Category: Politics

Politics

The Lies Opponents of Single-Payer Health Care Just Keep Telling

Craig Axford | United States

Another day, another article by an opponent of universal health care publishing lies about Canada’s single-payer health system. That’s right, lies. There’s no point anymore in giving the people that publish these articles the benefit of the doubt given both the evidence and people’s experiences with the health care systems they are attacking are so radically different from what they describe.

There’s a list of talking points critics of programs like single-payer work from. I’m sure at some point they were written down somewhere, but by now everyone on both sides of the universal health care debate can recite them from memory: single-payer is expensive, there are long wait times, patients are denied their choice of doctor, and of course people suffer and die needlessly as a result of one or more of the above problems.

In an article appearing in The Hill on July 28, Dr. Dean Waldman follows the talking points to the letter. He offers us a list of assertions, but no data to back any of them up. He makes a number of claims about the Canadian and British health care systems without once telling us how they compare either in terms of cost or outcomes to the US system, all the while implying the US system is far superior to both. My family’s experience is limited to the US and Canadian systems so I won’t spend much time on the UK’s National Health Service other than to cite some data.

No health care system is perfect. By its very nature health care delivery involves difficult choices. These choices are often forced upon health care providers and insurers (whether the insurer is the state or a for-profit company) under very difficult circumstances. If you’re looking for situations where the outcome was less than ideal, or even tragic, you can find examples in doctors’ offices and emergency rooms around the world.

But if you’re going to use these examples to tear down a country’s entire health care system and to hold your own up as superior at the same time, intellectual honesty demands that you show the examples you are using occur with less frequency in your own system than in the system you’re attacking. So, for example, you don’t allege one problem with the Canadian health care system is a lack of patient choice without also showing that there is a greater degree of choice under the American model. If it turns out there is less choice in the US than in Canada, you have to admit that the Canadians have at least done a better job of providing choice to patients than the US.

The same is true when it comes to cost. Telling people over and over again that single-payer is too expensive without providing any comparisons to the cost borne by consumers and society as a whole under the American model is being dishonest.

Dr. Waldman, like so many before him, makes a number of assertions without providing his readers with any comparative data. He claims, “The British and the Canadians pay a very high cost for their systems, and not only in monetary terms. Single-payer health care systems take away individual choice, they discourage life-saving research and innovations, and they exchange quality of care for a balanced budget.”

It’s worth noting here that the first sentence and the second appear to contradict each other. On the one hand “The British and the Canadians pay a very high cost of their systems” in, among other things, dollars, but on the other “they exchange quality of care for a balanced budget.” Either the government in these countries is spending a lot on healthcare or they are skimping on it to avoid deficit spending. Which is it?

Regardless, both in Canada and in the UK the amount of money spent per capita on health care is far below what Americans spend on it. In Canada’s case that was $4,752 in 2016. In the UK the amount was $4,192 for the same year. Dr. Waldman rightly points out that in the United States that amount is over $10,000 annually, but his failure to provide any context is troubling given he wrongly implies healthcare is incredibly costly in both Canada and the United Kingdom. Indeed, Dr. Waldman goes so far as to claim the single-payer system being advocated by Senator Bernie Sanders would cost a whopping $18 trillion, or roughly 90% of the total current US economy. Given Canada currently spends more than 50% less than the US per capita, that’s an obvious falsehood.

Source: Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker

Dr. Waldman and other critics of universal health care programs would likely respond that it is precisely this lack of spending that is the problem. Setting aside the fact that such an argument directly contradicts their claim that universal health care programs are too expensive, this objection raises the important question of what the citizens of countries like Canada and the UK are getting for their roughly $4 — $5,000 in per capita health care spending when compared to the average American’s more than $10,000 investment in the same product.

Given Dr. Waldman’s unsupported assertion that “There is death-by-queueing in single-payer systems, where sick persons die from treatable conditions because they could not get care in time and succumb ‘waiting in line’ for care,” we would expect to find that Americans spend less of their lives suffering from disability and disease than Canadians, the British, or others living under the heavy hand of government-run healthcare systems. But instead, the US leads the developed world by a wide margin when it comes to the number of years lost to disability or premature death.

Source: Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker “Disability adjusted life years (DALYs) are a measure of disease burden and the rate per 100,000 shows the total number of years lost to disability and premature death.”

Dr. Waldman works for the Texas Public Policy FoundationBy itself, this is an unremarkable fact, but one has to wonder if being from Texas is the reason he’s not so keen on drawing attention to the shortcomings of America’s healthcare when compared to other nations. Texas has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. According to an NBC News story on the crisis in Texas, “Texas’ maternal mortality rates are 35.8 per 100,000 live births as of 2014, according to a study in Obstetrics and Gynecology. By comparison, the maternal mortality in Japan was 5 per 100,000 live births, according to UNICEF’s 2015 data. In Poland, it was just 3.”

What about life expectancy? Given Americans are spending so much on healthcare relative to everybody else, surely they get a few extra years for it. Nope. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as of 2017 life expectancy in Canada was 81.9 years, in the UK it was 81.2, and in the United States it was 78.6. In fact, Chile and Costa Rica had higher life expectancies than the United States.

Finally, a note about choice. My wife and I have lived in Canada for seven of the last eight years and will be returning within days of this article. During our time in Canada, we’ve had several direct encounters with the health care system and have gotten to know a number of Canadians that have been dealing with it their entire lives.

Because my wife has type 1 diabetes, finding and keeping affordable healthcare in the United States was always a struggle. Group insurance through an employer was the best option, but this meant that every year as her employer signed on to a new plan she often had to find a new doctor because her old one was not part of the new insurer’s network.

As the name implies, single-payer means there’s one insurer for everyone. No doctor is outside a Canadian province’s network. If a Canadian travels to a new province, agreements between provincial governments guarantee coverage will be maintained. The only reason a doctor might turn someone away is because he/she is no longer accepting new patients.

My wife has been able to find a specialist she likes in Canada. There’s absolutely no danger that at the first of the year British Columbia is going to decide to drop her doctor from their network because every doctor is paid through the same network. In other words, Canadians have by far greater choice than Americans. Americans insured through their employer have no say in who the insurance carrier will be from year-to-year and the pool of doctors inside any given insurer’s network will always be smaller than the total number of doctors available. It is simply false to speak of American healthcare as an example of choice in this context.

Healthcare delivery always involves tough choices. Triage requires individual doctors and entire healthcare systems to prioritize the treatment patients will receive according to the staff and other resources available and the demands being placed upon the system on any given day. That’s true in every country in the world.

But Dr. Waldman and other critics of universal coverage are simply wrong when they say that countries like Canada and the UK are doing a poorer job of handling these choices than the United States. The statistics don’t support their claims and haven’t for quite a while. The fact that Dr. Waldman failed to provide data for Canada or the UK in his article should make clear he knew the data didn’t support his argument.

Speaking from personal experience I can say without hesitation that the cost to us of the Canadian system has consistently been very small relative to what we spent on healthcare in the US. Test results have been available to us within 24 hours every time and our treatment at doctor’s offices and hospitals have been excellent. In the US, getting test results required a return visit to the doctor’s office which usually meant another bill. The amount taken out of our pay-checks in the United States to cover our personal portion of the monthly insurance costs would have paid for roughly 6 months of premiums in British Columbia.

It’s time Americans stop listening to the critics of universal healthcare and start looking at the data. By every measure the American health care system is failing to deliver the kind of care so much spending should guarantee every single citizen. When it comes to health care the United States lives in one very big glass house. It should stop throwing stones at other countries and start taking a good hard look in the mirror.

Follow Craig on Twitter or read him on Medium.com

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These Five Senate Races Will Make or Break the Blue Wave

By Drew Zirkle | United States

With midterms fast approaching, Democrats are beginning to target specific races in the hopes that they will win back the seat advantage in the Senate. Currently, the GOP holds a slim majority of 51 to 49, but that majority is far from secure. The Democratic Party, which hasn’t held a majority of Senate seats in over 3 years, is making a valiant effort to retake enough seats to put them back in control. Coalitions of establishment voters, progressive voters, and young people all over the country are looking to catapult fresh faces past GOP incumbents as well as secure weak incumbents against GOP advances.

As we get closer to November 6th, key races that will be necessary victories if the Democrats are to win back the Senate majority are beginning to emerge. Along with the exorbitant amount of data and factors to consider when determining the performance of Democrats, these five Senate races will stand out as indicators of whether the balance of power will shift in Washington after the midterm elections.

#1. Rep. Jacky Rosen (D) V. Sen. Dean Heller (R), Nevada:

The Race:

Jacky Rosen is relatively new face both Nevada and National politics, however, her candidacy is proving to be a powerful force that her opponent, incumbent Dean Heller, is struggling to contain. Jacky began her career in politics in 2016 after then-Senate majority leader Harry Reid asked her to run for Nevada’s 3rd congressional district, a congressional district that encompasses the area South of Las Vegas. Despite being a newcomer to politics, she beat career politician and familiar GOP candidate Danny Tarkanian in a very close race.

Although the race was close, it was still a great victory for the Democrats, as the NV-3 district had only been in control of the Democrats for 2 years since the year 2000. Rosen then decided to throw her hat into the ring for the 2018 Senate race, and to her benefit, no other major Democrat’s opposed her. After mopping up a field of weak primary candidates in June, Rosen has put all her energy into building a robust campaign to unseat the incumbent, Dean Heller. Behind Rosen’s robust campaign is a strong foundation of political capital in the form of endorsements, which she got from key figures like Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren. Despite having only two years of political experience, Rosen has the appearance of a seasoned politician despite being a fresh face in Nevada politics.

Geographical Analysis:

Nevada Senate races are especially unique, as only 2 counties reliably get over 150k voters while the rest get less than 30k. Those two counties, Clark and Washoe counties, are the keys to the Senate seat. Although Clark county almost always has a Democratic majority because of the presence of Las Vegas, Rosen must secure a large margin in that county to ensure victory. Luckily, Rosen already has a wealth of political connections in the county because her current house district, NV-3, is located within Clark County. In order to be successful, Rosen must get at least a 10% margin of victory in Clark County.

In 2012, the unsuccessful challenger against Heller only had a 9% margin of victory in Clark County, compared to the successful Democratic candidate in 2016, who had an 11% margin of victory the county. Although a 2% difference in one county doesn’t sound like a lot, that 2% figure will represent nearly 15,000 voters, a number which could mean the difference between victory and defeat. Rosen will also have to outperform her 2012 counterpart in Washoe county to achieve a victory. In 2012, Heller had a near 10% margin of victory in Washoe County. Rosen will have to limit her margin of loss to at least 3-5% in order to win the race.

Summary:

The power behind the Rosen campaign has the Nevada GOP and the Heller camp sweating bullets. Recent scientific polling is looking favorable for Jacky Rosen and although she currently has the advantage, further polling could even bring her outside of the margin of error. As long as Rosen doesn’t underperform in key areas, she becomes the kingpin Democrats need in their crusade for dominance in the Senate.

Rep. Jacky Rosen (D) Chance of Victory – 70%

#2. Sen. Claire McCaskill V. At. Gen. Josh Hawley, Missouri*

*(Missouri Primary elections are on August 7th)

The Race:

Senator Claire McCaskill is an outlier. She is a two-term Democratic Senator in a state that is reliably Republican in Presidential elections as well as most state offices. McCaskill has had a long career in politics, with her involvement in state and local politics beginning in 1982 in the Missouri statehouse. She began to rise through the ranks in state politics until 2004, where she made a competitive but ultimately unsuccessful run for Governor. She tested her luck again statewide in 2006, but this time, for a Senate seat. She successfully unseated incumbent Jim Talent (R) with just under 50% of the vote and then in 2012, won a second term with a 55% share. McCaskill has been able to walk a very thin line of moderate policies to keep the support of mostly-red Missouri, however, it appears as though her luck may be running out.

Her opponent, Missouri state AG Josh Hawley, is a young face in the Republican party and has received a lot of support from national figures, such as President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Although Hawley is a strong candidate, he has flaws too. Hawley has been criticized for being a “ladder candidate” and is still embroiled in a primary battle with GOP underdog Austin Petersen. McCaskill is going to need every ounce of her experience and grit if she is going to keep this state blue, however, if the past is any indicator, McCaskill is sure to put up a good fight.

Geographical Analysis:

If McCaskill is to win in November, she is going to have to push hard in key counties that she lost in her failed 2004 gubernatorial campaign and that Jason Kander (D) lost in his doomed 2016 senate bid. She will also have to secure key high population areas that traditionally vote Democrat in Missouri. In St. Louis City, St Louis County, and Jackson County she will need to earn 80%, 55%, and 60% respectively in order to stay afloat. However important this urban base is, it is not enough to win outright.

In 2006 she won a number of more rural counties south of St. Louis such as St. Francois, Washington and Iron counties. She also managed to keep above 35% in many of the rural counties she lost. This is in stark contrast to 2004 when she struggled to win any rural counties and dipped into the 20-30% range in the rural counties she lost. Trump’s invigorated base is what doomed Jason Kander’s race in 2016, however, if Josh Hawley is unable to harness Trump’s energy again in 2018 McCaskill may be able to gain just enough support from the smaller counties of Missouri to cobble together a victory.

Summary:

McCaskill is in a very dangerous spot. She is running in a state where Hillary Clinton only got 38% and is up against a young candidate who has the backing of a President who performed very well in the state. Despite all this, McCaskill is polling marginally better than Josh Hawley, although her lead is so small it’s almost superficial. If McCaskill is able to buckle down in key rural counties and secure her base in urban and Suburban centers, McCaskill will have a good chance of securing her third term and helping the Democratic Party maintain a majority.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) Chance of Victory – 55%

#3. Fmr. Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) V. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R), Tennessee*

*(Tennessee primary elections are August 2nd)

The Race:

Tennessee is a state without an incumbent this election cycle. Last September, when current Senator Bob Corker (R) announced his retirement, the Democratic Party saw a window to potentially flip this state from red to blue. The challenger looking to take the state back into Democratic hands is experienced politician and well-loved Tennessee figure, Phil Bredesen. Bredesen was the Mayor of Nashville from 1991 to 1999, a position that gave him enough political clout to claim victory in the 2002 and subsequent 2006 elections for Tennessee Governor. Bredesen was able to accomplish all of this by maintaining a moderate stance, as any position too far left would be detrimental in a state as conservative as Tennessee. Despite his moderate stance on most issues, Bredesen has earned endorsements from Joe Biden as well as Sen. Doug Jones, Sen. Ron Wyden, and Sen. Tammy Duckworth.

Bredesen is expected to easily win his primary field on August 2nd, as is his presumptive opponent, Rep. Marsha Blackburn. Blackburn is a familiar face in Tennessee politics as well. She has been the representative from Tennessee’s 7th district since 2003 and has won all of her elections with over 2/3 of the vote. Despite her success in congressional races, Blackburn has never run for a statewide position before and lacks the high number of statewide political connections that Bredesen has. Despite this, Blackburn’s campaign is being helped along with endorsements from a slew of GOP figures, including outgoing Senator Bob Corker and President Trump. Although Bredesen is a dying breed of blue-dog Democrat, he is the perfect candidate to concoct a winning formula in this deeply red state. He has done it twice before for the Governorship, and, with any luck, he should be able to pull it off again for Senate

Geographical Analysis:

Predicting what a statewide Democratic victory looks like in Tennessee is not easy due to its rarity. The only modern examples to go by are Bredesen’s previous statewide victories in 2002 and 2006. Most Democratic candidates running in statewide elections in Tennessee only achieve victory in Davidson County (Nashville) and a smattering of other rural counties, a result which adds up only about 1/3 of the votes statewide. To do better, Bredesen is going to have to replicate the magic that got him elected in 2002.

Bredesen was able to reach a majority of 50.5% by coalescing victories in a number of rural counties in the Northwest and central parts of Tennessee as well as Nashville and its surrounding suburban counties. These victories combined with strong showings of above 40% in most of the counties he lost ensured a win for Bredesen. In order to win again, Bredesen must succeed where other Democrats failed. He must garner widespread support in a coalition of rural counties to stand a chance. The urban and suburban populations are not large enough to secure a victory alone.

Summary:

Senator Bob Corker’s resignation is dream come true for Tennessee Democrats. The hole left open by Corker has turned this GOP stronghold into an incredibly volatile race. Phil Bredesen has repeatedly polled ahead of Marsha Blackburn and occasionally has been outside the margin of error in said polls. A repeat of Bredesen’s statewide results in 2002 and 2006 may be on the books if he is able to win the hearts of Tennessee’s rural population.

Fmr. Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) Chance of Victory – 65%

#4. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) V. Rep. Martha McSally (R), Arizona*

*(Arizona primary elections held August 28th)

The Race:

Sen. Jeff Flake (R) made waves he announced his retirement from the Senate after speaking out against President Donald Trump, however, his departure from the Senate may be even more important than his time within it. A tightly contested battle to fill the shoes of Flake’s shoes is playing out in Arizona, with Democratic challenger Rep. Kyrsten Sinema gaining considerable support for her campaign. Sinema has held the AZ-9 district since its creation in 2012 and is not only the first openly bi-sexual member elected to Congress, but is also currently the only openly atheist member of Congress. Sinema is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition and frequently compromises between progressive and moderate views when making policy decisions.

Sinema is expected to win her primary by a large margin, however, the same can not be said for her potential opponent Rep. Martha McSally. Although McSally is the favorite in a field of 3 major contestants, conservative firebrand Kelli Ward and contentious former sheriff Joe Arpaio are only polling about 10% behind McSally. McSally also suffers from a lack of inter-party support, failing to yet win an official endorsement from President Trump. On the contrary, Sinema has an endorsement from Joe Biden as well as 15 Democratic Senators. In the face of a very divided Arizonian GOP base, McSally will struggle to hold together a base of energetic voters should she win the GOP primary. Because of the GOP division, Sinema and the Democratic party may have the political upper hand in this key Arizona race.

Geographical Analysis:

Arizona county maps for statewide political races often look identical. There is often few races where a particular county will flip from cycle to cycle, meaning that the GOP continues to hold a small advantage in most statewide races. To secure victory, Sinema will have to shore up democratic strongholds as well as perform well enough in GOP territory to flip Republican-leaning counties. Sinema could work to flip either Yuma county or Navajo county, both of which will have around 30k voters and were carried by
Jeff Flake in 2012 with only 50% of the vote in each county.

Sinema could also target Maricopa County (900k voters) or Pinal County (100k voters). Both of these counties were also carried by Flake with less than 52% of the vote in 2012, however, their size and entrenched GOP base may make progress in these counties difficult. Finally, Sinema needs to retain at least 55% in Pima County, by far the largest Democratic stronghold (350K voters). Should she fail to secure this base of Democratic voters, any campaigning in GOP held areas will not be enough to achieve victory.

Summary:

As GOP infighting continues to damage their front-runner, Kyrsten Sinema is taking charge and looks as though she may just have enough support to flip the seat in favor of the Democratic Party. However, the race is far from over and scientific polling is highlighting the closeness of the race. Sinema is currently is only polling with a 5-8% advantage over McSally, meaning although Sinema holds the advantage, it is by no means comfortable. So long as Sinema can stick to a smart campaign and the GOP remains divided, she has the opportunity to change the status quo of Arizona statewide politics.

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) Chance of Victory – 75%

#5. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) V. St. Rep. Mike Braun (R), Indiana 

The Race:

This seat has repeatedly been rated among the most volatile for current Democratic Senators, and in a state that only voted 37% in favor of Hillary Clinton, its no wonder Sen. Joe Donnelly has been put in a precarious position. Donnelly, who has only been serving in the Senate since a 2012 victory, is expected to have a hard time holding onto his seat despite his challenger being a 2 term member of the Indiana state house. Although Joe Donnelly has a much greater wealth of experience than his opponent, he is running in a state that has really bought into the Trump narrative against establishment politicians, putting Donnelly in a position where his experience is actually preventing him from making inroads with certain blocs of voters. Donnelly has gained and maintained popularity in the conservative state of Indiana by being flexible and exemplifying the bipartisanship that red state Democrats must engage in to retain their seats.

Despite his efforts to maintain a base of moderate and left-center supporters, Mike Braun, Donnelly’s opponent, has managed to harness the populist energy that allowed Trump to win Hoosier moderates in 2016. Braun is also receiving national support from former Governor of Indiana and current Vice President, Mike Pence. Donnelly is also currently caught in a dilemma between his past support of protectionist trade policy and the current reality that Trump’s protectionist policies may hurt his constituency. It’s safe to say that there is an uneasiness among Democrats regarding Joe Donnelly’s chances at keeping the seat.

Geographical Analysis:

In order to win in November, Joe Donnelly will have to fight to earn widespread support beyond the Democratic sanctuaries of Northwest Indiana and Marion County. One key bellwether county could be Vanderberg county. This Southern county with about 75,000 voters was won by Obama in his 2008 presidential victory in Indiana as well as by Donnelly in his 2012 Senate victory. Other races where Democrats lose statewide have seen key losses in Vandeberg county as well as significantly lower percentages in other Southern counties.

In order to win in November, Donnelly will have to win Vandeberg county and retain between 42-45% of the vote in many of the southern rural counties that he has little chance of winning. Donnelly will also have to perform strongly in Delaware and Madison counties, two counties with over 40,000 voters that saw a heavy GOP swing in 2018. Furthermore, Donnelly will have to get at least 60% in the Marion County, the Democratic stronghold of over 300,000 voters. All of these circumstances and more will have to be met if Donnelly is to avoid a loss like Evan Bayh (D), who suffered a crushing defeat in the 2016 Indiana Senate Race.

Summary:

Joe Donnelly’s seat is in an incredibly precarious position this November, and the DNC knows it. Money and resources from the coffers of the party have been flowing to Indiana in an attempt to crush the momentum that Mike Braun currently has. Donnelly’s victory in 2012 was an anomaly and many don’t expect his luck to hold up again. Luckily for Donnelly, much of the outlook of this race has been shaped by speculation, as solid polling has yet to be conducted in this key race. Donnelly will have to reverse the momentum that Hoosier Republicans had statewide in 2016 in order to avoid a devastating loss for Senate Democrats.

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) Chance of Victory – 35%

Conclusion:

This year’s midterms promise to be a very exciting time in politics, and an especially crucial time for Senate Democrats, who are hoping to break the GOP majority. Although these 5 Senate races are the bellwethers for Democratic performance, they are by no means the only races that are close or important. In both traditionally-red North Dakota and politically divided Florida, Democratic incumbents are trying to hold off strong campaigns by popular GOP figures. In Texas, dark horse Rep. Beto O’Rorke (D) has the opportunity to overthrow Republican heavyweight Sen. Ted Cruz (R).

All over the country, Democratic Senators from Montana to West Virginia to New Jersey are attempting to keep the upper hand in volatile races with formidable challengers. No one can doubt the power of the blue wave, however, the geography of this midterm heavily favors the GOP and will make it difficult for the Democrats to take back the Senate majority. The road may be long, but, there may just be enough power in the progressive movement to overcome the difficult situation the Democratic party faces this November.

Chances that Democratic Party Becomes the Majority Party Following the Midterms – 20%


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Gary Johnson Will “Very Likely” Enter New Mexico Senate Race

By Drew Zirkle | New Mexico

The New Mexico Senate race, a competition that was previously thought to be a predictable stroll for incumbent Sen. Martin Heinrich (D), is expected to change drastically in the coming hours and days. Gary Johnson, prominent Libertarian Presidential candidate & former Republican Governor of the state is expected to enter the race soon.

The current candidate that the Libertarian Party is fielding for Senate, Aubrey Dunn, is expected to relinquish the nomination for the race today at 2:30 PM EST according to the chair of the NM LP, Chris Luchini. This will allow the New Mexican Libertarian Party the opportunity to nominate a new candidate for the upcoming general election in November. Luchini has confirmed that the New Mexico Libertarian Party Central Committee has already scheduled a meeting for this coming Saturday to choose a replacement candidate to run for Senate.

When reached by phone, Luchini stated that he spoke with Gary Johnson earlier today and that Johnson was “very interested in considering getting into the race.” Luchini also stated that there were no other candidates interested in running and that the central committee was ready to “offer [Johnson] the position.”

This development comes at an incredibly crucial time for the Libertarian Party, as the New Mexico LP has reportedly received an incredible increase in donations and interest for the upcoming Senate race. In addition to the increasing strength of the Libertarian Party, the GOP is facing difficulties in this particular race. The GOP candidate, Mick Rich, has no political experience, is polling very poorly, and has reportedly only raised around $650,000. Additionally, according to an unnamed source, Mick Rich refused to accept campaign donations at a recent campaign event in Los Alamos, leading to some speculation that Mick Rich may drop out of the race, leaving the Senate race wide open for a potentially powerful Johnson campaign to take on Heinrich.

Regardless of whether Mick Rich drops or not, his campaign is beginning to flounder, with most polling data putting him under 40% despite the fact that most GOP candidates are competitive in statewide races in New Mexico. Gary Johnson, a popular former Governor and a recurring figure in national politics, is expected to have a competitive advantage over Rich. Johnson is also expected to be a problem for Martian Heinrich, as Johnson’s familiarity with voters and established base of support ought to give him an energized base of support at the onset of his campaign.

Although Johnson has not publicly announced his intention to run for the Senate seat yet, it is abundantly clear that the Libertarian Party of New Mexico is preparing for Johnson to take up the torch behind the scenes. Furthermore, social media groups have sprung up on Facebook and Twitter suggesting that Johnson’s team is gearing up for the announcement. This preparation combined with Johnson privately confiding his interest in running indicates that in the coming days, Johnson is likely to launch a formal bid and this previously quiet Senate race will turn into one of the wildest races to watch this November.


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A Recent Spike in Bitcoin Leaves Members of Congress Speechless

By Dane Larsen | @therealdanelars

“As long as the stupid criminals keep using Bitcoin, it’ll be great,” -Michael Conaway (R- TX)

Representative Conaway of Texas’ 11th Congressional District made snide remarks about members of the American cryptocurrency community. Along with his traditionalist GOP and financially unstable Democratic colleagues, he took cheap shots at crypto investors, without giving opportunities for rebuttals.

At a segment of the Committee of Financial Services, the subcommittee of the Monetary Policy and Trade received some backlash from the crypto community. The 115th US Congress was incredibly biased against decentralizing the government in the economic sector during these meetings of the Subcommittee.

“As a medium of exchange, cryptocurrency accomplishes nothing except facilitating narcotics trafficking, terrorism, and tax evasion,” -Brad Sherman (D- CA)

The greatest allure of Cryptocurrency, its anonymity and decentralized nature, is under attack by legislators who seek to regulate currencies like Bitcoin. The House and Senate have already made necessary action forcing members of Congress to “disclose their holdings”, and passed a bill to facilitate exchanges of Bitcoin and other popular cryptocurrencies, in an attempt to stop illegal activity. Some councilmen and women have even been in the works trying to write a proposal flat-out prohibiting the mining and use of Bitcoin.

Predictably, the reaction by the media and elites was to cast doubt over the ability of cryptocurrency users to circumvent the Federal Reserve and current monetary policy practice. To praise people like Conaway for calling out the “criminals” is to go with the mainstream; in other words, the easy way out. Congress would rather clump all investors into this stereotype of the small minority, rather than sympathizing with the crypto investors and looking with a broader approach, at the sheer amount of people who are involved in the community without coming at it from an illegal standpoint. A very large portion of the community is involved to ‘stick it to the man’, not deal drugs or hold prostitution rings. We know this objectification all too well because cryptocurrencies have had a negative stigma since the launch of Bitcoin in January of 2009.

The feeling of detest for Bitcoin is bipartisan in the US House and Senate, yet the wonders of BTC, BCH, LTC, and ETH are global. The market shows many young people are interested in investing in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

An enormous amount of knowledge that the American people know about Bitcoin (considering Litecoin, Etherium, and other cryptocurrencies are about as exotic of words to them as anything), is about the Great Spike in late 2017, when BTC rose to just about $19,000. After that, the people know that has decreased. But after that is where the stories go through two different paths. Most households believed that crypto fizzled out into nothingness until it was a memory: a forgotten commodity.

The extent of crypto knowledge for the average American is about the Great Spike of late 2017, and it’s eventual fall from grace. When BTC rose to $19,096.64 in late last year, then falling down thousands of dollars in a matter of days. The general public thinks Bitcoin is dead. However, this couldn’t be more wrong. Bitcoin is alive and well, showing signs of promise and great potential for the coming months to end off 2018. Bitcoin is up $2,324.52 since last month, reaching $8,200. Whether it was just a leap in public interest, or the word spreading about crypto, the price of Bitcoin is rising at a steady rate.

Since the Subcommittee of Monetary Policy and Trade, and the rise of Bitcoin, no Representative who called out or talked bad about the crypto market and/or community has made any public briefing admitting their fault or apologizing. Although expected, we can all sit back, disappointed at the disconnect from the D.C. members of Congress and the American public.


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Iran vs The World

By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

From its inception in 550 B.C., the Persian Empire reigned with fervor and might. The Persians carved out their territory that would expand across major parts of Eurasia, keeping the Greeks at bay, as well as other nations in pursuit of their own place in history. Ever since the first establishment of the Persian Nation-State, they have had to fight off other nations and were influenced by them. The biggest change first occurred in 637 A.D. when Persia fell into the hands of the nomadic Arabs at the Battle of Kadisiya which is close to the Euphrates River. Once the Arabs took hold of the Persian Empire, they brought with them Islam and Arabic, which forever changed the Persian language and religion casting out most Zoroastrian practices. Zoroastrianism was not only the main Persian religion of choice, but it is often considered the first monotheistic religion of the world. After a long period of delegation, finding peace under the new regime and identity of the Persian Empire, in 1722 Afghan rebels had a degree of conflict with the Persian Empire, and they pursued the capturing of Isfahan. This seizing of a major city led the way for Russia and Turkey to also plunder their way through Persia, and by 1724 the Russians and Turks split the spoils among their militaries and elite.

By the 1800s to mid-1900s, the British and Americans had tight economic and personal relations with Persia. Although the British and Americans were both there to better petroleum and crude business in their favor, it was only the Brits that were seen as adversaries while the Americans were generally seen in favor by the Persian people. This was surely well-established when many Americans who were living in Persia in the early 1900s fought along the Persians’ and their rights in the Persian Constitutional Revolution from 1905 to 1911.

As quoted in the book, All the Shah’s Men, one person wrote, “…The American contribution to the improvement and, it was felt, the dignity of our impoverished, strife-torn country had gone far beyond their small numbers…Without attempting to force their way of life on people or convert us to their religion, they had learned Persian and started schools, hospitals, and medical dispensaries all over…” They went on to say, “The dedication of these exemplary men and women was not the only reason many Iranians admired the United States. American officials had spoken out to defend Iran’s rights. The United States sharply criticized the 1919 Anglo-Persian Agreement through which Britain acquired colonial powers in Iran.”

“That same year at Versailles, President Woodrow Wilson was the only world leader who supported Iran’s unsuccessful claim for monetary compensation from Britain and Russia for the effects of their occupation during World War I. In the mid-1920s an American envoy in Tehran was able to report that ‘Persians of all classes still have unbounded confidence in America.'” Of course, needless to say, it was also the US President, Woodrow Wilson, who would, unfortunately, lead America out of a more non-interventionist leaning foreign policy, into a hawkish mentality of a pursuit of war and control in the world from WWI to his constant concern for control over the Middle East. To this day, his policies plague American politics creating countless numbers of problems for the US and the world in an onslaught of political blowback.

In 1935, with relations with and influence from Nazi Germany, Persia’s name was changed to ‘Iran.’ This was a cognate of the word ‘Aryan,’ as the Nazis were in pursuit of the origins of the actual Aryan nation of people, and Persia’s leader, Reza Shah, wanted to establish good relations with the growing German powers. Not only was this a means of changing the direction of the Persian nation, but it was also a way of aligning with the Nazis against the British and Russians who had plundered their land for well over a century. This allegiance to Nazi Germany would prove tragic for Iran in WWII, as in 1941, the Anglo-Soviet Allies invaded and ensured the Nazis could not keep reign over the region.

With growing tensions over the following ten years from the British setting up the Anglo-Persian Oil Company also in 1935, Persians’ boiling tempers over increased economic struggles, and the ongoing introduction and implementation of Socialism, after also being struck left and right by the British, Americans, Russians, Turks, Afghans, and others, Iran voted to nationalize the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. The name was then changed to the National Iranian Oil Company. This, then, led to Mohammad Reza Shah officially signing the 1951 declaration that the State was the sole owner of the company, and put Mossadegh as Iran’s Prime Minister.

Mossadegh’s office prompted news outlets around the world to respond and criticize from various perspectives. The British press criticized Mossadegh for being like Robespierre, very Socialistic in a negative way, after Iran essentially stole the company rights. While the US, on the other hand, praised Mossadegh for being like Thomas Jefferson freeing Iran from the British as Jefferson helped to free America from the British. Although, the British interpretation of the events was probably more accurate than the Americans’, both the British and the US colluded together in 1953 to overthrow Mossadegh and return the Shah.

In 1953, the CIA and Britain’s M16 staged a coup in Iran to overthrow Mossadegh because it was clearly evident that he was attempting to allow the Soviets into Iran instead of the Western Allies. The US policy at the time, the Truman Doctrine, stated that the US would come to the aid and defense of any people threatened by Communism. Mossadegh’s introduction of disorder within Iran was eventually the downfall of the Shah and allowed Socialists and Communists to infiltrate Iran ever since.

Iran has been continuously influenced by the outside world in that it has lost most of its military capabilities coming from the 5th largest military power in the world and then losing most of it all by the early 1980s after the Iran-Iraq war. Iran now continues to seek to create nuclear weaponry in order to better negotiate their place in the world and to possibly end many of the sanctions put on them by the US. The US and Iran used to have very good relations and diplomacy prior to the end of the Shah’s reign.

Today, Iranian leaders continue to utilize Diversionary War Theory “which states that leaders who are threatened by domestic turmoil occasionally initiate an international conflict in order to shift the nation’s attention away from internal troubles.”  Many of the economic difficulties are not only due to the government seizing companies especially in the oil and natural gas industries, but also the sanctions brought on by the US. So, it is not as obvious that leaders in Iran are attempting to divert the attention of the economic struggles of Iran, rather there is some justification for their anger towards the US.

Iran’s justified anger with the US was initiated by the US’ infiltration and establishment of Mohammad Reza Shah and continued acts of aggression such as severe economic and travel sanctions, and completely encircling Iran with US military bases and battleships. Furthermore, since the US has now backed out of the Iranian Nuclear Deal that was being led by the Obama administration, Trump’s administration will most likely be reimplementing these heavy economic and travel sanctions, along with several others that are surely to assist in the near total destruction of Iran.

This, of course, is not to suggest that Iran is completely innocent. Iran has innumerable cases of human rights violations and a severally corrupt government which allows paying one’s way out of crimes and completely undermining the private sector as the Iranian government has the power to seize and control privately owned companies at near whim.

Overall, Iran has been shaped, influenced, benefited, and harmed by the international community from almost the beginning. The strife caused through interventionist policies of outside nations and States has also prompted internal domestic conflicts and turmoil for Iran. These instances of influence have led to destabilization and the pessimistic future for Iran. Although Iran has done everything they believed possible to leverage their negotiations by building nuclear weapons and attempting a Nuclear Deal with the US, unfortunately it has thus far failed. Iran’s past one hundred years has already been filled with chaos and confusion, surely the next one hundred will be the same as long as countries outside of Iran continue to intervene and act in hostility towards them; and if Iran continues to violate the rights of individuals within their borders, there is no hope for Iran as a country.


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