Friday, May 23, 2014

Barker's Pre-Vacation Newsbites: Friday, May 23, 2014


Oh, yeah...! The first vacation since December kicks off tomorrow morning as we head to Richmond, VA. for an overnight and then proceed further south... Charleston, SC. for our yearly sojourn with Pat, Vicki, and The Boys!

Oh, yeah... Husk... here we come!

Between eating, drinking, and general socializing with relatives, friends, and folks we've yet to meet I doubt I'll have much (if any) time for blogging while I'm gone, but... ya never know!

In the meantime... let's see if I can post a few newsbites - and by doing so "reach" some of you who "poo-poo" the social, political, and economic reality that's staring you in the face!

You know the drill - newsbites can be found in the comments section!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Barker's Newsbites: Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Happy Birthday to me...

Happy Birthday to me...

Happy Birthday, dear... er... me...

Happy Birthday to me...!

And Many More...

Monday, May 12, 2014

Barker's Newsbites: Monday, May 12, 2014


Sorry for the lack of newsbites the last few days - what with getting Kim's "American Wedding" back on track in a new venue and work and other stuff I've simply been swamped.

Confession: Facebook has indeed pulled me in!

(*SHRUG*)

In my defense, though, I also write a lot of letters... send out a lot of emails... juggle ongoing conversations with a fair amount of friends and relatives!


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Weekend Newsbites: Sat. & Sun., May 10 & 11, 2014


Hmm... how would my friends (positively) describe me...?

A little of... this...

...that...

...and the other.

(*NOD*)

Yeah... fair enough... heavy on the last one!

(*GUFFAW*)

But, hey... the BodyPump's been workin'! And admit it... when I'm not pissin' people off I can be a bit... er... "charmin'"... in my own way...

(*GRIN*)

Hell... here's a bonus...


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Barker's Newsbites: Wednesday, May 7, 2014


So I'm getting into the car... 

(Hank! My Charger! Hank the HEMI! Inferno Red!)

...following BodyPump and a shower.

Engine purring... sunroof open... windows open... stereo on...

(XM - Channel 6... "The '60's)

...next thing I know "Indian Reservation" is blasting - the original Don Fardon 1968 hit!

So... folks... let me ask you... how's the Great White Father in Washington done in "caring" for the American Indian?

Hmm... black illegitimacy 73%... don't get me started on the other stats...

How has a high degree of "government dependency" worked out for "Black America?" (How's it worked out for "Hispanic America?")

Folks... by and large "government" is incompetent. Even at the local level it seems clear that pothole repair is simply to much to expect from government in a timely manner! Let's not even get started on the waste and fraud in state and federal programs and spending overall!

What's it gonna take for more of you people to see things as I see them - to see things as they truly are?

The more government is empowered... the more America is prone to making the wrong moves at the wrong time for the wrong reasons.

Wake up, people! Wake up "We The People!"


Monday, May 5, 2014

Enough With the Gays Already!


I... don't... hate... Gays.

I believe that you're born as you're born, and that a certain percentage of men and women are born Gay. 

Here's the deal, though... enough with "pushing the agenda." Enough with girls kissing girls, guys kissing guys, and threeways (and beyond!) intruding upon the plot lines of almost every television show I watch!

I'm not a prude, but for Christ's sake... for our childrens' sake... enough with the debauchery...!!!

Parenthood... (the show, not the institution)... the youngest daughter comes home on break from her freshman year of college and all of a sudden she's a lesbian.

Dallas... (the show, not the city)... a cheated upon wife decides the best response to being cheated upon is to show up at the hotel where here husband and his lover are holed up... and join them in a threeway!

Hey... folks... teens, twenty-somethings, thirty-somethings... older folks... can't we keep the aberrant behavior on the down-low as opposed to publicly reveling in it... instead of actually pushing it...?!

The Internet Is For Porn... porn is not for family-hour TV... nor prime-time TV... nor even late-night TV.

I don't care what people do for sex kicks. Knock yourselves out! But for God's sake, stop trying to drag mainstream America down the road of "Anything Goes."

Hypocrisy has its place in a civilized society! Every vice practiced behind closed doors in private doesn't need to be "celebrated" under the bright light of day! And though I know many of you don't consider homosexuality as a "vice" (hey... scroll back up to my opening sentence... and to my second sentence), it is "abnormal" behavior not to be "celebrated" as just another lifestyle "option."

Again... I'm not saying homosexuals should be discriminated against or shunned. I'm just saying... "Cool It!"

Enough with the "marketing" of homosexuality.

Hey... enough with the "marketing" of debauchery altogether! As much as I enjoy Archer and  Two and a Half Men and a whole host of other "inappropriate" television shows, the fact is that we as a society would probably be better off without them... or at least without their being so available to a larger American audience which has become jaded - and I fear desensitized -  by seemingly ever declining standards of not just good taste, but acceptability itself.

Self-censorship. More circumspect behavior. That's what I'm calling for.

As to the Gays...

(*SIGH*)

I'm not saying that there should be no Gay characters... no Gay role models...

I'm just saying, please, knock off the constant "marketing" of homosexuality as "just another lifestyle choice." It's not.

 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Weekend Newsbites: Sat. & Sun., May 3 & 4, 2014


June 11, 1979...

I was 17 years old.

June 11, 1979...

That was the day John Wayne died.

June 11, 1979...

I cried like a baby.

I've just started reading Scott Eyman's just published new biography of Wayne, "John Wayne: The Life and Legend."

So far, so good. I'm only a few pages in to the prologue, but I can already tell that this latest biography of "The Duke" is gonna be a great read. (And I've read many biographies of John Wayne - born Marion Robert Morrison - so I'm coming at this from an already fairly knowledgeable perspective.)

Are you a John Wayne fan? (You! Yes, you! I'm talking to you!)

I worry that today's kids and young adults aren't... weren't... brought up watching the same movies and television shows that I did and that this is a key reason the younger generation is so f--ked up.

Do you revere the cowboys... the homesteaders... the trappers and minors and shopkeepers... the ranchers and farmers... the railroaders... the cavalrymen... all those who "won the west" and created the America my generation inherited from "The Greatest Generation?"

If not... 

(*SIGH*)

Do you view "the John Wayne character" as representing everything "bad" about the America which I grew up loving and love to this day, or, do you look up to "the John Wayne character" as the iconic American ideal... or at least a large segment of that ideal? (Your answer tells me pretty much all I need to know about you...)

Almost 35 years, folks... that's how long it's been since America lost John Wayne. Thirty-five years come June.

John Wayne is gone... Maureen O'Hara lives in Ireland... and here... now... in 2014 through this blog... I'll continue to try and represent John Wayne's - and Maureen O'Hara's - America to the best of my ability.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Barker's Newsbites: Friday, May 2, 2014


Folks... today you're gonna read and hear that the unemployment rate has now fallen to 6.3%.

Yea!

Yeah!

Alright...!!!

(*PAUSE*)

Uh... folks...

(*SIGH*)

Not so fast...

The AP opens its reporting with the following sentence: "U.S. Employers added a robust 288,000 jobs in April..."

Sounds good, right?

(*SNORT*)

Here's how the AP follows up this "great news" in paragraph two: "But the drop occurred because the number of people working or seeking work fell sharply. People aren't counted as unemployed if they're not looking for a job."

Oops...

(*PURSED LIPS*)

And over at Bloomberg News, via paragraph 8 of their story, "The drop in the unemployment rate from March's 6.7% came as the agency's survey of households showed the labor force shrank by more than 800,000 in April. The so-called participation rate, which indicates the share of working age people in the labor force, decreased to 62.8%, matching the lowest level since 1978..."

(*HEADACHE*)

Folks... I can type until my fingers bleed, but in the final analysis, each of you needs to understand and accept that reading newspaper headlines and listening to media soundbites will by and large simply serve to keep you misinformed at best, ignorant at worst.

I'm not saying don't follow the news on your own... I'm not advising you to boycott the mainstream media... all I'm saying is that there's a lot of crap out there. Trust but verify... that was Ronald Reagan's motto and it was a damn fine piece of advice to the American People.

I can't promise you that Usually Right is always gonna have the right answer... the correct analysis. But I can promise that I'll always be honest with you; I'll never deliberately twist or cover-up facts in order to buttress my own opinions and analysis.

Questions, folks... notice that I ask a lot of questions. I ask questions of those on the Right... I ask questions of those on the Left. I do my best to hold both accountable so as to let the chips fall where they may.

Keep reading, folks! Keep asking your own questions... and keep searching for true answers to these questions as they arise.

DON'T... BE... A... SHEEPLE!


Thursday, May 1, 2014

ObamaCare and the Middle Class




Dr. Scott W. Atlas, physician and senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, writing in today's Wall Street Journal...

With the unveiling of the Affordable Care Act's website, the public experienced a painful reminder of the consequences of the government's new authority over health care. While millions signed up for insurance, millions of others abruptly lost their existing coverage and access to their doctors because that coverage didn't fit new ObamaCare definitions.

The health-care law was generated by an administration promoting government as the solution to inequality, yet the greatest irony of ObamaCare is what will undoubtedly follow as a long-term, unintended consequence of the law: a decidedly unequal, two-tiered health system.

One will be for the poor and middle class, and a separate system will be for those with the money or power to circumvent ObamaCare.

With the Affordable Care Act, the government has dramatically expanded its authority as final arbiter over health insurance and consequently over access to medical care.

After the law's Medicaid expansion and with the population aging into Medicare eligibility, the 107 million under Medicaid or Medicare in 2013 will skyrocket to 135 million five years later, growing far faster than the ranks of the privately insured.

Add to that centralization of power the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), ObamaCare's group of political appointees tasked with reducing payments to doctors and hospitals. Even Howard Dean, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, warned that "The IPAB is essentially a health-care rationing body. By setting doctor reimbursement rates for Medicare and determining which procedures and drugs will be covered and at what price, the IPAB will be able to stop certain treatments its members do not favor by simply setting rates to levels where no doctor or hospital will perform them."

The hidden truth is just around the corner — those more dependent on public insurance, mostly the poor and middle class, will have limited access to medical care.

About one-third of primary-care physicians and one-fourth of specialists have already completely closed their practices to Medicaid patients.

Over 52% of physicians have already limited the access that Medicare patients have to their practices, or are planning to, according to a 2012 survey by Merritt Hawkins for the Physicians Foundation.

More doctors than ever already refuse Medicaid and Medicare due to inadequate payments for care, and that trend will only accelerate as government lowers reimbursements.

At the same time, ObamaCare is squeezing out the middle class from affordable private insurance that correlates with far better disease outcomes than government insurance. By bloating coverage requirements and minimizing the consideration of risks fundamental to pricing insurance, the law has already increased premiums by 20%-200% in more than 40 states, according to a 2013 analysis by the Manhattan Institute's Avik Roy and others.

Less widely known is that inadequate reimbursement by government insurance to doctors substantially increases private-insurance prices. According to a December 2008 Milliman report presented by Will Fox and John Pickering, a shortfall of more than $88 billion in payments from Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries added more than $1,500 extra a year in premiums and $1,800 extra in total out-of-pocket costs to every family of four with private insurance. With increasing enrollment into government insurance, private premiums will undoubtedly rise even more.

* AND REMEMBER, FOLKS...

... the 107 million under Medicaid or Medicare in 2013 will skyrocket to 135 million five years later, growing far faster than the ranks of the privately insured.

(*SHRUG*)

* MORE SUBSIDIES... HIGHER DEFICITS... MORE DEBT... FEWER DOCTORS... HIGHER PREMIUMS...

(*SIGH*)

Even inside Medicare, two-tiered access will occur. Under political pressure in advance of this fall's midterm elections, the administration backed off from the ObamaCare plan to eliminate affordable private drug-coverage options inside Medicare, options that all Medicare beneficiaries enjoyed before the law. These substantial cuts will likely return post-election, limiting those choices to more-affluent seniors.

Despite the government's assertion that the health-care law increases insurance choices, the ObamaCare exchanges do the opposite for those dependent on them and the government subsidies they offer. The average number of plans offered in individual states has decreased from 117 in 2013 to 41 in the new exchanges; consumers in 16 states now suddenly have their choices limited to three or fewer insurers.

* ONE... MORE... TIME...

The average number of plans offered in individual states has decreased from 117 in 2013 to 41 in the new exchanges; consumers in 16 states now suddenly have their choices limited to three or fewer insurers.

ObamaCare is also eliminating access to many of the best specialists and the hospitals for middle-income Americans. To meet the law's requirements, major insurers are declining to participate in the exchanges, or only offering plans that restrict choice of doctors and exclude many of America's best hospitals. McKinsey reported a marked narrowing of hospital networks on the ObamaCare exchanges: In 2013, 33% of individual insurance offerings contained narrow or very narrow networks, but this year under the exchanges 68% of options cover only those limited networks.

* ONE... MORE... TIME...

In 2013, 33% of individual insurance offerings contained narrow or very narrow networks, but this year under the exchanges 68% of options cover only those limited networks.

For cancer care, the overwhelming majority of America's best hospitals in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network — including MD Anderson Cancer Center of Houston, New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance uniting doctors from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, UW Medicine and Seattle Children's — are not covered in most of their states' exchange plans.

AGAIN...

...are not covered in most of their states' exchange plans.

Meanwhile, concierge practices are increasing rapidly, as patients who can afford it, along with many top doctors, rush to avoid the problems of an increasingly restrictive health system. The American Academy of Private Physicians estimates that there are now about 4,400 concierge physicians, 30% more than last year.

* WOW...

In a recent Merritt Hawkins survey, about 7% to 10% of physicians planned to transition to concierge or cash-only practices in the next one to three years.

(*SIGH*)

With doctors already spending 22% of their time on nonclinical paperwork, they will find more government intrusion under ObamaCare regulations taking even more time away from patient care.

* YEP...

As America doubles down on government authority over health care, Europeans with the means to do so are increasingly circumventing their own centralized systems. In Britain, even though they're already paying for the National Health Service, six million Brits — two-thirds of citizens earning more than $78,700 — now buy private health insurance. Meanwhile, more than 50,000 travel out of the U.K. annually, spending more than $250 million, to receive treatment more readily than they can at home.

(Even in Sweden, the mother of all welfare nations, half a million Swedes now use private insurance, up from 100,000 a decade ago.)

Unless ObamaCare is drastically altered, America's health care will also become even more divided, with rising inequality. Just as in the U.K. and other countries where governments take an outsize role in dictating health-care policy, only the lower and middle classes in America will suffer the full consequences of ObamaCare.

Barker's Newsbites: Thursday, May 1, 2014




But first...

Via Zero Hedge...

No, the economy is most definitely not "recovering."

Despite what you may hear from the politicians and from the mainstream media the truth is that the U.S. economy is in far worse shape than it was prior to the last recession. 

In fact, we are still pretty much where we were at when the last recession finally ended. 

When the financial crisis of 2008 struck, it took us down to a much lower level economically. Thankfully, things have at least stabilized at this much lower level. ... But things are definitely not getting better, and there are a whole host of signs that this bubble of false stability will soon come to an end and that our economic decline will accelerate once again. 

The following are 17 facts to show to anyone that believes that the U.S. economy is just fine...

#1 The home-ownership rate in the United States has dropped to the lowest level in 19 years.

* THOUGH I DON'T NECESSARILY BELIEVE THIS IS A BAD THING. THE WHOLE HOUSING ISSUE NEEDS TO BE REEXAMINED IN LIGHT OF THIS FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH: A HOME ISN'T SUPPOSED TO BE A SHORT-TERM INVESTMENT, NOR INDEED AN "INVESTMENT" AT ALL IN THE SENSE ONE'S PORTFOLIO IS. NO. A HOUSE IS SOMEWHERE TO LIVE. A LOAN TO ONESELF IN A SENSE AND IF ALL GOES WELL A NEST EGG AT RETIREMENT. IN ANY CASE, ALL THIS ASIDE, WE NEED TO REALIGN HOUSING PRICES, TAXES, AND MAINTENANCE COSTS WITH INCOME. HOUSING IS SIMPLY WAY TOO EXPENSIVE IN MANY PARTS OF THE NATION.

#2 Consumer spending for durable goods has dropped by 3.23% since November. This is a clear sign that an economic slowdown is ahead.

#3 Major retailers are closing stores at the fastest pace that we have seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

#4 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20% of all families in the United States do not have a single member that is employed. That means that one out of every five families in the entire country is completely unemployed.

#5 There are 1.3 million fewer jobs in the U.S. economy than when the last recession began in December 2007. Meanwhile, our population has continued to grow steadily since that time.

#6 According to a new report from the National Employment Law Project, the quality of the jobs that have been "created" since the end of the last recession does not match the quality of the jobs lost during the last recession.

#7 After adjusting for inflation, men who work full-time in America today make less money than men who worked full-time in America 40 years ago.

#8 It is hard to believe, but 62% of all Americans make $20 or less an hour at this point.

#9 Nine of the top ten occupations in the U.S. pay an average wage of less than $35,000 a year.

#10 The middle class in Canada now makes more money than the middle class in the United States does.

* FOLKS... THAT'S HUGE! HUGE!

#11 According to one recent study, 40% of all Americans could not come up with $2000 right now even if there was a major emergency.

#12 Less than one out of every four Americans has enough money put away to cover six months of expenses if there was a job loss or major emergency.

#13 An astounding 56% of all Americans have sub-prime credit in 2014.

#14 As I wrote about the other day, there are now 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity.

* A HIGH PERCENTAGE GAMING THE SYSTEM, I'M SURE.

#15 Ten years ago, the number of women in the U.S. that had jobs outnumbered the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin.  But now the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps actually exceeds the number of women that have jobs.

#16 Sixty-nine percent of the federal budget is spent either on entitlements or on welfare programs.

#17 The number of Americans receiving benefits from the federal government each month exceeds the number of full-time workers in the private sector by more than 60 million.

Taken individually, those numbers are quite remarkable.

Taken collectively, they are absolutely breathtaking.

Yes, things have been improving for the wealthy for the last several years. The stock market has soared to new record highs and real estate prices in the Hamptons have skyrocketed to unprecedented heights. But that is not the real economy.

In the real economy, the middle class is being squeezed out of existence. The quality of our jobs is declining and prices just keep rising. This reality was reflected quite well in a comment that one of my readers left on one of my recent articles...

"It is getting worse each passing month. The food bank I help out has barely squeaked by the last 3 months. Donors are having to pull back, to take care of their own families. Wages down, prices up, simple math tells you we cannot hold out much longer. Things are going up so fast, you have to adopt a new way of thinking. Example: I just had to put new tires on my truck. Normally I would have tried to get by to next winter. But with the way prices are moving, I decide to get them while I could still afford them. It is the same way with food. I see nothing that will stop the upward trend for quite a while. So if you have a little money, and the space, buy it while you can afford it. And never forget, there will be some people worse off than you. Help them if you can."

And the false stock bubble that the wealthy are enjoying right now will not last that much longer. It is an artificial bubble that has been pumped up by unprecedented money printing by the Federal Reserve, and like all bubbles that the Fed creates, it will eventually burst.

None of the long-term trends that are systematically destroying our economy have been addressed, and none of our major economic problems have been fixed.  In fact, as I showed in this recent article, we are actually in far worse shape than we were just prior to the last major financial crisis.

Let us hope that this current bubble of false stability lasts for as long as possible.

That is what I am hoping for.

But let us not be deceived into thinking that it is permanent.

It will soon burst, and then the real pain will begin.

* GUNS AND AMMO, FOLKS... GUNS AND AMMO...

And now... to today's "other" newsbites... to found within the comments section!