Football Will Perish from the Earth

By 2050, the National Football League (NFL) will be like the Barnum and Bailey Circus of today. Bankrupt, closed, irrelevant, morally passe.

In the early 20th century, the circus was all the rage. After a century of the product’s consumption by a culture increasingly sensitive to the abuse of the weak and helpless—in this case, circus animals—the “Greatest Show on Earth” has been relegated to an empty sideshow. It is simply too brutish for sophisticated moderns who wince at the crack of a whip on an elephant’s rump.

Football as Bloodsport

The parallels of football and Roman gladiatorial games have been noted before.

Football will soon follow. Its massive billion dollar stadiums and marketing machines seem immortal for now. But these titanic playpens will soon crumble under the same cultural force that killed the circus: our culture’s growing concern for victims.

I am not judging football’s coming demise as a good or bad thing. I see it as simply a symptom of larger social forces that we should understand.

The parallels of football and Roman gladiatorial games have been noted before. In the Colosseum, the Roman emperor would have a grand procession into the arena to the standing ovation of the assembled masses. Today, our U.S. Defense Department-sponsored games begin with the procession of the American flag and anthem. It is often accompanied by dramatic aerial flyovers by jet fighters and fireworks, symbolizing the transcendent might and grandeur of America’s military conquerings. So too, the Roman games often reenacted the empire’s greatest battles.

Today’s latest controversy involves whether football players should stand united in honor of the flag. The sacredness of the flag rests in its long-standing ability to unify even enemies as the opposing teams simulate. Like any symbol, the flag serves as a vessel for people to place powerful emotions: memories of grandpa’s military service, apple pie, cookouts, neighborly support for one another are all wrapped in its colors.

Above all, the one thing the flag represents the most is the unifying power of sacrifice. We are united as one collective family in our reverence for the flag and anthem. The flag is sacred because it represents, as its loudest defenders proclaim, the blood shed by soldiers fighting for our freedoms.

Interestingly, gladiatorial games were first started as sacrificial offerings accompanying funerals. It was thought that the blood spilled by slaves and captives honored the death of state leaders with the transcendent unity of the crowd. With every pitiful animal howl and human cry, citizens felt swept up as one body in collective satisfaction and relief from mundane rivalries and resentments.

Football as Distraction

Today, governments like to take the suffering and courage of our sons and daughters who enlist and turn it into a marketing ploy for why we all need government coercion controlling our lives—who we hire, what we pay them, permission to cut hair, how big our sodas can be, how much we cook our milk, which drugs we can use to alter our minds, and so on. Governments also like to transmute our goosebumps we feel when the anthem plays into maintaining a trillion dollar annual foreign policy paid by debt created out of thin air and backed by the OPEC oil cartel’s energy markets.

At sporting events, our government captures the nostalgia we feel for neighborhood friendship and family pastimes, associates it with the anthem and flag, and then converts it into passive, numb surrender to perpetual warfare. Even while the nation divides over whether players should kneel or stand for the flag, our government continues to expand its military footprint overseas and drop more bombs, all in our name.

But the state, in collusion with powerful corporate allies, uses spectacles like football to distract and pacify the people. Instead of the violent slaughtering of Roman games, our Christianized culture sends players into simulated, padded warfare. We pick teams to unite our personal lives under and forget about the state’s socio- and economic abuses just outside our doorsteps. Studies even suggest that violent crime drops during major televised sporting events.

But now, Trump and his liberal mirror rivals have pierced the veil by injecting the NFL with the profanity of politics: the realm where real factions use real violence of the state to punish their rivals through regulations, mandates, and taxes. When Trump said “fire them” about the protesting players, invoking the specter of both the penal and paternal side of government, forcing people to take sides and not over the gridiron but at either side of the water cooler and dinner table, it did the game no favors.

Eventually, it took a church monk named Telemachus challenging the violent sacrifice of the Roman gladiatorial games to end their carnage. He climbed into the arena and protested until he was summarily slaughtered. His self-sacrifice for the defense of victims led to the public’s loss of appetite for the violence.The last known Roman gladiatorial event was in 404 AD, less than two decades after Telemachus’s death.

Today, myriad scandals serve as a persistent Telemachus threatening to bring the NFL down. Mothers and fathers all around the country are pulling their sons out of football due to the increased revelations of concussions and resulting brain damage caused by the sport. Whereas Roman citizens demanded their fighters stripped of armor to maximize carnage, increased paddings will end up making players look like Michelin men with bobble head-sized helmets.

In Rome, no one cared how gladiators treated their lovers. Today, growing public disgust with widespread reports of spousal abuse is souring the NFL’s mystique.

In college, the NCAA’s state-protected profiteering off of unpaid players’ physical sacrifice is increasingly criticized as well.

Meanwhile, diehard fans once thrilled by simulated violence are losing interest with ever constrained penalty rules and concussion concerns. The suspension of disbelief required to enjoy the game is waning: talks of brain damage, flags no longer able to unify people around soldiers’ sacrificial deaths, spousal abuse, and racial undertones are all exposing football as just a silly game to appease desires for tribalism and aggression—and make fat cat owners fatter. Not worth all the drama.

We should be proud that we do not send hungry lions into arenas with naked prisoners anymore. We have made progress because of Christianity’s leavening of the collective’s history-long abuse against the misfit person. Yet absent such gladiatorial games, our culture must confront our sacrifices of the innocent and nonviolent to appease our love for aggression as the means of keeping peace.

Reprinted from American Conservative

David Gornoski

David Gornoski

David Gornoski is your neighbor – as well as an entrepreneur, speaker and writer. He recently launched a project called A Neighbor’s Choice, which seeks to introduce Jesus’ culture of nonviolence to both Christians and the broader public. A Neighbor’s Choice is also the name of his weekly radio show on state violence and alternative solutions to it. Email him here.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of the Pontiac Silverdome, Michigan is by Brandon Davis.

Soporifics and Soullessness: Have we lost our collective minds?

Have we lost our collective minds? A mass shooting with no readily apparent motive is an extreme representation of our sense that our social fabric is unraveling. This is one of those things that people don’t believe can happen until it happens. And despite the unspeakable tragedy, it took less than an hour for politicians to criticize the President, ghoulishly exhorting that we need more than prayers and consolation. Maybe we do, but at least give the circle of victims a chance to deal with their personal grief before spouting off. At least CBS had the decency to fire its soulless vice president and senior counsel Hayley Geftman-Gold after she posted “I’m actually not even sympathetic bc [sic] country music fans often are Republican gun toters [sic].”

We have become a culture where Tim Tebow is mocked for kneeling in prayer before a football game while others are praised for “taking a knee” during the National Anthem—which by the way is not praying. Taking a knee in American football is when the quarterback drops to one knee immediately after receiving the snap, thus automatically ending the play. Taking a knee is a boring but effective move by the winning team toward the end of the game, as it does not allow the opponent the opportunity to regain possession of the ball. In urban lingo it means to take a temporary break from an activity.

Clearly, “taking a knee” is not praising a Higher Power that many on this earth believe in. And standing for the Anthem does not make one a racist. Note to partisan “news” presenters: when you push a pendulum in one direction really hard, when released it swings the other way with equal or greater force.

Living in virtual reality is no longer beyond the fringe. Children are becoming obese because they are participating in sports through video games rather than actually tossing around a ball to one another.

What happened to talking to each other? You don’t need a psychology professor to tell you that smart phones increase loneliness. Just walk down the street and you’ll see far too many couples walking, each with their own cell phone, obviously not talking to each other. Texting a few abbreviated words has replaced real conversation and emotional connection.

And we wonder why opiate use has risen to epidemic levels. People have always had their troubles. And man’s desire to avoid suffering whether physical or emotional, whether through alcohol, opium, mushrooms, or coca leaves has been documented for at least 9,000 years. But now the public has been convinced they can’t just be “high on life” and learn to cope. Big Pharma’s direct-to-consumer television ads quietly list innumerable side effects while extolling the virtues of their wares and the consumer’s inability to live without them.

Nearly 70 percent of Americans take at least one prescription drug. The statistics from the Rochester Epidemiology Project in Olmsted County, Minnesota (which are comparable to those elsewhere in the United States) reveal that the top three medications consumed are antibiotics (17%), antidepressants (13%), and opioids (11%). Antidepressants and opioids were the most commonly prescribed among young and middle-aged adults.

As physicians we do not want to become numb to patients’ needs while being consumed by government dictates. Electronic medical records should not become the excuse for hiding behind a computer screen—particularly with members of the younger generation who came out of the womb with a cell phone strapped to their ear by the umbilical cord. We need to be free to spend precious time getting to know our patients. Medications have saved countless lives, but prescriptions cannot become the tool to move along the overbooked office schedule or a quick fix to placate the demanding patient.

Let’s take heart. When left to our own devices and stripped of artificial political labels, we humans rise. Just ask our first responders and medical personnel or the hurricane volunteers or the victims helping victims or the thousands of people donating blood or the over 30,000 donors to the Go Fund Me page for the Las Vegas victims.

United we stand.

EDITORS NOTE: The medical definition of Soporific is: Something such as a drug that causes or induces profound sleep. Tending to cause sleep or to dull the sense of awareness or alertness.

Faith-Based Groups Free to Believe after HHS Rollback

Congress wants to take another crack at repealing Obamacare, but the president isn’t going to sit on his hands until it does. After months of watching the Senate fumble its replacement plan, Donald Trump is taking some matters into own hands. And conservatives will be relieved to know that the unconstitutional HHS mandate is one of them.

In a huge victory for religious liberty, the Department of Health and Human Services dealt a death blow to Barack Obama’s order that forced faith-based groups to offer free contraceptives — even if it violated their conscience.

After the Supreme Court scrapped Obama’s mandate for companies like Hobby Lobby, the 44th president tried to hide the same rule under a fancy accounting gimmick. A group of nuns became the poster women for Obama’s “accommodation,” which HHS concocted to spare religious groups from the choice of violating their faith or the law. Or so it said. In practice, the religious groups would still have to pay for the “health care” they oppose — just through a third-party.

People on both sides of the political spectrum blasted Obama’s phony compromise, failing to understand why HHS would demand that even the Little Sisters of the Poor should have to pay for birth control. The message was simple: abandon your conscience, or resist and be fined for your faith.

Thanks to President Trump, churches and religious groups no longer have to make that choice.

Today, HHS issued two regulations that beat back this idea that the government can strong-arm Americans into surrendering their beliefs. The first exempts employers and educational institutions from covering pills or procedures they believe destroys a human life. The second exempts some small businesses and pro-life organizations if they have similar objections. No one — not nuns, not store owners, or everyday Americans — should be faced with the choice of violating their beliefs or paying ridiculous penalties to exercise them. The courts realized that, siding with more than 200 plaintiffs on the HHS mandate 90 percent of the time! Like us, they understand that if the federal government can threaten people and organizations with fines for their beliefs, what can’t it do?

Of course, liberals are hysterical about Trump’s decision, claiming that millions of women are somehow going to lose their birth control because a handful of religious groups won’t pay for it. At most, experts think Trump’s new regulations will affect about 190,000 employees, a far cry from the Left’s sky-is-falling estimates. And if anything, these regulations protect employees from losing their insurance altogether. Let’s not forget that under the HHS mandate, some pro-life employers were faced with no choice but dropping employee health care.

As if keeping that promise weren’t enough, the White House also put a stop to the Obama guidance that forced millions of Americans to secretly pay for elective abortion on the health care exchange. After hiding the abortion fees for years, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a bulletin that any policyholder who pays for an Obamacare plan will be notified if it includes a separate abortion fee. For the last several years, the law buried these abortion surcharges. This new CMS guideline creates transparency for millions of Americans who may not know they’re paying for abortion coverage in their Obamacare plans.

The same First Amendment that gives Little Sisters of the Poor the right to object to liberal health care coverage is the same First Amendment that gives Jack Phillips the right to walk away from a same-sex wedding cake job.

Our deepest gratitude to the White House for restoring what Obama stole: the freedom to believe.


Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


Also in the October 6 Washington Update:

Trump Keeps Promise, Restores Religious Liberty in Workplace

Laura Ingraham to Star at Next Week’s Summit!

Trump Administration Reverses Obama-Era Policies on Religious Freedom

The Trump administration came out strongly in defense of religious freedom Friday, with new legal guidance and a move to reverse one of the most controversial Obamacare mandates.

“Every American has a right to believe, worship, and exercise their faith,” Jeff Sessions says.

The Justice Department guidelines direct attorneys and agencies that freedom of religious extends to both organizations and individuals, and includes living out one’s religious beliefs. Under the Justice Department guidelines, this could expand to allowing employers to hire in accordance with their religious beliefs and prohibit denying federal contracts to entities based on religious beliefs.

The Department of Health and Human Services is rolling back the Obamacare mandate that employers cover contraception and abortion-inducing drugs, creating both a religious and moral exemption. This will expand the number of covered nonprofits and nonpublicly traded for-profit businesses.

In both cases, the departments are following up on President Donald Trump’s directive that was part of a May 4 executive order on religious freedom.

“Our freedom as citizens has always been inextricably linked with our religious freedom as a people. It has protected both the freedom to worship and the freedom not to believe,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “Every American has a right to believe, worship, and exercise their faith. The protections for this right, enshrined in our Constitution and laws, serve to declare and protect this important part of our heritage.”

Trump’s executive order directed the attorney general to “issue guidance interpreting religious liberty protections in federal law” in order “to guide all agencies in complying with relevant federal law.” In response, Sessions issued 20 “high-level principles” that federal agencies will follow. The guidelines don’t represent a new policy, but are based on more than 200 existing statutes and 158 existing regulations. These include the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Among the principles are that “Americans do not give up their freedom of religion by participating in society or the economy, or interacting with government;” “Religious employers are entitled to employ only persons whose beliefs and conduct are consistent with the employers’ religious precepts;” and “Generally, the federal government may not condition federal grants or contracts on the religious organization altering its religious character, beliefs, or activities. Implementation of the Guidance at the Department of Justice.”

“The constitutional protection of religious beliefs and the right to exercise those beliefs have served this country well, have made us one of the most tolerant countries in the world, and have also helped make us the freest and most generous,” Sessions said.

The Obama administration carried out a “relentless assault on the First Amendment” and promoted “anti-faith policies,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a social conservative think tank.

“President Trump and the Department of Justice are putting federal government agencies on notice: you will not only respect the freedom of every American to believe but live according to those beliefs,” Perkins said in a statement Friday. “This is a freedom that has been a fundamental part of our society since the beginning of our nation.”

Under the Obama administration, HHS required employers pay for their employees’ contraception and abortion-inducing drugs, even if this violates the conscience of employers. The Obama administration exempted houses of worship, but religious-affiliated groups that objected still had to allow a third-party administrator handle the contraception coverage.

The new policy under Trump offers a separate religious and a moral exemption. The religious exemption would cover a religious-affiliated nonprofit employer, such as a church, school or charity. The moral exemption would be available to employers that have moral opposition to providing contraception or abortion-inducing medication for employees, including a nonpublicly traded company, or a nonprofit even if it doesn’t have a religious affiliation.

Already there are 200 entities suing the federal government in 50 difference lawsuits opposing the mandate, according to HHS.

However, the liberal group Americans United for Separation of Church and State announced plans to sue the Trump administration over the new HHS rules.

“The Trump administration is carrying out the agenda of religious fundamentalists, the biggest part of the president’s remaining devoted supporters,” said Maggie Garrett, Americans United’s legislative director, in a statement Friday. “The rights of LGBTQ people, women, religious minorities, nontheists and others hang in the balance as the Trump administration continues to toe the line for its fundamentalist base.”

The Obama rule was “onerous” and the Trump action has made some progress in changing course, said Melanie Israel, a research associate for The Heritage Foundation, in a statement.

Americans will remain free to make their own decisions about, and purchase or find coverage for, the drugs and devices at issue in the mandate, and entities with objections will not be forced to be complicit in choices that would violate their religious or moral convictions.

Now that the administration has provided regulatory relief from the mandate, pending cases in courts across the country—including the case brought forward by the Little Sisters of the Poor—should come to a resolution as well.

The Becket Fund, which represented Little Sisters of the Poor in its lawsuit against the Obamacare mandate, supported the change.

“HHS has issued a balanced rule that respects all sides—it keeps the contraceptive mandate in place for most employers and now provides a religious exemption,” Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at the Becket Fund and lead attorney for the Little Sisters of the Poor, said in a statement. “The Little Sisters still need to get final relief in court, which should be easy now that the government admits it broke the law.”

Portrait of Fred Lucas

Fred Lucas

Fred Lucas is the White House correspondent for The Daily Signal. Send an email to Fred. Twitter: @FredLucasWH

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On Average an NFL Player is Arrested Every Seven Days for a Violent Crime

There is a dark side to the National Football League that few media outlets are talking about. Donald J. Trump, Jr. highlighted the issues in a Tweet:

According to NFLarrest.com:

The average time between [NFL player] arrests is just seven days, while the recorded without an arrest is slightly more than two months, at 65 days.

NFLarrest.com provides an interactive database of National Football League player arrests and charges. NOTE: Due to a spike in visits the website is now down and is asking for “donations will be put into development and server upkeep.”

The NFL appears to embrace players who abuse women.

Stephen L. Carter in a Chicago Tribune article titled “The NFL has a serious violence problem” on the 2017 NFL draft wrote:

In the first round, the Oakland Raiders drafted Gareon Conley, who has been accused of rape. In the second round, the Cincinnati Bengals selected Joe Mixon, who in a much-viewed video punches a woman so hard that she falls down unconscious. In the sixth round, the Cleveland Brownsselected Caleb Brantley, who was accused of doing pretty much what Mixon did. And they are not the only drafted players who face or have faced such charges.

The below chart from NFLarrest.com shows the past 5 years data on crimes/arrests by NFL team:

NFLarrest.com notes that the top team for arrests is the Minnesota Vikings with the top 5 teams for arrests are: Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars.

In 2006 there were 71 arrests of NFL players, 2013 had 62 arrests, while the lowest in the NFLarrest.com data base is 28 arrests. The player with the most arrests is Adam Jones who has played for both the Tennessee Titans and Cincinnati Bengals.

The top positions of those arrested are:

  • Wide receiver – 140
  • Linebacker – 119
  • Cornerback – 116
  • Running back – 99
  • Defensive tackle – 80

In 2016 the Berkeley Journal of Entertainment and Sports Law issued a report titled Unnecessary Roughness: The NFL’s History of Domestic Violence and the Need for Immediate ChangeThe report reads:

One week after the start of the National Football League (NFL)’s 2014-15 season, TMZ.com publicly released a video showing the Baltimore Ravens’ star running back, Ray Rice, knocking his fiancée Janay Rice unconscious in an
Atlantic City casino elevator. The couple is seen arguing in the casino lobby as they walk towards a waiting elevator. Less than ten seconds after entering the elevator, the grainy surveillance video shows Ray Rice slap Janay across the head. Less than ten seconds after entering the elevator, the grainy surveillance video shows Ray Rice slap Janay across the head. She immediately lunges towards him in the elevator to confront him and he punches her in the temple. Her head hits the metal safety rail in the elevator as she falls, rendering her unconscious. When the elevator doors reopen, Ray Rice, who has been described as a 212-pound “fire hydrant of muscle and speed” 1 drags the unconscious body of his fiancée halfway out of the elevator as her small black dress gathers around her waist.

[ … ]

The video shocked and horrified the nation.

Today the nation is shocked and horrified by players disrespecting the American flag and the National Anthem. Perhaps the National Football League should look inward.

RELATED ARTICLE: Boycott the NFL on Veterans Weekend, Sunday, November 12th

RELATED INFOGRAPHICS:

Cuban doctors tired of ‘being slaves’ sue Cuban Government

As former Bill Clinton said, “It’s the economy stupid!” For the Cuban people it truly is the economy, stupid.

Perhaps a few of my first hand experiences during my visit to Cuba will help those who favor big government understand where “socialismo” leads.

One of the things some people, many of whom have never visited Cuba, tout is their “excellent” healthcare system. Let me explain about the Cuban single payer government healthcare system. First, every visitor to Cuba must purchase health insurance from the Cuban government. For example, the cost of my health insurance was automatically included in the price of my plane ticket. So how much does the Cuban government pay its doctors to provide universal healthcare? The salary of a doctor is $30 a month.

In 2013 Brazil hired 4,000 doctors from Cuba to “work in areas where medical services and physicians are scarce.” These Cuban doctors were to be paid approximately $30,000 a year to provide medical services to remote areas of Brazil. According to U.S. News & World Report, “Analysts say the export of medical services adds about $6 billion a year to Cuba’s economy.”

How does this work? Brazil paid the Cuban government the $30,000 annual salaries of the Cuban doctors and the Cuban government then paid the doctors $30 a month or $360 a year. This equates to an 83% profit for the Cuban government. Not surprisingly many of these Cuban doctors sought asylum in Brazil to be paid what they actually earned, $30,000.

In socialist governments the “minimum wage” inextricably becomes the prevailing wage.

 in his New York Times article “Cuban Doctors Revolt: ‘You Get Tired of Being a Slave’” reports:

RIO DE JANEIRO — In a rare act of collective defiance, scores of Cuban doctors working overseas to make money for their families and their country are suing to break ranks with the Cuban government, demanding to be released from what one judge called a “form of slave labor.”

Thousands of Cuban doctors work abroad under contracts with the Cuban authorities. Countries like Brazil pay the island’s Communist government millions of dollars every month to provide the medical services, effectively making the doctors Cuba’s most valuable export.

But the doctors get a small cut of that money, and a growing number of them in Brazil have begun to rebel. In the last year, at least 150 Cuban doctors have filed lawsuits in Brazilian courts to challenge the arrangement, demanding to be treated as independent contractors who earn full salaries, not agents of the Cuban state.

“When you leave Cuba for the first time, you discover many things that you had been blind to,” said Yaili Jiménez Gutierrez, one of the doctors who filed suit. “There comes a time when you get tired of being a slave.”

Read more.

What I observed is that the Cuban people have great potential if they are unleashed and allowed to earn what they are truly worth.

As one Cuban man put it to me, “the people have no love for their work.” They have no love for their work because Cuba needs a change in direction. This change in direction will only come when there is a change of the socialist regime.

VIDEO: Conservative on ABC Panel talking Obamacare repeal, Norks and President Trump

I appeared on an ABC Channel 7 panel on another failure of Obamacare repeal, Trump and Russia and the North Koreans.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Four Reasons the NFL is Dead Wrong on Protests
Tax Dollars are Subsidizing NFL National Anthem Protests
NFL’s Actions During National Anthem are Despicable, Time to Tune Out
Why Americans Hate the Media
The Megaphone Left vs. Non-Megaphone America

EDITORS NOTE: This video originally appeared on The Revolutionary Act.

Voters Ask White House to Man up on Mandate

One of the things conservatives love about Donald Trump is that, unlike some Republicans, he doesn’t tiptoe through the tough issues. When the GOP didn’t have the spine to tackle Obama’s transgender military policy, he did it himself. When legislation protecting religious freedom never made onto the House or Senate floor, the White House issued its own executive order. If Trump could repeal Obamacare himself, he would. But that’s also why some people are left wondering — why hasn’t the White House dealt with the HHS contraceptive mandate with the same grit?

It’s not as if the president hasn’t staked out his position on the issue. Since the early days of the campaign, Trump made himself an ally of pro-lifers, living up to that promise almost every day of his eight months in office. Now, National Review wants to know, where is the follow-through voters are so used to seeing on something as fundamental as our freedom to believe?

“In June,” write Melanie Israel and Elizabeth Slattery, “a draft of the interim final rule regarding exemptions to the contraception mandate leaked to media. It indicated that the Trump administration intended to provide a definitive exemption for individuals, employers, and insurers with religious or moral objections to all or some of the onerous mandate. Overall, it seemed to offer an effective defense of religious liberty.”

“But then… nothing happened. The interim final rule was never published in the Federal Register. And the Trump administration has continued to defend the HHS mandate in court.”

“Every day that individuals, employers, and religious organizations are forced to choose between complying with the mandate or violating their sincere moral or religious beliefs is an affront to the religious liberty of all Americans.”

“You don’t have to share the Little Sisters’ beliefs to recognize that the government should not be able to force Americans to set aside their conscience when they step outside the four walls of a church to serve the poor, heal the sick, or educate the next generation.”

Donald Trump has given conservatives very little to complain about where his agenda is concerned. The president’s base understands, like we do, how the Left is blocking his initiatives and nominees, and how the GOP’s weak-kneed leaders are failing to move his priorities through the Senate. But where their patience is wearing thin is in areas like the HHS mandate and the DOJ’s guidance on religious liberty, which fall to the White House — and the White House alone. The president has made good on so many promises. We hope his streak continues on issues as fundamental as these.


Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


Also in the September 29 Washington Update:

Fall o’ the Leader? House Urges McConnell’s Ouster

Trump Courts Conservatives with Solid Judges

FRC in the Spotlight

Fall o’ the Leader? House Urges McConnell’s Ouster

If anyone’s ready to turn the page on September, it’s Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The last few weeks haven’t exactly been kind to the Kentucky senator, who watched his own party set fire to the latest GOP health care repeal, blew millions of dollars on a losing effort in Alabama’s Senate runoff, and got blamed for all of it by Donald Trump. “He’s got his hands full,” said Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) in the understatement of the year.

But lately, Republicans are wondering if the party’s fate should be in his hands in the first place. After days of disappointments, voters aren’t the only ones peeved by the Senate leadership’s inability to move the conservative agenda forward. So are some Members of Congress. In the House, where leaders have kept up their end of the Obamacare, Planned Parenthood, tax, and budget bargains, “frustrating” doesn’t begin to describe members’ feelings. Despite their differences, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) has managed to send key bills to the Senate only to watch them die at the hands of a divided and disorganized caucus. After 10 years as the GOP’s top dog, some Republicans are saying it’s time for McConnell to call it quits.

Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker (R-N.C.) didn’t beat around the bush with his criticism, insisting earlier today that it’s in the party’s best interest for the Kentucky senator to retire. “I think he’s a huge part of the problem,” the RSC chief told NBC. “There’s a growing consensus that would be very happy if the fine senator from Kentucky called it a career.” McConnell’s counterpart wasn’t as blunt as Walker, but even Speaker Ryan was clear that tensions between the two chambers had hit a boiling point. “We’re really frustrated,” he told reporters. “Look,” he went on, “we passed 373 bills here in the House [and] 270-some are still in the Senate.” No wonder they’re irritated. The House’s pace is blowing past the marks it set in the Obama, Clinton, and both Bush administrations.

On his side of the Capitol, McConnell’s party is circling the wagons. “Mitch is sort of the symbol of our dysfunction,” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said, “but it’s not about Mitch, it’s about all of us.” Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson (R) pointed out the difficulty of the Leader’s job. “It’s hard herding cats. I don’t envy him his task, okay?” Few do. But leaders are chosen to rise above those challenges and unite their party. Senator McConnell has had a decade as the chamber’s top Republican to prove that he can. I respect McConnell, but there’s no excuse for faltering now — not when the GOP has the keys to Congress and the White House.

The Senate has been a graveyard for almost every promise made to voters. It’s time for a radical overhaul. And if Republicans won’t do it — voters will.


Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


Also in the September 29 Washington Update:

Trump Courts Conservatives with Solid Judges

Voters Ask White House to Man up on Mandate

RELATED ARTICLE: The Washington Corruption that is the ‘Swamp’

The Negative Infects of Sexual Liberalism

Most people probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about disease. And at least where STDs are concerned, maybe that’s part of the problem. For the last several years, sexually transmitted infections and diseases have exploded into one of the worse crises no one is talking about. Now, they’re almost impossible to ignore, with rates surging to record highs in young and old people alike. The outbreak of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis reached an astounding two million cases last year, “the highest number ever,” according to the Centers for Disease Control.

A whopping 1.6 million new cases cropped up in 2016, stoking the fears of the medical community that Americans aren’t taking the problem seriously enough. To the CDC, the statistics are even more alarming since some strains of gonorrhea are now untreatable.

Unfortunately, this is just another by-product of sexual liberalism that’s coming home to roost in a nation that’s spent the last eight years — not just encouraging, but funding— messages of irresponsibility. Instead of encouraging morality, Barack Obama used every second of his two terms to promote immorality. And for our libertarian friends the economic burden is nothing to sneeze at. Taxpayers sink almost $20 billion a year into treatments for these infections — most of them incurable, and all of them expensive. Now, sadly, it’s become part of the push for universal health care. The philosophy is simple: live however you want, and everyone else pays the price.

From bathroom policies to free birth control, we’ve sexualized our culture to the point that it’s actually killing us. Instead of ignoring the problem, it’s time for liberals to join conservatives in urging America to stop engaging in risky behavior that results in deadly consequences. Clearly, there needs to be a serious discussion of the long-term implications of the Left’s agenda of sexual-satisfaction-at any-cost — not just for individuals, but for society as a whole. The government has spent years (and even more taxpayer dollars) trying to solve a problem it helped created. How many more will we spend ignoring the real solution: restraint?


Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.


Also in the September 27 Washington Update:

Senate GOP at Lose Ends in Alabama

House Moves on Pro-life Pain Killer

FRC in the Spotlight


Previous Washington Update Articles »

Judge Roy Moore Wins GOP’s Alabama Senate Runoff

Roy Moore, former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, defeats incumbent Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala., in the race to decide who would battle Democrat nominee Doug Jones in the Dec. 12 special election.

Challenger Roy Moore soundly defeated incumbent Luther Strange in Tuesday’s runoff to choose the Republican nominee in Alabama’s U.S. Senate race.

With all precincts reporting after 11 p.m., Moore had 54.6 percent or 262,204 votes and Strange had 45.4 percent or 218,066 votes. The Associated Press called the race when results from about half the 2,286 precincts were in.

“Republican voters know who a person of principle is,” Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, told The Daily Signal in a pre-election interview predicting a victory for Moore, former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

Moore will face Democrat Doug Jones in the Dec. 12 special election for the Senate seat vacated by Republican Jeff Sessions when he became attorney general in the Trump administration.

President Donald Trump had endorsed Strange, whom he considered loyal to his priorities.

Trump tweeted congratulations to Moore late Tuesday night:

“From the beginning of this campaign, my priority has been serving the people of Alabama,” Strange, the state’s former attorney general, said in a written concession statement. “Tomorrow, I will go back to work with President Trump and do all I can to advance his agenda over the next few weeks.”

In victory remarks in which he characteristically evoked faith in God, Moore said:

Together we can make America great. We can support the president. Don’t let anybody in the press think that because [Trump] supported my opponent I do not support him and support his agenda. As long as it’s constitutional, as long as it advances our society, our culture, our country, I will be supportive. … But we have to return the knowledge of God and the Constitution of the United States to the United States Congress.

The runoff Tuesday was set up when neither Strange nor Moore garnered 50 percent of the vote in a 10-candidate primary Aug. 15.  (Moore got 40 percent to Strange’s 33 percent, while Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., finished third with 20 percent.)

Republicans seek to preserve their slim 52-seat majority in the 100-seat Senate.

Moore tweeted as his victory became clear:

Democrats’ nominee Jones, 63, is a lawyer and former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama appointed by President Bill Clinton. His campaign platform includes health care reform, environmental protections, civil rights, and criminal justice reform.

On  Feb. 9, then-Gov. Robert Bentley appointed Strange to the seat vacated when the Senate confirmed one of its own, Sessions, as attorney general.

Trump endorsed and stumped for Strange, but also said at a rally Friday night in Huntsville, Alabama, that he would work “like hell” to elect Moore should the challenger prevail.

“I might have made a mistake,” Trump said at one point. “I’ll be honest, I might have made a mistake.”

But the president added: “Luther [Strange] will definitely win.”

In the runoff, Moore, 70, presented himself as the true conservative, while Strange, 64, batted away accusations that he is too establishment. Moore had led in polls, but Strange appeared to be closing the gap.

Andrew Roth, vice president of government affairs at the Club for Growth, predicted in an interview with The Daily Signal that the runoff would be a bellwether for how state voters view progress in Congress.

“The way I view this race is that it’s more of an establishment versus anti-establishment race,” Roth said. “The issues, conservative or not, didn’t really play in this. The race is more about what voters want out of Congress and out of the Senate.”

Vice President Mike Pence, a former congressman from Indiana as well as that state’s governor, also endorsed Strange.

“Our president needs Luther Strange back in the United States Senate so he can finish the job,” Pence said Monday night at a rally at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. “I know Sen. Luther Strange will be there for our president, because he’s already been there.”

Sen. Luther Strange lost to challenger Roy Moore. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Newscom)

The Washington Examiner and other news outlets reported that the Senate Leadership Fund, a political action committee tied to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., filled Alabama’s TV and radio airwaves with millions of dollars worth of ads backing Strange and attacking Moore.

Moore’s high-profile supporters include Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and GOP vice presidential candidate, as well as former Trump White House aides Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka.

“A vote for Judge Moore isn’t a vote against the president,” Palin said Thursday night, adding:

It is a vote for the people’s agenda that elected the president. It’s for the big, beautiful movement that we’re all a part of. The president needs support to keep the promises that elected him. So we’re sending Trump someone who has our back, not Mitch McConnell’s … Make no mistake, ‘Big Luther’ is Mitch McConnell’s guy.

“While we were honored to have fought hard for Big Luther, Judge Roy Moore won this nomination fair and square and he has our support, as it is vital that we keep this seat in Republican hands,” the Senate Leadership Fund said in a formal acknowledgement of Strange’s loss Tuesday night.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, came out Monday in support of Moore.

“A Judge Moore win really would make sure that the Trump agenda gets implemented,” Meadows told Breitbart News, adding:

There’s all kinds of members of Congress and senators who will run, and they really run so incredibly strong like they have a backbone of steel, but they really have a backbone of a banana. You know, when it’s peeled back, it gets real mushy when they get to Washington, D.C. So we need to give them some steel. Judge Roy Moore has a backbone of steel.

Trump won Alabama in November with 62 percent of the vote.

Moore is perhaps best known for being removed twice as Alabama’s chief justice, first in 2003 for refusing to take down a Ten Commandments monument and again in 2016, after his re-election, for ordering judges not to issue licenses for same-sex marriages.

Moore’s campaign platform included support for limited government, immigration reform, a border wall, energy independence, and the military.

The Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund also endorsed Moore.

Martin, the Tea Party Patriots co-founder, told The Daily Signal before the polls opened that by choosing Moore, GOP voters would be “sending a message to Washington that they want someone they can count on to stick to their principles.”

A victory for Strange, she said, would be on account of Trump.

“Given President Trump’s endorsement, people in Alabama will think that Strange will support the president’s agenda,” Martin said.

The GOP runoff was a product of voter frustration with the status quo, the Club for Growth’s Roth said.

“The dysfunction in Washington has been around for so long that maybe, finally the voters have finally had enough,” Roth said, adding:

You certainly saw them express that in November when Trump won [and] you’re going to continue to see the voters express their anger until they get things fixed.

Ken McIntyre contributed to this report, which was updated to include candidate statements and final unofficial results.  

Rachel del Guidice

Rachel del Guidice is a reporter for The Daily Signal. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Forge Leadership Network, and The Heritage Foundation’s Young Leaders Program. Send an email to Rachel. Twitter: @LRacheldG.

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Moore Victory Shows Populist Movement Bigger Than Trump. He Must Return To Lead It.

Frictional Characters Threaten GOP Repeal

There’s no such thing as a perfect piece of legislation. And for Republicans like Senator Rand Paul (Ky.), that’s been a hard reality to swallow. Like a lot of us, he wants nothing more than to scrap Obamacare completely and start over with a competitive, pro-life, free market system. But unfortunately, that’s no longer an option at this moment for the GOP after a summer of misfires and wasted opportunities. The clock is ticking. And the only thing Republicans have less of than time is voters’ patience. And both demand leaders act now.

In the plan from Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Republicans have a choice. They can vote “yes” and gut a significant portion of Obamacare and Planned Parenthood funding, or they can vote “no” and keep 100 percent of it. Apparently, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) prefers the latter, tweeting that he’s prepared to kill the GOP’s repeal a second time because it isn’t the product of “regular order.” (Neither, conservatives are quick to point out, was Obamacare.) “I think most of us are trying to figure out what the logic is,” Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said. “We all know that some folks would rather have a bill that’s perfect. But I guess if we can’t have a bill that’s perfect, I’d rather have a bill that’s much better than what [the law] is today.”

And for a lot of Americans, this debate is about a lot more than dollars and cents. It’s about actual human lives, whose fate will literally be decided by what the Senate does in seven days. If the Graham-Cassidy bill fails, so does the GOP’s best shot at defunding Planned Parenthood. At a rally outside Senator Paul’s Kentucky office, Students for Life did their best to drive that urgency home. “The disastrous status quo that is Obamacare is harming families, using our taxpayer dollars to fund abortion and line the pockets of Planned Parenthood’s billion-dollar abortion industry,” said President Kristan Hawkins. Vice President Mike Pence agrees. “The president and I consider Senator Paul a friend,” he made clear. “He’s a good man, but he’s wrong about this.” And unless he changes his mind, thousands of future Americans will pay the price.

Meanwhile, in pockets across the country, the Left’s opposition “is again reaching jet-aircraft decibels of outrage,” the Wall Street Journal jokes. Armed with the usual misinformation, liberals are taking to the airwaves and social media to bash the effort, which they claim would leave 18 million uninsured. (Of course, they neglect to mention that at least half of those would be willfully uninsured after the bill scraps Obama’s individual mandate.)

Liberals are also making a big deal about voting on a bill without a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score. But what good was a CBO score for Obamacare? If you want a good laugh, read its prediction for the 2009 law – which, among other things, claimed Obamacare would reduce the U.S. deficit. Besides, “CBO forecasts are often wrong,” the Wall Street Journal editors point out. “In this case, they’d also be meaningless. The point of Graham-Cassidy is to allow states to experiment and tailor approaches to local populations. Some might try to expand Medicaid’s reach or even go single-payer. Others might tinker with reinsurance. The budget office can’t possibly know what 50 states would do or how that would affect coverage.”

While the two sides snipe back and forth, the issue is also starting to bleed into the Alabama Senate primary. Senator Luther Strange and Judge Roy Moore are locked in a heated runoff for Jeff Sessions’s old seat, and health care is front and center. In some press reports, the media is trying to paint Moore as an opponent of the Graham-Cassidy bill. But that’s absolutely not true. I spoke with him last night, and although he would prefer a full repeal of Obamacare, he sees the importance of in ending the forced partnership between taxpayers and Planned Parenthood. As far as he’s concerned, the GOP plan is a good first step.

For now, though, the focus will be on the senators who already have a vote. Make sure they cast the right one!

Contact your senators and urge them to start freeing America from the grip of Obama’s failed law.


Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.


Also in the September 22 Washington Update:

Religious Liberty Is Abbott Forming

A Boston Massacre of the First Amendment


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How a Fraudulent Guardianship/Conservatorship Commences and Continues

This column examines conditions in Florida but the same problems exist in many states.

Step One: Eminent danger —The initial court petition

The professional guardian [or conservator], with the assistance of her attorneys, commences the embezzlement process by filing an emergency petition in the probate courts to become the “emergency” “temporary” guardian.

Florida guardianship statutes (Chapter 744), like many states, require that there be an “eminent danger” in order for the petitioner to become the “emergency temporary guardian.”

The guardian oftentimes fabricates the “eminent danger” by stating that there is a neighbor or relative or stranger who is taking advantage of the elderly person. In some cases, this may be a somewhat true statement, albeit an exaggerated claim. In most cases, upon further investigation, there has been no “eminent danger”whatsoever.

Step One takes away all of the victim’s civil rights and therefore gives the guardian and her attorneys full control over the victim and his or her assets.

Step Two: The examining committee

Once the professional guardian has taken control of the victim on a temporary basis (the emergency temporary guardianship order expires in 60 days [in Florida]) an examining committee of three medical “professionals” steps in to verify the allegation of mental incapacity. Oftentimes, the victim is administered a cocktail of psychotropic drugs to enhance the claims that he or she is incompetent.

“Ward” Elizabeth Faye Arnold, for instance, stated, “They put me on drugs that made me feel very drunk. I couldn’t even remember my name. Now that they have all my money, they don’t medicate me that way anymore.” One of the three medical professionals must be a psychiatrist and the victim is generally always found to be mentally incapacitated. The guardian usually has her own set of medical professionals that she utilizes on a regular basis. For instance, one professional guardian is married to a medical doctor and therefore has an entire fleet of medical professional associates available to her.

Back in the courtroom, soon after the three medical professionals file their reports, there is a capacity hearing. The victim seldom is permitted to attend this hearing. The judge quickly scans the medical examinations that “verify” that the victim is “mentally and/or physically incapacitated.” The judge then signs an order that gives the professional guardian full and permanent legal authority over the victim’s person and property.

Step Three: The “feast” begins

Property is sold for below market value and the deeds switch and switch several times. (kick backs are suspected). Bank accounts, annuities, stocks, and Certificates of Deposit are liquidated into one big guardianship account.

Out of this large bank account, the guardian is expected to pay all the victim’s, but bills oftentimes go unpaid.

How the victim’s money is spent

1. Attorney’s fees and guardianship fees for “services rendered to ‘Benefit’ the ‘Ward.”

A large part of the victim’s money is spent on attorney’s fees and guardian’s fees. As long as there is ample money in the victim’s guardianship account, the guardian and her attorney cohorts will file motion upon motion after motion to the courts, such as:

  • A motion to sell the ward’s furniture.
  • A motion to liquidate stocks and Certificates of Deposit.
  • A motion to transfer the ward to a different nursing home.
  • A motion to sell the ward’s homesteaded house.
  • A motion to open up a safety deposit box.

Each motion can cost the “ward” in excess of $2,000 because the motion must be written, researched, filed, and then a hearing is scheduled. Oftentimes, the motions cost more than what is being petitioned for.

2. Puffing the monthly budget

The guardian frequently doubles the monthly expenses then keeps the remainder.

3. Selling the “Ward’s” personal belongings for below market value then pocketing the difference

The guardian underestimates the amount of the sale of personal items, such as jewelry, paintings, and antiques, for the purpose of the court record inventories, then is free to keep the difference. There is little and often no court oversight.

4. Bills are simply not paid

Often times, the bills of the “ward” are not even paid. When the “ward” dies, the guardian simply places an ad in an obscure newspaper, if there is money left for an estate to be probated.Assuming creditors do not see the ad and file a claim against the estate within 30 days, their claims are forever barred and so the guardian was able to fool creditors and abscond with the money and not have to pay any of the bills. If she is caught, she simply pays the bills of the creditors who caught her. This frequently includes Medicaid.

5. Accounting is not accurate

The guardian can claim a much lower amount of liquid assets than what the victim is actually worth and then pocket the rest.

  • Julie Sweeten–$400,000.00 estate with an alleged $80,000.00 remaining when Sweeten died. More than $300,000.00 was spent in three years.
  • Louise A. Falvo started off with approximately $800,000.00. Two months into the guardianship, her guardian filed an accounting with the court stating that Falvo was worth only $672,000.00. Shortly thereafter, a bank statement from Bank of America stated that Falvo now had $449,000 after all accounts had been liquidated. So, approximately $200,000 turned up missing.

6. Fake wills

In this scenario, the guardian claimed that Julie Sweeten desired to leave her estate to her bank. A forged will was entered into the record. Wachovia Bank trustee was then given $80,000 from the uncontested, probated estate.

Step Four: The mysterious deaths

Once the funds have been spent, the “ward” oftentimes suddenly dies.

The “ward” dies when there is still plenty of money — if a huge probate battle can commence, thereby further enriching the attorneys and guardian.

Examples:

  • Carlisle Bosworth died soon after his $250,000 had been spent.
  • James Deaton — $5 million, three years in probate — $3 million in attorney’s fees with a pittance finally paid out to his family members.
  • Louise A. Falvo — suspected morphine sulfate overdose as cause of death; huge probate battle to enrich attorneys ensued even though her bank accounts were all Pay On Death/In Trust For (POD/ITF) to her daughter, so probate should have been completely unnecessary.

NASGA, National Association to Stop Guardianship Abuse, has adopted a three part theme to succinctly describe the legally sanctioned exploitative guardianship process:

Isolate, Medicate, Take the Estate.”

Predatory guardians: How courts are allowing professional guardians/conservators to rob your assets

Examples:

  • Marie Long was worth $1.3 million when she suffered a stroke and came under the “protection” of a professional guardian. Three short years later, she is penniless and subsisting off of a meager social security pension and Medicaid.
  • Louise A. Falvo, 91, had accumulated nearly one million dollars when she was placed under a guardianship that was commenced with a forgery of her daughter’s signature by a probate attorney. Within three months, Louise A. Falvo was dead. Two and a half years later, the guardianship remains open. The guardian and her attorneys have, to date, been awarded by the judge more than $350,000.00 of Falvo’s estate — “to benefit the ‘ward'” — who is deceased.
  • Corretta Brown was placed under guardianship when the Department of Children and Families discovered that her home was uninhabitable. Today, Brown is deceased, her assets have disappeared (more than $100,000), and all of her debts — totaling more than $75,000 in nursing home costs, remain unpaid. The professional guardian, it was discovered, was not licensed and has since fled the state of Florida with Brown’s assets.
  • Marie Sandusky signed a power of attorney to guarantee that her beloved daughter, and not her rejected son, would manage her financial affairs and health care directives. Today, Sandusky has a court-appointed guardian who has spent more than $300,000 of Sandusky’s money in attorney’s fees. The reason? Sandusky’s rebuked son hired an attorney and together they made false allegations against Sandusky’s beloved daughter. As the “wheels of justice” move forward, Sandusky’s money is legally used to fund the frivolous feud.
  • Debra Duffield, 58, has been under the control of a professional guardian for the last four years. She was only 54-years old when an involuntary guardianship was petitioned against her by a professional guardian who gleefully discovered (tipped off by a social worker) Duffield’s substantive worth when Duffield was hospitalized for anorexia and a broken hip. During the last four years, the vast majority of her assets have been converted to attorney and guardian fees. Duffield, who was diagnosed as merely bipolar, had allegedly been financially exploited by a friend — hence, the rationale for the guardianship. She is confined to a nursing home without rehabilitation. She sits in a bed, smelling of urine and fecal matter, watching television. The guardian and her attorney regularly and steadfastly bill her account for merely “reading her file” or checking on the latest whereabouts of her former girlfriend. Soon, Duffield, who once owned a fabulous house complete with expensive antiques, valuable imported rugs and fine paintings, will be penniless.

When you hear the word “professional guardian,” what do you think? Do you think of someone who protects the elderly? Assists them with their daily needs? Guarantees they are protected from financial exploitation and physical neglect?

Think again.

The pristine image of professional court-appointed guardians who allegedly protect the elderly is being challenged. Grass root organizations, such as the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse (N.A.S.G.A.) and Advocates for National Guardianship Ethics and Reform (A.N.G.E.R.) are claiming that professional guardians, their attorneys — and even judges — need to be watched.

May 25, 2010. Latifa Ring of Elder Abuse Victims Advocates addressed the Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security stating, “… exploitation in guardianships is rampant. It is largely kept out of the public eye under the guise of ‘protection.'”

“Family members are portrayed as “Osama Bin Laden” or the devil incarnate,” David Newman said, a guardian reform advocate.

These “unproven and often false allegations” commence a flurry of legal activity that can only be likened to Charles Dickinson’s Bleakhouse. While family members are forced to spend thousands of dollars defending themselves against the false accusations, these same accusers — oftentimes, the professional guardians– handsomely profit from the legal havoc they create.

The guardians need to be watched

Take, for example, the recently widely publicized case of Clay Greene and Harold Scull, a gay couple who had cogently cohabitated together for more than 20 years, rendering mutual durable powers of attorney, wills, and other legal declarations upon one another. When Scull, 89, unexpectedly fell onto a stone patio, paramedics were called and the local sheriff department hastily alleged that Greene had intentionally shoved Scull to the ground. Yet, despite the fact that all charges were subsequently dropped, the public guardianship office for Sonoma County used the already disproved physical abuse allegation to commence an involuntary guardianship against Scull. Scull was removed to a nursing home, isolated him from Greene, and the couple’s jointly owned property which included valuable paintings, expensive Persian rugs, antiques, silverware, jewelry, and real estate — was sold for far less than appraised value — at least according to the court records. It was later discovered that the items had been sold for far more by the public guardianship office.

These types of guardianship irregularities have sparked a guardianship task force Special Committee on Aging, which reported, “…guardianship…has the potential of harming older adults rather than protecting them…The…continuing reports of the failure of courts…to prevent [financial] exploitation of incapacitated adults by their guardians have long been of concern to this Committee.”

Greene sued the public guardianship office who settled with him for approximately $600,000.00 just days before trial. Amy Todd-Gher, Greene’s attorney, stated:

“This victory sends an unmistakable message that all elders must be treated with respect and dignity…and that those who mistreat elders must be held accountable. [But] Even as we celebrate this victory…we are deeply troubled that the Sonoma [County] continues to refuse to take responsibility for their egregious misconduct…We urge every citizen…to demand more oversight of the Public Guardian’s office. They need to be watched.”

An alarmingly common practice

Is elder financial exploitation by professional guardians and their attorneys a commonplace occurrence? According to John Caravella, a former detective and office manager for Seniors vs. Crime, a special project of the Florida Attorney General’s Office, Gainesville, Florida, the answer is “Yes.”

Caravella became simultaneously intrigued and disturbed by the court-sanctioned practices of professional guardians on their “wards” (the legal term dubbed to those who have lost all of their civil rights under court-mandated guardianship) when one of his neighbors mysteriously disappeared shortly after receiving an inheritance of more than a quarter of a million dollars. The neighbor, referred to as “Adelle” in Caravella’s book, Marked for Destruction, had been falsely induced by a stock broker, whom she had consulted about her fledgling inheritance money, to sign papers that authorized a professional guardian and her attorney to manage Adele’s finances — if she should become mentally incapacitated. Within a few weeks, the guardian and her attorney petitioned the court alleging that Adele was not competent to manage her own affairs. The court authorized that she be stripped of all of her civil rights and placed in a nursing home. Soon thereafter, Adele’s recently acquired $250,000+ was quickly consumed by the attorney and guardian for “professional services” fees. And Adele soon passed away.

How it all begins

Kevin Gallagher had a trusted, longstanding pact with his beloved parents: When the time was “right,” he would make arrangements for their safe return to Maine where they would reside in assisted living. That “right time” came unexpectedly one day after Sunday services when Robert and Elsa Gallagher became slightly disoriented in traffic when they happen chanced upon orange cones in a road detour. Kevin and Lisa, delighted to hear that their parents were ready to journey home, began making all of the necessary arrangements. Kevin even phoned his estranged Orlando-based sister, Lori, and asked if she would simply “telephone” Mom and Dad during the interim. The sister, however, consulted the Yellow Pages and telephoned a company, Geriatric Care Management, that specializes in elder care.

The sheriffs arrive

Within 48 hours a professional guardian, and owner of the elder care company, arrived at the Gallagher’s doorstep with a court order and two deputy sheriffs. She had hastily petitioned to become the couple’s “emergency temporary guardian” after learning of their substantive assets. Upon her arrival, the couple were forcefully removed from their home and placed in separate nursing home facilities. Mrs. Gallagher, hysterical, secretly phoned her daughter-in-law, her speech slurred, crying for help. She had been forcibly administered psychotropic drugs. Three medical professionals quickly examined her while under the influence of the narcotics, and declared both she and her husband simultaneously 100% mentally incapacitated. The temporary guardian was then quickly appointed the permanent, plenary guardian.

The guardians first move was to encumber all of the couple’s assets.

The legal contest commences

Instead of making arrangements for their safe return home, Kevin Gallagher suddenly found himself furiously searching for Florida attorneys. Meanwhile, the guardian’s legal counsel quickly filed papers to block Kevin’s attempts at removing his parents from Florida to Maine. A hotly contested guardianship soon commenced with attorneys from both sides legally authorized to generously pay themselves from the Gallaghers’ assets.

“The story is always the same,” states Newman, a guardianship reform advocate. “A family member fights the guardianship; then the family member later ‘wins’ the contest — when all the assets have been spent in attorneys’ fees.”

Three years passed. Kevin found himself switching attorneys four times in an attempt to get the legal nightmare to stop

Then, suddenly, it did stop. Kevin was declared the winner of the contest.

All of the assets had been spent.

“They then placed my parents on a airplane with a single suitcase with a broken zipper,” Kevin stated. “Inside the suitcase were tattered clothes that had the names of other people in Magic Marker inside the clothes. Everything they had owned — even their clothes — had been sold or trashed by the guardian.”

Both Elsa and Robert died shortly after returning to Maine.

Family feud — or — an open invitation for fraud?

Corrine Branson, 82, had been happily living in Miami Beach with the daily assistance of a CNA when her grandson secretly petitioned the court to become his grandmother’s guardian. When Branson learned that she was to be moved into a nursing home, she quickly phoned her beloved daughter, aunt to the grandson, who had been granted a springing power of attorney many years before. Bonnie Reiter, with little knowledge of guardianships or guardianship law, quickly hired an attorney who suggested that a “professional guardian” be appointed during the interim legal contest.

It turned out that the guardian he suggested works with him on a regular basis. Reiter fired her attorney, hired another, and then moved for a court hearing which her mother planned to attend.

“Two weeks prior to the hearing, my mother ended up mysteriously dead,” Reiter stated.

The guardianship remained open after Branson’s death with Reiter, alone, having spent $130,000.00 in attorneys’ fees.

“They took more than $800,000 of my mother’s money in attorneys’ fees. The guardianship, in which my mother had never even been declared mentally incapacitated, lasted less than three months. This is a racketeering scheme that needs to be investigated. The F.B.I. should step in.”

Different names, same story

  • An Orange County court auditor discovered $50,000.00 missing three days before the ward died. The judge ordered an “Order to Show Cause.” Prior to the hearing, the guardian and her attorney simply brought back the missing money and placed it back with the court. The judge dropped the scheduled hearing.
  • Court records show that the guardian received $12,000 a month to pay the nursing home bills for Carlisle Bosworth. However, the skilled nursing home facility where he was placed charges only $6,000 a month. No investigation has ever been conducted regarding what happened to the extra $6,000 per month. Bosworth died shortly after all of his money had been spent.
  • Marion Copley was placed on Medicaid — even though her guardian sold her home for more than $250,000.
  • In another case a professional guardian petitioned the court to become an elderly woman’s guardian when she discovered the woman had no living relatives. She told the judge that the woman, who was still living independently in her home, had “bats flying all over the inside of the house.” The allegation resulted in a guardianship and the victim was removed from her home. Neighbors later stated that they had never seen “bats flying all over the house.”
  • In yet another case a professional guardian obtained a guardianship over Christian Van Beekum stating that neighbors had exploited him. A quick search of the property records showed that the neighbors who had allegedly exploited Van Beekum had actually sold their home and moved to another state six years prior.
  • James Deaton had owned an extensive coin collection, an expensive baseball card collection, and his deceased mother’s diamond rings and pearl necklaces, according to relatives. None of these items were ever listed on the guardian’s inventory report.
  • The Denver Post has several times( 2010, 2011 ) published investigative reports exposing the problems with the probate court there.
  • In July 2012 World News posted a video by Lisa Flurie and story about what has been done to her brother Mark in Florida probate courts. Links to many other stories of guardianship/conservatorship fraud are available there as well.

Law enforcement agents, social workers, and judges have been trained to maintain a watchful eye over exploitative family members. Yet no one seems to be guarding the guardians. Family members have complained to local law enforcement, the state attorneys’ office, and even the F.B.I.without any significant action being taken.

The problems grow worse with time as the courts become ever more dysfunctional.

The Hospital Gestapo: You May Never See Home Again

American hospitals have devised a scheme to guarantee they never get stuck with an unpaid bill.  It’s called guardianship.

Thinking of checking into a hospital?  Think again.  You may never see home again.

  •  Ginger Franklin, Hendersonville, Tennessee, fell down the stairs in her condo and suffered a bump on her head.  She was declared “temporarily mentally incapacitated” and a guardian was appointed through the courts.  Within six weeks, the guardian had sold Franklin’s home, car, furniture, and drained her bank account. Today, Franklin has her freedom back, but she is having to start all over.
  • Michael Kidd, 72, of Richardson, Texas, fell in his yard and broke a hip.  Now, he is living in Countryside Nursing Home with his wife.  Both were removed from their home when the state of Texas petitioned the courts claiming that the Kidds were mentally incompetent.  Their house sits vacant and neglected, with rotting food still remaining in the refrigerator.  The Kidds have been confined to a single room in the nursing home, while the state appointed guardian burns through their money an gives them a mere $60 a month spending allowance which they have been using to buy “real” food.
  • Robert Milton (not his real name) was taken to the hospital because he fell “one time too many” at his home, and although his stepson had been given power of attorney to make all of his health care decisions, a court-appointed corporate guardian placed Milton against his will in a nursing home where he is now isolated from his family and friends.  Meanwhile, his money is being spent as quickly as possible by the Orlando-based guardian and her attorneys.

Elderly couple kidnapped by Texas Adult Protective Services:

How It Commences

Joseph Niedesky (not his real name) was air lifted to a hospital in Orlando from Ocala by helicopter after he was the victim of a motorcycle crash.  But something went terribly wrong during Niedesky’s surgery and he aspirated on his own vomit, causing some brain injury. That’s when a corporate guardian was contacted by the hospital and appointed by the court as Niedesky’s full plenary, permanent guardian.

What Happens Next

The corporate guardian who petitioned the court stated in the court papers that Niedesky had no family.  In reality, Niedesky had been married for more than 20 years and had four teenage children.  It took more than two months for Niedesky’s wife to discover what had happened to her husband and where he was located.

The Family is Always Portrayed as the “Devil Incarnate”

What happened to Niedesky is becoming a commonplace occurrence in America.  A family member is rushed to the hospital.  Surgery occurs and something sometimes goes terribly wrong.  However, by quickly petitioning the courts for guardianship, the hospital avoids any kind of lawsuit for negligence or wrongful death.  Niedesky’s wife wanted to bring him home and get him out of the guardianship.  The guardian, however, kept moving Niedesky from location to location, city to city, until the statute of limitations for suing the hospital had expired.  Shortly after the statute of limitations ended, Niedsky just happened to die.

“The hospital saved itself millions in a lawsuit.  It is typical that shortly after the statute of limitations runs out, the ward just happens to suddenly die,” stated David Newman, Gainesville, Florida, a civil rights guardianship reform advocate.

Niedesky’s wife was portrayed in the court record as uncaring, incompetent, over-meddling, and negligent, and although these descriptors seem to be a contraction of terms, you will typically find the most cynical descriptions of family members in most court files where an involuntary guardianship has been granted by the courts to a total stranger.

For example, in Milton’s case, Milton’s stepson had been named long ago as his power of attorney and health care surrogate.  That designation, however, was destroyed by the court and the corporate guardian even accused the stepson of stealing several thousands over the years from his stepfather.  Today, Milton’s stepson, a 65 year old retired veteran, finds himself in a legal nightmare gathering bank records and hiring attorneys and forensic accountants to prove his innocence.  Meanwhile, the corporate guardian is spending Milton’s money like water.

The Other Scenario

Tom Griffith (not his real name) wonders why an Orlando-based corporate guardian would be interested in his father at all.

“He has no money.  All he gets is a small monthly cheque from Social Security of about $800.00.”

I explained to Griffith that his father has been marked for destruction and will mostly likely not be among the living in a very short period of time.  “We live in a country that is ruled by corporations, not the U.S. Constitution.  If there is not enough money for the nursing home to cover its expenses, there is ‘no reason’ to keep your father alive.”  I explained to Milton how Thomas Chada’s father was sent to him as a box of ashes and how other wards seem to always turn up “expired” shortly after a corporate guardian and her attorneys have burned through all of an elderly person’s money.

But in this case, Griffith said there was no reason to destroy his father.  “There is no money to gain.”

“Yes, but that is the point.  The corporate guardians have a symbiotic relationship with the nursing homes.  Sometimes, the nursing home gives them a wealthy resident that they can bilk.  At other times, the corporate guardian does them a favor by making premature end-of-life decisions when there is not enough finances to cover the elderly person’s day-to-day expenses.”

In the case of Griffith’s father, who just received quadruple open heart bypass surgery, it was determined that the ward, age 74, now needed dialysis, a very costly ongoing treatment.

“The doctors said my father does not want dialysis,”Milton stated.  “But I know my father wishes to live; he is only 74.”

“They probably got your father to sign such a statement without him even knowing what he was signing,” I explained.

Milton wanted to know what he could do to rescue his father out of this dangerous and life-threatening situation.

“You can hire an attorney, but you might end up spending more than $500,000.00 of your own money to become your father’s guardian.”

“I don’t have that kind of money,”Griffithdeclared, shocked.

It was obvious that the scenario I was describing was greatly upsetting Griffith.   Those of us who have already lived this scenario remember going through the predictable stage of “mental shock” followed by the overwhelming urge to seek justice—at any cost.  I explained to Griffith that he may find himself bankrupt as a result of trying to help his father out of this doomed guardianship situation.

My phone continues to ring as victims, desperate to find a solution, want to know what they can do.

In a country that is ruled by corporations and corporate greed, there will be no solution to The Guardianship Nightmare until a public uprising is so severe that these kinds of abominable– yet commonplace situations– will no longer be able to occur.

Why I and Other Lawmakers Should Live Under Obamacare by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL)

For seven years, Republican candidates running for every office from president to dogcatcher campaigned on the need to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The spectacular collapse of the repeal effort in the Senate revealed that these promises were, at least for some senators, hollow.

As disappointing as the effort in the Senate was to witness, Congress cannot simply walk away from the promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. One surefire way to restart the repeal effort is simple: Make Congress live under Obamacare.

The actual text of Obamacare cancels the congressional health plans utilized by members of Congress and refers members to the Obamacare exchanges for their insurance needs.

The idea was that members should eat their own cooking. No special subsidies were provided. Indeed, traditional employer contributions are prohibited for anyone enrolled in an exchange.

However, in 2013, after consultation with congressional leaders, the Obama administration issued a legally dubious administrative rule that put Congress onto the D.C. small business exchange (which is meant for businesses with less than 50 employees) and conferred upon members a generous taxpayer subsidy.

This is contrary to the text of Obamacare and reeks of insider favoritism. The arrangement has protected Congress from the high cost of Obamacare while millions of Americans continue to struggle under the financial burdens of the law.

Currently, there are two sets of health care laws in the United States: one for the taxpayers, and one for the insider class.

Under current practice, the American people alone are expected to shoulder the costs of health care. Members of Congress are shielded from the costs of their own law by placing—contrary to law—the burden of subsidizing congressional insurance plans on the backs of taxpayers.

Requiring Congress to experience the burden of Obamacare as the rest of America has would provide the greatest incentive to quickly return to the effort to repeal this failed law.

Obamacare continues to crumble. Just last month, it was reported that over 800,000 Americans will lose their current coverage in 2018 due to health care companies pulling out of the exchanges.

Some counties only have one insurance provider in their exchange, wholly eliminating the potential for competition in the market to reduce prices. And, in some areas, there is no insurance provider participating in the exchanges at all.

Health care premiums are rising, and soaring deductibles have put affordable health insurance out of reach for many middle-class Americans.

Our constituents deserve meaningful reform that lowers premiums and expands care options. Yet, Congress has failed to deliver on these promises, all while continuing to reap unlawful taxpayer subsidies.

Everyday Americans do not have the same luxury of simply not complying with the law.

President Donald Trump can singlehandedly put an end to these illegal subsidies. Earlier this year, I sent a letter to the president explaining that blowing the whistle on this special deal will make members of Congress better understand the burdens of Obamacare and incentivize them to get to work on a good repeal and replace plan.

While I am encouraged that the president has indicated that revoking the 2013 rule is a negotiating option that remains on the table, I believe that these illegal subsidies should be eliminated immediately.

This is why I have submitted an amendment to the House’s upcoming spending bills that would defund the Obama administration’s special rule for Congress.

The American people should demand that members of Congress honor their promises to repeal Obamacare and insist that they live under the same laws as the rest of the people.

Portrait of Rep. Ron DeSantis

Ron DeSantis, a Republican, represents Florida’s 6th District. Twitter: 

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EDITORS NOTE: Under a legally dubious administrative rule from 2013, members of Congress and their staff are currently shielded from Obamacare by a taxpayer subsidy. The featured image is courtesy of iStock Photos. Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. But this can’t be done alone. Find out more >>