Friday, February 15, 2008

Book Review 2 Marys Too Much

“2 Marys” Too Much

The Two Marys: The Hidden History of the Mother and Wife of Jesus

Sylvia Browne, Dutton Press 2007
ISBN Applied For: 978-0-525-95043-1

“To Mother God, Azna.”

I knew from the dedication page I was in for an interesting read.

Capitalizing on Dan Brown’s popular yet controversial “The Da Vinci Code”, Sylvia Browne has picked up on the “The Grail is a uterus” idea and run with it. Amazingly enough, the act of writing the “Two Marys” evoked visions of the events in Jesus’ life accompanied by insights from her own spirit guide Francine. Will wonders never cease.

Dan Brown’s thesis made for a good read, it would not revolutionize the Christian church politic, Catholic or otherwise.

To recap, his premise was that the phrase “holy grail” was the English bastardization of the Spanish phrase ‘Sange Real’ meaning literally Royal Blood (blended to gr-eal or eventually in English “grail,”) and supported the premise that the grail or chalice was actually the Illuminati symbol for the womb, their big secret. So, putting these 2 strong pieces of happenstance together we get the discovery that Jesus’ mom Mary was the vessel of Him, the Prince of Peace. As was His wife Mary of Magdala, a vessel for his daughter Sarah.

There is no proof in the form of a birth certificate bearing the names of the parents as

Father: Jesus of Nazareth Occupation: Carpenter and Itinerant Preacher, Savior, and Prince of Peace
Mother: Mary of Magdala, Occupation Disciple.

This after the Crucifixion when Jesus, Mary, his mom Mary and step-dad Joseph all scooted out of town leaving folks with the belief that he had been killed. The Son of God pulled a fast one, but it was for a greater good. To go hang in India for awhile while Joseph went ahead to start a group of disciples in Glastonbury, England. This from the legend of Jesus starting a sect of Believers in Glastonbury Tor during those missing years between being 15 in the Temple, and being 30 in Temple.

But we do have it on good authority from Francine after all. And who better to give us a first hand look at the life of Jesus life.

But who are we to judge? The existence of Jesus has never been proven to begin with. On a more serious note Ms. Browne really does have some other more sensible things to say salted throughout the book which reads like a narrative, mainly to promote the philosophies of her church in California, Noveau Spiritos.

1. The need for tolerance for other religions including the classicist form of Islam which is in and of itself tolerant. Islam does recognize the place of both Jesus and Mary as prophets. And, an ancient copy of the Talmud does reside in the Muslim controlled museum of Sarajevo.

2. Male domination of western society via the Christian church has led to the subjugation and abuse of the female gender, not mention silencing female perspective in church life for hundreds of years.

3. That many Jesus’ disciples were women who helped not only preach and teach, but kept the kitchen fires and laundry kettle working.

And perhaps most importantly,

4. That religion is a political tool used to manipulate the masses by wrapping up wartime agendas in sheep’s clothing by preaching hate and teaching legalism.

What can I say? Even a broken clock is right twice a day. From prophecies in the early 2 century BCE, the Messiah has been both a dividing and unifying political force. In the prophet Isaiah’s day he was the longed for hope of nationalism for the Diaspora. Spoken of as the Prince Peace and the holy line. In the days of Jesus Messianic prophesies were the political hope of national self determination in the hearts of the Jews living in Roman occupied Jerusalem. Never more so than in the hearts of the Zealots the underground resistance movement of the Jewish people.

Like most of her work as a psychic the author’s work is salted with common sense and sensible observation used to substantiate an outlandish statement. Any 7 year old knows to be convincing you must mingle in enough truth to make the lie convincing. After all, she does have a church, a web site, and book contract, and family business to support.

Sylvia Browne is a New York Times Best Seller for similar works and appears on The Montel Williams show once a week.

Monday, January 21, 2008

“Crank this sucker up.”

This was the insight President Gee Willikers Bushcountry shared in a press conference last Friday. I’d like to crank up his brain if I thought I could find an on switch.

Bush dispensing advice about the economy is about as productive as his pontificating about the Middle East when he's waited until his 7th year in office before going there. In his entire rich, opportunistic oil money life. Frankly, Bush had never been out of the country until 2001. His parents were probably afraid to let him wander too far from home. I know I am. Especially anywhere near where fiscal policy is being discussed.

Oh but wait, the professionally reassuring parlance doesn’t end there. Treasury Sec. Henry Paulson said they would be sure to “get the relief out quick as a bunny,” in regard to the making sure those tax cuts and rebates to help out the folks the great leadership of this administration allowed to fuck up the mortgage industry, the only thing we had helping our sagging economy.

Where they’re getting the money I don’t know. The dollar is devalued every time they cut the interest rate. It’s called inflation. And we are in a recession simply because as a nation we are borrowing more than we can pay back. Their answer? Extend more credit. That isn't how you pay off the mortgage, President Bushcountry. He probably lets his wife handle the check book.

Like a toddler who has just figured out how to change a channel for the first time, he just can’t wait to point that universal remote of INTEREST RATE at another fiscal problem. So far Bush has received positive reviews from the press and all the presidential candidates who like him share an equal but unimpressive understanding of simple economics. There should be an evaluation for candidates to take when they turn in their notification that they are running for office. At least then the voter could see what they were getting themselves into.

Good thing it's an election year, at least everyone wants to be seen as wanting to do something.

Seriously, I fear the house of cards will collapse just about the time Bush FINALLY vacates the office for another party figure head fucktard. I’ll tell you why.

According to my Economics for Dummies 101 class in tech school, lowering the interest rates actually is supposed to encourage consumers to spend more on credit and pay off their bills. Isn’t that what got us into this mess? Rising prices and less jobs and lower wages for AMERICAN citizens? You know, the ones paying taxes to keep the government going.

BUT if the creditors are making less in return with new loans, credit card purchases and the like because the Fed keeps playing with the interest rate, how are we ever supposed to get out economy back on track?

The fact is, higher interest rates keep inflation (rising prices) down because there is less money released by the Fed into the economy. The cost of borrowing money goes up and gives the stock market a reason to live again. In a credit based economy, that’s the whole shootin’ match. The nut, everything. Higher interest rates mean more return on an investment. Lower the interest rates and investors look elsewhere.

Like another country’s economy.

So You Think You Want Universal Health Care

Of the key topics of this presidential election, health care is ranked at least second in level of importance to the voter according to my casual man in the street quiz. I would include myself in that average too. Well until I saw a segment of Nightline on the MSNBC web site which aired on December 10th, 2007, on NBC Nightly News.

All information that follows is taken completely from their own investigation.
(See )

Five million dollar wheel chairs, phony, and fraudulent perscriptions and phony arms are costing the already burgeoning Social Security Administration an estimated 60 billion dollars a year. And the majority of those clams are coming from south Florida, mainly Miami and Hialea, where the offices in question are located in densely populated Cuban areas.

Many of the offices sending in these phony claims are just an office and a phone, as FBI investigators discovered when they attempted to arrest the alleged perps. Dialing the phone number listed on the claim application, they stood outside the door and listened to it ring. Many of these offices are just a desk and phone and chair sitting in the middle of a ten by ten foot room.

The extent of fraudulent activity reads like a comedy of errors. But not a very funny one to the American tax payer losing benefits and experiencing cut backs. And a former defrauder said the Social Security Administration makes it all too easy and claims the government bureaucrats should bear at least part of the blame.

A woman receiving $150 in cash from a health care provider for signing a form for AIDS medications. Paperwork proved she had done this regularly for a long period of time.

“A recent report by the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services noted that 72 percent of the Medicare claims submitted nationwide for HIV/AIDS treatment in 2005 came from South Florida alone. That percentage is of great concern to authorities, since only eight percent of the country's HIV/AIDS Medicare beneficiaries actually live in South Florida, a clear indication that the level of fraud was, as one official put it, "off the charts."

“One of the most common schemes is the illicit billing for DME, or durable medical equipment, such as oxygen generators, breathing machines, air mattresses, walkers, orthopedic braces and wheelchairs. This scheme involves billions of dollars a year in illegal claims. Raul Lopez, the president of the Florida Association of Medical Equipment and Services and the director of a legitimate medical supply company, said the fraud is so widespread it hurts the many valid DME companies, which are struggling to compete.

Unlike real DME companies, which have showrooms, warehouses, public offices, trained staff and professional record-keeping, the fraudulent companies are usually shell companies with shadowy business practices, hidden owners, and tiny, locked offices which are only there to create the illusion of legitimacy. They rarely have any medical products for actual sale or delivery.
"They're lined up in hallways one after the other, office after office with a locked door, no foot traffic, no employees, no medical equipment," said Ogrosky. "We're talking about billing that goes up in the tens of millions of dollars for places that don't exist."
FBI agents looking for suspected front-companies that Medicare records show are actively billing rarely find much to search. "We often don't see places. We find vacant lots, we see mailboxes, we see an office suite shared by 30 companies. We're not finding legitimate companies where we can go in and do a search warrant," said Delaney.

On a recent trip to some shopping centers and office buildings in the Miami area, FBI agents Brian Waterman and Christopher Macrae knocked on the doors of several purported medical supply companies. Most of the offices were locked during business hours, with no signs of any activity. Calls to the offices went unanswered.
Referring to one of the closed offices, Waterman said, "The amount of money in dollars that this company is billing for in the last month are close to a half million dollars. We're just trying to find out what they're billing for and what they're doing."
Across the street, in another small office complex, the agents found another six supposed supply companies that also were locked. "Building's closed, kinda tough to deliver stuff out of here," Macrae noted. "It doesn't surprise us at all. This is typical."
“To show just how bad it can be, federal officials in Miami pointed to a red electric wheelchair they seized from an illicit company. Normally it would cost about $5,000. But by billing Medicare over and over, nor ever delivering the wheelchair to an actual patient, criminals charged a total of $5 million for that one item alone.”

Read your EOBs

“When he got his Medicare EOB, or explanation of benefits, Davis couldn't believe his eyes. "I was amazed. I looked at it and thought this has got to be a mistake."
“After alerting the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami, Davis received a visit from two FBI agents, who took pictures of his arms to prove they hadn't been amputated. They told Davis his case was part of a huge scheme involving dozens of illicit companies. "It's just outrageous," said Davis. "You just think of the money being lost. It is millions and millions of dollars."
“Short- and long-term schemes with complicit patientsLaw enforcement officials said most Medicare fraud can be divided into two time-frames. One technique involves a quick hit where the practitioners set up their companies, bill Medicare for a while and then quit, usually within the 90 to 120 days it takes for many of the more obvious frauds to be detected.
"They get in, they open up a corporation, they bill, they shut it down, and they move on and they open up another corporation," complained Delaney. "By the time the computer processes the claim and there's data for us to dive into, that money's already been paid."
“The companies are often set up using straw purchasers and fictitious or "nominee" owners who have nothing to do with running the actual scheme. One purported medical company CEO actually turned out to be an employee of an auto tire store who had been paid by fraud organizers so they could use his name on the corporate records.
"We've actually seen where they recruit this nominee or store buyer/owners from another country. They pay them for the sole intent of opening up corporations, businesses, bank accounts in their names, and they get the other half of the payment when they go back," said Delaney.
“The second technique involves a more lucrative and long-term fraud, which is much more complex and requires the complicity of doctors and patients in order for the billing scheme to continue without the authorities being alerted.
"The office manager, the doctor, the patient, and the patients' families often know what's going on. It runs the entire spectrum," said Delaney, the FBI supervisor.
"We are up against an organized foe.”
“Homemade medicines sold to the publicOne of the most disturbing schemes, law enforcement officials said, involved the formulation or "compounding" of homemade aerosol respiratory medications for which Medicare was billed for hundreds of millions of dollars, along with the costs of the machines supposedly used by patients to inhale the drugs.
"These aren't real drugs, they're being whipped up in the back of pharmacies," said Ogrosky. "One of the independent pharmacies that was whipping up medicine had people making the medicine that were not at all qualified." One of those people, he said, was actually an air-conditioning repairman, who was making medicine that was "disseminated to thousands of patients."
“A problem for law enforcement officials is that as soon as they catch on to a certain phony drug, the illicit medical providers concoct something else for which to bill. "We and the Medicare program catch on to the fact that they are abusing that drug, so we clamp down," Delaney said. "They switch to another form of therapy that isn't being looked at so closely."

Please read the entire story and watch the accompanying video clip for yourself to feel the impact of this investigation. I would keep an eye on this ongoing investigation. Contact your congress person’s office to get some heat on the problem. I’ll leave you with this response from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“Response to Medicare fraud report
Official response from The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
updated 8:06 a.m. CT, Thurs., Dec. 13, 2007
function UpdateTimeStamp(pdt) {
var n = document.getElementById("udtD");
if(pdt != '' && n && window.DateTime) {
var dt = new DateTime();
pdt = dt.T2D(pdt);
if(dt.GetTZ(pdt)) {n.innerHTML = dt.D2S(pdt,((''.toLowerCase()=='false')?false:true));}

Below is the official response to the Medicare fraud from The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which administer the program. (Nightly News received this after the two reports had run on-air.) The response in full:
"HHS and CMS continue to aggressively target DME fraud on several levels and it remains a top priority. It is appalling that some seek to steal from a program intended to help millions of people, including some of our country’s most vulnerable citizens.
In addition to implementing stringent enrollment standards and background checks to ensure the legitimacy of suppliers billing Medicare, CMS is also conducting more frequent site visits to ensure supplier compliance with Medicare rules and tougher quality standards.
Along with state and other federal partners, HHS has significantly enhanced its efforts to identify fraudulent billings and prevent those billings from recurring. CMS has also launched a DME demonstration project in South Florida intended to test tougher enrollment criteria and a mandatory surety bond regulation will further enhance HHS’ ability to detect this type of fraud and work to deter it before it occurs.
Beneficiaries can do their part by carefully reviewing their Medicare billing statements and protecting their beneficiary numbers. CMS has been educating beneficiaries across the country about the importance of safeguarding their benefits.
Finally, we look forward to working with the Congress to gain expanded funding for our anti-fraud efforts."”

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Already Revising History on A War We're Still Losing

Okay, I guess the party is wearing down. A lot of the cool guests have gone on to better events. The lights are starting to come up, and the losers linger over warm watery drinks telling their loser stories of better days when they really were someone. In varying tones of tired alcoholic breath they drone on in your ear about how great they were, but.... In this particular case its Doug Feith doing a lot of revisionist history in his book, "War and Decision." The point he is beligerantly trying to make is that Iraq would have been a huge quick success of democracy if only we left his pick -Chalabi- in charge. "This from a guy who sent our military into Iraq without the right armor, the right force numbers or the right counterinsurgency training."

Check out Maureen Dowd's column for today.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Violating Federal Court by Destroying Tapes Sign of Nation Divided

The White House has maintained support for whatever needs to be done to bring confessions from detainees in “The War on Terror”. The latest case involves Abu Zubaida and his record interrogation time of 35 seconds due to the use of “water boarding,” a type of torture that convinces the tortured they are going to drown. The detainee is strapped down to a table, the nose and mouth covered with cellophane, water poured down the throat and aspirated into the lungs. The next day (apparently after he recovered) he turned on several terrorists in time to thwart their attacks. In effect saving lives. So, the ends seem to justify the means. Or do they?

Leonard Doyle writing for The Independent in Washington wrote on 12 Dec.2007: “The torture of interrogation has led to a fierce argument among US intelligence agencies and in the armed services. The FBI which is responsible for counter-intelligence in the US adamantly opposes the use of torture as counterproductive and unreliable while top CIA officers continue to defend it as an important tool in their armory against terrorists who do not respect the rules of war. The Armed Services reject all forms of torture on the basis that they are unreliable.”

I think I would say anything to get off that table. Got to agree with the Armed Services on this one.

Then there’s the morality question. Doesn’t the administration, adopting the stance of a Judeo-Christian nation sitting in judgment on the Taliban’s backcountry Islamic way of life have a responsibility to assume the higher ground? After all, Bush invaded Iraq to bring it democracy. (Well, given the dearth of WMD we were promised as proof as Saddam’s commitment to attack Western “democracy” in the form of giving residency to Osama Bin Laden while he planned and carried out his attack on NY twice, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania. Or something like that. Why are we there again?)

Or, do you take the other position that we should be as brutal as the Taliban? Golden Rule or tit for tat? Efficient crime fighting or thuggish potentially resource wasting tactics?

In a country united behind its leadership in a time of quote-end quote war, it would not have been necessary for the CIA to destroy the tapes of Abu Zubaida’s or other’s interrogations. Nor a Federal court to forbid the Bush adminstration from doing so. I think that act illustrates a deeper more pervasive ill. In a phrase, the continuing polarization of a nation with itself. Keeping us at odds with each other as citizens at the most basic level, and branches of government on the macro level, is the only fruit this administration has born since its inception. And the line in the sand has been Iraq.