Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Teachers abuse authority to bash Trump, but student recordings are ‘disruptive’

original article: Professors ranting about Trump in class? Court order could protect students who record them
May 26, 2017 by JEREMIAH POFF

The burden is on the school to show recording is disruptive

With increased scrutiny on students using technology to document what happens in the classroom and on school property, a federal judge has recognized broad rights for students to make recordings on school grounds.

If other judges agree with the logic of the order, which pertains to a Maine middle school, college students will have the green light to legally record their professors’ political comments in the classroom, a First Amendment expert told The College Fix.

The case, Pollack v. Regional School Unit 75, involves two parents who sued their school district because it wouldn’t let their autistic son bring an audio recording device to school. They wanted to find out why the 18-year-old, who has “very limited expressive” abilities, came back from school crying and bruised.

The parents cited a 2011 precedent from the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Glik v. Cunniffe, that affirms a person’s right to record public officials who are working in public, including police making an arrest.

Like a person who records police to expose the excessive use of force, the son’s parents wanted to “expose wrongdoing” against him in class. (The 1st Circuit’s precedents are binding on the Maine district court.)

MORE: Professor tells students: Trump’s election an ‘act of terrorism’ (VIDEO)

District Judge Nancy Torresen instead chose an older, narrower and more familiar precedent that governs the First Amendment rights of students in a public school setting.

Under the Vietnam war-era Tinker standard, a school cannot stifle the speech of students unless the speech creates a “substantial disruption or material interference with school activities.”

Tinker “takes into account the unique features of the school environment and it allows schools to restrict expression—even based on viewpoint—where the schools can forecast substantial disruption of or material interference with school activities or collision with the rights of other students,” Torreson wrote.

The school district tried to argue that the recording device did infringe on student activities and privacy, and it didn’t even bother addressing Tinker in its first motion to dismiss the case.

When the parents cited Tinker as their second choice, the school district responded that “Tinker does not apply because the privately-owned electronic device policy is content-neutral, and Tinker is limited to cases involving content and viewpoint-based restrictions on speech,” Torreson summarized.

The judge told the school district it must reconsider the parents’ request under the Tinkerstandard.

“Even if I bought the District’s argument that the policy is content-neutral, the Plaintiffs have also alleged that the District has applied its policy to [the student] in a viewpoint-based manner” because officials feared the scrutiny from being recorded, and they had earlier allowed the autistic student to wear a GPS device, Torreson wrote.

Federal judge says students have the right to record at school unless officials can show it’s disruptive by The College Fix on Scribd

https://www.scribd.com/embeds/349479257/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-ZuaAbp4f83EX6JwXJvWp&show_recommendations=true

The new danger: Waive your right to record or get out?

While seemingly unrelated to the rights of student journalists, the implications of this order could extend to “newsgathering” by students, Student Press Law Center Executive Director Frank LoMonte wrote in a blog post.

LoMonte told The Fix in an email the judge’s order could be a “really interesting opening” for student journalists in both secondary and postsecondary institutions.

It is a “very logical application” of Tinker “to apply to gathering news as well as publishing news,” he said: “That makes perfect sense since gathering information is a necessary prerequisite to sharing it, but it’s rare that a court has been asked to rule on the right to gather information in the school setting.”

The Fix asked LoMonte how the order could affect a situation like what happened at Orange Coast College, where a student was suspended for recording his psychology professor ranting about Donald Trump’s election as an “act of terrorism.”

LoMonte said “if the Pollack case becomes accepted as the standard, you will see students successfully asserting a First Amendment right to record in the college classroom as well.”

MORE: Student who recorded prof’s anti-Trump rant suspended

But he was less sanguine about whether that First Amendment defense by students would hold up as consistently in a college classroom, as opposed to a public school where children’s presence is required by law.

“The college classroom is arguably a little different because taking any particular class is optional – nobody’s compelled to be there – so if a professor were to say that waiving the right to record is a required prerequisite to taking the class, it might hold up,” LoMonte said.

Orange Coast College’s trustees withdrew the sanction in response to a public backlash, but the professor was not disciplined for using class time inappropriately or “bullying” students who support Trump, as the student’s lawyer (below) argued she had done.

Torreson’s order could be quite useful for students trying to demonstrate wrongdoing by officials, LoMonte wrote in his blog post, citing a student who recorded another student being slammed to the ground by a police officer in a South Carolina high school.

“The student who shot that nationally publicized video was threatened with serious disciplinary charges – charges that, under the Pollack ruling, would be subject to challenge on First Amendment grounds.” LoMonte wrote.

Regional School Unit 75 did not respond to a Fix email query Wednesday, and its voice mailbox was full.

MORE: College rescinds suspension of student who recorded professor’s anti-Trump rant

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Academia is lost

original article: The Left is forcing Christians out of colleges. That’s actually good news for conservatives
May 10, 2017 by Robert Oscar Lopez

In the eighth chapter of the Book of John, Jesus Christ makes two statements in rapid succession. They encapsulate in a few phrases wisdom to cure many Christians of the anxieties that afflict the conservative movement. In 8:31, Jesus says, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” A few lines later, Jesus adds, “Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.”

Academic Casualties

My Twitter feed has exploded in recent weeks, with plentiful panic about the pitiable state of free speech on college campuses. Big cases—big because they both worsen and reveal the deep structural wounds caused by the purge of Christian and conservative professors—played out this week: John McAdamsAnthony EsolenRebecca TuvelPaul McHughCarol SwainKeith Fink, and Paul Griffiths.

I know of other professors, and of people who know of still others, who are in similar purges but who have to stay silent because of confidentiality gags. Then you must account for all the adjuncts like Mary Grabar who never got tenure-track jobs, earlier exiles like John Zmirak who got out of the academy for better lives, and the many conservatives in grad school who sold their souls to liberals, ran out of the hallowed halls screaming, or were chased out by the usual mobs of screeching race hucksters, homofascists, feminazis, climate-change cabalists, and Marxophonies before they could get their doctorates.

When the dust settles on this sandstorm, there will be many, many, many, many academics on the list of casualties. Seven in one week are but the tip of a big iceberg untouched by global warming.

Okay, the Time to Stay Calm is Over, Conservatives!

We don’t know how many conservatives the liberal academy is surgically removing in what can no longer be denied or ignored for what it is—a concerted putsch. This is the big political story of our era: money, propaganda, conspiracies, corruption, fraud, sex, lies, and hidden bodies.

This is bigger than McCarthyism, and way more expensive. It has involved financial corruption, tuition-based price-gauging, nepotism, and conspiracy to use publicly funded charities (universities) to advance one political party and stifle dissent. Besides persecuting political opponents, academia has corrupted research, knowingly spread profligate falsehoods (especially about sex, gender, and race), and defrauded millions of college graduates who went into debt for an overpriced education that left them dysfunctional, unemployable, mentally unstable, and brainwashed.

We have witnessed a criminal transfer of wealth from hard-working poor and middle-class families to fund managers and university administrators swimming in a deluxe swamp of untaxed endowments that are not being used to advance the common good.

Save the Evidence-Because It’s Really Bad for the Left

The left perpetrated this and must be held accountable, not only through shaming and a thorough accounting for the history books, but also, through some kind of massive restitution. The liberal corruption of academia coincided with enormous increases in tuition and student debt (discussed in my book).

Some estimates of student loan debt range between one and two trillion dollars, but this does not count all the money funneled into university tax shelters, which are not being taxed, and all the payments to colleges for tuition, books, fees, and other expenses, in exchange for a faulty product people were forced to buy through false advertising and a crooked credentialing system. A massive part of the nation’s economy—and of countless families’ budgets—went into a black hole of waste, creating a drag on our country’s economic growth and productivity, which nobody has yet fully theorized. And the people who did this were insufferably smug and completely wrong about everything, on top of all that. (Who will do a study on this when all the economists are paid by or scared of universities?)

Several months ago, when I came out with a book on higher education called “Wackos Thugs & Perverts,” people thought the title was outrageous. Now, as Berkeley has seen three riots and three guest speakers blocked by politically correct outrages, the harsh title seems almost too gentle. Isn’t there something deeper going on?

Everything is getting worse every day. Remember when it was only conservatives who saw their freedom crushed and they were generally deemed deserving of such treatment? I remember. I remember when even conservative watchdogs thought lots of us who came forward with stories were just loonies because why else would so many people in the academy think we were crazy?

At last, some who caviled are now realizing what is afoot. The AAUP responded to my SOS calls in 2014 with unworried emails, saying there was no tenure or academic-freedom issue there. They had the usual routine down, which they use, presumably, when being forced to deal with a kook: “My job is to make you go away, here’s a cookie; this gentleman with the holstered Taser and a security badge will see you out the back way. Good afternoon, Sir.” Now the AAUP is actually starting to sweat (too late to help me, of course—I left that job.)

But Conservatives Need to Get Serious

We can’t get it twisted, though; large numbers of conservatives were either complicit with the racket or contributed to it by their own foolishness. In 2015, I remember trekking to Capitol Hill to meet with Republican lawmakers about academic freedom, with the explicit aim of alerting them to the Higher Education Act and provisions therein, which would enable them to intervene in persecution cases like mine.

After months of trying to get appointments, my friend and I arrived to be told no lawmakers could meet with us, but instead two charming twentysomethings would greet us in their dungarees and flats, with mugs of coffee and yellow legal pads, the pages of which I am sure did not survive five minutes after my departure. These were interns or clerks or something—I wasn’t quite sure.

They told me they were concerned and keeping watch over academic freedom, mostly by reading stories about Laura Kipnis. Prof. Kipnis was a liberal Northwestern professor who wrote a column defending the practice of professors sleeping with students, and alluding to an ongoing rape investigation with dismissive comments about the (unnamed) accusers. As a result of this, the individuals who had raised the rape charges filed a Title IX retaliation charge against Prof. Kipnis, which resulted in her being investigated for two months and then cleared of all charges. I asked the Hill interns, “are you aware of other cases, for instance conservatives opposed to homosexuality, where people were actually investigated for years and then lost their jobs?”

They replied something to the effect of, “I am sure such cases exist.”

My friend stepped in to say, “It would be a very sad thing if you guys diddled around talking about academic freedom while Dr. Lopez, who’s been under investigation for 9 months already, had to leave his job in California, and nothing got done about this. Think of all the others who will lose their jobs.”

The writing could not have been darker on the wall than it was on that day. But the Hill interns said I should email them with any updates (I did, with no response) and they would keep an eye on things and let the appropriate lawmakers know they met with me. My friend and I got phone calls with various staffers over the next year, with nothing other than repetitive references to the case of Laura Kipnis. “We sent a letter to Northwestern about Laura Kipnis’s case,” one told me. I responded, with growing unease, “great! She seems a great lady! But she was cleared of all charges and has a job. Do you think you might send a letter to my college?”

“We don’t want to make things worse,” they said.

“You need hearings!” I was screaming like a crazy person screaming, “soylent green is people!” My dean, who would be named the head of the Clinton Global Initiative on campus and got elected to be president of the National Council of Deans of Arts and Sciences (which is interesting since she is dean of neither arts nor sciences), methodically loaded up my personnel file with reprimand letters and procedural annoyances until at last I decided the only fate worse than losing tenure at Cal State Northridge would be having tenure at Cal State Northridge. But as I was on my way out, I had some consolation that finally Congress was going to hold hearings about academic freedom.

The “hearings”

Professor Robert George, distinguished with his grey locks and gleaming spectacles, appeared before Congress alongside a bunch of his students and a leftist who was told he could not hang up Bernie Sanders posters at Georgetown.

They spoke about the importance of free thought and exchange of ideas, etc., etc., etc., while I proceeded to pull out most of my hair screaming at the wall, “this is it? These are your hearings? These people aren’t about to be fired. When will we talk about defunding the colleges and subpoenaing all the creepy Medusa figures in the administration who keep landing millions of dollars in grants and harassing conservative Christians until they leave?”

Get ready for the death toll-but stop diddling

On many campuses that pushed out conservatives, the routine was frighteningly similar. Well aware of FIRE and other groups devoted to academic freedom, the administrators had learned, by a few years ago, that they could not attack conservatives by openly repudiating their conservatism. They either frame them for some unrelated procedural violation (falsifying files if they have to), or else drag them into a complicated investigation that they know will not survive an academic-freedom challenge, but will likely lead to the victim breaking a rule like confidentiality, notification, disclosure, or non-retaliation.

Because this was how the system worked and still works, countless people live now under investigation, facing certain ousters. They are hostages but we do not know where they are, since they are cowed by confidentiality rules, gag orders, and the observation that courts are siding with liberal oppressors.

Reality Check

If you want to save academic freedom, be aware of some hurtful truths.

First, conservatives dropped the ball. Nothing they’ve done worked and if they don’t try new approaches, this will become even worse.

Second, no painless strategy can fix this. You love homecoming, reunions, the football games, and the friends you made in college. You may have nostalgia for all you learned and the warm professors who guided you into adulthood. But those charms chain you to an oppressive system that threatens our democracy.

Universities are utterly hostile to your values and to God—even the vast majority of religious colleges. They got this bad because they rely on a steady stream of money that has never slowed or stopped, no matter how outraged the nation became. The only strategy that will work will be financial. The federal government must cease all public funding for colleges and universities, save for trade or vocational programs and seminaries (which are vocational). Our nation’s debt matches, roughly, the enormous amounts of cash that this corrupt system has funneled out of the functioning economy into their twisted Wonderland of emotional torture, sexual depravity, and fiscal recklessness.

People you love in the university system will experience pain if this system is to be fixed. Grants, backing of student loans, and tax exemptions on donations must all cease. Forget the conservative refrain of local and state control—the federal government got thoroughly entangled in all this and must take the lead. These are not non-profit charities so that loophole smacked of fraud from the beginning. In the case of most Catholic colleges, the non-profit status actually constituted charities fraud since the church has not yet reversed its stance on chastity yet these Catholic colleges not only fund homosexual social groups but even persecute people who defend Biblical sexuality on their own campuses.

Were such a strategy pursued, we would see massive job losses, the abolition of tenure, the closing of many struggling colleges, and cuts in pay. The wasteful and parasitic administrative class would have to go, causing painful unemployment to possibly millions of people who have made their living off the fat of this monstrous system. So many good people with good intentions would be hurt in the process. For that we must grieve.

But I left my job and quit tenure. It can be done. The universities and their workers brought this infernal crisis on themselves. They had adequate warnings and have no excuse for why they let the situation get this far.

Let go of “academic freedom”

Lastly, you must realize that this is not about academic freedom in the way we have discussed it thus far.

If you are truly conservative, your end goal is not a state of academic freedom, which would imply a situation in which all ideas are expressed and allowed on campus forums, and nobody is blocked from or suffers retaliation for their statements. Such a world would lack all discernment. It would be without virtue, without distinctions, constantly doubting its morals, and incapacitating the triumph of any position over others even in matters of grave importance. It would be demonic.

If you are conservative, and especially if you are Christian, what you seek is the Truth. The Truth is from God and exists as wisdom un-darkened by confusion and sinful thoughts. The Truth is not only what is, but what is right. With our imperfect minds, we cannot rush to decide what Truth is. We cannot censor competing views, except when we can show certainty. But academic freedom within such a system is a means to an end, a tool to build our monument to the Truth. In debates eventually we must acknowledge Truth where it lies, not remain uncommitted.

The left became horrendous because the left was wrong. Their prescriptions about improving race relations did not work because they were wrong. They were wrong about homosexuality and now we see the falsehoods of the LGBT movement growing more arrogant and multiplying as people who were celebrated for their errors now see further false affirmations as their entitlement, and Truth as an attack on their fragile sense of self.

The Truth is on our side. Now as we see all of higher education declare war on Truth, and on us because we championed it, we have nothing to lose. Do not hide behind caveats of academic freedom, as if all we want is to be given a chance to speak, a slush fund to bring Ann Coulter for a speech, a seat on a panel beside people peddling lies—that is not what we want. We want the left to stop lying. We want to proclaim the Truth so people see it, and stop listening to the left, and start listening to God. If this means that academia crashes and turns into ruins of a lost past, do not be mournful. Rejoice, for God has given us victory. Do not worry for tenure or being published somewhere prestigious or stuffing your resume with awards and grants. God gave you legs to walk and a tongue to shout His Word from the rooftops.

Academia is lost. We will never get our desks and library carrels back. Harvard will not ask us to speak what we know from behind a podium with a brilliant seal while the future leaders of America applause and smile. We have won our freedom. Enjoy it.

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The World Doesn’t Need the UN Population Fund

original article: The World Doesn’t Need the UN Population Fund
May 9, 2017 by SUSAN YOSHIHARA (The Stream)

When President Donald J. Trump cut U.S. funding to the U.N. Population Fund, abortion advocates howled. But Trump made the right call. The billion dollar-a-year agency has run out of reasons to exist, even by its own metrics.

The agency still relies on the same “overpopulation” gimmicks that justified its creation in 1969. In a 2011 media stunt in hot and crowded Manila, it “welcomed” the seven billionth human born. The world is indeed getting more crowded, but not with babies. Old people are expected to outnumber youth on the planet within sixty years.

From investment firms to national security analysists, experts agree: Many countries suffer not from overpopulation, but from a sharp decline in fertility. It took western countries a century to grow old. Developing nations are managing the feat in just one generation. Their ability to seize the promised “demographic dividend” is fading fast. The World Bank has identified a waning appetite for consumer goods in the geriatric West. They say today’s developing economies won’t be able to manufacture their way to economic growth like China did.

Demographers have been ringing the alarm bell for two decades. Yet the U.N. Population Fund has forged ahead with its mission to limit births.

A One Trick Pony

The Fund claims to help couples have the number of children they want. But the facts show the opposite. It does nothing to relieve infertility. It promotes education for women and girls, but does nothing to help women who want to have a large family. On the contrary. The UNFPA offers the same answer for every woman: Have fewer children.

Yes, the U.N. Population Fund has added to its portfolio to remain relevant. It opposes female genital mutilation, endorses maternal health, abhors the spread of HIV/AIDs, and promotes adolescent and women’s rights. But the U.N. already has agencies with these mandates, such as the World Health Organization, UNAIDs, UNICEF and U.N. Women.

Planned Parenthood said President Trump would “kill” thousands of women this year because they won’t get U.N.-funded contraception. But the Fund did not save a single life last year. Rather, it helped “avert” two thousand theoretical deaths in childbirth by providing contraception.

Hypocrisy

Even the U.N. Population Fund’s claim to the mantle of women’s rights is spurious. China’s abusive family planning program has persisted under its watch. Even Beijing has admitted it went too far. The Chinese National Health and Family Planning Commission now allows for two children. But it still exacts punishment on couples who have one more. That includes the threat of forced abortions, loss of livelihoods and homes. And still the U.N. Population Fund defends its partnership with the Chinese agency.

When shell-shocked Nigerian families welcomed back their daughters abducted by Boko Haram, they found that the girls had suffered unspeakable abuse. What did UNFPA recommend? Abortion. For this, its executive director was rightly rebuffed. But the organization’s leadership can’t seem to help itself. They act as if ridding the world of unintended pregnancies and unwanted children will help solve every problem.

What the U.N. Population Fund won’t admit is that “unintended” and “unwanted” are social science constructs, not the sentiments of parents. Such terms often contradict what women really say. A woman may tell a researcher that her beloved child was never “unwanted.” The researcher, however, may code her child as “unwanted,” due to a survey question she answered years earlier about desired family size.

Women are quite capable of making up their own minds. The U.N. Population Fund, however, often doesn’t like what they decide. Hence much of its spending goes to “advocacy.” Translation: Trying to convince women they should stop at two children.

The fact is that ninety five percent of women in the developing world say they already know about family planning. They just don’t opt for the methods the U.N. recommends. This fact should have the U.N. Population Fund declaring victory, not wringing its hands about “lack of uptake.”

Defying still more facts, the UNFPA insists that lack of access to contraception is a global crisis. Just like the “crisis” of overpopulation, the agency stretches credulity to the breaking point. It claims 225 million women want, but cannot get, contraception. It even posted the myth on a massive Times Square billboard. Yet the Guttmacher Institute assures us that only four or five percent of those 225 million women say they don’t have access. The rest don’t want it. In other words, the global family planning market is already nearly saturated.

It’s time for the United States and its partners to shut down the U.N. Population Fund. Its billion-dollar budget should be used to solve real problems, not chase the ghosts of the 1960s.

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What happens when no one asks whether insurance is really a good way to deal with health care costs?

original article: How Obamacare Hurts Millions Of Americans By Robbing Peter To Pay For Paul
May 10, 2017 by Scott Ehrlich

In my prior article, I tried to outline the pre-existing condition issue. I concluded the amount of people potentially affected by this issue ranged somewhere between 500,000 and 1.9 million and, due to political reasons, it is much likelier to be on the lower end of that spectrum.

So for this article, I will use 1 million people as my number. Based on this data from Avalere, it’s a pretty sensible estimate, if you only count states that are solely Republican-run and therefore likely to seek a waiver.

This 1 million people are adults covered by the individual market, at the moment largely through the federal exchanges. People on group insurance are not affected by pre-existing conditions laws, as those plans do not do individual underwriting. People in government insurance such as Medicaid, Medicare, and Tri-Care are guaranteed issue upon meeting certain conditions. Children under 19 who aren’t covered by Medicaid are covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which has no pre-existing condition exclusions. Futher, people in Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, and Washington have state laws that mandate guaranteed issue.

So our at-risk people are made up of the remaining 7 million or so people in the other 45 states who choose to self-insure, have pre-existing conditions that stop them from getting insurance, have states granted waivers under the American Health Care Act (AHCA, if it passes Congress in its current form), and have failed to keep continuous coverage.

Assuming your eyes glazed over a quarter of a way through that sentence, that shows just how many safety nets one has to fall through to be at risk of being denied coverage at the market rate, or any rate, for pre-existing conditions. Recall that just because someone has a pre-existing condition or is denied by an insurance company for one, doesn’t mean he will be denied by all. So that is why my numbers are lower than many others being reported.

Let’s Pin Down How Much These Folks’ Health Care Costs

So let’s go with that 1 million number, which is still a lot of people needing help. What can we do with them? That is the challenge. When enrolling a random assortment of 1 million Americans in a pool, theoretically about 27 percent could have some sort of ailment requiring immediate treatment. Depending on the mix of other people, it’s possible to make that pool actuarily sound.

But high-risk pools don’t work that way. In that pool, 100 percent of enrollees have pre-existing conditions. Therefore, it’s impossible to provide them insurance and keep a stable pool. You can’t insure someone for a condition he already has any more than you can insure a house that is already on fire or a car that has already crashed. There is no ability to pool risk.

So this group of people is very expensive to cover, as they are already sick and use a lot of health care. Average costs in the PCIP federal high-risk pool, the one the Affordable Care Act set up as a bridge to the exchanges, averaged more than $32,000 per enrollee per year. Based on those numbers, at 1 million enrollees, we’d be looking at more than $32 billion annually in costs for high-risk people. That $8 billion that got Rep. Fred Upton to vote yes on House Republicans’ Obamacare tweaks? That would cover only three months of expenses at full enrollment.

If the entire amount appropriated in AHCA were applied to pre-existing conditions, a whopping $123 billion, we’d only have enough to make it through four years if that cost were accurate.

Luckily, That Cost Is Likely Overstated

Reading deeper into the report, you find that, fortunately, it may not be. Not all people with pre-existing conditions are created equally: “4.4 percent of PCIP enrollees accounted for over 50 percent of claims paid, while approximately two-thirds of enrollees experienced $5,000 or less in claims paid over the same period.” So while Avalere used the $32,000 figure, it probably vastly overstates the cost of a program like this. That’s because the people most likely to have been enrolled in PCIP would be the sickest, who need the most care immediately.

Someone with early-stage diabetes with no side effects, like myself, who may currently be tough to insure may ignore a high-risk pool like this since it costs more than I spend on treatment, while someone with advanced cancer requiring frequent doctor visits, expensive medication, and consistent chemotherapy would seek something like this out. Therefore, if the pool of 115,000 enrollees in PCIP were expanded to the 1 million people who have pre-existing conditions but couldn’t be insured, we’d likely see many more costing about $5,000 per year than the ones costing $100,000 and up.

Therefore, I prefer the number $12,000 as the cost per additional enrollee. This uses the average benefit used by a person enrolled in Medicare based on the total benefits paid divided by the total people covered. Since these people are older, sicker, or disabled and have high health utilization, I think it makes a good proxy for the sort of person likely to seek a high-risk pool who would not have jumped at the opportunity to sign up for PCIP.

Adding 900,000 people at that cost to the 100,000 people at $32,000 in PCIP gives us a total annual cost of $14 billion. That means if people in these pools were to cover about 10 percent of their own health-care expenses, the money AHCA appropriates could cover the entire affected population of the high-risk pools for the entire 10-year budget window.

This Is Still a Lot of Money

So now we’ve seen the numbers. About a million people may need help. Pooling them with the healthy has real costs to a lot of people to help a few. But we have decided as a society that we can’t just let those few suffer. Yet helping pay for their care will be staggeringly expensive. Even in my example, with this smaller pool and smaller assumed costs, we would burn through the entire pool of $123 billion in a decade. These people will still need help at the end of that decade. How do we take care of our sick population into the 2030s without busting our budget?

That is why people argue we should keep the Affordable Care Act provisions regarding pre-existing conditions, which are community rating and guaranteed issue. The benefits are obvious, as they have been blasted all over the media. People getting operations they might not otherwise have had, seeing doctors they couldn’t otherwise see, getting care they wouldn’t have otherwise received. Who would be so heartless as to take that away?

This is a classic example of concentrated and observable risk and diffuse and hard to see benefits. Remember what has happened to premiums since ACA was implemented. All these people were not covered without a cost. That cost comes out of the pockets of everyone else in the exchanges. While much harder to see, and much less heart-wrenching in a soundbite or a video or a tweet, those costs did make a difference.

Adding a few hundred dollars a month to health premiums can mean the difference between eating terrible food and eating healthy, not working out and a gym membership, scrimping and stressing over every dollar and rationing essentials which adds mental and physical health costs, or a budget that more comfortably covers your fixed expenses.

More severely, higher premiums for lower-quality policies may mean that some people who may have formerly been able to afford some form of insurance now are going without, causing exactly the sort of problem ACA was supposed to fix. To act like the days, weeks, months, and years taken off the lives of some people due to the costs ACA imposes to help others is without consequence is sadly mistaken.

When Compassion Is Cruel

Those realities aren’t purely speculative, either. Rates are rising year over year. Even with rising subsidies, the plans get more expensive to both buyers and the taxpayers. And there is no sign these rising rates will abate, as more people for whom insurance has a marginal value will choose to go without, leaving a sicker pool, causing not only rates to rise but insurance companies to lose more and more money on these policies.

That leads to insurers dropping out of markets entirely. This is why doing it the “compassionate” way has not only costs for people whose rates will rise, but also costs for those this is supposed to help, as this adverse selection will result in many of them also having no insurance options. Guaranteed issue and community rating do very little good if no one is willing to sell policies because the cost risk is too high.

That is why, whichever way you lean politically, both the ACA and AHCA seem to be just a band-aid. Neither are sustainable, needing significant federal money pumped into them to survive. ACA will need it to subsidize the cost of policies to get healthy people to sign up while also subsidizing the losses insurance companies suffer in an effort to keep them on the exchanges when they don’t.

AHCA will need massive continued subsidies to fund high-risk pools, all as health-care gets more individualized and potentially more expensive. This is in addition to the increasing burden Medicare will put on state and federal budgets as baby boomers retire and live to a ripe old age, while higher birth rates among poorer Americans, in addition to ACA expansion, should cause a massive increase in Medicaid spending.

This is why any comprehensive health insurance reform is doomed to fail. Americans want great quality care at cheap prices that is abundantly available. At best, we can get two of those three. At worst, we get very expensive plans that provide very little real health care for the most vulnerable while making things worse for everyone else. That is why our efforts should focus on ways to provide better health care for everyone, increasing the size of the pie of good-quality, available health care rather than locking in the worst parts of our current system and merely fighting about who should pay for them.

crisis, culture, economics, government, health care, legislation, nanny state, public policy, reform, regulation, spending, tragedy, unintended consequences

Filed under: crisis, culture, economics, government, health care, legislation, nanny state, public policy, reform, regulation, spending, tragedy, unintended consequences

No, GOP’s Obamacare Update Doesn’t Make Rape A Pre-Existing Condition

original article: No, GOP’s Obamacare Update Doesn’t Make Rape A Pre-Existing Condition
May 8, 2017 by Robert Tracinski

The American Left is finishing its sixth straight month of losing it. They have been pegged at “total freakout” for so long now that it is impossible to tell when anything they say is valid or wildly exaggerated.

Take the headline you undoubtedly saw, or had forwarded to you on social media if you interact much with people on the Left, which proclaimed that the American Health Care Act—House Republicans’ Obamacare tweaks—makes sexual assault a pre-existing condition.

AHCA_preexisting

What’s actually going on here? The House bill, which mostly just tinkers with Obamacare instead of actually repealing it, still contains a requirement that insurers have to cover people with pre-existing conditions. But a late addition, the MacArthur Amendment, gives states the ability to ask the federal government for a waiver that would allow insurers to charge people with pre-existing conditions higher rates.

The amendment itself—and I had to search around for a while to find its actual text rather than somebody’s short-stroke summary of it—makes no mention of sexual assault or rape.

Ah, but somebody realized that rape victims sometimes suffer medical problems as a consequences of the assault and that these problems would count as “pre-existing conditions” under the law. They would count as such because they have always counted as pre-existing conditions. But so would any number of other conditions resulting from other tragic and unfortunate events. In other words, this headline is so misleading that even PolitiFact rates it as “Mostly False.”

The new law does not “make” sexual assault a pre-existing condition. The medical consequences of rape have always been considered a pre-existing condition, because that’s what the phrase “pre-existing condition” means. It refers to a condition that existed previously.

“Pre-existing condition” is not a value judgment. It does not imply that the pre-existing condition is the patient’s fault, or that this person is somehow unworthy of receiving medical treatment. It is a merely factual description, but one that has special relevance when talking about insurance. When you require insurance coverage for a pre-existing condition, it’s no longer insurance. Insurance is a financial mechanism for hedging against an unknown future risk, not a way of seeking compensation for damage that has already occurred.

If that seems like a nitpicking distinction, it’s one with very big real-world consequences. Telling insurance companies that they have to cover pre-existing conditions and can’t charge more for that coverage breaks the actuarial calculation behind insurance and contributes to the “death spiral” of escalating premiums, which we could already see under Obamacare. So you can understand why there’s a rational argument for not requiring pre-existing conditions of any kind to be covered under the heading of “insurance.”

So are Democrats making this claim about sexual assault because they want to lobby for free medical treatment for victims of sexual assault—a worthy cause they just discovered five minutes ago? No, they’re doing it because evoking sexual assault victims, as opposed to sufferers of any other kind of pre-existing condition, packs a special emotional wallop. Then when somebody responds by carefully and rationally explaining what’s really going on and why pre-existing conditions can’t be covered if health insurance is going to function properly—as I just did above—that person suddenly looks like a callous heel. How can he approach the issue with such cool logic? How can he be so insensitive to the victims?

In short, it’s a raw appeal to emotion, specifically designed to make rational analysis of the issues look not just inappropriate, but positively immoral.

The Appeal to Emotion is a fallacy that’s thousands of years old, but what makes this particular case a microcosm of today’s style of argument is one extra twist. If the purpose of the Appeal to Emotion is to make logical analysis seem insensitive, the purpose here is to make the user of logic seem insensitive specifically to women. This fits right in with the target audience’s prejudices. Of course those evil people on the Right, those old white men reveling in their patriarchal privilege, would be callously indifferent to the suffering of women. Of course they want women to bear the blame for their own sexual assaults. It’s just like “The Handmaid’s Tale.” We knew it all along!

That’s what makes the headline “too good to check” and ensures its entry into the natural life cycle of a “fake news” story: blaring viral headlines, followed by low-key, surreptitious corrections in the more reputable outlets, followed by the cementing of the headline as an established fact that will never be dislodged from the minds of its target audience. We’ll still be hearing about it 30 years from now.

This fits into a larger problem with how the Left tends to interact with everyone else while they’re in Perpetual Rage Mode. As someone who attempts to interact with the other side pretty regularly on social media—and not always just to score rhetorical points—I’ve begun to notice a distinct pattern. People on the Left will interact with someone on the Right just long enough to be able to find some sign, some slip of the tongue, some violation of accepted speech codes (like not being a prig about Cinco de Mayo) that allows them to dismiss that person as racist, sexist, homophobic, or just insensitive—which provides an excuse to ignore anything he has to say. The conclusion is always the same: all arguments from the Right can be dismissed without consideration because they come from bigots.

They need to stop doing this, and not for our sake—if you’re on the Right, you’re probably used to coping with an omnipresent background radiation of political hostility—but for their own sake. It is a spectacularly unconvincing method of argument that drives people back into their own social media “filter bubbles.” It doesn’t convince anyone. It just convinces them not to talk to you any more. Then you end up on an evening in November, stunned at the fact that so many people voted for a candidate whose sole political function is to stick a finger in your eye.

The Left is already paying the price for making “race, class, and gender” into a substitute for argument and persuasion. They might want to consider not digging that hole any deeper.

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Filed under: abortion, bias, congress, false, government, health care, hypocrisy, ideology, left wing, legislation, liberalism, pandering, political correctness, politics, progressive, propaganda, public policy, reform, scandal, spending

Democrats: get in line with abortion or step aside

original article: Democrats Are Now Officially the Party of Death
May 3, 2017 by JASON JONES & JOHN ZMIRAK (The STREAM)

There is no more room in the Democratic party for pro-life Americans. The chairman of the Democratic National Committee has made that clear. As clear as the water Pontius Pilate used to wash his hands. Townhall reports:

Top Democrats recently told their party to get in line with their radical abortion agenda or step aside. As a way to bury the controversy over the Democrat National Committee campaigning with a Democratic mayoral candidate, Heath Mello, who once voted for pro-life legislation, DNC Chair Tom Perez and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) insisted that it was a mistake and that Roe v. Wade is non-negotiable.

The magazine America, whose liberal Jesuit editors are at least pro-life, pointed out what this really means:

Abortion is now the single issue defining the Democrats, and Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, is the de facto head of the party. … NARAL is at least as powerful within the Democratic Party as the National Rifle Association is within the Republican Party.

Bad News? Or Just Reality Emerging?

It’s hard to know precisely how to feel about this development.

We are Christians, pro-lifers, and conservatives — in that order. There’s no conflict among those things. In fact they go together. But each is a different angle from which to view political questions.

We live in a democracy. We bear a solemn responsibility under God: making just laws for ourselves. So abortion is a political question. It isn’t in China, Cuba, or other totalitarian states. There the people’s masters simply impose the practice on them. (You know, the way liberals want the Supreme Court to keep on doing.)

Strategically, it’s a bad thing for a cause to be trapped in just one party.

It’s key to keep our priorities in order. So let’s scrutinize this news about the Democrats under each of those three categories.

As Christians, We’re Saddened

From a spiritual perspective, this is tragic. One of our nation’s two political parties is now completely dedicated to a fundamental evil. Abortion is even worse than segregation. (Democrats defended that for 100 years). It’s on the level of slavery. To be an active Democrat, going forward, is now to participate in evil. If you raise money for Democratic candidates, give to Democratic causes, or in any way participate in that party’s bid for power. … You are implicated.

Our hearts go out to lifelong Democrats who care about unborn life. And to candidates like Heath Mello who tried to save their party from plunging over the cliff. But it has taken the plunge.

And that is something to mourn. It should lead us to prayer. It should lead pro-lifers who’ve belonged to the Democratic party to take a good hard look at leaving. Maybe they should start a third party that’s clearly pro-life, which also represents their views on other issues, where morality is not so black and white: such as poverty programs, immigration policy, and other liberal priorities.

But they can’t go on cooperating with the party of NARAL — any more than pro-life Republicans could stay in that party if it endorsed euthanasia to cut back on Medicare costs.

As Pro-Lifers, We’re Conflicted

As citizens committed to protecting the vulnerable from violence, we’re deeply saddened. We honor pro-life Democrats of the past, like the great Ellen McCormack and Robert Casey. They championed the human rights of unborn children in a party that was being hijacked by hedonism and feminism. They fought the good fight. And failed.

Of course the Democratic party is monolithically pro-abortion. It’s the logical consequence of the secular leftist view of man.

Strategically, it’s a bad thing for a cause to be trapped in just one party. Defenders of Israel are glad that pro-Israel candidates exist in both political parties. The National Rifle Association cultivates pro-Second Amendment Democrats. So have pro-lifers, as long as that party made room for differences of conviction. The danger is that Republicans will take our votes for granted, and continue to shove the life issue to the back burner.

But the two-party strategy might be falling apart for other causes too. The anger and intolerance of leftist activists is driving the Democratic party away from a true defense of Israel. Ever more liberal organizations are backing the bigoted “Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions” movement that targets Israel and even American Jews for open discrimination.

On the gun issue, Democratic leadership still prudently allows candidates in selected regions to dissent from the overwhelming party consensus against private handgun ownership. But how long that will last, in our current atmosphere of a rush to extremes? Of hooded leftist demonstrators silencing campus speakers with impunity? Ten years, max, we predict. Sooner rather than later, there will be no more room for Jim Webbs in the Democratic party.

Now the Stakes Are Obvious

On the positive side, the Democrats’ decision to side as a party with baby-parts merchants like Planned Parenthood does … clarify matters. It shreds for once and all the phony “Seamless Garment” that leftists within the churches have used to bury the unborn under a pile of other, more popular priorities.

As we wrote here last summer, members of Democrats for Life were essentially giving political cover to rabid pro-choicers like Hillary Clinton. How? By pretending that issues where people of good will can differ over the wisest policy for enhancing human life were somehow comparable to abortion. No, health insurance, welfare, wages, or even gun violence cannot be classed with abortion. Like genocide or unjust wars of conquest, it’s a practice that’s purely evil which no just government should enable. Period.

As Conservatives, We’re Hopeful

Of course, as citizens with strong, clear convictions about the sanctity of human life, we don’t like to see the party that represents half the country oppose us. It pushes the common good a little further out of reach. We wish that Democrats would come around on a whole range of issues. In an ideal world, both parties would accept core conservative principles — as both parties did on many issues, back in 1960 or so. Then elections could be about competency, honesty, and character.

Just as slavery and segregation denied the founding principles of our country, so does abortion. It is profoundly toxic to have one of our two major political parties aligned against the nation’s very founding. The Democratic party at first clung to slavery, then to segregation. Now it clings to abortion. How long will it take political reality to peel its white knuckles off its latest fetish of evil? Only time will tell.

That said, from the point of view of accomplishing things: The Democrats’ move is wicked, vicious, and helpful. To us. It demonstrates in flesh and blood the left’s commitment to an ideology of suicide.

The left in America has increasingly embraced a whole set of convictions that fit together like a puzzle. What holds the pieces in place is a dark, insidious view of human beings.

We Represent Different Species

Conservatives (especially Christians) believe that human beings are free, responsible creatures — the image of God. We only enjoy our freedoms as part of a compact; each one comes paired with a solemn responsibility. We don’t expect to “get away” with enjoying our rights while abandoning our duties. We don’t want to be paid for work we didn’t do. Nor to fund other people’s willful idleness. We don’t expect to enjoy all the pleasures of life and evade the consequences.

What better example could we find of a reckless abuse of freedom and disregard of duty than the practice of legal abortion? Everyone knows that sex is connected to having children, as eating is to nutrition. But the Sexual Revolution came along and offered us all the “benefits” of bulimia. Contemporary hedonism wants to totally sever that connection — to change the very nature of sex itself. God made it to be the glue that holds two people together in love for life, and generates new lives. Modern man wants it to be a low-investment, low-commitment  (but much more enjoyable) game of Twister.

No real conservative can support that. Few liberals today have the stomach to oppose it. So of course the Democratic party is monolithically pro-abortion. It’s the logical consequence of the secular leftist view of man: a lumpy featherless biped who seeks out pleasure. We can win his votes, the Democrats reckon, by offering him a bigger pile of bananas.

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Filed under: abortion, Democrats, government, ideology, indoctrination, intolerance, left wing, liberalism, political correctness, politics, progressive

The problem with basing a diagnosis and irreversible treatment on people’s feelings

original article: Bravo to the Truth: What’s Wrong with Transgender Ideology
April 27, 2017 by Walt Heyer

A recent New York Post article tells the story of a Detroit mom named Erica who changed into a transgender dad named Eric. If that is not enough, his son had already changed genders: born a boy, he transitioned to living as a girl. Thus, mom became dad and son became daughter. Similarly, back in 2015, a fifty-two-year-old Canadian man made the news when he traded in his wife and seven kids to fulfill his “true identity” as a six-year-old transgender girl.

Stories like these remind us that transgender identity is a product of LGBTQ social ideology, not of each human person’s innate identity as male or female. Transgender identity is not authentic gender but man’s attempt to socially engineer the family, sex, and gender identity.

What Makes a Person Trans?

The accepted LGBTQ standard for being a “real” trans woman or trans man is simply that a person desires to self-identify as the opposite of his or her biological sex and to be socially accepted as such. If a person feels distressed about his or her birth gender, then the politically correct action is for everyone to affirm the new and “authentic” gender identity—the one that exists only in the trans person’s feelings.

In a recent interview on Fox News, transgender lawyer Jillian Weiss, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, was asked repeatedly by host Tucker Carlson, “What are the legal standards to be transgender?” Finally, the legal specialist admitted, “There are no legal standards.

That’s right—no legal standards or legal definitions of transgender exist. Yet, as Carlson pointed out, $11 billion of federal money is spent on sex-specific programs, such as the Small Business Administration investing in businesses owned by women. Without a legal definition, these funds become easy prey for, as Carlson puts it, “charlatans” who will claim to be women simply to get the money.

When people feel that their biological sex doesn’t match their internal sense of gender, they are typically diagnosed with gender dysphoria. This is defined as “discomfort or distress that is caused by a discrepancy between a person’s gender identity and that person’s sex assigned at birth.” In other words, the medical diagnostician simply listens to and affirms the patient’s own verbal self-identification and self-diagnosis.

No objective tests can prove that the transgender condition exists. No physical examination, blood test, bone marrow test, chromosome test, or brain test will show that a person has gender dysphoria. It is a condition revealed solely by the patient’s feelings. Yet the recommended treatment is extreme—cross-gender hormones and sex-reassigning surgery.

Don’t be duped when trans activists conflate the unrelated condition of intersexuality with transgenderism to gain sympathy for a trans agenda. People with intersex conditions are not the same as self-identified transgender people. Being intersex is verifiable in the physical body; being transgender is not. People who identify as transgender usually have typical male or female anatomies.

How to Become Transgender
The wikiHow article entitled “How to Transition from Male to Female (Transgender)” outlines a simple five-part system for men who want to become women. Here is a small sample:

Seek a qualified therapist. . . . Ask your friends in the trans community to recommend a therapist. Browse the internet in search of a therapist experienced working with members of the trans community. . . .

Receive a diagnosis. Over the course of a series of sessions, your therapist will evaluate your individual situation issuing a diagnosis. After determining that you have consistently experienced symptoms such as disgust with your genitals, a desire to remove signs of your biological sex, and or a certainty that your biological sex does not align with your true gender, your therapist will likely diagnose you with Gender Dysphoria.

These instructions are typical of the advice offered to those who believe they may be transgender. I myself followed a similar series of steps. Yet, in hindsight, after transitioning from male to female and back again, I see that many important topics are ignored by such advice, placing vulnerable people at risk. Four crucial omissions are most obvious and problematic.

First, these instructions fail to caution the reader about therapist bias. Asking friends in the trans community to recommend a therapist guarantees that the therapist will be biased toward recommending the radical step of transitioning.

Second, no mention is made or warning given about sexual fetishes. If a person has been sexually, emotionally, or physically abused or is addicted to masturbation, cross-dressing, or pornography, he could be suffering from a sexual fetish disorder. As such, he is probably not going to be helped by gender dysphoria treatment protocols.

Third, the high incidence of comorbid mental conditions is not mentioned. Those who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, oppositional defiance behaviors, narcissism, autism, or other such disorders need to proceed cautiously when considering transitioning, because these disorders can cause symptoms of gender dysphoria. When the comorbid disorder is effectively treated, the gender discomfort may relent as well.

Fourth, regret after transition is real, and the attempted suicide rate is high. Unhappiness, depression, and inability to socially adapt have been linked to high rates of attempted suicide both before and after gender transition and sexual reassignment surgery. My website gathers academic research on this topic and reports the personal experiences of people who regret transitioning.

Standards of Care?
In theory, the medical community follows certain standards of care for transgender health, now in the seventh revision, which were developed by The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). The standards provide guidelines for treating people who report having discomfort with their gender identity.

People think that because standards exist, people will be properly screened before undergoing the radical gender transition. Unfortunately, the overwhelming theme of these standards is affirmation. Again, clinical practitioners do not diagnose gender dysphoria. Their job is to approve and affirm the client’s self-diagnosis of gender dysphoria and help the patient fulfill the desire for transition. The standards also advise that each patient’s case is different, so the medical practitioners may (and should) adapt the protocols to the individual.

The patient controls the diagnosis of gender dysphoria. If a gender specialist or the patient wants to skip the screening protocols and move forward with hormone treatment and surgical procedures, they are free to do so. The standards of care do not come with any requirement that they be followed.

For example, the standards do, in fact, recommend that patients be pre-screened for other mental health conditions. But I routinely hear from family members who say that obvious comorbid conditions, such as autism or a history of abuse, are ignored. The physician or the counselor simply concludes that the psychological history is unimportant and allows the patient to proceed with hormone treatment.

When Real Looks Fake
As simple as it is to become a “real” transgender person, it’s even easier to turn into a fake one. “Fake” transgender people like me start out as real, but when they eventually see through the delusion of gender change and stop living the transgender life, transgender activists give them the disparaging label of “fake.”

If someone comes to the difficult and honest conclusion that transitioning didn’t result in a change of sex, then he or she is perceived as a threat to the transgender movement and must be discredited. Name-calling and bullying ensues. To be considered real, the transgender person must continue in the delusion that his or her gender changed. The problem with basing a diagnosis and irreversible treatment on people’s feelings, no matter how sincerely held, is that feelings can change.

My message attempts to help others avoid regret, yet the warning is not welcome to the advocates whose voice for transgender rights rings strong and loud. Some will find my words offensive, but then the truth can be offensive. Personally, I cannot think of anything more offensive than men diminishing the wonder and uniqueness of biological women by suggesting women are nothing more than men who have been pumped with hormones and may or may not have undergone cosmetic surgery.

Cheers and bravo to the offensive truth. Let’s reclaim the beautiful reality of male and female sexual difference and reject transgender ideology.

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Some refugees prefer to stay home. Who knew?

In the present environment of American politics, some say bringing refugees to the U.S. is THE solution to the Syrian crisis. But there are other perspectives, such as the perspective of some refugees themselves.

 

This refugee from Syria expresses gratitude for America’s military action in response to the gas attack on Syrian civilians, which appear to be the work of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. He also mentions the fact he and his fellow refugees don’t want to be forced out of their homes and into some foreign country. Some in the American media, such as CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, fish for criticism of President Trump and his immigration policies when interviewing refugees. Debora Heine at PJ Media wrote on this story in CNN Narrative Fail: Syrian Refugee Slams Clinton, Obama; Praises Trump.

“With all due respect, with all due respect,” Kassem began. “I didn’t see each and every person who was demonstrating after the travel ban…. I didn’t see you three days ago when people were gassed to death….I didn’t see you in 2013 when 1,400 people were gassed to death. I didn’t see you raising your voice against President Obama’s inaction in Syria that left us refugees,” he said, completely deflating her expectations.

“If you really care about refugees, if you really care about helping us, please — help us stay here in our country,” he continued.

Others who have looked into immigration have reached a similar conclusion. Rather than play politics and act as if racism or xenophobia are the motivation, those who are willing to make an intellectually honest assessment of the crisis recognize immigration is not the solution the refugees need. Just like the Syrian refugee who wants help remaining in his home, Roy Beck shows good reasons to question the open immigration narrative by discussing the practical details that actually affect the people involved.

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Yes, Democrats are still responsible for slavery, Jim Crow, and the KKK

I was listening to a guy talk about the unsavory history of American Democrats. An academic in the audience, also a Democrat, spoke up during the Q&A and castigated the speaker for suggesting modern Democrats are responsible for their party’s past. Elsewhere, on a forum unrelated to politics I saw a post asking (while actually suggesting) if Republicans were the party of racism.

On many occasions I’ve heard people argue in no uncertain terms that today’s Democrat party is not the same as it used to be. Democrats are a very different group of people today, the argument goes, so the modern party cannot honestly be held accountable for the evils of their predecessors.

And yet Republicans today are frequently blamed for slavery, Jim Crow, and the KKK – all of which were either defended or (in the case of Jim Crow and the KKK) invented by Democrats. If Democrats cannot be honestly held accountable for the sins of the past because the modern party is composed of different people, how can modern Republicans honestly be held accountable for the Democrats’ sins of the past?

The myth that the parties “switched sides” is constantly losing credibility, as it should. Certain arguments keep cropping up which rightly challenge that myth. As one example, consider the fact the “not a person” argument was one of the chief defenses of slavery Democrats used in the past, and it is one of the chief defenses Democrats use today to defend abortion. Democrats never stopped playing semantic games with other people’s personhood. That game switched to a different target, but the victimizing continues. Deciding who is and who is not a person, and therefore who does and who does not have rights, is one of the fundamental tools of oppression Democrats have always used.

Contrast this with the conservative position on who does and who does not have rights. If you move to the United States legally and follow our rules, and join in the social compact we all have amongst ourselves as citizens, you can enjoy the rights and benefits of citizenship. If you move to our country and choose to break our laws and intentionally avoid becoming a citizen you don’t get to enjoy the rights and benefits of citizenship. Voting is not a human right, it is a citizen right. No one is denying an immigrant their status as a person by arguing they have no right to vote (despite Democrat protestations).

Another important detail is the fact Democrats are not responsible for the vast majority of civil rights legislation passed by the U.S. government. From the war between the states through the 1950s civil rights legislation was soundly the result of Republican efforts. Remember that incident in the early 20th century when the American military was racially segregated? Yeah, that was Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, working against civil rights that had already been achieved up to that point in American history. And even for those pieces of legislation which Democrats do claim credit, we are justified in asking why should they? After all it was not Republicans who filibustered the 1964 civil rights act; that was Democrats. So why should Democrats get credit for it today?

Besides, if Democrats of today ought not be held accountable for the sins of Democrats of the past, even if you wanted to argue Democrats deserve credit for the 1964 civil rights act, why should today’s Democrats get credit for it? On the other hand, if today’s Democrats do deserve credit for the virtues of Democrats half a century ago, they likewise deserve blame for those past sins.

Another reason Democrats can still be blamed for their past sins is the myth that those slavery-defending Democrats were conservative. This is why liberals/progressives have no choice but to define conservatism as wanting to maintain the status quo and opposing change. All power seeks to preserve itself. Communists, socialists, fascists, Democrats, Republicans, and all political groups who have power want to keep it. To admit this plain fact would endanger the modern narrative. Liberals/progressives have no problem blaming modern Republicans for the sins of the past but they lose their minds if someone suggests Democrats should be held responsible for the sins of their own political party.

“Change” has always been a battle cry of tyrants, so conservatives are naturally skeptical of politicians promising change, or making promises of any kind. The liberal/progressive description of conservatism sees the political right as a group of people who want to maintain the status quo, to keep power structures as they are. But the conservative description of conservatism is quite different. In the American experiment, conservatism has always been leery of the abuse of power. That’s why, in order to “preserve” liberty, conservatives prefer to “conserve” power, to limit its concentration and avoid its over use. Conservatives are glad to test new ideas, but not to blindly jump on board just because enthusiastic (or even violent and hateful) protesters demand change. Environmental activists work in a similar fashion: seeking to preserve the environment by conserving energy, avoiding its overuse or waste (but resorting to liberal/progressive tactics in seeking to control other people in the process).

It was not conservatives of the past who defended slavery. The abolitionists were the conservatives of the day. They viewed the abuse of power in legally robbing one group of people of their humanity as a threat to everyone, naturally put us all in danger of the same abuse. Looking at the long term effects of the situation, conservatives realized if our government can dehumanize one group, it can dehumanize another. They viewed this type of power, in a free society claiming to be founded on the notion of liberty, as abuse. And the abolitionists were right. Today, prenatal people are denied all rights because they are explicitly robbed of their very humanity. (And don’t forget that other incident when progressive Germans decided to play semantic games with personhood.)

In our modern era all manner of common ideas are construed as discrimination and oppression to help reinforce the idea of blaming Republicans for the past sins of slavery. It is said foreigners who are not citizens are denied their humanity because they are not allowed to vote (which could become their right if only they would become citizens). It is said gays are denied their humanity because they are not allowed to live together, to love who they want to love, or to have a ceremony. Actually, even before government usurped the religious institution of marriage (a violation of the separation between church and state, by the way) gays were already doing all these things in the United States. No one was stopping them. There are some people who want to deny the right of gays to do any of those things, or even to live, but if I told you who they were I’d probably be accused of Islamophobia.

When conservatives want reasonable justification for redefining the right to vote or the institution of marriage we are accused of all sorts of evil things, and a lot of people believe those accusations because somehow conservatives are supposed to be responsible for slavery, so why wouldn’t Republicans do these other evil things, too? When conservatives ask why, after telling us liberals wanted government out of the bedroom, do they now demand government enter the bedroom we are supposed to simply cower and remain silent at the allegation of bigotry.

So there is political gain to be had in blaming Republicans for the past sins of Democrats. Democrats have a long track record, continuing even today, of dehumanizing others. But it is only Republicans who bear the blame for dehumanization. Misconstruing today’s issues as hate is the new norm. Anything progressives disagree with is labeled “fascism”. Then progressives act like fascists to “protest”. Silencing others, resorting to violence to do so, dehumanizing detractors, and bullying anyone fails to tote the line is fascism. It is also the history and contemporary practice of Democrats.

Yes, both political parties are quite different today as compared to what they were 150, 100, or even 50 years ago. No, the parties didn’t “switch sides”. Since Democrats continue to play the same political games they have played all along, they deserve the blame for their own sins, especially since they fraudulently claim credit for any virtues of the past.

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Filed under: abuse, american, bigotry, civil rights, corruption, culture, Democrats, fraud, government, history, hypocrisy, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, oppression, pandering, political correctness, progressive, propaganda, public policy, relativism, victimization

The absurdity of transgenderism: a stern but necessary critique

original article: The absurdity of transgenderism: a stern but necessary critique
April 22, 2015 by Carlos D. Flores

By now we are all undoubtedly familiar with the tragic suicide of Joshua Alcorn, the transgender teenage boy who, in late December, walked onto a freeway with the intention of ending his life. In an apparent suicide note, Joshua cites a host of reasons for why he was led to end his life, most prominent of which were his parents’ attempts to discourage his identifying as a girl and his being sent to therapists in an attempt to relieve these feelings. All of the problems that ultimately culminated in his suicide, writes Joshua, stem from the fact that, from the time he was a small child, he felt like a “girl trapped in a boy’s body.”

No sooner had Joshua’s heart stopped beating than the story of his suicide was seized by LGBT activists and pruned to advance a familiar narrative of a sexual minority fighting cultural oppression. Joshua’s parents immediately began to be chided as “repressive” and “bigoted” and even began to receive various threats from LGBT internet crusader-activists.

Transgenderism and Gender Identity

I have not referred to Joshua by using female pronouns or by using his self-invented female name of “Leelah.” The reason I am not doing this is simple: Joshua was not a girl—he was a boy—and to address males with female pronouns or females with male pronouns is to contribute to our culture’s confusion about sexuality and the nature of the human person, which is literally leaving casualties in its wake. No amount of surgical mutilation of body parts, effeminate behaviors, or artificial female appearances can make a man a woman.

LGBT activists will respond in various ways to this. They might first respond by saying: “Okay, true enough: Joshua was biologically a male. But you have misunderstood our claim: we contend that his sex was male, yes, but his gender was female because he ‘identified’ as female.” The idea here is that people have a sex, which is either female or male and which one cannot choose. In addition to this, however, there is “gender,” or what sex one is more comfortable “identifying” as. The response to this is simple: Why think that what one “identifies as” is significant at all, especially to the extent that others should actively recognize or cater to such an identity, and especially when the identity one adopts is contrary to reality?

Consider the following analogies. Suppose that a Caucasian man from Finland—call him Gunther—suddenly decided that he identifies as being of Sub-Saharan African descent. Suppose further that, in light of this, Gunther undergoes unusual procedures to have his skin darkened and his skull’s bone structure re-shaped so as to resemble that of individuals of Sub-Saharan descent. Would we think that such a person has suddenly become of Sub-Saharan descent through such procedures? Of course not, and his identifying as such does nothing to change this. His appearance as someone of Sub-Saharan descent might be very convincing. But, again, this doesn’t change the fact that he is not of Sub-Saharan descent.

Similarly, suppose that a seventy-year-old man—call him Bob—comes to identify as a sixteen-year-old. Wouldn’t we think it absurd if people considered it “rude” or “bigoted” to tell the man: “You are not sixteen years old. Your identifying as such doesn’t change this fact, and we will not indulge you in your strange delusions by not calling attention to your old age and by pretending that you really are sixteen years old”?

The cases of Gunther and Bob and the situations of individuals who believe themselves to be transgender are perfectly analogous. In the case of the transgender individual, he identifies as something he is not—someone of the opposite sex—and seeks to undergo harmful surgeries and hormonal treatments in order to have his physical state match his identity of himself as someone of the opposite sex.

Our mental faculties, like our physical ones, are ordered toward various ends. Among these ends is the attainment of truth. To this extent, it is perfective of our mental faculties to recognize how we truly are (and thus apprehend a truth). It is for this reason that we can make sense of mental disorders such as anorexia nervosa as disorders: they involve persons’ having persistent, false beliefs about their identity or how they really are. In the case of the anorexic, someone who is dangerously underweight believes falsely (but tenaciously) that he is really overweight. It would be a proper procedure of medicine, then, for a therapist to help an anorexic individual to do away with his anorexia, restoring the individual’s mental faculties to their properly functioning state.

Gender Reassignment Surgery Is Not Medicine

Those in favor of transgenderism also (naturally) support gender-reassignment surgery as a perfectly legitimate medical procedure for individuals (including children) with gender dysphoria. Now, put to one side the fact that 70-80 percent of children who report having transgender feelings come to lose such feelings. Ignore, for the moment, the fact that individuals who undergo gender reassignment surgery are 20 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population. Instead consider the following question: Can we reasonably categorize gender reassignment surgery as a medical procedure in the first place?

Before we answer this question, we might venture to ask: what is medicine? Here is a plausible answer: medicine is the enterprise of restoring bodily faculties to their proper function. Our bodily faculties are ordered toward certain ends. This seems impossible to deny. Eyes, for example, are ordered toward (i.e., their function is) seeing, the stomach is ordered toward breaking down food, the heart is ordered toward pumping blood, etc. So if, say, someone’s eyes were not able to achieve their end of sight well, it would be rightly considered a medical procedure to seek to restore this individual’s eyes to their proper function. Similarly, it would be a medical endeavor to seek to restore an individual’s defective heart (one that has arrhythmia, say) to its proper function. All well and good.

But what are we to make of this “gender reassignment” surgery? Insofar as such a surgical procedure involves the intentional damaging and mutilating of otherwise perfectly functioning bodily faculties by twisting them to an end toward which they are not ordered, such a thing cannot, in principle, possibly be considered a medical procedure. And because love compels us to seek the good for another, it is thus a grave evil to condone such surgical procedures.

On Gender Identity Disorder Therapy

A similar point can be made about gender identity disorder therapy. Transgenderism activists are seizing Joshua’s tragic death to insist that such therapy ought to be criminalized. A petition is floating around the internet to ban so-called “transgender conversion therapy,” a procedure that involves, presumably, an attempt by a professional to help a person who is experiencing a gender identity disorder (also known as gender dysphoria). If the progress of the homosexual movement is a guide to what will come next, we can expect that laws will soon be passed criminalizing individuals’ receiving therapy to help them do away with transgender identities or desires—even for those who want to relieve themselves of such identities and desires.

Recall our earlier discussion of anorexia. Like the anorexic, the transgendered individual tenaciously holds to false beliefs about his identity or how or what he truly is: he believes that he is a sex that he is not. Dr. Paul McHugh’s words here are particularly incisive:

The transgendered suffer a disorder of “assumption” like those in other disorders familiar to psychiatrists. With the transgendered, the disordered assumption is that the individual differs from what seems given in nature—namely one’s maleness or femaleness. Other kinds of disordered assumptions are held by those who suffer from anorexia and bulimia nervosa, where the assumption that departs from physical reality is the belief by the dangerously thin that they are overweight.

It would thus be a perfectly proper procedure of medicine for the transgendered individual to visit a therapist to seek his professional help to relieve himself of his disordered transgender identity insofar as this would amount to a restoring of the transgendered individual’s mental faculties to their properly functioning state. The suggestion, then, that gender identity disorder therapy should be criminalized is as absurd as the suggestion that therapy to eliminate anorexia should be criminalized.

Some Common Objections

Now, an apologist for transgenderism might retort in the following way: “You’re missing a key point: the brains of, say, men who ‘identify’ as women have been shown to resemble those of women. This shows that there is a biological basis to their identifying as such.” In response, we might begin by asking for empirical evidence that this dubious claim really is true. But even if this were the case, this doesn’t show that men whose brains “resemble that of a woman’s” (whatever that means) are truly women after all. If we are to say that the person simply is the brain, as the one who espouses this objection seems to suggest, then, because presumably even males who identify as women have brains with male DNA, it follows that they are men after all.

But we don’t even need to grant that the presence of such-and-such brain states is relevant at all. For example, we may suppose that, through habitually behaving as a sixteen-year-old, the brain activity of the seventy-year-old mentioned above “resembles” that of a sixteen-year-old’s. Does it follow, then, that the seventy-year-old really is sixteen years old? Or that he is really a sixteen-year-old trapped inside a seventy-year-old’s body? Of course not. The most rational conclusion is that such an individual has some sort of cognitive or psychological defect associated with identity and self-perception. The same can be said for the transgender individual.

Indeed, it should not come as a surprise to find out that our daily activities shape our brain-states or alter the way our brains behave. After all, it is more or less common knowledge that, say, the process of learning to play an instrument has the effect of establishing new neural pathways, thus causing a change in brain-states. Thus Dr. Norman Doidge comments: “Now we know the brain is ‘neuroplastic,’ and not only can it change, but that it works by changing its structure in response to repeated mental experience.”

On the topic of sexuality more specifically, consider the fact that habitual porn use seems to result in (or correlate with) decreased gray matter in the brain, and that habitual porn use changes the sexual tastes of men. If habitually watching pornography can change a man’s brain so significantly, then it should hardly be surprising that through intentionally and habitually behaving like a woman a man’s brain would too change to some extent. But again, this does not thereby show that such a man is a woman after all; all it shows is that through habituated action of some sort, the man’s brain behavior has changed.

Another response might be to ask rhetorically: “Well, what about intersex individuals?” The implication is that the existence of intersex individuals somehow shows that the nature of sex is up for grabs for everyone, intersex or not. But this doesn’t follow at all. In the genuine case of intersex individuals, it may very well be appropriate to express puzzlement or ignorance as to what to make of such an attribute, metaphysically speaking, and perhaps leave it as an open question whether such individuals are either male or female or whether they should be encouraged to undergo surgical procedures in the interest of their health. Cases in which an individual is intersex, however, are exceedingly rare. Indeed, even granting the point, it would not be unfair to say that in 99.99 percent of cases (and even this might be too low a percentage), a person is either male or female. And unsurprisingly, most of the individuals who believe themselves to be transgender have perfectly functioning male or female reproductive systems. This question is both irrelevant and fruitless.

Finally, the LGBT activist might retort by asking: “but how will a man identifying as a woman affect you?” If these were simply private issues, this might be a valid point (though a concern for the physical and mental well-being of individuals struggling with their gender might obligate us to reach out to them in such a case). But, alas, LGBT activists are actively working to make it the case that the state and private businesses cover “gender-reassignment” surgeries, that men who identify as women be able to use women’s restrooms, that girls who identify as boys be able to play on male sports teams, that we consider it immoral to refer to infants as male or female lest we insidiously impose upon them a “gender” they might not identify with, that we ban therapy to treat gender dysphoria, and that we generally co-opt language and social norms to reflect pernicious falsehoods about the human body.

How a man’s identifying as a woman will personally affect me, you, or John Doe is irrelevant. What is relevant is whether we will make public policy and encourage social norms that reflect the truth about the human person and sexuality, or whether we will obfuscate the truth about such matters and sow the seeds of sexual confusion in future generations for years to come.

conservative, crisis, culture, extremism, government, homosexuality, ideology, justice, philosophy, public policy, relativism, right wing, science, sex, tragedy, victimization

Filed under: conservative, crisis, culture, extremism, government, homosexuality, ideology, justice, philosophy, public policy, relativism, right wing, science, sex, tragedy, victimization

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