The U.S. Senate is reportedly considering a healthcare bill, although few will admit to seeing it or knowing its contents. Rumors indicate it will not, as hoped, be a “kinder, gentler” version of the House bill. There’s been a great deal of criticism of the direct effects of the House bill including, but not limited to, tens of millions without insurance, astronomical cost increases for seniors and those with pre-existing conditions, inability to get coverage for preexisting conditions, watered-down coverage (with many standard situations not covered) and loss of support for those in nursing homes. However, I’ve heard little regarding the effects on those not included above.

Please note the following is not deeply researched, but largely the product of my own logical process and as such could be far from accurate. I’d love feedback from those more deeply-informed than I.

Let’s imagine an employed head of family with a spouse and two children. Insurance for this family is provided by his/her employer and deducted from his/her paycheck. In fact, both spouses enjoy this benefit, so if one loses his/her job, there’s a back-up plan. This happy family is probably laboring under the illusion that they have nothing to fear. I believe this is far from the truth!

The disappearance of billions of dollars from medical payments will impact clinics and hospitals. Personnel will be laid off and programs will be cut. Wait-time for all services will be longer and some “frills” will disappear. If you need a class on dealing with your child’s juvenile diabetes, for instance, it may no longer be offered as often or not at all. If it takes you a month to get an appointment with your doctor now, that wait may double. If you child falls off the playground equipment and breaks an arm, the emergency room visit may stretch to eight hours as opposed to four.


Ted Chan, founder of Care Dash, an online site for feedback on doctors, (yeah, I did some research!) was quoted in Becker’s Hospital Review on March 9, 2017, as saying: 

“Repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without clear guidelines for replacing coverage will drive up costs across the board for patients, employers, and hospitals. Without requiring all to be insured, hospitals will be the insurers of last resort and will absorb the costs of uninsured patients seeking care. One recent study found that half of hospital bills go unpaid and that will only likely increase without an individual mandate….

When hospital bills go unpaid, taxpayers and local governments are often forced to pick up the tab. The question is not whether healthcare coverage should be paid for, it’s who pays.”


If you live in a rural area, the impact may be even greater, as rural medical services are economically tenuous. With fewer patients to serve and more low-income individuals, tight budgets are a constant. Under the ACA, there were supposed to be provisions to help rural medical programs, but many of these provisions were revised or never implemented.

Our happy fictional family may find their medical costs increase despite their insured status. When a family isn’t insured, that doesn’t mean they don’t get sick! They do, however, wait longer to seek treatment, present as sicker when they do go to the doctor, and their treatment is therefore more expensive. Since the bill is less likely to be paid, the hospital must recoup as much as possible in the form of increased costs for those WITH insurance. When insurance companies pay more, they’re going to raise the cost of their policies. Our fictional family will pay in increased insurance costs.

People who don’t have insurance are more costly employees. Since they can’t afford preventive care, they’re more likely to be sicker and miss additional time at work. (I’d prefer they NOT work, since someone coughing over my fast-food order is not something I relish!) I suspect this was one original motivation for employer-sponsored healthcare coverage.

Therefore, Fictional Family will be affected directly by the proposed healthcare bill. The medical services they need may well become harder to access, their health insurance costs increase, and their communities become a less pleasant and welcoming place to live.


Deborah G. Hankins is a retired “worker” who lives with her husband Milt and their little chihuahua Jose in Ashland, Kentucky. She is a leader in the local “Indivisible” group and is seriously concerned about our future under the present administration.  




As little tykes we were told the stork brings babies. It never entered our minds to look for storks in our neighborhood. We also believed Santa Claus brought presents on Christmas morning, and the Easter Bunny laid colorful eggs for us to find on Easter Sunday. It never dawned on us to question the veracity of these traditional celebrations and their strange explanations.

Most of us were taken to some kind of religious Sunday school, where we heard how Baby Jesus was born in Bethlehem, how the sky opened up and an angel choir announced his birth to shepherds. And, wise men followed a star in the east, first to Jerusalem and, then, to the stable in Bethlehem where the newborn king lay.

Now, at some point, we raised questions about the stork, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny until our parents, no doubt in exasperation, admitted Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny were not really real. As to the stork, well, they hemmed and hawed and pretty much let the subject ramble around in our brains until we discovered from “someone” how babies were made and how they were delivered.

As implausible as it seems, for perfectly obvious reasons, the story of the Baby Jesus, the angels, the shepherds and the wise men was continually reinforced while, at the same time, we were informed it all took place exactly like it says in the Bible.

We were taught to ignore alternative possibilities and the implausibility of certain parts of the ancient accounts. Even if, considering all of the indoctrination, we had given a single thought to asking questions about what we had been read to from infancy, heard about constantly from imperious leaders in majestic attire, and sat through annual dramatizations until we were old enough to “take a part” in them ourselves, we would have entertained no more than that single, fleeting thought.

Taken altogether, the aforesaid makes me wonder, at my advanced age, what and, perhaps more importantly, who do we believe? And, this invites an even more important question–whom shall we trust?

What are we being told is undeniably true by authority figures–people we have put in powerful leadership positions–which is, frankly, absolutely NOT true?

Recently, I read and highly recommend a book about the rise of Nazism in late-Thirties Germany (Timothy Snyder’s Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning). Snyder is a Yale University professor of history. He is a permanent fellow at Vienna’s Institute for Human Sciences. A 1997 graduate of the University of Oxford, he was a British Marshall Scholar.

It is startling that the German people literally soaked up the rhetoric of Adolf Hitler’s vicious diatribes and, in time, carried out his grand illusions–at the cost of millions of lives!


Could this sort of atrocity happen in the United States of America? Have we been predisposed as little children to believe the incredible and unbelievable? Could we actually be “taken in” by fake stories like we were “taken in” as little children? Do we believe what we are told simply because we were taught to believe what our leaders–our teachers, our pastors, our political leaders–have said is so? 

Every American needs to think about these questions and ask him/herself how they will respond when the time comes to separate fact from fiction. What is the right thing to do when doing the wrong thing becomes commonplace?





[Editor’s Note:  The following article was sent to me by a reliable source. It first appeared at AlterNet. Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.  We decided to re-print it because of the large number of sources from which the material is drawn. And, it is now in the public domain. Some of the material has been annotated by other sources.]

The most egregious parts of Donald Trump’s personality–his racism, his misogyny and his lack of scruples or ethics–have been on display for more than four decades. All of those traits have long been part of Trump’s unapologetic public persona. But in recent years, Trump has become an even more extreme version of himself. The behaviors that accompany that shift could be closely correlated with dementia and a general cognitive decline.

The blogger behind the Neurocritic laid out what he sees as proof of Trump’s mental deterioration. He notes that President Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 83, though he began to manifest symptoms far earlier.


Researchers have combed through records of off-the-cuff speeches Reagan delivered and found significant declines in his mastery of language. By his second term, Reagan’s speech showed a deep drop-off in the use of unique words, a marked increase in the use of non-specific nouns (thing, something, anything); an uptick in filler words (well, so, basically, actually, literally, um, ah); and a greater use of low-imageability, high frequency verbs (get, give, go, have, do).

Trump seems to have parallels in all these areas. He has become notorious for his word salads, incomprehensible soliloquies delivered at the speaking level of a fourth-grader. He frequently falls back on words like “tremendous” and often drags on without using specifics. Trump often speaks at length while saying nothing.

Alex Leo of the Daily Beast transcribed one sentence Trump delivered at a campaign stop in South Carolina, a series of dead ends, unfinished thoughts and ramblings:

Look, having nuclear–my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer. Dr. John Trump at MIT; good genes, very good genes, OK, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart–you know, if you’re a conservative Republican, if I were a liberal, if, like, OK, if I ran as a liberal Democrat, they would say I’m one of the smartest people anywhere in the world–it’s true!–but when you’re a conservative Republican they try–oh, do they do a number–that’s why I always start off: Went to Wharton, was a good student, went there, went there, did this, built a fortune–you know I have to give my, like, credentials all the time, because we’re a little disadvantaged–but you look at the nuclear deal, the thing that really bothers me–it would have been so easy, and it’s not as important as these lives are (nuclear is powerful; my uncle explained that to me many, many years ago, the power and that was 35 years ago; he would explain the power of what’s going to happen and he was right–who would have thought?), but when you look at what’s going on with the four prisoners–now it used to be three, now it’s four–but when it was three and even now, I would have said it’s all in the messenger, fellas, and it is fellas because, you know, they don’t, they haven’t figured that the women are smarter right now than the men, so you know, it’s gonna take them about another 150 years–but the Persians are great negotiators, the Iranians are great negotiators, so, and they, they just killed, they just killed us.

In the clip below, David Pakman shows how typical Trump bluster could actually be indicative of something more problematic. He compares old footage of Trump to the Trump of today, and looks at how Trump’s physical problems may also be linked to Alzheimer’s:

At 70 years old, Trump is the oldest person to be elected president. His father Fred was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease six years before his death. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “age, family history and heredity” are the most important risk factors in developing the disease. Most sufferers start to show signs of the illness at age 65.

Remember when Trump forgot which country he’d just bombed? When it just slipped his mind to sign a pair of executive orders during an event created for that explicit purpose? When he couldn’t locate Rudy Giuliani, who was sitting directly across from him at a media briefing? Thos ethings don’t seem like innocuous senior moments.

Trump also seems to exhibit other signs of Alzheimer’s listed by health organizations. Moodiness, paranoia, belligerence and erratic behavior are all key indicators of the onset of dementia. Trump’s inappropriate tweets, his belief that his phones are tapped and his quickness to anger, as described by his staff, all fit the bill.


“I’m not saying that Donald Trump has dementia,” Joe Scarborough said during a recent segment on Trump’s mental state, “but my mother has dementia. She lives in the moment. She forgets what she said a day ago, a week ago. We can’t have presidents that do that. And I’m not saying that he has dementia. I will leave that to his physician to figure that out.”

“Donald Trump is the poster boy for Alzheimer’s disease,” former NFL player and medical marijuana proponent Kyle Turley said weeks after Trump’s inauguration. “He has early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. And it is starting to show.”

“What he’s doing is totally erratic,” Turley added. “His decisions and the way he talks and the way he speaks is not presidential. And I want more than anything for him to do that.”

BUY AMERICAN by Beth Rankin

BUY AMERICAN by Beth Rankin

Early in my blog writing a woman who I really didn’t know messaged me “don’t yell. No one listens to someone who is shouting at them.” Or something like that. She became one of my best friends and I trust her judgment often and always.

But it is apparent that many people don’t listen to anything that involves thinking and change.

I will try again, though, I am Taurus = stubborn!

So we have the start of the growing season here. The earth is warming and food crops are being planted in large mechanized commercial farms, much of planting can be done by machines with one worker covering a large field. And some food crops can be harvested mechanically also. However, many require hands-on. And that needs a work force. Part of our national history is the transition from an agrarian economy to an industrial and now a post-industrial economy. Almost 200 years ago most people living in the United States were involved with farming. You can see what has happened over time.


In the past twenty years more and more of these farm jobs have gone empty until filled by migrant workers. Many are Latino and here in the Williamette Valley of Oregon we very much recognize that our vineyards, orchards and large commercial food farms need these workers.

It’s hard work. I know. I took a farm hand job three summers ago. Me. At 60 years of age, overweight, arthritic and with a bad back. The high school worker was heading back to school in August and the farmer needed someone until the end of the season. I never had done this kind of work and my body let me know. But this is not impossible work. So anyone who can walk, can bend, can use their hands, can do this work. However, it seems that in most areas of the country, white people do not want to do this work so much. And so, others fill in. They are not taking jobs away. They are helping feed us. Some are not legal workers.


Trump ran for President hollering (hey! he yelled and people listened…or maybe they didn’t, but that’s a different blog) that it was important to put America first. That we needed to get rid of all the bad hombres and that was translated into all people who are here without full legal status, no matter the agreements in the past. Trump supporters have not yet woken up to the fact that when the work force is removed, something will happen.

In this case, it means the food raised here on large farms in the United States most likely will not be successfully harvested. One farmer we know lost his work crew last year when the blueberries matured early. His strawberries matured late. All that is because of the weather. But it meant his picking crew went off to attack the blueberries, which are easier picking than strawberries. He lost thousands of dollars and many of his strawberries rotted on the plants because there was no one to pick them. This situation will happen again more and more in more places, not necessarily because of the weather but because of a shortage of willing workers.

Trump’s policies are convincing many people without family roots to head back south to their native lands. The risk of imprisonment and deportation is high. So, many people are leaving. There are also many people who are not leaving because they have been here for 20 or more years. Part of their family was born here. Others may have legal status. The undocumented workers are still here, but there are fewer than before and many are not taking jobs because of the risk of being arrested.

As this situation will exist in the coming months everyone, including Trump and his supporters are going to feel it. They may be cheering now, but the time is going to come when they realize there may have been a better way. They’re already feeling it in southern California and in Florida where harvests happen several times during the year.


Prices will go up. To keep your business and their profits supermarket chains will contract for produce from other countries.

Flavor will go down. That long distance produce gets harvested a bit early, a bit green or immature, to give time to the transportation process before it starts to rot. Flavor just does not develop that way. If you buy produce from overseas, you miss the flavor of how it really should taste. [Editor’s Note:  My wife and I are still trying to buy a tomato that tastes like a tomato during tomato season here in Kentucky! This year we planted two large pots of tomato plants next to our walkway.  It’s worth a try!]

Farmers here in the United States will not be able to continue to farm. Or at least to farm food. (Much of the Williamette Valley farmland is used for wine grapes, hops, hazelnuts and landscaping plants.) Farms will fail financially, and the land will go fallow. That will have a ripple effect on the economy.

So, Southern and Central California are where the bulk of supermarket produce is grown. And harvested. Or not harvested…and then not shipped to your grocery store.

So, why do I say BUY AMERICAN when I am also saying food raised here in the US is going to have smaller harvests and higher prices? Because if we don’t support American farmers we are going to see our food production, like our manufacturing, move offshore.

There are ways to buy produce at affordable prices, but it means a commitment to changing your shopping pattern. Only you can decide if giving your children and grandchildren a chance to buy American food is important.

Am I exaggerating? Unfortunately, no. I remember my parents complaining that it was getting harder to buy American-made when they replaced our black and white television with a color model in the late 1960s. At that time, Magnavox was only one of a few and they are still in business today. All the other TVs that are manufactured here are by Asian corporations who have built factories here to save on shipping and other costs. How did this happen? Simple–we consumers like to buy based on price, not patriotism!

Yet, I bet you believe you are a patriotic American. Demonstrate it by investing in America’s economy! This is a consumer-driven industry! Buy locally raised food. Go to a website like localharvest.com to identify when your farmers markets are, where the farms are near you that offer CSAs, where you can pick your own produce. Perhaps this whole discussion is meaningless as most Americans do not eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, but if you do try to eat in a healthy way, this will affect you unless you happen [not likely] to grow your own food.

And get those teenagers to take summer jobs working on farms. They’ll buff up, tone up, and get a great tan!




What American patriot would advance and promote Russia and their President Putin over the reputation of the United States of America? What American patriot would defend Russia and their President Putin over the interests of the United States of America? There have been decades and decades of mistrust, rancor, disagreements, competition, conflicts, and, yes, cooperation with the two countries’ space programs. And yet over the past two years we have seen Donald Trump, the candidate (and again since his election) speak in defense and on behalf of this country’s antagonist. Why? How can this be? Is he so uninformed that he is not aware of Mr. Putin’s past and present atrocities against his own people and those of other countries? Or does he just look with a blind eye for some reason?


These questions will hopefully be answered in the coming months with the naming of the special counsel by the U. S. Justice Department. What we already know is that the Trump organization has relied on money coming out of Russia to fund their projects for many years. The two older Trump sons broadcast several years ago that their organization no longer needed funding from United States Banks, who quit writing the Trump organization loans because of their frequent bankruptcy filings.


They had all the funding they needed coming in from Russia. Hmmm, so if you are beholden to Mr. Putin and his rich cronies for multiple millions of dollars in various projects around the globe, you are very likely not going to want to disappoint the man. Right? You are going to sell your soul to the devil to keep yourself from disappearing in the middle of the night only to be found floating face down the next morning in the middle of the Mockba River–like so many other Putin dissenters.


The “dear” president of Russia, Mr. Putin, is a thug and a murderer, and has been for many years. He has his eye on world domination and becoming more than just the next czar of Russia. His climb to his self-proclaimed throne started in earnest with his last “election” to the presidency. He has demonstrated that he will stop at nothing and will use (and abuse) anyone to fulfill his dreams. Unfortunately, for the U.S., our hapless Mr. Trump has fallen into his web and cannot easily get out.

You are probably asking, how does a typical guy in Florida know this, and how can this guy make such outrageous claims? This is how….


Before making a trip to Moscow in 2011, to satisfy a personal curiosity, I befriended online a fellow from Moscow. We communicated for several months, and he agreed to be my personal guide during my stay in Moscow. Over the time we spent together and, afterward, we became good friends (albeit long distance). At that time he worked for an American architectural firm as an architect by day and an aspiring writer by night. Sergey was verbally fluent in English, though not confident with his writing skills in English. He would write his first draft in Russian, then go back and translate it into English. Several times over the years he asked me to assist him with some of his projects to make sure his grammar and sentence structure were correct.

I grew to greatly respect him. He was honest, caring, sensitive, intelligent and very generous. He lived in very modest accommodations, but had big aspirations. Sergey was fortunate to be able to travel abroad and visited his editor in Los Angeles fairly regularly. He also submitted his first play into a competition in London and was awarded first place in his category. I admired his determination.

That as until last summer, when I could no longer reach him. He was not returning any messages. In August, I learned from his Facebook page that he had abruptly “gone missing” in June. He was to meet friends for dinner and never showed up at the restaurant. Our last communication was in May–his requesting that I support an initiative he was promoting for President Obama. He had signed an online petition at the White House website requesting that the President intervene with Putin, as he may be able, against the erosion of personal rights which were under attack in Putin’s Russia. He disappeared approximately three weeks after that communication. We (Facebook friends) learned not long after this that the Russians had hacked into the White House computers and my guess is that the petition site was one of the non-secure areas that was breached. Putin’s thugs had Sergey’s name.

Sergey was also becoming more and more verbally anti-Putin in Moscow and online during this time.


He had told me of Putin’s “Marauders” who were attacking the Putin dissenters as, when it came to Putin, no criticism as being tolerated. We have since learned of the many names of the more well-known dissenters who have been found dead by one means or another over the last year or so. A Facebook friend in Helsinki shared that he had observed Sergey being “unwisely fearless” in his online activism.

My friend met the same demise as other Putin “enemies.” We found out in September that his cremated ashes were unexpectedly delivered to his family. There was no known, or released, information or explanation. We all “knew” what had happened. Last summer, according to some posts by one of Sergey’s friends, approximately 1,000 Russians were “going missing” every month!


So, is this the man President Donald Trump is defending?  A hideous murderer and power hungry madman? Sociopaths of a feather stick together, I suppose. Trump is power hungry, as well, with visions of grandeur. He has Putin’s power and fame, and I think envies the same thing for himself. He is either unwilling or unable (due to his delusion) to objectively look at the real Vladimir Putin. Then again, maybe he just doesn’t care. Trump also, on some level, realizes in his current predicament and indebtedness to Putin, that if he does not promote Putin, he could find himself or some members of his family…well, eliminated.

This socio/political experiment with Donald Trump in the highest office of the land must end!  Experiment results:  Failure! It never did compute!

[This narrative was received by Columnist with a View for publication at my (the editor’s) request, as I have known about Richard’s experience for some time now. I chose to do very little editing on this piece because I wanted it to be real, unpolished, and as close to the original manuscript as possible. My personal thanks to Richard Moberly for his being kind and generous enough to share his personal experience and editorial remarks.] 






Each year, millions of Americans fall prey to telemarketing fraud at a cost of $40 billion. However, about eight of every 10 elderly people are targeted by telemarketing scams. To help you and your loved ones avoid becoming victims, Better Business Bureau says you need to do more than just hang up the phone.


Telemarketing fraud occurs when a scam artist calls a person to misrepresent themselves with a product, service, prize winning, etc., that causes the victim to give money to the scammer, but never receives the promised item. Many times, consumers who become victims did so because they are trustworthy and then afraid or even embarrassed to report the crimes.


Hang up right away. If you get a recording, don’t push any buttons, just hang up the phone. Pushing #1, probably isn’t removing you from their call list, but rather adding you to their potential victim list.

You didn’t actually win a contest or prize. Especially if you never entered the lottery in the first place and you are being requested to make any payment at all. Be wary of callers claiming you won a prize and then asking for a payment of any size. Prizes are free, so don’t pay for taxes or insurance, these are deducted from your winnings when it is legitimate.

Don’t give out personal information to someone on the phone unless you initiated the call and have checked out the person or agency.

Never wire money or give the numbers from the back of prepaid debit cards. These are a scammer’s choice of payment since it is like paying with cash and not able to be tracked or returned.

Beware of bad grammar. This can be a red flag that English is not the scammer’s first language.

Be cautious about foreign sweepstakes companies. Many fraudulent sweepstakes companies that target U.S. consumers are located in Canada or other countries which makes it more difficult for law enforcement agencies to pursue them.

Don’t believe everything you hear. Con artists use company names that are identical or very similar to well-known, legitimate companies. Tell them you’ll get back to them and contact the real company to ask if there’s a connection.

Request the offer in writing. Legitimate companies will give you written information about how an offer works.

Be wary of a check in the mail. If you were not expecting a check, chances are it is not going to be valid. If you are instructed to deposit the check and then wire any amount for any reason, don’t do it. If you are unsure, ask your bank for assistance.

Never rush a decision. A caller from a legitimate business will not put unrealistic time restrictions on a decision to be made.

Ask lots of questions. Do your own research on any business, contest or person selling you anything, especially if you sought you out. Also check with your Better Business Bureau at 330-454-9401 or bbb.org.


Remember, you can always help eliminate calls you don’t want by registering with the National Do Not Call Registry. Visit www.donotcall.gov or call 888-382-1222. Also, if you feel you’ve been scammed, call the police or file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov. You can also report it to the BBB’s new Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker.

[This article is re-published courtesy of the Canton Regional and Greater West Virginia Better Business Bureau as a public service.]