Yes, Virginia, Medicaid Expansion Will Harm the Poor

Last week, Virginia’s general assembly voted to expand Medicaid under the auspices of Obamacare. The commonwealth’s legislators had wisely resisted doing so for years, but four GOP state senators broke ranks to vote for this bill in exchange for a provision stipulating an anemic work requirement. The “news” media have, of course, touted this betrayal as a victory for the poor. It is however, precisely the reverse. Expansion will consign thousands of truly poor and disabled Virginians to purgatorial Medicaid waiting lists while advancing able-bodied adults with incomes above the federal poverty level (FPL) to the front of the line.

Why would Virginia pursue such an obviously unjust policy? Like all Democratic programs, it’s about power and money. Obamacare incentivizes expansion states to shift Medicaid’s focus to able-bodied adults by paying over 90 percent of their coverage costs, while the federal share of costs for traditional Medicaid patients remains below 60 percent. This does not mean, however, that doctors and hospitals will receive more money. Providers will continue to be paid less by Medicaid than the cost of treatment whether the patients are expansion or traditional enrollees. The extra money will go to political slush funds and insurance companies.

Medicaid expansion doesn’t work like the original program, which was administered by the states as a safety net for poor children, pregnant women, the disabled, and the elderly. Management of Obamacare’s corrupted version of the program is farmed out to insurance companies. A typical example is Wellcare, which accrued over $10.6 billion in 2017 from its coverage of able-bodied adults. The company plans to reinvest $2.5 billion of that revenue in the acquisition of Meridian Health Plans of Illinois and Michigan, which will increase its Medicaid portfolio by 37 percent. Meanwhile, truly poor patients die on waiting lists.

This is not conjecture. A recent study, conducted by the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA), revealed that at least 21,904 Americans have withered away and died on Medicaid waiting lists in the states that expanded the program under Obamacare. Even worse, the 21,904 figure reported in the study almost certainly understates the true death toll. A number of expansion states were somehow “unable” to provide FGA with death totals, while others implausibly claimed that there were none to report. It is nonetheless clear that Medicaid waiting lists in expansion states constitute a kind of death row for the genuinely poor.

The worst carnage has occurred just north of the Beltway. Maryland is easily the deadliest state for traditional Medicaid applicants, chalking up no fewer than 8,495 deaths among individuals languishing on its waiting list. During the same time period, even as these patients were left to die, the bureaucrats of the Old Line State enrolled very nearly 300,000 able-bodied adults under the aegis of Obamacare. Louisiana took second place in killing its traditional Medicaid patients. The Pelican State reported 5,534 deaths among the unfortunates who wound up on its waiting list, while 451,000 able-bodied adults were enrolled under Obamacare’s expansion.

Additional states whose Medicaid waiting lists have killed a thousand or more people include New Mexico, where 2,031 poor and disabled patients died while the state signed up 259,537 enrollees under Obamacare’s expansion scheme. Michigan left 1,970 of its residents to die while enrolling 665,057 in its new and improved Medicaid program. West Virginia allowed 1,093 patients to die on its waiting list while signing up 181,105 able-bodied enrollees. The remaining expansion states are mere also-rans with death tolls ranging from Iowa’s paltry 989 down to Minnesota, which managed to leave only 15 of its poor and disabled citizens for dead.

This is the august company Virginia’s General Assembly chose to join last week. The Old Dominion will become the 33rd state to take Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion bait, demonstrating that the commonwealth’s politicians have learned little or nothing from the deadly experiences of the previous states that were gaffed by their own greed. Those Medicaid expansion states still have nearly 250,000 poor, disabled, and elderly individuals wasting away on waiting lists. Yet Obamacare advocates in Utah, Idaho, and Nebraska — blissfully unaware of the death tolls quoted above — are working to pass expansion in November via referenda.

Maine activists have already tricked the voters of the Pine Tree State into passing a referendum approving expansion, but the program hasn’t been implemented because Governor Paul Lepage has refused to go forward: “My administration will not implement Medicaid expansion until it has been fully funded by the Legislature at the levels DHHS has calculated, and I will not support increasing taxes on Maine families.” This speaks to one of expansion’s most profound ironies. Even if Washington continues footing most of the bill, herding the able-bodied into Medicaid is a budget buster for the states. It nearly broke Maine the last time they tried it.

Medicaid expansion under Obamacare privileges able-bodied adults with incomes above FPL, states can’t pay for it in the long haul, and it causes the genuinely poor to be dumped onto waiting lists where they quietly die in their thousands. Yet the Old Dominion’s newly-minted Governor, Ralph Northam, will gleefully sign an expansion bill into law this week as the leaders of his party and the media beam benevolently from on high. His name may even be uttered by the Great Mentioner as potential presidential material. For any Democrat, that’s certainly well worth a little inequity, the occasional budget deficit, and a few thousand human sacrifices.

The post Yes, Virginia, Medicaid Expansion Will Harm the Poor appeared first on The American Spectator.

Read more from The American Spectator…

Of Morality And Marshmallows

The Atlantic reports on a new study suggesting that the famous “marshmallow test” is unreliable as a predictor of future economic instability. Excerpt:

In the case of this new study, specifically, the failure to confirm old assumptions pointed to an important truth: that circumstances matter more in shaping children’s lives than Mischel and his colleagues seemed to appreciate.

This new paper found that among kids whose mothers had a college degree, those who waited for a second marshmallow did no better in the long run—in terms of standardized test scores and mothers’ reports of their children’s behavior—than those who dug right in. Similarly, among kids whose mothers did not have college degrees, those who waited did no better than those who gave in to temptation, once other factors like household income and the child’s home environment at age 3 (evaluated according to a standard research measure that notes, for instance, the number of books that researchers observed in the home and how responsive mothers were to their children in the researchers’ presence) were taken into account. For those kids, self-control alone couldn’t overcome economic and social disadvantages.

The failed replication of the marshmallow test does more than just debunk the earlier notion; it suggests other possible explanations for why poorer kids would be less motivated to wait for that second marshmallow. For them, daily life holds fewer guarantees: There might be food in the pantry today, but there might not be tomorrow, so there is a risk that comes with waiting. And even if their parents promise to buy more of a certain food, sometimes that promise gets broken out of financial necessity.

Maybe so. But might it also be the case that children raised in more affluent homes will have been taught the value of resisting their impulses? I say this because one of my own children has had a very demanding sweet tooth from earliest childhood. He is also impulsive by nature. It has taken years of effort on the part of his mother and me to train him to say no to his impulses — not only for sugar, but, as he has gotten older and started earning spending money, his enthusiasms for buying things that strike his fancy. Many times I have pondered the difficulty he is going to have managing his money if he doesn’t get this impulsiveness under control. He’s a very good kid, highly moral and responsible, but impulsiveness is his Achilles’ heel.

He’s not being raised in poverty. We are middle class people, but culturally I guess that puts us with more in common with the affluent than not. Our impulsive child has been raised in a stable household — materially and emotionally — so there are no environmental factors that nurture his impulsiveness. From an Orthodox Christian point of view, this is simply one of his passions, something he has to struggle against. I have my own particular passions (anger and gluttony). Orthodoxy teaches that life itself is a struggle to crucify the passions and order ones desires towards the will of God. There is nothing wrong in principle with wanting to eat a marshmallow, but if your reason and your will are overcome by that desire to eat a marshmallow, you are weak, and can fall into sin. The regular fasting that Orthodox Christians do is designed to train the will to desire what God desires for us, not what we desire for ourselves.

Anyway, all of that is prelude to what I want to tell you. Last night, I was at a dinner party with some friends. One of them, N., told a long story about a local carpenter she and her husband had hired to do some renovations on their house. I won’t tell the story in depth, because the story is hers to tell, and she’s a writer. The gist of the story is that N. and her husband have been working with this guy for a long time — it’s a big project — and have gotten to know him well. He’s working class, and economically quite precarious. N. said the man has become a friend, and that she and her husband have been working hard to help him stabilize his life.

N. said — again, I’m summing up, but the details are sort of breathtaking — that the carpenter’s personal life is a study in chaos. He cannot grasp that he has the power to determine future events by the choices he makes today. A sense of moral agency totally escapes him. He sees N.’s ordinary family — they have kids — and thinks that they are simply one of fate’s winners. N. talked about the extraordinary lengths she and her husband have gone to befriend and to help this man, but how ultimately it has been futile. No matter what they say to him, no matter what they do for him, he cannot get it together. And he is leaving all kinds of chaos in his wake (several wives, kids, etc.).

I told N. that my wife and I have been in the very same situation, trying to help someone just like that who had become a friend … and in the end, concluding that it was futile. I wrote about it in the past on this blog: how I had gone to my lawyer, offering to pay him to represent this impoverished friend in a particular case. Lawyer said he would take my money and meet with the friend, but that in his lengthy experience with these cases, he could tell me that I’d be wasting my money and his time, because my friend would not follow through. It’s in the nature of people who get themselves into these kinds of situations, he said, to keep doing what got them into that situation in the first place. I told him I would be willing to take that chance to help her.

Next time I saw this friend, I told her to make an appointment with Lawyer X., that he would be willing to advise her, and that I would pay the bill. She thanked me profusely, but said that wouldn’t be necessary that she had decided to … well, that she had decided to keep doing the same stupid thing that got her into this bind in the first place. The country lawyer’s practical experience in dealing with the poor was wiser than my heart-on-the-sleeve idealism. Not for the first time did I feel like a character in a Flannery O’Connor story. (My future epitaph: “Call me Azzberry”.)

At dinner last night, my friend and I dwelled on the intractability of human nature in cases like this. She said that she had to conclude that a stable family life in childhood provides psychological goods that cannot be given through any other way. There aren’t enough government programs, personal charitable efforts, or anything else to compensate adequately for a chaotic childhood. My friend was certainly not saying that we can wash our hands of the responsibility for our neighbor’s welfare, but she was concluding — accurately — that we have to recognize the limits of our ability to change the lives of others. She was also saying that her experience with the carpenter made her more fully aware of how important it is to do everything she can to give her own children a stable home life.

Notice that I’m not saying — nor did I hear her to say — “affluent” home life. My folks never had a lot of money. We were an ordinary working-class to lower-middle-class family. But the gift my mother and father gave me of an orderly, stable childhood was priceless, I now see. How did they do it? They were both imperfect people who endured their share of difficulties in marriage, caused by their own flaws, as well as a period of economic stress. My father is no longer with us to discuss the matter, but the truth is, neither one of them would have been given over to much self-reflection on the question. They were the kind of people who would have simply said, “We made a vow,” and left it at that. For them, that was reason enough to stay together — that, and they always made it clear that the needs of us kids came before their own. That was just how my folks went through life. Not to get too philosophical about it, but for them, that was the Tao.

That wouldn’t have guaranteed stability in my family’s or my late sister’s, but they gave us such a good model of how family was supposed to work. Again, I don’t want to hold my mom and dad out to have been perfect. I don’t think there are any perfect families, and certainly mine had its particular flaws, some of which had unfortunate long-term consequences. That said, I am so very grateful to my parents for holding things together, and showing my sister and me that it is possible to build that kind of life, even when you don’t have much money.

My father was the chief breadwinner in our household, and, because they were a traditional 1950s-era couple, he was the one who dictated how our financial resources would be handled. I find this interesting with relation to the Atlantic article because having grown up very poor in the Great Depression, he ought to have been shaped by the experience of inconstancy in a particular way. Remember, the Atlantic writer said:

There might be food in the pantry today, but there might not be tomorrow, so there is a risk that comes with waiting. And even if their parents promise to buy more of a certain food, sometimes that promise gets broken out of financial necessity.

That’s how my father grew up, but that same experience made him far more likely to do what he could to hedge against chaos. He talked to Ruthie and me a lot about these things, relating him to his childhood. His own father was away from home for most of my dad’s early childhood, entirely because he had to work and send money back to support his wife, children, and elderly mother, who lived in the household. That sense of vulnerability made a profound impression on my dad, who was determined that his children would not feel it, if he could help it.

Daddy wasn’t unique in that. What I can’t quite understand today is why his response to childhood poverty and insecurity was so very different from what is normal today. That is, Daddy’s response was to live as an adult in such a way that he was less vulnerable to that chaos, and in which his own children were made less vulnerable to the chaos that would have come had outside pressures broken the family apart. I’ve written many times in this space about how he had deep compassion for people who were poor and suffering victims of circumstance, but also something bordering on contempt for people who were poor and suffering, but who always blamed others, or fate, for their suffering. He would say, “You can’t do nothin’ for people like that.” This was the opinion of a man who had once been poor, and who had lived his entire life in the same community as poor people, and working with them. Kind of like that country lawyer I mentioned above.

It seems to me that aside from his personal qualities, my father was the beneficiary of a local culture that, for better or for worse, had a strong bias against people living morally disordered lives. I should add that my dad had much more hostility towards middle class and wealthy people who lived that way. “They know better,” he would say. “They don’t have an excuse.” In his case, it wasn’t so much a matter of religion — my dad wasn’t particularly observant — as it was a matter of shame and honor. The culture that shaped my father’s code said it was dishonorable for men and women to live in ways that violated its core moral code. I heard my dad say on a number of occasions, “There’s no shame in being poor,” but he also spoke with stern judgment against men who abandoned their families, people who wouldn’t work, and so forth.

That code could be harsh, but it was more realistic about life than a lot of what passes for wisdom today. I think that has a lot to do with why Jordan Peterson is so popular. He gives to young men a sense of moral agency. Peterson is not Moses coming down from the summit of Sinai, but he talks common sense to a culture that has forgotten it. There has never been a society, and never will be a society, in which somebody can live like a fool and not pay the consequences — and for that matter, inflict consequences on others. You can’t not show up for work and expect to keep your job forever. You can’t ignore your kids and expect that they will grow up to be responsible people. You can’t get loaded every weekend and wonder why your roof is falling in, and won’t fix itself. You can’t allow television and social media to raise your children, and expect that they will be good.  And so forth.

“The world doesn’t owe you a living,” my father would lecture me, usually when I hadn’t done my homework, or failed to do something I was supposed to have done. I suppose this attitude is what made my dad a natural conservative. He couldn’t stand people who were ungrateful and lazy. His basic attitude towards us kids was: I bust my ass to provide for y’all, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let you waste the opportunities you’ve been given. There was a time in my life when I thought he was so square, but the older I get, the more I see that there really isn’t any other way to live. My dad was keen to help people who were down on their luck, and I see now that he allowed himself to be taken advantage of by some folks with hard-luck stories. Mostly, though, what he was eager to do was to teach people how to help themselves, and to encourage them to do so. For him, this was a matter of natural justice. A society in which people were rewarded even though they did the wrong thing, or failed to do the right thing, was not a just or good society. And doing the right thing always meant subjugating your own desires to the greater good, especially the greater good of your family.

Here’s a funny thing: a few years back, when I was working with the African-American actor Wendell Pierce on his memoir of growing up in south Louisiana, I spent some time speaking with his Uncle L.C. Edwards, the last surviving member of Wendell’s parents’ generation. Uncle L.C. was the same age as my father, and like him, had grown up in rural poverty. I loved the stories of L.C.’s parents (that is, Wendell’s grandparents): poor black farmers who weren’t educated, but who had a very strong religious ethic, and who placed enormous value on education and self-discipline as the only reliable means of self-advancement. Poverty was the enemy of both L.C. and my father, but Lloyd and his siblings also had to deal with Jim Crow. If memory serves, every one of the children of Wendell’s grandparents got educated, and escaped poverty. I’m telling you, the chapter on Papo and Mamo (the grandchildren’s name for L.C.’s parents) is worth the price of the book. Here’s a characteristic excerpt:

One Christmas evening after supper, the Edwardses went to call on their College Point neighbors, to wish them a happy holiday. The kids were startled to go into one house and to see that all that family had eaten for their Christmas meal was potatoes and grits. When they returned home, Papo told the children, “This is what I mean when I tell you it’s important to save for a rainy day. If you put your money aside now, you will have enough to eat well on Christmas.”

Given the man Papo was, if the Edwardses had any food left, he probably took it to that poor family and didn’t tell his own children for the sake of preserving their neighbors’ dignity.

His children remembered Papo as a slow talker but a deep thinker. He never made a quick decision, but acted only after prayer, deliberation, and sleeping on it. Whatever the answer was, he arrived at it through careful reason, not passion. Acting on impulse was the sure way to lose your money, in Papo’s view.

Papo worked for a time in a sugar factory and received his weekly wages in a brown packet. He had a firm rule with himself: Wait twenty-four hours before spending a penny of it. Uncle L.C. said that as a young working man, he thought his father’s rule was silly. You have the money, he figured, so why not enjoy it?

But when he got married and started a family of his own, he understood Papo’s good sense and followed the rule himself. Uncle L.C., who worked at the DuPont chemical plant, has done well through saving and investing over the years. To this day, he credits Papo for teaching him by word and example the importance of being careful with your money and not letting your passions guide your decisions.

Talking with L.C. was like speaking with a black version of my own father. Though he had long been in retirement when I met him, L.C. was always thinking of ways he could make a little money. He told me about how he would take fatherless black boys from a nearby trailer park, and try to teach them something about working to make money and to plan for the future. He told me how sorry he felt for those young men, who had no father in the home to offer them direction, or a sense of responsible manhood.

But his pity had strict limits. Like my own father, L.C. was death on those who wouldn’t work or practice self-discipline. He told me about how his own wife, a retired public schoolteacher, quit her job the very day the last of their adult children no longer needed their help paying for college. She was of a generation for whom education was the most precious thing, their ticket out of poverty and oppression. Today, though, she was worn down by students who wouldn’t work, wouldn’t behave themselves, and parents who blamed the schools and the teachers for their kids’ failures.

American culture is far less friendly to the worldview of those Depression babies like L.C. and my father. Politics and economics are complicated things. You can’t simply apply a moral code to every situation, and expect it to solve the problem. But let’s recognize this: very few Americans in 2018 are as materially poor as my dad and L.C. Edwards were when they came into this world in the 1930s. Is there anybody in America today who is poorer than a black child born to uneducated farmers living in the Deep South under American apartheid? And yet, look what they did with what they had been given! There never will be a society in which family won’t matter, and in which moral self-discipline won’t matter. 

The wealthy, and those with social connections, can absorb a lot more disorder than the less well off can, but money won’t last forever.

The world we have today is wealthier, and in some ways is better able to defray the cost of that disorder. We have more of a social safety net today than we did back then. But this world is much poorer in social capital, which is not something you can raise from Chinese bankers.

There’s a lot of brokenness in this country, and no clear way to fix it. The people my dinner companion and I were talking about last night are white. They live in Charles Murray’s fictional Fishtown. They diverge greatly from the core values and practices of stable middle-class and well-off Americans, in ways that were not true a couple of generations ago. Society has grown far more individualistic and tolerant of non-conformity. This is not entirely a bad thing! But the cost to people who don’t have a lot of social and material capital to begin with has been immense. People love to imagine that if only we brought good jobs back to America, or voted in this or that political party, then these problems would solve themselves. I don’t believe that’s true. That’s no reason not to try to improve opportunities for people, but there are no government programs or private charitable initiatives that can meaningfully compensate for the loss of a sense of moral order and purpose.

Finally, I phrase occurred to me while writing this post, a fragment from something I’d read ages ago. I googled it, and the source turned up here. Here is the excerpt I was thinking about. The writer is talking about the 1950s:

It was a more human world in that it was a sexier world, because sex was still a story. Each high school senior class had exactly one girl who got pregnant and one guy who was the father, and it was the town’s annual scandal. Either she went somewhere and had the baby and put it up for adoption, or she brought it home as a new baby sister, or the couple got married and the town topic changed. It was a stricter, tougher society, but its bruising sanctions came from ancient wisdom.

We have all had a moment when all of a sudden we looked around and thought: The world is changing, I am seeing it change. This is for me the moment when the new America began: I was at a graduation ceremony at a public high school in New Jersey. It was 1971 or 1972. One by one a stream of black-robed students walked across the stage and received their diplomas. And a pretty young girl with red hair, big under her graduation gown, walked up to receive hers. The auditorium stood up and applauded. I looked at my sister: “She’s going to have a baby.”

The girl was eight months pregnant and had had the courage to go through with her pregnancy and take her finals and finish school despite society’s disapproval.

But: Society wasn’t disapproving. It was applauding. Applause is a right and generous response for a young girl with grit and heart. And yet, in the sound of that applause I heard a wall falling, a thousand-year wall, a wall of sanctions that said: We as a society do not approve of teenaged unwed motherhood because it is not good for the child, not good for the mother and not good for us.

The old America had a delicate sense of the difference between the general (“We disapprove”) and the particular (Let’s go help her”). We had the moral self-confidence to sustain the paradox, to sustain the distance between “official” disapproval and “unofficial” succor. The old America would not have applauded the girl in the big graduation gown, but some of its individuals would have helped her not only materially but with some measure of emotional support. We don’t so much anymore. For all our tolerance and talk we don’t show much love to what used to be called girls in trouble. As we’ve gotten more open-minded we’ve gotten more closed-hearted.

Message to society: What you applaud, you encourage. And: Watch out what you celebrate.

The author of those words is Peggy Noonan. She published them in, get this, 1992. Some things have gotten better over the last 26 years. For example, when she published this, David Dinkins was mayor of her town, New York City, and the city would record just over 2,000 homicides. Know how many the city recorded last year, 25 years after the column was published? Only 290.  Progress is real!

On the other hand, I can’t get out of my head the words spoken to me by a professor at an Evangelical Christian college. Speaking about the student body, which is predominantly white, he told me that he didn’t think most of them would ever be able to form stable families. I was shocked by this.These were not kids from the blighted projects or wretched rural trailer parks. Why not? I asked.

He said, “Because they have never seen it done.”

We live in a society in which the moral code that we applaud and the people we celebrate all say: Take the marshmallow now, and don’t worry about the future. This is going to cost us.

Read more from The American Conservative…

‘Material issue’ delays USS Ronald Reagan’s upcoming deployment

America’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier’s upcoming deployment will be delayed because of a “material issue,” the Navy said Thursday.

The USS Ronald Reagan returned to its Yokosuka homeport Thursday after completing a week of pre-deployment sea trials. That same day, the service announced that carrier-landing practice would be delayed, partly to address an issue that arose on the ship over the past week.

“USS Ronald Reagan successfully completed Sea Trials on [Thursday]. However, during operational testing and verification of all systems during Sea Trials, a material issue was identified that requires repair,” said Lt. Cmdr. Matt Knight, a Task Force 70 spokesman. “The repair will result in a delay to the scheduled departure date for USS Ronald Reagan and Carrier Strike Group 5.”

Knight did not provide further details about the issue, including how long the delay was expected to last.

A separate Navy statement issued Thursday announced that carrier-landing drills for Carrier Air Wing 5 pilots were being delayed for “operational reasons.” The day-and-night training that enables them to meet qualifications was originally scheduled to take place May 3-13, mostly at Iwo Jima – a remote island known in Japan as Iwo To.

After the land-based training, the pilots were to conduct day and night landings on the Ronald Reagan, Knight told Stars and Stripes in an email last month.

The majority of the training is still expected to take place on Iwo Jima when new dates are announced, the Navy said.

Aircraft involved include F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornet strike jets, EA-18G Growler electronic warfare planes, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye early warning aircraft and C-2A Greyhound transports.

During the sea trials, the Ronald Reagan’s crew practiced high-speed turns and precision anchoring and tested the ship’s self-defense weapons system.

Capt. Buzz Donnelly, the Ronald Reagan’s commanding officer, said the ship “performed remarkably well.”

“The crew’s training and preparation was a primary factor during all of the evolutions, and they should feel very good about the fact that they came in well-prepared and executed as well as they did,” he said in a Navy statement.

———

© 2018 Stars and Stripes

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Read more from American Military News…

Border Patrol supervisor arrested in child porn case

U.S. prosecutors in New Mexico say a supervisory U.S. Border Patrol agent is being held in a federal child pornography case. The office says 45-year-old Jason Christopher Davis of Las Cruces, New Mexico, made his first federal court appearance Friday on a criminal complaint charging him with receipt of material containing or constituting child pornography.

Read more from Border Patrol…

The Tragedy Of Whitney Houston

I was not a fan of Whitney Houston, the megastar who died of a drug overdose six years ago. I thought at the time, “Oh, how sad, another star who couldn’t handle fame and money.” There’s a new documentary out now about her life and death, and this interview with the director made me feel more compassion for her.

It turns out that her family — her brothers — and others around her were saturated by drug abuse. It was everywhere when she was coming up. She wanted to be part of the fun. The director says that in interviewing 70 people for this movie, he was struck by how much latent guilt there seemed to be in everyone. They know that they had a hand in what happened to her.

The part that really got to me, though, was the revelation that Whitney Houston was sexually abused in childhood by her now-deceased cousin Dee-Dee Warwick, sister of Dionne Warwick. Excerpt:

It’s one of Whitney’s brothers who brings up the abuse allegations. How did you feel when you uncovered that piece of information?

I first began to suspect that there might be some kind of abuse involved before anyone had actually told me. I just had a sense, having sat watching interviews about her, watching footage of her. I had a feeling that there was something wrong with her. There was something preventing her, in some way, from expressing her real self. She felt uncomfortable in her own skin in almost every interview there was with her. And I thought that was a very strange thing, and it kind of reminded me of people I’d seen who had suffered from abuse, just in their body language and their sense of holding something back. That was just an intuition, and then somebody mentioned it off-camera to me. They wouldn’t talk about it on camera, but they said Whitney had said to her that something had happened.

And for a long time, that was where it lay. I didn’t know whether that was true. And then I interviewed Pat Houston and Gary Houston, who’s Whitney’s brother. He told me that he was abused by a woman in the family, and Pat Houston told me that, yes, Whitney had said to her, “This is what happened.” So at that stage, I’d had the confirmation that something had happened, but I didn’t know who it was. And then, on the next interview, Gary did tell me who it was. This was at the very end of filming, two weeks before we locked the cut. Then I [interviewed] Mary Jones, who was Whitney’s longtime assistant [throughout] the last 10 years of her life, and who knew her better probably better in that period than anybody else. And she told me Whitney’s point of view on this, and what Whitney had told her in detail, and how important she felt it was for understanding Whitney, but how scared everyone was to talk about it. So, yeah, the film changed radically in the last weeks of editing it, which I guess, as a detective, is the result you want.

But, obviously it’s such a disturbing allegation, and we did have a lot of debate about it. How do you present material like this, and how do you do it in a way that’s going to be fair to the family and to somebody who’s accused who is also deceased?

What was the answer to that question?

In the end, we felt that we had three different people saying this. One of them, Gary, was also abused by [the same woman]. So, we felt that having direct testimony of somebody saying, “This happened to me” meant that even if by some incredible stretch of the imagination, Whitney had been lying to everybody else about it, that there was no reason not to go public about it. All the experts I spoke to about this area and this issue told me that it’s best to talk about these things and best for them to be out. That is the current thinking: it may prevent other people being abused in the future, it may give people the courage to come forward and say, “This happened to me, and this was the person who did it.” So there was some nervousness about it to begin with because I didn’t expect to be making a film about somebody who was an entertainer to lead to such a dark place. But once we got there, I felt like we had an obligation to use this.

Read the whole thing.

Whitney Houston famously had a lengthy love affair with Robyn Crawford, her longtime assistant, something the director acknowledges in the interview, though Crawford refused to be interviewed. Was Whitney Houston’s lesbianism tied to her abuse by her female cousin? Or: was the fact that she had same-sex desire compromised by the fact that when she first discovered it, it was in the context of abuse, and therefore it carried with it a special taint in her mind?

The torment of victims of child sexual abuse is something unique and horrifying. This is something anybody who has spent time reading accounts emerging from the church child abuse scandal learns, and never forgets. That poor woman. God bless those who endured, and found healing, not self-destruction. I wonder what would have happened to the singer had she been in a family that had been willing to talk about the abuse, and had not burdened her (and other victims of Dee-Dee Warwick) with the dead weight of keeping a malign secret.

The Houston tragedy makes me realize that one of the biggest ways the church sex abuse story changed me was making me much more hostile to the idea that people (families, churches, etc.) should keep dark and damaging secrets to maintain the façade, both inwardly and outwardly, of normality. It’s a sick system that tells those who were victimized by that system that they have a moral obligation to stay silent to protect the reputation and the stability of that system.

 

Read more from The American Conservative…

Nature Blinds- Stalking Shield and HERO Advantage

Nature Blinds- Stalking Shield and HERO Advantage
Nature Blinds- Stalking Shield and HERO Advantage

Kerrville, TX-(Ammoland.com)- The deer rut is synonymous with freezing weather, when the biggest limiting factor for some hunters is staying warm to remain in the field all day. Heated blinds are ideal for dealing with Mother Nature, but many are obtrusive in contrast to their surroundings.

The Nature Blind Hero provides all the advantages a hunter needs to be successful. Not only are these self-contained blinds warm and dry, but they blend like a chameleon into their surroundings.

The Hero is designed to be aesthetically pleasing to hunters but is simply part of the neighborhood for local deer. The Hero looks like a weathered old tree trunk and will even fool other hunters. It isn’t uncommon for hunting buddies to open and check out the blind in detail to see if it is real wood or a perfect replica.

The Hero is fully insulated and has a carpeted floor. Fully locking doors secures your secret blind, if anyone could find it in the first place.

Nature Blinds specializes in designing and manufacturing realistic, insulated, strong, lightweight, superior quality products, and pride themselves on doing it right here in America.

When hunters design specialty items for hunters the result is well thought out products that not only work but give the user an advantage to be successful. A perfect example of Nature Blinds’ forward thinking and design is the Stalking Shield.

Hunting out of a blind is not for everyone, and those who like to be on the ground, eye-to-eye with their quarry, thrive on spot-and-stalk, or still-hunting techniques. The problem with sneaking in close is getting caught flat-footed before a shot opportunity arises. The Stalking Shield is made to look like a tree trunk, just like the Hero, but is portable, allowing you to stay on the move. With the shield in front, you always look like your surroundings. If a deer lifts its head, it doesn’t spot the hunter or glare of a rifle, it sees natural surroundings, remaining unaware the hunter is one with his shield.

Stalking Shield
Stalking Shield

The Stalking Shield weighs just 8 pounds, allowing you to keep it in front of you while you stealthily slip close to game. To put it in perspective, a 4-quart jug of milk weighs the same. Legendary whitetail hunter, journalist, television host, and biologist, Larry Weishuhn endorses the Stalking Shield as part of his Signature Series.

The Hero and Stalking Shield are made of lightweight, durable material to ensure your blind or shield remain your best hunting tools for years to come.

Product Features:

HERO – MSRP $3,995.00

  • Exterior Height87″
  • Exterior Diameter84″
  • Interior Height84″
  • Interior Diameter64x60″
  • Weight350 lbs

Stalking Shield – MSRP $199.99

  • Width26″
  • Height44″
  • Weight8 lbs

Whether you prefer to sit in a blind or spot-and-stalk your favorite game, Nature Blinds has the comforts and cover to make you more successful.

Nature Blind: Creating innovative replicas of nature

Find all your hunting concealment products at www.natureblinds.com.


About Nature BlindsNature Blinds

Nature Blinds makes ultra-realistic HD hunting blinds, sheds, water tanks and wild game feeders from its location in Kerrville, Texas. Their unique manufacturing approach combines stunning artistic designs, state-of-the-art materials and processes, old-fashioned American Craftsmanship and Christian values.

For more information, please visit WWW.NATUREBLINDS.COM

The post Nature Blinds- Stalking Shield and HERO Advantage appeared first on AmmoLand.com.

Read more from AmmoLand…

Mount Merapi volcano erupts in Indonesia, airport shut down and residents evacuated

The US state of Hawaii is already reeling under the effects of the erupting Kilauea volcano, and now hundreds of residents have been evacuated in Indonesia after Mount Merapi volcano, on the densely populated island of Java, erupted and sent a column of volcanic ash into the atmosphere Friday, May 11. The disaster mitigation agency asked residents living within a radius of 5 km (3 mile) to move to safer locations and shelters. After columns of ash and volcanic material as high as 5,500 meter (18,000 ft) were noticed, the airport in Yogyakarta, the nearest big city to the volcano, was also shut down, reported Reuters.

Read more from Signs of the Times…

House Dems demand answers on LGBT removal from SBA website

From left, Rep. Yvette Clarke and Rep. Nydia VelA zquez are concerned about the LGBT removal from the SBA website. Two House Democrats are demanding answers from the U.S. Small Business Administration over the continued omission of LGBT material from the agency’s website more than a year after the pages were removed.

Read more from Obama Administration Officials…

Security Theater, So Much For Any Expectation of Real Security

Opinion

Sleeping Security Monitor
Security Theater, So Much For Any Expectation of Real Security (file Photo)

Ft Collins, CO –-(Ammoland.com)- Security Theater:

From a friend in MA:

“I recently attended an indoor concert in Boston. Like you, I don’t like crowds, but I made an exception in this case.

Music was canonical and conservative, and the admission price was hefty, so I calculated that attendees would be mostly middle-aged and well-behaved.

Right on the former. Wrong on the latter!

I routinely carry a 1911 in an IWB belt-holster, along with two spare magazines on the opposite side. Also blades, flashlight, OC, etc.

As I approached the venue, I realized that ticket-holders all had to pass-through physical ‘security-screening’ performed by ununiformed, unarmed, minimum-wage private security personnel.

First, each attendee had to have bags searched. Then, ‘wanders’ checked bodies.

Screening was done on the street outside the venue, so I figured I could plead ignorance, if necessary.

It wasn’t!

The ‘bag-screener’ casually looked inside my bag, and waved me through. He didn’t look into the side-pocket, which contained my knives, flashlight, and OC bottle.

The ‘wander’ then asked me if I had any weapons. I didn’t answer.

He then briefly ran his wand over my chest, ignoring my belt area, completely missing my pistol and magazines. Obviously bored, he then waved me through without another word.

So much for any expectation that ‘security guards’ were going to keep me ‘safe’ during the concert!

‘Security’ was a joke, as it usually is. Just a hollow ‘show.’ It is ‘security theater,’ and little else, as you’ve noted before.

Attendees were, sure-enough mostly white and middle class. Most were, in fact, well-behaved and were there to hear the music.

But, there were sufficient number who were loud, vulgar, and otherwise ill-behaved to ruin it for everyone else!

Ushers and ‘security guards’ did nothing about their boisterousness and rowdiness.

In any event, in disgust I left early, but came away with these important lessons reinforced:

1) I’m not going places I can’t be armed. So-called ‘security,’ provided by anyone claiming to provide it, is invariably a lie and a joke!

2) Hooliganism is now so common in our civilization, and so accepted just about everywhere people gather, that you can expect to be physically assaulted in any artistic, sporting, or political venue, and the only thing you can really depend upon is that no one will help you, and nothing will be done about it!”

“At the core, of our nation’s decline is the displacement of the concept that the government exists to protect the liberty of the people, by the fanciful notion that it is responsible for their material well-being.

Once the latter takes hold, there is no intellectual basis for disputing that the government is responsible for ensuring that material well-being is shared by all people equally, except for the fact that that outcome it is impossible to achieve, other than by subjecting everyone (other than those overseeing the system) to being equally impoverished.

That matters little in early stages, when the few Peters are being robbed to pay hordes of voting Pauls.

A side but motivating benefit enjoyed by ruling politicians is that they gain ever-increasing power and simultaneously ever less accountability, as the ‘equality-of-outcomes’ concept advances.” ~ Taussig

/John

Defense Training International, Inc

About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc
As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or in-actions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr. Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit: www.defense-training.com

The post Security Theater, So Much For Any Expectation of Real Security appeared first on AmmoLand.com.

Read more from AmmoLand…