Does William Wilberforce Make the Case for Roy Moore?

William Wilberforce was a 19th Century English political leader, devout Christian and the driving force behind Great Britain’s ban on slavery. He employed a principled Biblical understanding of the inherent value of every person and a practical willingness to compromise and take very small steps at times.

He is revered — by those who know his story. He was as morally upright as they come, although he would have decried such a description. His Christian life was the central focus of his life and he was a relentless fighter for what he believed was right — despite being barely five feet tall and sickly his entire life.

So for the voters of Alabama, including many Christians who are unsure if they can vote for Roy Moore, perhaps Wilberforce provides a way of measuring the decision by a man who more than understood the dilemma. It’s not as simple as maintaining total purity in whom one will support, or the end justifies the means.

Wilberforce was at once both a moral immediatist in abolishing slavery — he believed it must be 100 percent dismantled immediately — and a strategic incrementalist with a long-term view to take each necessary step to reach abolishment. His style and exhortations could in a sense be used to argue against a vote for Moore. But his actions tended more towards a vote for Moore.

Clarke Forsythe, M.A. in Bioethics from Trinity International University, wrote of Wilberforce in Politics for the Greatest Good:

“Although Wilberforce sponsored a motion for general and immediate abolition annually for several years, abolition came not immediately and totally, but in intent and in effect, incrementally. The slave trade was incrementally reduced by regulations and partial prohibitions, and those incremental reductions were tied, in public debate, to issues of national interest rather than strong arguments of morality – “justice” and “humanity” – which were reserved until the final stroke. The incremental reductions served to eliminate the fears raised by the claims of the slave traders. Though Wilberforce and his allies had the strongest moral motivations, they exhibited strategic, tactical and rhetorical flexibility in their actions and arguments in large part because they stayed focused on the end result and did not confuse the goal with their motivations.”

Compromise and sacrifice

Wilberforce’s choice to introduce a bill every year for the immediate abolition of slavery was a decision that politically eliminated him from ever becoming Prime Minister, which many thought he could probably obtain. But after going nowhere a few rounds, he began a more long-term approach that some refer to as incrementalism.

He was able to pass a bill banning the slave trade in certain parts of Africa and to certain parts of the colonies. It was a tiny step to slow the trade. He passed a bill limiting the number of slaves that can be shipped on British ships and a series of proposals called “amelioration bills” for better living conditions for slaves. This was argued on the basis of creating “humane” conditions on slave ships. Clanging words to our ears, but another step in reigning in some of the suffering by reducing the total trade.

These and other bills acted to reduce the profit and value of slavery. That, in turn, reduced the political support for the slave trade until it finally reached the point that Wilberforce and his allies in Parliament could bring the hammer to the cracking institution and finally destroy slavery in Great Britain and throughout the British Empire.

To accomplish this, Wilberforce not only compromised on immediate abolition, but he worked consistently on the incremental bills with members of Parliament who supported the slave trade and even participated profitably in it. He could be criticized for cooperating with slaver interests and not fighting to get full abolition sooner. And it was surely distasteful at times. But historians generally agree that without the incrementalism that reduced the political support, there was too much power in the slave trade to get full abolition passed.

The Wilberforce model has served as a bit of a guide — although not unanimously — for those who believe abortion is as morally abhorrent as slavery. Laws such as banning abortions once a baby in the womb is pain capable, waiting periods and requirement on mothers to see an ultrasound are in line with incrementalism even though the two issues are not completely analogous.

Tying these together a bit, the difference between Roy Moore and his opponent, Doug Jones, on the issue of abortion could not be more stark. Moore is pro sanctity of life from conception while Jones favors a woman’s right to kill her baby until the moment of birth.

Where would Wilberforce stand on this option, when Moore has a more questionable moral past than what is known about Doug Jones?

If Wilberforce had maintained a personal purity on who he would work with and what he would compromise — and stuck with total immediacy regarding the end of slavery rather than taking some bad to get more good — it seems unlikely he would have led the abolishment of slavery and that wicked institution would have continued to destroy lives for years or decades.

Can the same argument be made for Moore regarding abortion and federal judges who would rule more strongly in favor of personal freedoms — and possibly overturn Roe v. Wade and expand religious freedom? Is that an acceptable trade? Alabama voters will have to decide that one.

RELATED ARTICLE: Roy Moore’s lead over Doug Jones increases in new poll

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Revolutionary Act.

The Obamacare Mandate Is a Tax, So the Senate Bill Is Correct

The Supreme Court saved the program by calling it a tax. It should be repealed like a tax.

Jeffrey A. Tucker

by  Jeffrey A. Tucker

The Washington Post is outraged. The New York Times even more so.

Commentators are going nuts.

“Using a tax bill to abolish the individual mandate amounts to a backdoor way of sabotaging Obamacare,” writes John Cassidy.

“Republicans, and Donald Trump, have counted on that (as well as your limited outrage bandwidth) in slipping an Affordable Care Act mandate repeal inside their insidious tax bill,” writes Bridget Read.

All this howling is due to how the GOP-controlled Senate used a tax bill to repeal a health bill. The implication is that this is something shady and duplicitous, like an exercise in false pretense.Actually, there is absolutely nothing shady about the repeal of the Obamacare mandate. There is no back door here. No bait and switch. Obamacare’s much-despised individual mandate is, in fact, a tax. It is properly dealt with in a tax bill.

Don’t take my word for it. This is precisely what the Supreme Court itself ruled in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (2012). It was widely seen as the ruling that codified Obamacare, giving it the constitutional gloss it needed to stay a law.

The law has been challenged on many grounds but one of which was that it is unconstitutional for Congress to force the people to purchase a service. The court said that this might not pass muster if that were what Congress was doing. Instead, ruled a 5 to 4 majority, the individual mandate should be considered a tax like any other. Taxes are permissible. Therefore Obamacare is completely fine.

Said the Court:

The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax. Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.

Further:

It is abundantly clear the Constitution does not guarantee that individuals may avoid taxation through inactivity. A capitation, after all, is a tax that everyone must pay simply for existing, and capitations are expressly contemplated by the Constitution. The Court today holds that our Constitution protects us from federal regulation under the Commerce Clause so long as we abstain from the regulated activity. But from its creation, the Constitution has made no such promise with respect to taxes.

To be sure, the ruling was a bit of an embarrassment for Obamacare proponents because they never liked to talk about the mandate as a tax. It was a payment for wonderful services. The Court said it is true that forcing people to buy something would contradict precedent. So in order to beat back the challenge, the majority found a clever way of redefining the nature of the mandate itself.

At this, Obamacare proponents, while a bit red faced, expressed relief. At least the legislation gets to stay, thanks to an ideologically driven court majority.

The Senate is merely deferring to what the court said and nothing more. The highest court in the land said that the mandate – which is the heart of the legislation – should be regarded as a tax. Fine. The Senate couldn’t repeal the bill in healthcare legislation. So they listened to the court and did exactly what they were supposed to do all along: treat the monstrosity as a tax in a tax bill.The people who are outraged today are only tasting their own medicine, nothing more.

Thus should the repeal be seen as another way in which this legislation is a tax cut for the American people. Will it destabilize health insurance markets? Yes and no. Without the mandate, Obamacare might not survive. But Obamacare is not a real market. It is a fake market. You know this because the many mandates effectively abolish market signaling.

What this tax repeal does is begin to let the market function again. True, there are many more reforms that are necessary to make health insurance work properly again. But this is a good beginning. And it was done entirely properly, precisely as the Supreme Court itself said it should be done.

Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Content for the Foundation for Economic Education. He is founder of Liberty.me, Distinguished Honorary Member of Mises Brazil, economics adviser to FreeSociety.com, research fellow at the Acton Institute, policy adviser of the Heartland Institute, founder of the CryptoCurrency Conference, member of the editorial board of the Molinari Review, an advisor to the blockchain application builder Factom, and author of five books, most recently Right-Wing Collectivism: The Other Threat to Liberty, with a preface by Deirdre McCloskey (FEE 2017). He has written 150 introductions to books and many thousands of articles appearing in the scholarly and popular press. He is available for press interviews via his email.

Planned Parenthood Is in Deep Trouble With the Law. This Could Be a Turning Point.

We are living through a remarkable time in history. Almost daily, those in influential positions who once appeared untouchable are falling out of popular favor as their abuses are exposed.

Earlier this month, one particularly corrupt institution was dealt back-to-back blows: Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion business.

On Nov. 13, The Hill reported that the FBI may be investigating Planned Parenthood and its associates for the sale of aborted babies’ body parts for profit. It’s the latest development yet in a scandal that began in 2015 with the release of explosive undercover videos.

Those videos showed abortion industry executives haggling over the price of hearts, livers, brains, and kidneys and describing, in chilling detail, their techniques for crushing late-term babies to get the freshest organs.

The Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives spent almost one-and-a-half years conducting a national investigation, reviewing 30,000 pages of documents, and hearing hours of testimony.

They found enough evidence to refer several Planned Parenthood affiliates and tissue procurement companies for potential prosecution. Attorney General Jeff Sessions suggested that if the FBI concurs, charges might be filed.

Then came the second punch.

Just as news of the FBI inquiry broke, the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals declined to revisit its ruling that the state of Arkansas can redirect Medicaid funds away from abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood, which the state is completely justified in doing considering the ongoing baby parts scandal.

These two major breakthroughs would have been inconceivable under the Obama administration, which repeatedly abused federal power to prop up the abortion industry.

President Barack Obama’s aggressively pro-abortion administration put the “bully” in “bully pulpit.” Under Obama, the Justice Department became a tool to harass and intimidate pro-life advocates, labeling them domestic terrorists alongside groups like the Ku Klux Klan.

Instead of investigating Planned Parenthood for the shocking, potentially illegal practices exposed in the videos, pro-abortion Attorney General Loretta Lynch decided to investigate the whistleblowers.

The Obama administration also actively interfered with state efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. KansasTennesseeIndianaTexasNew HampshireNew Jersey, North Carolina—all these states tried to get taxpayers out of the abortion industry, only to have the federal government bypass local officials to directly award lucrative contracts to Planned Parenthood or threaten to withhold federal Medicaid funds unless they kept tax dollars flowing.

As one last parting gift, during Obama’s final weeks in office, his administration issued an order banning states from defunding Planned Parenthood under Title X, which took effect two days before President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Through it all, Obama’s court appointees have generally been reliable backers of abortion. One Obama appointee even compared an abortion to a tonsillectomy in a recent case that would have created new “rights” to abortion on demand for illegal immigrants.

But there’s a new sheriff in Washington now, and a palpable sense of terror is gripping Planned Parenthood and its camp. Without their defender-in-chief or the courts to bail them out, they are finally being held accountable.

Trump has busily set about undoing his predecessor’s destructive pro-abortion legacy. He has filled his Cabinet with pro-life officials, and has filled court vacancies with outstanding judges like Neil Gorsuch who faithfully interpret the Constitution.

Right away, Trump signed legislation (H.J. Res. 43) rolling back Obama’s parting gift to the abortion industry—something that, on a personal note, I was proud to witness in the Oval Office.

Trump’s strong commitment to pro-life policies has helped embolden state governors and legislatures. Texas has now applied to reclaim the federal funding it was denied under the last administration. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster in August successfully defunded Planned Parenthood and requested a waiver from the Trump administration so that the state can do the same with Medicaid, which is where the abortion business gets most of its taxpayer funding.

The next step is for the Trump administration to issue new guidance to the states restoring their freedom to prioritize Medicaid funds the way they believe will best serve their citizens. The administration must be prepared to defend that policy vigorously should the case go to the Supreme Court.

The pro-life majorities in both houses of Congress should also fulfill their promise to redirect half a billion dollars in annual taxpayer funding away from Planned Parenthood using budget reconciliation, where they have the best chance of succeeding.

Sometimes justice is a long time coming, but as two of our nation’s greatest thinkers—Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King, Jr.—pointed out, it “cannot sleep forever” and “the arc of the moral universe … bends toward justice.”

There are good reasons to hope that for America’s abortion giant, justice is right around the corner.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Marjorie Dannenfelser

Marjorie Dannenfelser is president of the national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List. Twitter: 

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The Relationship Charade: Walking on Eggshells is not Reconciliation

Many articles have been written about the growing trend of adult children choosing estrangement in American families. The recent Thanksgiving holiday has highlighted this alarming movement toward the dissolution of family bonds of love and loyalty. What is the source of this dreadful shift? What happened to honor thy father and mother?

Sheri McGregor, M.A. has written an important book titled Done With The Crying that explores the disturbing increase in families with adult children who disown their parents. There are, of course, appropriate conditions for estrangement but the current trend appears baffling to the 9,000 confused and grieving parents surveyed who cannot fathom why the children they have loved for a lifetime are choosing to reject them. Done With The Crying attempts to help devastated parents accept their loss and move on with their lives. McGregor is asking “What now?” I am asking “Why now?”

Generation gaps between parents and their adult children have traditionally been resolved with courtesy, respect, and a sense of humor. Adult children honored their parents even when they disagreed with them and chose a different path for their own lives. A fundamental level of gratitude for the parent’s efforts and dedication allowed the differences to be minimized and the family bonds maximized. What has changed?

The bewildered parents McGregor describes cannot accept the estrangement because they simply do not understand it. She describes the staggering lack of respect, restraint, gratitude, and overarching sense of entitlement in adult children’s demand for parental conformity including restricting their parents’ freedom of speech. In the upside-down world of self-seeking millennials the parent/child role has been reversed. Parents are expected to conform to their adult child’s new norms. If the parent refuses the adult child withdraws himself to a “safe space” seeking protection from the “toxic” ideas of his parents. Toxicity, like hate speech, has been redefined as anything the adult child opposes.

Respondents in McGregor’s book expose the injurious participation of the mental health community which continues to counsel disrespected parents to persevere and strive for reconciliation no matter how cruel and abusive their adult children’s behavior becomes. It is shocking that any mental health professional would advocate unconditional love in adult relationships. Separating an individual from his/her behavior is pathological in adulthood. Any adult with self-respect recognizes the destructiveness of accepting the unacceptable. So why has the mental health community abdicated its responsibility toward growth and maturity and instead embraced the regressive trend toward dependency that demands unconditional love?

The humanities students of the 60s became the social science “experts” who enthusiastically embraced left-wing politics and political correctness. They launched a seismic paradigm shift that steered American society away from adult responsibility toward valuing feelings and happiness above all else. Instead of striving for achievement and merit-based awards parents were told that their children’s self-esteem would suffer in competition. Effort became the criteria for awards, children were told they were all butterflies, and everyone received trophies for “trying.” Here is the problem. Political correctness that values feelings over facts is extremely destructive because the effort to avoid hurt feelings sacrifices objective reality. Effort and achievement are not equivalent. Theoretically education at home and at school prepares children for adulthood because in the adult world of facts it is necessary to achieve – effort is not enough.

Consider the consequences in everyday life when trying is considered equivalent to achieving. Workers try to complete tasks but don’t. Students try to understand concepts but don’t. Mothers try to get meals on the table but don’t. In the real world trying is not the same as accomplishing. The outcome of the politically correct paradigm shift has been catastrophic. It has produced infantilized chronological adults lacking adult work skills, coping skills, with zero frustration tolerance, who are too fragile to listen to anyone who disagrees with them. The outcome of their incompetence is anger and self-loathing. Even the exceptional millennials who have managed to compartmentalize their brain power, achieving quite remarkable things in academia, business, medicine, et al, remain fixated and angry in their infantilism and dependency modes.

Only in the subjective reality of their politically correct social groups can these underachieving millennials feel good about themselves. It explains why the Left hypocritically tolerates anyone who looks different but cannot tolerate anyone who thinks differently including their parents. The Left, like any orthodoxy, is extremely intolerant and relies on absolute conformity to its tenets of political correctness, moral relativity, and historical revisionism in order to survive and to recruit new members to its ideological identity politics. Those who disagree are maligned, shunned, and rejected – including parents.

Competence is the mother of self-esteem. Accomplishment creates genuine self-esteem and the marvelous sense of satisfaction that proficiency provides. Telling children that they are all butterflies (subjective reality) is dishonest because all children are not the same and they know it. Encouraging a child to accomplish a task is far more supportive of self-esteem than empty compliments because encouragement supports growth, maturity, and the acquisition of skills. The crippling policies that support the paradigm shift toward feelings has yielded a crop of immature, fragile, angry snowflakes. Anger is an extremely powerful emotion that can be exploited for destruction – and that is the underlying goal of the Left.

The cultural revolution fomented by the radical Left demands regression, incites rebellion, and fuels the infantile anger that drives the war on America. Thought precedes behavior. Virtual children who have been indoctrinated toward entitlements, unconditional love, and eternal childhood rage when their dependency needs are unmet. Their anger is then exploited as they are groomed to become the useful idiot soldiers necessary to topple the existing government with promises of cradle-to-grave care from a romanticized socialist government. The estranged child’s loyalty shifts away from of his nuclear family to his new family of choice – he converts – and embraces the new religion of liberalism where his rejection of traditional authority is applauded in an atmosphere of adolescent rebellion.

These disinformed snowflakes are too childish and too angry to examine the reality of life in actual socialist countries. They do not interview citizens of Venezuela or Cuba – instead they just parrot the socialist propaganda. When parents expose the glaring inconsistencies between reality and Leftist ideology these fragile snowflakes choose estrangement rather than risk a personal meltdown. Millennial adult children are far more loyal to the liberal ideology that reinforces them than to their parents who challenge them.

The bewilderment and shock of estrangement for parents is rivaled only by the stunning realization that the Left purposefully foments family estrangement to shatter the bonds of family loyalty and parental authority. Grieving parents cannot accept estrangement until they realize that their adult children are choosing ideology over genealogy. The courtesy, respect, and gratitude that characterized past generations are absent in the millennial generation.

Instead of “honoring thy father and thy mother” the millennial sense of butterfly entitlement has frozen them in an infantile world (subjective reality) where only “self” and self-gratification exist. There is no reconciliation with angry adult children who continue to reject their parents’ objective reality. There is no respectful agreeing to disagree with adult children who demand parents surrender to their “version” of the truth.

The psychology of estrangement is a collision between the objective reality of the parents and the subjective reality of their children. Walking on eggshells with adult children is not reconciliation – it is a relationship charade. Parents have an obligation to stay in objective reality even when their children choose to leave. Parents of adult children who have disowned them are well-advised to walk on – walk beyond the pain of the eggshells and continue walking inside the adult world of objective reality. Your children know where to find you if they decide to walk with you. The choice is theirs.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in Goudsmit Pundicity.

The Ugly Truth About Sex Reassignment the Transgender Lobby Doesn’t Want You to Know [+video]

Sex reassignment is as natural as being born, some in the media tell us. And many Americans are buying it.

But a growing chorus of dissenters made up of physicians, researchers, and even transgender individuals is beginning to paint a far different picture of the truth.

These dissenters are now coming forward to expose just how harmful gender transition and reassignment are—both medically and sociologically speaking.

First, consider recent revelations about how problematic sex reassignment surgery is as a therapy for gender dysphoria.

In an interview with The Telegraph, world-renowned genital reconstructive surgeon Miroslav Djordjevic said his clinics are experiencing an increase in “reversal” surgeries for those who want their genitalia back. These people express crippling levels of depression and, in some instances, suicidal thoughts.

In male-to-female reassignment surgery, doctors such as Djordjevic transform the man’s genitals into the shape of a vagina, removing the testicles and inverting the penis.

In female-to-male reassignment surgery, doctors remove the woman’s breasts, uterus, and ovaries, and extend the urethra so that the woman-turned-man can urinate from the standing position.

A recent Newsweek article takes note of Djordjevic’s concerns, illustrating their legitimacy by pointing to the case of Charles Kane, a man who underwent male-to-female reassignment surgery.

In a BBC interview, Kane explains that he decided to have the initial surgery immediately after having a nervous breakdown. But after having the surgery and identifying as a female named “Sam Hashimi,” Kane soon regretted the decision and went for reversal surgery.

“When I was in the psychiatric hospital,” Kane said, “there was a man on one side of me who thought he was King George and another guy on the other side who thought he was Jesus Christ. I decided I was [a girl named] Sam.”

Similarly, Claudia MacLean, a transgender woman, is quoted as saying her psychiatrist referred her to a sex reassignment surgeon after having only a 45-minute consultation. “In my opinion,” MacLean said, “what happened to me was all about money.”

Given that clinics charge up to $50,000 for reassignment surgeries, Djordjevic says he fears that doctors are stuffing their bank accounts without concern for the physical and psychological well-being of their patients.

Physical and psychological well-being should be a concern, given that 41 percent of transgender people will attempt suicide at some point in their lives, and people who have had sex reassignment surgery are approximately 20 times more likely than the general population to die by suicide.

In addition to the problems inherent to sex reassignment surgery, we should recognize the troublesome nature of giving hormonal “treatments” to gender dysphoric children to delay puberty.

In a recent paper, “Growing Pains: Problems with Puberty Suppression in Treating Gender Dysphoria,” endocrinologist Paul Hruz, biostatistician Lawrence Mayer, and psychiatrist Paul McHugh challenge this practice.

They note that approximately 80 percent of gender dysphoric children grow comfortable in their bodies and no longer experience dysphoria, and conclude that there is “little evidence that puberty suppression is reversible, safe, or effective for treating gender dysphoria.”

Thus, scientific evidence suggests that hormone-induced puberty suppression is harmful and even abusive.

Finally, gender transitions are problematic for society at large, as revealed in recent debates about restroom usagemilitary realitieshousing policies, and sporting events.

What is often overlooked in these debates is the troublesome and even dangerous situation created when transgendered “females” compete in female athletic competitions.

Consider the 2014 women’s mixed martial arts bout between Tamikka Brents and Fallon Fox. During a two-minute beating, Brents suffered a concussion, an orbital bone fracture, and a head wound requiring seven staples.

“I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night,” said Brents.

As it turns out, her opponent, Fox, wasn’t born female. She is a biological male who identifies as transgender.

Brents thought Fox had an unfair advantage. “I can’t answer whether it’s because she was born a man or not because I’m not a doctor,” said Brents. “I can only say, I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life, and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right.”

Brents was right to consider Fox’s advantage unfair: The physical differences between men and women are significant enough that professional female fighters cannot compete effectively against other professional male fighters.

Given all this, why do we not see a more constructive and sustained public debate among surgeons, psychiatrists, and lawmakers about the ethics of sex reassignment?

The most significant reason is the power of the transgender lobby.

Consider psychotherapist James Caspian’s recent claim that Bath Spa University in the United Kingdom refused his application to conduct research on sex reversal surgeries because the topic was deemed “potentially politically incorrect.”

According to Caspian, the university initially approved his research proposal, but later rejected it because of the backlash it expected from powerful transgender lobbies.

Regardless of how politically incorrect the evidence may be, and even while we accommodate the privacy and safety concerns of those who identify as transgender, we must also draw a sober and honest conclusion about the human costs of sex reassignment.

The best medical science, social science, philosophy, and theology coalesce. As Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Ryan Anderson puts it, they reveal that sex is a biological reality, that gender is the social expression of that reality, and that sex reassignment surgeries and treatments are therefore not good remedies for the distress felt by people with gender dysphoria.

The most helpful therapies for gender dysphoria, therefore, will be ones that help people live in conformity with the biological truth about their bodies.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Bruce Ashford

Bruce Ashford is provost and professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the co-author of “One Nation Under God: A Christian Hope for American Politics,” and blogs at “Christianity for the Common Good. Twitter: .

RELATED ARTICLE: DNC Official Says She Doesn’t Want To Recruit ‘Cisgender Straight White Males’ | Daily Wire

RELATED VIDEO: The Hopeless Homosexual?

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Democrats in Meltdown Mode as Obamacare Individual Mandate Moves Toward Extinction

Democrats, of course, oppose the tax cuts moving through Congress. They believe government knows how to spend your money better than you do.

But what has really got their goat is eliminating the Obamacare tax—known as the individual mandate—that Americans have to pay to the IRS for simply choosing not to buy health insurance. This has thrown them into a tailspin of despair.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said eliminating the individual mandate would amount to the “destruction of the Affordable Care Act.” She said it would create no less than a “life-or-death struggle for millions of American families.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the floor Thursday that “[t]he number of middle-class families who would lose money from this bill may be even higher now considering the 10 percent increase in premiums that will occur as a result of the Republican plan to repeal the individual mandate.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., was asked by Anderson Cooper on CNN about cutting the individual mandate. “It’s a bad idea,” replied the former Democratic presidential candidate. “This is going to throw 13 million Americans off the health insurance they currently have.”

No doubt the talking points that flew around Democratic offices on Capitol Hill were written to scare people into thinking the tax cut forces people off all health care. But it’s a big stretch to state that as fact.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that repealing the individual mandate would decrease the number of people with health insurance by 4 million in 2019 and 13 million in 2027. It also predicted average premiums in the individual market would increase by about 10 percent per year.

However, the Congressional Budget Office was extremely careful to explain the inexact science of its analysis. A whole section of the report is titled “Uncertainty Surrounding the Estimates.” To put it simply, economists can’t predict human behavior.

I don’t even know what health insurance I will pick to get the best bang for my buck in 2019. How would bureaucrats in D.C. know?

Nevertheless, Democrats grabbed that report and ran with it, trying to put on a horror movie through the halls of Congress.

Pelosi threatened that as the bill moves toward final passage in the Senate and a reconciled bill through both chambers, “outside mobilization” will be activated to stop it. She said the Senate Finance Committee’s decision to include repeal of the individual mandate “really electrified, energized the base even further … .”

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., tweeted on Tuesday: “RED ALERT: Senate GOP just added provision to their tax plan that would gut ACA & kick 13M ppl off insurance.”

(Yes, Franken tweets blatant falsehoods when he’s not groping women.)

Schumer took to Twitter to put the blame on the White House: “.@POTUS’s absurd idea to repeal the individual mandate as a part of the #GOPTaxPlan would boot 13M ppl from the health insurance rolls and cause premiums to skyrocket – all to pay for an even bigger tax cut for the very rich, those who pay the top rate. What a toxic idea!”

President Donald Trump, however, is quite enthusiastic about taking a big whack at Obamacare through the tax bill. Reportedly, Trump encouraged Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., to get repeal into the committee bill text. This is what also infuriated the Democrats.

You can’t help but smile that Republicans are now using a 2015 ruling by the Supreme Court—which let the individual mandate stay in law, with the rationale that it was a tax and not a fine—as a way to ultimately kill the key provision that keeps Obamacare on life support.

Since the mandate is now considered a tax, its repeal will fit perfectly into the GOP tax reform plan.

Last week, a reporter asked White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders if the individual mandate repeal is a priority for the president. “That’s something the president obviously would love to see happen,” she responded.

The Obamacare mandate tax was always more of a “nanny tax” than a way to raise government funding. Democrats included it in the law in order to force the young and healthy to buy into the government-run health exchanges so as to offset the high cost of the old and very sick.

But the tax has ended up hitting lower-income and working-class families the hardest because it is much cheaper to pay the tax than to buy insurance on the Obamacare exchanges and pay the absurdly high insurance premiums and deductibles.

The hardest thing to do in Washington is to reduce the size and scope of the federal government. If the Obamacare tax can be repealed in the final bill that lands on Trump’s desk, Americans will get back a key individual liberty—the right to choose whether or not to buy government health insurance.

This would be the perfect early Christmas gift for hard-working families. Democrats should think twice before standing in the way of it.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Emily Miller

Emily Miller is an award-winning journalist and the author of the book “Emily Gets Her Gun” about gun control policies. Twitter: .

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Physician-Assisted Suicide: A New Pascal’s Wager

Note: Amid all the worries of these days, it’s good to remember that there are also signs and figures of hope. The two young priests writing today – like many others of their generation – are not at all confused or ambiguous about what the Church teaches. And they’re not reticent about expressing it, even in difficult cases such as end-of-life decisions. We’ve made clear and firm expression a touchstone for this site. And from what I hear from many of you, that’s one of the main reasons why you come here everyday. There are risks in being truthful, even in the Church. But we are determined to tell the truth – charitably, but fully and candidly – wherever we find it. We believe that’s a mission that deserves report from like-minded Catholics. If you’re one of them, please, make your donation today. The future existence of our Catholic Thing depends on you. – Robert Royal

By Fr. Cameron Faller & Fr. Joseph Previtali

July 24, 2016 Amanda Friedland, left, surrounded by friends and family adjusts her friend Betsy Davis’s sash as she lays on a bed during her “Right To Die Party” in Ojai, Calif. (Niels Alpert via AP)

July of 2016, Betsy Davis sent an e-mail to her closest friends and relatives. It was an invitation to a two-day party at a beautiful house in Ojai, California. But this was not going to be your usual party, she explained: at the conclusion of the celebration, she was going to end her own life with a lethal combination of drugs provided by her physician.

“Dear rebirth participants you’re all very brave for sending me off on my journey,” Betsy wrote, “There are no rules. Wear what you want, speak your mind, dance, hop, chant, sing, pray, but do not cry in front of me. Oh, OK one rule.”

Betsy Davis died, by her own hand, on July 24, 2016.

One of the friends present at the party was her friend, Niels. “The idea to go and spend a beautiful weekend that culminates in their suicide – that is not a normal thing, not a normal, everyday occurrence. In the background of the lovely fun, smiles, and laughter that we had that weekend was the knowledge of what was coming. . . . What Betsy did gave her the most beautiful death that any person could ever wish for. By taking charge, she turned her departure into a work of art.”

Most of Betsy’s friends and relatives, including Niels, left the party before Betsy actually took the lethal dose.

Her sister, Kelly, who was one of the few present at her death, said she loved the idea of the gathering, but she admitted, “Obviously it was hard for me. It’s still hard for me. . . . the worst was needing to leave the room every now and then, because I would get choked up. But people got it. They understood how much she was suffering and that she was fine with her decision. They respected that. They knew she wanted it to be a joyous occasion.”

Niels called her suicide “beautiful” even though it loomed on the horizon as the dark cloud of “what was coming” at the end of the party. Kelly was trying to make the party “joyous” but she couldn’t hold back her tears. Betsy did not want to see them cry.

Understandably, there was deep sadness about Betsy’s illness and the separation of loved ones. That is a normal and good sadness that accompanies all illness and death. But the anxiety and conflict of heart written between the lines of Niels’ and Kelly’s testimony – and in Betsy’s desire to avoid the tears of her loved ones – touches a deeper darkness surrounding the choice to deal with illness by committing suicide.

At the heart of the matter is an inescapable question: How do we know that Betsy’s suicide ended her suffering? Note in her invitation quoted above that she called the event a “rebirth.” To what, then?

To be sure, we can observe that the current form of suffering from physical illness has ended for her. But do we know, without revelation from God, what happens after the death of our bodies?

[Photo: Justin McManus, The Age]

The truth is quite different: to hold that suicide ends all suffering is to depart from reason and science, and to take a leap of blind faith in one’s own power of conjecture about the state of the rational self after the death of the body. Indeed, no higher authority has revealed to us that suicide ends all suffering. It is, rather, a simple supposition on the part of people who have no access to the truth or falsehood of the claim. Critical minds normally would judge such blind and solipsistic faith foolhardy.Thus, physician-assisted suicide brings us to the precipice of a new version of Pascal’s wager: Are we going to take the chance, with no supporting evidence, that suicide ends all our suffering? Is it worth the risk that maybe there is more than our present suffering?

This wager is the end of the road for human reason facing the mystery of death.

Betsy had faith (in her own idea?) that her suicide would result in her “rebirth.” To have the Catholic faith means to believe in the authority of Jesus Christ; Almighty God made man for salvation.

Jesus Christ teaches us that there is no way to an eternal life free of suffering, except through participation in His Cross. He brings purpose and reason into our experience of suffering: it is precisely in freely accepting our suffering and God’s providential plan for our deaths that we prepare ourselves for perfect happiness with God. This is how our suffering loved ones, with our love and support, assistance and presence, will freely accept God’s sovereignty over life – suffering their death, when it comes, in union with Christ.

Ancient Christian art depicted the Cross of Jesus Christ not so much in its historical details, but rather as a fruitful and life-giving Tree. This is the power of the eyes of faith. With Jesus Christ, we can learn to see our suffering and death as transformed and made beautiful by Divine Love. His Cross was fruitful for the salvation of the whole world. He invites us to enter in to His fruitfulness and beauty in our own suffering and death. Our task, then, is not to encourage our suffering loved ones to commit suicide – a growing threat to human dignity – but rather to accompany them as they carry the Cross with Our Lord, filled with hope that He is making them fruitful and beautiful.

We pray for Betsy and we entrust her to Jesus Christ, her Merciful Lord. We pray for Niels and Kelly, that they will experience deep healing and peace in the Heart of Jesus Christ. We know that He is the only answer to the problem of suffering, especially in terminal illness. We know that only He sheds the Light that scatters the darkness of doubt about the fate of the human being after the death of the body.

Fr. Cameron Faller & Fr. Joseph Previtali

Fr. Cameron Faller & Fr. Joseph Previtali

Fr. Cameron Faller currently serves as the associate pastor of Church of the Epiphany in San Francisco as well as an assistant vocation director. Fr. Joseph Previtali is a priest of the Archdiocese of San Francisco; he is pursuing the Doctorate of Sacred Theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.

Here’s Why an Unborn Baby Was Counted as a Person in the Texas Massacre

The sheriff deputies who assessed the fatalities at the bloody crime scene at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, counted the death toll as 26 because one of the victims was a mother carrying an unborn child inside of her.

The federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004 recognizes unborn children as separate victims for federal and military crimes. Texas law also defines a human being to include “an unborn child at every stage of gestation from fertilization until birth,” and recognizes an unborn baby as a potential crime victim.

dcnf-logo

“This has been a longstanding priority for us, and something we were instrumental in pushing,” said Jennifer Popik, a director for the National Right to Life, according to The New York Times. “The principle here is that there’s two victims. For a family already invested in the child, for the grandparents, this is a loss.”

Abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America defends harsher penalties for perpetrators who commit crimes against pregnant women, however, the group strongly opposes crime victim laws and “personhood” laws that give unborn babies separate legal status from the mother. These laws are an attempt to prevent women from getting abortions, according to NARAL.

“We need tougher laws on the books that increase criminal penalties for individuals who target pregnant women, and we stand with our allies in support of meaningful legislation to prevent future acts of gun violence,” said NARAL spokesperson Kaylie Long.

President Donald Trump’s administration has also defined life at conception. The Department of Health and Human Services “accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life, beginning at conception,” according to a draft plan from the agency.

Even New York’s World Trade Center memorial includes the words “and her unborn child” after the names of the pregnant women who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Thirty-eight states currently have fetal homicide laws.

Grace Carr

Grace Carr is a reporter for The Daily Caller News Foundation. Twitter: @gbcarr24

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, it is painfully clear that the mainstream media covers liberals glowingly and conservatives critically.

Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.

Americans need an alternative to the mainstream media. That’s why The Daily Signal exists.

The Daily Signal’s mission is to give Americans the real, unvarnished truth about what is happening in Washington and what must be done to save our country.

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Cast Your Obamacares, Says Hill GOP

House and Senate leaders may disagree on how to fix Obamacare, but they certainly don’t dispute why.

After seven years, the only thing higher than the costs of the Left’s health care law may be the mounds of evidence about its failures. Already, families are bracing themselves for January 1, when experts warn that most Americans will wake up with a headache — and not from a lack of sleep from the night before.When the Times Square ball drops, premiums won’t. In fact, the first day of 2018 may trigger one of the steepest rises in health care premiums the country has faced. For the 39 states that have stuck it out on the Obamacare exchange, they’ll ring in the New Year by wringing out their wallets — most facing a 34-percent spike in premiums, and climbing. Although the pain will be passed on to almost every customer, analysts say the middle class will be squeezed the most. Like most people, insurers understand that Obamacare is a sinking ship, and they’re doing everything they can, the Wall Street Journal points out, to “hedg[e] against broader uncertainty around other aspects of the Affordable Care Act, and my market conditions.”

Others have outright left the exchange, blowing a big hole in the number of plans consumers could pick from. “The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has estimated that 46 percent of Americans live in counties that will lose at least one exchange insurer next year.” Others are losing their plans entirely, news many of them are just getting in the mail. “Time to shop for new coverage,” their letters read. In some pockets of the country, like Virginia, people who had as many as 14 policy options last year are down to two (which also happen to cost $150 more a month).

So, while some may want to steer Congress away from the failed Obamacare debate into the greener pastures of tax reform, there are still Republicans who are trying to solve the looming crisis and give Americans some relief. Two of Congress’s key moneymen, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Senate Finance Chair Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), are the latest to offer up a proposal that deals with some of the worst aspects of Obamacare — and, unlike the Lamar Alexander-Patty Murray deal, leaves no doubt about one of the biggest concerns: abortion. From its very first bullet point, Hatch and Brady explain that their “bicameral agreement” would fund cost savings reductions (CSRs) through 2019 “with pro-life protections.” That was a problem many of us had with the Alexander-Murray idea, since nothing in the plan addressed one of voters’ key priorities — ending the forced partnership between taxpayers and the abortion industry.

“What we’re proposing not only helps treat some of Obamacare’s symptoms: rising premiums, fewer choices, and uncertainty and instability,” Rep. Brady explained. “It takes steps to cure Obamacare’s underlying illness through patient-centered reforms that deliver relief from federal mandates, protect life, and increase choices in health care.” Like other bills, it would eliminate Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates, expand health savings accounts, and fund the cost-sharing program for two years, a move, Politico explains, “designed to appeal to Republicans who want to fund the Obamacare program but feel that Alexander didn’t get enough conservative concessions in his negotiations with Murray.”

Its biggest obstacle, apart from getting time on a busy congressional calendar, is that the duo will be introducing it as a standalone bill, meaning that it would need help from Democrats to pass. But if the Obamacare implosion continues, even they’ll have to concede that something needs to be done. And soon.


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


Also in the October 26 Washington Update:

HHS Asks You: How Are We Doing?

Best Bye: Controversial Texas Speaker to Exit in ’18

VIDEO: Drug Companies Paid Doctors to Prescribe Opioids that Kill 33,000 Yearly

$46 million was paid to 68,000 Medical doctors for their opioid prescriptions as kick-backs, according to the CDC.

“This is outrageous and just the latest example of how drug companies are killing people with their products,” says Dr. Richard Ruhling, a retired physician who once relieved a doctor for a week in a pain clinic where everyone who came in was addicted to opioids or Xanax.

Ruhling cites his own experiences to indicate this problem shouldn’t have to exist. His solution? Doctors should quit prescribing those drugs that are so addictive.

Is it heartless not to prescribe strong drugs for patients who complain of pain?

Ruhling says in his office and emergency room practice, he never initiated a prescription for those substances now seen as the cause of deaths.

Darvon or Tylenol with Codeine are far less addictive and go a long ways to cutting pain, and there is nothing wrong with living with some pain while the body heals.

Ruhling was hit by a taxi in New York City. He woke up on the street with a crowd around him and they said lay still, an ambulance is coming. Ruhling stood up, almost fainted, but said he was ok and limped off with pain in his leg.

X-rays by an orthopedic friend showed a fractured fibula (non-weight bearing side bone in the lower leg) and Ruhling’s knee felt like a pumpkin. His leg turned purple from a broken artery but bleeding stopped from the pressure of the swelling.

He got phlebitis (inflammation of the leg vein) that throbbed and kept him awake at night. What he did to treat it is explained in a video, on this opioid problem…

Each night it got a little better. He used a cane and limped to take the weight off the leg while getting around as it healed. His leg healed without the need for surgery or habit-forming drugs that his orthopedic friend offered.

A more common problem is men at work who hurt their low back by heavy lifting and instead of seeing a chiropractor (first choice in Europe), they go to an MD who takes back x-rays that rarely show anything and he recommends moist heat and bed rest and an Rx for pain.

But if his Rx is an opioid, it is very easy for that patient to become addicted because they often return to work too early because the Rx masks the pain so well, and when they try to stop it, they feel the pain and need to continue…a perfect setup for a failed recovery and opioid addiction, says Ruhling.

But we shouldn’t look for improvement anytime soon because drug companies spend $400 million a year on donations to congress for their re-election campaigns according to Marcia Angell, MD, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine. She made that statement decades ago, it’s probably tripled by now, says Ruhling, adding that the FDA also gets millions from big pharma yearly.

Drug opioid overdose deaths by state in 2014.

Angell’s interview on 60 Minutes referenced her book, “The Truth About the Drug Companies.” She should have included a chapter on congress.

Every nation practicing western medicine is on the brink of bankruptcy because of pharmaceutical greed (drugs costing 10x more than 50 or 60 years ago).

Drug companies deceive MD’s as to the benefits of drugs while they fill the Physicians Desk Reference with 3500 pages of adverse drug reactions, contraindications, drug interactions, pregnancy warnings, carcinogenesis, etc.

Pharmacology evolved from toxicology which studied how much chemical killed half the lab rats. Not much has changed.

“In the widest sense of the word, every drug is by definition a poison. Pharmacology and toxicology are one, and the art of medicine is to use these poisons beneficially.” Drill’s Textbook of Pharmacology in Medicine, chapter 5, Mechanisms of Drug Action.

The last warning in the Bible is a call to come out of Babylon which includes our healthcare system as a leading cause of death. The Bible says, “for by her sorceries [Greek word is pharmakeia] were all nations deceived.” Rev 18:23.

Ruhling says he got a penicillin shot most winters as a child, but since he became a vegetarian in college, he’s had only one prescription (for intestinal flu) in 60 years and that’s in spite of high exposure to colds and flu in emergency rooms.

ABOUT DR. RICHARD RUHLING

Dr. Richard Ruhling is a retired physician. His website is http://RichardRuhling.com where he has information on personal healthcare summarized by NEW START and a video on How to Cut Drug Costs, Feel Better and Live Longer

RELATED ARTICLE: CDC: Daily 91 Americans Die from an Opioid Overdose

Obamacare Subsidies Are Unconstitutional

The subsidies for Obamacare were never constitutional, and we shouldn’t ignore that just because Trump got rid of them.

Gary M. Galles

by  Gary M. Galles

Last week, President Trump issued an executive order instructing the heads of Health and Human Services and the Treasury to stop making ACA subsidy payments to 6 million people who qualified for them.

Calumny and challenges quickly followed. Attorneys general in 18 states quickly sued that the order was unjustified. That same group has now also asked for a restraining order to stop it. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, one of the 18, called it irresponsible and illegal.

Blowing Constitutional Smoke

Trump’s challengers are blowing constitutional smoke. Every federal program requires two steps before it can spend money. Congress must authorize it and appropriate the money for it. Both steps are necessary. And the Constitution could not be clearer on the second step: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” However, the money for the ACA subsidy payments was never congressionally authorized.

So where did the subsidy money come from? President Obama simply ignored the constraints of the Constitution when it got in his way. He instructed the heads of Health and Human Services and the Treasury to divert money appropriated for other programs, but he left unspecified which programs were to be cut. Why leave that unspecified? If a specified program was raided, Congress and the beneficiaries of that program would have a clear cause of action to prevent it. It could be judicially enjoined immediately. But somehow, Obama’s failure to specify where funds would come from, even though every possible diversion would be unconstitutional, and delegation of the dirty work to cabinet members was supposed to shield the President and his signature legislation from constitutional scrutiny long enough (given the slow-grinding wheels of justice) to make it a fait accompli.After that, the bet was that the subsidies would be politically impossible to undo, even if the courts eventually ruled against them, because members of the House and Senate would then authorize the money to continue the subsidies, too afraid of the electoral consequences of taking away what millions of people had already been given unconstitutionally.

Supporters of that game plan to finalize getting around the Constitution also chimed in. For instance, law professor Nicolas Bagley (“Trump’s disastrous war on the ACA,” Los Angeles Times, 10/16) advocated that we should just ignore the violation of the Constitution. Even though the administrative decision to commit subsidy funds from other programs when Congress wouldn’t appropriate the money was known to be unconstitutional, he argued that we should ignore that, because he claimed Trump’s “constitutional rhetoric is pure pretext” to sabotage the ACA. That is, we should just fall in line with Obama’s illegal administrative commitments because Trump’s closer adherence to the Constitution than law lecturer Obama lines up with his belief ACA is a bad deal. In other words, Trump’s opposition to ACA justifies maintaining Obama’s constitutional violation in implementing the ACA.

Constraining Government

Such a conclusion may deserve a place in a “how not to interpret Constitutional law” illustration, but it does not deserve serious consideration. However, that argument, and the plan it supports, seems to be winning the day. The subsidies that millions have gotten used to having already hardened into a sense of entitlement, un-swayed by inconvenient Constitutional restraints, which, with the flames fanned by Democrats, have cowed many ACA opponents into proposals to provide the money (of course, “just temporarily,” even though, as Milton Friedman pointed out long ago about New York city’s “temporary” World War II rent controls, “there is nothing so permanent as a temporary government program”).What we are seeing is another lesson in the art of creating an end run around the Constitution’s protections for Americans against their government overstepping its enumerated powers. And it is hardly the first time, even for the ACA. Remember the penalties for not having insurance under the ACA plan? It was emphatically claimed to not be a tax, but a regulation (and hence not counted against the ACA in fiscal scoring), but Chief Justice Roberts’ 5-4 majority decision found the ACA constitutional only because it really was a tax, which Congress has the power to impose, when a regulation to mandate that Americans must purchase something would have been unconstitutional.

With such a vivid current illustration of the evisceration of the Constitution joining many more that we have already seen, Americans should be learning (or, perhaps better, re-, re-, re-, re-learning) a very important lesson on the importance of keeping government within its Constitutional powers to protect our freedoms from abuse at its hands. However, it remains to be seen whether we will.

Gary M. Galles

Gary M. Galles

Gary M. Galles is a professor of economics at Pepperdine University. His recent books include Faulty Premises, Faulty Policies (2014) and Apostle of Peace (2013). He is a member of the FEE Faculty Network.

Is it Really Our Job To Save The Addict?

The problem

“Drug overdose was the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., with 64,070 lethal drug overdoses in 2016. An estimated 53,332 have been linked to opioids of some type, which is an increase of 61% from 2015,” according to Nick Szubiak, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, National Council for Behavioral Health. He observes that the epidemic is partially being fueled by the early myth started by a letter published in New England Journal of Medicine in 1980 that opioids were non-addictive. In addition to that, there has been unrestricted prescribing of medications, and increase of availability and potency of less expensive heroin.

Dr. Lantie Jorandby, is board certified in addiction psychiatry. She is currently with the Amen Clinics in the Washington. DC area. Having been involved in Medical Assistance Treatment clinics providing suboxone and methadone within the VA system, Dr. Jorandby has observed, “egregious over-prescribing in the primary care setting in the VA system.” This over prescribing, she says, is usually done by “well-meaning” doctors, getting stuck in a cycle of prescribing dangerously high levels of opiates. She added “the system perpetuates when patients complain that their doctors want to stop their opiates, putting doctors in a bind with their jobs.” She has heard “reports of patients threatening doctors if they try to take them off of opiates, creating a perfect storm,” she says. Many people are prescribed a full 60 pill prescription, when a few pills would do the trick.

Perpetuating the problem

Explaining that the medical community has been trained to prescribe for longer periods of time like ten to thirty days, Carolyn Castro-Donlan, Ph.D. suggested that there might need to be a different type of training for prescribing medications. She has been working with addictions since the 80’s when she was a nurse. She is now a consultant, currently collaborating on Medical Assisted Treatment using suboxone for maintenance, detox or helping patients taper off opioids slowly.

She observes that one of the biggest problems is that prescription monitoring across states lines is inadequate and needs to be universal. Often, she says, this is how addictions can be perpetuated.

What we can agree on

They agree that there is way too much over prescribing of opioids, so perhaps we should find a way to train differently in this area and/or regulate how much can be prescribed and in what way. On this same issue, we should probably monitor prescriptions of opioids across state lines, as suggested by Castro-Donlan. It’s way too easy for people to drive from one doctor to the other to load up on pain meds with no way of tracking whether or not there’s an obvious problem.

Another thing most of the professionals agreed on was Medically Assisted Treatment using suboxone or methadone for people struggling with addiction. If we could develop treatment that involves time-limited withdrawal support, coupled with therapeutic support to address underlying issues, that there should be a way to do that. Carolyn Castro-Donlan, PhD emphasizes that the withdrawal symptoms won’t kill you, but she said it sure feels like they will when you are going through it, and it might just be the humane way to allow someone to quit.

We are bombarded with societal messages that we are not enough.

We need more money, a faster car, a slimmer figure, and stronger deodorant if we are to be acceptable and loved. We are sent messages that we should never be in pain or suffer in any way. Jorandby and Castro-Donlan also agreed that connecting to a spiritual source through meditation, prayer, and gratitude is an important place to begin to find our true worth as human beings. Mindfulness principles like meditation and gratitude have been shown through multiple studies to actually change the brain. So, while the addiction changes the brain and alters perception in one way, meditation and gratitude are scientifically proven strategies for emotional strength and growth. So instead of looking outside of ourselves for ways to escape from our problems and stressors, we build resilience from inside.

And more than anything else, they agreed that education for prevention should start early, and awareness for reducing stigma is vital. People do not seek treatment often due to fear and shame. We are not talking about the “dregs of society” if there is such a thing; we are talking about housewives who take their kids to soccer each week, high school students who get injured in sports, businessmen and women who work hard every day, who started out with pain meds and find themselves on that slippery slope, leading to hopelessness and destruction. “Addicts are not stupid. Neither are they weak, but rather highly intelligent,” says Rev. Dr. Wesley Shortridge of Bealeton, VA.

Where to start

I don’t necessarily think the conversation should focus on whether or not it’s a choice, or whether or not society is co-dependent, but rather what we can agree on.

We may not be able to save every person who struggles with substance abuse, but we can at least do what we can to lessen availability and move in a healthier direction. Reverend Shortridge says, “We need to build a society that doesn’t need it.” And beginning with the suggestions above, that most seem to agree on, might be a good place to start.

  1. Prevention by training in mindfulness principles, beginning with even very young students.
  2. Raising awareness and offering education to reduce stigma and enhance understanding.
  3. Putting some regulations around prescribing practices to limit availability.
  4. Offering limited and focused Medically Assisted Treatment, coupled with therapy, for the purpose of a better recovery.

Who Deserves the Drug Cartels’ MVP Award? The growing list of those feeding the opioid crisis.

There has been a long-standing debate as to whether or not marijuana is a “gateway drug” to hardcore drugs.  However, there is no such debate about whether abused prescription opiates are gateway drugs to heroin and fentanyl — they are.

Today America finds itself suffering from the worst heroin epidemic in history.

The unprecedented numbers of Americans who have become addicted to prescription opiates provide the drug cartels with more potential “customers” than ever before and, as I noted in an article awhile back, Obama’s border failures have only made their business easier.

There are other parties who bear blame for the creation of this crisis as well. On Sunday, October 15, 2017 the CBS News program, “60 Minutes” aired an infuriating report, “Ex-DEA agent: Opioid crisis fueled by drug industry and Congress.”

That “ex-DEA agent” is Joe Rannazzisi who headed the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control, the division that regulates and investigates the pharmaceutical industry. According to the 60 Minutes report, “Rannazzisi tells the inside story of how, he says, the opioid crisis was allowed to spread — aided by Congress, lobbyists, and a drug distribution industry that shipped, almost unchecked, hundreds of millions of pills to rogue pharmacies and pain clinics providing the rocket fuel for a crisis that, over the last two decades, has claimed 200,000 lives.”

A subsequent Washington Post editorial detailed how the situation unfolded:

A DEA effort was undertaken in the mid-2000s to target drug distribution companies that were shipping unusually large volumes of opioids. For example, one midsize distributor had shipped 20 million doses to pharmacies in West Virginia over five years; 11 million doses went to one county alone with a population of 25,000 people. Some pharmacies in Florida were nothing more than illicit drug dens, with streams of customers arriving in vans from Appalachia. “Back home, each 30-pill bottle of oxycodone was worth $900,” The Post reports. By going after the distributors, the DEA hoped to stanch this deadly trade. The DEA brought at least 17 enforcement cases against 13 drug distributors and one manufacturer under a hard-charging head of the Office of Diversion Control, Joseph T. Rannazzisi.

Then the rules changed. The DEA originally could freeze drug shipments that posed an “imminent danger” to the community, giving the agency broad authority to act. In 2014, the industry launched an effort to slow enforcement by changing the standard. The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) and aided by former DEA officials who went through the revolving door to help the drug companies.

The 60 Minutes report and a parallel eye-opening investigative report published by the Washington Post sent shockwaves around the country and resulted in Pennsylvania  Congressman Tom Marino issuing a statement requesting that President Trump withdraw his name from consideration to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) as the so-called “Drug Czar.”

Although I was an INS special agent, I had a front row seat to America’s purported “War on Drugs.” In 1988 I became the first INS special agent to be assigned to DEA’s Unified Intelligence Division (UID) in New York City.  In 1991 I was promoted to the position of Senior Special Agent and assigned to the Organized Crime, Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) where I remained for the balance of my career, working with the DEA, FBI and other federal and local law enforcement agencies and the law enforcement agencies of other governments.

I did not generally participate in DEA investigations into so-called “diversion” cases because those investigations rarely involved foreign nationals.  However, what the excellent 60 Minutes report did not discuss was how, all too often, hapless patients who became hooked on prescription opiates were either unable to get more prescriptions for those drugs or were unable to continue to pay for those expensive drugs and, consequently, some of these desperate addicts have resorted to committing violent robberies at local pharmacies. Others resorted to cheaper street drugs such as heroin.

Heroin is not produced in the United States.  Every gram of heroin present in the United States provides unequivocal evidence of a failure of border security because every gram of heroin was smuggled into the United States. Indeed, this is precisely a point that Attorney General Jeff Sessions made during his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on October 18, 2017 when he again raised the need to secure the U.S./Mexican border to protect American lives.

Immigration laws provide important weapons that can and must be used against transnational gangs, drug trafficking organizations and international terrorists and their organizations.  This was made abundantly clear to me during my assignments with UID and then OCDETF.  Yet this commonsense fact is willfully discounted and denied by politicians from both political parties and at all levels of government.

Smugglers are smugglers.  Brutal human traffickers often engage in drug smuggling and, in fact, often force smuggled aliens to carry drugs on them, earning such aliens the nickname “mules.”  They are literally used as beasts of burden.  This is not only the case along the violent and porous U.S./Mexican border but at our nation’s international airports and seaports as well.

Because the smugglers are engaged in moving contraband into the United States from foreign countries, most of the smugglers are aliens, as are those who hold the highest positions within the drug trafficking organizations.  Immigration laws could be brought to bear with great success against these smugglers, yet the number of immigration law enforcement officers has always been very low, further hampering efforts to use immigration laws to maximum advantage.

I began my career with the INS in 1971 as an Immigration Inspector at JFK Airport.  Back then I became aware of individuals who attempted to smuggle narcotics into the United States by swallowing balloons and condoms which had been stuffed with narcotics.  A ruptured balloon or condom would almost always cost the life of the person who had swallowed it.

Drug money enriches the coffers of the banks and money remitters that transmit the proceeds of narcotics transactions.  They are the “silent partners” in this hugely profitable criminal enterprise.  Yet while banks often pay huge fines, few bankers are ever prosecuted.

Furthermore, drug money washes through Wall Street, the real estate industry and permeates our economy.

On September 10, 2012 the New York Times reported that HSBC was forced to pay $1.92 billion to settle charges of money laundering.  No one could argue that they paid a huge fine, until you consider the final paragraphs in the report:

Congressional hearings exposed weaknesses at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the national bank regulator. In 2010, the regulator found that HSBC had severe deficiencies in its anti-money laundering controls, including $60 trillion in transactions and 17,000 accounts flagged as potentially suspicious, activities that were not reviewed. Despite the findings, the regulator did not fine the bank.

During the hearings this summer, lawmakers assailed the regulator. At one point, Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, called the comptroller “a lap dog, not a watchdog.”

The July 11, 2016 report by the House Republican Staff of the Committee on Financial Services on the topic, “Too Big To Jail:  Inside the Obama Justice Department’s Decision Not To Hold Wall Street Accountable” focused on failures of the Obama Justice Department to effectively deal with massive violations of laws pertaining to money laundering and other crimes that have national security implications.

It is my contention that not unlike the way that DEA lost its authority to block the shipments of opiates when it is apparent that community safety is jeopardized, we have seen, for decades, parallel efforts to prevent the effective enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws and the securing of our nation’s borders in, what I have come to refer to as, Immigration Failure – By Design.

“Sanctuary cities” and now “sanctuary states” have crippled efforts to use immigration laws to combat violent transnational gangs, drug trafficking and human smuggling and even undermining national security.

On August 11, 2017 Fox News posted the incredible article, “Los Angeles Targets Contractors Who Might Work on Border Wall.”  The city of Los Angeles and the state of California have become sanctuaries and are now seeking to “blacklist” American companies that accept contracts from the federal government — particularly when such companies have worked to help stem the flood of heroin and other dangerous drugs into the United States along with aliens engaged in criminal and/or terror-related activities.

The drug trade and drug addiction are synonymous with death and violence.  Drug money is “blood money” funding criminal and terrorist organizations.  Our leaders must be made to accept that effective immigration law enforcement is a vital element of the “War on Drugs.”

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in FrontPage Magazine.

The Scandalous Truth about Obamacare Is Laid Bare

A government program that is ruined by permitting more choice is not sustainable.

Jeffrey A. Tucker

by  Jeffrey A. Tucker

It’s not just that Obamacare is financially unsustainable. More seriously, it is intellectually unsustainable, even though this truth has been slow to emerge. This has come to an end with President Trump’s executive order.

What does it do? It cuts subsidies to failing providers, yes. It also redefines the meaning of “short term” policies from one year to 90 days. But more importantly–and this is what has the pundit class in total meltdown–it liberalizes the rules for providers to serve health-coverage consumers.

In the words of USA Today: the executive order permits a greater range of choice “by allowing more consumers to buy health insurance through association health plans across state lines.”

The key word here is “allowing” – not forcing, not compelling, not coercing. Allowing. Why would this be a problem? Because allowing choice defeats the core feature of Obamacare, which is about forcing risk pools to exist that the market would otherwise never have chosen. If you were to summarize the change in a phrase it is this: it allows more freedom.

The tenor of the critics’ comments on this move is that it is some sort of despotic act. But let’s be clear: no one is coerced by this executive order. It is exactly the reverse: it removes one source of coercion. It liberalizes, just slightly, the market for insurance carriers.

Here’s a good principle: a government program that is ruined by permitting more choice is not sustainable.

The New York Times predicts:

Employers that remain in the A.C.A. small-group market will offer plans that are more expensive than average, and they will see premiums increase. Only the sickest groups would remain in the A.C.A. regulated risk pool after several enrollment cycles.

Vox puts it this way:

The individuals likely to flee the Obamacare markets for association plans would probably be younger and healthier, leaving behind an older, sicker pool for the remaining ACA market. That has the makings of a death spiral, with ever-increasing premiums and insurers deciding to leave the market altogether.

The Atlantic makes the same point:

Both short-term and associated plans would likely be less costly than the more robust plans sold on Obamacare’s state-based insurance exchanges. But the concern, among critics, is that the plans would cherry-pick the healthiest customers out of the individual market, leaving those with serious health conditions stuck on the Obamacare exchanges. There, prices would rise, because the pool of people on the exchanges would be sicker. Small businesses who keep the more robust plans—perhaps because they have employees with serious health conditions—would also likely face higher costs.

CNBC puts the point about plan duration in the starkest and most ironic terms.

If the administration liberalizes rules about the duration of short-term health plans, and then also makes it easier for people to get hardship exemptions from Obamacare’s mandate, it could lead healthy people who don’t need comprehensive benefits to sign up in large numbers for short-term coverage.

Can you imagine? Letting people do things that are personally beneficial? Horror!

Once you break all this down, the ugly truth about Obamacare is laid bare. Obamacare didn’t create a market. It destroyed the market. Even the slightest bit of freedom wrecks the whole point.

Under the existing rules, healthy people were being forced (effectively taxed) to pay the premiums for unhealthy people, young people forced to pay for old people, anyone trying to live a healthy lifestyle required to cough up for those who do not.This is the great hidden truth about Obamacare. It was never a program for improved medical coverage. It was a program for redistributing wealth by force from the healthy to the sick. It did this by forcing nonmarket risk pools, countering the whole logic of insurance in the first place, which is supposed to calibrate premiums, risks, and payouts toward mutual profitability. Obamacare imagined that it would be easy to use coercion to undermine the whole point of insurance. It didn’t work.

And so the Trump executive order introduces a slight bit of liberality and choice. And the critics are screaming that this is a disaster in the making. You can’t allow choice! You can’t allow more freedom! You can’t allow producers and consumers to cobble together their own plans! After all, this defeats the point of Obamacare, which is all about forcing people to do things they otherwise would not do!

Freedom or coercion: these are the two paths.

This revelation is, as they say, somewhat awkward.What we should have learned from the failure of Obamacare is that no amount of coercion can substitute for the rationality and productivity of the competitive marketplace.

Even if the executive order successfully liberalizes the sector just a bit, we have a very long way to go. The entire medical marketplace needs massive liberalization. It needs government to play even less of a role, from insurance to prescriptions to all choice, over what is permitted to be called health care and who administers it.

Freedom or coercion: these are the two paths. The first works; the second doesn’t.

Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Content for the Foundation for Economic Education. He is founder of Liberty.me, Distinguished Honorary Member of Mises Brazil, economics adviser to FreeSociety.com, research fellow at the Acton Institute, policy adviser of the Heartland Institute, founder of the CryptoCurrency Conference, member of the editorial board of the Molinari Review, an advisor to the blockchain application builder Factom, and author of five books, most recently Right-Wing Collectivism: The Other Threat to Liberty, with a preface by Deirdre McCloskey (FEE 2017). He has written 150 introductions to books and many thousands of articles appearing in the scholarly and popular press.

Department of Health and Human Services: ‘Life Begins at Conception’

In a stunning turn of events President Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has declared that life begins at conception.

The 2018-2022 DHHS draft strategic plan reads:

Mission Statement

The mission of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is to enhance the health and well-being of Americans, by providing for effective health and human services and by fostering sound, sustained advances in the sciences underlying medicine, public health, and social services.

Organizational Structure

HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life, beginning at conception.

Readers may share their thoughts on each part of the draft strategic plan.

Download the HHS DRAFT Strategic Plan FY 2018 – 2022 – PDF

The Federalist’s Harvest Prude reports:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) just released their 2018-2022 plan, which unequivocally states that life begins at conception and deserves protection. In the introduction it says,

“HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life, beginning at conception.”

The draft mentions conception five times total. The overwhelmingly pro-life stance in the draft is welcome news to many.

The debate over the personhood of unborn children has been a central issue of the abortion debate. Ever since Roe v. Wade in 1973, pro-life advocates have been trying to establish constitutionally protected rights for the unborn. In the ruling’s majority opinion, Justice Harry Blackmun wrote that Roe v. Wade would collapse if “the fetus is a person.”

In support of the HHS’s draft, author and bioethics expert Wesley J. Smith wrote, “life ‘beginning at conception’ … is a fact of basic biological science.”

Read more.