13 reasons that “Medicare for All” will fail miserably!

In an article titled “Beyond ‘Bumper Sticker’ Slogans: 2020 Democrats Debate Details Of Medicare-For-All” Danielle Kurtzleben from National Public Radio reports:

Bernie Sanders is back, but one of his signature policies never left.

In 2015, he introduced Medicare-for-all to many Democrats for the first time. Since Sanders’ first run for president, that type of single-payer health care system has become a mainstream Democratic proposal.

A doctor sent me the below list of reasons why Medicare for All will fail. The original author of the list is unknown.

I am passing it along for others to ponder and discuss. Medicare for All is an initiative of the Democratic Party, who also passed The Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare.

  1. It bans private health insurance, including employer-provided insurance plans.
  2. It will move everyone to Medicare within two years. Obamacare took over three years to launch. When it did, the website crashed. The government will now try and move ten times as many people, in half the time, to Medicare.
  3. It’s “free”! No co-pays, no premiums, no deductibles. But the bill includes no price tag, or any plan to come up with the money. One estimate is $32 trillion over ten years.
  4. It guarantees long-term care — without a plan to pay for it (or anything else).
  5. It eliminates the existing state and federal Obamacare exchanges. On the negative side, this means people will lose the insurance they currently have.
  6. It will cover illegal aliens. It applies to all “residents” of the U.S., and the Secretary of Health and Human Services will decide who qualifies as a “resident.” Anyone who resides (legally or illegally) will be covered!
  7. It covers abortion. The bill will change federal law that currently bans direct funding for abortion which, to Democrats, includes abortion (murder) during birth and (murder) directly after birth.
  8. It bans “experimental” drugs/treatments without special permission from the HHS Secretary. This rule, to keep costs down, results in an end to the “Right to Try”!
  9. It eliminates for-profit medicine. Period. “Medicare for All” believes that profit is evil.
  10. It bans hospitals and doctors from trying to increase revenue. Medicare payments cannot be used for the basic business of running a hospital.
  11. It sets national fees — regardless of local factors like the availability of doctors. Even building or renovating hospitals must be centrally approved.
  12. It prohibits incentives for the best doctors. The bill “prohibits incentive payments, or compensation based on utilization of services or the financial results of any health care provider.” Success, like profit, is bad in a Socialist View.
  13. It punishes doctors for giving special help to individual patients. Doctors will be banned from the system for a year if they make “a private contract with an eligible individual” for services covered by “Medicare for All.”

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is from Wikimedia Commons.

House Democrats Unveil Plan to Bring Total Government Control Over American Health Care

Liberal House Democrats just unveiled the Medicare for All Act of 2019, a comprehensive bill to abolish virtually all private health plans—including employer-sponsored coverage—and impose total federal government control over Americans’ health care.

Despite its sweeping and detailed government control, as well as the imposition of huge but unknown costs, the 120-page bill has nonetheless initially attracted 106 Democrat co-sponsors, almost half of all Democrats in the House.

The legislation is profoundly authoritarian.

For example, Section 107 ensures that no American, regardless of their personal wants or medical needs, would be able to enroll in any alternative health plan that “duplicates” the government’s coverage. 

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., the bill’s primary sponsor, is at least open about the bill’s intent: “The Medicare for All bill really makes it clear what we mean by ‘Medicare for All.’  We mean a system where there are no private insurance companies that provide these core comprehensive benefits.”

Under Section 201, Congress would decide the content of the health benefits package, what is and is not to be available in the new government health plan. The bill forbids cost sharing, a statutory prohibition guaranteed to induce demand and hike Americans’ overall health costs. 

Americans would not be able simply to spend their own money for medical care from a doctor of their choice. Personal contracts between doctors and patients outside of the government plan would be tightly restricted. Under Section 301, “ … no charge will be made to any individual for any covered items or services than for payment authorized by this Act.”  

Under Section 303, a provider “ … may not bill or enter into any private contract with any individual eligible for benefits under the Act for any item or service that is a benefit under this Act.”  

Even private contracts for “non-covered” medical services require the doctor to report them to the health and human services secretary. Section 303 also stipulates that a private contract between a doctor and a patient for “covered” services would be permissible if and only if the doctor signs and files the affidavit with the secretary of HHS and refrains from submitting any claim for any person “enrolled under this Act” for two full years.

Altogether, these restrictions, layered atop the prohibition on private insurance coverage, would virtually eliminate private agreements between doctors and patients.

In practice, Americans could spend their own money on their own terms with just the very few doctors who could afford to see cash-paying patients entirely outside the system.  

In most respects, the new House bill is broadly similar to Sen. Bernie Sanders’, I-Vt., bill. Beyond creating a government monopoly of health insurance, it centralizes key health care decisions in the office of the secretary of HHS; establishes a national health budget; and it creates a temporary Medicare-style “public option” (along with subsidies for enrollees) in the moribund Obamacare exchanges. 

Like Sanders’ bill, the House bill would also eliminate Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, the Obamacare exchange plans, and Tricare, the health program for military dependents. All of these beneficiaries would be absorbed into the new government plan; it would not be a matter of personal choice.  

In striking contrast to the earlier version of the House “Medicare for All” bill, the new House bill contains no tax or funding provisions. This is a conspicuous omission. This is especially so because the House sponsors (under Section 204) also incorporate long-term care coverage, including nursing home and community-based care, into the basic benefit package. This coverage would likely be hugely expensive.

Recall that independent analysts from the Mercatus Center and the Urban Institute roughly agree that the true 10-year cost of Sanders’ similar plan would be approximately $32 trillion.

Ken Thorpe of Emory University, formerly an adviser to President Bill Clinton, estimates that the federal taxation needed to finance the Sanders’ plan would amount to an additional 20 percent tax on workers’ income, and more than 7 out of 10 working families would end up paying more for health care than they do today.

The federal spending and taxation needed to fund the new House bill would certainly be larger. Beyond the potential impact of the bill on the nation’s deficits and debt, independent analysts and economists will also focus laser-like on the size and impact of the new federal taxes on individuals and families at various income levels.

Simply taxing “the rich” will not cut it.    

The House co-sponsors of the Medicare for All Act intend a rapid transformation of American health care.

Under Section 106 of the bill, they authorize the completion of this massive disruption of today’s public and private health insurance arrangements within just two years.

In the meantime, analysts at the Congressional Budget Office have a very big job to do.

They need to get on it. Now.

Let the debate begin.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Robert Moffit

Robert Moffit

Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D., a seasoned veteran of more than three decades in Washington policymaking, is a senior fellow in domestic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation.

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The Stakes are Being Raised: The Attempt to Normalize Homosexual Clergy

Stephen P. White notes a shift away from denying a link between homosexuality and the abuse crisis and towards an attempt to normalize homosexual clergy.

Last week’s summit in Rome did not address the problem of clergy harassing and abusing adults. It did not address the issue, which Pope Francis has acknowledged, of gay subcultures among the clergy. It did not say much about the virtue of chastity. What the summit in Rome did focus on was protecting minors from sexual abuse by members of the clergy: the most glaring and widely acknowledged facet of the current crisis and the primary source of the Church’s loss of credibility with the faithful. Which is to say, the Rome summit was a start.

There is, of course, very good reason to distinguish, both morally and legally, between the abuse of a minor and the abuse of an adult. And the fact is that the Church in the United States is (hard though it may be to believe) ahead of the global curve when it comes to treating the sexual abuse of children as the grave matter it is. But it is also the case – and the last eight months should have made this perfectly clear – that when the Church says it has “zero tolerance” for the abuse of minors without the stomach for rooting out or addressing the abuse of those who just happen to be past the age of majority, the result is a credibility gap.

When Theodore McCarrick was accused last summer of having abused a seventeen-year-old boy – the first accusation against him involving a minor – the Church acted swiftly. But of course, McCarrick had been accused for years of molesting “adult” seminarians – two dioceses paid out settlements – and the repercussions for McCarrick were mild and ineffectual. He was even for a while allowed to live in a seminary.

Which brings us to another cause of the credibility gap: The Church’s reluctance to address the fact that the vast majority of those abused, at least in the United States, have been male. After 2002 the “gay priests question” became an ecclesiastical third rail. Surely no bishop wants to be accused of conducting a witch-hunt. And by many accounts, there are a significant number of Catholic priests today – and presumably at least some bishops – who experience same-sex attraction.

Meanwhile, Catholics who express concern about a “gay lobby” in the Church are often dismissed as homophobic ideologues for suggesting that clerical sexual abuse might have something to do with disordered sexual desires among clergy. A 2011 John Jay report, which concluded there was no causal relationship between homosexuality and the abuse of minors, seemed to put a lid on things. For a time.

Then came McCarrick, and the Pennsylvania grand jury report, and a summer of disturbing stories of abuse and homosexual subcultures in seminaries in Newark, Boston, Philadelphia, and Lincoln. The matter is suddenly not so settled anymore. But now, it’s not just the usual “conservative” voices calling for the Church to look more closely at the connection between homosexual clergy and the abuse crisis.


Activists in Dublin, Ireland in August 2018 [Clodagh Kilcoyne, Reuters]

Last July, the Catholic journalist Robert Mickens wrote in The Washington Post, “[T]here is no denying that homosexuality is a key component to the clergy sex abuse (and now sexual harassment) crisis. With such a high percentage of priests with a homosexual orientation, this should not be surprising.” Mickens wasn’t defending the Church’s prohibition on admitting men with deep-seated homosexual tendencies to the priesthood. Mickens was arguing the opposite: that the Church has aggravated the abuse crisis by driving priests and seminarians deeper into the closet.

More recently, a Dutch group called the “Working Group of Catholic Gay Pastors” published an open letter to Pope Francis in which they wrote, “We believe that the current major crisis with respect to [the sexual abuse of children and minors] is primarily the result of the disapproval, suppression, denial and the poor integration of sexuality, and especially homosexuality, on the part of many individual priests and within our Church as a whole.”

Earlier this month, The New York Times ran a lengthy piece under the heading: “‘It Is Not a Closet. It Is a Cage.’ Gay Catholic Priests Speak Out.” Like Mickens and the Dutch priests’ letter, the Times piece insists there is no causal connection between homosexual tendencies and the abuse of children. But like the others, the Times piece also concedes that there are many homosexual priests, that this has in some way contributed to the current crisis, and that the solution is not to keep gay men out of the priesthood or in the closet, but to allow them to live their lives “freely, openly, and honestly.”

[T]hey find ways to encourage one another. They share books like Father James Martin’s groundbreaking “Building a Bridge,” on the relationship between the Catholic and L.G.B.T. communities. Some have signed petitions against church-sponsored conversion therapy programs, or have met on private retreats, after figuring out how to conceal them on their church calendars. Occasionally, a priest may even take off his collar and offer to unofficially bless a gay couple’s marriage.

Some may call this rebellion. But “it is not a cabal,” one priest said. “It is a support group.”

These three pieces represent a shift away from denying a connection between homosexuality and the abuse crisis and toward an open attempt to normalize homosexuality among clergy. The stakes, in other words, have been raised.

Pope Francis, for his part, has reiterated (more than once) the Church’s prohibition on admitting men with deep-seated homosexual tendencies to seminaries. He reportedly told the Italian bishops, “If you have even the slightest doubt, it is better not to let them in.” He has upset activists by saying of homosexual priests and religious, “It would be better if they left the ministry or consecrated life rather than live a double life.”

Last week’s summit in Rome focused on protecting minors from sexual abuse. It was a start. But it was, in many ways, very far from the end.

COLUMN BY

Stephen P. White

Stephen P. White

Stephen P. White is a fellow in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Catholic Thing article with images is republished with permission. © 2019 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info@frinstitute.org. The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own. The featured image is by WenPhotos on Pixabay.

The Inner Beauty of Women

I want to speak for a moment on the beauty of women. No, I’m not a cosmetologist, dermatologist, hair dresser, or fashion coordinator, just an ordinary heterosexual with a fondness for the opposite sex. I always knew there were differences between boys and girls, but this didn’t become obvious to me until I entered junior high school whereupon I noticed the girls were beginning to apply cosmetics, change their hair, and wear more fashionable clothes. I guess this marked the beginning of our mating rituals as the boys began to sit up and take notice.

It has been my observation over the years that women depend mostly on physical attractiveness to lure a mate. This is why millions, if not billions of dollars, are spent on beauty products for hair, skin, nails, eyes, lips, legs, even the scent of a women. Let us also not forget the enormity of the fashion industry which includes not just clothes, but shoes and hats as well. It is obviously a gigantic business. Some women are naturally beautiful, and know it. Others have to work at it.

I wonder though if women are too dependent on physical appearance and overlook the allure of a personality. Over the years I have met many women who may have lacked looks, but are incredibly sensual just from their personality alone. They may have a good sense of humor, an ease about them, a confidence, or something simply feminine. I guess they just feel comfortable in their own skin and know how to make others feel likewise. Perhaps this is the “feminine mystique” I’ve been hearing about all these years. I have seen women who know how to light up a room with nothing more than a smile and a gentle wave of their hand, yet are considered frumpy otherwise. Men gravitate to such women naturally as they are more approachable as opposed to a beauty with an incredible figure, simply because they know how to carry a conversation and make the people around them feel at ease.

Some people think such things as sex and cooking are part of the allure of women, and I suspect there are many men who think this way. As for me, such things are nothing more than the icing on the cake. Any relationship based on this alone is doomed from the outset.

Instead of spending tons of money on the physical aspects, I wish they would spend a little on cultivating a personality, something that can put men at ease, even be disarmingly flirtatious. Most men can be intimidated by a ravishing beauty, thereby considering them untouchable. After they have summoned up the courage to talk to such a woman, they are crestfallen when they find there is nothing behind the facade. Instead, they would rather be able to enjoy the woman’s company, but if the lights are on and nobody is home, the encounter will be brief. I’m certainly not suggesting the woman be submissive to the male. In fact, I find that rather unappealing. The women who possesses a wit, a warm heart, an openness about them, a sense of humor, and confidence about themselves in spite of some physical defect can be much more interesting and stimulating than a glamour queen.

I guess what I’m describing is the “inner beauty” of a woman, which can be incredibly alluring, and I presume it is essentially no different for how women consider men. However, for those people who lack both an outer and inner beauty, I pray they’re good in the kitchen or bedroom. Either that, or they begin to frequent a salon, gym or a voice coach. Otherwise they are going to remain rather lonely for a long time.

Originally published: November 30, 2012, updated 2019

Keep the Faith!

EDITORS NOTE: This Bryce is Right column with images is republished with permission. All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies. The featured image is by edsavi30 on Pixabay.

WARNING: CBD is everywhere, but scientists still don’t know much about it

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of roughly 100 chemicals contained in marijuana called cannabinoids, meaning they are unique to the cannabis plant (which contains several hundred more chemicals in addition to cannabinoids). Unlike THC, the psychoactive marijuana component primarily responsible for producing the “high,” CBD is not psychoactive.

Manufacturers tout CBD as a magic bullet that cures or relieves symptoms of a multitude of diseases and conditions and as a “wellness” product that improves health. Hundreds of CBD products — oils, salves, sprays, tinctures, even gummies – are available. But little science supports CBD’s medical claims.

“It is a kind of a new snake oil in the sense that there are a lot of claims and not so much evidence,” says Dustin Lee, an assistant professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University. He is planning a clinical trial to see if CBD can help smokers quit.

Last summer. the FDA approved Epidiolex, the only form of pharmaceutical CBD that has met FDA standards of safety and efficacy, to treat two rare forms of epilepsy. Because CBD is a drug, it cannot be sold in food or drinks, and several states and cities have ordered restaurants to stop adding it to “lattes, smoothies, muffins, and other foods.”

That hasn’t stopped producers from selling CBD gummies, lollipops, and peanut butter, however. Google “CBD,” click on “Images,” and scroll sideways to “edibles” to see the wide array of commercial food products available.

Dr. Yasmin Hurd, who directs the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai and is professor at the Icahn School of Medicine, has studied CBD extensively. She says there is potential for CBD to reduce heroin cravings in those recovering from addiction. But “let’s do the research,” she says. “It’s crazy that this substance is being consumed by everybody, yet we still don’t know the mechanism of action.”

Dr. Lee adds that procuring high quality, uncontaminated CBD for research remains a daunting task. “It might be available at the local 7-11 in Pennsylvania, but any product you get on the market is not federally regulated by the FDA, so the purity and safety and quality are questionable.”

A recent study of CBD products ordered online found that nearly 70 percent were inaccurately labeled and contained either higher or lower amounts of CBD than indicated on the label.

Says Dr. Hurd, “People are making it out to be a nirvana kind of drug, and that’s a problem. One compound cannot cure everything.”

Read the New York Times article here.

Limited access marijuana laws for medical use

Here is a table compiled by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Network for Public Health Law that lists the states that have legalized limited access to CBD oils and the amounts of THC they permit them to contain.

CBD can be extracted from both marijuana and hemp. Hemp is the marijuana plant but contains only a minute amount of THC (0.3% — three-tenths of one percent). Any amount of THC over 0.3% is marijuana.

Access Table here.

EDITORS NOTE: The Marijuana Report is a weekly e-newsletter published by National Families in Action in partnership with SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana). Visit National Families in Action’s website, The Marijuana Report.Org, to learn more about the marijuana story unfolding across the nation. Subscribe to The Marijuana Report e-newsletter. The featured images is courtesy of Marijuana Break.

Jumping Into Medicare For All With Eyes Wide Shut

Preview:

  • The unveiling of the ballyhooed House of Representatives Medicare for All Act of 2019 bill will be met with chants of “equal healthcare for all!”
  • A key feature of the Medicare-for-All bills is the elimination of private health insurance that duplicates benefits offered by the government. Given the coercive nature of the existing Medicare program, we should be very concerned
  • Will we be somehow punished if we do not want to enroll in the new government program? Will there be an “individual mandate” penalty? Hopefully we’ll know before the bill is passed and we can find out what’s in it.
  • Patients and physicians should be free to pay for services and accept payment for services without being subject to penalties.
  • Medicare for All could be one of those concepts that “seemed like a good idea at the time” – just like diving head first off a cliff into an inviting but shallow pool of water.

The unveiling of the ballyhooed House of Representatives Medicare for All Act of 2019 bill will be met with chants of “equal healthcare for all!” While the country will be forced into a government-run program, the limousine liberals and champagne socialists will keep their array of medical care choices — whether on or off the record.

A key feature of the Medicare-for-All bills is the elimination of private health insurance that duplicates benefits offered by the government. Given the coercive nature of the existing Medicare program, we should be very concerned. Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) is mandatory for those eligible for Medicare who receive Social Security payments. If beneficiaries want to opt out of Part A, they must forfeit all of their Social Security payments — including paying back any Social Security benefits received up to the time Part A was declined. So a “beneficiary” is punished for saving federal dollars by declining to be on the government healthcare dole.

Enrollment in Medicare Part B (all physician and most outpatient services) is not mandatory but beneficiaries are financially coerced to enroll. The standard 2019 Part B premium amount is $135.50 per month, progressing to $460.50 based on income. But if a beneficiary doesn’t sign up for Part B when first eligible, he must pay a lifelong penalty of 10 percent for each full 12-month period that he could have had Part B. So if the beneficiary waited 3 years before signing up, he would pay a 30 percent higher premium throughout his lifetime.

Medicare Part D (prescription drugs) also imposes penalties on those who do not sign up when eligible unless they are in a Medicare Part C/Medicare Advantage HMO that covers drugs. The lifetime penalty is not trivial: one percent per month of the average monthly premium (currently about $33) for all the months they were not signed up.

Will we be somehow punished if we do not want to enroll in the new government program? Will there be an “individual mandate” penalty? Hopefully we’ll know before the bill is passed and we can find out what’s in it.

Another troubling aspect of a new government health program is the lack of an articulated budget or cost controls. According to the Medicare Board of Trustees 2018 Report, Medicare’s Part A trust fund will be depleted in 2026, three years earlier than the 2017 projection. Our 2017 healthcare costs were $3.5 trillion with $1.2 trillion attributed to Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Apparently, financing would depend on monies earmarked for existing federal health programs, heavily taxing “the rich” and an unspecified increase in everyone’s taxes.

In addition to notoriously underestimated cost projectionsMedicare underpayments to hospitals must be addressed. Hospitals receive 88 cents on the dollar from Medicare and 90 cents on the dollar from Medicaid for their expenditures on these patients, translating to reimbursements of $41.6 billion and $16.2 billion, respectively, below actual costs. Currently, hospitals make up the shortfall with higher payments from private insurance — which will no longer exist. Slashing oft maligned CEO salaries would be a drop in the bucket. Hospital workers — unionized or otherwise would not accept pay cuts.

So how will the inevitable funding shortfall be addressed? Private practitioners may be enticed by the promise of a steady stream of patients and income or strong-armed into submitting to lower reimbursement or by new licensing requirements. Of course, many of us remember being paid with IOUs from the California Medicaid program.

The promise of completely “free” medical care of every sort imaginable gives one pause. What happens when the money runs out? Because Medicare defines what care is reimbursable as  “medically necessary,” the simple answer is to decrease covered services. But by then, the private health insurance industry would be decimated and our options limited.

Proponents of government-sponsored healthcare say people want it. But a 2019 Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that enthusiasm wanes when folks are told they would (1) lose their private insurance, and/or (2) pay more taxes and/or (3) have longer waits.

Direct pay independent physicians may be the salvation. Many Medicare patients are paying for direct primary care where a modest monthly fee direct to the physician guarantees full access to a physician, inexpensive medications and lab tests. Some specialists treating various chronic conditions such as diabetes also use this model to provide patients with timely individualized quality care.

The same people who clamor for a woman’s reproductive choice are strangely silent about everyone else’s freedom to choose the type of medical care they want. Patients and physicians should be free to pay for services and accept payment for services without being subject to penalties.

Medicare for All could be one of those concepts that “seemed like a good idea at the time” – just like diving head first off a cliff into an inviting but shallow pool of water.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is by sasint on Pixabay.

Why Gender Dysphoria Must Remain a Bar to Military Service

In normal usage, “discrimination” is an ugly word.

But discrimination has two meanings. The first and more familiar definition is “the treatment of a person or particular group of people differently, in a way that is worse than the way people are usually treated.” Discrimination of that sort is clearly unacceptable.

The second, less common usage is the “the ability to judge the quality of something, based on its difference from other, similar things.”

Earlier this month, several members of Congress introduced a bill to allow transgender individuals to serve in the military. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., one of the bill’s sponsors, said in introducing the bill, “President Trump’s ban on transgender service members is discrimination. It undermines our military readiness, and it is an insult to the brave and patriotic transgender Americans who choose to serve in our military.”

What members of Congress like the sponsors of this bill—and indeed, the American public—often seem not to grasp is that discrimination—the less common meaning of the word—takes place every day at military recruiting stations across America.

That’s neither unjust, nor prejudicial. And contrary to Gillibrand, who aspires to be our next commander in chief, it’s necessary to ensure the readiness of the military and protect at-risk individuals.

Some examples are in order. Have asthma? You’re probably ineligible to join the military. A depressive disorder? Sorry, no. Torn rotator cuff in your shoulder? Nope. Come back perhaps when it heals or is repaired. 

It’s the difference between an individual who is able to serve, and those for whom service presents a risk—either of not being able to complete military service or of doing so without incurring harm to themselves. In a strict sense, that’s discrimination.   

By law, the military can accept only “qualified, effective and able-bodied individuals.” That means people who are expected to need more than routine medical care or treatment are not qualified to join.

Without this lawful ability to “discriminate,” we would place our military in jeopardy of not being able to protect the nation.

That brings us to the issue of service by transgender individuals. Anyone who wants to serve their nation is worthy of our nation’s thanks, because not enough do. A mere desire to serve, however, does not equal qualification.  

What is often described as “Trump’s transgender ban” is anything but. Underreported is the fact that the policy that the Pentagon wishes to put in place—but that has been thus far been stayed by the court system—is far more permissive and evidence-based than the policy that existed for decades prior to June 2016, when President Barack Obama’s defense secretary, Ashton Carter, abruptly unveiled a new policy.

Before that, individuals who identified as transgender were automatically excluded from the military. Under the new policy devised by then-Defense Secretary James Mattis, the Pentagon makes a distinction between individuals who identify as transgender, and those who identify as transgender and experience gender dysphoria.

It’s necessary to get a bit technical here. An individual who is transgender is a person whose gender identity does not correspond to that person’s biological sex. Transgender individuals who suffer from gender dysphoria often “experience significant distress and/or problems functioning associated with this conflict between the way they feel and think of themselves (referred to as experienced or expressed gender) and their physical or assigned gender.” 

Unlike the previous policy, the new rules allow individuals who are transgender but not experiencing gender dysphoria to join and serve in the military.

Why does the policy prohibit service by individuals who experience gender dysphoria? It’s principally because exhaustive Defense Department clinical and U.S. survey data confirms that individuals with gender dysphoria attempt suicide at rates between eight and 10 times the average for individuals not suffering from gender dysphoria. 

Individuals with gender dysphoria experience severe anxiety again at between eight and nine times the rate of individuals without gender dysphoria. What’s more, there is no evidence that medical treatment, including gender-reassignment surgery, can remedy those challenges.

Military service is inherently stressful. It takes service members and puts them in unfamiliar, lonely, austere, and often hostile areas. Stress, anxiety, and suicide are already existential military problems. Indeed, the suicide rate for active-duty military members has been slowly rising over the past couple of decades.

At one point, it was lower than the U.S. national average. In 2015, however, in the active component, it stood at 20.2 per 100,000 service members, compared with the U.S. average of 13.3 per 100,000.

It would, therefore, be reckless and ill-advised to allow individuals demonstrably at a higher risk of suicide and anxiety to join the military and be subject to the increased stresses of military duty—both for the readiness of their units and for the safety of the individual.

Critics, in raising objections, ask why then can’t transgender individuals with gender dysphoria be allowed to serve far from the front lines, perhaps in a desk or office job? Surely, they say, that wouldn’t be stressful.

But the military doesn’t work that way.

In order for the military to be effective, to borrow an analogy, every player must be able to get on the field and play their position. If there were a job divorced from stress, it would be reasonable to ask why we would need a uniformed service member to fill it at all.

Still others ask how such a tiny fraction of the military force that would be transgender, if allowed, could constitute a risk to a force the size of the U.S. military.

That ignores the fact that the U.S. military often goes to war one squad, one plane, one ship at a time. Often, the performance of a single individual can mean the difference between mission success and failure.

Finally, those opposed to the restrictions point to examples of transgender individuals who have successfully served in the military, including those who have been decorated for bravery.

Kudos to these individuals for serving, and serving well. But the military must set entrance criteria based on broad evidence, as opposed to isolated examples. The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that individuals experiencing gender dysphoria, if allowed to enlist, would present unacceptable risks to both a prospective military unit and to themselves.

Thus far, the courts have seen fit to substitute their judgment on military enlistment criteria in place of that of the commander in chief. That’s unfortunate.

What would be even more unfortunate is if a decision were made to permit individuals with gender dysphoria to serve in the military, and in so doing, took a reckless gamble with both the readiness of the U.S. military and the safety of those patriotic individuals.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Thomas Spoehr

Thomas Spoehr

Thomas W. Spoehr, a retired Army lieutenant general, is director of the Center for National Defense at The Heritage Foundation.

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Planned Parenthood Founder Margaret Sanger In Her Own Words

The Margaret Sanger Papers Project lists a series of quotes attributable to the founder of Planned Parenthood Margaret Sanger. Given the current debate on infanticide it may be appropriate to revisit what Margaret Sanger said about her beliefs on eugenics, women, race, the weak and birth control.

Here are Margaret Sanger’s own words:

On criminals

“America . . . is like a garden in which the gardener pays no attention to the weeds. Our criminals are our weeds, and weeds breed fast and are intensely hardy. They must be eliminated. Stop permitting criminals and weaklings to reproduce. All over the country to-day we have enormous insane asylums and similar institutions where we nourish the unfit and criminal instead of exterminating them. Nature eliminates the weeds, but we turn them into parasites and allow them to reproduce.” – Burbank, quoted by Sanger in “Is Race Suicide Possible?” (1925)

On poor and “unfit” women

“The poor woman is taught how to have her seventh child, when what she wants to know is how to avoid bringing into the world her eighth.” (Pivot of Civilization, 116).

As an advocate of Birth Control, I wish to take advantage of the present opportunity to point out that the unbalance between the birth rate of the “unfit” and the “fit”, admittedly the greatest present menace to civilization, can never be rectified by the inauguration of a cradle competition between these two classes. In this matter, the example of the inferior classes, the fertility of the feeble-minded, the mentally defective, the poverty-stricken classes, should not be held up for emulation to the mentally and physically fit though less fertile parents of the educated and well-to-do classes. On the contrary, the most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective.

Birth Control is not advanced as a panacea by which past and present evils of dysgenic breeding can be magically eliminated. Possibly drastic and Spartan methods may be forced upon society if it continues complacently to encourage the chance and chaotic breeding that has resulted from our stupidly cruel sentimentalism. – Sanger, “The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda,” Birth Control Review, Oct. 1921, 5.

Give the women of the poorer classes a chance also to limit and control their families, and it will be found that in very many cases the material is equally good. The difference is that, like plants crowded too close together on poor soil, there is no chance to develop and the whole families are left impoverished in mind and body. Give room for each [to] grow and all may become fine and healthy American citizens. – “A Better Race Through Birth Control” (Nov. 1923)

On white supremacy

“The object of civilization is to obtain the highest and most splendid culture of which humanity is capable. But such attainment is unthinkable if we continue to breed from the present race stock that yields us our largest amount of progeny. Some method must be devised to eliminate the degenerate and the defective; for these act constantly to impede progress and ever increasingly drag down the human race.” – A Better Race Through Birth Control” (Nov. 1923)

The potential mother is to be shown that maternity need not be slavery but the most effective avenue toward self-development and self-realization. Upon this basis only may we improve the quality of the race. – Sanger, “The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda,” Birth Control Review, Oct. 1921, 5.

The Negro Project & FDR’s New Deal

By the late 1930s, the birth control activists began to focus on high birth rates and poor quality of life in the South, alerted to alarming Southern poverty by a 1938 U.S. National Resource Committee report which asserted that Southern poverty drained resources from other parts of the country. Starting in the mid-1930s, Sanger sent field workers into the rural South to establish birth control services in poor communities and conduct research on cheaper and more effective contraceptive….The birth control movement also looked to Southern states as the ideal region in which to secure funding under New Deal legislation and to establish birth control services as part of state and federal public health  programs….

In 1937, North Carolina became the first state to incorporate birth control services into a statewide public health program, followed by six other southern states. However, these successes were clouded by the failure of birth controllers to overcome segregated health services and improve African-Americans’ access to contraceptives. Hazel Moore, a veteran lobbyist and health administrator, ran a birth control project under Sanger’s direction and found that black women in several Virginia counties were very responsive to birth control education. A 1938 trip to Tennessee further convinced Sanger of the desire of African-Americans in that region to control their fertility and the need for specific programs in birth control education aimed at the black community. (Hazel Moore, “Birth Control for the Negro,” 1937, Sophia Smith Collection, Florence Rose Papers.)

On Forced Sterilization

“I admire the courage of a government that takes a stand on sterilization of the unfit and second, my admiration is subject to the interpretation of the word ‘unfit.’ If by ‘unfit’ is meant the physical or mental defects of a human being, that is an admirable gesture, but if ‘unfit’ refers to races or religions, then that is another matter which I frankly deplore.”

Eugenics today is known as the study of “genetics.” Merriam-Webster defines genetics as, “a branch of biology that deals with the heredity and variation of organisms.” So did Eugenics.

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Margaret Sanger, seated behind desk. Photo: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Margaret Sanger Collection [reproduction number, e.g. LC-USZ62-12345].

VIDEO: Vatican Sex Summit — Day 3

by Michael Voris, S.T.B.  •  ChurchMilitant.com.

Church Militant has learned exclusively of a secret meeting that occurred with a good number of papal nuncios last night.

The point of the meeting was to air their grievances among each other at how the Vatican simply ignores whatever bad behavior of priests or bishops they report — meaning bad sexual behavior.

The nuncios, we were told — a somewhat sizable group of them who are here because of the sex summit — are extremely upset and angry and didn’t really discover the scope of how the Vatican was ignoring their reports until they just started talking with each other informally.

That is quite a development. It’s not exactly sure what recourse the various nuncios have, but that they are feeling dismissed, ignored and their reports trivialized is absolutely certain.

They are ticked off, frankly, and so are quite a few other people.

We’ve been told by various folks who work in and around the Vatican that things have never been this bad. Priests are afraid to wear cassocks, afraid that if they look “too traditional” they will be reported to the Vatican.

Various individuals are being followed and their movements monitored. Rooms are bugged, phone lines are tapped and the Vatican more and more resembles North Korea, as one cleric termed it to us.

Sources tell us that the level of homosexual activity here is off the charts. The Swiss Guard, for example, is a regular target.

One source told us that grooming attempts and sexual advances by various archbishops are so off the charts that each year’s new recruits should be given a week-long class on how to handle it.

And don’t forget, this is the new Rome, the “Rome of Mercy” — mercy apparently for lying, covering up, homosexualist prelates who hate the Church, but no mercy for anyone else, especially those who uphold Tradition.

One of the more interesting developments to come out this week — speaking of homosexualist clergy who hate the Church — Fr. Thomas Rosica was busted plagiarizing multiple sources.

Yep, the Vatican’s English-speaking liaison to the media simply ripped off lines from various sources in a speech he gave at Cambridge earlier this month.

But he didn’t stop at just plagiarizing. He actually plagiarized out of context, using the moment to charge that the testimony of whistleblower Abp. Viganò was lies, which is rich considering he was passing off as his own words many other people’s words in his speech.

In just one example, quoting out of context, he called Viganò’s testimony a “diabolical masterpiece,” a term first credited to a bishop and repeated by a cardinal referring to the crisis, notViganò’s testimony.

When caught red-handed, in typical unaccountable fashion, he apologized, accepted full responsibility and then turned around and blamed his interns.

And the tidbit about Abp. Viganò brings us back to the secret meeting of nuncios last night.

They are the keepers of many secrets, and if a group of them suddenly decided to do what former nuncio to the United States Viganò did last August, the Vatican could be in quite a mess.

As media scrutiny intensifies, it came up a couple of days ago that another papal inner circle member, Indian Cdl. Oswald Gracias, on two occasions himself left victims unprotected and did not go to the police, perhaps even breaking Indian law which mandates such action.

In one case, a family reported to him in 2015 that their son had come home from serving Mass and told them he had been raped by the priest.

They contacted him, and then Gracias simply left for Rome that same night and did not inform police. He found out sometime later from one of his auxiliaries that the family had ended up reporting it themselves.

Gracias also looked the other way when he was informed that one of his priests offering retreats for women had molested one woman, and Gracias just left him in service and did not report anything to the police.

It is example after example of this constant drip, drip, drip of offense and cover-up and ignoring that the laity, good priests and now apparently the nuncios are simply not going to stand for any longer.

To add insult to injury, Gracias is present here at the summit in so-called “listening sessions,” hearing accounts of victims’ suffering.

Which begs the question: If one of the Pope’s inner circle can’t listen and pay attention in his own diocese back home to these horrible things and follow the proper course of action, why is his sitting here in Rome going to make a difference?

The evil, the hypocrisy, the cover-up and the lies, the police state, the fear, the indignant attitude, the lack of good will — all of it is being laid bare case by horrible case.

Unfortunately, until real action is taken, Catholics are going to have to endure this sordid filth being exposed day by day.

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

How Cuba’s Infant Mortality Rank Fell from 13th to 49th in the World

Cuba has made less progress in health care and life expectancy than most of Latin America in recent years due to its decrepit health care system.

It has never been a safer world in which to be a child. According to the UN, in 1950, most of the world had a child death rate (by age five) of over 20 percent, while only a few countries, such as the United States, Cuba, Canada, England, Australia, and New Zealand had child death rates of below 5 percent. By 2015, most of the world had a child death rate of below 5 percent, and every country on Earth had a child death rate below 20 percent (even war-torn Yemen, whose child death rate fell from 50 percent in 1950 to 4.8 percent in 2015, the first year of its current civil war).

For many developed countries, the child mortality rate is now below 1 percent. It’s less than 1 percent in the United States; all but two countries in the European Union; Japan, Korea, and Malaysia; Canada, Australia, and New Zealand; and parts of Arabia. (See “Child Mortality in 1800, 1950 and 2015,” three maps from Our World in Data).

And world hunger and poverty have diminished enormously. As the Cato Institute’s Marian Tupy pointed out, in 1981, “44.3 percent of the world lived in extreme poverty.” But in 2015, only “9.6 percent” did. The last 40 years have seen a “massive and historically unprecedented decline in global poverty.”

Cuba in 1950 had a lower child mortality rate than all but a handful of the world’s countries—lower than Canada and on par with the United States. That was long before the Communists took over in Cuba in 1959. The Communists did not give Cuba its unusually good world health ranking. Cuba had already achieved it long before the Marxist dictator Fidel Castro seized power.

Yet Castro’s regime took credit for the prior achievement of his non-communist predecessors, and many progressives have gullibly swallowed that propaganda. In 2016, The Washington Post’s fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, debunked such claims. He gave “three Pinocchios” to Canadian Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for claiming that Castro made “significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.” He pointed to data about how Cuba already had well-developed health and education systems by world standards.

But similar claims have been made by many other gullible progressive politicians. They depict the dictator Castro as the savior of Cuba. Bernie Sanders claimed it was Castro who “educated their kids, gave their kids healthcare.” Jimmy Carter claimed that Castro gave Cuba “superb systems of health care and universal education.” Obama also promoted the myth of excellent Cuban health care, saying, “The United States recognizes progress that Cuba has made as a nation, its enormous achievements in education and in health care.”

In reality, Cuba has made less progress in health care and life expectancy than most of Latin America in recent years due to its decrepit health care system. “Hospitals in the island’s capital are literally falling apart.” Sometimes, patients “have to bring everything with them, because the hospital provides nothing. Pillows, sheets, medicine: everything.”

As Townhall notes, in 1958, the year before the Communists took over Cuba:

Cuba ranked 13th from the top, worldwide with the lowest infant-mortality rate. This meant that robustly capitalist and immigrant-swamped pre-Castro Cuba had the 13th lowest infant-mortality rate in the world. This put her not only at the top in Latin America but atop most of Western Europe, ahead of France, Belgium, West Germany, Israel, Japan, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Today all of these countries leave Communist Cuba in the dust, with much lower infant mortality rates.

Today Cuba is ravaged by diseases that had been long-eradicated in pre-Castro Cuba (dengue, cholera, for a few examples.) And of Cuba’s “doctors” fortunate enough to escape their indentured servitude to the Castro-Family-Plantation, the overwhelmingly majority flunk the exam given in the U.S. for licensing as doctors assistants.

And even plummeting from 13th (Capitalist) to 49th (Communist), Cuba’s “impressive” infant mortality rate is kept artificially low by Communist chicanery with statistics and by an appalling abortion rate of 0.71 abortions per live birth. This is the hemisphere’s highest, by far. Any Cuban pregnancy that even hints at trouble gets “terminated.”

A few years ago Dr. Juan Felipe García, MD, of Jacksonville, Fla., interviewed several recent doctor defectors from Cuba. Based on what he heard, he reported the following:

“The official Cuban infant-mortality figure is a farce. Cuban pediatricians constantly falsify figures for the regime. If an infant dies during its first year, the doctors often report he was older. Otherwise, such lapses could cost him severe penalties and his job.”

It should be noted that the official Cuban infant mortality rate is still quite low compared to most of the world. But relatively speaking, it has lost ground, especially compared to capitalist countries in Asia like South Korea.

Cuba also lost the big edge in life expectancy it once enjoyed. Prior to communism, it led virtually all countries in Latin America in life expectancy. But by 2012, Chileans and Costa Ricans lived slightly longer than Cubans. Back in 1960, Chileans had a life span seven years shorter than Cubans, and Costa Ricans lived more than two years less than Cubans on average. In 1960, Mexicans lived seven years shorter than Cubans; by 2012, the gap had shrunk to just two years.

In celebrating Communist Cuba’s non-existent achievements, progressive politicians don’t even listen to fellow progressives who have actually studied Cuba’s record under communism, to their chagrin. As the progressive economist Brad DeLong points out (he calls it “hideously depressing”):

Cuba in 1957—was a developed country. Cuba in 1957 had lower infant mortality than France, Belgium, West Germany, Israel, Japan, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Cuba in 1957 had doctors and nurses: as many doctors and nurses per capita as the Netherlands, and more than Britain or Finland. Cuba in 1957 had as many vehicles per capita as Uruguay, Italy, or Portugal. Cuba in 1957 had 45 TVs per 1000 people—fifth highest in the world …Today? Today the UN puts Cuba’s HDI [Human Development indicators] in the range of … Mexico. (And Carmelo Mesa-Lago thinks the UN’s calculations are seriously flawed: that Cuba’s right HDI peers today are places like China, Tunisia, Iran, and South Africa.) Thus I don’t understand lefties who talk about the achievements of the Cuban Revolution: “…to have better health care, housing, education.”

Cuba’s outmoded Marxist education system also does not deserve praise. Obama mistakenly called Cuba’s “system of education” an “extraordinary resource” that “values every boy and every girl.”

But there’s nothing “extraordinary” about Cuba’s educational system. Children are taught by poorly paid teachers in dilapidated schools. Cuba has made less educational progress than most Latin American countries over the last 60 years. According to UNESCO, Cuba had about the same literacy rate as Costa Rica and Chile in 1950 (close to 80 percent) before Cuba was taken over by the communists. And it has almost the same literacy rate as they do today (close to 100 percent).

Meanwhile, Latin American countries that were largely illiterate in 1950—such as Peru, Brazil, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic—are largely literate today, closing much of the gap with Cuba. El Salvador had a less than 40 percent literacy rate in 1950 but has an 88 percent literacy rate today. Brazil and Peru had a less than 50 percent literacy rate in 1950, but today, Peru has a 94.5 percent literacy rate, and Brazil a 92.6 percent literacy rate. The Dominican Republic’s rate rose from a little over 40 percent to 91.8 percent. While Cuba made substantial progress in reducing illiteracy in Castro’s first years in power, its educational system has stagnated since, even as much of Latin America improved.

The child mortality statistics above are from the United States Population Division (2017) for 1950 and 2015 and Gapminder for 1800. The maps depicting that data are by Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser. The child death rate discussed above refers to the percentage of kids dying by age 5, not just in the first year of their life.

This article was reprinted from Liberty Unyielding.

COLUMN BY

Hans Bader

Hans Bader

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column with images is republished with permission. The featured image is by joffi on Pixabay Pixabay.

Arkansas Pulls the Trigger on Roe v Wade

While the U.S. Senate gears up for what should be a no-brainer vote on infanticide, the states are nudging their own needles to the pro-life side. Arkansas is the latest, thanks to Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) — and hardly the last.

Tuesday, with a nationwide protest over late-term abortion raging, Arkansas became the fifth state to make it clear where they stand if the issue ever returns to states. The minute Roe v. Wade is overturned, a growing number of states will already be prepared. Under the “trigger law” that Hutchinson just signed, Arkansas would immediately ban abortion if the ruling pro-lifers have been praying for ever came down.

Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, and South Dakota have similar laws on the books — and Kentucky and Tennessee may be next. “It’s time for the United States to redress and correct what many believe is a grave injustice and a crime against humanity which is being perpetuated by the decisions of Roe v. Wade,” said the Arkansas bill sponsor. Under the law, abortion will be completely outlawed, except in medical emergencies. It also, LifeNews points out, allows abortionists to be prosecuted.

“In 2017, the abortion advocacy group NARAL predicted that 13 states immediately would ban abortions if the high court overturns Roe. Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights put their estimate at 22 states,” Michaiah Bilger reports. After another year like this one, who knows how high that number could go? If you live in Kentucky or Tennessee, help us get to 24! Contact your state leaders and support trigger laws like Arkansas’s.


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


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

The Abuse Summit: It’s Only the Beginning

Robert Royal: People are happy that McCarrick has finally been defrocked, but now we need to deal with other abusers and enablers. 

February is not high tourist season in Rome. Skies are gray and temperatures low. St. Peter’s Square is relatively empty. But journalists filled the nearby Press Office earlier this week – more, according to one veteran, than since the death of St. John Paul II –because of the summit on the sex abuse crisis, which begins this evening with meetings between abuse survivors and participants, and continues Thursday through Saturday with formal sessions, parts of which will be streamed on the Vatican website. A video of the opening press briefing with remarks by Cardinal Cupich, Archbishop Scicluna, and other key figures is available by clicking here.

To be frank, it’s hard to say why so many journalists are here since no one, including Church spokesmen, expects that anything very dramatic will happen over the next few days – at least not in the formal sessions. What happens outside and around them, however, may be a different matter.

When the summit was announced last September, partly because of papal missteps in handling abuse cases in Chile, it seemed that the Church was going to take some large steps forward. There have been many smaller steps for years in many places around the world, everything from easier reporting mechanisms to better human formation in seminaries to the unprecedented laicization last weekend of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

Expectations ran high, not least because the Holy Father asked the American bishops, during their annual November meeting, not to vote on ways to hold bishops accountable – whether they are abusers themselves, like McCarrick, or covered up abuse by people under their authority. They were told to wait until a uniform approach could be developed in February when many of the presidents of bishops’ conferences and heads of religious orders would gather together in Rome.

But Vatican spokesmen have more recently been encouraging people to lower expectations; and the focus this week is quite different: “The Protection of Minors in the Church.” That, of course, is a worthy goal. In many parts of the Catholic world, rules are in place, but there hasn’t been serious follow through. If the next few days bring proven practices to new places, that will be all to the good.

But it’s also much less than we were hoping for. And in America, we’ve already come a long way towards responding to the part of the abuse crisis that involves priests. We have been expecting – and had been told – that the next phase would be figuring out how to hold bishops accountable. That’s been a continuing problem, not only in America, but in Chile, Honduras, Australia, Europe, the pope’s own Argentina, and the Vatican itself.

People are happy that McCarrick has been expelled from the priesthood, for example, but they want to know how it was possible for a man widely rumored to be an abuser to have moved up in the hierarchy and eventually become cardinal-archbishop of the capital of the most powerful nation on earth. Three popes and dozens of Vatican officials are now part of the story. Pope Francis has promised an investigation into the files. It’s almost a year later and we’ve heard nothing of that, not even whether there’s an active inquiry underway.


Pope Francis by Will Oliver/EPA-EFE

Meanwhile, a new book, which will be officially released Thursday, the first day of the summit here in Rome, claims that 80 percent of the upper echelons of the Vatican are gay. Some remain celibate, others act out in various ways, but they form what, in local parlance, is called “the Parish,” a network of people who either cover for one another or, given their own inclinations, look the other way.

Or at least that’s what Frederic Martel, the author, says. Martel is a gay activist in France and his motives in publishing this book at this particular moment are suspect – as are some of his wilder claims. But he seems to have conducted thousands of interviews with various figures from high-placed Cardinals to Swiss Guards, and quotes some by name.

The excerpts that have appeared so far raise as many questions as they answer. But the whole matter of the gay presence in the Church and its role as an enabler – which the summit organizers are avoiding, indeed are denying is a factor – will not go away.

Martel says (and there’s no reason to doubt it since there have been no denials forthcoming) that his access to the Vatican was facilitated by Msgr. Battista Ricca, who is Director of the Papal Residence (i.e., Casa Santa Marta) and an official with the Vatican Bank. Ricca was widely known to have had a boyfriend or two when he was a Vatican diplomat in Uruguay. And he was caught in an elevator with a boy prostitute.

It was in response to a reporter’s question about his past on the plane returning from World Youth Day in 2013 that Pope Francis famously remarked, ““If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

But it’s partly the pope’s judgment in such matters that has raised further questions. Not only the bishop he wrongly defended in Chile, but even recent appointments like that of Gustavo Zanchetta – a bishop accused of abusing seminarians in Argentina and a friend of the pope’s – to a specially created post at one of the Vatican financial institutions. He had to be removed while investigations are going on.

And then there’s the recent naming of Irish-American Cardinal Kevin Farrell to the position of camerlengo, the official who declares the pope officially dead and then runs the Vatican, with limited powers, during the interregnum, the period between the death of one pope and the election of another.

Farrell lived for six years in the same residence with then-Cardinal McCarrick and claimed – to widespread skepticism – that he had no knowledge of, had never even heard rumors about, McCarrick’s outrages. It’s curious that the pope would pick a potentially questionable figure for such a sensitive post.

All of this suggests that what goes on in the synod hall this week is the merest beginning to what will continue to be a large and troubling process. More on all that in coming days.

COLUMN BY

Robert Royal

Robert Royal

Dr. Robert Royal is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing, and president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. His most recent book is A Deeper Vision: The Catholic Intellectual Tradition in the Twentieth Century, published by Ignatius Press. The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West, is now available in paperback from Encounter Books.

EDITORS NOTE: This Catholic Thing column with images is republished with permission. © 2019 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info@frinstitute.org. The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own. The featured image is by Pixabay.

How Tech Giants Are Banning True Speech About Biological Sex

Like a strong cocktail that promises a quick buzz, social media offers us instant gratification that can be hard to resist.

But just as alcohol disguises the smell of chemicals, social media hides the bitter poison of identity politics—a poison that increasingly dominates the content we read.

This toxic cocktail is killing our freedom to speak the truth. And sadly, some of the world’s most powerful companies are siding against freedom and truth.

Twitter’s latest move against free thought came in the form of a ban on “misgendering” and “deadnaming.” This essentially means users who use pronouns and names that align with a person’s biology rather than their professed gender identity will be punished.

This is a victory of feelings over facts. Big tech is enabling identity politics to dominate the virtual public square—and it’s even aiding its takeover of the real one, too.

Take the United Kingdom. In England, police have already used tweets to investigate and arrest citizens for referring to individuals according to their biology rather than transgender ideology. In two separate incidents, police responded to complaints against women from men who identify as women.

Police arrested Kate Scottow at home in front of her children and then held her in a jail cell for seven hours after transgender activist Anthony Halliday (aka Stephanie Hayden) accused her of “misgendering” him.

Halliday/Hayden also seemed to suggest that transgender activists ought to “[storm] into” a parish church to ask “robust questions” of a priest’s wife who has opposed transgender ideology.

View image on Twitter

Police also went after a 74-year–old woman named Margaret Nelson. The reason: She posted two statements on Twitter that didn’t accord with transgender ideology: “gender is fashionable nonsense” and “in life or in death, trans women are not women, no matter how many times you say it’s so.”

Forced to Speak Untruths

In the novel “1984,” George Orwell coined the phrase “Big Brother is watching” to refer to the government. Today, he’d have to include social media companies as enforcers.

Twitter’s ban on “misgendering” and “deadnaming” crosses a red line. Twitter users should be able to choose what pronouns and names they use for each other. When Twitter punishes users for misgendering and deadnaming, the company pressures us to speak untruths.

Princeton University professor Robert George has warned, “Ordinary authoritarians are content to forbid people from saying things they know or believe to be true. Totalitarians insist on forcing people to say things they know or believe to be untrue.”

Social media companies’ embrace of identity politics has led to biased enforcement of content standards that favors transgender activists.

In Canada, for instance, feminist journalist Meghan Murphy testified before the Canadian Senate against the notorious Bill C-16, which added “misgendering” to the human rights code and criminal code in May 2017. In August 2018, Twitter told her to delete tweets that referred to a biological man, Ryan Kreut (who self-identifies as a woman named Lisa), as a man.

Then, last November, Murphy tweeted several rhetorical questions: “How are transwomen not men? What is the difference between a man and a transwoman?” She referred to transgender activist Jonathan Yaniv according to his biology. In the past he had filed lawsuits against female beauticians who refused to give him “bikini waxes.”

Twitter classified these statements from Murphy as hateful and permanently shut down her account. Yaniv then bragged that he was personally responsible for getting Murphy banned from Twitter.

Murphy is now suing Twitter over the ban.

Companies like Twitter clearly see themselves as defending transgender individuals. But they are much more passive about enforcing “hateful conduct” policies when it comes to protecting women from transgender activists.

Trans activists frequently target Murphy and others by name, referring to them as trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs). A website called terfisaslur.comdisplays tweets like “All TERFs deserve to be shot in the head.” “All TERFS need to cease existing. Wipe them from the earth.”

Transgender activists have also targeted Kaeley Triller, co-founder of Hands Across the Aisle, a coalition of women opposed to transgender ideology, on Facebook by posting her home address and violently threatening her children.

“Ironically,” Triller says, “the least ‘safe spaces’ in the history of the world are spaces where speech is censored and dissent is punished. If people are not safe to disagree, they are not safe at all.”

Social media companies could be protecting women from the violent, graphic, and threatening content against feminists documented at terfisaslur.com, but instead, Twitter is “protecting” those who identify as transgender from the “hateful conduct” of those who simply say that we are born male and female.

The Eclipse of Women’s Rights

For a brief moment during the #MeToo movement, it seemed that women were ascending the identity politics hierarchy. But as PayPal founder Peter Thiel predicted, when conflict comes between identity groups, the solution will be brokered in a way that most benefits the left as a coalition, not any particular group.

Twitter and Facebook’s double standards are proving Thiel correct. Transgenderism is making war on feminism, and feminists are losing out.

Identity politics is poisonous to freedom. It divides Americans up by ethnicity, race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc., and ranks us in a hierarchy based upon degrees of “victimization.”

This is deeply out of step with America’s founding, which championed the legal equality of each citizen based on inalienable natural rights. It is also out of step with the way most Americans developed their identities—from their families, religious communities, and civic groups.

But as our society has become more atomized, identity politics has filled the void and offered an alternative kind of social identity—albeit a toxic one.

The Marxist struggle, which originally was seen as a struggle for power between economic classes, has been recast as a struggle between social identity groups. Individual guilt, virtue, and responsibility are replaced with collective guilt, virtue, and responsibility. And because this scheme treats the group as the fundamental unit of responsibility and agency, individual freedoms become irrelevant. At worst, they are seen as tools that “oppressors” can use to exploit the “oppressed.”

We should not be surprised, then, when incidents of identity politics seem to reveal a totalitarian streak. Identity politics doesn’t just produce a grievance culture, it produces a vengeance culture—one that never ends and can never be resolved.

When students and faculty who hold unpopular views are shouted down or even physically assaulted, we are witnessing the fruit of a tree that is rotten to the core. 

Identity politics requires the jettisoning of America’s constitutional heritage. It would ultimately replace ordered liberty with a society in which freedoms are enjoyed only by those who have earned them through victimization.

Tech Giants Driving the Train

Twitter, Facebook, and Apple are among 107 major companies that have endorsed federal legislation that would make “misgendering” a punishable offense. Named the “Equality Act,” this bill is anything but.

State and local bureaucrats have already used similar laws and policies to derail the careers of people like high school teacher Peter Vlaming and professor Nicholas Meriwether at Shawnee State University because they referred to students according to biology and not gender ideology.

These laws give government control over our freedom to speak and think according to the truth. The Equality Act would extend that to all 50 states.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the great Russian writer who survived life in the Soviet gulag, once told the Nobel Prize Committee: “One word of truth shall outweigh the whole world.”

As big tech seeks to restructure both our virtual and brick-and-mortar public squares according to the frame of identity politics, now more than ever, we must fight for the freedom to use language to speak the truth.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Emilie Kao

Emilie Kao

Emilie Kao is director of the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion & Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: @EmilieTHF.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Caller column with images is republished with permission. The featured image is by Pixabay.

Is the Party over for Dem Extremists?

Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kans.) isn’t the only one asking himself, “What’s happened to our nation when the president of the United States has to ask legislators to save babies from being murdered?” Overwhelming majorities of pro-choicers are just as startled as he is.

Too often over the past 46 years, the issue of abortion has been reduced to a political issue. Very little thought has gone into the coarsening of America’s collective conscience, which has brought us to this point today — where leaders not only look away, but advocate and defend infanticide. Fortunately, what we’ve seen in the last few weeks is that the hardening of our country’s heart hasn’t extended much beyond the party’s leaders and militant abortion activists.

When AUL and YouGov put the Democrats’ infanticide agenda before the public, Americans were universally horrified. Large majorities in the country already objected to third-trimester abortions (79 percent) and birth day abortions (80 percent) — but it was tough to find anyone who thought leaving newborns on a metal table to die was just another “personal decision” between a woman and her doctor. On the question of legal infanticide, 82 percent said absolutely not.

If those numbers don’t make Democrats cringe, maybe these will. Of “pro-choicers,” 77 percent agree with the Republicans’ push to protect abortion survivors. Another 66 percent percent aren’t on board with abortions in the third trimester, and 68 percent disagree with any law that destroy a baby on its due date. Throw in the taxpayer-funded part of these procedures — another piece of the Democratic platform — and the Left’s abortion agenda is a one-way ticket back to the political minority.

If you think I’m exaggerating, look at Governor Andrew Cuomo’s (D-N.Y.) most recent approval ratings. After eight years of high marks, the bottom is falling out for the man who made the disastrous decision to put New Yorkers at the tip of the pink spear. In the weeks since he led the charge to kill babies at the moment of birth, Cuomo’s favorability rating has taken a beating, dropping to 43 percent from 50 — the lowest ever recorded since he took office in 2011. He also had an almost double-digit decline in his performance ratings, with only 35 percent now agreeing that he’s doing an “excellent” or “good job.”

Contrast that with President Trump, who, after doubling down on the culture of life, is enjoying the highest approval rating (52 percent) since 2017. One man embraced the outer limits of abortion extremism. The other used his most important speech of the year to passionately reject it. You do the math.

Making matters worse for the Left, every day that a Republican walks to the floor of the House and demands a vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act is a reminder of just how fanatical Democrats are. On Monday, they got another glimpse when Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) took his turn asking for unanimous consent on the bill. He, like three Republicans before him, was denied. And while most liberals aren’t exactly knocking down the doors of the press to talk about their wildly controversial stance, some Democrats are saying enough for everyone.

“There is zero place for politicians to be involved in these very complicated medical decisions, and they should only be made between a woman and her doctor — period, full stop,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) insisted. So that’s what killing is now? A “medical decision?” Listen, if Democrats want to get the government out of the health care business, conservatives are all for it. If there’s “zero place” for Congress in medicine, then by all means — let’s do away with Obamacare, insurance regulation, health care mandates, Medicare, and Medicaid. Personal decisions shouldn’t need public funding. But that’s the hypocrisy of the Left. Democrats don’t want taxpayers to have any input in health care — they just want them to foot the bill.

To her credit, at least Gillibrand will cop to her radicalism. Others in the increasingly crowded 2020 field refuse to even talk about abortion. But they don’t have to. The Democratic platform says it all.


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


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New Study Finds Estrogen Responsible for Changes in Meth Addiction Between Men and Women

A recent study by Science Daily has found that Estrogen, the female hormone, is responsible for changes in the impact that methamphetamine addiction has on rats. This could provide one explanation as to why men and women react differently to meth, offering researchers possible insights into sex-specific meth addiction treatment strategies for stimulant addiction.

Men vs. Women and Meth Addiction

Male rats are usually the focus of addiction studies, but recently scientists are finding that female rats should also be considered as the impact of addiction to meth or other drugs is likely different for different sexes. Researcher Carmela Reichel mentions that we have very limited information at our disposal when it comes to how sex hormones such as testosterone or estrogen impact addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Studies have found that the female rat responds different to drugs than the male rat, signifying a possible impact of estrogen on addiction. According to the CDC, meth kills nearly 100K people annually, so finding a cure or better treatment for the disease of addiction is vital. Finding ways to effectively treat men and women, using their own biological backgrounds as the basis for treatment strategy, may be the key to effective recovery.

Reactions of Rats

Stimulants release excessive amounts of dopamine into the brain. Methamphetamine increases activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain causing rapid sense of pleasure for a short period of time. The release of dopamine is responsible for motivation, movement, memory and learning. Unfortunately, a lack of the stimulant can cause the brain to stop producing dopamine after addiction has set in and this causes a lack of motivation or feel good sense for the user.

Rats are given the ability to self-administer methamphetamine in the test environment. Female rats were seen consistently taking more and more methamphetamine. During the first six hours of the addiction, female rats were seen repeatedly taking more of the drug. Researchers believe this explains why addiction to methamphetamine is so powerful for females—as they seem to have a consistent early urge to take more drugs more frequently.

Examining Rat Brains

Addicted rats and non-addicted rats were examined. Researchers were checking the prefrontal cortex of the male and female rat brains to determine the level of change that occurred as a result of methamphetamine abuse. Female rats showed lower resting activity than males before drug use. Post meth use, females had a stronger response in the brain’s synaptic activity followed by a faster fall once the drug wore off.

This suggests that hormones such as estrogen can play a role in the ability for a rat (or human) to become addicted to drugs such as crystal meth. Using this as a guideline, researchers suggest that treatment approaches that are directly related to women be developed to better treat those suffering from addiction to this and to other drugs.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured