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Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”

Okay, hunker down in the bunkers, y’all.

Atlas ShruggedThere is truth to be found in the multi-page soliloquies in Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s opus that has won over readers in generation after generation. John Galt’s philosophy appeals to individualists and is rooted in classic liberalism that we now call libertarian or conservative.

But where Rand excelled was as an excellent observer of statism and socialism, as well as faithfully reporting the justification made by the proponents of each. Since reading Atlas Shrugged in the mid-1990’s, I’ve heard and read adults make the very claims that some of Rand’s characters make about the duty of producers and employers and the “rights” of the people who want benefits without obligations and who are willing to use the  power of guilt, class warfare and greed to control both.

However, Rand’s objectivist libertarian philosophy goes too far. She was anti-religious, anti-altruistpro-abortion and left her husband in order to live with a much younger man who was also married. In fact, her portrayals of relationships between men and women too often resemble warped rape and dominance games. Her earlier book, The Fountainhead, includes a controversial scene that Rand is said to have described as, “If it was rape, it was rape with an engraved invitation.  Fifty Shades of Gray from the ’50’s?) The fact that John Galt would hide away with fellow rich, intelligent and successful elites in a remote enclave and allow the rest of society to self-destruct is selfish and impractical.  (Rand herself certainly didn’t attempt to “go Galt.”)

If you want to understand today’s political debate, I believe you must read  Atlas Shrugged. The beginning is online, here.

Will giving up ideology give us the White House?

The TEA Party has proven that we are outside the influence of Party politics. We have demonstrated that we will work from within and for the Republican Party only as long as the Party will honor our principles.

However, I worry that many who have “gotten up off the couch” in the name of “Taxed Enough Already” are not well informed on the connection between inalienable rights and the social issues.  Others don’t understand how and why Conservatives conflate those inalienable rights with small government and national defense.

Too many never get past the first three words of the Preamble of the Constitution:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

With six months to go before the first Primaries, let’s spend our energies on educating our fellow voters about Conservative principles, rather than tearing down the various candidates. We don’t have to settle on an “electable” candidate – yet. And we certainly don’t yet have to compromise on values.

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.”

Wells Fargo: “Diversity” or Political Statement?

“When two becomes three.”

Wells Fargo is celebrating “diversity” in their new ad showing two women learning sign language. The story reveals that the women are a lesbian couple, about to be the “new mommies” to an adopted girl who is deaf.

(Oh, look! The gay couple are doing such a good thing! Celebrate their goodness! Ignore the political and spiritual realities!   And attack anyone who points out those realities!)

Samaritan's PurseWells Fargo could have simply depicted a traditional married couple, a man and woman, a doing the same thing — perhaps even learning a language in order to do mission work. Instead, they went out of their way to celebrate a small population that a much larger population considers to be practicing a sinful lifestyle.

How I wish the company had used their advertising dollars to give attention to Samaritan’s Purse, an organization that is “Helping others in Jesus’ name.”  Talk about diversity! Take a look at how they are helping mommies around the world.

 

 

Corker’s “Iran S.Amdt.1140 to H.R.1191” (text)

“Is not this a lamentable thing, that of the skin of an innocent lamb should be made parchment?” (William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2, just after the more famous, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.)  

The Senate took a House Bill, H.R. 1191, that originally amended ObamaCare  (so that the IRS would know for certain that volunteer firefighters, paramedics, and other emergency personnel aren’t counted as employees) and changed it completely in order give birth to the  “Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015.”

It’s appropriate that a bill that originally amended ObamaCare was changed this way, since ObamaCare was passed in the first place by Harry Reid’s Senate amendment to a bill that as originally titled, “Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009.”

From the Senate record:

SA 1140. Mr. CORKER (for himself and Mr. Cardin) proposed an
amendment to the bill H.R. 1191, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of
1986 to ensure that emergency services volunteers are not taken into
account as employees under the shared responsibility requirements
contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; as
follows:

Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the
following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the “Iran Nuclear Agreement
Review Act of 2015”.

SEC. 2. CONGRESSIONAL REVIEW AND OVERSIGHT OF AGREEMENTS WITH
IRAN RELATING TO THE NUCLEAR PROGRAM OF IRAN.

The Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (42 U.S.C. 2011 et seq.) is
amended by inserting after section 134 the following new
section:

“SEC. 135. CONGRESSIONAL REVIEW AND OVERSIGHT OF AGREEMENTS
WITH IRAN.

“(a) Transmission to Congress of Nuclear Agreements With
Iran and Verification Assessment With Respect to Such
Agreements.–
“(1) Transmission of agreements.–Not later than 5
calendar days after reaching an agreement with Iran relating
to the nuclear program of Iran, the President shall transmit
to the appropriate congressional committees and leadership–
“(A) the agreement, as defined in subsection (h)(1),
including all related materials and annexes;
“(B) a verification assessment report of the Secretary of
State prepared under paragraph (2) with respect to the
agreement; and
“(C) a certification that–
“(i) the agreement includes the appropriate terms,
conditions, and duration of the agreement’s requirements with
respect to Iran’s nuclear activities and provisions
describing any sanctions to be waived, suspended, or
otherwise reduced by the United States, and any other nation
or entity, including the United Nations; and
“(ii) the President determines the agreement meets United
States non-proliferation objectives, does not jeopardize the
common defense and security, provides an adequate framework
to ensure that Iran’s nuclear activities permitted thereunder
will not be inimical to or constitute an unreasonable risk to
the common defense and security, and ensures that Iran’s
nuclear activities permitted thereunder will not be used to
further any nuclear-related military or nuclear explosive
purpose, including for any research on or development of any
nuclear explosive device or any other nuclear-related
military purpose.
“(2) Verification assessment report.–
“(A) In general.–The Secretary of State shall prepare,
with respect to an agreement described in paragraph (1), a
report assessing–
“(i) the extent to which the Secretary will be able to
verify that Iran is complying with its obligations and
commitments under the agreement;
“(ii) the adequacy of the safeguards and other control
mechanisms and other assurances contained in the agreement
with respect to Iran’s nuclear program to ensure Iran’s
activities permitted thereunder will not be used to further
any nuclear-related military or nuclear explosive purpose,
including for any research on or development of any nuclear
explosive device or any other nuclear-related military
purpose; and
“(iii) the capacity and capability of the International
Atomic Energy Agency to effectively implement the
verification regime required by or related to the agreement,
including whether the International Atomic Energy Agency will
have sufficient access to investigate suspicious sites or
allegations of covert nuclear-related activities and whether
it has the required funding, manpower, and authority to
undertake the verification regime required by or related to
the agreement.
“(B) Assumptions.–In preparing a report under
subparagraph (A) with respect to an agreement described in
paragraph (1), the Secretary shall assume that Iran could–
“(i) use all measures not expressly prohibited by the
agreement to conceal activities that violate its obligations
and commitments under the agreement; and
“(ii) alter or deviate from standard practices in order to
impede efforts to verify that Iran is complying with those
obligations and commitments.
“(C) Classified annex.–A report under subparagraph (A)
shall be transmitted in unclassified form, but shall include
a classified annex prepared in consultation with the Director
of National Intelligence, summarizing relevant classified
information.
“(3) Exception.–
“(A) In general.–Neither the requirements of
subparagraphs (B) and (C) of paragraph (1), nor subsections
(b) through (g) of this section, shall apply to an agreement
described in subsection (h)(5) or to the EU-Iran Joint
Statement made on April 2, 2015.
“(B) Additional requirement.–Notwithstanding subparagraph
(A), any agreement as defined in subsection (h)(1) and any
related materials, whether concluded before or after the date
of the enactment of this section, shall not be subject to the
exception in subparagraph (A).
“(b) Period for Review by Congress of Nuclear Agreements
With Iran.–
“(1) In general.–During the 30-calendar day period
following transmittal by the President of an agreement
pursuant to subsection (a), the Committee on Foreign
Relations of the Senate and the Committee on Foreign Affairs
of the House of Representatives shall, as appropriate, hold
hearings and briefings and otherwise obtain information in
order to fully review such agreement.
“(2) Exception.–The period for congressional review under
paragraph (1) shall be 60 calendar days if an agreement,
including all materials required to be transmitted to
Congress pursuant to subsection (a)(1), is transmitted
pursuant to subsection (a) between July 10, 2015, and
September 7, 2015.
“(3) Limitation on actions during initial congressional
review period.–Notwithstanding any other provision of law,
except as provided in paragraph (6), prior to and during the
period for transmission of an agreement in subsection (a)(1)
and during the period for congressional review provided in
paragraph (1), including any additional period as applicable
under the exception provided in paragraph (2), the President
may not waive, suspend, reduce, provide relief from, or
otherwise limit the application of statutory sanctions with
respect to Iran under any provision of law or refrain from
applying any such sanctions pursuant to an agreement
described in subsection (a).
“(4) Limitation on actions during presidential
consideration of a joint resolution of disapproval.–
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, except as
provided in paragraph (6), if a joint resolution of
disapproval described in subsection (c)(2)(B) passes the
Congress, the President may not waive, suspend, reduce,
provide relief from, or otherwise limit the application of
statutory sanctions with respect to Iran under any provision
of law or refrain from applying any such sanctions pursuant
to an agreement described in subsection (a) for a period of
12 calendar days following the date of passage of the joint
resolution of disapproval.
“(5) Limitation on actions during congressional
reconsideration of a joint resolution of disapproval.–
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, except as
provided in paragraph (6), if a joint resolution of
disapproval described in subsection (c)(2)(B) passes the
Congress, and the President vetoes such joint resolution, the
President may not waive, suspend, reduce, provide relief
from, or otherwise limit the application of statutory
sanctions with respect to Iran under any provision of law or
refrain from applying any such sanctions pursuant to an
agreement described in subsection (a) for a period of 10
calendar days following the date of the President’s veto.
“(6) Exception.–The prohibitions under paragraphs (3)
through (5) do not apply to any new deferral, waiver, or
other suspension of statutory sanctions pursuant to the Joint
Plan of Action if that deferral, waiver, or other suspension
is made–
“(A) consistent with the law in effect on the date of the
enactment of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015;
and
“(B) not later than 45 calendar days before the
transmission by the President of an agreement, assessment
report, and certification under subsection (a).
“(c) Effect of Congressional Action With Respect to
Nuclear Agreements With Iran.–
“(1) Sense of congress.–It is the sense of Congress
that–
“(A) the sanctions regime imposed on Iran by Congress is
primarily responsible for bringing Iran to the table to
negotiate on its nuclear program;
“(B) these negotiations are a critically important matter
of national security and foreign policy for the United States
and its closest allies;
“(C) this section does not require a vote by Congress for
the agreement to commence;
“(D) this section provides for congressional review,
including, as appropriate, for approval, disapproval, or no
action on statutory sanctions relief under an agreement; and
“(E) even though the agreement may commence, because the
sanctions regime was imposed by Congress and only Congress
can permanently modify or eliminate that regime, it is
critically important that Congress have the opportunity, in
an orderly and deliberative manner, to consider and, as
appropriate, take action affecting the statutory sanctions
regime imposed by Congress.
“(2) In general.–Notwithstanding any other provision of
law, action involving any measure of statutory sanctions
relief by the United States pursuant to an agreement subject
to subsection (a) or the Joint Plan of Action–
“(A) may be taken, consistent with existing statutory
requirements for such action, if, during the period for
review provided in subsection (b), the Congress adopts, and
there is enacted, a joint resolution stating in substance
that the Congress does favor the agreement;
“(B) may not be taken if, during the period for review
provided in subsection (b), the Congress adopts, and there is
enacted, a joint

[[Page S2410]]

resolution stating in substance that the Congress does not
favor the agreement; or
“(C) may be taken, consistent with existing statutory
requirements for such action, if, following the period for
review provided in subsection (b), there is not enacted any
such joint resolution.
“(3) Definition.–For the purposes of this subsection, the
phrase `action involving any measure of statutory sanctions
relief by the United States’ shall include waiver,
suspension, reduction, or other effort to provide relief
from, or otherwise limit the application of statutory
sanctions with respect to, Iran under any provision of law or
any other effort to refrain from applying any such sanctions.
“(d) Congressional Oversight of Iranian Compliance With
Nuclear Agreements.–
“(1) In general.–The President shall keep the appropriate
congressional committees and leadership fully and currently
informed of all aspects of Iranian compliance with respect to
an agreement subject to subsection (a).
“(2) Potentially significant breaches and compliance
incidents.–The President shall, within 10 calendar days of
receiving credible and accurate information relating to a
potentially significant breach or compliance incident by Iran
with respect to an agreement subject to subsection (a),
submit such information to the appropriate congressional
committees and leadership.
“(3) Material breach report.–Not later than 30 calendar
days after submitting information about a potentially
significant breach or compliance incident pursuant to
paragraph (2), the President shall make a determination
whether such potentially significant breach or compliance
issue constitutes a material breach and, if there is such a
material breach, whether Iran has cured such material breach,
and shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees
and leadership such determination, accompanied by, as
appropriate, a report on the action or failure to act by Iran
that led to the material breach, actions necessary for Iran
to cure the breach, and the status of Iran’s efforts to cure
the breach.
“(4) Semi-annual report.–Not later than 180 calendar days
after entering into an agreement described in subsection (a),
and not less frequently than once every 180 calendar days
thereafter, the President shall submit to the appropriate
congressional committees and leadership a report on Iran’s
nuclear program and the compliance of Iran with the agreement
during the period covered by the report, including the
following elements:
“(A) Any action or failure to act by Iran that breached
the agreement or is in noncompliance with the terms of the
agreement.
“(B) Any delay by Iran of more than one week in providing
inspectors access to facilities, people, and documents in
Iran as required by the agreement.
“(C) Any progress made by Iran to resolve concerns by the
International Atomic Energy Agency about possible military
dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program.
“(D) Any procurement by Iran of materials in violation of
the agreement or which could otherwise significantly advance
Iran’s ability to obtain a nuclear weapon.
“(E) Any centrifuge research and development conducted by
Iran that–
“(i) is not in compliance with the agreement; or
“(ii) may substantially enhance the breakout time of
acquisition of a nuclear weapon by Iran, if deployed.
“(F) Any diversion by Iran of uranium, carbon-fiber, or
other materials for use in Iran’s nuclear program in
violation of the agreement.
“(G) Any covert nuclear activities undertaken by Iran,
including any covert nuclear weapons-related or covert
fissile material activities or research and development.
“(H) An assessment of whether any Iranian financial
institutions are engaged in money laundering or terrorist
finance activities, including names of specific financial
institutions if applicable.
“(I) Iran’s advances in its ballistic missile program,
including developments related to its long-range and inter-
continental ballistic missile programs.
“(J) An assessment of–
“(i) whether Iran directly supported, financed, planned,
or carried out an act of terrorism against the United States
or a United States person anywhere in the world;
“(ii) whether, and the extent to which, Iran supported
acts of terrorism, including acts of terrorism against the
United States or a United States person anywhere in the
world;
“(iii) all actions, including in international fora, being
taken by the United States to stop, counter, and condemn acts
by Iran to directly or indirectly carry out acts of terrorism
against the United States and United States persons;
“(iv) the impact on the national security of the United
States and the safety of United States citizens as a result
of any Iranian actions reported under this paragraph; and
“(v) all of the sanctions relief provided to Iran,
pursuant to the agreement, and a description of the
relationship between each sanction waived, suspended, or
deferred and Iran’s nuclear weapon’s program.
“(K) An assessment of whether violations of
internationally recognized human rights in Iran have changed,
increased, or decreased, as compared to the prior 180-day
period.
“(5) Additional reports and information.–
“(A) Agency reports.–Following submission of an agreement
pursuant to subsection (a) to the appropriate congressional
committees and leadership, the Department of State, the
Department of Energy, and the Department of Defense shall,
upon the request of any of those committees or leadership,
promptly furnish to those committees or leadership their
views as to whether the safeguards and other controls
contained in the agreement with respect to Iran’s nuclear
program provide an adequate framework to ensure that Iran’s
activities permitted thereunder will not be inimical to or
constitute an unreasonable risk to the common defense and
security.
“(B) Provision of information on nuclear initiatives with
iran.–The President shall keep the appropriate congressional
committees and leadership fully and currently informed of any
initiative or negotiations with Iran relating to Iran’s
nuclear program, including any new or amended agreement.
“(6) Compliance certification.–After the review period
provided in subsection (b), the President shall, not less
than every 90 calendar days–
“(A) determine whether the President is able to certify
that–
“(i) Iran is transparently, verifiably, and fully
implementing the agreement, including all related technical
or additional agreements;
“(ii) Iran has not committed a material breach with
respect to the agreement or, if Iran has committed a material
breach, Iran has cured the material breach;
“(iii) Iran has not taken any action, including covert
action, that could significantly advance its nuclear weapons
program; and
“(iv) suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to
the agreement is–

“(I) appropriate and proportionate to the specific and
verifiable measures taken by Iran with respect to terminating
its illicit nuclear program; and
“(II) vital to the national security interests of the
United States; and

“(B) if the President determines he is able to make the
certification described in subparagraph (A), make such
certification to the appropriate congressional committees and
leadership.
“(7) Sense of congress.–It is the sense of Congress
that–
“(A) United States sanctions on Iran for terrorism, human
rights abuses, and ballistic missiles will remain in place
under an agreement, as defined in subsection (h)(1);
“(B) issues not addressed by an agreement on the nuclear
program of Iran, including fair and appropriate compensation
for Americans who were terrorized and subjected to torture
while held in captivity for 444 days after the seizure of the
United States Embassy in Tehran, Iran, in 1979 and their
families, the freedom of Americans held in Iran, the human
rights abuses of the Government of Iran against its own
people, and the continued support of terrorism worldwide by
the Government of Iran, are matters critical to ensure
justice and the national security of the United States, and
should be expeditiously addressed;
“(C) the President should determine the agreement in no
way compromises the commitment of the United States to
Israel’s security, nor its support for Israel’s right to
exist; and
“(D) in order to responsibly implement any long-term
agreement reached between the P5+1 countries and Iran, it is
critically important that Congress have the opportunity to
review any agreement and, as necessary, take action to modify
the statutory sanctions regime imposed by Congress.
“(e) Expedited Consideration of Legislation.–
“(1) In general.–In the event the President does not
submit a certification pursuant to subsection (d)(6) or has
determined pursuant to subsection (d)(3) that Iran has
materially breached an agreement subject to subsection (a)
and the material breach has not been cured, Congress may
initiate within 60 calendar days expedited consideration of
qualifying legislation pursuant to this subsection.
“(2) Qualifying legislation defined.–For purposes of this
subsection, the term `qualifying legislation’ means only a
bill of either House of Congress–
“(A) the title of which is as follows: `A bill reinstating
statutory sanctions imposed with respect to Iran.’; and
“(B) the matter after the enacting clause of which is:
`Any statutory sanctions imposed with respect to Iran
pursuant to ______ that were waived, suspended, reduced, or
otherwise relieved pursuant to an agreement submitted
pursuant to section 135(a) of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954
are hereby reinstated and any action by the United States
Government to facilitate the release of funds or assets to
Iran pursuant to such agreement, or provide any further
waiver, suspension, reduction, or other relief pursuant to
such agreement is hereby prohibited.’, with the blank space
being filled in with the law or laws under which sanctions
are to be reinstated.
“(3) Introduction.–During the 60-calendar day period
provided for in paragraph (1), qualifying legislation may be
introduced–
“(A) in the House of Representatives, by the majority
leader or the minority leader; and

[[Page S2411]]

“(B) in the Senate, by the majority leader (or the
majority leader’s designee) or the minority leader (or the
minority leader’s designee).
“(4) Floor consideration in house of representatives.–
“(A) Reporting and discharge.–If a committee of the House
to which qualifying legislation has been referred has not
reported such qualifying legislation within 10 legislative
days after the date of referral, that committee shall be
discharged from further consideration thereof.
“(B) Proceeding to consideration.–Beginning on the third
legislative day after each committee to which qualifying
legislation has been referred reports it to the House or has
been discharged from further consideration thereof, it shall
be in order to move to proceed to consider the qualifying
legislation in the House. All points of order against the
motion are waived. Such a motion shall not be in order after
the House has disposed of a motion to proceed on the
qualifying legislation with regard to the same agreement. The
previous question shall be considered as ordered on the
motion to its adoption without intervening motion. The motion
shall not be debatable. A motion to reconsider the vote by
which the motion is disposed of shall not be in order.
“(C) Consideration.–The qualifying legislation shall be
considered as read. All points of order against the
qualifying legislation and against its consideration are
waived. The previous question shall be considered as ordered
on the qualifying legislation to final passage without
intervening motion except two hours of debate equally divided
and controlled by the sponsor of the qualifying legislation
(or a designee) and an opponent. A motion to reconsider the
vote on passage of the qualifying legislation shall not be in
order.
“(5) Consideration in the senate.–
“(A) Committee referral.–Qualifying legislation
introduced in the Senate shall be referred to the Committee
on Foreign Relations.
“(B) Reporting and discharge.–If the Committee on Foreign
Relations has not reported such qualifying legislation within
10 session days after the date of referral of such
legislation, that committee shall be discharged from further
consideration of such legislation and the qualifying
legislation shall be placed on the appropriate calendar.
“(C) Proceeding to consideration.–Notwithstanding Rule
XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, it is in order at
any time after the committee authorized to consider
qualifying legislation reports it to the Senate or has been
discharged from its consideration (even though a previous
motion to the same effect has been disagreed to) to move to
proceed to the consideration of qualifying legislation, and
all points of order against qualifying legislation (and
against consideration of the qualifying legislation) are
waived. The motion to proceed is not debatable. The motion is
not subject to a motion to postpone. A motion to reconsider
the vote by which the motion is agreed to or disagreed to
shall not be in order. If a motion to proceed to the
consideration of the qualifying legislation is agreed to, the
qualifying legislation shall remain the unfinished business
until disposed of.
“(D) Debate.–Debate on qualifying legislation, and on all
debatable motions and appeals in connection therewith, shall
be limited to not more than 10 hours, which shall be divided
equally between the majority and minority leaders or their
designees. A motion to further limit debate is in order and
not debatable. An amendment to, or a motion to postpone, or a
motion to proceed to the consideration of other business, or
a motion to recommit the qualifying legislation is not in
order.
“(E) Vote on passage.–The vote on passage shall occur
immediately following the conclusion of the debate on the
qualifying legislation and a single quorum call at the
conclusion of the debate, if requested in accordance with the
rules of the Senate.
“(F) Rulings of the chair on procedure.–Appeals from the
decisions of the Chair relating to the application of the
rules of the Senate, as the case may be, to the procedure
relating to qualifying legislation shall be decided without
debate.
“(G) Consideration of veto messages.–Debate in the Senate
of any veto message with respect to qualifying legislation,
including all debatable motions and appeals in connection
with such qualifying legislation, shall be limited to 10
hours, to be equally divided between, and controlled by, the
majority leader and the minority leader or their designees.
“(6) Rules relating to senate and house of
representatives.–
“(A) Coordination with action by other house.–If, before
the passage by one House of qualifying legislation of that
House, that House receives qualifying legislation from the
other House, then the following procedures shall apply:
“(i) The qualifying legislation of the other House shall
not be referred to a committee.
“(ii) With respect to qualifying legislation of the House
receiving the legislation–

“(I) the procedure in that House shall be the same as if
no qualifying legislation had been received from the other
House; but
“(II) the vote on passage shall be on the qualifying
legislation of the other House.

“(B) Treatment of a bill of other house.–If one House
fails to introduce qualifying legislation under this section,
the qualifying legislation of the other House shall be
entitled to expedited floor procedures under this section.
“(C) Treatment of companion measures.–If, following
passage of the qualifying legislation in the Senate, the
Senate then receives a companion measure from the House of
Representatives, the companion measure shall not be
debatable.
“(D) Application to revenue measures.–The provisions of
this paragraph shall not apply in the House of
Representatives to qualifying legislation which is a revenue
measure.
“(f) Rules of House of Representatives and Senate.–
Subsection (e) is enacted by Congress–
“(1) as an exercise of the rulemaking power of the Senate
and the House of Representatives, respectively, and as such
are deemed a part of the rules of each House, respectively,
but applicable only with respect to the procedure to be
followed in that House in the case of legislation described
in those sections, and supersede other rules only to the
extent that they are inconsistent with such rules; and
“(2) with full recognition of the constitutional right of
either House to change the rules (so far as relating to the
procedure of that House) at any time, in the same manner, and
to the same extent as in the case of any other rule of that
House.
“(g) Rules of Construction.–Nothing in the section shall
be construed as–
“(1) modifying, or having any other impact on, the
President’s authority to negotiate, enter into, or implement
appropriate executive agreements, other than the restrictions
on implementation of the agreements specifically covered by
this section;
“(2) allowing any new waiver, suspension, reduction, or
other relief from statutory sanctions with respect to Iran
under any provision of law, or allowing the President to
refrain from applying any such sanctions pursuant to an
agreement described in subsection (a) during the period for
review provided in subsection (b);
“(3) revoking or terminating any statutory sanctions
imposed on Iran; or
“(4) authorizing the use of military force against Iran.
“(h) Definitions.–In this section:
“(1) Agreement.–The term `agreement’ means an agreement
related to the nuclear program of Iran that includes the
United States, commits the United States to take action, or
pursuant to which the United States commits or otherwise
agrees to take action, regardless of the form it takes,
whether a political commitment or otherwise, and regardless
of whether it is legally binding or not, including any joint
comprehensive plan of action entered into or made between
Iran and any other parties, and any additional materials
related thereto, including annexes, appendices, codicils,
side agreements, implementing materials, documents, and
guidance, technical or other understandings, and any related
agreements, whether entered into or implemented prior to the
agreement or to be entered into or implemented in the future.
“(2) Appropriate congressional committees.–The term
`appropriate congressional committees’ means the Committee on
Finance, the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban
Affairs, the Select Committee on Intelligence, and the
Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate and the
Committee on Ways and Means, the Committee on Financial
Services, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and
the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of
Representatives.
“(3) Appropriate congressional committees and
leadership.–The term `appropriate congressional committees
and leadership’ means the Committee on Finance, the Committee
on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, the Select Committee
on Intelligence, and the Committee on Foreign Relations, and
the Majority and Minority Leaders of the Senate and the
Committee on Ways and Means, the Committee on Financial
Services, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and
the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Speaker, Majority
Leader, and Minority Leader of the House of Representatives.
“(4) Iranian financial institution.–The term `Iranian
financial institution’ has the meaning given the term in
section 104A(d) of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions,
Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (22 U.S.C.
8513b(d)).
“(5) Joint plan of action.–The term `Joint Plan of
Action’ means the Joint Plan of Action, signed at Geneva
November 24, 2013, by Iran and by France, Germany, the
Russian Federation, the People’s Republic of China, the
United Kingdom, and the United States, and all implementing
materials and agreements related to the Joint Plan of Action,
including the technical understandings reached on January 12,
2014, the extension thereto agreed to on July 18, 2014, the
extension agreed to on November 24, 2014, and any materially
identical extension that is agreed to on or after the date of
the enactment of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of
2015.
“(6) EU-iran joint statement.–The term `EU-Iran Joint
Statement’ means only the Joint Statement by EU High
Representative Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign
Minister Javad Zarif made on April 2, 2015, at Lausanne,
Switzerland.
“(7) Material breach.–The term `material breach’ means,
with respect to an agreement described in subsection (a), any
breach

[[Page S2412]]

of the agreement, or in the case of non-binding commitments,
any failure to perform those commitments, that
substantially–
“(A) benefits Iran’s nuclear program;
“(B) decreases the amount of time required by Iran to
achieve a nuclear weapon; or
“(C) deviates from or undermines the purposes of such
agreement.
“(8) Noncompliance defined.–The term `noncompliance’
means any departure from the terms of an agreement described
in subsection (a) that is not a material breach.
“(9) P5+1 countries.–The term `P5+1 countries’ means the
United States, France, the Russian Federation, the People’s
Republic of China, the United Kingdom, and Germany.
“(10) United states person.–The term `United States
person’ has the meaning given that term in section 101 of the
Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment
Act of 2010 (22 U.S.C. 8511).”.
______

via S.Amdt.1140 to H.R.1191 – 114th Congress (2015-2016) – Amendment Text | Congress.gov | Library of Congress.

Cruz: a basketball metaphor

Update, January 25, 2016 Read about the endorsement from Governor Perry

“I wanted to talk about him, who he was, see if I could get a handle on Ted Cruz the man, not Cruz the caricature I’d seen through the political lens. What I found was a very different person than what I had been led to believe.”

#GoSpursGo!

It’s basketball playoff season and my five-time champion San Antonio Spurs are doing great in the first round. It’s always political season around our house, but our Republicans spend too much time fighting each other to make me happy.

 

Last Thursday, Senator Ted Cruz attacked Republicans in a floor speech before the cloture vote on confirmation for now-Attorney General Loretta Lynch:

“And I said on the Senate floor yesterday there are a great many people across this country wondering why exactly did we have an election when we fought so hard in 2014, when a Republican Senate confirms the exact Attorney General Harry Reid’s Democratic senate would confirm?”

 

And then, after the cloture vote didn’t go his way, he walked off the floor without explanation before the actual confirmation vote. He was the only Senator “not present” and not voting.

 

For the next few hours, Cruz was unavailable for comment, but his staff tweeted that the  only vote that counted was the cloture vote. (More importantly,  there was a plan to catch and funds to raise back in Texas.)

 

Game over, walk off the court before the buzzer.

 

Tell that to my Spurs.  The “Little General,” A. J. Johnson, made a game-winning corner shot at 47 seconds to go to win the Final series for the San Antonio Spurs, back in 1999. And before that,  Sean Elliott’s Memorial Day Miracle, made that first (of five!) championship possible:

Contrast Elliott, who was playing with kidney disease that would require a transplant later that year, with Dennis Rodman. Rodman fought with and criticized his team and coaches, habitually showed up late,  refused to huddle with the team and sometimes disappeared altogether during the 1995 playoffs. Sound familiar?

 

Setting records for missed votes and Committee meetings, Ted is always ready to talk to the media and to the Senate – when he does show up. When he talks about the Constitution, the merits of conservative small government and the wrong thinking of the Dems and the Left, he scores every time. However, his speeches also inevitably include criticism for Republicans as well as liberals. Even after conservative victories that will save lives, he has no praise for his Party. He says he doesn’t get enough assists, never noting that he doesn’t give any either.

 

Senator Cruz wants to go straight from rookie to coach. Maybe the fans love him for his trash talk, and he’s always good for a few days’ media distraction.  But what kind of coach will he be with his inexperience and reputation on his own team as a player who often just doesn’t show, rarely scores any points on the court and is just as likely to slam his own team players as he is the opponents?

 

(The Spurs have nothing to do with my blogging, other than inspiration and a great example of fighting together with a common goal to the last second with all they’ve got. #GoSpursGo!)

 

 

To keep and bear the right

bill of rights” . . . The right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Since the Supreme Court affirmed (in the District of Columbia v. Heller) that the Second Amendment applies to individuals, there’s not much room in that statement for a need to justify *which* arms to keep and bear.

In fact, you have the right to your guns because of the inalienable right to life, not in spite of it. The right to defend your life is a corollary of the inalienable right to life, which is actually the right not to be killed.

“But,” someone asked me last week during an online discussion, “what about owning an AK-47, an armored tank, or even nuclear weapons?”

A gun or a tank in my neighbor’s yard is not a threat to my life, liberty or property until it’s pointed at me, by an imminent threat or in actuality.

On the other hand, nuclear materials are a real threat to the possessor and those around him, even without a trigger. Because they give off dangerous radiation and decompose (making them even more dangerous) it’s not unreasonable to regulate who may and may not possess nuclear materials, how they’ll be manufactured, stored and transported. Governments may ethically limit their possession because, like biological or chemical weapons, they’re hard to contain, much less accurately aim. They all are able to threaten people nearby, downwind and may even harm future generations.

Inalienable rights aren’t decided by government, much less personal opinion. They are negative and necessarily hierarchical. You may not enjoy a liberty that endangers the life of another, and the government can’t limit rights without prior evidence of a clear infringement of another’s rights.

(For more on rights and ethics, see “Why Ethics?“)

Regulate anti-vaccine docs?

syringe justiceWe may not ever solve the problem of an irresponsible tabloid press and sensation-seeking media, since the freedom of speech is too important to infringe.  But we do have power over those we license as physicians.

Dr. Walt Larimore enters the vaccine debate in his blog, not by suggesting forced vaccination, only the regulation of physicians. I wouldn’t support the recommendation without some leeway — I’m certainly not going to approve of every vaccine without a time trial in this very diverse lab that is the United States.

However, Dr. Larimore and his guest author, Dr. Russell C. Libby, are right to raise the ethical and medic0-legal responsibility of physicians who are licensed by the State and who advocate against good science and medical standards.

 

From the article:

“State medical boards must decide if the actions of healthcare practitioners who advocate against vaccination and undermine the public health efforts of their communities warrant investigation and intervention. There are a number physicians and other licensed healthcare professionals who trivialize and discourage immunization, whether it be for philosophical, financial, or self-promotional reasons.

“When the patients they influence contract preventable disease and have bad outcomes or they cause the spread to a vulnerable population, they should be held liable for malpractice. If it is in the midst of an outbreak or epidemic, medical boards need to sanction or suspend licenses.”

 

I’ve spent quite a bit of time — especially over the last week – attempting to educate interested people (including a family member) about the safety and usefulness or efficacy of vaccines.  My motto for these arguments has always been that, “Truth will out,” and, “If we’re right, we should be able to teach and convince.”

However, within the last week, an irresponsible Texas radio host trotted out the discredited and un-licensed doctor who fabricated the MMR/autism fraud and a Canadian newspaper published a hit piece on Gardasil. (You can find them easily on Google – I won’t give them “hits” from my page.)

When licensed physicians – men and women who should know better – spread demonstrable lies, even after being found guilty of fraud or when demonstrably spreading harmful misinformation, there should be consequences.

Boards of Family Medicine and Pediatrics in Collusion?

You’ve got to see this! From the blog, rebel.md:

“The same boards that treat doctors like criminals during our “secure board examinations” blatantly copy each other’s press releases. They’re more than “fellow members of the community of medical boards”, they’re in collusion against their own diplomats. Each board claims they are independently responding to their individual specialties, but they are clearly well-organized as a single entity against us. I’m not sure what the CEO of the ABP does for that $1.2 million salary, but writing original press releases doesn’t appear to be within his scope.”

You’ve heard it said that Doc So-and-So is “Board Certified,” right? That means that he (or she) has taken a test or two – the Board exams for his (- assume I’ve said, “or she,” from now on) specialty  – and maintains a certain level of credentialing and Continuing Medical Education (CME). While not mandated by law, in many cases, it’s a necessary hoop through which to jump if a doc plans to get hospital privileges or insurance contracts.

For Family Physicians, that used to mean that we took 50 hours of CME each year and re-took our Boards each 6 or 7 years. (The “security” around those “secure board examinations” became so onerous that I was fingerprinted several times on the day I took my third set: Once on entry to the exam room, once when I returned from lunch and then when I returned from a trip to the bathroom. They graciously supplied facial tissues, since we weren’t allowed to bring in our own into the room. In fact, we were required to place purses, wallets, etc., in a locker during the exams!)

Over the last 7 or so years, the American Board of Family Physicians has phased in a convoluted system of make-work and extra tests to assure our “Maintenance of Certification” or “MOC.” (Believe it or not, that’s a trademarked name, belonging to the American Board of Medical Specialties, the overlord of all Certifications.) It’s expensive and time consuming and frankly, is of no practical use other than as a source of the CME, which we were getting anyway.  That didn’t stop the Boards from attempting to convince the Feds that our licenses and/or pay should be tied to their certification.

And the profit is a big deal. MOC is a great source of revenue for the Boards, which used to only receive our $1000 or so when we took the Boards. Now, they make much more.  In 2010 (according to the latest tax form I can find), the ABFM took in $24Million from family docs, paid the President of the Board just shy of $800,000, socked away $12M in “excess” revenue, and has over $72 M in assets. Family docs who work hard don’t earn 1/4 of what Dr. Puffer is paid.

Many of us refuse to play any more. When I resigned from the American Academy of Family Physicians, I decided to drop the pretense of Board Certification, also.  The MOC process was impossible for my practice as a locum tenens, working in other doc’s offices.

And I’m not alone in my dissent. See Dr. Charles Kroll’s video on the corruption within the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), here,  and the letter from Dr. David D Fitzpatrick at the Authentic Medicine blog.

Well, the ABIM, unlike the ABFM which jumped on MOC before all the other specialties, sort of heard its members and has pledged to hold its fees stable (and struggle along on $43 Million a year in revenues) and delay a couple of requirements. The ABIM even apologized!

Well (again), the ABFM and the American Board of Pediatrics  (ABP) certainly heard that! And they evidently were in the same meeting when it happened. How else to explain the fact that each sent out nearly identical letters to their members, including 120 matching words in phrases from 9 to 31 words long?

Plagiarism?

 

 

 

Texas Democrats’ “success?”

Only if you go by numbers, not content. Or Quantity, not Quality.  You know, the same false argument the Dems use to justify President Obama’s Executive Orders and Writs of Memoranda.

There’s a set of “statistics” going around on Facebook (and elsewhere, if you want to see the 10/2013 original), intended to criticize the current leadership in the Texas Legislature :

  Well, nearly HALF of all the bills enacted into law in the great Republican, red state of Texas were authored or co-authored by Democrats.

Actually, the most likely answer is that only the more conservative bills “authored or co-authored” by Dems are passed.  The question is what are the actual Bills we’re talking about?

For a look at what actually happens in the Texas Legislature, let’s go to the resource for following or researching current and past legislation, hearings, even witness lists: Texas Legislature Online.
To look at what sort of Bills coauthored by Dems were passed, look at the record of one of the most liberal Dems, Jessica Farrar.  Go down to the list of Bills authored or list of Bills “co-authored” by her in the 83(R) session.  Look at the ones marked “E” for “Enrolled.”

One of those Bills, HB 3677, was sponsored in the Senate by Lt. Governor-elect Dan Patrick and one, HB 970, was authored jointly with Representative Jonathan Stickland. Another, authored by Representative Harvey Hilderbran, HB 3572,  actually lowered tax rates. (Okay, HB 3572 created a new tax on alcoholic mixed beverages, but at a lower rate than similar taxes.)

Not all Bills are created equal, and certainly not all “statistics.” or “proof” that the Texas Legislature is not conservative. But we can add one more example to the statistics proving Mark Twain’s adage that there are “Lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

 

Harsh and critical

RPT Elephant shooting duoMy brother told me that if I want to make a difference in politics, I need to be more critical and stop trying to be “nice” or “balanced” with these posts. What do you think?

In the past, I’ve written open letters to our elected Republican legislators. I made up that little graphic, above and wrote post after post about the way we “Eat our own” and “Shoot our own.” I’ve written about “Susurrus I,”  “Susurrus II” and the “Deja vu.” (“Susurrus III” is still an unpublished draft in my files. When it came right down to it, I couldn’t bring myself to be that critical and air the dirty laundry of the Party.)

There was even one post headline where I cussed: “Lies, Damned Lies and Scorecards.”

However, those posts made me uncomfortable. I believe I will continue to try to follow the advice of these little Gems I’ve posted on my front page:

 Emotional noise is destructive to education according to David Horowitz. It’s just as destructive to government, politics and policy and getting along with our friends and neighbors.

We Conservatives can split hairs finer than Baptists – or the Galatians and Ephesians to whom the Apostle Paul wrote 2000 years ago. Apostle Paul had good advice when he admonished us to edify one another and to gently correct our opponents.

 

Don Quixote, Ted Cruz and the Windmill

Update, January 25, 2016 Read about the endorsement from Governor Perry

“I wanted to talk about him, who he was, see if I could get a handle on Ted Cruz the man, not Cruz the caricature I’d seen through the political lens. What I found was a very different person than what I had been led to believe.”

******

Look, my hobby is tilting at windmills. My theme song often seems to be “To Dream the Impossible Dream,” but let’s be honest. No matter how much we want to overturn Obama’s amnesty EO, Ted Cruz​​ did no one any good on Saturday except Harry Reid, who got the chance to play with to his Senate majority- and with the nuclear option for judicial nominees – for an extra 48 hours.

 

If you’re willing to trade lifetime appointments to the Federal bench, the fight to fight would have been the “Amendment in the form of a Substitute” for the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org/2014/12/rep-amash-congress-last-night-gave-massive-new-citizen-surveillance-powers-to-the-president/)   with its incremental addition to legal infringement of our 4th, 5th Amendment rights snuck in at midnight, too late to read. (Now that you have a chance, read Section 309.)

 

Then, if you just wanted to shame someone for something, how about that last? Both the Cromnibus and the IAA were last minute re-worked drafts that virtually no one had the opportunity, much less the time, to read. We the People were promised by the Republicans that we would get 3 days to read EVERY Bill. These two Bills should have made that promise absolutely front and center on every Republican mind.

 

Come to think of it: Did Cruz give us a chance to evaluate his resolution before the vote???

 

“How Government Killed the Medical Profession”

Contrast the Hippocratic ethic in which a physician recommends treatment to his patient, based on his best medical judgement in the patient’s interest, with that of the “veterinary ethic,” where decisions are made by the “payor” — or owner. Now, consider the effect of Government regulations which arbitrarily force doctors to learn protocols and guidelines (rather than adjust to the patient’s course of illness), to fit a patient’s illness into International Clinical Diagnoses (out to the nth decimal place) and which withhold payment when a patient becomes ill enough to need readmission to the hospital within 30 days of the last admission.

In an article published online by Cato, Dr. Jeffery Singer lays out the history of the destruction of Medicine as  a profession. In the past, Dr. Singer described the ethical transition toward the “veterinary ethic.”

Each of these articles is worth your time and consideration. The first article gives one of the best explanations of the Government move to “coding” of medical diagnoses in exchange for payment “reimbursement,” on through the forced move to Electronic Medical Records without evidence that patients will benefit and Accountable Care Organizations which assign patients to employee “providers.” The second, earlier article, reviewed the necessary change in medical ethics to allow doctors to practice without – or in contradiction to – their conscience.

Forget patient autonomy, long elevated by the lawmakers, lawyers and  Ph.D’s (in the name of “Bioethics”) above the traditional physician Hippocratic values of beneficence and its foundation, non-maleficence. In the world of Government medicine, your life is in the hands of the “payor:” the Golden Rule of “He who has the gold makes the rules.”

 

 

 

Dreams of 2017

What “executive priorities” would you like to see implemented by Executive Order of the new Republican President, beginning January 20, 2017?

Even as a “dream,” it’s not easy to write all this. It’s easy to see the objections and possible pitfalls. I need help. I suggest not enforcing any law that can’t be justified in 2 to 3  sentences, using “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and a plain reading of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. No “penumbras,” no nuances. Make it plain and transparent enough that even Gruber’s criteria of  “the stupidity of the American voters” is met.

Same 90 day deadline Obama set for his immigration fiat?

Here’s a short list:

  • Close the border.  Should we deport the “over-stayers” and those on Obama’s “deferment” lists?
  • The IRS should phase out, shut down, beginning with Obamacare enforcement.
  • The Secret Service will limit it’s scope to protection of dignitaries.
  • Tell the EPA, OSHA, EEOC, HHS, Education Energy and others to plan on shutting down as States take over their functions – the way the States want to do those functions.
  • Foreign aid should be held until Congress makes new, individual appropriations.
  • Any aide that goes to abortion-favorable services stops immediately.
  • ?????

 

Congressional Majorities – Historic “swing”

Senate majorities historic NYTTake a look at what the New York Times calls the swing. (Their site has more detail than my little pic.)

The majorities have been too large and too long on the Dem’s side. It’s time for more conservative, small government, pro-family, pro-life, and pro-security government from the Right.  We’ve made a good first step

The Insider – FeatureID 383

Read this article for a history (you probably don’t know about)  of the many attempts and failures in healthcare reform over the last 20+ years.

In 2001, Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, brought a tax credit bill to the House floor and passed it over objections of congressional liberals favoring Medicaid expansion. In the Senate, however, Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) blocked the tax credit bill twice. Nonetheless, as a political matter, conservatives were playing offense on health care policy for the first time in memory. While small, the proposal was a psychological victory for those who wanted to fix health care with more free markets.

via The Insider – FeatureID 383.

False “leaders” call for martial law

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/50158577

Occasionally speaking of herself in the third person, Joann Fleming, the self-proclaimed head of an East Texas “Tea Party” group, led a press conference at the Texas State Capitol on Wednesday. The Fleming gang demanded that Governor Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott order a Special Session of the Texas Legislature (cost: well over $1 Million) in order to spend the Rainy Day Fund (cost: up to $4 Billion) and that the Governor declare martial law (cost: immeasurable).

 

 

Fleming (“. . . if you’re like me, your brain will be screaming to you . . .”) shrilly  stated that the Federal government has no right to tax Texans “except when they have declared war or a state of emergency” and that “Maybe we can’t count on our State officials to protect us, either.” Calling Texas a “sanctuary State,” Fleming ignored the fact that Governor Perry “alienated some potential supporters after his push to ban so-called “sanctuary cities” in Texas.”

 
Failed 2014 Republican Congressional candidate, Katrina Pierson, who once called  a US Marine Captain “deformed” because of his war injuries, took the stage to complain that 50% of Texas’ budget comes from Federal dollars! Where does she think “federal dollars” come from?  In fact, through 2010, Texas was a “donor State.  Since then, Texas received a bit more than Texas taxpayers sent to Washington – if you count Medicare, Social Security and the money that supports the military in our State. Sounds like pay back to me.

 

 

Another member of the gang, a lawyer, said that the Governor (and Attorney General?) had been getting bad legal advice. When asked what difference this plan would make, since Texas can’t legally deport illegal aliens, the lawyer suggested that the Governor should ignore the law, order the Guard and DPS to deport illegal aliens, and bypass Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He said that the worst that could happen is that President Barack Obama and Holder could sue.

 

 

Article 1, Section 10 of the United States Constitution:

“No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.”

 
Under the usual circumstances, the National Guard is under the command of the President of the United States, rather than control of the Governor. As explained by the (far-right wing) Red State last year, the National Guard is not the “militia” of the several States. Instead, the men and women serving in the Guard are considered ‘troops.”

 
It is true that in times of “imminent danger” the Governor may declare a state of emergency and call up the Guard for duty within the State. You may even remember that in 2010, then-US Attorney General Napolitano told Governor Perry that if he wasn’t happy with the 250 troops sent to the Texas border, he was welcome to call them up himself and pay for it.  Unfortunately, the current US Attorney General is Eric Holder.

 

 

The emotional demand by one woman, Alice Linahan of Women on the Wall, that Governor Perry and General Abbott “Show us that you’re actually different from Obama,” sums up the cognizant dissonance of the entire press conference.  The gang seems to have no understanding of how quickly President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder ignore the law, at the same moment that they condemn it.

 

I say “fertilization,” you say “conception”

Forty years ago the words “fertilization” and “conception” meant the same thing to doctors, lawyers, and embryologists alike: the joining of the 23 chromosomes in the sperm with the 23 chromosomes in the oocyte (“egg”) to form a new complete, unique human organism. “Contraception” was defined as any method that worked before the existence of the embryo by preventing fertilization. These were the hormonal treatments and devices that prevent ovulation of the egg and condoms, diaphragms and sterilization that serve as “barriers” between the sperm and egg.   Drugs and devices that may or may not end the life of the embryo after fertilization were legally and correctly called “abortifacients.”

 

However, legalized abortion and the ability to accomplish fertilization through in vitro methods led to new legal definitions of “pregnancy” and “conception” as beginning at implantation rather than fertilization.   Even in vivo, healthy human embryos in healthy mothers were deprived of legal protection as human beings for at least the first 5 – 10 days of their lives, the window of opportunity for implantation when the developing embryo grows to hundreds of cells organized in 2 or 3 recognizable tissue layers and interact with the mother’s body in ways that may affect the timing of birth or risk of diabetes and other health concerns. Possible abortifacients that work after fertilization but before implantation were redefined as “emergency contraception.”

 

In spite of what you may have heard on the news, the June 30, 2014 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) didn’t deny birth control for anyone. Everyone may still purchase his or her own FDA-approved birth control.  SCOTUS simply ruled that the government can’t force some employers to buy things that they believe are immoral.

 

In fact, Hobby Lobby only asked to be exempt from purchasing insurance plans that paid for specific drugs and devices used for “emergency contraception.” Before the passage of the Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare” or ACA), the company purchased insurance that included true forms of contraception, including,

  • Those that prevent ovulation by preventing the normal ups and downs of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, such asBirth-control pills with estrogen and progestin (“Combined Pill”),Birth-control pills with progestin alone (“The Mini Pill”),Birth control pills (extended/continuous use), Contraceptive patches, Contraceptive rings,Progestin injections, andImplantable rods

and

  • Those that act as “barriers” to fertilization by preventing the union of sperm and egg: Male condoms, Female condoms, Diaphragms with spermicide, Sponges with spermicide, Cervical caps with spermicide, Spermicide alone, Vasectomies, Female sterilization surgeries, and Female sterilization implants.

The problem is that regulations written by the Obama Administration mandated that all insurances pay for all pregnancy “preventatives” approved by the FDA, including drugs and devices that may function after fertilization to end the life of the new human embryo:

  • Pills that mainly delay ovulation but may impair implantation and development of the placenta if fertilization takes place, such as over-the-counter Plan B and generic levonorgestrel tablets, and ella, which requires a prescription, and
  • Devices that mechanically and hormonally make the uterus inhospitable to implantation by the embryo, such as intrauterine devices like the copper-T, Mirena, and ParaGuard. These are inserted up to 5 days after unprotected intercourse to prevent implantation and then left in place to prevent fertilization and implantation for as long as 5-10 years.

 

 

Although the words we use do not change the fact that the human embryo is the same human life before implantation as after, they can change his or her legal status.

 

 

 

 

 

IRS to Pay $50,000 in Leaking of Marriage Group’s Tax Return, Donors

No punitive damages because the IRS guy plead the Fifth!

Forget ideological issues.  This is not about marriage. It’s intimidation and theft of information that the Federal government forces us to give them at the point of guns.

The leak of confidential tax records should be a crime. Isn’t it time for criminal charges against one of these “leakers?”

 

Testifying under oath in a deposition as part of the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Meisel invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself and declined to disclose the identity of his “conduit.”

To get at that fact, Eastman said, the National Organization for Marriage has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to grant immunity from prosecution to Meisel.

The $50,000 to be paid by the IRS represents actual damages NOM incurred responding to the illegal disclosure, not punitive damages, since the marriage group was unable to prove disclosure of the confidential records was deliberate after Meisel took the Fifth.

Meisel provided the marriage group’s tax data to the Human Rights Campaign, documents found as part of the investigation show. HRC is among organizations and activists advocating same-sex marriage that routinely describe NOM as a “hate group” or “anti-gay” for making the case for preserving marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

via IRS to Pay $50,000 in Leaking of Marriage Group’s Tax Return, Donors.

Republicans, the Tea Party, and November

Because of the run-off win by incumbent Mississippi Republican Senator Thad Cochran, there is a renewed effort to split the “Tea Party” from the Republican Party.

Forget for a moment that Senator Cochran was backed by the very Conservative former Governor Haley Barbour and appealed to voters who weren’t traditional Republican voters. (Or that Chris McDaniel voted in the 2003 Democratic Party Primary.)

 

The question is who will elect the winners – and choose the Senate Majority Leader and Speaker of the House –  in November, 2014?

 

I‘ve addressed this false divide and question in the past.

 

 

We Republicans are the Tea Party. If you look at the Tea Party, you will see the Conservative foundation, the remnant that have opposed “centrists” and “moderates” for years. We are the ones who have known all along what the Dems relearn each election cycle, but some of our own never seem to: Americans are conservative, to the right of center. When all the couch potatoes woke up last year, we were the ones who were here to welcome them and give them somewhere to start.

Some of us sat out the 2006 and even 2008 elections to “teach them a lesson;” that they need to legislate like Republicans if they want us to support them. Where Republicans turned out to vote, we held offices. Where the Republican voters were no-shows, we lost ground and offices. In a few cases, Republicans crossed over in the name of Chaos and strong conservatives were narrowly defeated in the Primaries, leaving us with a choice between a RINO, a Democrat or an under vote. We ended up with candidates chosen by the least knowledgeable voters.

Well, that was successful, wasn’t it?

 

If there is a move to form a “Third Party,” let it be after the November elections.

Cheering free speech Supreme Court decision, Christian doctors warn of government enforcement of ideology : Resources : Christian Medical & Dental Associations

The 15,000-member Christian Medical Association, which along with other faith-based organizations had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a U.S. Supreme Court case examining free speech and assembly rights, lauded the decision announced today in the case, McCullen v. Coakley.

“The Court simply reaffirmed that the First Amendment’s protection of peaceful speech and assembly is a cornerstone of this nation,” explained CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens. “Hopefully such decisions will begin to address the alarming growth of coercive assaults on the free speech of anyone deemed not politically correct by the government.”

The brief, submitted by the Christian Legal Society, sought to counter a Massachusetts law that had attempted to ban peaceful pro-life speech on public sidewalks, by prohibiting many citizens from entering a public street or sidewalk within 35 feet of an abortion facility.

“The fact that the government was bent on not only banning peaceful speech and assembly, but also penalizing its citizens with fines and jail, demonstrates the type of coercion that can happen when governments decide to enforce their own ideology,” stated Dr. Stevens.

via Cheering free speech Supreme Court decision, Christian doctors warn of government enforcement of ideology : Resources : Christian Medical & Dental Associations.

“Buffer zone” Unconstitutional #Stand4Life #Prolife rules

This should have been obvious, but now it’s the ruling of the Court. Good news

Developing: The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a Massachusetts law banning abortion-clinic protests within a 35-foot buffer zone violates the First Amendment rights of protesters, SCOTUSblog reports.

The court was unanimous in its judgment. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the opinion (PDF) for the court.

An earlier Massachusetts law had established a six-foot “no approach” zone around abortion clinics that barred leaflets, signs and counseling of persons within the zone absent their consent. It was replaced in 2007 with the new law generally barring people from public sidewalks and public ways within 35 feet of abortion clinics. (People entering the clinics, employees, police and people who happened to be walking by were exempted.)

SCOTUSblog founder Tom Goldstein has this analysis: “The upshot of today’s ruling is that an abortion clinic buffer zone is presumptively unconstitutional. Instead, a state has to more narrowly target clinic obstructions. For example, the police can tell protesters to move aside to let a woman through to the clinic. But it cannot prohibit protesters from being on the sidewalks in the first instance. If in practice protesters still are obstructing the entrance, then it can consider a broader restriction.”

via 35-foot buffer zone for abortion-clinic protests violates First Amendment, SCOTUS rules.

 

From the majority opinion:

But petitioners do not claim a right to trespass on the clinics’ property. They instead claim a right to stand on the public sidewalks by the driveway as cars turn into the parking lot. Before the buffer zones, they could do so. Now they must stand a substantial distance away. The Act alone is responsible for that restriction on their ability to convey their message.

 

Updated to add the quote. BBN 6/26/2014 10:45 AM

All nine justices reject recess appointments in Noel Canning case – The Washington Post

UPDATE: A few quick observations. First, the central holding of the opinion for the Court is that the Senate gets to determine when the Senate is in recess, provided the recess is of sufficient length. This is significant in that it gives Congress the ability to prevent recess appointments.

Second, none of the justices were willing to accept the position of the Obama Administration, which was unnecessarily extreme. In choosing the make the recess appointments in the way it did, such as by not following precedents set by prior administrations (including Teddy Roosevelt) and filling some Board spots that the Senate never had time to fill, the Administration adopted a stance that was very hard to defend, so it could not attract a single vote.

via All nine justices reject recess appointments in Noel Canning case – The Washington Post.

Texas Ethics Commission Law & Regulation on Lobbying

You’ve probably seen the emails, Twitter posts and Facebook comments about the Texas Ethics Commission charges against Michael Quinn Sullivan (@MQSullivan) of Empower Texans (ET)/ Texans for Fiscal Responsibility for failure to register as a lobbyist.

 

According to my own personal scorecard, Mr. Sullivan and I agree about 95% of the time. I’ve heard him speak at Republican Women meetings and have followed his website and social media posts. (He and I disagreed on the 2013 scorecard.) He claims he’s a journalist and is protecting the rest of us from being silenced. However, Mr. Sullivan earns about $130,000 a year, and he solicits donations to help him influence Texas legislators.  In fact, Mr. Sullivan has registered as a lobbyist in the past. When did he stop being a lobbyist, and how did he determine that he was no longer a lobbyist?

The Texas Ethics Commission has made mistakes in the handling of this complaint, including closed door meetings, gag orders (or the equivalent), and there have been delays and down-right stalling when it comes to allowing MQS to confront the two legislators who filed the complaint against him. I’ve long objected to the need for filling out that paperwork, including my occupation and employer, when I buy a pin or meal at a New Braunfels Republican Women meeting.

 

Today, Mr. Sullivan had his hearing at the Texas Ethics Commission. It was live-streamed on the Internet (here). Mr. Sullivan refused to testify, repeating “On the advice of counsel, I’m not testifying today.” For hours.  In my opinion, that’s not brave and definitely not helpful.

 

In the long run, this is a question about the law. The State of Texas has published its rules and regulations. Even though I’m not a lawyer, the law and regulations seem clear to me. You can read them here.

 

DETERMINING WHETHER LOBBY REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED

Lobby registration is required if a person meets either one of two thresholds: the “compensation and reimbursement threshold” or the “expenditure threshold.” A “person” required to register may be a corporation, partnership, association, or other type of business entity as well as an individual. See Entity Registration.

COMPENSATION AND REIMBURSEMENT THRESHOLD

Under current Ethics Commission rules, a person who receives, or is entitled to receive under an agreement under which the person is retained or employed, more than $1,000 in a calendar quarter as compensation or reimbursement to lobby must register as a lobbyist. 1 T.A.C. § 34.43. (Compensation and reimbursement must be added together to determine whether registration is required. Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 103 (1992).) Compensation for certain communications, however, does not count toward the compensation threshold even though the communications may be intended to influence legislation or administrative action. SeeEXCEPTIONS FROM REQUIRED REGISTRATION, in this guide. Also, a person who crosses the compensation threshold is not required to register if lobby activity constitutes no more than five percent of the person’s compensated time during a calendar quarter. See EXCEPTIONS FROM REQUIRED REGISTRATION, Incidental Lobbying.

Compensation to Prepare for Lobbying. Compensation received for preparing lobby communications (for example, compensation attributable to strategy sessions, review and analysis of legislation or administrative matters, research, or communication with a client concerning lobbying strategy) is counted toward the compensation threshold. 1 T.A. C. § 34.3. If a person engages in preparatory activities, but does not actually communicate to influence legislation or administrative action, registration is not required. Id. A person employed by a lobbyist (or a person employed by the lobbyist’s employer who works under the lobbyist’s direction) to assist the lobbyist in nonclerical lobby activities must be listed as an assistant on the lobbyist’s registration. See Reporting Assistants.

You can look up the lists of lobbyists at the website, too.

The accusation that I object to is the claim that the TEC will come after the rest of us next. Not unless we are compensated (paid) for our lobbying and it’s a condition of our employment. Today, one of my friends on Facebook made the claim that the pro-life group, Texas Right to Life, is next. However, at least one of the lobbyists for TRTL registers during odd-numbered years.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I’m on the Board of Directors of Texas Alliance for Life. At least two of our employees are registered.)

Edit: http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/tedd/loblst09_04.htm  Mr. Sullivan was registered in 2009. BBN, 6/26/14 7:55 AM.

New Braunfels Republican Women mentioned on Alex Jones’ Infowars

NBRW logoWe’ve made it to the big time, Ladies!  via » Web Filtering Company Launches Purge of Libertarian, Conservative Media Alex Jones’ Infowars:

Other sites besides Infowars.com have also been miscategorized by Blue Coat.

In the past, the company also labeled New Braunfels Republican Women, the web site of conservative commentator Carolyn Gargaro and Reunion Ministries as “pornography.”

 

To be fair, at one time there was a pornography site using the initials as NBRW.  You can see our website at NBRW.com and our Facebook page is here.

Open Letter to Legislators on “A minor border crisis”

I’ve sent a copy of this letter to all my State legislators (slightly edited for each):

What can we do to help moderate what appears to be the makings of an international crisis due to the numbers of families and vulnerable, unaccompanied children entering our country?

Please see this post about the issue at WingRight.org, “A minor border crisis.” I am concerned that the unaccompanied minor children in these stories are being used in a political ploy designed to beat away at the resistance to “immigration reform.” Whether that is true or not, they are suffering physical and sexual abuse and abandoned due to the inadequate system in place at this time.

As to the “practical action” that I mention in the blog post, perhaps we could utilize the systems for handling refugees that the State of Texas built after Katrina.

Our goal should be to return these children and families with minor children to their homes in their own country immediately after they are caught and funding for the effort should come from the Federal government. Since I’m not sure we can count on this Administration to agree, Texas must take the lead.

I’m offering to work as a volunteer anywhere I can be of assistance, whether as a doctor and/or doing the “scut work” in coordination of the effort.

Thanks!
Beverly

What Cantor’s Defeat Means « Commentary Magazine

Perhaps that #RPT Immigration plank wasn’t a fluke, after all. This is much bigger than the Tea Party, alone. Or the Tea Party is bigger than anyone thought!

 

Eric Cantor wasn’t supposed to lose. His own pollster had him up by, get this, 34 points the other week. He’d raised nearly $5 million, and in the past two weeks spent $1 million against his rival’s $79,000. Not enough.

**********

So is this a case of the Republican Right eating one of its own to prove a point? Perhaps. Or it could just be he was hit by a perfect storm of anti-Washington sentiment and his own advocacy for an immigration bill that made him a whipping boy for ratings-hungry radio chatters. He lost touch with the voters in his own district and was done in.

via What Cantor’s Defeat Means « Commentary Magazine.

About Those RPT Convention Votes and Immigration

Raise your hand if you were one of the delegates to the Republican Party of Texas Convention who voted for the plank but didn’t have a clue what you were voting for. I didn’t think any of you did. I certainly knew what I was voting for.

In case you were incompetent or driven by ugly emotions when you voted on the Platform – and for those who weren’t there but are hearing from the media and even some Republicans: Here’s the Immigration Plank we voted into the Platform: http://wp.me/p1FiCk-1cj and here’s my review of the controversy on the floor of the Convention: http://wp.me/p1FiCk-1ce

The press has been running an increasing number of articles about the crisis in our State resulting in the arrest of over a 1000 people a day in the Rio Grande Valley alone – 148,000 in 7 months, compared with 60,000 caught in Arizona. Over 47,000 of the Rio Grande detainees were minor boys and girls, some as young as 8 years old, since last October. 75% are from El Salvador, Guatemala, and the Honduras, countries other than Mexico.

I don’t fully support only two of the many points in the new plank. For one thing, I’m not convinced about ending in-state tuition for young kids who are brought here before 15 years old who go on to graduate from our high schools. Although I do worry that we are drawing those minors numbered above. In addition, I’m concerned about new Federal data banks and the usefulness of E-verify.

However, I agree with the bulk of the Plank, especially the call for a secure border. I agree with the suggested cooperation between law enforcement branches and relieving ranchers from the fear that they and landowners will face crippling civil suits if a trespasser is harmed on their land while in the country illegally.

I’ve seen some confusion about this line: “Contiguous physical barrier coupled with electronic, infrared and visual monitoring.” That’s support for a fence that’s actually on the border where the two countries meet, rather than miles in. It’s not a call for a continuous fence all along the border, but one where it’s needed and supplemented by actual people and technology where they are needed.

My main sticking point was the Committee report’s appearance of asking for a “provisional visa program,” that apparently started with “the participant’s” application from within the country by people here illegally. That’s why I decided that the plank is a good compromise for our Party. I strongly approve of the statement that “Any form of Amnesty should not be granted, including the granting of legal status to persons in the country illegally”

Edit: cleaned up grammar and typos, 6:22 AM 6/10/14 – BBN

Immigration Plank of Republican Party of Texas Platform 2014

Amendment to Preliminary 2014 Platform of the Republican Party of Texas Submitted by Peter Batura, SD 17

Click to access immigration-plank.pdf

America is proudly a nation of immigrants. Throughout our history, our nation has attracted productive, industrious and gifted people to America because she is exceptional, and those immigrants and their descendants helped make America the world’s unrivaled economic and military superpower. It remains imperative to create fair and consistent procedures that will again enable freedom-loving, hard-working and law-abiding immigrants to join us, by providing them an efficient, practical method of legal entry, so they can lawfully take positions where their labor is needed, without exploitation or harassment.

Our national interests are poorly served by our broken, embattled, and outdated immigration system, and patchwork attempts to mend its deficiencies will not prepare us to continue to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex global economy that demands the legal movement of people to fill jobs at all skill levels. An efficient, profamily and market-based system will provide a more workable solution that is compassionate, equitable and respects the rule of law.

But by failing to create a rational and effective system that encourages and facilitates legal immigration to the benefit of the nation, Congress has forced states to deal with the consequences of a broken immigration system, including human, sex and drug trafficking, the direct criminal activities of cartels and gangs. This situation must end so America can, once again, enjoy the fruits of a vibrant and beneficial system of legal immigration.

In addition, with 92 million Americans not working, the labor force at 36-year low and a lethargic economy, the United States of America can ill-afford a guest worker program designed to depress wages.

The following outlines specific actions needed to address these critical issues:

• Secure the borders through

o Increasing in the number of border security officers
o Increasing joint operations and training with local law enforcement, DPS and the Texas State Guard
o Contiguous physical barrier coupled with electronic, infrared and visual monitoring

• Ending In-State Tuition for Illegal Immigrants

• Enhancing state smuggling laws

• Prohibiting sanctuary cities

• Prohibiting the knowing employment of illegal immigrants

• Providing civil liability protections for landowners against illegal immigrants

• Protecting the ability of law enforcement officers to inquire of the status of someone in custody

• Modernizing Current Immigration Laws to address the following:

o Any form of Amnesty should not be granted, including the granting of legal status to persons in the country illegally
o We support replacement of the current employment visa system with an efficient cost effective system
o We support ending country of origin quotas
o We support ending the annual green card lottery

• Once the borders are verifiably secure, and E-Verify system use is fully enforced, creation of a visa classification for non-specialty industries which have demonstrated actual and persistent labor shortages.

On the Immigration Plank of the Republican Party of Texas

I am proud of the heritage of our Republican Party of Texas as welcoming citizens of all backgrounds who hold faith, family and freedom as our principles and who ask others to simply follow the law.

 
Now, I’m hearing – and reading on Facebook – that it’s the fault of myself and the Republican Party of Texas that ObamaCare was forced on us at midnight on New Years’ Day *and* that it’s my fault that there are (an estimated) 12 Million illegal aliens have entered and are currently residing without status in the US.

 
Absolutely, unequivocally: NO!

 
This exact line of “reasoning” from the Chair of the Platform Committee, Tom Mechler, is what made me join the fight against what came to be known as the “Provisional Visa Program,” but was formerly the “Texas Solution.” Until Mechler made these claims, I was hoping for a blending of the positions of the two groups. (I was even called a “liberal” on a post on this blog.)

 
It’s not our fault! We have petitioned our State and Federal Legislators, our Governor, our Party. Some few of our citizens have joined patrols and militias and have been vilified. This week, many of us took our time and effort to testify to the subcommittee considering the Immigration Plank.

 
They didn’t listen. Instead, the leaders who initiated the battle over the “Texas Solution” engaged in overt gamesmanship.

 

 

The language that was printed under the heading of the “Minority Report” failed because the vote in Committee, actually on a motion to replace the language we later saw as the “Committee Report,” was a tie. At 15-15, there was no 50%+1 majority vote and the previous language prevailed. I had been told that the Chair voted to break the tie, when in fact the motion failed because he did not vote.  TJ Scott, the delegate to the Committee from SD 14, led the “minority.”

 

 

Rather than allowing Mr. Scott, the author, to read the “Minority Report,” Chairman Mechler chose his man to read the “minority report.” Mr. Ramsey (SD 7), moved to immediately amend the Committee’s report, jumping right over the** “minority report.” (Ramsey even claimed to be the author, but was forced to retract that claim from the stage.  He later said that he was talking about being the author of the amendment.)

 
I believe that TJ spent nearly all day Friday trying to determine the proper procedure. He did exactly what he was told was the correct thing. He was misled.

 
In fact, I was the first to turn in an amendment (and the 6th), but the Chair decided that the order of amendments were submitted meant nothing. The only thing that mattered was getting to a microphone first. Then, he gave the mic to Mechler, who gave it to Ramsey.

 

 

 

Fortunately for all of us, one of our members was able to win the battle of the microphones and presented an amendment that was truly a compromise. (I’ll publish the new Immigration plank as soon as it’s online.)
The newest argument is that the Delegates passed the Amendment without knowing what we were voting for. (Totally ignoring that they voted for what Chairman Munisteri repeatedly called “the Ramsey language,” presented the same way, without a paper copy.) That is certainly not true for me. The clerk read the entire amendment out loud and we were able to read along with her. I was able to understand what I was voting for and trust that the bulk of the delegates who voted with me are just as capable of understanding.
There is no call for deportation in the Final 2014 Platform. There is a demand that the magnets which draw the illegal aliens to our State be ended. There *is* approval of a guest worker visa when needed. It does not micro-manage the details of the visa.

 
(BTW, doesn’t it seem odd that some people are demanding a “living wage,” while others advocate adding millions of low-income workers through a guest worker program?)

 

 

Finally, I hope that the Republican Party of Texas will post the Final 2014 Platform on-line so that we can all review exactly what we are discussing. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to read the Platform for common ground, rather than the differences.

We Republicans remain the Party of life, liberty and property. We are the Party which best defends the Constitution of the State of Texas and the United States and faith, family and freedom!

*** Edited 6/8/14 at 9:48PM to correct the statement that Mr. Ramsey moved to amend the “minority report, by inserting “the Committee’s report, jumping right over the.” Of course, Mr Ramsey made the motion to amend the Committee’s report, after reading the minority report.

Update at 10:40 PM, clarification about that tie vote in the Committee.

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