Archives

Philosophy

This category contains 341 posts

News: “U.K. Scientists Given Green Light To Edit Human Embryos” | IFLScience

http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/uk-scientists-given-green-light-edit-human-embryos

Cute. We’re assured that it’s still illegal to implant these “edited,” engineered embryos – but until now, it wasn’t legal to edit them! See the pattern?

The experiments are only supposed to only  use “surplus” embryos conceived by in vitro fertilization. Next will come the argument that embryos should by designed “from scratch” as a couple’s right (or group marriage partner’s rights.

The only embryos that will be helped as a result of this line of experimentation wold be extracorporeal embryos that are to be edited, themselves! Job security for the experimenters, perhaps.

We can be sure implantation will happen, moving closer to “designer babies.” Lots of science fiction has often dealt with the good and bad, the intended and unintended consequences of “editing” the humans or transhumans we conceive.

The unintended consequences can’t be known, but we can know that they will occur. And yet, that child of tomorrow can’t consent, his or her contemporaries can’t consent and their off spring certainly can’t consent.

The nascent  human once again unquestionably becomes the means to another’s end, rather than an end in himself.

Yes, someone will point out that  many or even most parents may have children for their own purposes other than to truly become one with their spouse or to reproduce and pass on their genes. The mere fact that anyone can contemplate “spare” or “excess” human beings is proof of that. (And don’t forget the “unwanted” child the abortion advocates constantly remind us of.)

Will there be a money-back guarantee for the “failed” comodified child?  Will those future generations think better of us than we regard past efforts at breeding a better human? Let’s hope that if we live among them, they tolerate us!

Conservatives Against Trump

NR Against TrumpThe National Review has a page online of non-endorsements for @therealdonald. They are worth reading. Here’s a few excerpts:

From Erick Erickson, radio talk show host and formerly of RedState.com, this reminder:

“Nonetheless, I will not be voting for Donald Trump in the primary. I take my conservatism seriously, and I also take Saint Paul seriously. In setting out the qualifications for overseers, or bishops, Saint Paul admonished Timothy, ‘If anyone aspires to the office of overseer . . . he must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil’ (1 Timothy 3:1,6).”

 

From Yuval Levin, editor of National Affairs and author (I stole his line about Pope Benedict for my email signature, “I have a mustard seed and I’m not afraid to use it.”), observes:

American conservatism is an inherently skeptical political outlook. It assumes that no one can be fully trusted with public power and that self-government in a free society demands that we reject the siren song of politics-as-management. A shortage of such skepticism is how we ended up with the problems Trump so bluntly laments. Repeating that mistake is no way to solve these problems. To address them, we need to begin by rejecting what Trump stands for, as much as what he stands against.

Take the time to read these comments, please!
(Edit: BBN  to add) A quote from Dana Loesch:

“Why is there a double standard when it comes to evaluating Donald Trump? Why are other politicians excoriated when they change their minds — as, for example, Rick Perry did on the question of whether HPV vaccinations in Texas should be compulsory — but when Trump suddenly says he’s pro-life, the claim is accepted uncritically? Why is it unconscionable for Ted Cruz to take and repay a loan from Goldman Sachs to help win a tough Senate race but acceptable for Donald Trump to take money from George Soros? Why is vetting Trump, as we do any other candidate, considered “bashing”? Aren’t these fair questions?”

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/430126/donald-trump-conservatives-oppose-nomination

Death, lies and video

Death, lies and video

Supported only by his imagination, what he saw in videos produced by Texas Right to Life lawyers, and a news article,Dr. Phillip Hawley, Jr., M.D., wrote “A Tragic Case of Modern Bioethics; Denying Life-Sustaining Treatment to a Patient Who Wanted to Live” about the truly tragic, but inevitable death of Chris Dunn. Hawley erred by pretending to read the minds of doctors and hospital representatives and calling complete strangers “utilitarian” “murderers.” Before discussing the ethics of his accusations, it’s necessary to explain the meaning of the documented facts, available in news sources, blog posts and court records:

  1. Dunn was not “alert and cognizant” as he had documented delirium secondary to hepatic encephalopathy and over a month on the ventilator with sedation and pain meds
  2.  The hospital voluntarily, without a court judgement, promised to continue life-sustaining treatments in place until the legal guardianship question was settled.
  3.  Food and water, legally termed as “Artificially Administered Nutrition and Hydration” or AANH and including total parenteral nutrition, cannot be removed against the objection of patients or surrogates, under Texas law.
  4. The doctors stated that they believed the “life-sustaining treatments,” were causing suffering.
  5. The hospital never sought guardianship for themselves, only for “a qualified family member,” and listed their names and locations in the original petition.

It is very unlikely that Chris understood his condition, the questions the lawyers were asking or the consequences of his “prayer.” That he was unable to make medical decisions is supported by the fact that his parents had been making his medical decisions. The Harris County judge agreed with the hospital’s request that a single legal guardian be named by a separate court.
“Life-sustaining treatment,” “medically inappropriate” and “Artificially Administered Nutrition and Hydration” are legal terms defined in the Texas Advance Directive Act (TADA), which outlines the exact procedure and language for communications between doctors, the hospital committee, and patients or their surrogates. The use, monitoring and adjustment of a mechanical ventilator is in the definition of “life-sustaining treatments.” TADA specifically excludes “Artificially Administered Nutrition and Hydration” (AANH) in the definition of “life sustaining treatments,” which would argue against the accusation that his doctors planned to withdraw “food and water.”
The only legal reason under TADA to remove any “life-sustaining treatment” is that it is deemed “medically inappropriate” by the attending physician and then only if the hospital medical or ethics committee “affirms” that decision. If and when they are withheld, the Act specifically prohibits “mercy killing” or otherwise intentionally intervening with the intent to cause death by artificial means.
Additional demands by Chris’ mother, Mrs. Kelly, and the lawyers in blogs and news articles would have also fallen under the legal definition of “life-sustaining treatment.” These demands included a biopsy in order to determine a definitive tissue diagnosis for the clinically apparent pancreatic cancer and liver lesions, a surgical tracheostomy and the removal of the ventilator (to be fair, I believe they meant the tube through the vocal chords), less sedation, searches for and trials of treatment of the cancer, and the non-standard use of an indwelling drain for the ascites (large exudates in the abdomen due to high pressures in the liver and the failure of the liver to make necessary proteins). These are invasive, potentially painful and, based on the reported size and effects of the mass, the extent of liver damage visibly evident in the videos as temporal wasting and copper-colored skin, ascites and the GI bleeding – they were very unlikely to lengthen his life, much less cure his cancer. In fact they could be very likely to hasten – or be the immediate cause of – his death.
Chris died in the ICU on full life-sustaining treatments, including the ventilator and intravenous AANH.
The doctors are on record as basing their decision on the suffering caused by the treatments to their patient, Chris. This is consistent with the known side-effects of the ventilator and even reports from Chris’ mother, who told reporters that Chris suffered from the treatments and fluid building up in his lungs despite the ventilator. And yet, Dr. Hawley made sensational statements such as:

“For patients with terminal illnesses, this standard often leads to the utilitarian question: Is the patient’s life still worth living?
“In Chris Dunn’s case, the committee’s answer was “no.” Relative strangers with little or no knowledge of his values and beliefs weighed his “quality of life” and decided that he no longer deserved to live.”
And,
“. . . How did these committee members who had only recently met the patient—if they ever met him at all—know that it was in his best interest for them to end his life?”
And,
“. . . But, somehow, we are to believe that these committee members were able to deduce existential truths about what was in Chris Dunn’s best interest?”

The physicians who cared for Mr. Dunn for over a month had certainly met him and members of the Methodist Hospital Biomedical Ethics Committee met with the family several times. Court documents are clear that the doctors believed the life-sustaining treatments were causing suffering and that the committee agreed that the treatments were medically inappropriate. There certainly is no evidence that the doctors or the committee members sought to intentionally “end” Chris’ life. “Medically inappropriate treatment” is not an “existential truth” and never in the patient’s best interest.
(Some may remind us that suffering can have benefits. However, Mr. Dunn couldn’t consent to suffering, much less benefit from the suffering, whether as a medical treatment or a willing religious self-sacrifice.)

Robert P. George is one of my heroes a conservative tenured professor of law and ethics at Princeton and one of the founders of the Witherspoon Institute, an organization known for its defense of Judeo-Christian ethics based on natural law, and the parent organization of Public Discourse. He has helpfully outlined a “key” to evaluate the withholding or withdrawing of life-sustaining care:

“[T]he key is the distinction between what traditionally has been called “direct killing,” where death (one’s own or someone else’s) is sought either as an end in itself or as a means to some other end, and accepting death or the shortening of life as a foreseen side effect of an action or omission whose object is something other than death—either some good that cannot be achieved or some evil that cannot be avoided without resulting in death or the shortening of life.”

George and Hawley each point to a value in medicine that is higher than autonomy or even preserving life at all costs: the duty of physicians to care for the patient. “Cure when possible, but first, do no harm.”
The lawyers didn’t just sue to maintain “life-sustaining treatments,” or even Mrs. Kelly’s right to force the doctors to treat Chris the way she wanted them to. The lawsuit, blog posts and public statements document the ultimate goal to have TADA declared unconstitutional and to force all doctors to give patients and surrogates the right to demand any and all desired treatment indefinitely. The power of State courts, law enforcement and licensing would be used to force Texas doctors to carry out acts against our medical judgment, education, experience and conscience.
What justification can the lawyers and Dr. Hawley give for not believing the physicians who care for patients daily and hourly when those caretakers document that the patient is suffering?

What kind of physicians will we end up with if the State can force us to act without judgement or conscience?

What kind of State would we have?

Based on a video and his imagined conversations between “malevolent” and “utilitarian” doctors and hospitals, Hawley declares Texas a “morally impoverished society.” Ignoring sworn statements from the physicians and misrepresenting TADA, he distorts the purpose of the Texas Advance Directive Act, which is to address the problems encountered when patients and surrogates disagree., Only by assuming evil intent is he able to force doctors to prove a negative and distract from any possibility of a conflict between the equal and inalienable rights of the patient and the doctor.

While the video of Chris apparently praying to be allowed to live wrenched at our emotions, it was used to tell a false story upon which Dr. Hawley built his harmful assumptions. We would all do well to remember my Mama’s advice: Don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.”

Edited for grammar and decrease wordiness and formatting (1-15-16). BBN

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.

Chritianity is self-sacrifice, not killing others

The Colorado policeman who was killed Friday, Garrett Swasey, is the Christian, pro-life man we should all be talking about.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

On the blog, Cripple Gate, Jonathan Standbridge has posted excerpts from officer Swasey’s last sermon. Mr. Standbridge notes that one of the tenants of the church where Swasey was an elder, is to oppose elective abortion as the taking of human life.

And yet, Officer Swasey put his life in danger for, and died as a result of, an attempt to protect the occupants of that Planned Parenthood business!

The frequent justification for elective abortion is utilitarian: we are told that in the interest of the greater good, the mother must sacrifice her unborn child in order to have a better life. Officer Swasey, in contrast,  sacrificed himself for the lives of others.

There should be no more talk about pro-life “zealots,” “killers,” or “haters.” Instead, remember Garrett Swasey and how he served Christ and even the people of Colorado Springs with whom he disagreed on abortion.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Romans 5:6-8

Jihadist courage

Bioethicists and transhumanists – and I – have long speculated on the ability and usefulness of drugs to enhance performance. However, assassins, murderers and the subgroup that are the jihadists, have a completely different goal for their “enhancement.”

“Captagon — a synthetic amphetamine-based pill — is considered the drug of choice for Islamic State fighters in Syria, Iraq and, now it seems, Paris.

‘When French police raided a hotel room at Alfortville, south-east of Paris, last week they found a stash of syringes, needles and plastic tubing.”  (from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-24/captagon-the-drug-that-kept-the-paris-attackers-calm/6970464 )

Hat tip to BioEdge

“Quixotic crusades over substantive victories”

Today, the Conservative grassroots are shouting raw emotions, masses feeding off headlines, “Shares,” and “Likes,” rather than the meat of the story.

Paul Waldman, in “Why have so many GOP governor’s fizzled out in the 2016 race?”online at “The Week,”  astutely describes the insanity that has gripped the Party formerly consisting of Conservatives, but which is now infested with destructive anti’s.

From the article,

  ”

Over the past few years, the party’s grass roots have been gripped by an anti-politics fervor that values quixotic crusades over substantive victories, and equates actually accomplishing anything through ordinary political processes with betrayal.”

He continues…

“That’s why someone like Ted Cruz, a senator who has never written a law and who, if you ask him what he has accomplished, will tell you about the times he “stood up” and failed to stop Barack Obama and his own party’s leaders from keeping the government open or not defaulting on America’s debts, can still be considered unsullied and thus potentially worthy of the nomination. And those like Donald Trump and Ben Carson, their minds uncluttered by even the remotest understanding of how government works, are the most popular of all.”

Brutal. Truth. Insanity, where failure equals stature and inexperience and ignorance are lauded as qualifications.

Can we re-use the Know Nothing name for our party?

Once upon a time, the grassroots of the Republican Party, especially Conservatives,  were researchers, well informed, and capable of reason. It was a joke among us that the real news was hidden in the penultimate paragraph of any news story. 

Yet, 14 years of Governor Rick Perry’s Conservative leadership in Texas is mocked amid comments about glasses and his performance over a few months in 2011. Governor Scott Walker won and re-won elections in a Blue State and braved for-hire Union mobs willing to break windows in the Wisconsin State Capitol, but he was simply ignored. Each were treated more seriously by crooked Dem Prosecutors than by Conservatives.

There’s no way this latest crop could have exposed the Clinton’s of the 1990’s – or will be able to do so in the last half of the 2010s.  Sticking out the month long re-count in Florida, or defending the Governor’s Mansion in Austin?

Not while dragging that couch they supposedly got off of in 2009 and Tweeting about the “Establishment.”

I’m not being flippant when I say, God help us!

Clarity: “Reporters” vs. What They Said

James Taranto’s Best of the Web Today distinguishes between the comments of Donald Trump and Marco Rubio and the “reporters” that covered them. The truth is worse than a set of “When did you stop beating your wife” questions: the reporters inserted words and assertions that weren’t voiced by the candidates.

From November 20th’s “More Hillary than Hitler:”

 

Further, the atrocious idea of “a database or system that tracks Muslims in this country” didn’t come from Trump but from either Hillyard or Yahoo! News’s Hunter Walker.

And,

ThinkProgress’s headline: “Rubio Trumps Trump: Shut Down Any Place Muslims Gather to Be ‘Inspired’—Not Just Mosques.” But Rubio didn’t say Muslims, he said radicals. ThinkProgress thereby takes the position that there is no distinction between radicals and Muslims more generally.

 

I’ve seen high praise and strong condemnation for both men, based on the falsehoods “reported” in the news – or in the headlines of articles slanted by those “reporters.” I’m not surprised at the bias from sites such as “ThinkProgress” or even “Yahoo.” However, I’m deeply disappointed in the voters and, especially, the conservative bloggers and voters who take the headlines at face value.

Not a Good Samaritan cause

It is the duty of *our* government to protect *our* inalienable rights. We, the people, *are* the government and we have no business taking from our neighbors to give to another. We cannot ethically put others in danger for our purposes.

As the Governor of Texas wrote, there is absolutely no way to vet the current crop of refugees. Have you seen the make up of the groups? Largely, single men who should be defending their own land, not coming here so completely dependent on charity.

Good hearted people are claiming that we are hypocrits and false Christians  if we don’t accept Syrian refugees with open arms ( and State tax coffers.

The good Samaritan analogy is not equivalent. The Samaritan self-sacrificed, both financially and with time. He didn’t tax anyone else to pay for his good deads, but covered the expenses from his own pocket.

And he didn’t put himself — much less his dependents and innocent bystanders — in harm’s way. 

If you feel this way, you might consider sponsorship of an alien someday. However, we can’t afford the money as a State, to bring in these people who will need total care and we certainly can’t afford to risk that even one is a terrorist.

(As someone asked:  If I hand you a bunch of grapes, telling you that 1% may be poisoned, but I can’t test –Are you going yo eat any of them?)

Posted from WordPress for Android. Typos will be corrected!

History and warnings on Veterans Day

“A nation which despises its soldiers will all too soon have a despicable army.”

Thank you to all who served our Nation. You defended my right to write this blog – and my very life. There is “No greater love . . .”

(Yes, I compared the self-sacrifice of veterans to Christ’s self-sacrifice. Sue me.)

The quote is from an essay, “Mercenaries and Military Virtue,” written by Dr Jerry Pournelle in 1983, about the value of appreciation and understanding of the military.

(I was looking up the apparent prediction in 1975 of the then-future Falklands War by Dr Pournelle in his Exile and Glory,  a collection of short stories, when I came across this quote.)

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.

Don’t believe the lies!

And stop “sharing” them!

Remember who the real opponents are: the Dems!

No matter how juicy the gossip, consider waiting a few hours for the rest of the story to come out.

(BTW, this is a test of my mobile app.)

Posted from WordPress for Android. Typos will be corrected!

Who is our John Galt?

Atlas ShruggedFor years, I’ve joked that we shouldn’t be asking, “Who is John Galt?” But, “Where is John Galt?”

However, with modern satellites and other methods of surveillance, I don’t think there’s any place on earth to build our own Galt’s Gulch, the mythological hideaway that Ayn Rand described in her novel, Atlas Shrugged.

We’re going to have to look for the man rather than the place, after all.

While Galt had some good ideas about production and the free market,  he scoffed at altruism and self-sacrifice.  In his world, the solution he advocated the withdrawal of our talent and gold from society and to let civilization collapse.

And yet, Galt’s actions were not completely consistent with his words. He gave up safety, comfort and wealth in order to win converts and enable the “producers” to escape the tyranny of his government.

From Galt’s speech explaining why his actions were not a sacrifice:

“‘Sacrifice’ does not mean the rejection of the worthless, but of the precious. ‘Sacrifice’ does not mean the rejection of the evil for the sake of the good, but of the good for the sake of the evil.”

and,

“If a man refuses to sell his convictions, it is not a sacrifice, unless he is the sort of man who has no convictions.”

Who John Galt in 2015?

Focus on National Security As A Whole

Governor Rick Perry has been talking National security of – and within – our borders since before September 11, 2001. The big difference between Rick Perry and some of the other Presidential candidates is that he sees the big picture – and has for years.
By raising concerns about the safety of nuclear waste sites in August, 2001, Governor Perry acknowledged that National security isn’t only about control of the Nation’s entry points and protection against illegal entry. It also includes tracking those here on visas and securing vital services and infrastructure from sabotage and terrorism.
The Border Patrol should be allowed to turn back those who enter illegally and Immigration and Customs Enforcement should be able and allowed to identify, locate and deport those who over-stay their visas,as well as the people who manage to evade the security at the border.
But just as important to “Homeland Security,” the States and Federal government should cooperate and coordinate to make sure that our transportation, energy, water and public health are safe from those who would harm us.
If the Nation’s entry point and Immigration procedures functioned as they should and our infrastructure were hardened to protect against terrorism, it’s unlikely that 9/11 would have happened at all.
We also wouldn’t see the debate turned into accusations of “racism” by the Left and the attempt by so many to paint all of the GOP as xenophobes looking for scapegoats. The numbers of the actual illegal aliens and their costs, as well as the crimes from drug smuggling and criminal illegal aliens, would not be the expensive problem that it is. We certainly wouldn’t have the burden of “anchor babies” that is causing so much controversy this week.
Instead of focusing on Nations of origin and other groups, true National security should be the focus of everyone who understands the Constitution and the role of the Federal Government.

You might be a RINO if . . .

RINO

RINO

If you haven’t voted in a Republican Presidential primary in the last 20 years but decided to run as a Republican this year, you might be a RINO.

If you once seriously allowed yourself to be considered a candidate for another Party but decided to run as a Republican this year, you might be a RINO.

If you claimed to be Pro-Choice just a few years ago,but decided to run as a Republican this year, you might be a RINO.

If you donated to Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi AND the Clinton Foundationd since the last time we had a Republican President, but decided to run as a Republican this year, you might be a RINO.

If you have stated that you “identify more as a Democrat” since Bill Clinton was President, but decided to run as a Republican this year, you might be a RINO.

If you’re 100% in favor of Kelo-type eminent domain, but decided to run as a Republican this year, you might be a RINO.

If you believe that Planned Parenthood needs tax subsidies, but decided to run as a Republican this year, you might be a RINO.

If you believe in a progressive income tax, but decided to run as a Republican this year, you might be a RINO.

If you’re running on the premise that your money makes you better than everyone else, but decided to run as a Republican this year, you might be a RINO.

“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.”

Socialism: Psychological regression, not progress (Updated)

newbornSocialism and communism are form of psychological regression

Human developmental psychology 101: We learn “Mine!” long before we learn, “That’s not fair!” Before that, we learn that Mama is not part of us. We must develop self-awareness, that there is “Me,” and there’s everyone else, each causing our own effects on the universe. In direct opposition to the opinion of Supreme Court Justice Kennedy, object permanence is one of the first things we learn: we don’t each create our own universe.

Individualism and private property are basic to human nature, and integral to the development of the concepts of truth, love and justice.  Truth can’t be known without first learning to manipulate our bodies and then objects around us. Love is just narcissism if there’s no “other.” Sharing and justice are meaningless without private ownership of property.

 

In contrast, in socialist and communist regimes,  independence of the individual isn’t necessary. The individual must surrender his rights to the collective and “fairness” is determined by consensus or Committee.

 

If we learned anything from the Soviet experiment with socialism, it’s that Lamarckian evolution is false: DNA doesn’t change because of use or disuse. Laws don’t change human nature, any more than Stalin could change the cold-hardiness of wheat by gradually moving the planting fields farther north.   In fact, laws that endure are those that lag behind changes in the thought of an overwhelming majority of individuals. Historically, precipitous changes in law imposed by an elite only function if backed by totalitarian regimes willing to confiscate, enslave and kill.
Socialism, in direct opposition of the philosophy laid out in the Declaration of Independence, and the science of human development, would regress us all back to psychological infancy, where a few may deem everything – and everyone – is “Me! and “Mine!”

 

 

(An excellent review of the five stages of self-awareness is available in <a href="http://tinyurl.com/ohzk963More popular discussions are here http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/when-does-consciousness-arise/&#8221; target=”_blank”>.pdf   and here, and here .)

 

Edited to clean up the wordiness. 6PM 7-6-15. BBN

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.

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.”

Convergence – politics, economy, philosophy

Pretty much whatever our politics, our client (sorry) lies in the past. Maintaining the programs of the Great Society? Returning to the vision of the Founders? Addressing as #1 priority the debt mountain we have built? Each of these is meritorious, and wherever our political lines lie for most of us each of them features. Point is not that they are misplaced priorities. It is simply that they hail from yesteryear. Left and right are stumbling into the future as their gaze is fixed on the past.  (“How to bridge the Continental Divide; moving Camp David to the Valley; please, pols, start Asking Tomorrow’s Questions.” Nigel Cameron, President and CEO, Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies. )

 

“The shrill universal cry that we are at a “tipping point” is correct, but not as they would have us all believe, the tipping point that is fast approaching has to do with the old political and legal superstructures being torn apart from below by this powerful, complex, emergent force of scientific and technological evolution now unleashed. Reactionaries are doing all they can to bamboozle gullible people into helping support the status quo, to prop it up, which is unfortunate.” (Quote from C. James Townsend, in “The Singularity and Socialism, An interview with C. James Townsend” by BJ Murphy on Murphy’s “Serious Wonder” blog, distributed by the newslist/email of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology.)

 

This week, two email subscriptions I follow converged with a common warning that government is reacting to and protecting the past. Each, one from the right and one from the left, urge politicians to allow innovation and technology to frame the debate on the economy.

 

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.”

 

@bnuckols tweets

Click here to get your “Choose Life” license plate

Rick Perry RickPAC

Yes, I'm still for Governor Perry!

RickPAC

What to read around here

Archives

SiteMeter