Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Flight 370, the Crimea, In Defense of Obamacare and a Self-Written Obituary

Don't miss the concluding article in this posting, which debunks the myth spread by the Republicans that the Affordable Care Act is unpopular with most Americans.  It is only unpopular among those who oppose government spending as a matter of principal, and among those who have been misled about the Act by irresponsible voices in the media and in Congress.


An Uneducated Guess:  The Disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

Today's technology is far advanced over that which eventually located the Titanic at the bottom of the sea, or that which located an Air France plane which crashed off of the Brazilian coast.  Despite that, two weeks after its disappearance, nothing, not a scrap, from Flight 370 has been found floating anywhere.   Therefore, I feel it is safe to look other than in the sea for explanations of its disappearance, without being dubbed a conspiracy buff.

Extensive searching in the southern reaches of the Indian Ocean, where there would be no place whatsoever for Flight 370 to land, have been and will continue to be fruitless.  Flying in that direction would have been tantamount to suicide, which could have been more easily accomplished by simply diving the aircraft downward into the sea.   


We know it went this far.

and "pinging" picked up by a satellite suggested it then flew, north or south, along the black arc.

I believe that Flight 370 did not fly southward and crash into the ocean, neither purposely nor accidentally.  I suspect that the plane, hijacked by either its pilot, co-pilot or a skilled pilot who was on board as a passenger, ultimately flew northward and made a successful landing somewhere in the southern or central part of Asia, areas within its range and fuel capacity.  A crash on land, by now, would have been noticed by human eye or satellite.

Early in the story, TV carried a map showing all of the airports in Vietnam, which was on its original route, capable of handling this large plane’s landing.  (Flight 370 never flew over Vietnam.)  I have also seen similar maps of the Asian countries which lie in the northward direction the missing plane could have been heading according to the limited information available from satellite tracking.  Though it has not been mentioned on the media, I am pretty sure that government agencies, including our own, have been engaged in satellite surveillance of all of these airports and milking our intelligence sources in all of these countries in regard to the possible location of the plane. Boeing 777

In my opinion, the plane could have been hijacked for one of the following purposes. (1) For use by terrorists in a 9-11 type attack at sometime in the future, (2) For use, if its passengers are still alive, in demanding a political concession or release of prisoners in exchange for them or (3) for the value of unspecified cargo which the plane might have been carrying. 

Wherever the plane is, and it very well may be at a hitherto unknown landing strip, secretly and specifically constructed for this particular flight or for some other private purpose in the past, it will require maintenance and fuel if it is to take off again.  Assembling materials (jet fuel, explosives, etc.) for purpose (1) above would be extremely difficult to keep secret from those doing the work, the surrounding community and the government of the country where it is, no matter how many bribes were paid.  And if such a suicide flight ever got off of the ground, the world is sufficiently on the alert for this plane so that it probably would never reach its target.  More likely to succeed would be a plane hijacked and immediately turned into a missile, as was done on 9-11.  So I discount this purpose, as I do the idea that the hijacking was for some valuable cargo on board, as in purpose (3) above.  Disposing of the "loot" from wherever the hijackers are would be extremely difficult.  Whatever it might be would be "too hot to handle."

Therefore, I feel that sooner or later, a demand will be made for a political concession or release of prisoners in exchange for the return of the passengers, and freedom for the hijackers.  This may have already transpired but the conditions of the request probably required that it not be released to the media, and hence the aura of an unsolved mystery is being intentionally maintained.

The political situation to which the hijacking relates, in my opinion, would be one in either Maylasia (where Flight 370's pilot was known to be a supporter of a recently convicted opponent of the government) or a country whose population includes a minority which feels it is being oppressed.  This would include China or one of the adjacent central Asian republics such as Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan or even the Pakistani province of Balochistan, where insurgency also involves Iran.  I would think that our intelligence services are seeking this answer right now, if they do not already have it.   Of course, Flight 370 need not have actually landed in any of these places for pressure to be applied to these governments.

I believe Flight 370, probably hidden under tarpaulins, is possibly somewhere on this map where there are plenty of isolated airports with runways long enough to handle the missing 777.

Okay, this is my guesswork on the hijacking of Flight 370.  Perhaps by the time this appears on the blog, some wreckage might be located or in some other way, the mystery will have been solved.  But as of the time I am writing this, you now have my thoughts as to what has happened thus far. 

As for what will happen in the future, nations do not readily give in to hijackers' and hostage-holders' demands which I suspect will be, or already have been, made.  A military attack will be made on the plane as negotiations proceed, in which the hijackers and many of the passengers being held as hostages, unfortunately, will be killed.  

But if I am entirely wrong in my guesswork, and if the scenario I suggest does not play out within the next few months, I would then revise my opinion to one believing that the plane is somewhere on the bottom of the sea, as a result of a hijacking "gone wrong."

Jack Lippman
The Crimean Annexation

  Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin’s annexing the Crimea to Russia was not a nice thing to do.  But this is the kind of thing which has been going on in Europe and Asia for centuries, and as annexations go, this was a pretty benign event.   I’ve always thought of the Crimea as part of Russia, although it is separated from it geographically by the Ukraine, just as Alaska is separated geographically from the rest of the United States by Canada.  The Yalta Conference in 1945 at the end of World War Two was in the Crimea which everyone recognized as part of the Soviet Union at that time.  Ask someone where Yalta was and they'll say it was in Russia ... and it was, in 1945.

To make administration simpler, the Soviet Union in the days of Nikita Kruschev made the Crimea part of the Ukraine, rather than Russia, both of which were part of the U.S.S.R., so it really didn’t matter very much. 

When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, however, and the Ukraine became an independent nation for the first time, it did begin to matter since the vast majority of the Crimea’s residents were Russians and not Ukrainians and felt uncomfortable being ruled from Kiev rather than Moscow, using Ukrainian currency and receiving Ukrainian government services, which weren’t as good as those provided by Russia.  That is why, when Putin had them vote on the annexation in an attempt to legitimatize his "putsch," they overwhelmingly approved it, with only the small minority of Ukrainians and Tatars who live there objecting.

  The map tells the story

It's not unlike the population of Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties in Florida, where a very large number of transplanted Northerners live, feeling unloved by a Legislature in Tallahassee which runs the state like a rural banana republic.  Hence, I can understand how the Crimeans have felt.  (If you are a South Floridian, would you vote for the three South Florida counties to secede and form their own state or be annexed by a "more progressive" northern state?) This, of course, doesn’t justify Putin’s brazen and illegal behavior, but it does serve to further educate us as to the kind of person he is and what he is capable of, if we were not already aware of those facts.

There is little we can do, or could have done, about the annexation since the Crimeans don’t seem to mind.  It should, hopefully, encourage us to work diplomatically and economically toward the survival of the rest of the Ukraine as an independent state, one with greater ties to the West.  We had been doing exactly that, and possibly, that was the motivation for Russia’s annexation of the Crimea.  The Russian Black Sea fleet is based there, and therefore, they could not risk the Ukraine becoming any closer to the European Union, with NATO membership a possibility in the future.


Delaware Man Writes Own Obituary

News reaches us that a gentleman from Delaware, who passed away early in March, had prepared his own obituary in advance of his demise.  It was published in the Cape Gazette, a local newspaper in Southern Delaware.  Obviously, the date of his death and the number of years he was married were written in by a relative, the funeral director or some other interested party.  I found it interesting (particularly the part about the Jack Daniels) and perhaps you will as well.  You might have to dig up a magnifying glass to read it, but it's worth it.



The Democrats' Dilemma

Democrats running for office in 2014 are afraid that they will suffer at the polls and many will lose to Republicans because of the G.O.P.’s tactic of tying any Democratic candidate to that evil of all evils, that diseased monster known as Obamacare, forced upon us by that dictator in the White House and his blind followers in Congress back in 2010!  And sadly, it is very possible that the gullible out there, backed by the charlatans from the nation’s most popular news sources, Fox and its Wall Street Journal and New York Post cousins, will believe that garbage and give us a Republican Senate later this year.

There is so much untruth out there, repeated day in and day out, that it becomes believable.  And  a large number of Americans will believe anything, so long as it is repeated often enough to them on TV or in colorful magazines. 

That’s why there are still so many smokers out there, particularly among young people, so many addicts of worthless sugar-filled breakfast cereals, so many drinkers of carbonated beverages with their damaging sweeteners, be they sugar or its chemistry-set of substitutes, so many soup drinkers who ignore the fact that a typical can contains about a quarter of one’s days salt requirement and so many devotees of carbohydrate and fat laden pizzas that we are deep into an obesity epidemic!!

And if they say that Obamacare is bad often enough, people begin to think it is.  Here’s the truth, though!  OBAMACARE IS NOT BAD.  IT IS GOOD AND HERE IS WHY.

Here is a summary of all of the things which supposedly are “bad” about Obamacare (or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, which is its correct name) and which the G.O.P. uses to attack Democratic candidates.

a.    The “roll-out” of the computer system which was to enable Americans to evaluate what plans and subsidies they qualified for, and through which they might apply to individual insurance companies (not the government) for policies, was a disaster.  
b.  Obamacare takes away individual rights by mandating that individuals have health insurance or pay a tax penalty.  It forces them to buy something they don’t want to buy. 

c.  Obamacare forces businesses over a certain size to purchase insurance for employees, something they formerly did but only on a voluntary basis, resulting in many businesses reducing work forces, hours and changing many employees into consultants, and increasing unemployment.

d.    Obamacare forces insurance companies to issue policies, to both individuals and businesses, which meet certain minimum standards which results in higher premiums than if they were not required to meet such standards. (examples: pre-existing conditions are covered, no one is declined coverage, no lifetime maximums, dependent children includable up to age 26.  These things don't come at no cost.)

e.    Obamacare has resulted in the cancellation of many individual policies which people have had for years, because the insurance companies chose not to meet these standards, even though the policyholders want to keep them.

f.       Obamacare has not been administered in a fair manner, with exceptions being made for individuals and businesses which could not meet its requirements, being given an extra year or two to do so.

And for all of these reasons, Republicans maintain that Obamacare is a disaster for which any Democrat who runs for office must share responsibility.  They lie.  They refuse to offer an alternative to the Affordable Care Act which will provide all Americans with the opportunity to have health insurance on a more favorable basis than they have today.  The only interest the Republican Party ever has is to reduce spending so that taxes on the very highest brackets and businesses can be reduced.  That is behind every move the G.O.P. makes.  When they oppose women’s rights, gun control or immigration, they are just doing so to recruit support for their primary, basic interest, that of reducing spending and lowering taxes.  Without that driving force, the Republican Party would dissolve.  By opposing Obamacare and convincing people it is "bad," they hope to pick up votes for their traditional A.S.P. (Anti Spending Party) positions.

But let’s now address those phony criticisms of the Affordable Care Act listed above.

a.    The disastrous “roll out” of Obamacare was unfortunate.  It was overly dependent on technology.  But that should not be a condemnation of the law itself.  (On this blog, I recommended that enrollment be done by insurance agents and insurers directly.)  By now, the system is operating effectively.  I still maintain that an ordinary individual needs counseling in selecting a plan, but this is not a reason to throw the plan into the trash can, a basic Republican position.

b. The alternative to “mandating” that everyone purchase health insurance (approved by the Supreme Court) would be for the government to provide it for everyone as is done in socialist countries.  It is unacceptable that we, in the wealthiest nation in the world, have people who depend on Emergency Rooms for their health care and the transferring of their unpaid bills over to those who have insurance.  Instead of going the socialist route, Obamacare solves the problem by mandating insurance purchases in the private market.  You drive a car?  By law, you must have auto insurance.  You have a body?  By law (the Affordable Care Act), you must have health insurance.  What is wrong with that?  And if you're too poor to afford it, there are subsidies available. (and this causes anti-spending Republicans to tear out their hair.  Note how many G.O.P. Congressmen are bald.)

Texas Congressman Gohmert is an example of G.O.P. Congressman who have torn out their hair opposing Obamacare.
c.    Businesses sometimes try to cut hours, reduce workforce size and other methods to avoid having to purchase employee health insurance.   Some businesses are frequently penalized for violating various other laws (Occupational Health and Safety rules - OSHA, health department rules, environmental rules).  Businesses that pollute the air or water, have dirty kitchens or unsafe working conditions do so to increase profit.  Trying to be similarly devious in regard to providing employee health insurance is equally unacceptable.  If rules have to be broken to stay profitable, perhaps the business should not be in business.  But this is a criticism of some businessmen, not of Obamacare, and not a reason to condemn it. 

d. The minimum standards that the Affordable Care Act requires of insurance companies are good things.   Even with them, these companies can make their products more affordable by tweaking the cost of their policies with variations in co-payments and deductibles. Most importantly, they are not allowed to issue policies which might enable them to someday say to an insured, “Sorry, but that’s not covered” or "We're dropping you."  This is a good thing, and not something warranting criticism of Obamacare.

e.    Yes, some insurance companies have chosen to cancel policies rather than meet the law’s requirements.  If they did comply, they would not be able to cancel these policies, ever. And their being able to do so is one of the reasons why their policies are probably less expensive than those which meet Obamacare’s standards.  Allowing individuals to keep such policies, which might include limitations on amounts paid out and the annual risk of cancellation, is like the Coast Guard approving a vessel to go to sea with leaky lifeboats. Obamacare is aimed at getting such policies replaced by better and affordable policies.  It should not be criticized for this.  Any criticism should be directed at the companies which sell such "junk" policies, not at Obamacare.  Those who buy them do so only because of their low prices, and will be better served by policies meeting the Affordable Care Act's standards. 
f.  Sure, some exceptions in terms of delaying compliance deadlines have been made in the areas of individual policies not meeting the Act’s standards and certain employers not having  to provide health insurance to employees.  But these are postponements.  They indicate that Obamacare is being administered in an understanding, if not compassionate, manner.  If compliance is impossible right now,  perhaps it will be easier in a year or two.  But that is not a criticism of the things the Act does to improve the health options of all Americans.

But the Republican Party does not understand these things.  And many voters out there do not either.  It will be the job of the Democratic Party in 2014 to convince Americans that Obamacare is a good thing, and not something to be afraid of.   Not enabling it to succeed is the same as saying that a less healthy America is perfectly acceptable.  It may be to many Republicans but it is not to me.  


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