by Steve and Timothy Imholt (mainly Steve, Tim was too angry, as he is an adult with autism and has an autistic son he pays out of pocket to cover.)

Do you remember the debate about why Obamacare was going to be so very good or so very evil (depending on who was hogging the microphone)? Regardless of where you fell on the scale from progressive to arch conservative, one area which had very little argument was over what healthcare should cover regarding children. Yes, there was argument about the role of government, about government over reach, about fiscal consequences, but about kids?

Nope, I don’t remember it.

I bet you don’t either.

I can remember the discussions about orphan drugs. I remember comments from both sides about catastrophic coverage. Even discussions about pre-existing conditions. These were things that most people thought the ACA would/should (depending on party affiliation) cover. Even the insurance companies and the Republicans in a last ditch effort to stop the ACA talked about other legislation, in place of the ACA, that would cover pre-existing and catastrophic situations.

But what they didn’t do was talk about situations that were fixable when the fix was expensive. Talk about donut holes. There is donut hole in coverage the size of the Holland Tunnel if you work for most companies. You see, the way things are today, some kinds of illnesses actually ARE covered by the ACA marketplace and public aid, but NOT through employer plans precisely because they are so expensive, and the employers had good lobbyists to get wording in there for an exemption for employer based plans.

Still others aren’t covered by the ACA market place OR the employer because get this… they are too expensive. It’s like finding a Ho Chi Minh tunnel at the bottom of a Florida sized sinkhole. You take the tunnel because you have to.

Is there a poster child for this hole? Autism.

You see, when you catch autism early it is treatable. But the treatment needs to be aggressive. And even better, its effects can be truly managed and even called cured. But the current costs are somewhere higher than $30,000 and in some cases even $50,000 per year for several years. Most employers would rather not have to deal with that kind of cost. And (please use a Gomer Pyle voice when reading this), Surprise, Surprise, Surpirse, state and federal laws say they don’t have to cover it.

Think about this. The employed person has to pay out of pocket to get his kids treated. That same person has to pay taxes that, in turn, pay for subsidized coverage for other people, some of whom don’t have a job, so that their kids can get this treatment because the ACA says that they can. So one guy gets to fork out the money twice, or if he can’t afford for his kids to get these treatments out of his own pocket has real problems.

That is assuming the guy who has a job can find a way to afford it. How many people have that kind of money leftover from the rest of their budget in their after tax salary? Especially with all the new tax rates, hikes in grocery store prices, and stagnant wages in the middle class.

It is a nutty situation, but that is just one prime example. We are SURE there are others. We will be on the lookout. Just follow bankruptcy filings and some will likely be found.

The ACA act itself provides a partial loophole as well. Turns out the Fed doesn’t always cover it because it’s a congenital condition. Those plans which do cover it are a lot more expensive. Currently, the only real option left for a family with an average income is for the kid to get put on public aid. On public aid, the kid can get covered. Except that like a Ho Chi Minh tunnel, the hole can collapse at any moment.

Now for those readers who don’t have to deal with this every day, getting on public aid is NOT like switching cable companies. You need to get qualified again, and again, and again. It takes a lot of effort by parents to pull it off. And each time they have to requalify, treatment gets impacted either because docs won’t accept it, or they can’t actually deliver until approved (again and again and again).

Remember that comment about catching it early, and being aggressive? Let’s be blunt. Being aggressive is not compatible with government paperwork.

So, as a country, we end up actually causing kids to not get the treatment they need, exactly when it would do the most good. All because companies didn’t want to have this really large cost, and the Feds on ACA didn’t want the premiums to go up even more than they are going up next year.

How did it get this way? From my perspective, it was because from the progressive standpoint, it had to be covered, so sticking it to the states was a good idea. (Actually for some of the progressives, anything that eventually will lead to a single payer system is a good thing, no matter how many kids get trampled in the meantime). But the conservatives aren’t off the hook either. Again, from my standpoint, allowing companies to exclude this kind of thing, is the direct equivalent of being Pontius Pilate, washing their hands. Why? Because for conservatives, anything that shows how bad the ACA is must be good, no matter how many kids are trampled.

From my perspective, political autism has eradicated public oughtism.

The saddest part of all? It’s not those kids knowing that they won’t be treated today. You see, none of them will notice it today because they are too young, and they really do have issues. And it probably won’t be those kids when they are grown, because at the speed they won’t get treatment, they will have challenges, at a much higher rate than they should. And the annual cost of that will be paid by everyone, just as the ineffectual treatment they will get because of a defective public aid system.

Yet keep sending these yahoos back to Washington, again, and again. Perhaps it’s the public who is more autistic than we would ever want to admit.

DSC01862

By Timothy Imholt PhD

Carly Fiorina recently had a chance to put all the republican candidates on the defensive and missed it. She struck out.

How did this happen?

I was recently in the audience at an event hosted by Scott Brown with Carly Fiorina addressing a crowd of a few hundred individuals, some supporters, as well as some potential supporters, all hoping to be able to see her talk and perhaps ask a question or two of their own.

One of the hardest, so far undDSC01864iscussed problems, the next President will face is what to do about Social Security. I know the old joke, give it to old people. Ok, yes, let’s do that. Here is the problem. There never has been a social security trust fund. That thing is a myth.

The way the system works is that today’s retirees are paid by today’s workers. I do not begrudge people this program, as they paid into it when they worked. So please don’t say I’m against it. I think it is there, it exists, and as such we need to pay attention to the thing to make sure it is functional.

Here is the issue. The deductions coming off of every working American’s check going into the program fall around 10% short of what is currently being paid out. That is as of late 2015. That number, according to CBO projections, only gets worse every year from this point forward into the foreseeable future.

She got the question from an elderly gentleman who was concerned that the check may get cut, stop coming, or annual increases could become a thing of the past.

Admittedly this is a very hard problem to solve, but Carly had no idea what to do. It was like she didn’t see this one coming, although it has been in the news for a long time.

Her answer (I will paraphrase) rambled around and become a political non-answer. It was also strange to listen to it at something called the DSC01857No B.S. Backyard BBQ, but we will let that go.

She started by saying that American’s by a large margin now think that the Federal Government is corrupt. That percentage is so large she said that we can’t even start to dig into that problem until American’s faith is repaired.

Hey Carly, how about fixing problems as a way to restore that faith…just a thought.

Second, she said that she would sit down with American’s of all ages to see what they want and expect out of that program.

Ok, sure, that’s a nice way of saying something people want to hear while you figure out where to go next.

The final part of this answer was that there are a lot of proposed solutions out there about the Social Security shortfall filling these huge binders. She said that after restoring American’s faith in government, and asking them how much they want to get paid from the Social Security program (ok those were my words, she said ask American’s what they want out of the program, which in my mind amounts to how much do you expect to get paid.) Then she will sit down and figure out which of those plans best solves the problems.

Hey Carly, if those plans worked, and Congress would pass them, they would be in place. Also, ask Mitt Romney how well comments about binders full of something goes over with the voting public.

The remainder of this answer was some mention of zero based budgeting (which I think is a good idea). However, diving into a talk about the main governmental budget when talking about Social Security also seems like a bit of a ramble, but we shall leave that alone.

The only conclusion I can draw from these rambling answer is that Carly has no idea what to do about the shortfall in this program or any other for that matter. She couldn’t bring herself to say we need to cut this, or cut some other program and beef this one up. The only other option is raising taxes or the retirement age. But she avoided saying anything bad opting for a rambling non-answer.

Now, I will be the first to admit that a fix to this particular problem is not easy or painless. Mentioning that the fix will cause pain to voters will not make her popular so perhaps it was best to dodge the question I would have preferred someone who used to be a CEO to put it on the line. Say we have four potential things (maybe there are more these are just examples):

  • raise the retirement age
  • increase SSN taxes
  • means testing for payees
  • raise the retirement age

Let her, or any other candidate, come out and say some combination of those things will have to happen and then let the other primary candidates answer the “hey Carly Fiorina said” question from the press. Instead a golden opportunity was missed and we are still not talking about one of the larger problems facing the aging population.

Hey Carly (and everyone else in the field on both sides of the political spectrum), leaders have to face uncomfortable questions. Be a leader, get a plan on this subject, put it out and make it part of the discussion. Americans like leaders. The way you answered this question did not say much in my mind to your leadership skills when it comes to the difficult to cope with solutions. Not all answers will be popular if you are a good leader, that is just part of the deal. All candidates must understand that situation, and you as well as most of the others, so far are avoiding the toughest ones.

Nicholas Angel: How could this be for the greater good?
Neighbourhood Watch Alliance: [all together] The Greater Good.
Nicholas Angel: Shut it!

Hot Fuzz 2007

Autism is a disorder, really a neurological condition that is typically diagnosed early in childhood that is characterized by huge difficulties in communication and forming relationships with other people. These challenges are due to the way the people with this condition use language and interpret abstract concepts.

My son is a four year old on the autism spectrum. He sits in the mild side, and has been in treatment for a while to treat his various developmental struggles. He is far from alone in these struggles. The autism spectrum is a wide range of severities of this disorder but it is said that more than 1 in 100 kids (more like 1 in 88) sits on the spectrum and requires some kind of treatment. These treatments can be shockingly costly.

Many of these treatments have been covered by our insurance company as every therapy he has been in was prescribed by a medical professional. He has been to neurologists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, all kinds of stuff. The co-pays alone would boggle your mind.

Then we come to today. He goes to one of his two regularly weekly scheduled speech therapy appointments that, until this week has been covered. The health care provider puts in an authorization request for treatment before his appointment (as is their normal procedure), and it is denied. That is strange, why now, why not a week ago?

Something strange is afoot at the Circle K you say?

Wait for it, this gets worse.

It turns out that under the Affordable Care Act they, according to the insurance company, they are required to only cover these types of therapies for “restorative reasons.” What is a restorative reason you ask? They can cover more but it is at their discretion. So, what company would do so if they don’t have to? Well certainly not this one.

Put another way if he had been in an accident and lost the ability to speak they would help, otherwise they won’t. Autistic kids are out of luck I guess, at least to go through a qualified private insurance covered speech therapist.

I was angry for a variety of reasons mostly because this is landing on us with no warning.

So, I asked, what is going on? When did this change?

Oh a letter was sent out 3 days ago? On Friday, and today is Tuesday? Nice, I guess I haven’t gotten or read that yet but ok.

I asked the question, what are these kids supposed to do? Have no shot in life? Medical professionals can prescribe a treatment and unless you can afford the $250-$400/week in cost out of pocket your kid is just out of luck?

No, that isn’t the case, the insurance company representative says. I can appeal (which they told me would in all likelihood be denied but I can do it), or I can go to the local school system department of special education.

So let’s review:

  • Covered last week not covered today
  • Costs of my policy go up year over year
  • Out of pocket just increased by at least $1000/month for a procedure prescribed by a medical professional (and that doesn’t include all the increases in copays elsewhere).
  • Coverage is shifting away from treating those with diagnosed disabilities, sort of.
  • Because of his age he might be covered merely by an already overspent public school system according to the insurance company (the school district disagrees).

Put another way the ACA through some convoluted process just shifted what should be a medical procedure onto the school system?

I guess they wanted the federal deficit numbers to look better for the kids they have to cover through the subsidies? Could that be the case? Surely not…No, they would never forget to tell the whole truth right?

Does that seem like how things are supposed to work?

It appears as though we are playing a shell game of which part of the government goes into debt to do the job it was design to do. Also this brings to mind what qualifications the school system has to do therapeutic treatments that should be done by someone trained specifically for this purpose. Or is the Department of Education just working its way into all aspects of our life so that it never gets cut back and only grows?

Whatever the reason is this monstrously large bill that was supposed to bring down costs is certainly having issues proving its worth beyond some kind of procedure requiring a band aid or the most cursory of treatment.

As an interesting PS to this story. I was on twitter venting about this and got pounded by several people from one of the two major political parties. One statement said, basically, I didn’t get it and that it was all for the “greater good.” Another insane defender of all things done by one party said that, essentially, not that long ago no one got anything.

The “no one got anything” statement is interesting because instead of fixing the problem by making sure everyone gets something we are stripping coverage on an obviously pre-existing condition and blaming corporate greed. I am my wits end with the partisan garbage. We no longer care about solving problems in this country merely about assigning blame. We do this while parents have to figure out how to help the very small children that we are supposed to be doing all of this to help. I will find a way to make sure Emmit gets what he needs, but it sure would be nice to be able to keep the coverage I liked, without that price going up yet again or coverage being reduced even further, but I can I can keep my doctor if I pay for it out of pocket while paying the insurance company to do less with more.

I guess we hoped, and we got change.

Tim I. PhD

-Author of the bestselling novel Forest of Assassins

Amazon.com Widgets

Update:  DTG:  “The Greater Good” Boy that argument sounds familiar:

*********************************************************************

The name niche market principle applies to DaTipJar.

For a Donald Trump the 22K that would cover my expenses for the and the extra $10K that would pay for the roof, car, floor kitchen and bathroom repairs that I had to put on plastic would be nothing and if my traffic was the size of a Drudge getting enough people to kick in to cover those bills would likely not be an issue.

But I have to take things as they are so if you like what you see here including my paid writers like Tim Imholt and have a little extra you can spare.  I’d appreciate it if you would hit DaTipJar





My goal for 2015 is Twenty Two grand which will give me a nominal living doing this.

Olimometer 2.52

That gets all the bills paid. (including my writers like Fausta)  If I can get to Forty Thousand I can afford to travel outside of New England and/or hire me a blogger to help me get it done.

Consider Subscribing 100 Subscribers at $20 a month will get the job done and then some.

Choose a Subscription level
Beanie : $2.00 USD – weekly
Cap : $10.00 USD – monthly
Hat : $20.00 USD – monthly
Fedora : $25.00 USD – monthly
Grand Fedora : $100.00 USD – monthly

Additionally our subscribers get our podcast emailed directly to them before it show up anywhere else.

If you could kick in I’d really appreciate it.

 

 

We have all watched the news and seen week after week of commentary on the Iran nuclear deal. The coverage has gone everywhere from “walk away,” to “the best deal anyone could get.”

Walking away isn’t a good idea in this case, but ok I get it. I understand the sentiment.

This being the best possible deal isn’t a great way to approach signing onto something either. I mean seriously, if you walk onto a Hyundai lot and they want you to pay the same price as a Mercedes S series (north of $100k) you walk away quickly, despite the fact that it is the best deal you can get, but admittedly here we can’t really walk away.

To the President’s statement that the alternative is War, I’m not sure I believe that either, but ok I get that alternative is a possibility as well.

Here is the real deal, and I have this from multiple sources.

We have had sanctions in place for a long time which has stifled Iran’s economy in a lot of ways. Economic conditions have slowed their development programs on a number of government projects including those designed for military use.

Well, I have been talking to some folks in Washington and it appears obvious that the United States had two choices, sign the deal, or never get any concept of what is going on there again in any fashion. This deal isn’t much better, but one step at a time.

Who would have told us that?

Russia and China.

If there are international sanctions on Iran from all over the world these things work well. If Russia and China drop their sanctions and we keep ours what is the impact of our sanctions? In reality, if that were to come to pass, very little.

It is becoming more obvious every single day that there is an alliance growing between the Iranians and the Russians.

Don’t think that is right?

The Washington Free Beacon broke a story yesterday titled: Russian Warships Dock In Iran for War Training.

So now we have Iran wanting newer weapons, including ICBMs, all manner of enhanced military developments including a missile shield, the Russians who need an economic boost and would love to sell these things to someone (for oil perhaps?) working together.

Well, we had two choices. Sign this deal or have the old deal become so meaningless that it wouldn’t matter.

Now before someone calls me names I am not saying we should have signed it.

Let me rephrase the situation.

If we didn’t sign the deal President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry would have been left looking like the “uncool” kids on the international stage who wouldn’t let the big guy do whatever he wanted. They wouldn’t or couldn’t stand up to the Russians and say niet (no).

Why might that be?

Debt. Our national debt may be what has driven this. Could it be that the Russians and the Chinese threatened to dump US debt quickly for pennies on the dollar if we didn’t go along with it?

Hmmm. Perhaps.

The federal government currently is roughly $18 Trillion in debt. That’s a lot of zeroes. Put another way that is $18,000,000,000,000 in debt (give or take).

We currently owe China $1.2T.

With Russia it isn’t nearly as bad its only $115B.

Combined that is over $1.3T.

If they dumped that much in US debt on the market at 50 cents on the dollar our economy would go into a tailspin like no other. The US dollar would have almost no value internationally and we would be in a worse place than ever before.

Perhaps this is the world’s first case of economic terrorism. I could be wrong about that, it might not be the first.

When I wrote the book The Last World War, a fiction novel about the world as Iran sets off its nuclear arsenal I never would have envisioned that we allowed it to happen. It appeared to strange even for fiction. The rest of the novel has been called horrific and given people nightmares at what could happen, but the initiation of that situation being us is just strange. The world does appear to be stranger than fiction.

In this case it becomes obvious that the United States is being told to do something or else. There is very little other reason to do this deal that is obvious in the evidence. Accusations can be made about the President being a sympathizer, or any of another dozen things we can throw around as conspiracies but I don’t think that is the case. This is a clear case of economic international pressure. It appears our inability to get our fiscal house in order has prevented us from having much influence internationally. The US is weak, and it is a problem that must be solved immediately. We have to get our economic house in order.

Nuclear ExplosionAs I grow older I have noticed that the world around me has changed. This is not unusual; change is the one constant in life.

One of those changes has been a gradual shift in politics to pure name calling and lack of, let’s just say, honesty with politicians. But, it isn’t just them. We elect them, therefore, isn’t the voting public at fault? Well, that is a philosophical question for another day, but applicable to this particular discussion.

As a nation, like it or not, we are about to enter into an agreement with the Iranians pertaining to their nuclear agreement. As a part of this “deal” Iran will obtain nuclear weapons. It is going to happen.

Who cares if another Nation has these weapons? After all, there are other nuclear powers which including the following:

  • The United States
  • Russia
  • The United Kingdom
  • France
  • China
  • India
  • Pakistan
  • North Korea
  • Israel

At least these are the known ones.

What’s one more?

The difference here is that Iran is spending loads of money supporting terrorist groups and their tactics and has also declared what they would do with these weapons should they have them.

Now, I know, someone is going to say, “Ohhhh those crazy Iranians are just saying that to make their citizens happy, they really won’t use them.”

Ummm, ok. Maybe, but maybe not.

Personally, I am well aware that there are conventional weapons now that offer up the same yield as a nuclear device. All one has to do is look at the MOAB for this sort of behavior. Google MOAB sometime and see the videos on YouTube. It is a conventional device with as much explosive power as the Hiroshima Bomb.

Back to the Iranians and name calling.

I have entered into a discussion with people about this deal. I have often been called names because I wasn’t 100% on board with the President and Secretary Kerry. Fine, call me names who cares. But I think it speaks volumes of where we are in this national politically.

If we can’t have a dialog for more than 2 minutes offering up concepts and ideas and backing those up with one another without being called names because I don’t instantly agree with you, well that isn’t going to offer up viable solutions now is it? If you keep putting down a person’s Idea long enough just because it does not follow along your party lines, soon you will get no ideas from other persons you are in fact requesting alternative ideas from.

Think of it kind of like incest. One generation down maybe nothing weird happens but sometimes you get Geoffry from Game of Thrones.

The only other thing that happens when I discuss this Iranian deal is discussed in my experience is the question “What’s the alternative, no deal? War?”

Think of it like buying a car. Would you spend Mercedes Money on a Hyundai? No that’s a bad deal. So most people would walk away.

Yes, no deal is fine in that case, and with the Iranians. It is ok sometimes to walk away.

But not when it comes to politics. There we just need a deal we can go on the news and say look we got a deal. Yeah, but it sucks. However, that isn’t on the news, but let that go.

Don’t believe me?

A former combat medic and I wrote a book recently called The Last World War (Available on Amazon in eBook and Print).This book was written by myself (usually a conservative guy) and a Texan, gun toting, former combat medic with two tours in Southwest Asia (including combat duty). I assure this particular part of a review made us laugh:

PC Pajama Boys write and AH/Future History Book? Is this what we have come to? Left Wing Obama Boys are now writing in this genre?”

Well let’s see, neither of us are fans of the President, neither of us voted for him, not that it matters. The review went on to basically indicate something that we thought carefully about before writing the book (which has other very complimentary, 5 star reviews btw).

The issue with this person was that if we are nuked by Iran the United States would respond (in his opinion) by turning Iran into a parking lot for a massive glass factory.

Well, I for one am not so sure.

Let’s look at the first few people in that loop. President Obama? Would he nuke back? If Iran had used all of its nuclear weapons and there were no other attacks imminent would he launch nuclear weapons? I don’t’ think so. He would more likely go on TV and demand calm while there was a “detailed investigation to determine who was really behind the nuclear attack.”

Let’s say President Obama was not the President for some reason (which happens in the book) and Vice President Biden is the President? Would he under those circumstances? I don’t think so either. Vice President Biden would roll his eyes, throw his hands up and look like a shifty used car salesman.

How about Speaker of the House? I know he wouldn’t. He’d cry, but not launch nukes.

The book is fictional, but the response by those who chose to not rate it well has all been politically based. Because apparently we have gotten to the point as a nation where two veterans who write FICTION novels are now accused of politics we don’t hold based on what may happen once Iran gets nuclear weapons if we assume the spinal fortitude of those who run our country to be what we have experienced it to be.

Now, personally, I am of the belief that nuclear weapons will be used again in anger. There will be more tests, and there will, almost without a doubt, be an attack using one at some point in the not so distant future. I leave it to others to decide what will happen when that occurs, but I believe what we have written was what would happen based on those in charge today. It would not be a nuclear response on our part. It would be conventional, and our conventional troops are the best in the world, and in my opinion, would be dominant as they always are.

I would like to conclude today by asking that everyone be more patient. Exchange ideas with those we disagree with, have the discussion. Listen to their opinion; ask them why they believe what they believe. If their reason why is reasonable to you perhaps you will change your mind. If it is not, well then you know where the flaw in their thinking is and (key word here) politely point out your why on that same subject, you might just get a convert.

I know someone is going to say, “Yeah well they won’t listen,” well no. Not at first and certainly not if you don’t try, but the exchange of ideas is what adults should do. We should not have name calling, especially by our elected leaders who use the nightly news I’m stuck watching to tell me how awful the other guy is, but never get around to saying what they would do, merely how bad that other guy is.

To the guy who wrote that review, thanks for reading the book, I appreciate you taking some time, but I assure you your review will not go into the annals of history as one we care much about as you admit in it that you stopped reading before the halfway point. Next time, review books you finished and not those you decided who I was and what I was before you bothered to look into the matter. Never, ever jump to a conclusion. Thanks!

We leave you with this thought. The next time we get upset with the ways those that lead this country behave, we have no one but ourselves to blame. We need to find the right guy, not the most “electable,” find the right guy and work hard to get that guy into office. Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done. I’m sure someone told that to a guy named Washington a long time ago.

Thanks for reading the post, and for those who have read and enjoyed my various works of fiction, I am humbled by you taking the time to enjoy that work. It is an honor to have fans.

by Timothy Imholt, Mike Garst

 

Every career field causes stress. How we handle that stress helps us cope with our chosen careers. Military members (on the enlisted side) have some unique ways of doing that, especially when in the field. As a couple of guys who did our time in uniform as enlisted dudes we may have needed that relief and been creative all at the same time. Always a malicious pairing!

As a result many pranks resulted over the years. Now that we are both out of uniform we put some of those pranks on paper.  Still not sure what I am talking about?  Here is the introduction to our book, Laughing at a Military Enlistment which can be found on Amazon.

Laughing at a Military Enlistment

Introduction to the book!

 

There are numerous books written by ex-military men and women.  Many of these are written by officers with the word leadership woven into the title someplace, and they hold great lessons for people in all walks of life. Many of these are phenomenal books that will cause anyone to think about and appreciate what our military members do in order to keep us safe.

Then there are others outlining acts of heroism so great they deserve a book, if not movie, of their own.  One such title that immediately comes to mind is Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson.  There are also a great many books of this type that will cause anyone to respect our military men and women for their sacrifices while performing acts of heroism.

This is not one of either of those kinds of books.

This book shows another side of military life, which is really specific to the male enlisted soldier’s life.

What happens when you get large groups of guys together?

Before you think of an answer consider that these are guys that live together, eat together, work together, and are, for better or worse, in close proximity essentially 24/7.

Well, boys are boys, and as a result, sometimes jokes, not to mention other funny things happen.  Neither of us can say if anything similar happens in the female enlisted ranks as we aren’t women.  But men are different than women, and let’s just say our sense of humor, especially when we are together in large groups, is far different than women’s.  It isn’t better, or worse, it is just different.  It is far more juvenile.  We can admit that, and that may be the first step to recovery, but we have lived this long in our current state, why bother growing up now.

This book tells the humorous side of what happens when new people join a unit, someone lets their guard down, or in some other way enlisted men have just a little too much time, or perhaps alcohol, on their hands.  These are some of those hijinks, pranks, and other humorous things that happened, at least those we will admit knowledge of in a format our wives may see.

What do we mean by that?

Well here is a preview of coming attractions.

Basic training is meant to do some very specific things. Among them is to train people to blindly follow orders, without asking too many questions (something that changes fast once out of boot camp).

In an army unit we won’t name, because they will probably enjoy anonymity after this, guys coming straight from basic training were just practical joke fodder.  I mean, why not, we all went through it, and we all need a laugh from time to time.

When the new guy first shows up they report in, and some desk Sergeant will see them before anyone else.  Depending on who is working the desk this can go smoothly, or this can be…bumpy is probably as good a word to use as any.

One way in which this can go down is when Sergeant sees where you are coming from, realizes you really are fresh meat, he may stand up and starts to yell like a Drill Sergeant for no other reason than he can, and he is bored that day.  All sort of things will be yelled, insults about the new guys mother, how women will never go for a weasel-looking (we are trying to keep this clean, these insults are usually far worse) guy like him, blah blah.  Then, at the very end, he will shout at the kid, “Now you will need some special equipment while you are in my unit.  Go down to supply and get yourself some dehydrated water.  Don’t come back without it you maggot!  Go! Now!”

Dehydrated water, the kind where you just add water and you have water.  Well, the kid will run off to find some supply Sergeant who will look at him and say, “What?  They didn’t give you that before you left training?  Shit, I’m all out.  Go see my buddy over at XYZ unit, go by foot, run, now, its two miles west of here.  Get going dumbass!”

This works only if he can keep a straight face, sometimes even the best of us break character.

Well, you can see where this goes.  Some number of hours/minutes later an exhausted kid finally catches on and goes back to find the Desk Sergeant laughing hysterically.

As a side note, dehydrated water was always a long shot.  Not many people would fall for that one, and usually the Supply Sergeant couldn’t keep a straight face.  But everyone once in a while you find that special day when the prank works.

Now, let the fun begin!  Enjoy these stories!  They were great fun to live through; at least once you weren’t the victim.

 

 

The upcoming 2016 Presidential Election Cycle appears to be in full swing even earlier than normal. Polling has begun, we are already seeing stories about who can and can’t win. One side is yelling about how some folks aren’t true conservatives, the other side seems concerned that the person whose turn it is might not get their chance. One side needs to realize that repeating the same word over and over just gets annoying and the other needs to understand that this isn’t the playground, it is the Presidency of the United States, there are no turns here.

Both sides have a wild card, and reason for concern, which is fantastic in my opinion.

Before we get to those wild cards I need to make a point. Politicians concerned about someone else in the race need to keep that thought to themselves. The American people who have chosen to identify as Republicans or Democrats get to decide who their candidate will be. That is how it works. A few people inside the beltway do not get to make that choice for all registered voters.

So, let’s start on the right side of the political spectrum. I hear some yelling and screaming about Donald Trump. “He isn’t a true conservative,” is usually where the yelling starts. “Trump is only looking out for Trump,” comes in there sooner or later. I think with all the lost business Trump is experiencing as a result of his decision to run this isn’t about Trump looking out for Trump. He isn’t trying to increase his name recognition, he is already one of the most recognized names in the country. I think he feels he is doing the right thing. That being said there are a host of policy areas he and I would argue about, but that’s what makes America great, we are encouraged to have that argument.

The interesting thing about Trump, and this is why he is polling well, isn’t his name, it isn’t his wealth, it isn’t even his former television show. The interesting thing is that, for better or worse, the man will give you no doubt as to where he stands today. He may change his position from time to time but his current state of thinking will become known. He will never answer a yes or no question with anything other than a yes or no, and he always answers the question that was asked, without pivoting to something else. That kind of behavior resonates with non-political junkies. The true junkies will dig into policy areas to try to figure out what someone meant by a speech but Trump, you don’t have to do that. I also wish he would spend less time telling us how strong his business is. I don’t care, nor does anyone else.

The remainder of the Republican field is another story. When they talk you get poll tested, politically correct, professionally speech written language designed not to make anyone mad. Trump doesn’t care if you disagree with him, the rest of the field does. Therefore they use some language prepared to soften the blow about where it is they actually stand. That is typically how the game is played, but Trump isn’t typical. Love him or hate him, he is who he is. If he excites people with his positions, he’ll do well, inside the beltway people can moan and groan, but they don’t get to decide who the President is. It is we the people who get to decide that.

On the left side of the political spectrum we have Bernie Sanders. What is going on here is that I see all these stories about how Hillary Clinton and her campaign are concerned about him and his campaign. Then I see some stories written by folks on the right about how he is a socialist. Well, yeah, his positions are socialist, essentially. But, at least we know what his positions are. He, like Trump, speaks his mind which is, as I said above, something voters respect.

I see these stories about former Secretary of State, Senator, and First Lady Hillary Clinton not talking to the press and how the press has decided “she’s the one,” because they won’t ask her a tough question.

Well a couple of things.

Yes, I agree Secretary, Senator, First Lady Clinton should come out and let us know where the heck she stands on certain positions today, as it seems to be a sliding target. The trouble is with her I’m not sure anyone would believe what she says at this point. I think that is one of the two reasons the media would prefer to ask her about her favorite flavor of ice cream. They are more likely to get the truth and they know it.

The other possibility is that Hillary hasn’t been quiet for 30 years. As a result we know the answer we will get on virtually any subject known to mankind. That answer is simple. It is whatever will get the most donations, or what 51% or more of likely voters think. The Clintons are easy to figure out, and you know what you get, so why ask her to talk about much?

With that rant over I want to say I will be watching closely what this campaign season brings us. My sincere hope is that all candidates on both sides realize that the reason Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are polling so well is that we have no doubt where THEY stand. Stand on your positions but be sure they are yours, not your largest donors. Be true to yourself and the voters will at least respect you. We may not agree, but you will be respected. That respect is what could very well be what drives someone across the finish line as the victor.

There is no doubt that the K-12 educational system in this country has issues. The statistics get thrown around on the news from time to time when there isn’t anything else to talk about. Things have been so bad for so long that when the subject comes up most people roll their eyes and say, yeah we need to fix that.

Well, let’s not look at it from the graduation rate, let’s not even think about reading level upon graduation which are two of the favorite stats that get thrown out.

Here is something I learned today that should scare anyone into action who has kids that are about to enter, or are currently in school.

On a national level 5-6 percent of kids in KINDERGARTEN repeat the grade. In some localities, for instance in the worst of inner cities that retention rate is 10 percent or more. It doesn’t stop there.

Think about this for a second. Kids coming out of that level must be able to identify colors, letters, numbers and the like. They should be able to read simple words (I, am, me, see, etc). They should be able to tell stories to adults about their day, answer questions, and be ready counting their coins (pennies, quarters, etc). Remember, that these kids are 6-years old at the end of the grade level.

In fact age 6 is one of the most likely times for kids to be held back!

http://ericae.net/edo/ED267899.htm

We need to kick start kids in life, not hold them back. If children have issues with kindergarten I think parents hold a great deal of this responsibility.

Think it is just impossible?

I have a 5 year old that does all of these things, and more. Now, I take daily efforts to nudge my children on all things academic. That same 5 year old can also add and subtract so he’s all set for entering the k-12 system next year. I’m not concerned for him. I’m concerned for us as a society.

When there are this number of kids who start out life behind we should all be worried.

Well, enter another article I found. One that says kids are worse off if they are held back away from their friends or same age kids. It’s bad for them socially according to the department of education and maybe we shouldn’t hold them back, for the benefit of the individual.

Ok, I get it, it’s embarrassing for these kids.

Well, not everyone gets a trophy every time.

Sometimes if you aren’t ready to move on, you just aren’t. Let’s think about solving this problem. Not just passing kids who can’t make the grade. That doesn’t solve anything, it just makes it worse and it appears to be starting at kindergarten.

I believe that it isn’t just our k-12 system that is letting us down. I think we have a large number of parents that are not stepping up to the plate. It is time for us to put emphasis back on education in the home. It isn’t enough to just drop kids off at school and say ok I’m done with my part. Oh no no no. We must be involved in ensuring our kids are learning. We must help them with their homework.

Being a parent is hard work. I know that some people believe it takes a village to raise a child and that may have some validity. I can’t be his teacher on all subjects. I can’t be his coach on every team. However, that doesn’t not excuse me from being a parent.

We have to find ways to influence other parents to take responsibility. We also need to clean up our k-12 system when it fails.

My point here is that our kids are not learning. We all want to blame the system, but as with most things in life there is no “one size fits all answer.” The actual root cause of the problem may not be any one thing. It will take a functional k-12 system. It also takes kids being in a functional home, with parent(s) who are actively involved in their education until they are old enough to take responsibility for themselves.

K-5 is a very important part of education. It is the basis. It is when parents must be the most involved. I think parents have a hard job. But we must step up to the plate and do what we must to ensure our children get the start in life they deserve. Don’t blame anyone for what is wrong, let’s all fix it. Let’s get together and ensure that we work with them at home and also ensure that they have a great place to go learn.

 

Timothy Imholt PhD

Tim is a weekly contributor to this blog as well as an engineer during the day. He also has written a number of books including the best selling Forest of Assassins and the newly released The Last World War.

By Timothy & Jean Imholt

 

We are autism parents. Autism itself was the subject of television commercials until our son, Emmit, was diagnosed at two years old. The mere mention of the word brought on fear, doubt, distress, anger, guilt, and denial all at the same time! In retrospect this was understandable given that we didn’t have an inkling what that meant at the time. Fast forward to today, when Emmit is four and a half, we are much more educated on the subject and live every single day of our lives with the little dude who forced us to learn about it, and we no longer consider it a two headed, fire breathing monster.

The diagnosis came about because of our crackerjack pediatrician. At his eighteen month checkup he asked us a series of questions about Emmit’s day to day life. The little dude had very few words, he had very poor eye contact and didn’t appear to really enjoy social interaction with his peers; in fact, interaction with other kids seemed to stress him out.

Our son’s pediatrician referred us to a neurological consultant, and ultimately a neuropsychologist at Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts diagnosed him with the autism spectrum disorder. Because of his age at the time of diagnosis it was almost impossible to tell exactly where on the spectrum he fell. If you are not familiar with the spectrum, never fear, you are not alone. It is a wide range of diagnosis (we don’t care for disorders as a descriptor). The range goes from mild to severe. It was obvious he wasn’t severe, but realizing that he was on the spectrum at all was a giant leap forward for us in our path to understanding how to help him.

The diagnosis was just the beginning. If you are ever faced with this situation you will learn that a whole lot of stuff comes immediately following learning that little tidbit of information. Then the bombardment really begins. There are a ton of therapies that he needed to be in starting right away. These included speech therapy, applied behavioral analysis (ABA) therapy, and maybe even occupational therapy (OT) for his sensory processing integration challenges.

Now, Tim works full time and luckily we are in a position where Jean can be a full time mom. Her head was definitely spinning, his head was all fuzzy from the entire thing. She spent a week grieving, then by the weekend, rolled up her sleeves and got to work. There was a collective vow that we would get Emmit all of the resources we could to get him ready for the challenges that life throws at all of us. Around this time we also found out that Tim was diagnosed with virtually the same spectrum disorder as a toddler but was never told for a variety of reasons, just to add fuel to our fire. It was the double whammy of a lifetime. That is an entirely different subject and a topic for another day.

Back to Emmit. Shortly after his diagnosis he started receiving many services through a fantastic State funded early intervention program. This program provides speech therapy using floor time, music therapy (which helps far more than you would think at first blush), OT, and once a week he had a social play date, something that is vital for kids (and adults actually, but the nomenclature should change) on the spectrum. Jean immediately sought out other play groups in the neighborhood and through the local church. We also put him in a daycare a couple of days a week. If it sounds like a busy schedule and yes it was. However it is crucial to expose kids like Emmit to as many socially interactive groups as possible and it has to be done very early on.

As Emmit turned 3 all of the State funded therapies came to an end. That is because among other reasons, he was then eligible to go to a peer model, integrated preschool. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, you have to go through a long, drawn out process of getting what is referred to as an individualized education plan or IEP. This is basically a contract, or arrangement for getting Emmit into a preschool program, and what kind of special coursework/treatment he will get while he is there.

As he began attending school we started to see Emmit vocalizing more, requesting his needs with words, and playing with his siblings more and more. On top of all of that success, he learned other new skills, such as dressing himself, and potty training just to name a few. He loved and thrived under the routine of attending school, and his favorite part, riding the school bus.

Earlier this year Emmit turned four. By this point he was able to request what he wanted on his birthday cake! He went with Minions from Despicable Me (a great movie for kids and adults). We got him the cake he wanted and a fantastic party with his classmates in a gymnastics studio near where we live.

Over time, like most kids, he has been invited to a large number of birthday parties. For a child with autism, these can be nightmares. Emmit has thrived so much that he now loves these types of things. There was one just this past weekend where Tim and Jean were both floored when Emmit took the time to say hello to his friends by their name. On one occasion he even struck up a conversation.

“Jimmy, do you like to swim?” asked Emmit.

Whoa wait a minute! Was that Emmit? Yes, yes, it was. Emmit got his answer, which made him smile.

“Yes.” said Jimmy.

Four year old Emmit wasn’t done.

“I went to the swim class today.  I had four floaties,” said Emmit.

Just as a side note, just before the party Emmit had a swim class and had worn a belt with four layers of flotation foam. Jean was almost in tears when she heard this, because he had made so much progress in such a short period of time.

Earlier in the year, we added ABA therapy back into the mix (the state funded version had ended by this point). This was in addition to the speech therapy that he receives at school as per his IEP. We did this privately because he was found ineligible to receive ABA through school because he is not “severe enough” despite the recommendations of his doctors. ABA is known to be amazingly effective for children on the spectrum. It is specifically targeted to modify undesired behaviors through positive motivation and rewards.

Here was the kicker.  With all of the new insurance laws in place (the Affordable Care Act), we learned that this invaluable service for Emmit would not be covered by our insurance in any way. Two doors were shut in our face. First through the school, the second through insurance. Just slam, right on the nose. This was really surprising, especially the insurance coverage part, considering how much we have heard about improvements in this area thanks to new laws. We also found out that prior to the ACA many insurance policies (including ours) covered this type of therapy.

We were well aware that time was of the essence. If we were going to give Emmit this type of therapy, the earlier we start, the better the outcome. We decided right then and there to self-fund his treatment 100% out of pocket. It is shockingly expensive, but the hope was that Emmit would make great progress quickly, so this wouldn’t be a years-long effort. We are seeing the fruits of his hard work with the ABA therapists every single day. He has learned to share, take turns, a ton of functional language (my tummy hurts, etc), he follows multi-step instructions, he is tolerating undesired activities (to a four year old this is a lot of stuff), he is becoming more flexible, but most importantly, he is now confident in himself (enough to approach someone outside of family and ask questions.)

The term autism is no longer scary to us. To be honest, the term autism parent is not something we really used before today. Part of us has been frightened all along, like by saying it out loud, it would become etched in granite. Now with our newly instilled hope, we are proud to have put all of this in writing. In fact, autism parents should be proud of themselves and should be celebrated. We recently read (more like devoured) a book entitled “Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew” which is very much a paradigm shifting book. One of the many things from that book we found of high value is how the term “autistic child” can conjure up the negative connotation and put a severe judgment and limit to the child’s abilities in our society (using “autistic” in front of child as an adjective).  We as a society needs to work towards eliminating ignorance on the subject of autism.  However in this case, we are of the opinion that “autism parent” conjures up something much different than the previous perception – perseverance, patience, super-mom/dad, expert and advocate.

This subject is one that more people should be aware of, if for no other reason than some of the people that fall on the spectrum are some of the best and brightest America has to offer, merely socially awkward. That, however, does not mean they are to be ignored as is all too often the case. We should help as many of them communicate with everyone else, because quite frankly, given the state of affairs we find ourselves in as a nation perhaps “normal” is not something we should strive for. We need to strive for better.

 

 

Jean is a first generation Korean immigrant, and a graduate of Virginia Tech with a Masters in Chemical Engineering, and a former Program Manager in the Defense Industry. Tim is an army veteran, Physicist and author of several books including The Forest of Assassins available on Amazon.com in print and kindle versions, with audiobook version coming soon.

 

 

 

By Timothy Imholt

Castle_Romeo

As a nation we have long depended on early warning systems like RADAR to tell us of incoming threats. This started during World War 2 when advances the first RADAR systems in the world warned Great Britain of incoming German airplanes allowing the British to put their defensive aircraft exactly where they were needed.

This has extended into defenses against missiles. We have all watched the videos from the Gulf when US PATRIOT Missiles knocked down incoming Scud missiles to defend our troops. These are RADAR guided missiles.

We are fantastic at finding things that fly at us. One might even venture to say we are the best in the world at this.

During World War 2, the only time nuclear weapons have been used in hostile activity, these weapons were delivered using bombers. Japan was hit twice by the United States with fission weapons which brought the War to a close much sooner than otherwise thought possible. We can argue the necessity but that is the history.

If a nuclear device was put into a bomber or thrown on a missile and launched at the United States we would detect it. Of that, there is very little doubt. We might not find it fast enough to stop it depending upon the launch site but we could probably do something.

That isn’t the fear.

The fear is what happens in the modern world.

Nuclear weapons are not the massive things they once were. The World War 2 era devices were massive, hard to move and just simple put big, ugly devices. It is 70 years later and technology has miniaturized everything during the years between here and there.

Today, if someone sneaky, were going to launch an attack it would be through DHL or FEDEX. Don’t believe me, how about The Lexington Institute’s Daniel Goure PhD. He wrote an interesting article, the complete text of which can be found at: http://lexingtoninstitute.org/terrorism-3-0-and-the-need-for-100-percent-cargo-scanning/

The two important paragraphs are:

Counterterrorism experts have long worried that maritime transportation, particularly the traffic in TEUs, could provide a difficult to detect avenue for the delivery of a weapon of mass destruction to U.S. shores. That is why since 2007 there has been a law on the books that the Department of Homeland Security pursue the goal of screening 100 percent of all cargo bound for the United States by the end of 2011. While some progress has been made towards this goal, the reality is that cargo screening today is largely a paper exercise, relying on shippers to provide manifests of what is contained in cargo bins or TEUs. Less than one percent of cargo containers, whether traveling by air or on ships, are actively inspected or scanned with a detector. Sending a bomb in the cargo hold of a commercial airliner or cargo ship might seem to the terrorists like a pretty sure thing.

A weapon of mass destruction or radiological device going off in a U.S. port would cause incalculable physical and economic damage and could result in the loss of tens of thousands of lives. The impact on international trade could be even worse. In the wake of 9/11 the U.S. government initially grounded all flights over the United States. It took about a year to reopen Reagan National Airport. After the Deepwater Horizon Disaster, all U.S. deep water drilling was halted for two years while safety measures were reviewed and upgraded. In the absence of 100 percent cargo screening, even a failed attempt to smuggle a device into the U.S. could bring international trade to a complete halt. Closing U.S. ports for weeks, much less months or years would cripple our economy.

That is correct. One percent of cargo coming into the nation is scanned for these devices and could easily contain one or more on any given day.

If someone with one wanted to get it here, it would no longer take a large effort to do so.

This is why a nuclear Iran, or nuclear terrorism (I’m not certain there is a difference) must not be allowed to happen ever. Not ten years away…ever. If we can’t do better than one percent, and we depend on the shipper to help us, we don’t understand our enemy.

Timothy Imholt PhD

As a short Post Script, I wrote a book about what I think the world would look like should Iran get these devices and do what they have stated they desire to do with them. This book is called The Last World War: Volume 1 Trial By Fission, which is available on Amazon in print and on Kindle.