet is to buy local foods at farmers' markets.

5. Make it from scratch: By avoiding prepared and processed foods you control every ingredient, giving you final say on what you eat.

Finally, learn how to decode labels and do not be misled by the fake word "natural" - which is merely a deceptive marketing ploy.

For more information on label decoding of foods go to:

http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/food/consumer-labels/decoding-food-labels/

Update:

The House bill to prevent GMO food labeling passed 275-150 on Thursday.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Is Kepler 452b Really A "Cousin" Of Earth?

This artist’s rendering made available by NASA on Thursday, July 23, 2015 shows a comparison between the Earth, left, and the planet Kepler-452b. It
Artist's depiction of relative sizes of Earth and Kepler 452 b (right)

NASA's Kepler space telescope has been on a veritable planet-finding binge with thousands of exoplanets discovered the past 6 years. Now, the latest addition announced is named Kepler 452b and has been described as "a cousin of Earth" and even "Earth 2.0". (Several other worlds have also briefly held that label until a better candidate appeared.)

Kepler was launched in 2009 and has nearly 5,000 potential exoplanets to its credit — worlds beyond our solar system..  Boulder-based Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. built Kepler for NASA and still runs its operations in space, with support from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado.

Why is Kepler 452 b being described as a "cousin of Earth"? For one thing its star has the same spectral class (G2) as the Sun. Second, it's at about the same distance that Earth is from the Sun. As one investigator put it: this is now the nearest system found to an Earth-Sun system.

Some of the other comparisons made are as follows:

Age:

Earth at 3.5 billion years old vs. Kepler 452b at 6 billion years old

Length of Year:

Earth 365 days, vs. Kepler 452b at 385 days (given its 5% further away from its sun)

Gravity:

Earth value = 1 g or 9.8 m/s/s  =  9.8 N/kg

Kepler 452b: 19.5 m/s/s  = 19.5  N/kg

Since it is 60% larger by volume and with 5 times more mass, so we use the equation:

g = G M / r2


So here: r =   5R  (where R is Earth's radius or 6.4 x 10 6   m)

And M =  5 M E  where  M E     =   6.0 x 10 24   kg

Bear in mind weight w = mg

The individual mass times the acceleration of gravity.

So if one has a mass of 100 kg then his weight on Earth will be:

w = m g = 100 kg (9.8 N/ kg) =  980 N

And on Kepler 452 b:

w = m g = 100 kg (19.5 N/ kg) =  1950 N

For those who opt for English- British units, a 100 pound woman on Earth would weigh nearly 200 pounds on Kepler 452b

The latter difference in terms of g is important, so we can't simply think - as some have - of just colonizing Kepler 452b one day without calculating the consequences.

Another problem I have with referring to 452b as a "cousin" of Earth is that we don't even know if it possesses an atmosphere. Although it is certainly at the right distance and has a large enough g-value to retain an atmosphere we don't know: a) if one exists, or (b) - if one does - if its conducive to life as we know it (say Nitrogen and CO2 instead of Nitrogen, Oxygen).

We also don't know what kind of axial tilt, if any, exists. Bear in mind Earth has a tilt of 23.5 degrees which moderates our seasons. Thus, now in northern hemisphere summer,  the temperatures are warm though Earth is further away from the Sun. For Kepler 452b, imagine the same tilt orientation but occurring at orbital perihelion as opposed to near aphelion. Given the central star is 20% warmer than our own Sun (since its luminosity is 10 % greater) according to stats disclosed, that means the temperatures on Kepler 452b would be almost unbearable for humanoid life- even though it's 5% further from its Sun than we are from ours.

All this means that there is as yet too little hard data to really assert Kepler 452b is a legitimate "cousin" of our Earth. By the exterior trappings of distance to its sun, relative size, etc.  the indications are promising-  but still not a slam dunk. It is better to say it is a likely cousin of Earth, provided other factors (such as breathable atmosphere) also turn out to be present.

Friday, July 24, 2015

With Social Security Disability Nearly Broke - The One Lesson That Should Have Been Learned

According to The Wall Street Journal ('U.S. Disability Program Nearly Broke', July 23, p. A4) while the long term solvency of Medicare and Social Security "has been improved slightly" (actually Medicare by 13 years, thanks to Obamacare, and S.S. by 1 year to 2035) the Social Security Disability Program is due to "exhaust its reserves next year". That means if nothing is done, a 19 percent cut in benefit payments will be triggered.

Treasury Secretary Lew has proposed a re-allocation of payroll taxes from the retirement trust fund to the disability insurance trust fund to bolster it. This would require congressional approval, but the Republicans - who control both houses of congress - are in no mood to cooperate. According to the Denver Post yesterday they are demanding cuts to Social Security (the retirement part)  to move forward.

In terms of the retirement program proper - which must be distinguished from disability insurance - it ran a $55 billion surplus last year, according to the WSJ, and this "stemmed entirely from interest on reserves". But, excluding interest, the general program ran a $74b deficit last year and a $76b deficit the year before.  As a share of taxable payroll, "the program is projected to run a deficit of 1.3% this year, the largest ever faced by the program".

Interestingly, this would be nearly the re-allocation proportion needed to salvage the disability program in order to prevent those 19% cuts. Adding up those two actual deficits we get $150b, or about $20 b less than the  $170b removed from the system via the "payroll tax holiday" over 2012-13 and passed by congress including insane Demos.

As I complained about at the time (post, Jan. 15, 2013):

"the payroll tax holiday never should have been introduced in the first place! Like the middle class Bush tax cuts, they have only dug us deeper into a hole and made it more possible for ardent, anti-Social Security repukes to hop on their bandwagons to demand S.S. privatization or underhanded benefits' cuts via the dastardly "chained CPI".

This also has to do with the fact that millions more beneficiaries piled into the retirement program as well as millions into the disability insurance program - often people who had lost their unemployment insurance and had no place else to go.

The Democrats, the supposed "party of the people",  are also largely to blame for this payroll tax holiday nonsense since without their votes it couldn't have gone forward.  As Richard Eskow noted in an article at the time of my blog post ( 'The Long Game: Payroll Taxes, Hostage Taking and Social Security' ):

"By proposing to expand and extend this 'holiday,' Democrats have bypassed more efficient ways to help the economy, and have once again endangered Social Security"

Eskow's reference was to the fact the payroll tax holiday removed $170 b from the system and lowered its ability to cover costs of millions of new beneficiaries, many of them seeking Social Security Disability. And it wasn't as if everybody was suddenly surprised by the retiring boomers pouring into the system and the ancillary demands for disability. Most serious financial mavens knew this was coming, as well as the feckless politicos - always ready to posture for temporary support.

Now, of course, the 'chickens' have come home to roost, and the Demos - as per their earlier stupidity of extending the Bush tax cuts (then having to face budget "sequesters")-  must go cap in hand to the Repukes to help them out, hoping that out of the goodness of their hearts they'll approve a rescue without any strings.

Of course, this is a pipe dream. The Reepos will play this for everything they can and demand their pound of benefits flesh while lecturing the Dems on the "unsustainability" of both Social Security and Medicare. No kowtowing to the Reeps would have been necessary if the Dems had just had the foresight to see that with millions opting to apply for disability it was folly to take a payroll tax "holiday" (cutting the 6.2% contribution to 3.1%).

Will the Democrats learn an important lesson on payroll taxes for the future? Doubtful,  so long as they value political posturing above the welfare of citizens.

See also:

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2011/11/most-loathsome-destructive-tax-cut-so.html

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Another Cop On An Authority Trip - The Terrorizing of Sandra Bland

Image for the news result
Taser at the ready, TX highway cop Brian Encinia marches Sandra Bland out of her car, after she refused to put out a cigarette.

Here we go again! Another case of a cop losing his cool and over-reacting to a person of color, allowing badge to get the better of brain. Where does it end? After the Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Grey and Walter Scott incidents one would have thought that cops stopping black people would mind their Ps and Qs especially with the 'Black Lives Matter' group on the warpath.  Recall poor Walter Scott lost his life after being shot in the back by runaway, gunslinger cop Michael Slager - now cooling off in a SC jail - after stopping Scott initially for a busted tail light.
 
In the most recent case, gung ho Texas cowpoke (actually Texas highway patrol man) Brian Encinia stops a black woman named Sandra Bland - en route to her job at her alma mater - and terrorizes her the better part of 50 minutes. Where was this bozo trained anyway?  Watching four news programs last night which each featured expert, experienced cops - including from the NYPD and MD state police - all agreed Encinia totally blew it. He acted like an unchained beast as opposed to an officer of the law whose first duty is not to escalate an interaction but keep his cool.
 
As for the video itself, I've already viewed it at least seven times including on the Houston Chronicle site. Each time the impression is further reinforced that Encinia allowed his badge, ego and authority to go to his head. The 'breakpoint' to me occurred after he returned from his patrol car and then instead of completing the transaction and letting Bland off with the warning, asked her if she was "irritated"
 
After she said 'yes' and explained to him why he then got bolshy and asked: "Are you finished?" when she had to remind him HE was the one that brought it up! After all, if he didn't want that sort of negative response he shouldn't have asked her the damned question. It wasn't her duty to appease him and say "No, I'm just fine, sir." when she wasn't - especially after being stopped for a tiddly ass moving infraction.
 
The escalation then really explodes when he asks her to put out her cigarette. WHY? She's had to wait almost eight minutes for the guy to write up whatever (as shown on the Chronicle video) so instead of twiddling her thumbs decided to have a smoke. Was that against the law too? Anyway, as soon as she refuses (saying she can smoke in her own car if she wants), he demands that she exit the vehicle.
 
Was Encinia's demand to exit because of Bland's refusal? If so, what statute in Texas — or anywhere in America — stipulates that a citizen can’t smoke during a traffic stop? WHO made this law and where was it passed, under what statute?
 
The whole thing came over as Encinia trying to exert a capricious control over this black woman who was merely establishing her own boundaries and will. What...she's supposed to creep out of the car, get on her knees, look up at Mr. Southern Whitey Cop and say: "Yes, Massah! I'm here at your command!  Anything else you want from me? Kiss your boots maybe?"
 
What was he, afraid she'd use her cig as a weapon? Give me a break!
 
 One can actually argue that Encinia precipitated the incident himself - by his own aggressive driving. The video shows his car accelerating behind Bland’s and passing a sign indicating a speed limit of 20 miles per hour. How fast was he closing the distance on Bland before she changed lanes? Was it completely reasonable for her to attempt to move out of his way? The consensus last night on 'All In' with Chris Hayes, was 'yes'. Attorney Andrea Ritchie, when asked about this, observed:

"What was going through my mind is it was outrageous. ...I'm sure many of your viewers have failed to signal when they make a lane change particularly when you see lights from a police car in the rear view mirror.  The thing you most want to do is get out of the way and that's what the law requires you to do. To forget to turn on your turn signal at that point is certainly understandable ...but him trying to harass her when she was in fact trying to get out of the way of an emergency vehicle is truly outrageous."

Meanwhile, former NYPD Detective Marq Claxton - when asked - observed:

"The fact is we're observing a violation of law, not even a crime. So, you have to interact with the civilian population based on what it is you're investigating. If there's a question about a violent crime you may approach and interact one way, but we're talking about a traffic violation- not a crime. So it brings up the issue of whether this police officer was capable of interacting professionally or whether he exacerbated the situation and increased tensions, was provocative in his demeanor and his language. And that really is disturbing based on what we've seen in the video."

Regarding the breakdown and exchange when the cop asks Bland to put out her cigarette,  Attorney Andrea Ritchie  - like me- asserted she's aware of no law that requires a citizen to put out a cigarette at a traffic stop, or in order to appease a cop. As she noted on viewing the segment:

"I felt he had what he needed and was only unnecessarily prolonging the detention, He asked her a question of whether she was annoyed or not and she answered calmly and truthfully. If he wasn't prepared for the answer to the question he shouldn't have asked it. He decided at that point he was going to dig into her, and he did. But at that point she had had enough, including with the basis for the stop....which is highly discretionary."

Ritchie did acknowledge that officers have the right to order a person out of a car, but this is based on probable cause that the officer suspects a threat to his safety. She added:

"At that point she had been pulled over for quite some time and there's no indication from the video that he thought or believed there was a weapon. So really at that point he was ordering her out of the car and exercising control simply for the sake of exercising control over her. So technically whether he had the legal right  or not is not the point. It was completely superfluous at that point  for the purposes of the stop."

In other words, his ego and badge got the better of him.

Former Detective Marq Claxton then weighed in citing Pennsylvania vs Mims regarding the power of police to order people out of a car during a routine traffic stop. As he put it:

"For that to be valid there has to be some reasonable fear for that individual police officer's safety. And that's the key word missing in so much of the discussion we have. We can't just say 'the police officer was afraid for his life' or 'the police officer was fearful, that's not good enough.  There is a standard and that standard is reasonable.

It is unreasonable, for example, to see  a straw in a person's mouth and say 'I fear for my life' because the straw can be shot into my eye, my brain etcetera. That's not reasonable. We should be dealing with what is reasonable along with what is legally, constitutionally correct."

Andrea Ritchie then summarizes the trajectory of Encinia literally running amuck:

"Clearly she was speaking in a calm voice, explaining her irritation but speaking calmly and never, ever suggested she posed any kind of physical threat to him. So for him to go straight from a verbal command to leave the car to threatening to light her up is going from zero to what's supposed to be a substitute for lethal force in less than a second."

And this, in the context of, "pretextual stops" is what must give every black person, especially, nightmares. Because if it can happen to a Sandra Bland it can happen to anyone. Hence, the need to get all the cops under control, with better training, across the country.

Of course, the slimers will try to make specious rationalizations for the cop's actions as they seek to tar Bland with a broad brush. Likely insisting that the whole failure of the transaction was her fault,  invoking whatever balderdash, i.e. "she ought to have been more polite" (read appeasing and subservient) they can imagine. But if they do so, they have not learned a thing....from any of the previous incidents- and are thus more likely dedicated Foxites, i.e. not part of the reality community. Sadly, there is no cure for unreality or spurious convictions based upon it.

See also:

http://www.salon.com/2015/07/23/if_you_don%e2%80%99t_want_to_get_shot_just_do_what_i_tell_you_american_cops_are_on_a_dangerous_power_trip/

And:

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/william-boardman/63197/sandra-blands-death-is-part-of-white-americas-killing-spree

And:

http://www.salon.com/2015/07/22/if_i_die_in_police_custody_why_sandra_blands_death_is_just_the_latest_evidence_that_black_america_is_under_attack/