Why a Judge Ruled Obamacare Unconstitutional, and What Policymakers Should Do Next

A judge has declared Obamacare unconstitutional—but the case is far from over.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, a George W. Bush appointee, granted a motion for summary judgement in favor of 20 states led by Texas that had filed a lawsuit seeking to strike down the Affordable Care Act on Friday.

Now that O’Connor has ruled, the losing side is sure to appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and ultimately the Supreme Court.

However, as the case continues to wind its way through the legal system, it is imperative that policymakers pursue real health care reform. Obamacare isn’t working for too many American families and individuals slammed with high premiums and few choices. Rather than looking for ways to keep Obamacare in place amid these legal challenges, lawmakers should pursue real solutions.

The Judge’s Reasoning in Striking Down Obamacare

As part of the last year’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Congress repealed the financial penalty associated with failing to comply with the individual mandate, effective in 2019.

In 2012, in NFIB v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the individual mandate by the narrowest of margins when Chief Justice John Roberts, providing the deciding vote, devised a novel theory construing the penalty associated with violating the individual mandate as a tax that Congress has the power to levy under the Constitution.

Texas argues that once the penalty is reduced to $0, it can no longer be considered a legitimate tax, and that therefore the individual mandate would no longer have a constitutional leg to stand on.

Moreover, Texas argues, in upholding the individual mandate, the Supreme Court appeared to rely on the argument that Congress considered the individual mandate to be a central—indeed, indispensable—component of Obamacare that is not “severable” from the rest of its provisions, and that without it, the rest of the law should be invalidated.

A group of 17 states led by California are defending the law, arguing that even a tax of $0 is still a tax, and that it was never Congress’ intent to get rid of the rest of Obamacare when it repealed the financial penalty associated with the individual mandates as part of last year’s tax bill.

In granting the plaintiffs’ motion, O’Connor stated, showing his agreement with Texas’ argument:

The [Tax Cuts and Jobs Act] eliminated that [individual mandate] tax. The Supreme Court’s reasoning in NFIB—buttressed by other binding precedent and plain text—thus compels the conclusion that the individual mandate may no longer be upheld under the tax power. And because the individual mandate continues to mandate the purchase of health insurance, it remains unsustainable under the Interstate Commerce Clause—as the Supreme Court already held.

Finally, Congress stated many times unequivocally—through enacted text signed by the president—that the individual mandate is “essential” to the ACA. And this essentiality, the [Affordable Care Act’s] text makes clear, means the mandate must work ‘together with the other provisions’ for the Act to function as intended. All nine justices to review the [Affordable Care Act] acknowledged this text and Congress’s manifest intent to establish the individual mandate as the [Affordable Care Act’s] ‘essential’ provision. The current and previous administrations have recognized that, too. Because rewriting the ACA without its ‘essential’ feature is beyond the power of an Article III court, the Court thus adheres to Congress’s textually expressed intent and binding Supreme Court precedent to find the individual mandate is inseverable from the [Affordable Care Act’s] remaining provisions.

What Should Be Next

But the legal fight aside, we need a better health care solution than Obamacare.

One of Obamacare’s core conceits was that what (allegedly) worked in Massachusetts would also work on a national scale. That hasn’t borne out.

Instead, Obamacare led to years of increasing costs and decreasing choices. Premiums doubled in the first four years of the program. Millions lost the coverage they used to have. Americans found it harder to pick the right plan and doctor, as health plan choices declined and provider networks narrowed. Frustrated providers are drowning in red tape and increasingly feeling burned out. Meanwhile, taxpayers are on the hook for the money needed to paper over Obamacare’s flawed structure.

Those who seem to benefit most from Obamacare are big insurance companies that embraced the law and receive a steady stream of taxpayer subsidies and politicians who made endless promises to reform Obamacare but failed to deliver.

Real Solutions for Pre-Existing Conditions

Regardless of these facts, expect many in Congress to call for immediate restoration of Obamacare in the name of protecting the sick and people with pre-existing conditions.

Some on the left claim Congress must protect Obamacare because only Obamacare allows Americans with pre-existing conditions to get coverage. That’s an irresponsible, false dilemma and Congress should reject it.  

There are steps that states can take right now to ensure people with pre-existing conditions are protected, even if Obamacare ultimately goes away.

Congress should let states review their health care regulations and pursue innovative ways to make coverage more affordable and accessible to Americans—regardless of their income or medical status.  Every state legislature is about to go into session in early 2019, so this is both a desirable and possible approach.

Empower the States

Congress does have a role to play in helping families and individuals get the quality private coverage they want, and helping health care professionals meet their needs. Conservatives have a proposal to achieve this: the Health Care Choices Proposal, which undoes Obamacare’s damage by letting states innovate.

Under Obamacare, insurance companies receive taxpayer subsidies dollar for dollar as they raise prices.  This proposal does away with that flawed spending scheme.

Instead, it would convert existing Obamacare spending into a grant that states would use to ensure chronically-ill patients have access to the health coverage of their choice. Greater flexibility and resources to the states means that all Americans, even those who are chronically sick, would have access to more health plans at better prices.

The Health Care Choices Proposal would lower premiums up to an estimated 32 percent and ensure that everyone can access a quality private coverage arrangement of their choice.

And everyone who gets a subsidy could decide what coverage to use it for, including private or employer-sponsored health insurance.

Individuals and families would be able to decide what coverage arrangement works for them, and decide whether to work directly with a doctor for primary care and buy catastrophic coverage, or get a plan that covers more costs up front. The proposal would be especially helpful to the working poor, who may want to have private coverage but lack the means to pay for it.

For most people, this is a much better option than what happens today: being pushed onto a government-controlled plan a bureaucrat thinks is best for them.

This proposal would build on a promising, emerging trend already happening in the states. When states have been given even a little bit of freedom from Obamacare’s mandates, they’ve been able to lower premiums using tools that ensure that the sick still retain access to care.

Politicians have long promised to replace Obamacare with solutions that help everyone. It’s time to deliver—no matter which way the courts go.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Marie Fishpaw

Marie Fishpaw

Marie Fishpaw is director of domestic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation’s Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity.

Portrait of John G. Malcolm

John G. Malcolm is the vice president of the Institute for Constitutional Government and director of the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, overseeing The Heritage Foundation’s work to increase understanding of the Constitution and the rule of law. Read his research. Twitter: .

RELATED ARTICLE: The Right Way to Overhaul Our Health Care System


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EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission. Photo: Paul Hennessy/Polaris/Newscom.

Sign Petition to Uphold the Scientific Definition of Sex in Federal Law and Policy

A petition has been created to define gender as immutable and binary. The on-line form of this document may be signed by anyone in agreement with its contents.


You may sign the petition here.


RELATED ARTICLE: Misguided Proposal From Christian Leaders and LGBT Activists Is Anything but ‘Fairness for All’

Full text of the petition:

December 4, 2018

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, U.S. Department of Justice

Secretary Alex Azar, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Secretary Betsy DeVos, U.S. Department of Education

Dear Mr. Whitaker, Secretary Azar, and Secretary DeVos,

We, the undersigned medical, legal, and policy organizations and individuals applaud the Trump Administration’s intention to uphold the scientific definition of sex in federal law and policy, such that girls and women will regain their sex-based legal protections, and the human rights of all will be preserved.

On February 22, 2017, the Department of Justice, in conjunction with the Department of Education, sent a Dear Colleague letter rescinding unprecedented “guidance” the previous administration had issued to expand the definition of sex in Title IX to include gender identity. On October 4, 2017, the Department of Justice issued a Memorandum regarding Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to clarify that gender identity is not legally included in the definition of sex, pointing out that the ordinary meaning of “sex” is biologically based. The New York Times article on Oct. 21, 2018 regarding a leaked memo from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) leads us to believe that HHS is continuing this trend and leading an effort to have a uniform, scientifically based, definition of sex across the various agencies. We write to applaud and encourage this effort.

Not only is an expanded definition of sex unscientific, but it has also proven harmful, as we detail below.

According to the Institute of Medicine, sex is a narrowly defined biological term. Sex is a biological trait that defines living things as male and female based on the complement of sex chromosomes and the presence of reproductive organs.[i] The American Psychiatric Association defines sex similarly as the “biological indication of male and female (understood in the context of reproductive capacity), such as sex chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, and nonambiguous internal and external genitalia.” [ii]

Human sex is a binary, biologically determined, and immutable trait from conception forward.The norm for human design is to be conceived either male or female. Human sexuality is binary by design for the obvious purpose of the reproduction of our species. This principle is self-evident. “XY” and “XX” are genetic markers of male and female, respectively, and are found in every cell of the human body including the brain. Sex is established at conception, declares itself in utero, and is acknowledged at birth.

Sex differences are real and consequential. The Institute of Medicine recognized the singular importance of sex to health and the field of medicine nearly two decades ago. Sex chromosomes impart innate differences between men and women in literally every cell of our bodies.[i] There are over 6500 shared genes that are expressed differently in human males and females.[iii]These differences impact our brains, organ systems, propensity for developing certain diseases, differential responses to drugs, toxins and pain, differential cognitive and emotional processes, behavior and more.[i]

Individuals who identify as transgender deserve optimal medical treatment which is influenced by biological sex. In reality, an individual who identifies as transgender remains either a biological male or female. This objective biological fact has bearing upon their health even beyond sex-specific illnesses.

Diseases that affect both sexes often have different frequencies, presentations and responses to treatments in males and females; therefore, different preventative, diagnostic, and treatment approaches may be required for males and females. Doctors and scientists unconstrained by transgender politics know full well that were we to treat patients in accordance with a discordant gender identity, instead of their real sex, the results could be catastrophic.[i] For example, the heart medication, Betapace, is three times more likely to cause a lethal heart rhythm called torsades de pointes in women than it is in men.[iv]

Sex is not a spectrum; congenital disorders are not additional sexes. The final result of sex development in humans is unambiguously male or female over 99.98 percent of the time. “Intersex” is a term that encompasses a variety of congenital disorders of sex development that result in sex ambiguity and/or a mismatch between sex chromosomes and appearance.These disorders occur in less than 0.02 percent of all births.[v][vi] A spectrum is defined as “a continuous distribution” or a distribution in which “no specific outcome is more likely than others.” [vi] Clearly, the existence of rare disorders of sex development do not constitute a sex spectrum.

As evolutionary biologist Dr. Colin Wright of University of California, Santa Barbara recently penned, “The claim that classifying people’s sex upon anatomy and genetics ‘has no basis in science’ has itself no basis in reality, as any method exhibiting a predictive accuracy of over 99.98 percent would place it among the most precise methods in all the life sciences.” [vi]

The use of congenital disorders to advance the myth that there are a multitude of human sexes which exist on a spectrum is ideological and political activism, not science.

Gender identity is not an immutable trait found anywhere in the body, brain, or DNA.[vii] Gender identity is an awareness of, and comfort level with, one’s physical body. Gender identity may be factually correct or factually incorrect, and, unlike sex, may change. Children with gender dysphoria, for example, will come to identify with their biological sex in 61-98 percent of cases by adulthood.[viii] There is also a rise in the number of adults who seek surgery to reverse their past sex reassignment surgeries.[ix]

The claim that upholding the scientific definition of sex will increase suicide among transgender identifying people is false. Individuals who identify as transgender may have mistaken beliefs about themselves and their bodies. They suffer real emotional distress and are at a higher risk for mental illness, including suicidal ideation, as compared to the general population. Social and medical “gender transition and affirmation,” however, is not proven to decrease suicide rates.

The rate of suicide attempts among transgender identified individuals has been estimated to be almost 9 times that of the general population.[x] Sweden is a transgender affirming country that has adopted laws and policies conflating sex and gender-identity. Nevertheless, a study conducted by researchers there in 2011 found the rate of completed suicides among surgically “gender-affirmed” adults to be 19 times greater than that of the general population.[xi] Clearly, transgender affirmation does not prevent suicide, and may paradoxically worsen the emotional health of these individuals in the long term.

Upholding the scientific definition of sex in law and policy protects everyone’s right to privacy, protection and equal treatment, especially that of girls and women. It is impossible to protect girls’ and women’s rights unless the law defines them solely according to objective biological reality and not according to subjective gender identity. When gender identity is erroneously treated as equivalent to sex in law and policy, then a male may at any time demand the rights, protections and access afforded to females. This automatically strips girls and women of their right to sex-based privacy, protection, and a proper playing field to compete equally. Transgender ideology thereby transforms all that was once reserved for females alone into another male prerogative.

Boys, for example, are literally running away with state level championship titles in girls’ sports because they identify as transgender.[xii] How is it just to award honors – which could include athletic college scholarships – reserved for female high school athletes, to boys who are innately biologically bigger, stronger and faster?

Of greater concern, gender identity has been used to allow biological males in spaces previously reserved for women. As a result, girls and women are suffering sexual assaults at the hands of biological men in women’s shelters,[xiii][xiv] women’s prisons [xv] and even elementary school girls’ bathrooms.[xvi]

As the biological men and women they are, transgender-identified individuals possess the same human dignity and right to the equal protection of the law as all Americans. For the law to respect the human dignity of all Americans, including those who identify as transgender, it must be based on biological truth; not on ideological falsehoods at the expense of children and women’s rights, health and well-being.

For all of these reasons, it is with unwavering conviction that we urge the Trump Administration to uphold the original scientific meaning and legal intent of the term “sex” in federal law and policy.

Please note that university and hospital affiliations are for identification only and do not imply institutional endorsement.

Sincerely,

Michelle Cretella, M.D.
Executive Director, American College of Pediatricians

Quentin Van Meter, MD
President, American College of Pediatricians
Pediatric Endocrinologist

Donna Harrison, M.D.
Executive Director, American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Peter Morrow, M.D.
President, Catholic Medical Association

Stephen M. Krason, Ph.D.
President, Society of Catholic Social Scientists

Paul McHugh, M.D.
University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School and the former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital

Michael K. Laidlaw, M.D.
Endocrinologist and member of gdworkinggroup.org

Craig Stump M.D., Ph.D., FACE
Endocrinologist, University of Arizona College of Medicine

Paul W. Hruz M.D., Ph.D.
Pediatric Endocrinologist, Physician-Scientist, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Associate Professor of Cellular Biology & Physiology

Angela Lanfranchi M.D. FACS

Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Susan J Bradley, M.D., FRCP(C)

Professor Emerita, University of Toronto

J. Michael Bailey, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology Northwestern University

Marie T. Hilliard, MS, MA, JCL, Ph.D., RN
The National Catholic Bioethics Center

Mary Lou Singleton, MSN, FPC-BC

Christopher Doyle, LPC
Co-Founder National Task Force for Therapy Equality

David Pickup, LMFT
Co-Founder National Task Force for Therapy Equality

Laura Haynes, Ph.D., California Licensed Psychologist
USA Representative, International Federation for Therapeutic and Counseling Choice (IFTCC.org)

Michael Farris, J.D.
President, CEO, & General Counsel
Alliance Defending Freedom

Matthew D. Staver, Esq.
Founder and President, Liberty Council

Charles LiMandri, J.D.
Founder and President, Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund

Robert J. Muise, Esq.
Co-Founder, American Freedom Law Center

Gerard V. Bradley, J.D.
Professor of Law University of Notre Dame

Steven D. Smith, J.D.
Warren Distinguished Professor of Law University of San Diego

Maimon Schwarzschild, J.D.
Professor of Law University of San Diego

Larry Alexander, LL.B.
Warren Distinguished Professor of Law University of San Diego

Tony Perkins
President
Family Research Council

Frank Cannon
President
American Principles Project

Matthew J. Franck, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, Witherspoon Institute

Sharon Slater
President, Family Watch International

Austin Ruse
President, Center for Family and Human Rights

Allan C. Carlson, Ph.D., Editor,
The Natural Family: An International Journal of Research and Policy

Patrick Lee, Ph.D.
McAleer Professor of Bioethics
Center for Bioethics, Franciscan University of Steubenville

Christopher Wolfe, Ph.D.
Distinguished Affiliate Professor, University of Dallas
President, American Public Philosophy Institute

Rev. D. Paul Sullins, Ph.D.
Research Professor of Sociology and Director, Leo Institute for Catholic Social Research, The Catholic University of America

Robert G Kennedy, Ph.D.
Department of Catholic Studies University of St. Thomas

Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D.
Founder and President, The Ruth Institute

References

[i] Exploring the Biological Contributions to Human Health: Does Sex Matter? In: Wizemann TM, editor; Pardue ML, editor. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2001.

[ii] American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5 (Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Publishing, 2013), p. 829.

[iii] “Researchers Identify 6,500 Genes That Are Expressed Differently in Men and Women,” Weizmann Wonder Wander (Weizmann Institute of Science), May 3, 2017, online at: https://wis-wander.weizmann.ac.il/life-sciences/researchers-identify-6500-genes-are-expressed-differently-men-and-women; reporting on: Moran Gershoni and Shmuel Pietrokovski, “The landscape of sex-differential transcriptome and its consequent selection in human adults,” BMC Biology 15:7 (2017), which says, “[T]here are over 6500 protein-coding genes with significant SDE [sex-differential expression] in at least one tissue.” Online at: https://bmcbiol.biomedcentral.com/track/pdf/10.1186/s12915-017-0352-z.

[iv] Lehmann MH, et. al. Circulation. 1996 Nov 15;94(10):2535-41. Abstract available online at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8921798

[v] Sax L. “How Common is Intersex? A Response to Anne Fausto-Sterling,” Journal of Sex Research 39:3 (August 2002), pp. 174-178. Online at:

http://www.leonardsax.com/how-common-is-intersex-a-response-to-anne-fausto-sterling/.

[vi] Wright C. “The New Evolution Deniers.” Quillette. Nov 30, 2018. Available online at: https://quillette.com/2018/11/30/the-new-evolution…

[vii] McHugh PR, Mayer LS. “Sexuality and Gender findings from the Biological,Psychological and Social Sciences.” The New Atlantis. Fall 2016. Available onlineat: https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/introd…

[viii] Ristori J, Steensma TD. Gender dysphoria in childhood. Int Rev Psychiatry. 2016;28(1):13-20.

[ix] Borreli L. “Transgender Surgery: Regret Rates Highest In Male to Female Reassignment Operations.” Newsweek. October 3, 2017. Available online at: https://www.newsweek.com/transgender-women-transge…

[x] Haas AP, Rodgers PL & Herman J. “Suicide Attempts Among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults: Findings of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey,” Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, January 2014. Available online at: http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu

[xi] Cecilia Dhejne, et al., “Long-Term Follow-Up of Transsexual Persons Undergoing Sex Reassignment Surgery: Cohort Study in Sweden,” PLoS ONE 6 (2011); online at: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0016885.

[xii] Mayer R. “Transgender Track Athlete Wins CT State Championship, Debate Ensues.” June 13, 2018. CBS News. Available online at: https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2018/06/13/transgende…

[xiii]Hoggard, Corin. “Shelter forced women to shower with person who identified as a transgender woman and sexually harassed them, lawsuit says.”ABC 30 Action News, Fresno, CA, May 23, 2018; online at: https://abc30.com/homeless-women-harassed-in-showe…

[xiv] Sam Pazzano, “Predator who claimed to be transgender declared dangerous offender,” Toronto Sun, February 26, 2014; online at: http://www.torontosun.com/2014/02/26/predator-who-claimed-to-be-transgender-declared-dangerous-offender.

[xv] Janet Fife-Yeomans, “Sex change killer Maddison Hall to be free as a bird,” Daily Telegraph, April 2, 2010; online at: https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/sex-change-killer-to-be-free-as-a-bird/news-story/b1fecc9a9a4717607de6e980980e0ba5?sv=e95663cd723e2f8ffa0caa3329e03203.

[xvi] Alliance Defending Freedom, “US opens investigation into sexual assault of minor child in Georgia, violation of Title IX,” Press Release (October 3, 2018); online at:

http://www.adfmedia.org/News/PRDetail/99205?search=1.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is by Ken Treloar on Unsplash.

For Big Tobacco and Brewers, Grass is Greener

Big Tobacco and Big Alcohol are investing in pot to make Big Marijuana, the New York Times reports this morning.

  • Altria, the tobacco company that makes Marlboro and other cigarettes, paid $1.8 billion last week to buy nearly half of Cronos Group, a Canadian marijuana company.
  • Constellation Brands, the company that makes Corona and other beers, paid $4 billion last August for a major stake in another Canadian pot company called Canopy Growth.
  • And Molson Coors Canada, the Canadian branch of Molson Coors, bought a controlling interest in a joint venture with The Hydropothecary Corporation, a third Canadian pot company.

All three Canadian marijuana companies got their start producing the drug for medical use and are licensed by Health Canada. Canada’s full legalization of marijuana in October opened the door to the recreational market. US companies want an early entry into a market they believe will open soon in the US.

This morning’s print edition of today’s Times has a different title for this story: “This is the Dawning of the Age of Pot, Inc” the headline claims. Apparently, the Age of Aquarius (“Let the Sun Shine In”) has suffered a premature death. Big Tobacco lied to Americans for nearly a century, claiming nicotine is not addictive and smoking is harmless. Even before it became Big, the marijuana industry began following Big Tobacco’s playbook with the same mantra: Is pot addictive? “No.” “Harmless? Yes. It’s even a medicine.”

Sound familiar?

“The arrival of large multinational corporations portends sweeping changes for an industry that until recently operated in the shadows. As billions of dollars pour into product development, marketing and manufacturing, these companies will be looking to create big brands with the market share to match,” notes the Times.

Earlier this year, Coca-Cola representatives acknowledged their company was looking closely at the CBD industry. For a few days, Target sold CBD products online but abruptly ended the practice. Diageo, a spirits company, was rumored to be close to joining forces with an unnamed  Canadian pot company last summer, but no announcement has been made yet. And Walmart Canada is looking into the industry but currently has no plans to start selling products containing CBD or THC.

Some CEOs like Coca-Cola’s James Quincey are holding back. “It needs to be legal, it needs to be safe, and it needs to be consumable,” he said on CNBC this week. “It’s not there yet.”

Nonetheless, industry spokesmen say as more big companies get involved with marijuana, they’ll likely pressure Congress to legalize the drug in the U.S. nationwide, like Canada.

So, watch out. Those Green Marlboro packs containing pre-rolled joints seen in counterculture publications may not be hippie hallucinations after all.

Read the New York Times article here.


Here’s what happens when marijuana is commercialized

This graph, from a 2018 report by the Colorado Department of Public Safety (state law mandates a comprehensive report every two years), presents the clearest picture yet of what happens when a state commercializes marijuana.

Colorado legalized the drug for medical use in 2000. Patients who obtained a medical marijuana card from the state could access the drug by selecting a caregiver to grow it for them, and caregivers could grow enough marijuana for six patients. The number of patients who obtained cards grew from 94 in 2001 to 4,819 in 2008.

Effective 2009, the Colorado legislature established a system to license people to grow, manufacture, and sell marijuana for medical use. A license meant the holder could start investing in and making profits on these activities. In other words, Colorado created one of the first commercial marijuana businesses in the nation.

In 2008, there were no licensed medical marijuana growers, product manufacturers, or dispensaries in Colorado. By the end of 2012,* there were approximately 1,150 licensed facilities, and the number of patients who obtained medical marijuana cards jumped from 4,819 to 108,526 in four years.

Read more about this on page 157 here.

*Colorado archives licensee data, but they only go back to 2013. These data are taken from January 2013, one month after 2012 ended.


Farm Bill agreement allows nationwide hemp cultivation for any use – including CBD

If the US House passes the Farm Bill this week, hemp will be legal throughout the US. Hemp is defined as containing less that three-tenths of one percent of THC, the cannabinoid in marijuana that makes users high. The Senate passed the bill this week.

CBD products can be made from hemp although, because some patients insist they need THC as well, CBD must be extracted from marijuana to obtain THC.

According to Marijuana Business Daily, the measure would lift restrictions on advertising, marketing, banking, and other financial services on hemp growers and manufacturers. It also would:

  • Allow hemp production in all 50 states, including the production of CBD
  • Producers who raise hemp with a higher THC level than 0.3 percent would not be guilty of a drug crime but would have to submit a plan to correct the problem
  • Allow the sale of hemp and CBD across state lines
  • Make the US Department of Agriculture administrator of the program
  • Legalize production in US territories and on Indian tribal lands
  • Require taxpayers to subsidize the hemp industry by providing access to federal farm support, including crop insurance, federal water access, and low-interest loans to new farmers
  • Allow hemp producers to bring “foreign nationals” to the US to fill “temporary agricultural” jobs
  • Remove barriers to obtaining patents and trademarks
  • Ban state or federal drug felons from participating in the program for 10 years, and
  • Require the agriculture department to work with the Attorney General on hemp rules.

Read Marijuana Business Daily article here.


Maryland marijuana panel approves ban on cannabis advertising on billboards, radio, TV, and other media

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission voted unanimously to ban nearly all advertising of marijuana for medical use. The industry says it will fight the ban when the General Assembly convenes in January 2019. The rules prohibit advertising on or in:

  • Billboards
  • Radio
  • Television
  • Most online outlets
  • Newspapers and magazines that cannot prove 85 percent of their audience is over age 18
  • Leaflets or flyers in most public and private places
  • Internet ads must include an age verification page.

An industry spokesman claimed the ban came about after a billboard showing Adam and Eve smoking a joint upset two legislators. However, a spokeswoman for the commission said the effort was to mirror bans on tobacco advertising.

A deputy attorney general asked the commission to also add specific language prohibiting manufacturers from making any medical claims without scientific evidence.

The new rules state that marijuana companies may not make any claim that is “false or misleading in any material way or is otherwise a violation” of state laws.

Read The Baltimore Sun story here.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission.

Media Buries Key Facts to Conceal Migrant Health Threat—TB, Hepatitis, HIV

Here’s a great example of the mainstream media distorting information to promote a liberal agenda, an act that is especially pervasive when it comes to immigration coverage. A story published by NBC news, and reiterated by various other outlets, claims illegal immigrants don’t bring disease into the United States.

The headline reads: “Migrants don’t bring disease. In fact, they help fight it, report says.” The article focuses on a study commissioned by a medical journal called the Lancet and University College London. The finished product is titled “Global patterns of mortality in international migrants: a systematic review and meta-analysis” and one of the researchers, Dr. Paul Spiegel, proclaims that migrants spreading disease is a “false argument” used to keep them out. The editor of the Lancet said; “In too many countries, the issue of migration is used to divide societies and advance a populist agenda.”

Nevertheless, buried deep in the news article the reporter offers this important nugget from the study, only after writing that migrants are less likely than people in their host countries to die of heart disease, cancer, respiratory diseases and other ills: “The exceptions are hepatitis, tuberculosis and HIV.”

Last we checked those are deadly diseases and Judicial Watch has interviewed medical experts that confirm illegal immigrants do indeed pose a serious public health threat to the U.S. by bringing dangerous diseases into the country. This includes tuberculosis, dengue and Chikungunya. Just last month a prominent physician in a key border state warned that the caravan streaming north from Honduras will undoubtedly bring infectious diseases into the U.S. Among them are extremely drug resistant strands of tuberculosis and mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue and chikungunya that are widespread in the region.

The same week Judicial Watch published the story about the caravan health threat a major newspaper reported on the health crisis created by the influx of Venezuelans fleeing to neighboring countries. The migrants are spreading malaria, yellow fever, diphtheria, dengue, tuberculosis and AIDS throughout South America. Many of the diseases had been considered eradicated in the neighboring Latin American countries, according to government officials cited in the article, which states that “contagion from Venezuela’s economic meltdown is starting to spread to neighboring countries—not financially, but literally, in the form of potentially deadly diseases carried among millions of refugees.”

As an example, the story reveals that “measles reappeared with a vengeance” in a Brazilian city near the Venezuelan border that had declared the highly contagious airborne disease “vanquished” nearly two decades ago. “Measles is already spreading beyond the Brazilian Amazon to other Brazilian states, as well as Colombia, Peru and as far south as Argentina, according to recent Pan American Health Organization reports,” the article states. “Other diseases racing through communities in Venezuela are now crossing borders and raising concerns among health authorities as far away as the U.S.”

Years ago, when Barack Obama let tens of thousands of illegal immigrant minors into the country, health experts warned about the serious hazards to the American public. Most of the Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) came from Central America, like the current caravan, and they crossed into the U.S. through Mexico, in the same way that the caravan expects to.

Swine flu, dengue fever and Ebola were among the diseases that the hordes of UACs brought with them, according to lawmakers and medical experts interviewed by Judicial Watch during the influx. At the time, a U.S. Congressman, who is also a medical doctor, told Judicial Watch about the danger to the American public as well as the Border Patrol agents forced to care for the UACs. The former lawmaker, Phil Gingrey, referred to it as a “severe and dangerous” crisis because the Central American youths were importing infectious diseases considered to be largely eradicated in this country.

Many migrants lack basic vaccinations such as those to prevent chicken pox or measles, leaving America’s young children and the elderly particularly susceptible, Gingrey pointed out then. To handle the escalating health crisis the CDC activated an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) that largely operated in secrecy.

Even the recent study twisted by the mainstream media acknowledges that illegal immigrants are likely to carry hepatitis, tuberculosis and HIV. Selectively burying the information doesn’t change the severity of the matter. Though not a mainstream media outlet, a popular leftist news and opinion site went so far as to label those who claim migrants pose a threat to public health racist.

EDITORS NOTE: This column is republished with permission. The featured photo is by Fancycrave on Unsplash.

VIDEO: Will Seasteading Create the First Non-Violent Nations?

An ocean-platform community voluntarily funded and organized, if successful, is a monumental event in human anthropology.


Why do the nations rage?

I don’t know. Maybe because they’re out of ammo culturally. As Joe Quirk, president of The Seasteading Institute calls them, “the 193 monopolies on government that control 7.6 billion people right now” could benefit from some peace-loving competition. More importantly, the existence of his planned seasteads, floating platform-based ocean communities, could benefit the ostensible customers of monopoly governments by modeling nonviolent, voluntary community-making.

interviewed Quirk because I am interested in the cause of liberty and nonviolence from an anthropological perspective. I am curious about why humans group together and assent to monopolies of violence called states. I want to know how humans came to morally condone and even consecrate the violence such entities employ against nonviolent people for disagreeing with majoritarian, might-makes-right rules.

Watch the interview below:

In the news today, we are hearing reports that an elderly pundit, Dr. Jerome Corsi, is likely facing prison time for getting tripped up in a perjury trap during psychologically abusive grillings by grand inquisitor Robert Mueller. Corsi’s actions, whatever the specifics, did not produce a victim. (Robert Mueller did when he helped mislead the nation into the Iraq War, as tens of thousands of wounded or killed soldiers prove.)

Regardless of what you think of his politics, Corsi is facing the prospect of being locked in a cage merely for the impotently cathartic game of DC blood sport. Nearly half the country seems to be foaming at the mouth at the sight of a political writer being caged in his last years just because he favored their rivals’ presidential pick. Who wants to live in a society where its law and liberty are decided by these violent bouts of scapegoat ping-pong?

The Origins of Monopolized Violence

Centralized monopolies that demand the right to initiate violence against any nonviolent misfit are devolving into anarchic schisms of mad groupthink. Where do we get off this ride?

To exit the vehicle safely, we must know how we got on it and why it’s breaking down—making us sick on its way out of commission.

The enigmatic Jewish prophet Habakkuk once wrote, “Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by injustice!”

He wrote it at a time in which evidence suggests the world was filled with societies founded and mediated by controlled acts of bloodshed. Today, we call it ritual human sacrifice and tribal war campaigns for glory. As sophisticated moderns, we are embarrassed to address the seeming fluke of sacrifice so ubiquitous to human history, so we awkwardly shuffle it off to the corners of our museums. At best, the fashionable answer is that sacrifice was a quirk of religion, agriculture, proto-patriarchy, or some other such cultural institution that soiled our primal nobility.

In reality, sacrifice was a safety valve ancient communities used to channel pent-up resentment, fear, and conflict into misfit human vessels of destruction. These scapegoats were marked out from the masses by some arbitrary difference that made them unbearably peculiar to suspicious crowds looking to avert famine, disease, or other harbingers of social in-fighting and disorder. Eventually, the governing authorities streamlined the process of sacrifice to include foreign-captured slaves who first received orgies and feasts to make them tainted enough with the local spirit of the community in tension.

We think we educated ourselves out of human sacrifice, but this is a convenient myth we tell ourselves to justify its continual residue in our daily lives. Every culture that sends state agents to lock up a woman selling unlicensed tamales, a political dissident, an addict, or an Amish herbal salve seller is still very much enthralled by the one-for-all logic underlying our generative sacrificial origins.

Today, we hide our consent for coercion against misfits by telling ourselves it is for the protection of victims and children. As if, for example, another Amish farmer thrown into a violent prison cage would cause the nation to perish if he were left alone to sell his raw milk.

Beyond domestic sacrificial violence in the name of victims, it is difficult to find a single country in existence today that did not have its founding determined by self-justifying war. As another remnant of sacred ritual, war has been a socially binding agent for societies—a means of uniting restless neighbors in righteous self-sacrifice of life and wealth for the defeat of a less-than-human foreign foe. Yet recent years have shown that as the public is more frequently exposed to images of constant intervention in countries like Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Syria, whatever unifying high war has long held is rapidly dissipating.

Our increasing sensitivity to the plight of the other, be it drug-war-ravaged families or drone strike victims abroad, make the governance models built on the initiation of physical violence against nonviolent people increasingly ineffective. No wonder criminal justice reform and ending wars are now the few areas of overwhelming political unity. Yet political systems, always in a lag from cultural trajectories because of structural incentives to maintain the status quo, are dramatically slow to decisively satisfy such popular demands.

A command-and-control economy where medical innovation and scientific reform are bugs to be blocked by bureaucracies simply has too much inertia built on the foundation of sacrificial wars and regulations to change its ways any time soon.

Sovereignty through Seasteading

That’s why Joe Quirk and the seasteading project are such a fascinating case to consider. As sacrificial forms of governance continue to leave their citizens in disunity and internal resentment over who gets what spoils in a supposedly zero-sum economy, we have a real chance to see the first sovereign societies develop free from bloodshed.

An ocean-platform community voluntarily funded and organized, if successful, is a monumental event in human anthropology.

Just having a place where problem solvers and innovators can develop potential breakthroughs in science, medicine, and innovation free from deeply captured regulatory apparatuses could be a tremendous leap forward for mankind. And if these societies can maintain a thriving, non-monopoly state-managed existence, the rest of the world’s governments will be on notice to wean off of sacrificial violence or perish through increased social unrest and decline.

Competition may be a sin to John D. Rockefeller, but when it comes to bloated bureaucracies buoyed by outdated ways of treating human beings, it looks like a big beautiful blue ocean to me.

COLUMN BY

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: This column with video and images is republished with permission.

VIDEO: Who Are the Most Powerful People in America?

The genius of America is that it was set up as a representative government, but increasingly, Americans are ruled over by leaders who are unelected, and very powerful. Columbia Law Professor Philip Hamburger unmasks the people who are really ruling our lives.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with video is republished with permission. The featured photo is by Alex Iby on Unsplash.

VIDEO FROM 2015: Astroturf and manipulation of media messages by Sharyl Attkisson

TEDx Talks published the below comments and video featuring Sharyl Attkisson on YouTube in 2015. Fast forward to fake news in 2018.

In this eye-opening talk, veteran investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson shows how astroturf, or fake grassroots movements funded by political, corporate, or other special interests very effectively manipulate and distort media messages.

ABOUT SHARYL ATTKISSON

Sharyl Attkisson is an investigative journalist based in Washington D.C. She is currently writing a book entitled Stonewalled (Harper Collins), which addresses the unseen influences of corporations and special interests on the information and images the public receives every day in the news and elsewhere. For twenty years (through March 2014), Attkisson was a correspondent for CBS News. In 2013, she received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for her reporting on “The Business of Congress,” which included an undercover investigation into fundraising by Republican freshmen. She also received Emmy nominations in 2013 for Benghazi: Dying for Security and Green Energy Going Red. Additionally, Attkisson received a 2013 Daytime Emmy Award as part of the CBS Sunday Morning team’s entry for Outstanding Morning Program for her report: “Washington Lobbying: K-Street Behind Closed Doors.” In September 2012, Attkisson also received an Emmy for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for the “Gunwalker: Fast and Furious” story. She received the RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Investigative Reporting for the same story. Attkisson received an Investigative Emmy Award in 2009 for her exclusive investigations into TARP and the bank bailout. She received an Investigative Emmy Award in 2002 for her series of exclusive reports about mismanagement at the Red Cross.

EDITORS NOTE: This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx. The featured photo is by rawpixel on Unsplash.

 

Tanzanian Cardinal: Better to Starve Than to Embrace Homosexuality

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (ChurchMilitant.com) – An African prelate is warning his people that it’s better to starve than to embrace homosexuality.

In an appeal to Tanzanian lawmakers last month, Cdl. Polycarp Pengo of Dar es Salaam lashed out at Western aid programs that force poor countries to promote LGBT ideology in exchange for development aid.

At a thanksgiving Mass celebrating the November harvest, Cdl. Pengo denounced the threat by post-Christian Western nations to choke off economic and humanitarian aid to Tanzania unless the country decriminalizes homosexual acts and rallied government leaders to stand firm against secularist coercion.

“It is better to die of hunger than to receive aid and be compelled to do things that are contrary to God’s desire,” he declared.

“We cannot accept such displeasing things to God; and if we are starving because we have refused to engage in such acts, then we would rather die with our God.”

Increasingly, Western activists and their allies are injecting LGBT and pro-abortion ideology into foreign policy, pressing developing nations to overthrow traditional religious and cultural norms in favor of post-Christian social re-engineering.

But as Cdl. Pengo demonstrated, multiple Catholic leaders are fighting back.

Pope Francis frequently slams coercive development programs, warning they represent a corrosive “ideological colonization.” In an address to the United Nations earlier this year, the Pope denounced emerging “new rights” that disrespect “social and cultural traditions” and ignore developing nations’ “real needs.”

“Somewhat paradoxically, there is a risk that, in the very name of human rights, we will see the rise of modern forms of ideological colonization by the stronger and the wealthier, to the detriment of the poorer and the most vulnerable,” Francis warned.

Likewise, Culture of Life Africa founder Obianuju Ekeocha is a fierce critic of the new imperialism.

In an interview with the National Catholic Register last year, the Nigerian-born pro-family advocate observed: “The western world has been — and is still — undergoing rapid and radical moral shifts especially with regards to human sexuality, marriage, family and of course the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.”

Image

Obianuju Ekeocha, founder of Culture of Life Africa.

“These changes have been toxic to society,” Ekeocha reflected, “as casual sex, abortion and contraception have become acceptable in many western countries, just as gender fluidity, same-sex ‘marriage’ and homosexual lifestyles are being supported and normalized by the same wealthy and powerful western leaders who hold and control the purse strings of foreign aid.”

In 2015, 45 prelates from more than three dozen African countries came together to issue a “Common Declaration of the Bishops of Africa and Madagascar,” demanding an end to foreign efforts to cultivate a Culture of Death across Africa under the guise of economic and humanitarian aid.

“By what right do Western NGOs, who only represent their own ideological interests, claim to legally bind African states to their world vision?” they asked. “Why such a programing and will to pollute and pervert, extending throughout the African continent?”

“This is a new type of slavery!” they exclaimed. “We want the dignity of our people to be respected.”

Speaking to his congregation in Dar es Salaam last month, Cdl. Pengo reminded his flock that the stakes involved in their fight run very deep.

“The sin of homosexuality,” he warned, is “contrary to God’s plan in creation,” and was “the cause of destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.”

COLUMN BY

STEPHEN WYNNE

Stephen hails from the City of Fountains, Kansas City, Missouri. He holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Pepperdine University, and an E.M.B.A. from the University of Missouri.

His interests include international relations, cultural diplomacy, and theology; he is fascinated by Church history, particularly crisis points such as the Protestant revolt and the rise of modernism. Particular sounds — the crashing of waves, the wind in the trees, the pealing of bells — turn his thoughts toward God.

Stephen likes bullet trains, BBQ, and the works of Hieronymus Bosch. His favorite places include Iceland, Britain and above all, the Netherlands.

He is fueled by prayer and Red Bull, in that order.

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EDITORS NOTE: This column by Stephen Wynne with images originally appeared on Church Militant. It is republished with permission.

Getting Our Creation Wrong

Anthony Esolen: The sick need mercy, especially a man at odds with his own body.  But compromise principles? Never.  Jesus never did.


When the Pharisees came to Jesus to ask for what reasons a man might put away his woman, Jesus does not refer to the opinions of Hillel or Shammai, the titans of the previous generation of rabbis – the one liberal, the other conservative.  He goes even behind the law of Moses, which he says does not express the intention of the Creator from the beginning, but which was, in this matter, a concession to the hardness of men’s hearts.

“From the beginning of creation,” he says, echoing the first word of Scripture, “he made them male and female.  And for this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave unto his woman, and the two shall be one flesh.  So they are no more two, but one flesh.  Then what God has yoked together, let man not put asunder” (Mark 10:6-8; translation mine).  When the disciples, stunned, ask Jesus about it privately, he does not soften his judgment: “Whoever puts away his woman and marries another, commits adultery with her.”

That is as stunning a condemnation as you can find. The Greek verb moichaomai is used in the Septuagint to refer also to unfaithfulness to God, as in the worship of idols.  The association is common in the Old Testament.  If you worship Baal or Moloch or Dagon, you are like a man going after whores.

We must not think that the authors have in mind only an attitude of unfaithfulness.  Baal and Moloch and Dagon are not gods: they are not the Creator.  It is an offense to the Creator to worship them, and stupid to boot, because they are the works of man.  You might take a block of wood and carve an idol or a chamberpot; it does not matter to the wood.  You might take your idol and toss it into the fire to warm your fingers.  How stupid, to worship a thing like that!

To get creation wrong, to fall in adoration of your chamberpot, is as filthy a thing, then, as to go a-whoring, and as stupid and self-destructive; but to go a-whoring, which is what Jesus says a man does when he puts away his woman and marries another, is to get creation wrong, and the Creator.

Here we see the apostasy of our time, tumescent and foolish, in broad daylight.

The Pharisees were seeking a good social custom. Jesus does not refer to custom. He refers to creation, and the intent of the Creator as manifest in the creation.  He points out the plain fact: we are made male and female, and male and female are what they are so that they will come together and become one flesh.

The word one and the idea it expresses are central to Jewish and Christian faith: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord, the Lord your God is one,” not two, and since that is so, we must love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength, not parceling out our love, some to God, and some to Baal or the chamberpot. Because the Lord our God is one and not two, we must love our neighbor as ourself; the same God who made us made him too.

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt, 1907-8 [Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna]

In none of this do we hear anything about a man’s feelings.  For we are not talking about interior dispositions, but about bodily beings, obvious to all.  The man is for the woman, the woman is for the man.  Indeed, there is no special word, in Hebrew or Greek, to denote “husband” and “wife,” because a man is to be a man for a woman, and a woman to be a woman for a man.

Many languages reflect that ontological fact: in German, a woman who refers to her “Mann” means her husband, and a man who refers to his “Frau,” his “woman,” means his wife.  Early modern English too: the word “wife” in “I now pronounce you man and wife” meant “woman” in the general sense; a “fishwife” is not the wife of a fish, but a woman who sells fish.

That being-for, in the mutuality of sexual distinction and sexual congress, is inscribed in the forms of our bodies. Every sexual sin is in some way an attack on the body and its objective meanings, which are conferred not by man but by God.

If I believe, however, that I am the one who endows my body with its meaning, even if I appeal to feelings over which I think I have no power, I have displaced the Creator.  Nowhere does Scripture suggest that God has created our passions, and nowhere does Jesus suggest that our passions are justified because we happen to have them.

To commit fornication, even with the best will in the world, is to deny the obvious, that the child-making thing is for making a child.  To commit adultery is to tear the one flesh in two.  To riffle through a porn magazine, one-handed, is to turn sex into a disembodied and lonely passion.

Sodom now forges the artillery of attack against the body created by God.  Soon it will be scientists in the grip of ennui and ambition, denying a meaning to “human,” and longing to merge us with the beast or the machine.

The intermediate term between Sodom and the Borg is the madness of the “transgender,” replacing natural sex with the mechanical and pharmaceutical, all to be dictated by the individual will, which says, as in all sins, “I am my own.”  Beneath it all lies a hatred of created reality.  It is either evil or meaningless, mere stuff for our manipulation.

Persons warrant our mercy, especially the sick, and who is sicker than a man at odds with his own body?  Principles, never.  Jesus never gave up one inch to an evil principle.  It is hard for us wretches to be both merciful with men and merciless with evil principles.  Too bad; it is our task.

COLUMN BY

Anthony Esolen

Anthony Esolen

Anthony Esolen is a lecturer, translator, and writer. His latest books are Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child and Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture. He directs the Center for the Restoration of Catholic Culture at Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission. © 2018 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info@frinstitute.orgThe Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own. The featured photo is by Benjaminrobyn Jespersen on Unsplash.

PODCAST: On Gender, the Science Is Deafening

Reading the headlines this week is like taking a trip to an alternate universe. Ten years ago, if you’d have said that in 2018 teachers would get fired for calling a girl a girl, most people wouldn’t have believed you. Unfortunately, that’s the ridiculous world Americans are waking up to every morning. But to most people’s relief, not everyone is playing along with this charade. And that includes President Trump.

Almost two years in, this administration is still trying to mop up the mess made by Barack Obama. And considering the huge disaster they inherited, it’s amazing how much progress the White House has already made rolling back the absurdity of Obama’s LGBT legacy. After squashing the government’s gender-free bathroom mandate, President Trump moved on to the military. Now, he’s directed his agencies to make one of the most important changes of all: protecting the 54-year-old Civil Rights Act.

Barack Obama chose to read the law the way he wanted — not how it was written by Congress. For the last few years of his administration, he started using his own interpretation of the Civil Rights Act to give special protections to people who identify as transgender. There’s just one problem: that’s not what the 1964 Congress meant — and it’s not what the statute says. So, President Trump issued his own memo. For the purposes of his administration, the Justice Department explained, “sex discrimination” would not include “gender identity.”

That was music to the ears of a lot more than conservatives. In the medical community, experts were relieved to see that the president’s policy matched what was wise and prudent for patients. In a letter to the Departments of Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services, a coalition of doctors, bioethicists, therapists, academics, and policy groups all praised the president for taking a scientifically-sound approach.

Dr. Michelle Cretella, head of the American College of Pediatricians, explained why that’s so important in an interview on Thursday’s “Washington Watch.” The letter, she points out, represents the views of more than 30,000 physicians who all understand that gender identity is a very real threat to modern health care. “Transgenders are saying, ‘I think and feel this way, therefore, I am.’ And it’s one thing for us to, as physicians, treat the person with respect and honor their name change, but it would be a complete malpractice to treat them as the opposite sex.”

As she explains, there is nothing any of us can do to change our binary, biologically-determined-at-conception sex. “A man on estrogen is not a woman. He is a man with a male physiology on estrogen, and that’s how a physician must approach him.” The very serious problem, she points out, is that people are so ideologically-driven that they want to ignore the medical research. More than ever, Dr. Cretella says, “Medicine is at the point now where we understand that men and women have — at a minimum — 6,500 genetic differences between us. And this impacts every cell of our bodies — our organ systems, how diseases manifest, how we diagnose, and even treat in some cases.”

Treating a person differently based on their feelings isn’t just harmful, she argues, but deadly. In cases like heart disease, certain drugs can endanger women and not men. Even diagnoses present differently in men and women. The symptoms for certain diseases, she explains, can manifest themselves in completely opposite ways. “And these are nuances that medicine is finally studying and bringing to light. And it’s actually ironic that the transgender movement [is] so anti-science.”

“There is absolutely no rigorous science that has found a trait called ‘gender identity’ in the brain, body, or DNA. Now sex — I can show you that. It’s in our chromosomes. It’s in the body. It’s in the reproductive organs. Over 99.98 percent of the times, our sexual development is clearly and unambiguously either male or female.” The sex differences, she explains are real and consequential.

If she had one message for America, Dr. Cretella said, it would be this: “Stick with science.” Thank goodness for us, the president has.


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


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EDITORS NOTE: This column with images and podcast is republished with permission.

The Blood Sugar in Your Vision: Stages and Treatments of Diabetic Retinopathy

People with high sugar level or diabetes are prone to eye problems such as diabetic retinopathy. High sugar levels can cause damage to blood vessels in the eye that can cause blurry vision or even vision loss.

It is essential that people who have diabetes get annual eye exams from an ophthalmologist to detect diabetic retinopathy before reaching the advanced stage. You may already have DR before you even notice any visual problems.

This eye disease can affect your vision depends on its stage. With that, here are the two main stages of diabetic retinopathy you might experience.

  • Nonproliferative Retinopathy. Nonproliferative retinopathy comes to the earliest phase of diabetic retinopathy and is not a sight-threatening condition. It is where Microaneurysms in the blood vessels may leak into the retina that can cause swelling of the macula. Non-proliferative will develop from mild to moderate to severe.
  • Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy. PDR is a sight-threatening phase of this diabetic disease. In this stage, the retinal blood vessels are blocked and damaged. It results in a newly generated blood vessels that grow in the eye. Unfortunately, these newly generated blood vessels are abnormal and may go into the retina that can block the vision.

Treatments

Treatments of diabetic retinopathy will depend on the stage of your eye condition and how severe it is. It is necessary to seek for medical consultation from your doctor and ophthalmologist before you undergo eye treatments and surgery.

You can also search for websites like https://eyesinthevillage.ca/ and other sites about diabetes and eye problems to learn more about your condition. Depends on the stage of diabetic retinopathy, here are some treatments that can prevent eye damage due to diabetes.

Medical Control

For the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, controlling the blood sugar and blood pressure is the most common treatment to stop the progress of the disease and avoid vision loss. If you have diabetes, you need to follow the diet recommended by your nutritionist to maintain sugar levels.

Take the prescribed medicine from your medical doctor to manage your blood sugar.  Controlling your blood pressure and sugar level can prevent the risks of diabetes including diabetic retinopathy and other eye problems.

Photocoagulation or Focal Laser Treatment

Photocoagulation is a laser treatment for an advanced stage of diabetic retinopathy which can stop or slow the leakage of fluid and blood in the eyes. This treatment is using laser burns to treat the leaks from the abnormal blood vessels that grow in the retina.

If you have blurred eyesight from macular edema before surgery, you might not recover your normal vision through this treatment, but it will reduce the risk of macular edema.

Panretinal Photocoagulation or Scatter laser Treatment

Panretinal Photocoagulation is also a laser treatment for proliferative diabetic retinopathy. This treatment is using scattered laser burns on the area of the retina away from the macula. This laser will destroy the dead areas of the retina where the blood vessels are blocked. After the treatment, the retina will stop the production of new blood vessels.

You will experience blurred vision for about a day after the procedure.

Vitrectomy

Vitrectomy is a treatment for an advanced stage of diabetic retinopathy which uses a tiny incision in your eye to remove blood from the vitreous as well as the scar tissue in the retina.

Takeaway

Treatments of diabetic retinopathy should involve both an ophthalmologist and a medical doctor. Your medical doctor will help you control your blood sugar and can treat complications on diabetes that may worsen your eye problem. An ophthalmologist will determine the stage of your diabetic retinopathy and will give you the proper treatment for your eye condition.

Even after the treatment for diabetic retinopathy, you need to have regular eye exams. Diabetes is a lifelong condition. There are still possibilities that you will have retinal damage if you cannot control your blood sugar level.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission.

Does Legalization Increase Marijuana Use?

The new 2016-2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health State Estimates is out this week. The below graphs illustrate a few of the findings from this annual survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Numbers in graphs are percentages. The graphs can be downloaded starting Thursday, December 6 here. National Families in Action grants permission to reproduce them for educational purposes.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission. The featured photo is by Grav on Unsplash.

The Word “Mean” is the Leftists’ Lethal Weapon

Founded upon Christian principles, Americans have always eventually done the right thing – freed the slaves, gave women the right to vote and so on. While we are an extremely compassionate people, throughout our history we have made adult commonsense decisions to preserve our homeland; good stewards of God’s gift of America.

Today, leftists’ (Democrats, Hollywood and Fake news) most powerful weapon to overrule commonsense and further their anti-America agenda is the word “mean.” Far too many Republicans and conservatives regard being declared mean by leftists an immediate stop sign; preventing the enforcement of our laws and blocking the implementation of commonsense solutions good for America.

Fully supported by American leftists, illegals are saying screw you America. We are invading your country whether you like it or not; arrogantly breaking our immigration laws. They demand to feed on our welfare safety-net set up for Americans. Outrageously, Obama gave illegals freebies unavailable to Americans; free attorneys and more. Obama used taxpayers’ money to spend over 60 grand per illegal to settle them in America. We spend $11 to $22 billion each year on freebies for illegals

Obama spread illegals around the country, irresponsibly putting medically untested children of illegals into our schools infecting our kids with strange diseases. That was mean. Leftists like Obama are consistently mean to Americans.

Can you believe illegal students in our schools are allowed to demand that U.S. students not wear clothing to school that features the U.S. Flag on Mexican holidays? Illegals claim wearing U.S. gear on a Mexican holiday is racist, insensitive and mean. Incredibly, leftist school administrators agree and send U.S. students home for wearing t-shirts which feature our flag

We welcome people who had a burning desire to become Americans and entered our country legally. For years, I witnessed the character and passion of such migrants when I performed my original song, “Celebrate America” at Immigration Naturalization Ceremonies in Maryland. Many wept after taking their oath of allegiance.

The illegals invading our country today have no desire to become Americans; no desire to assimilate. Quite the opposite. Illegals give learning English, embracing our culture and honoring our flag their middle fingers. Fake news hides the fact that many of the thousands of young men illegally invading our country are known gang members

Irresponsible foreign parents send their children unaccompanied to make the extremely dangerous journey to the American border armed with abortion pills because the chances of being raped are high. Fake news hides the truth that illegals are committing horrendous crimes on Americans including decapitating a 13 year old girl in Alabama. Leftists attempt to silence anyone who states these truths by calling them mean racists.

Leftists hide the truth that the illegals invading our country are defiant; demanding rights while disrespecting our homeland. Fake news media and Hollywood flood the airwaves with images and lies portraying the invaders as good people simply seeking a better life. Therefore, it is mean and racist to attempt to stop them. Republicans, Conservatives and Trump voters who understand that without borders we do not have a country are branded mean racist haters by the American left.

Leftists strategically use the word mean to block the enforcement of immigration law. However, leftists have no problem being mean to Americans. For example: Leftists hide and financially support illegal felons who murder, rob and rape Americans in their sanctuary cities; extremely mean to Americans.

Thirty-two year old Kate Steinle was shot and killed by Jose Inez Garcia Zarate, an illegal with numerous felons, deported numerous times. Sanctuary city San Francisco kept welcoming Zarate back and outrageously acquitted Zarate of Kate’s murder

Republicans and conservatives sought to pass Kate’s Law which would give mandatory jail-time to deported illegal felons who keep coming back. Democrats fought Kate’s Law tooth and nail, in essence, saying screw you to protecting U.S. Citizens.

Imagine returning home from vacation. To your shock and horror, your backyard has been transformed into a ghetto tent city with women, children and a large number of young men. Gang symbols are spray painted on your house siding. There are piles of trash. Invaders have broken into your home. Valuables have been stolen. The invaders run a massive number of extension cords from inside and outside your home to power their electrical needs. Your wife and daughter are sexually threatened. Your middle school son has developed a strange cough.

Upon contacting law enforcement and your Democrat mayor to remove the invaders from your property, you are excoriated; called a mean racist. Your mayor demands that you purchase more homeowners insurance, upgrade your electrical power and make various other concessions to accommodate your poor guests who are only seeking a better life.

Local fake news TV shows up. Keeping the mob of tattooed young men flashing gang signs off camera, the leftist reporter interviews a women holding a child. Overwhelmingly sympathetic to the invaders, the reporter airs a news story portraying the invaders as good people who are simply seeking a better life. You are branded the villainous mean white racist homeowner who refuses to share your stuff. More illegals arrive daily invading other homesteads throughout your community.

My fellow Americans this is exactly what is happening to our country. Fake news media is attempting 24/7 to brand president Trump the mean bad guy for not opening our border to the free-flow of illegals. Democrats, Hollywood, social media and fake news media are doing their part to convince Americans that attempting to stop the invasion of our home is mean and racist.

Thank God president Trump is not deterred or intimated by leftists’ never-ending campaign to brand him mean and racist. Trump continues to make adult commonsense decisions in the best interest of Americans.

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is by Giorgio Encinas on Unsplash.

A Marriage Message Made in Taiwan

Taiwan was supposed to be the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. Then, they asked voters. And like countries the world over, the island’s leaders got the same answer: No.

Of the 10 questions on the Taiwanese ballot, none got more attention than the five dealing with LGBT “rights.” “Do you agree that marriage defined in The Civil Code should be restricted to the union between one man and one woman?” voters were asked. An overwhelming portion of the country — 70.1 percent — said yes. Of course, you’ll have a hard time finding the actual number in American newspapers, since our media is doing its best to ignore the landslide. But the message from the country off the east coast of China could not be clearer: there is no significant international movement toward same-sex marriage.

Some people might see the results and think the island has a massive Christian population. They’d be wrong. Less than five percent of the country are Protestants or Catholics. And although they were vocal about their opinion on the issue, the fact of the matter is, most of the world’s population knows how unnatural the idea is. Until 2015, when the Supreme Court forced same-sex on America, LGBT activists here at home insisted the U.S. was outside the mainstream. But the irony is, we’re only outside of the mainstream now that it’s legal! There are 195 countries on this planet, and only 27 of them allow same-sex marriage. That’s 13 percent — hardly the stuff of global consensus.

Besides, not even global consensus is a substitute for truth. And as the Archbishop John Hung Shan-chuan of Taipei told his church’s leaders, no law can change God’s design for marriage. While the Church does not condone discrimination, he said, “We cannot support same-sex ‘marriage’ and same-sex unions,” he insisted. “The legalization is… not in line with our teachings.”

Seven thousand miles away in America, the vote is having an interesting effect on our own debate. In a country where natural marriage is still the popular view, it’s become difficult — if not impossible — to voice those views without backlash. Scott Chen, who was educated in Taiwan, found that out when he posted a message about the vote in Chinese. “Some people think that marriage is a holy union between a man and a woman, I think so too, but that’s your own business.” You can imagine how well that would be taken by the LGBT movement if Chen were an average businessman. They’d demand his resignation. The problem is, Chen isn’t just an average businessman. Three months ago, he was named president of an app facilitating same-sex dating. For how much longer, after this backlash, no one knows.

Chen tried to defend himself. “I said marriage is a holy matrimony between a man and a woman is based on my own personal experience,” he said. “I am a straight man married to a woman I love and I have two beautiful daughters I love from the marriage. This is how I feel about my marriage. Different people have their different feelings about their marriages. You can’t deny my feelings about my marriage.”

Now, we expect that kind of backtracking from a lot of people in corporate America. The problem for believers, however, is that some Christians are doing the same thing. They become so intimidated by the cultural bullies that they put the fear of man above the fear of God. They shrink back and go silent on truth that is found not only in the Bible, but history and science as well. If Christians, who know the truth and are called to speak the truth ignore the truth, then what hope do we have? As a church in this country, we need a clarion call for courage. In a culture where 62 percent of student conservatives are too afraid to share their ideas in class, America is in a crisis situation.

Fortunately, this country has a president who, when it comes to doing and saying the tough things, refuses to be intimidated. That kind of courage breeds courage. It only takes one person — an Isabella Chow — doing something radically brave, to help others find their voice. And before you know it, people like Isabella won’t be standing alone, because tens of thousands of people will be standing with them and behind them, inspired by their bravery. We need more Isabellas in this country — and if we’re going to change anything, we need them now.


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


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EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission.

Bohemian Rhapsody: A Case Study Of The Destructive Gay Lifestyle

I went to see Bohemian Rhapsody a 20th Century Fox film about the British rock band Queen from its formation in the 1970s to its 1985 Live Aid performance.

I came away with a feeling of deep sadness watching the tragedy of the life of Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury, played brilliantly by Rami Malek. If anything Bohemian Rhapsody is a case study of the decline, fall and untimely death of a bi-sexual individual because of his promiscuous gay lifestyle.

The acting was excellent. The script and images depicted in great detail the path of Freddie from a heterosexual male into the darkest and deepest world of homosexuality.

If anything the lesson of Bohemian Rhapsody is about temptation and the weakness of the flesh.

From fame and fortune to alcohol and drug abuse to homosexuality. From rejection of a homosexual relationship with one of his employees to his full participation is the promiscuous gay lifestyle that leads to the breakup of the band Queen. We witness the tragic loss of Freddie’s reputation, the loss of his family (the band), the breakup with his fiancee and finally the shortening of his life when Freddie learns that he has contracted HIV/AIDS.

This is not a film for the faint of heart but it is a must see to understand how one person can be groomed by another homosexual to truly become something that he is not – a bi-sexual gay man. It is clear in the film that homosexuality is a choice, not something one is born with. For in the end Freddie disengages from his homosexuality and returns to what really drove him, to make great music.

I found it refreshing that Hollywood showed the darkest side of being gay. But is also showed how many of Freddie’s friends and his former fiance, played by Lucy Boynton, could still love him. For a Christian watching this film it is useful to understand that while they hate the sin, they love the sinner.

What is truly tragic is that there were many opportunities to save Freddie from his ultimate fate and certain death. We can only hope and pray that Freddie was redeemed and forgiven for his sins. We can only pray that he is in Heaven singing his songs.

Bohemian Rhapsody trailer.

RELATED DATA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – HIV by Group

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image and video are courtesy of  20th Century FoxNew RegencyGK Films, and Queen Films.