Thursday, August 31

This was to have been posted on my other blog, Little Known Black History Facts, but once again Blogger is screwing around. I can't preview and I can't publish anything from there. Perhaps that one I'll just chuck and start it over elsewhere; I don't know. Anyway, here it is.

The author asks did the Tuskegee Study cause a general, lasting dislike of going to the doctor among black people; now, the 'study' involved men with syphilis not being treated, and allowed to die from it, just so that the effects of syphilis in its later stages could be learned and recorded. All the men in the study were black men; no white men ever took part. Those men lived long lives, most of them, and had families; how many people would have known them, and later learned what had happened to them? Would any of those people have had any trust in the medical system? And that mistrust would have trickled down through the generations....

 How much clearer does the answer need to be for the author of this article to get it?

Did Infamous Tuskegee Study Cause Lasting Mistrust of Doctors Among Blacks?
There is no question that the Tuskegee study is one of the most horrific examples of unethical research in recent history. For 40 years, ending in 1972, members of the United States Public Health Service followed African-American men infected with syphilis and didn’t treat them (although they told some men they did) so that they could see the disease take its course.
There’s also no question that this experiment shook the foundations of trust between Americans, especially black Americans, and the medical establishment. A new paper argues that this wound was so severe that it led older African-American men to avoid care, leading to a decrease in life expectancy of 1.4 years, accounting for about a third of the discrepancy in life expectancy between black and white men by 1980.

While few question that there are racial disparities in life expectancy or health care, and no one questions the utter lapse in ethics of the Tuskegee experiment, we should still be wary in connecting the two without a clear causal link. To do so compounds mistrust in the health care system.
The recent study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research as a working paper (meaning it has not yet undergone full peer review), combined data on mistrust of doctors from the General Social Survey, health care utilization from the National Health Interview Survey and mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They then used sophisticated statistical techniques to test for how these three variables might be related.

The researchers found that after 1972, when much of the truth behind Tuskegee was revealed, mistrust among African-Americans toward the medical profession spiked. They found that use of the health care system fell, and that mortality increased years later. They hypothesized that each factor led to the next: The news caused African-Americans to doubt the health care profession was interested in their well-being, they stopped going to the doctor, and this led to earlier deaths. They even showed that the closer you lived to Macon County, Ala., where the study took place, the greater the effect.

This is an impressive paper. Although establishing causality in a study like this is nearly impossible, the authors anticipated many potential critiques. They did tests to account for migration. They looked at other measures of mortality. They even performed the geographic analysis from all 50 states to show that centering it on Macon County yielded different results than in most other places.
Still, I think there are limitations that argue against making a causal leap. The biggest is that this effect was seen in black men, but not in black women. The authors posit that this might be because women are forced to engage in the health care system (during childbirth) in ways that men are not, and that this led to a greater level of trust. But this dynamic isn’t assured. You can have a baby and still mistrust the health care system enough to avoid screening later in life. I find it hard to believe that black men and women didn’t share their fears and mistrust of the system with each other.
A second concern involves geography. The analysis looked at the distance from Macon County to show that those closer had fewer doctor and hospital visits and greater mortality than those outside the circle. If you look at the map they provide, a circle around that point almost perfectly encapsulates the Deep South. Disparities in care might have arisen in that region for any number of reasons, and blame can’t be assigned entirely t0 the Tuskegee study.

A third concern involves the arrow of causality. The authors argue that their evidence supports a theory explaining that mistrust causes less use of doctors, which causes higher mortality. Given what we know of disparities in care in the United States, it still seems possible that the medical system itself could have been throwing up barriers. It’s easy to believe that black men had a harder time getting care than white men, or they might have been subtly turned away or dismissed, which also would lead to less use and perhaps higher mortality.

Let me be clear about a few things. There is no reason to believe that the differences in use or outcomes aren’t real. They’re both terrible, and they both need fixing. I also don’t believe the statistics are flawed, or that the researchers made any mistakes in their methods. My concerns are in the interpretations of their findings.

This matters, because it implies that the faults of trustworthiness in our health care system can be linked in large part to a certain event, one that occurred decades ago. In response to this concern, the authors wrote to me: “There is nothing in our current study that suggests we are assigning full blame to a single event. In our abstract, we highlight that our estimates imply the disclosure can explain about 35 percent of the 1980 life expectancy gap between older black and white men.”

Still, some think this leap remains a stretch. I spoke to Susan M. Reverby, a professor of women’s and gender studies at Wellesley College, and one of the foremost experts on the Tuskegee study. “I think that this study makes it look like the reason for mistrust happened a long time ago,” she said. “But in cases like this, the use of the term ‘Tuskegee’ is often raised as a metaphor for structural racism. That is what is at issue, not the Tuskegee study itself.”
Alice Dreger, a historian of medicine and science, said in an email to me: “African-Americans who distrust the health care system see plenty of reasons all around them to do so. They don’t have to look back 40 years.”

Mistrust in the health care system has multiple factors. It can come from huge lapses in ethics, like the Tuskegee study, but it can also come from the daily ways in which the system treats some people differently than others. It can even come from small missteps in the interpretation of results. The causes of the disparities we see are systemic, and would probably exist even without Tuskegee.

We should be careful about assigning blame to a single incident in the past, ignoring the many other issues that existed then, and still exist today.

Disclaimer: This article is the opinion of the blog author. It in no way represents the views of Blogger, Google,  or any other entity whose services were used in the publication of this blog. 

Wednesday, August 16

Saturday, 8/12/17, was Donald Trump's worst day as president. And Monday, 8/14/17, didn't help.

Donald Trump is at the lowest approval rate of any US President...

No United States President in history has ever had something like this happen. No matter how money-grubbing, no matter how fanatical about war, no matter how big a liar and cheat, no president has ever sunk so low with the entire country.

Saying that it was his "worst day as president" isn't just an opinion; according to the polls, #notmypresident Trump has reached the lowest approval rating of any US president in the first six months of his stay in the White House. It took Richard Nixon his entire presidency, right through #Watergate, up until just before his resignation to reach the numbers that Trump has now.

(CNN)Donald Trump's presidency has been marked by low moments. The false assertions regarding the size of his inauguration crowd. The testy phone calls with longtime allies. The false claim that Barack Obama wire-tapped Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign. The botched rollout of the so-called "travel ban." Tweets attacking everyone from his attorney general to Mika Brzezinksi.
But, even amid all of that chaos and controversy, what Trump said -- and didn't say -- on Saturday in the wake of the violent protests by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, marks the nadir of his presidency to date.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time."

"On many sides."

With those three words, Trump effectively abdicated one of the essential jobs of a president: To lead us to the high(er) ground, to our better angels, to progress.

He tried to clean up the mess he caused on Saturday with another statement on Monday just before 1 p.m. ET. Trump began touting the success of his policies on the economy before turning to Charlottesville and saying what he should have said two days ago. "Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, Neo-Nazis, & White Supremacists," Trump said.
It was a necessary course correction by the President. Here's the problem: It came two days too late.

In painging {sic} this as a "both sides do it" situation in his initial reaction -- it wasn't and isn't -- Trump effectively threw his hands up in the face of a moment of morality. Simply put: There is a right and a wrong answer when it comes to dealing with bigots.
The right answer is to condemn them and their belief system loudly and completely, leaving no room for ambiguity. The wrong answer is to not name them, to cast the events in Charlottesville as an example of both-sides-do-it-ism and make your statement vague enough that it can be interpreted in any way shape or form as condoning this sort of behavior.

Trump did all three of those bad things. And, to make matter worse, this most outspoken of presidents on, well, everything, went silent regarding Charlottesville -- saying nothing between his statement in the mid-afternoon on Saturday until right now. He did take to Twitter Monday morning to lash out at Kenneth Frazier, the African-American CEO of Merck after Frazier announced he would quit Trump's manufacturing council after Trump did not condemn racism after the Charlottesville violence.

On Sunday, a White House spokesman -- speaking on background, meaning there was no name attached to the quote, said this:

"The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred, and of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi, and all extremists groups. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together."

First of all, why was this quote not on the record? Is there anything in it that is even the least bit controversial or debatable? Second, you can't say "of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi, and all extremists group." Because if the president doesn't say those names -- and chooses to use the phrase "on many sides" -- then there is a not-tiny chance that people misunderstand what he was trying to actually say. Third, why isn't the President of the United States saying this? Why does this sentiment have to be expressed through a spokesman?

As I noted in a piece on Saturday, there are moments in every presidency in which the President needs to act like we expect our leaders to act. To stand up to hatred and intolerance -- whether in the form of white supremacists or ISIS militants -- and say: Enough! This is not who we are or who we are going to be. These views are abhorrent and have no place in civil society. I will work for the remainder of my presidency to combat those who turn us against each other.

Trump didn't do that. Didn't say those words. And, the words he did say were ones larded with just the sort of ambiguity that he has long dabbled in but which threatens to tear the social fabric even further. You can't leave any room for interpretation in a statement on a white supremacist rally that left 1 person dead and dozens injured. This was an act of hate. We condemn hate and those who act on it. The end.

Trump's words on Monday matter -- in that we need the President to be on the record saying that the hate that we all witnessed on Saturday is not us, is not what we aspire to be as a society.

But, it is inexcusable for a president to miss the mark so badly on Saturday and then to compound the problem over the next 36 hours -- seemingly not understanding that the stakes here are much higher than who wins or who loses in a campaign.

Saturday was the worst day for the Trump presidency. And a moment of low ebb for the country too.

Tuesday, August 8

Impeachment Anyone?

Each time his name is in the headlines, especially if the word 'tweets' is in the headline as well, #notmypresident Trump gets farther and farther from the known world of reality, and edges closer and closer to taking up permanent residence in the unknown world  where people  no more qualified to run the country than Garfield the cat are being elected and allowed to turn their nose up at all the conventions and honored traditions this country has been governed by for literally hundreds of years. Suddenly America isn't the shining example of democracy it's always been, the guiding light for all other countries, the gold standard by which others judged themselves; now it's just a  joke.  Now everyone all over the world gets up in the morning and can't wait to see what Twitter's got for them today, what inane drivel  the so-called Commander-in-Chief of the United States is spewing all over social media.  Even if he hasn't posted anything himself, the gifs and  memes that are being spread around the Internet are more than enough to send the leaders of foreign powers into paroxysms of laughter. It's sad to be such a  laughingstock when we were once the leader of the free world....

Trump retweets Fox News story containing classified info

WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Donald Trump’s retweet of a Fox News story claiming US satellites detected North Korea moving anti-ship cruise missiles to a patrol boat is raising eyebrows on Tuesday after US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley indicated that the information in the report is classified and was leaked.
“I can’t talk about anything that’s classified and if that’s in the newspaper that’s a shame,” Haley said Tuesday on “Fox and Friends” when asked about the story that cites two anonymous sources.
Pushed on whether the information was leaked, Haley said “it’s one of those things I don’t know what’s going on. I will tell you it’s incredibly dangerous when things get out into the press like that.”
But just a few hours before Haley’s appearance on Fox, Trump retweeted a post from the Fox News morning show promoting the story said to contain classified information.
CNN has not independently verified the Fox News report and the White House has not responded to a request for comment.
“It is alarming the casualness with which President Trump shares classifieds information,” Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California told CNN’s Poppy Harlow Tuesday. “Just because something is in the press doesn’t make that information no longer classified, so the President should not be tweeting classified information just because he as the President.”
Will Fischer, an Iraq War veteran and director of government relations for VoteVets, was also critical of the retweet and questioned what role — or lack thereof — new chief of staff John Kelly had in the process.
“It is absolutely terrifying to see that information that Ambassador Haley said was ‘dangerous’ to print was retweeted by Donald Trump,” Fischer said in a statement. “The question for everyone to ask is: What did General Kelly say? If he told Donald Trump to retweet this, there’s a real problem. If he told Trump not to, and Trump ignored him, that’s a big problem. If Donald Trump is refusing to consult with his chief of staff on any of this, that’s a huge problem, especially given General Kelly’s military background.”
Trump’s motive for retweeting the Fox News story remains unclear but the decision to promote a report that — according to the US ambassador to the United Nations — contains classified information leaked to the press by anonymous sources comes just days after the President praised Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ plan to combat that very practice in the name of national security. 
“After many years of LEAKS going on in Washington, it is great to see the A.G. taking action!” Trump tweeted. “For National Security, the tougher the better!” Trump tweeted over the weekend.
Tuesday’s retweet also coincided with the release of a series of new polls that not only call Trump’s Twitter habits into question but also reveal major concerns around the President’s trustworthiness and ability to effectively manage the standoff with North Korea.
According to a new CBS News poll only a third of those surveyed having confidence in Trump’s ability to handle the situation with North Korea.
A new CNN poll shows that a majority (52%) of Americans say Trump’s tweets are not an effective way for him to share his views on important issues, and 72% say they do not send the right message to other world leaders.
Further, 62% overall say that Trump’s statements and actions since taking office have made them less confident in his ability to be president.
In May, Trump was criticized after The Washington Post reported that he shared highly classified information with the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador to the US in a White House meeting.
Despite statements from top administration officials that called the report “false,” two former officials knowledgeable of the situation confirmed to CNN at the time that the main points of the Post story were accurate.

Wednesday, August 2

Did He Really Say That In Public??

I wasn't going to say anything about this; I was going to just let it slide, but the more I thought about it, the bigger the knot in my stomach grew.

Supposedly,  #hesnotmypresident Donald Trump is all about patriotism and loyalty to America and good old Christian values. I've heard it said that one of the big reasons a lot of white lower and lower middle class  Bible-thumpers voted for him was because they thought he would bring America back to what they consider the good old days, when beating up 'nigras' was thought of as entertainment just like dog and cock fighting.  The days when anyone who thought we shouldn't have been in Vietnam  was subject to being lynched for committing treason,  when boys didn't let their hair grow below their collars,  and the very thought of having gays and transgenders serving openly in the US Military was enough to make "Good Old General Hardass" toss his cookies and swoon.

Well, I don't see any of that happening anytime soon (even though he did make an effort by "taking   back" allowing transgenders to serve openly) so evidently he wasn't as gung ho about that platform as he was about what I believe to be his goal, erasing every single thing that Obama put into place. IMO, he just wants to wipe the Obama Administration off the books, (or perhaps put an asterisk beside it? LOL) and now he's trying again to ridicule the Obama family.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Report: Trump called White House a 'dump' to NJ golf club

President Donald Trump has told members of his New Jersey golf club that he spends so much time away from Washington because the White House is a "real dump."

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the account, which appeared in a lengthy article posted on the website The story on Trump's complicated love for golf also appears in Sports Illustrated magazine.

The story recounts a scene in which Trump was chatting with some club members. Trump told the members he makes such frequent appearances at the property in Bedminster, New Jersey, because: "That White House is a real dump."

Trump has spent nearly every weekend of his presidency visiting various properties he owns and leases, including Bedminster.

Okay, I can hear the catcalls and the derision just as loudly as if you were sitting here next to me at the computer.  I know, it's a stretch, but we're talking about a man here who has been in the business of making money by any means necessary for longer than some of us are old! Every con that there is I'm sure he's done, and that includes long-term cons that require more patience than a black widow waiting for her latest husband to die! None of the big guns that Trump has fired have panned out (like the birther issue, the wiretapping issue, etc.) so why not pull out the stops and just pile up all the stuff they can find? Knowing that everything he says gets reported to somebody in journalism, what other reason could he have to make that statement in public? IMO, to ridicule #hesstillmyPresident Barack Obama. I mean the Obama family lived in that house for 8 years and you didn't hear any complaints about it, now he comes in and says it's a dump; and when someone says "Well the Obamas never said anything like that and they were there for 8 years.... "Of course it wouldn't be a dump to the Obamas, they don't know any better, you know how those people are." That by itself is no big deal, but if you stack up everything that he can dig/makeup well.....
Wonder what the next salvo will be?