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Personhood “TBD” 

“To Be Determined,” or the Schrodingder’s cat* version of human rights.

Does the possession of inalienable human rights depend on unknown future facts? Can the moral worth of a human being be determined by the actions of another human being – or by fate, the available and utilized medical technology?

Sherif Girgis discusses the theory of Princeton philosopher, Elizabeth Harman, in today’s Public Discourse. The professor’s view that abortion is – or may be – a neutral act has been the subject of discussion since she appeared in the YouTube video, Philosophy Time, produced by actor James Franco and Eliot Michaelson.

Besides the obvious problems pointed out by Girgis of defining “consciousness” and the TBD “kind” of a human fetus, there are other problems.

First, any concept of “inalienable” human rights would need to be discarded. There goes the Declaration of Independence and the basis of the United States Constitution.

In addition, Professor Harman’s theory would presumably allow the use of bodies of the human species for the benefit of humans with “moral worth,” as long as those bodies are never allowed to become conscious. This is the current practice of researchers using embryos, including those created for the purpose of manipulation and destruction.

But there’s nothing in this philosophy to prevent the intentional manipulation of a human body for research or to benefit others, as long as the body is never allowed to develop consciousness. Continual sedation or mutilation of the brain from the beginning – before consciousness – would prevent the development or acquisition of moral worth and rights.

In the process, “human” rights would cease to exist. The actions of others, laws and location and the potential use of technology would finally determine who is human enough to possess the right not to be killed. (Forget the right not to be “enslaved.”

What happens if (as Girgis proposes) the abortion itself is aborted or fails? Or if the brain isn’t damaged sufficiently to prevent consciousness?

Forget about opening the box: don’t put humans in there in the first place.

*I saw this analogy on a Facebook thread, but thought the same thought before I stole it.

Edited to correct my misspelling of Dr. Harman’s name.

Health Insurance Choice Is Bad?

Health insurance choice is bad?

The San Antonio Express News picked up a Washington Post op ed on those big, bad Republican plans to repeal Obamacare. Originally titled, “The reason Republican Republican health-care plans are doomed to fail,” by the editorial board that declared, “There’s no way to replace Planned Parenthood.”

And it’s bunk, even as prudently renamed and appropriately filed in the Opinion section.

What we are *actually *seeing *today is that costs are rising and insurers are withdrawing from States. Choices are certainly limited if there’s only one insurance company on the exchange and routine screening costs are “free” — But the care for treatment discovered at screenings is subject to high deductibles.

Limited coverage plans with major medical for extraordinary costs – rather than a wish list covered with other people’s money from first dollar – encourages personal responsibility and will cut costs. It would also allow people to own their insurance, rather than have it controlled and limited by current employers.

Science vs. Philosophy

R(obin) Alta Charo has once again been given a platform in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Poor Robin. She conflates ethics and philosophy with science. Although observing what “is” can lead to insight about which actions and manipulation lead to harm and which improve individual and group well-being, Science cannot prove or disprove philosophy, or determine what we “ought” to do.

Ms. Charo continues her career-long advocacy for elective, interventional abortion and against the inalienable human right not to be killed – all in spite of her assertion that she has no conflicts of interest in this essay. By declaring that Trump Administration appointees “embrace alternative science,” Robin makes her own gross scientific error. In addition to confusing “science” and philosophy, she bases much of her objection on an emphasis on “established pregnancies” and ignores the existence of the human embryo after fertilization but before implantation.

The very odd complaint about definitions of gestational age assumes that time varies according to when we start counting days.

Some state legislatures have tried to redefine pregnancy dating, shifting from the standard measure of time since last menses to time since probable fertilization. Such a definition falsely enhances the viability statistics for lower gestational ages and helps to bolster arguments for 20-week limits on abortion rights.

Again: Science is about what 《is,》 while ethics ought to be, not about true  《oughts.》

“Different” (Transgender at 4?)

The TexasGOPVote website chronicles the complaint by a “Conservative, Christian” mom  that her male to female (supposedly) transgender 6 year old shouldn’t be treated differently. I agree with the underlying sentiment that it is not the child’s fault.

The child is treated differently – by parents, peers, school nurses, and any educator, doctor or other professional or official who is complicit with this abuse of a 6 year old child – because the child *is* different. Medicine, physics, and the rest of the observable, measurable and verifiable universe don’t change because a child declares that cold is hot, up is down or boys don’t feel like “she” feels (at the highly experienced age of 6). 

It is disturbing to read about the apparent mistreatment of depression that this mother describes in her earlier blog. So disturbing that I’m inclined to ignore – or at least put off to another post – commenting on the stereotype in the description of “girly girl, Kai, in pink and sparkles” or of  the suggestion in mom’s earlier blog about Joseph as “gay” (at 2!)  for displaying supposedly “flamboyantly feminine mannerisms and love for all things girly.” 

How could anyone so misinterpret the repeatedly voiced desire of a 4 year old to be taken away to heaven because another 4 year old said her father called him a freak as equivalent to hating hair cuts ( or more “feminine mannerisms“)? How can she compare her “secret” research with the proper treatment her son needed?

Unfortunately, a 6 year old claiming to be transgender is different because he or she has had his or her perceptions of the world colored by the same adults who would not allow a child they loved to play with fire or jump off the highest point of the school building. 

The fact is that genetic and phenotypically female girls will always be “different” from Joseph. From the first penetration of the zona pellucida by a sperm bearing a Y chromosome, to the differentiation of the Wolffian duct, to the first time he urinated over someone’s shoulder into the air after birth, Joseph has been a male. Stereotypes aside, he will remain a male, however he acts or is medically or surgically manipulated. The genetic and phenotypical reality of his body will always affect any future medical or surgical treatment.

Hopefully, no one will be complicit with medical or surgical castration or other mutilation until this child is legally competent to consent. In that case,  his body will still be phenotypically male, entering puberty, when he enters middle school, whether as as Joseph or Kai. Now, that will be a  “difference” evident to all the girls, including the ones who have never seen male genitals. 

It will be very evident to the survivors ​of sexual abuse. Hopefully, they called the police after they were abused.

Contrary to the claim in the blog,  Lt. Governor Patrick and the “Bathroom Bill” didn’t start the trans debate.  School districts in Texas were changing policies, entire cities have passed ordinances, and the last President issued an Executive Order that threatened Federal education dollars. 

And preditors are taking advantage of the increased access available due to the transgender debate: men like Paul Witherspoon, Levandus Gacutan, Christopher Hambrook, Richard Rodriquez, Jason Pomare, Sean Patrick Smith, or the many unnamed men who have been not reported to the police when they enter previously gender-segregated areas like poolside changing rooms, shower rooms or gym locker rooms. (I’ll let you research those names.)

Thanks to “Conservative, Christian” mom, the world is being misrepresented to other children who are encouraged to consider pathological behavior as not “different.” Because of “feelings” the rest of us are repeatedly told to ignore the difference –  and observable,  measurable, and verifiable facts. 

And this specific child is being abused. 

Beverly B Nuckols, MD. 

Equal, but special

A Facebook friend, Michael Smith, made an excellent comment about the contrast between “separate but equal,” and “equal, but special.”

I spent some time yesterday at the Texas State Capitol Reagan Building discussing House Bill 2899 by Simmons, which would prohibit local governments and other regulatory authorities from creating a new “order, ordinance, or other measure to protect a class of persons from discrimination; to reduce or expand a class of persons protected under state law from discrimination.”

The consensus of a group of people waiting for the House State Affairs Committee to begin was that the Bill is a thinly veiled “attack” on the LGBT community and transgender persons in particular. The comment that made me go into my Don Quixote tilting windmills mode was about just wanting to “peeing in peace” and the false claims of fears for safety of women and children.

I pointed out that that it is reasonable for women to have fear when confronting a man in a closed space and that we all expected privacy and security in bathrooms, locker rooms and other public places where people disrobe. (Yes, I used the term “disrobe.” And “intimate spaces.” I’m a nerd.)

I was told that I was speaking from “privilege” (!) for my example of caution when entering an elevator with a strange man and objecting to the stereotype that the brains of men and women are different and the assertion that men and women simply think differently. I heard that segregation of the sexes in public bathrooms is a new phenomenon and that the Roman baths, such as those in Pompeii were completely different matters, mainly due to the religion of the time.  And of course, several of the group told of the danger of violence against gays or trans but that there has never been any crime against other people by transgender person

Two of the people claimed to be transitioned from male to female. While demanding “respect,” they told stories of having coworkers fired for refusing to use their preferred pronouns. and engaged in very real “hate speech,” mocking and assigning hateful motives and emotions to me. The same person who pointed out that little boys can be molested in men’s bathrooms then said that *I* was the one who must obviously consider anyone with a penis a predator.

The group was secure in the belief that the fears of violence and abuse of the LGBT community outweigh not only the fears of victims of sexual abuse or parents of children and thousands of years of social norms.

Cities, but claiming to write non-discrimination ordinances create environments where some people are “equal, but special” – or a specially protected class of persons. George Orwell put it another way: “Some animals are more equal than others.”

Law makers to doctors: “Keep the patient alive” 

If only we doctors – or legislators, lawyers and probate judges – really had the power to “keep the patient alive” as this article claims two new Bills  (  HB 4090 & SB 1213) in front of the Texas Legislature will (force doctors to) do. 

The article is misleading in its claim that a committee or a hospital decides whether or not a therapy is given: Texas doctors practice medicine in Texas. Even the Bills make it clear that the “attending physician” makes the decision whether or not to follow the patient’s (or more likely, the surrogates’) medical request.

We – Texas doctors, hospitals, and legislators – have tried repeatedly over the last decade to amend the law, Texas’ Advance Directive Act,   to increase the time frame. Last Session, we helped to ensure that food and water can’t be withheld. The lawyers and those who would have Estate (probate) judges involved in every dispute – even at the bedside of the dying – have blocked effort after effort because the Bills did not include liability for the doctor. 
These Bills are just the camel’s nose under the tent of Texas’s tort reform. Worse yet, we’d end up with medical expert testifying against medical expert in court, with the judge eventually telling the doctor how to practice medicine. It would also severe the “ethicists” who actively seek to undermine conscience protections for health care professionals.
If you’ll notice, the Bills also remove the requirement for the patient to pay for any transfer, too. I don’t suppose that the tort lawyers ​will pay for the ambulance or plane ride.

Do you want Texas law to force doctors to practice against our consciences​? 

How long and how far should any man or woman be forced by law to act against his or her will?

​Would you like to refuse?

Shocking Bill from Texas’ Jason Villaba, Republican State Representative from Dallas’ District 114 :  HB 1938 would make organ donation after death “opt out” for anyone applying for a driver’s license in Texas.

Texas would be the first State to pass such a law.

Organ donation is a public good for those who wish to do so. However, there is no ethical or legal precedent for treating human bodies – living or dead – as public property or commodities.

From the Bill as introduced:

 (2)  for an applicant who is 18 years of age or older:
                     (A)  specifically ask each applicant the
  question, “Would you like to refuse to join the organ donor
  registry?” and state, “If you answer ‘no’ to the previous question
  or do not answer the previous question, you consent to join the
  organ donor registry by performing either of those actions.”; and
                     (B)  if the applicant does not affirmatively
  refuse to be included in the registry under Paragraph (A), provide
  the person’s name, date of birth, driver’s license number, most
  recent address, and other information needed for identification
  purposes at the time of donation to the nonprofit organization
  contracted to maintain the statewide donor registry under Section
  692A.020, Health and Safety Code, for inclusion in the registry.

http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/85R/billtext/html/HB01938I.htm

More Fake News (5 year old handcuffed – NOT)

The Baltimore Sun is one of the online news sites I read because it’s more reliable than others. Usually.
Now, they’ve published an opinion piece with a falsehood about “inhumane acts” that were supposedly the result of President Trump’s Executive Order on travel to the United States from certai countries. At less one of those stories was easily debunked with a quick news search.

The story that a 5 year old boy was handcuffed is at false, according to a news report by WUSA9, from Washington, DC:

We tracked down the actual photo to a controversy in Kentucky involving sheriff’s deputies handcuffing young students with learning disabilities, back in 2015.

Another story going around is that a 5 year old Syrian girl was hand-cuffed by Immigration, also at Dulles. 

The anything-but-right-wing Snopes has already published a denial about the little girl. (Of course, the verdict is, “Mixture,” rather than,”False.” Can’t go risk validating anything that might have resulted from the Trump EO, I guess.)

In this case, the father even said the airport officials were kind to the family.

All of which confirms that we need to do our own research and seek out”alternative” sources to confirm or deny “facts” reported in the news.

National Security Letters

​While we were distracted by whether Kellyanne Conway was “lying” about “alternative facts” and how mean Bannon and Spicer are, the FBI quietly lifted the gag order on National Security Letters issued by them during the previous Administration.

Now, I’m not a lawyer, so the following is a lay explanation.

These “Letters” are in fact, subpoenas issued by a government agency. They don’t require a judge or FISA Court review or warrant. 

Get this: the laws authorizing the NSLs are called “Patriot” and ” Privacy” Acts and the gag order provisions have been vetted by the Ninth Circuit of Appeals:

However, the government appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which vacated her ruling and sent the case back to the district court. Last month that court ruled that the gag order challenge was no longer relevant because the USA Freedom Act had successfully addressed the issue of gag orders

GoogleTwitterFacebook, and others reported the release from the gag order during the last couple of months. Yahoo, along with the others, has been fighting in court and some of the Letters have been disclosed to the targets:

Over the past several years, Google challenged 19 NSLs in court and last year won the right to tell WikiLeaks employees that their data had been requested.

I sincerely thought that all of these sorts of subpoenas were required to eventually go through approval of a FISA Court judge. Hopefully, the Trump Administration will not continue the Obama Administration’s abuse of these Letters and that Congress will correct the law.

Don’t regulate plants!

​Ridiculous! It’s a plant. Which literally grows like a weed – or house plant – and doesn’t require manufacturing or processing to use. What business does government have in outlawing a plant?

Marijuana laws are in the news in Texas, once again. I hear and read plans to make money from taxes and autocratic demands to”protect” people from the plants. The same Republicans who demand legalization of the sale of raw milk and think gambling dollars should stay in the State argue against any decriminalization of marijuana.

Even if you don’t have sympathy for the thousands  jailed for use while the plant is illegal, the raids on gardensseizures of farms or the arrests of people because owners are suspected of growing illegal *plants* should make you consider the harm from draconian narcotics laws. 

In fact, my trouble getting poppy seeds for the hard, back in the’90’s is what changed my mind about these laws. The Clinton Administration was arresting people for selling seeds and dried pods used in crafts:

Somniferum is the only poppy species mentioned in the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970, where it is listed as a Schedule II drug, the same as cocaine. The entire poppy plant, not just the opium that oozes from its green seedpod, is considered contraband.

“But the law specifically exempts somniferum seeds, those blue-gray dots you find on your bagel. So chew on this: Seed companies can legally sell opium-poppy seeds, but gardeners who buy those seeds break the law by planting them.

Republicans are advocates of personal responsibility and remind others about the words in the Declaration of Independence. We should know that legitimate laws are intended to protect us from the infringement of inalienable rights by third parties — and the government. Laws are not meant to protect us from ourselves.

In a liberty-minded, Republican-controlled State and Nation, there shouldn’t be any laws against growing seeds from your grandmother’s heritage poppies or your new neighbors’ marijuana plants.

Addendum: a 1992 article about poppies at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello:

Thomas Jefferson planted white opium poppies at Monticello. They grew in the historic garden near Charlottesville, Va., until last June, when they were yanked up.

****

“The center even sold the seeds. Until its governing board — “which has a mania for being legal,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said — decided to press the issue.”

Pay attention: it’s policy, not bias

screenshot_20161109-175849The consensus of media pundits and bloggers, as well as quite a few liberal and even Conservative op-ed authors, is that Donald J.Trump was elected President out of some misguided national populism and anger at Congress, fueled with a lot of racism, misogyny and hate. The fact that those same voters elected a Republican majority in the House and Senate  – sending virtually every eligible Republican incumbent back to DC – is glossed over.

The idea that Conservatives really believe in small government and equal opportunity supported by personal responsibility is rarely voiced. That we might actually vote, not only for President but consistently down ballot, in order to defend the Bill of Rights and the right to life is ignored while we are accused of xeno-, homo-, and poly-whatever-phobia. I read that I am “afraid” of other lifestyles, religions, and losing my “privilege” based on being a White Christian.

Personally, I approve of most of the Republican Platform, especially where it addresses core Conservative issues, such as low taxes and equal treatment under the law. I want a Legislature that will uphold the Constitution as it’s written and defend against the infringement of inalienable rights. I don’t want activist judges nominated or confirmed at any level of the Federal Court system, especially the Supreme Court. I hope President Trump and the Republican Congress majority will decrease the hassle factors and threats placed on the practice of medicine and business in general by an overreaching Federal bureaucracy.

And, yes, my sense of fairness hopes that our existing immigration laws will finally be enforced, as an outcome of the”equal treatment under the law.”

Instead of facile clichés fed by cherry-picked sound bites and the latest talking points from the Left, try looking at and listening to the 59 Million voters across the country who elected a Republican candidate for President, and ensured a Republican majority including all those “establishment” candidates in both the House and Senate. 

It’s the Republican platform and Conservative policy that we Conservatives voted for, not one man.

The day the Rule of Law died 

November 6, 2016 – a Sunday afternoon – FBI Director Comey announced that his agency’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s selfie-server is closed, still without recommendation to charge the former Secretary of State. He destroyed any confidence that the United States is a nation of laws.

From the New York Post:

” From within the SCIF, Santos — who had no clearance — “collected documents from the secure facsimile machine for Clinton,” the FBI notes revealed.:

“Just how sensitive were the papers Santos presumably handled? The FBI noted Clinton periodically received the Presidential Daily Brief — a top-secret document prepared by the CIA and other US intelligence agencies — via the secure fax.”

Among the FBI notes on their investigation into those once-deleted emails from Clinton’s selfie-server were some indicating that Clinton regularly required her Washington, DC maid to print out official State Department documents, including classified information.

That’s right: her maid, a woman without any security clearance at all.

Again, while these emails and the access by the maid present new information to most of us, the FBI knew that they existed and that they were among the 30,000+ emails that were deleted *after* Congress had served Clinton with a subpoena.

We can assume that the emails had been marked as personal by the (again, no-security-clearance-) lawyers to whom Clinton delegated the task of dividing the contents of the selfie-server into those that were not and those that were State Department business.  Clinton claimed that neither group of emails contained classified documents, so she saw nothing wrong with turning over a memory stick containing the emails to the lawyers.

Media Matters covered the maid stories. The point that they made was strictly on Conservative bias and the timing of when the classified emails became classified. There was no coverage about the President’s morning briefing from intelligence sources or on the illegality of giving access to the SCIF. There was certainly no insight into the fact that the documents could later be determined to be classified is the EXACT reason that a person without the appropriate clearance should not be given access!

I’m disgusted. I’m angry. I want to commit felonies of my own – felonies yet to be determined, but of my choice and according to my own schedule.

But since I do believe in the Rule of Law and its benefits, I want to know what my Senators Cruz and Cornyn and my Congressman Lamar Smith intend to do clean house in the Federal  government.

And I don’t mean, “with, like a cloth.”

 

(Edited @ 7:05 PM on November 7, to add comments on Media Matters and to correct the cloth comment. BBN)

Obama’s Abortion Cronyism 

Obama’s new Health and Human Services regulations will prohibit consideration of whether a provider does abortions – or sells body parts – or not.

Kansas and Texas, among other States, attempted to prioritize their limited tax dollars, preferring to steer money – and patients – toward continuing and comprehensive caregivers – primary care providers- over  reproductive health “boutiques:”

When PP sued, they lost. But Obama arbitrarily stripped the State’s Title X funds and gave the money to PP, anyway.

The “most transparent Administration ever” went further:

 In New Hampshire, the administration even refused to disclose information about its direct Planned Parenthood grant, claiming disclosure would harm the nonprofit’s “competitive position.”””

What competition??? That’s pure cronyism and blatant support of the Democrat’s  – and Obama’s – pro-abortion political ideology.

Edited 11/12/16: misspelling of Services in first sentence BBB

Lawlessness for All (A Modest Proposal)

Tell me why I should believe that  “Latinos” are a big homeogeneous blob who don’t care about anything else except immigration, including law and order?  

The news yesterday was full of “Latinos” declaring that they have turned away from voting for Donald Trump after his speech on immigration in Phoenix. 

These people on the “news channels” and social networks claimed that an entire group of people, all lumped together because of who their parents are or what language they speak, are of the same mindset, and will vote as a block to ensure that some people – dare I say “their people” –  are treated differently under the law from everyone else 

There’s no justice  in ignoring the law. On the contrary, inconsistent enforcement of the law is injustice:  it infringes on everyone’s rights. Everyone’s liberty is placed at risk by inconsistent enforcement at the whim of whoever has the biggest gun, the most votes or the latest appointees to the US Distric Attorneys offices and Federal Courts.  Whoever has power gets to decide which of us is “more equal.”

Illegal aliens have at least committed a misdemeanor for the first offense. If they’re working, they are probably using false Social Security numbers, possibly committing  identity theft –  not a victimless crime, even if you believe the reports that illegal aliens contribute more than they cost society.

So, here’s my “Modest Proposal,” with apologies to Vicar Swift.

If you think we should just let illegal aliens hide out for 10 years, then self-report (yeah, sure) , sign up for fines and an English as a Second Language class,  how about treating every equivalent infringement the same?

Let us each pick our own tort or crime, to be determined at our convenience. Give everyone a year or 10 – after the fact – to self-report, pay a fine, take a class  and go on.

Start with other cases of identity theft, then move on to Federal offenses like voter fraud, money laundering, Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse, on to failure to pay the IRS, bank fraud, embezzlement.

After all, it’s only fair.

Trump can’t run 3rd Party in Texas?

Read the Texas Secretary of State information page on Presidential candidates, here. (http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/candidates/guide/president.shtml )

I’m not a lawyer, but it appears to me that Texas election laws will prevent Trump from placing his name on the ballot as a 3rd Party candidate in 2016.

Any lawyers disagree?

New Braunfels Resident’s River Pass Isn’t “Free”

2totubeNew Braunfels residents will get to join the crowds gathering along the Comal River every single summer holiday or weekend day, if we want to play in our rivers. (Which are actually State owned rivers.)

Our New Braunfels City Council not only promoted the ancient tradition of queuing up, they made sure we do so while visiting our Parks more often, too!

Even residents who live on the rivers and/or will only be on the Guadalupe will find themselves in Hinman or Prince Solms in order to use their “free” Pass to obtain wrist bands each and every single day if you enter or exit either the Comal or Guadalupe by City land with your tube, kayak or canoe. (noodle, life jacket, snorkel or scuba gear, too?)

 

Here’s the City Council ordinance info:

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day of each year, all persons in possession of water oriented recreational equipment on the premises known as the City Tube Chute, Prince Solms Park, Hinman Island Park or using public exits on the Comal or Guadalupe Rivers, must be wearing a city-issued wristband. ( http://www.nbtexas.org/DocumentCenter/View/7497)

 

From the nbtexas.org River Pass page:

Residents

New Braunfels Residents, who reside inside the corporate city limits, can receive a Resident River Pass at no charge to avoid paying the River Management Fee.

Then take your Resident River Season Pass (or your purchased Resident Swim Pass or Resident Family Swim Pass) to one of the three booths set up at Hinman Island Park and Prince Solms Park, or to a River Outfitter, to obtain your free wristband when you tube on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays between Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.

AND:

Note: If you are resident using private property to enter or exit the river while tubing, but will still utilize public land to get on or off of the river, you will need a wristband to be in compliance with the ordinance. ( http://www.nbtexas.org/riverpass)

Won’t the “last exit” be fun this year?

Just in case you were wondering who and what the “Municipal Code” covers:

Public river exit means Cypress Bend Park, Lincoln Street River Exit, Garden Street River Exit, Hinman Island Park, City Tube Chute and any other City-owned right-of-way or property with frontage on the Comal or Guadalupe Rivers currently not leased to another entity.

Water-oriented recreational equipment means tubes, kayaks, rafts, canoes and all other forms of personal watercraft.

There are going to be three (3) (Yes, 3!) booths where these wrist bands can be obtained.  The 3 booths will be at Hinman Island and Prince Solms Park – none at the City limits or parks along the Guadalupe.

Won’t we all have fun getting to know our neighbors and the visitors to our City as we all line up in front of these three booths on Saturday mornings? After finding parking?

Here’s an idea: The bands may also be obtained from a River Outfitter. Maybe the Outfitters will deliver the wrist bands to our New Braunfels residences?

The City Council and Mayor can be reached, here.  http://www.nbtexas.org/index.aspx?nid=298

You can call 830-221-4000 to try to get more information from the City of New Braunfels. Good luck!

 

 

Human rights for this class of persons?

How human is human enough for human rights?

Justice Taney on slavery, in the ruling on the Dred Scott case:
“”

The question before us is, whether the class of persons described in the plea in abatement [people of Aftican ancestry] compose a portion of this people, and are constituent members of this sovereignty? We think they are not, and that they are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word “citizens” in the Constitution, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States. On the contrary, they were at that time considered as a subordinate and inferior class of beings, who had been subjugated by the dominant race, and, whether emancipated or not, yet remained subject to their authority, and had no rights or privileges but such as those who held the power and the Government might choose to grant them. “

Nevertheless,  today’s Supreme Court hearing didn’t deal with the question of whether the zygote/embryo /fetus is human enough. It dealt with the regulations for abortion businesses and the doctors who work for them. These are essentially the same rules imposed on Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers.

Doctors must offer continuing care and the buildings should allow safe egress and sanitary standards of care.  The challenge is against State protections for the women who have chosen abortion.

Posted from WordPress for Android. Typos will be corrected!

I’m quoted in Houston Chronicle about Supreme Court hearing

By 7 PM, there was a line of people setting up to spend the night in front of the Supreme Court of the United States building. They hope to be able to watch the Court proceedings on Wednesday when the Texas abortion law, HB2.

Here’s the coverage from Brian Rosenthal of the Houston Chronicle, about Texans, like me, who travelled to DC for the hearing. I’m quoted as ‘helpful about the future of the law in the last few paragraphs.

Beverly Nuckols, 60, a New Braunfels family doctor who flew in for the arguments, said she was happy that a long and just process finally could be coming to an end.

Nuckols said was hopeful about the ruling because she was confident in the law.

“I believe we will get a tie,” she said.

Jury Indicts Two Antiabortion Activists Linked to Planned Parenthood Videos – WSJ

Ethics 101: The man and woman who were indicted for their actions exposing the harvesting of baby parts by Planned Parenthood were doing our duty to protect the right to life.

Rights impose duties on third parties, privileges do not.

Abortion, especially elective abortion of healthy babies in healthy mothers, is not a right. It is an illicit privilege granted by an act of law. No one has a duty to enable or act to cause an elective abortion at the request of a woman.

It is an illicitprivilege, since the right not to be killed is an inalienable right. Each of us in society has a duty imposed by that right to prevent its infringement.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/grand-jury-indicts-2-anti-abortion-activists-linked-to-planned-parenthood-videos-1453761641

 

Edited 1/27/16 to clean up grammar and add links. BBN

Texas Advance Directive Act: What the lawyers really want

I’ll admit that I’m not a lawyer and have to do my homework to even attempt to understand lawyer-speak. (For example, see this definition of “Abatement”) How I wish more lawyers would admit they aren’t doctors, especially when they accuse doctors and entire hospital committees of killing patients.

Earlier this week, I reviewed the latest sensationalized case involving lawyers and lawyer-lobbyists playing doctor in the media and courts to overturn Section 166.046 of the Texas Advance Directive Act (“TADA”).

TADA outlines the process to settle disputes between an attending physician and the patient (or the family of a patient) when the medical judgment of the doctor about what is medically appropriate for the patient conflicts with the demands for treatment that the patient or family wants *that* particular doctor to perform.

Texas law prohibits the removal of “artificially administered nutrition and hydration” and pain medications unless the doctors determine they will cause further harm. However, a ventilator, intubation tubes in the throat, cardio-version (CPR), surgery and invasive procedures or tests are not ordinary or comfort care and are considered “life-sustaining” treatment that may be removed or withheld from a patient with a terminal disease if the patient’s doctor determines that are not medically appropriate. There is certainly no provision in Texas law to intentionally stop a patient’s breathing or to otherwise cause certain death.

The lawyers lobbying and suing against TADA admit in both public statements and legal complaints that they will settle for nothing less than “Due Process,” lawyer-speak reference to the Fourteenth Amendment clause, “due process of law.” They demand that every dispute about medically appropriate care between doctors and patients be argued – by lawyers – in court, preferably with a risk of “liability” for the doctor, any committee member who reviews the case under TADA, and the hospital where the patient is under care. Judges, and possibly juries, would determine the local medical standard of care, which medical procedures are appropriate for which patients, and liability. Lawyers and judges would essentially practice medicine instead of doctors.

To summarize this latest case, court records document** the affidavit from the attending physician of a 46 year old Pasadena, Texas man, Chris Dunn. Mr. Dunn was admitted to the ICU at Houston’s Methodist hospital unresponsive after a major gastrointestinal bleed due to metastatic pancreatic cancer led to his emergency transfer from a hospital in his hometown. Mr. Dunn was on a ventilator and suffering from liver, kidney, and respiratory failure. He had fluid in his lungs, necessitating higher and higher pressures on the ventilator. He had fluid leaking into the abdominal cavity due to the liver failure, ascites, that required intermittent draining. He also suffered from hepatic encephalopathy, a form of variable dementia and delirium.  His doctors and his father agreed that the repetitive, invasive treatments necessary to maintain the ventilator and treat the multi-organ failure should be stopped because they were causing Mr. Dunn harm, while comfort care would continue.

In their lawsuit against the hospital, a group of lawyers brought in by Mr. Dunn’s mother and Texas Right to Life sued the hospital in Mr. Dunn’s name, although there was a question about both Mr. Dunn’s ability to legally consent and the legal status of either parent alone to make medical decisions on Mr. Dunn’s behalf. In fact, the court ruled an “Abatement” or suspension of the lawsuit on December 4, 2015, until the legal guardianship for Mr. Dunn could be settled in another court. And, sadly, in spite of continued treatment in the Intensive Care Unit, on a ventilator, with IV and tube feedings, and all the repetitive blood tests, suctioning, and invasive procedures these treatments required, Mr. Dunn succumbed to his disease before that other court could meet to name a guardian.

In their lawsuit against the hospital, the lawyers even accuse “the facility” (not the attending doctor) of planning to actively euthanize Mr. Dunn by the deliberate use of injections intended to cause his death, rather than to relieve his pain:

“Defendant scheduling . . . and Defendant administering, via injection, a combination of drugs which will end his life almost immediately, thus warranting immediate intervention by this court.” (**p.2)

The lawyers further declared that the doctors and the Methodist Biomedical Ethics Committee – and every doctor or hospital committee – would be corrupted by their affiliation with the hospital:

“The statute does not provide adequate safeguards to protect against the conflict of interest inherently present when the treating physician’s decision is reviewed by the hospital “ethics committee” to whom the physician has direct financial ties.
“Texas Health and Saftey [sic] Code violates Plaintiff’s right to procedural due process by failing to provide an adequate venue for Plaintiff and those similarly situated to be heard in this critical life-ending decision. The law also fails to impose adequate evidentiary safeguards against hospitals and doctors by allowing them to make the decision to terminate life-sustaining treatment in their own unfettered discretion.” (**pp. 5,6)

And,

“Under Tex. Health and Safety Code 166.046, a fair and impartial tribunal did not and could not hear Dunn’s case. “Ethics committee” members from the treating hospital cannot be fair and impartial, when the propriety of giving Dunn’s expensive life-sustaining treatment must be weighed against a potential economic loss to the very entity which provides those members of the “ethics committee” with privileges and a source of income.” (**p. 7)

 

Lawyer-speak notwithstanding, I can’t figure out – and the lawyers don’t tell us – how to ensure that “unfettered” pancreatic cancer presenting with multi-organ failure followed “due process” in Mr. Dunn’s case. Other than lawyers from each side hiring and paying even more doctors to re-examine the patient and re-view the existing medical records, repeated clinical exams and nurses’ notes, lab work and non-invasive scans of the liver and abdomen, what would a judge or jury consider “evidentiary safeguards against doctors and hospitals?”

But in news article after blog post, lawyers (but no doctors) claimed that “the hospital wanted to kill” Mr. Dunn.  Lawyers (but no doctors) claimed there were un-named additional tests and treatments which could have changed the diagnosis, treatment or prognosis. Lawyers (but no doctors) disputed the medical judgment of the very doctors from whom the lawsuit demanded continued intensive care.

In their lawsuit, the lawyers also declared that, “Members of a fair and impartial tribunal should not only avoid a conflict of interest, they should avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, especially when a patient’s life is at stake.” (*p. 7) But that didn’t stop them from including an ironic and self-serving demand that Methodist hospital pay their “Attorney fees and costs.” (p. 12)

 

**(Protected “.pdf” “Images” of the original legal documents quoted below can be found online, here.  The document images aren’t link-able and can’t be copied or printed, so I will have to type up and share quotes. See Family case number 2015-69681. The quotes above are from document number 6796448.pdf, “Plaintiff’s Original Verified Petition and Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Injunctive Relief.”)

Texas Advance Directive Act, when the doctor refuses

Here’s Section 166.046 of the Texas Advance Directive Act,  the part of Texas Law that is in the news, these days. This part only applies when there is a disagreement between the doctor (whom the patient wants to continue treatment) and the patient or his surrogate about treatment decisions.

Sec. 166.046. PROCEDURE IF NOT EFFECTUATING A DIRECTIVE OR TREATMENT DECISION. (a) If an attending physician refuses to honor a patient’s advance directive or a health care or treatment decision made by or on behalf of a patient, the physician’s refusal shall be reviewed by an ethics or medical committee. The attending physician may not be a member of that committee. The patient shall be given life-sustaining treatment during the review.

(b) The patient or the person responsible for the health care decisions of the individual who has made the decision regarding the directive or treatment decision:

(1) may be given a written description of the ethics or medical committee review process and any other policies and procedures related to this section adopted by the health care facility;

(2) shall be informed of the committee review process not less than 48 hours before the meeting called to discuss the patient’s directive, unless the time period is waived by mutual agreement;

(3) at the time of being so informed, shall be provided:

(A) a copy of the appropriate statement set forth in Section 166.052; and

(B) a copy of the registry list of health care providers and referral groups that have volunteered their readiness to consider accepting transfer or to assist in locating a provider willing to accept transfer that is posted on the website maintained by the department under Section 166.053; and

(4) is entitled to:

(A) attend the meeting;

(B) receive a written explanation of the decision reached during the review process;

(C) receive a copy of the portion of the patient’s medical record related to the treatment received by the patient in the facility for the lesser of:

(i) the period of the patient’s current admission to the facility; or

(ii) the preceding 30 calendar days; and

(D) receive a copy of all of the patient’s reasonably available diagnostic results and reports related to the medical record provided under Paragraph (C).

(c) The written explanation required by Subsection (b)(4)(B) must be included in the patient’s medical record.

(d) If the attending physician, the patient, or the person responsible for the health care decisions of the individual does not agree with the decision reached during the review process under Subsection (b), the physician shall make a reasonable effort to transfer the patient to a physician who is willing to comply with the directive. If the patient is a patient in a health care facility, the facility’s personnel shall assist the physician in arranging the patient’s transfer to:

(1) another physician;

(2) an alternative care setting within that facility; or

(3) another facility.

(e) If the patient or the person responsible for the health care decisions of the patient is requesting life-sustaining treatment that the attending physician has decided and the ethics or medical committee has affirmed is medically inappropriate treatment, the patient shall be given available life-sustaining treatment pending transfer under Subsection (d). This subsection does not authorize withholding or withdrawing pain management medication, medical procedures necessary to provide comfort, or any other health care provided to alleviate a patient’s pain. The patient is responsible for any costs incurred in transferring the patient to another facility. The attending physician, any other physician responsible for the care of the patient, and the health care facility are not obligated to provide life-sustaining treatment after the 10th day after both the written decision and the patient’s medical record required under Subsection (b) are provided to the patient or the person responsible for the health care decisions of the patient unless ordered to do so under Subsection (g), except that artificially administered nutrition and hydration must be provided unless, based on reasonable medical judgment, providing artificially administered nutrition and hydration would:

(1) hasten the patient’s death;

(2) be medically contraindicated such that the provision of the treatment seriously exacerbates life-threatening medical problems not outweighed by the benefit of the provision of the treatment;

(3) result in substantial irremediable physical pain not outweighed by the benefit of the provision of the treatment;

(4) be medically ineffective in prolonging life; or

(5) be contrary to the patient’s or surrogate’s clearly documented desire not to receive artificially administered nutrition or hydration.

(e-1) If during a previous admission to a facility a patient’s attending physician and the review process under Subsection (b) have determined that life-sustaining treatment is inappropriate, and the patient is readmitted to the same facility within six months from the date of the decision reached during the review process conducted upon the previous admission, Subsections (b) through (e) need not be followed if the patient’s attending physician and a consulting physician who is a member of the ethics or medical committee of the facility document on the patient’s readmission that the patient’s condition either has not improved or has deteriorated since the review process was conducted.

(f) Life-sustaining treatment under this section may not be entered in the patient’s medical record as medically unnecessary treatment until the time period provided under Subsection (e) has expired.

(g) At the request of the patient or the person responsible for the health care decisions of the patient, the appropriate district or county court shall extend the time period provided under Subsection (e) only if the court finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that there is a reasonable expectation that a physician or health care facility that will honor the patient’s directive will be found if the time extension is granted.

(h) This section may not be construed to impose an obligation on a facility or a home and community support services agency licensed under Chapter 142 or similar organization that is beyond the scope of the services or resources of the facility or agency. This section does not apply to hospice services provided by a home and community support services agency licensed under Chapter 142.

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 450, Sec. 1.03, eff. Sept. 1, 1999. Amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1228, Sec. 3, 4, eff. June 20, 2003.

Amended by:

Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1 (S.B. 219), Sec. 3.0503, eff. April 2, 2015.

Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 435 (H.B. 3074), Sec. 5, eff. September 1, 2015.

Texas Supreme Court Rules on Judicial Bypass for Minors’ Abortions

I am glad that the rules are explicit about the duty to report sexual or physical abuse.

Here’s a statement from Texas Alliance for Life, with links to the ruling:

Austin, TX — Today the Texas Supreme Court released rules for how courts handle judicial bypass proceedings regarding secret abortions on minors girls without parental notification or consent. The rules were created in response to HB 3994, authored by Rep. Geanie Morrison (R-Victoria) and sponsored by Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) and strongly supported by Texas Alliance for Life.

The following statement is attributed to Joe Pojman, Ph.D., executive director of Texas Alliance for Life:

We are pleased with the Supreme Court’s strong rules regarding the judicial bypass process for abortions on minor girls. These bring to fruition a 10-year effort by Texas Alliance for Life and a coalition of pro-life organizations to protect minor girls in Texas from abortion. In 2005, the Texas Legislature passed a bill requiring doctors to obtain the consent of a parent before performing abortions on minor girls. In 2015, the Legislature passed, and Gov. Abbott signed into law, HB 3994 to reform the judicial bypass process by which a judge can allow abortions on minors without parental consent. The reforms closed loopholes and increased protections for the minors from abuse. The Texas Supreme Court has faithfully implemented House Bill 3994 in a way that will best protect the well being of minor girls.

Here is a link to the Texas Supreme Court’s order issuing the rules: http://www.txcourts.gov/media/1225647/159246.pdf.

HB 3994 was one of five major pro-life bills and numerous other pro-life provisions passed in 2015. Here is a summary.

 

Lawyers, politics, and end of life

      Two days before Christmas, 46 year old Chris Dunn died in the ICU at Houston’s Methodist Hospital. Almost everything you’ve read and heard is a deliberate, political skewing of the facts.

Texas Right to Life turned Mr. Dunn’s imminent death from metastatic pancreatic cancer into a crusade against the Texas Advance Directive Act (TADA or the Act). The Act is invoked by the attending doctor – not the hospital or ethics committee – when family members demand that he or she perform acts that go against the conscience because they are medically inappropriate, causing the patient to suffer without changing his course.

In this case, the mother and father disagreed with one another about the care plan and the patient was unable to make legally binding decisions. The father agreed with Mr. Dunn’s doctors that the treatment was causing suffering, objected to surgery to place a tracheostomy, and wanted hospice and comfort care. The mother wanted dangerous, painful procedures performed that would not change the medical outlook except to possibly hasten death.

And, unless you read the court records, you wouldn’t know that the judge ruled that Chris was not mentally competent to make his own medical decisions, that the hospital never wanted guardianship and had voluntarily promised to continue care until the guardianship could be settled.  In fact all the lawyers, including the Texas Right to Life representatives,  signed off on an agreement acknowledging this promise on December 4th.  Abatement agreed Dec 4 2015 ( The official court records are available to view free of charge online at the Harris County District Clerk’s website as protected pdf images. See Family case number 2015- 69681.)

Inflammatory headlines falsely claimed that “the hospital” had imposed a “death sentence,” and was actively trying to kill Mr. Dunn by refusing to diagnose, treat or even give a prognosis.  That same blog post mentioned non-standard treatments that some in the family were demanding.

First of all, of course there was a diagnosis. Several, in fact. From the signed affidavit of Mr. Dunn’s attending physician, filed December 2, 2015 in response to the law suit:

“Based on my education, training, experience, as well as my care of Mr. Dunn, I, and members of my team, have advised his family members that Mr. Dunn suffers from end stage liver disease, the presence of a pancreatic mass suspected to be malignant with metastasis to the liver and complications of gastric outlet obstruction secondary to his pancreatic mass. Further, he suffers from hepatic encephalopathy, acute renal failure, sepsis, acute respiratory failure, multi-organ failure, and gastrointestestinal bleed. I have advised members of Mr. Dunn’s family that it is my clinical opinion that Mr. Dunn’s present condition is irreversible and progressively terminal.”

The primary diagnosis was metastatic pancreatic cancer. The cancer was a mass that blocked the ducts and blood vessels coming from the liver as well as the normal function of the intestines. As liver excretions backed up into the liver and the blood pressure in the liver increased, Mr. Dunn suffered a life-threatening gastrointestinal bleed, fluid buildup in the abdomen and lungs, and sepsis (an overwhelming infection). All of these would aggravate respiratory failure, the necessity  of a ventilator and lead to the kidney damage. Liver failure often results in hepatic encephalopathy  and variable delirium.

There was definitely treatment given, including tube and IV feedings, antibiotics, the ventilator, and periodic removal of the abdominal fluid. Again, this was all publicly documented in Court documents, in the media and even on the Texas Right to Life blog that claimed that “Houston Methodist has invested no time or effort in Chris’s health, instead exerting their energies into trying to kill him instead.” [sic]

The Intensive Care doctors as well as the Biomedical Ethics Committee, met with the parents to explain Mr. Dunn’s condition and his prognosis. The family was given notice before the Committee hearing and met with the (not at all “nameless” or “faceless”) Committee to discuss their (differing) wants. Thirty days’ worth of medical records, a hospital case worker and assistance in finding alternative care were made available to the family.

Then, there’s the complaint about the limits on visitors and videotaping. It is not unusual to limit Intensive Care Unit visits to specific times and to allow only close family, especially when the patient can’t consent and there is contention among family members. It is certainly standard to prohibit filming in the Unit, since patients are visible from one area to the next, in various states of undress and undergoing constant or frequent *intensive* treatments.

(BTW, one of the lawyers in the TRTL ICU video proves the basis for the rules: he is not compliant with the usual isolation procedures. Former Senator Joe Nixon didn’t wear the protective gown at all correctly, risking the introduction of infectious contamination into the room and/or taking germs home with him.)

It’s very unusual for patients on a ventilator to be conscious because of the severe discomfort associated with the foreign body – the breathing tube – that is necessary in the airways. It’s difficult to believe that anyone would complain about sedating Mr. Dunn in order to bypass his gag reflex.

Finally, the standard of care in advanced metastatic pancreatic cancer is pain relief and palliative support. The surgery to remove a pancreas is extremely dangerous for even healthier patients. As Mr. Dunn had already had an episode of bleeding and both liver and kidney failure, it’s likely that even a biopsy of the pancreatic mass or liver, much less surgery, would have caused more life-threatening bleeding. With liver and kidney damage, he wouldn’t have been able to tolerate trials of radiation or chemotherapy, either.

In fact, the doctors and nurses gave excellent treatment all along, as shown by his survival beyond the average for patients who presented in such a precarious state and acknowledged by Mrs. Kelly in her statement after Chris’ death.

The truth is that Methodist never made plans to “kill” Mr. Dunn. Mr. Dunn was never in danger of the hospital “pulling the plug.” The real problem was a disagreement between Mr. Dunn’s divorced parents over who would legally make medical decisions. That rift is bound to have been made worse by TRTL and the lawyers turning Chris’ illness into a public political battle. The accusations about euthanasia, killing and murder may cause other future patients harm, if they are reluctant to seek care because of these stories.

VA frauds sent to Phoenix instead of Prison !

thiefThe Veterans Administration demoted two women who defrauded the agency and manipulated other employees, to cost the agency $274,000 and $129,000. The agency also rewarded a woman who covered up malpractice with a promotion! None of the women were prosecuted. No one  demanded restitution! Instead, they kept their jobs and at least two were sent to work at the already-corrupt Phoenix VA hospital system.
From the Washington Examiner:

“. . . The VA’s watchdog found officials had used the program to get around prohibitions on giving raises to employees.

“Graves, who allegedly pressured another VA official to transfer so she could take his job, was reassigned to the Phoenix VA hospital, where a national scandal involving a cover-up of patient wait times erupted last year.

“The same day the VA announced it would not fire Rubens and Graves and instead shuffle them around within the agency, the VA also announced it had named a scandal-plagued official from the Vermont facility to run the Phoenix hospital.”

So, THAT’S the meaning of “good enough for Government work!!!

Ben Carson on Terri Schiavo

I suspect that there is more to this story than a couple of quotes. I really would like to see the video or, at least, read the entire transcript.

However, Dr Carson, as quoted here, is mistaken.

It was appropriate for government to intervene, as Mrs Schiavo’s right not to be killed was being infringed.

The case was a show trial, an act (actually, a series of acts) intended to cause death, supported by the euthanasia activists and went much beyond “the right to die.”  No, this was about the right to kill.

Mrs Schiavo wasn’t allowed to die due to the progressive breakdown of her organ systems. Instead, a woman who was able to swallow and breathe was subjected to medical and law enforcement intervention – the act of removal of her feeding tube rather than simply ceasing to use it,  morphine injections and – most egregious of all –  the judge’s order requiring local Sheriff’s deputies to prevent her mother and loved ones from giving her oral hydration and nutrition.

The only outcome possible was to cause her intentional death and to infringe on her inalienable right not to be killed.

There is a huge difference between withholding medical intervention involving repetitive invasive procedures and forbidding care that can be provided by loved ones.

Detention, boxcars and “papers”

Please read the link – or at least the entire quote I’ve pasted here – before commenting.

The immigration debate and its ability to divide the Republican Party and split the Conservative vote is not new. Here’s a commentary about the dispute in light of the 2012 Presidential election, written in 2011. (Scroll down the page to “On Immigration,” Saturday, May 21, 2011.)

Dr. Jerry Pournelle has served our Nation in many capacities (including serving in the Army during the Korean War), but he’s probably best known, to those who know his name at all, as the author of Science Fiction written from a conservative, libertarian-leaning viewpoint. I strongly recommend his essays, including this one from 2011:

“We aren’t going to deport them all, and no Congress or President will do that, nor could even if it were thought desirable. The United States is not going to erect detention camps nor will we herd people into boxcars.  We can’t even get the southern border closed. Despite President Obama’s mocking speech, we have not built the security fence mandated a long time ago. We probably could get Congress to approve a moat and alligators, although there are likely more effective means. We can and should insist on closing the borders. That we can and must do. It won’t be easy or simple, but it’s going to be a lot easier than deporting 20 million illegals. Get the borders closed. We can all agree on that.

“That leaves the problem of the illegal aliens amongst us. We can and should do more to enforce employment laws; but do we really want police coming around to demand “your papers” from our gardeners and fry cooks and homemakers?”

This is not a trivial point. I advocate for the necessity of identifying illegal aliens and would prefer that the process begin in the country of origin. However, in practical terms, how would the “Maria” Dr. Pournelle describes, who was brought here as a child, “begin the process?”

Defense and security requires that we secure the border and that we identify as many who are here illegally as possible. A first step would be to better track people who enter on Visas: what are all those computers at border entry spots for?? We should also cease the fiction that our schools don’t know which families with children are undocumented. We should hold employers accountable, but be very careful about instituting new government papers and government computer lists of eligible workers.

We must determine common ground for the sake of success. As pointed out four years ago by Dr. Pournelle,  errors will be used against us, with the hard cases like “Maria” will be splashed across media and social networks. Without common ground, and with emotional demands to “deport them all,” we’ll still be debating this four years from now. And our citizens – and the illegal aliens – will remain at risk from the violent and criminal, if not from the terrorist.

Ding Dong, the witch is dead – Texas Public Integrity Unit victim acquitted

The final – or at least the penultimate, if you count the Perry case  – death knell has rung for the Public Integrity Unit in Travis County.  Jurors have found a state employee charged with felony fraud not guilty.
This was another case of Travis County DA attempting to embarrass Governor Perry and the Legislature.  One of the rumors whispered about to justify the indictment of Governor Perry for abuse of power by vetoing State tax funds for the PIU was that he was trying to squelch this indictment and trial.

The Unit was based in the office of the Travis County District Attorney’s office, but funded by State taxes and part of our biennial budget.  Back in the ’80’s, Travis County DA Ronnie Earle convinced the State Legislature to fund it, although other PIU’s in other counties exist, but aren’t funded by the State.  This is the State agency that indicted and convicted Tom Delay for breaking a law that didn’t exist, only to have the case overturned by the State Appeals Court — after 9 years.

Earle also tried to convict Kay Bailey Hutchison, way back in 1993, after a failed attempt to become Senator in her place.  That case was handled so badly by DA Earle that the judge ordered the jury to acquit on the first day of trial.

Just last year, the State Legislature removed the ability to oversee Legislative and political matters from the Travis County  DA’s office and moved it to the Texas Rangers’ purview.

Just to be sure which agency we’re talking about and because no story  about the PIU is complete with out it, here’s a pic of the DA that was the second person to head the Unit and who was convicted of drunk driving. Although she certainly threatened and abused the law enforcement officers and staff, for some reason the PIU never indicted her for abuse of power.

 

“Duty” to use human tissue?

Robbins smoking fetal researchWe should at least have as much care for the donation of tissue from aborted human fetuses and embryos as we do for the donation of organs from those killed by capital punishment. Both scenarios involve purposeful intervention to cause death and the collection of tissues, at least, must be carried out by licensed and regulated medical personnel.

Robin Alta Charo (a law and ethics professor at the University of Wisconsin) has an opinion piece in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine, “Fetal Tissue Fallout.” in which she claims that society has a “duty” to use tissues harvested after elective, intentional abortions.

I object to the idea that society has a “duty” to make use of the end products of either procedure. Both scenarios involve purposeful intervention to cause death by licensed and regulated medical personnel, making those of us who vote for the legislators who write laws complicit in the actions, at least remotely. Under a strict philosophy of ethics based on the protection of inalienable rights, each act should be weighed individually and should only be carried out when the one killed is a proven danger to the life or lives of others.

Robin justifies her elevation of the use of fetal tissues after elective abortion to that of a “duty” by citing past benefits of research using fetal tissues. She is more political and names past Republican supporters in an earlier op-ed, published in the Washington Post on August 4th.

Yes, society has benefited from these tissues.  However,  that picture at the side of this post depicts Dr. Frederick Robbins, one of the scientists who utilized fetal tissue in the 1950’s development of the Salk polio vaccine. Dr. Robbins is depicted smoking at work in the laboratory, while handling test tubes without gloves. We know better than that, now.  Isn’t it time that science and medicine researchers catch up with our knowledge that the human fetus is a human being from the moment of fertilization?

Where are the Ethics Review Boards that monitor for the unethical behavior we’re hearing about in the videos from the Center for Medical Progress?

In 2013, the science journal, Nature, published an article covering the history and evolution of informed consent and compensation for donors of human tissues, including the fetal tissue culture, WI-28.  Ms. Charo was quoted as supporting monetary compensation:

But, says Charo, “if we continue to debate it entirely in legal terms, it feels like we’re missing the emotional centre of the story”. It could be argued, she says, “that if somebody else is making a fortune off of this, they ought to share the wealth. It’s not a legal judgment. It’s a judgement about morality.”

Yes, “It’s not a legal judgment. It’s a judgement about morality.”

Independence or slavery: Does the government own you?

Declaration photoLet’s face it: if the government can tell you that you cannot refuse to act, the government owns you.

Liberty is not simply the freedom to act, it’s the more fundamental freedom not to act. Remember the proverb that “The right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose?” True liberty includes the right *not* to make a fist at all. To force the hand of a person against his will other than to defend the higher-priority right to life is to enslave him.

The same sex marriage ruling and protected status for “sexual orientation” is the latest socialist infringement on the inalienable right to liberty. In the name of “equality,” “fairness” and even “liberty,” they attempt to give government the ownership of all property and the means to earn it.

In particular, they demand that people of conscience either deny their faith or get out of government and public activities, including business and earning a living. (For real life examples, read the earliest few comments, here.  Or here.)

People who want what they want, when they want it, and from whom they want it seem to have no problem forcing other citizens to act against their will. In order to devalue the right of conscience and religion they deny the rights in the First Amendment of the Constitution – or the very existence of inalienable rights at all.

The Board of Labor of Oregon just gave us a perfect example just this week. Brad Avakian, the judge in the Sweet Cakes Bakery case, has slapped the couple with a gag order.  He would deny them free speech as well as the free exercise of their religion.

Gag order sweet cakes

Here’s the justification for that order.

(Thanks to Kelsey Harkness!)

The Supreme Court of the United States, States and local governments cannot create a world of gumdrops and lollipops, where everyone likes everyone and everything they do. There is no right not to be inconvenienced, much less the right not to be offended. The right to liberty of anyone may not be infringed for the benefit of another person’s pursuit of happiness without significant distress to society and government.

Read the Declaration of Independence to see what happens when governments attempt to do so.

TPA, TPP, TAA, and Tues. (“Fast track,” or “Obamatrade”)

Here’s where we are, according to Red State:

The Senate has already approved the TPA. On Friday, the House voted on it. The TPA portion was actually approved by a tiny majority, however it did not pass because it was tied to another provision: TAA, which failed miserably. In essence, the TAA is a multi-faced welfare program for those allegedly “hurt” by trade deals.

And,

“TPA ensures that only 51 votes are needed in order to pass the TPP. If you don’t think Obama and the Chamber of Commerce can engage in some bi-partisan vote whipping, you are living in fantasy land.”

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