What happened to middle-class America?

President Obama promised jobs and he delivered. But these were 21st-century jobs, like in a call center or an Amazon warehouse. Trump has promised jobs by negotiating better trade deals and building a wall to keep out job-stealing foreigners, but these are only pieces of the puzzle. It’s not the whole picture.

Obama saved part of the auto industry, but this year, I’ve seen lay-offs in just about every industry. Americans want good-paying jobs with adequate benefits, but they don’t really exist anymore. Corporations don’t have to pay good wages or supply benefits when they can go overseas for cheap labor, no benefits, and no environmental regulations. Even China is talking about raising prices so that wages can be increased. (China!) Many Americans haven’t yet realized that they’re competing for jobs with people from all over the world. This is the digital age, where concrete walls and borders don’t exist.

Republicans convinced Americans all over the country that unions were anti-business, so Americans destroyed the only power that could save middle-class jobs. Who else was gonna do it? American workers have had to fight for themselves, which obviously doesn’t work. Especially after Republicans destroyed the different ways Americans have used to fight back, like capping legal damages. Maybe some people think it’s a good thing that the legal industry has shrunk so much, but who’s left to fight?

If Trump is even able to bring back good-paying jobs, who will fight to keep them? (Many years ago, New Mexico paid Intel to open up a location in this state, but the relationship didn’t last. After many rounds of lay-offs, the city where most of the workers lived is now a ghost town.)

What kind of jobs will Trump help to create in this country? Could a President make Intel stay in New Mexico or is all of this going to be business that’s left up to the states? In other words, nothing will change.

This from Rudy Giuliani on CNN today:

“You’re forgetting his campaign promise of increasing dramatically the size of the military and doing away with the sequester. We’re going to go up to 550,000 troops… we were going down to 420,000… and we’re going to increase the size of the Marines… So he’s going to be facing Putin with a country that’s not diminishing it’s military, but a country that’s dramatically increasing it to Reagan-like levels, so that he can negotiate… he’s going to negotiate for peace, but with strength…”

I suppose dramatically increasing our military will put more Americans to work. (There are probably not very many foreigners or immigrants in our military taking jobs away from Americans, but since Bush’s wars, the military hasn’t had that high of a bar for admittance.) Are these the jobs that Trump supporters want, to work for the government, specifically the military?

As far as I know, it’s mostly corporations that outsource contractors from other countries, not the military. Thing is, the military relies on contractors from the private sector quite a bit. I guess it will be poor Americans who fight on the ground, while the “elite” work at their desks from around the world — the type of job that pays well and has good benefits. (The recession caused a lot of job loss in state and local governments — but not so much in Washington.)

I recently saw a billboard advertising for the Marines. It talked about honor. There may be honor in serving this country, but I can find no honor in war. (And just because I’m anti-war, that doesn’t mean I’m anti-military.)

Every day is veteran’s day because America can’t stop fighting wars. Trump wants to increase our military when we haven’t even financially recovered from Bush’s wars. How many women and men will he send into danger? How many will come back broken beyond repair?

There are men and women who will suffer for the rest of their lives with medical conditions caused by their military service. It would be one thing if the healthcare system took care of our veterans, but that’s not always the case.

This country has been cutting back on spending for services we depend on just so we could pay for Bush’s wars, like infrastructure and education. Americans have been cutting back to pay for 9/11 for the last 15 years.

Here in New Mexico (as reported on 11/4/16 by the right-leaning and financially-in-trouble Albuquerque Journal):

“With New Mexico in the middle of a budget crisis, cities and counties around the state are going to have to look for new ways to boost behavioral health services and fight the effects of opioid abuse. Bernalillo County Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins made the comments while visiting Washington, D.C., for a meeting hosted by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Hart Stebbins and other officials on Thursday talked about the potential of pay-for-success programs in which local governments make payments to contractors and other service providers only if they meet certain milestones and outcomes…”

It appears that government has embraced the idea of corporations proving success before they get paid. But is this a good idea in the healthcare industry? What kind of successes are they expecting in addiction programs? What will clinics do — how far will they go — to make their patients “succeed”?

The drug war costs billions of dollars. States can’t afford to provide adequate healthcare. We’re in a gigantic financial hole from Bush’s wars — wars that Obama has continued, albeit at a much smaller pace. Military spending was out of control for so long. Americans have given their military a blank check, with very little accountability. Obama reigned in the spending, but just in how fast it was growing. Military spending has always included an annual increase. Can’t say the same for Social Security. In fact, presidents have stolen money from Social Security to fund the military.

And now Trump wants to make our military even bigger. We already have the biggest military on planet Earth. Maybe even in the whole galaxy. Our military is everywhere. Why do we need to make it bigger? As a show of force? Does Trump need a gigantic military at his back so he can negotiate with other countries? Well, guess what? He already has one.

Let’s hear from Trump’s new national security “guru”:

http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/11/opinions/trumps-national-security-guru-general-flynn-bergen/

Luckily, there are some answers to Flynn’s views in a book he published in July, “Field of Fight: How We Can Win the War Against Radical Islam”. Flynn claims that the United States is in a “world war” with radical Islam, a war that “we’re losing” that could last ‘several generations.” He also asserts that “political correctness forbids us to denounce radical Islamists.”

American Islamists, Flynn claims, are trying to create “an Islamic state right here at home” by pushing to “gain legal standing for Sharia.” Flynn cited no evidence for this claim.

In particular, Flynn portrays Iran as the source of many of America’s national security problems…

Flynn advocates going after the “violent Islamists wherever they are,” which doesn’t sound much different than what the Obama administration is already doing, given that it is conducting various forms of warfare in seven Muslim countries…

Looks like Trump and his cronies are gonna pick a fight with Iran. Will we never stop fighting over oil? Hey, Trump supporters, if we had more solar and wind power, we wouldn’t have to depend on other countries to supply our oil addiction. Or do all you gun-lovers enjoy wars that last forever? As Trump’s new cabinet member says, we’ll be fighting radical Islam for “several generations.”

Trump, the New Face of War. How appropriate. I guess the best we can hope for is that he doesn’t push the button.

My Pledge

As an old woman who happens to be white, I’m not proud of what other members of my race (and the electoral college) have done in electing Trump. What can I do?

I pledge to stand up with every group that Trump has denigrated. I pledge to be vocal about my support for the LGBTQ community, people of color, women, veterans, the disabled, those who suffer from mental health conditions, the homeless, and of course, pain patients.

If you want to be a racist or a bigot, you cannot do so if I’m around. This has nothing to do with political correctness. This is about being a human being.

On the internet or out in public, at Walmart or in Walgreens, if you behave like a racist, sexist, or homophobe, be warned that I will call you out on it. I’m not afraid of you. You think Trump has given you the freedom to act like an asshole and a bully? Think again.

This is my country, too. I may not love it, but I’m not leaving.

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Don’t blame orange

This morning around 3am, I decided to celebrate November by making pumpkin bread with chocolate chips. Yes, it’s orange, but I don’t think we should blame the color orange for the sideshow that is presidential candidate, Donald Trump.

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Yes, that’s Trump’s face in my pumpkin bread.

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Early this morning, I voted for Hillary at a local community center. Now, if she wins and totally messes up the country, I’ll feel bad that I voted for her. Maybe people who voted for George W. Bush feel the same way.

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I was surprised to see Trump’s name at the very top of my ballot, with Hillary’s underneath. Not that it matters — I just wondered who’s decision it was to put Trump’s name first.

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As an example of how apathetic the political process has become, there was more than one race on my ballot with only one candidate.

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I arrived about 10 minutes after the polling place opened and there was a line of about 15 people ahead of me. Right in front of me was a couple with a large German shepherd wearing a vest that said “in training.” His trainer said it was for a veteran with PTSD.

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I had read that strangers shouldn’t approach a service dog, but since the dog was in training, his trainer said I could pet him. I was like, I can’t tell if he’s a dog or a horse.

After I voted, I went to the store for some fresh veggies. I asked the cashier if he was going to vote today. Dude said he wanted to vote for Gary Johnson, and I’m like, I don’t think Johnson is smart enough to be president. The cashier must have been in his early 20s. Didn’t even know the polling places are open until 7pm. He tried to pretend that he might vote after he gets off work at 3pm, but his face said he just didn’t care.

Et tu, John Oliver?

Maybe you will recall an article in the New York Times this year about the ER at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson, New Jersey, deciding to use opioids only as a “last resort” to treat pain:

https://painkills2.wordpress.com/2016/06/15/dear-ny-times-you-suck/

Here’s a recent article praising the virtues of these new programs to treat pain from the American Hospital Association:

http://www.hhnmag.com/articles/7653-overthrowing-todays-pain-paradigm

When leaders set out to create a more uniform approach to emergency pain treatment, the original goal was to run an “opioid-free ED.” However, Rosenberg says they soon realized that this was unrealistic and, instead, have fostered a culture in which physicians have a broader range of resources. Opioids are now the last line of defense.The medical center’s Alternatives to Opioids program was launched in January for patients who present with one of five acute pain diagnoses — headache, long bone fractures, kidney stones, back pain and other musculoskeletal pain…

Since January, St. Joe’s already has cut the number of opioids prescribed in its ED by 38 percent…

The opioid war loves to tell us how much the supply of opioids has been decreasing. How wonderful. But this one statistic doesn’t tell us much. Why don’t we visit Paterson, NJ, and see how it’s doing?

http://www.nj.com/passaic-county/index.ssf/2016/10/7_drug_overdoses_reported_over_1-day_period_in_pat.html

Seven people overdosed on drugs in a 24-hour period Thursday in Paterson – four of them in a one-hour period in a park on Ward Street, authorities said Friday…  All seven victims survived after receiving medical treatment, police said…

“Fentanyl and carafentinal are increasingly apparent and becoming a national problem,” Speziale said Friday. “Many toxicology reports come back with what is categorized as polypharm, which means there’s a combination of heroin, fentanyl and other opiods.” …

http://www.recordonline.com/article/20160109/NEWS/160109447

In fact, law enforcement intelligence points to Paterson and Newark, N.J., as the sources for much of the heroin that’s plaguing the lower Hudson Valley, northern New Jersey and the Tri-State area where Port Jervis sits.

“For western Orange County, Paterson is the connection,” said Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler. Why Paterson? Heroin there is cheap and accessible…

The treatment courts are full. The narcotics unit is running full bore. Meanwhile, overdoses are worsening…

Back to the article by the American Hospital Association:

The massive Veterans Health Administration — with more than 1,700 care sites treating nearly 9 million patients annually — recently rolled out a systemwide effort to better address the complex pain from which returning vets often suffer. Dubbed the Opioid Safety Initiative, it targets individuals on high-dose prescriptions, and helps them to treat their pain through education, a mobile app called Pain Coach, and such alternative treatments as acupuncture. At the initial implementation sites, the VA reduced high-dose opioid use by more than 50 percent, with no rise in pain scores…

With no rise in pain scores? (I’m sorry, but if you believe that, I want to sell you some bitcoins.) Even with those patients who didn’t see a rise in their pain scores after being forced off of opioids, that just means their pain scores didn’t change and are still high.

Rollin Gallagher, M.D., the deputy national program director for pain management at the VA, believes these results can be duplicated easily at any hospital…

Groups like the American Hospital Association urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to remove pain-related questions from patient satisfaction surveys and, in July, CMS agreed to do so…

From a graphic in the article:

The U.S. has experienced a 300 percent surge in prescription opioids dispensing since 1999, with no corresponding drop in the amount of pain reported by Americans.

I don’t know where they got this information, and I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be telling us. Opioids help manage pain, they don’t get rid of it, so why would there be a drop in the amount of pain reported? Using this questionable information, we could also say that there hasn’t been an increase in the amount of pain reported by Americans. And that would be a good thing, but we’re not allowed to give any credit to opioids.

http://www.painnewsnetwork.org/stories/2016/10/20/fewer-pain-meds-but-more-overdoses-in-massachusetts

The CDC said it will “take time” before overdoses start to decline.

“Reducing the level of opioid prescribing is a long term strategy to limit exposure to these drugs. Mortality outcomes would not be expected to change for several years after implementation, and impact would be complicated by the increasing supply of illicit opioids,” Courtney Lenard, a CDC spokesperson, said in an email to Pain News Network…

The actions of the DEA, CDC, and VA have actually increased the size of the underground drug market. They have created this demand. They are the reason that people are overdosing on unsafe, illegal drugs. But you see, these government agencies have decided that they’re okay with that. This is a “long term strategy,” and they know that some people will be lost. They think they’re saving lives in the future, which for some reason, is more important than saving lives in the present.

The thing is, everything may be getting even worse for pain patients. Because, allegedly, corporate power has been hampering the DEA’s efforts to get at suppliers and distributors, at least according to recent articles in the Washington Post. Even if Big Pharma just keeps getting a slap on the wrist, that doesn’t mean they’re still operating in the same way. They don’t want to pay more fines and they’re spending millions to develop new and “safe” painkillers (which will be expensive, probably less effective, and out of reach for many patients). And there are millions of corporate dollars funding the opioid war, matched by our tax dollars.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/the-dea-slowed-enforcement-while-the-opioid-epidemic-grew-out-of-control/2016/10/22/aea2bf8e-7f71-11e6-8d13-d7c704ef9fd9_story.html

Before Reeves’s arrival, Geldhof said, investigators had to demonstrate that they had amassed “a preponderance of evidence” before moving forward with enforcement cases, which are administrative, not criminal. Under Reeves, Geldhof said, investigators had to establish that their evidence was “beyond a reasonable doubt,” a much higher standard used in criminal ­cases…

You can label a case as “administrative,” but it still involves drugs and crime, so why shouldn’t the agency be required to prove the higher standard? It appears that the DEA has been stripped of some of its abusive power — and they want it back. So, they’re blaming corporate power for the slowdown in cases. Will Congress give this power back to the DEA? Perhaps I should say, when Congress gives this power back to the DEA, things will get worse for pain patients.

To top it all off, the latest episode of John Oliver is about the opioid “crisis.” I don’t think he added any new information about the opioid war, but he appeared to be on the side of the CDC. He mentioned that opioids were only previously prescribed for acute pain. He included a video from PFROP. He made one slight mention of patients who need these medications, but he mostly blamed the whole thing on Big Pharma, singling out Purdue. He mentions how insurance needs to cover alternative treatments, without including the fact that alternative treatments only work for a small percentage of patients.

For me — who finds humor in just about anything (even Trump) — I didn’t find anything funny in John Oliver’s take on the opioid “crisis.” For the first time, I’m disappointed in Mr. Oliver. I’m sad that so many intelligent people cannot see the whole picture of the opioid war. Cannot see the millions of chronic pain patients who are suffering. And why doesn’t the media ever mention the epidemic of suicide in this country? It’s as if those deaths have nothing to do with pain and the opioid war.

Today I’m very sad that there is not one person with any power who is willing to stand up for pain patients. As if we are unimportant and mean absolutely nothing. As if science means absolutely nothing.

Thanks for reading. Sorry if I bummed you out. Blame John Oliver and Trump. 🙂

Modern day torture

http://www.painnewsnetwork.org/stories/2016/9/12/half-of-patients-have-trouble-getting-pain-meds

Under comments:

David B. 13 hours ago

My doctor is pain management specialist/anesthesiologist, impeccable record, highly skilled & has controlled my pain more than a decade. My dosage has never increased, nor have I asked for it to be. I’ve never failed a random urine test. My doctor has shown genuine care through some rough patches over the years, more like a friend or brother. I was in excruciating constant pain from spina bifida and frozen shoulder from botched post-op care. My life has been full & productive once I found this doctor. Before that I had 2 concrete plans for suicide w/ everything I needed to carry one or the other out–& every intention to do so once my affairs were in order.

Last week, with no warning, my doctor refused to prescribe more than half of the amount I’ve been on almost 11 yrs. I’m in complete shock. I’m trying to stretch the meds out but I’m getting sicker and sicker from withdrawal. I was too shaken to hear all he said but now knowing what the Feds have done, I believe next month he will send me home with nothing. I’m a widower w/ no living children. My late wife and I had two babies– both were born with spina bifida (years before my own “occult” condition was discovered). Our son died at 17 months, our baby girl at just 20 days. We never allowed ourselves another pregnancy.

A chiropractor suspected my occult spina bifida ten years after my year in Vietnam (drafted) and after our babies were born and died. A neurologist diagnosed it. I worked with pain–took a lot of OTC meds that got me thru, until the shoulder surgery mistake landed me in chronic pain that was unbearable. I never imagined my fantastic doctor would betray me, that the country I fought for would do this to me, to so many of us and most likely more to come. As a veteran, in my opinion, this is torture pure & simple.

Never thought I’d say this but I’m GLAD my dad, a WWII vet who spent 3 years fighting the Nazis in Europe, isn’t alive to see what this country is doing to us. And I’m glad my wife, who was my childhood sweetheart, my first and only love, isn’t here to see me like this. If I can’t find another doctor, tho even if I do, how long before he cuts me off too? I can’t live in agony. I won’t. Why should I when in the blink of an eye I can be 100% whole again and with my wife and my little son and daughter? I will pray for all of you.

God help us all.

Are you thinking about suicide?

If you close your eyes, all you can see is darkness. But if you concentrate very hard, you may be able to picture a hand within the darkness.

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That’s my hand, reaching out to you. Can you see it? Can you grab it?

“Find my hand in the darkness, intertwined you will be the day to my night. We can share wings and take flight towards our own inner light.” Truth Devour

Do you want to talk? I’m just an email away (painkills2@aol.com).

“Sometimes the only way to catch your breath is to lose it completely.” Tyler Knott Gregson

This post was created in loving memory of Blahpolar, a fellow warrior.

https://theblahpolar.wordpress.com/2015/09/10/world-suicide-attention-day/

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Blah, please tell Prince that we miss him — as much as we miss you. Peace.