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Government can’t hug you, but it can kill you

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It’s been a long time since I have felt as angry and impotent as I have felt since Monday. Conservative media right now is saturated with reaction to the news from Charlie Gard’s parents, regarding their decision to no longer pursue the legal battle to save their child’s life. Liberal media in the US is mostly silent.

I am not a parent, though I’ve wanted to be a parent for most of my life. I cannot imagine the pain of having to say goodbye to your child, let alone to your infant child. I cannot imagine the pain of saying goodbye because the Government has decided, against you, that it was in the “best interest” of your child to die.

Remember, if our lawmakers cannot shed Obamacare and replace it with something that recognizes personal liberty, we will–an absolute certainty–end up with socialized health care in America.

What I can’t imagine is currently what Chris and Connie are going through. If they read this, I hope they know that my heart is broken with their hearts. I love them and I love Charlie.

The argument for socialized health care, that up to this point I have mostly ignored, is that we should “care” about people less fortunate, and socialized health care is the best way to care.

I haven’t seen a single left leaning person attach this argument to Charlie’s case.

And that’s because they can’t.

Let’s discuss why a large centralized power having the decision making authority of whether you live or die is bad.

  1. Government is not a person. More importantly, government is not capable of empathy, nor is it supposed to be capable of empathy. It is supposed to fill a specific set of functions, ie laws to maintain a civilized society, and national defense – ie keep other governments out. Obviously, people are human, and make up government, which introduces biases. Our goal should be to limit government’s power and to reduce bias and emotion as much as possible, not to increase it.
  2. Running trillions of dollars of deficit will eventually bite us in the ass, folks. Sorry for the vulgarity, but spending money with no hope of paying it back is crazy. Eventually, it must find a way to cut costs. And usually, you look at trimming the most expensive costs first. This usually happens by comparing what you pay, to what you get. The more expensive one’s health care is or projected to be, the harder it will be to get government to pay for it. So, rare diseases, fetal defects, people past a certain age – government literally made the decision for Connie and Chris that their child was too expensive. And government won. So now, you want that here?
  3. In Iceland, 100 percent of Down’s babies are aborted when diagnosed in utero. Children, who could have lived happy, successful, and fulfilling lives are aborted because they have an extra chromosome and are therefore different. There’s no excuse that makes this ok, and it’s disgusting. So, I ask, you want Government to make the decision for you that when pregnant you have mandatory tests? If you’re pregnant, and the child is determined to have Down’s or some type of heart disease, you want Gov’t to have the power to decide your child is too expensive to maintain?
  4. Let’s take a second, and go to China. They recently switched their official one child policy, to a two child policy. They would enforce their one child policy by aborting women, whenever the women were found to have been carrying a second or third child. They would do this at any time. You could be 8 and half months pregnant, and if you were reported to the police, dragged to the nearest clinic to have your child murdered inside you. China’s currently experiencing a few problems, namely, not enough women. (Who would have thought that in a society where being a man was more important, people would not choose to have a girl as an only child?) Now, they’re importing girls and women from other countries, and I think there’s a pretty awful sex slave trade going down over there.

When you give the federal government the power to make your decisions instead of you, you are giving them the authority to make those decisions. Charlie should live as a warning to us all. Don’t let the federal government take control over your life. Here’s the thing, guys. Government doesn’t care. Government will go for the least costly and most efficient solutions that it can, because ultimately, it is a machine. That’s why you need to limit its power as much as you can, and retain your autonomy as much as you can.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Jan Cosgrove

    July 27, 2017 at 10:15 pm

    Sanctimonious rubbish. GOSH is one of the finest paediatric hospitals in the world 3 of the 7 top paediatricians in the world
    work there. and the fact is they have done all they know to enable Charlie to improve. What they have said is that they know of no more that can be done, in other words, they admit no more can be done. If this were an adult with cancer, it would be palliative care only, removal from artificial life support. The same principle applies.

    Of course his poor parents have gone the extra mile, and GOSH itself called for the final court hearing to enable the US doctor to attend. BTW he had been invited last January but didn’t come till now. Yet he claimed he could help, but only a 10% chance of improvement not even having examined the child. When he got here to the UK, he had to agree his treatment would not have worked. I don’t think his behaviour has fulfilled the required medical ethics expected of him.

    You make an asinine connection with socialised medicine. Get this straight and stop using any opportunity to politicise a humanitarian issue. Our National Health insurance has paid for Charlie’s treatment, free at the point of delivery. His parents have never faced running out of insurance cover, the NHS is what people here want. You stick to your system if you will, we know what works for us.

    We have an independent judiciary, like you, and you should read the court judgement on this matter, not biased press reporting based on fundamentalist christian politics. You will there learn about compassion, professionalism, heart-breaking dilemma for parents, doctors, nurses, attorneys and the judge to whom you should pay the greatest respect,

    In essence. try our hardest, use god-given power of knowledge, science etc, there are things we cannot do. Enabling Charlie to improve, which is what his parents seek, and we all would if it were possible, is beyond our knowledge and may well always be.

    What I find wicked is the wholly unscrupulous conduct of those who have exploited his parents grief and love to peddle their politico-religious claptrap, one from the States linked to advocating killing of staff at abortion centres in the US. We don’t want such folk here, we accept the Rule of Law. It is the height of irresponsibility to prey on parents love in the way that is being done, it has not helped them or Charlie one iota, and frankly is evil, yes, for all the sanctimonious crap bandied around, it has done nothing and can do nothing.

    What the alt right advocate here is to keep life support going when there is no prospect for any improvement and the FACT that the only thing that keeps him breathing is that equipment. Mankind knows no more, surely you can accept that or does the alt right insist it knows better not only than the medics but God Himself? It seems sinful arrogance to me, a claim to know His Will for this child.

    I suggest you stick to sorting out the mess you have in your Congress over health insurance, politicians playing cynical games with people’s daily lives. Charlie’s parents had no worries about being able to afford the incredible world-best care he has had because of our national health insurance system, free at the point of use. Can you say that if they had been US citizens they would have been assured of cover come what may, regardless of who they are and their means? No? Well here we can tell you Yes, that has happened. No government has ordered this outcome, a court has based on evidence and law, not to mention huge compassion. Learn something, will you, the US is not Know-All, Best-Way. And this is NOTHING to do with abortion, it is about end-of-life care, and when is the right time to stop treatment and administer palliative care only, the independent court judgement is that this is the time.

    BTW I have worked in children’s rights for 40 years.

  2. Sonny Crockett

    August 2, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    This is superb analysis, and I love how organized and methodical the arguments are. Loved reading it. Oh, as an aside, I definitely agree with your take.

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Argentina: Submarine missing a year found deep in Atlantic

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Argentina Submarine missing a year found deep in Atlantic

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentina’s navy announced early Saturday that searchers found the missing submarine ARA San Juan deep in the Atlantic a year after it disappeared with 44 crewmen aboard.

The vessel was detected 800 meters (2,625 feet) deep in waters off the Valdes Peninsula in Argentine Patagonia, the statement said.

The navy said a “positive identification” had been made by a remote-operated submersible from the American ship Ocean Infinity, which was hired for the latest search for the missing vessel.

The discovery was announced just two days after families of the missing sailors held a commemoration one year after the sub disappeared on Nov. 15, 2017.

On Thursday, on the anniversary of the disappearance, President Mauricio Macri said the families of the submariners should not feel alone and delivered an “absolute and non-negotiable commitment” to find “the truth.”

Macri promised a full investigation after the submarine was lost. Federal police raided naval bases and other buildings last January as part of the probe, soon after the government dismissed the head of the navy.

The San Juan was returning to its base in the coastal city of Mar del Plata when contact was lost.

Argentina gave up hope of finding survivors after an intense search aided by 18 countries, but the navy has continued searching for the vessel.

The German-built diesel-electric TR-1700 class submarine was commissioned in the mid-1980s and was most recently refitted between 2008 and 2014. During the $12 million retrofitting, the vessel was cut in half and had its engines and batteries replaced. Experts said refits can be difficult because they involve integrating systems produced by different manufacturers, and even the tiniest mistake during the cutting phase can put the safety of the ship and crew at risk.

The navy said previously the captain reported on Nov. 15 that water entered the snorkel and caused one of the sub’s batteries to short-circuit. The captain later communicated that it had been contained.

Some hours later, an explosion was detected near the time and place where the San Juan was last heard from. The navy said the blast could have been caused by a “concentration of hydrogen” triggered by the battery problem reported by the captain.

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News

Fire deaths rise to 71 ahead of Trump’s California visit

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Fire deaths rise to 71 ahead of Trumps California visit

CHICO, Calif. (AP) — With the confirmed death toll at 71 and the list of unaccounted for people more than 1,000, authorities in Northern California on Friday searched for those who perished and those who survived the fiercest of wildfires ahead of a planned visit by President Donald Trump.

The president on Saturday is expected to get a look at the grief and damage caused by the deadliest U.S. wildfire in a century, and he could face resentment from locals for blaming the inferno on poor forest management in California.

In an interview taped Friday and scheduled for broadcast on “Fox News Sunday,” Trump said he was surprised to see images of firefighters removing dried brush near a fire, adding, “This should have been all raked out.”

Deputies found eight more bodies Friday, bringing the death toll to 71.

The number of people unaccounted for grew from 631 on Thursday night to more than 1,000 on Friday, but Sheriff Kory Honea said the list was dynamic and could easily contain duplicate names and unreliable spellings of names.

He said the roster probably includes some who fled the blaze and do not realize they’ve been reported missing.

“We are still receiving calls, we’re still reviewing emails,” Honea said Friday.

Some on the list have been confirmed as dead by family and friends on social media. Others have been located and are safe, but authorities haven’t gotten around to marking them as found.

Tamara Conry said she should never have been on the list.

“My husband and I are not missing and never were!” Conry wrote Thursday night on Facebook. “We have no family looking for us. … I called and left a message to take our names off.”

Authorities compiled the list by going back to listen to all the dispatch calls they received since the fire started, to make sure they didn’t miss anyone.

In last year’s catastrophic wildfires in California wine country, Sonoma County authorities at one point listed more than 2,000 people as missing. But they slowly whittled down the number. In the end, 44 people died in several counties.

The wildfire this time all but razed the town of Paradise, population 27,000, and heavily damaged the outlying communities of Magalia and Concow on Nov. 8, destroying 9,700 houses and 144 apartment buildings, authorities said.

Firefighters were gaining ground against the blaze, which blackened 222 square miles (575 square kilometers). It was 45 percent contained and posed no immediate threat to populated areas. Crews managed to stop it from spreading toward Oroville, population 19,000.

A search and rescue dog searches for human remains at the Camp Fire, Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, in Paradise, Calif. (AP Photo/John Locher)

This patch of California, a former Gold Rush region in the Sierra Nevada foothills, is to some extent Trump country, with Trump beating Hillary Clinton in Butte County by 4 percentage points in 2016.

But some survivors resent that Trump took to Twitter two days after the disaster to blame the wildfires on poor forest mismanagement. He threatened to withhold federal payments from California.

“If you insult people, then you go visit them, how do you think you’re going to be accepted? You’re not going to have a parade,” Maggie Crowder of Magalia said Thursday outside an informal shelter at a Walmart parking lot in Chico.

But Stacy Lazzarino, who voted for Trump, said it would be good for the president to see the devastation up close: “I think by maybe seeing it he’s going to be like ‘Oh, my goodness,’ and it might start opening people’s eyes.”

In his Fox News interview on the eve of his visit, the president repeated his criticism. Asked if he thought climate change contributed to the fires, he said, “Maybe it contributes a little bit. The big problem we have is management.”

Nick Shawkey, a captain with the state fire agency, said the president’s tweet blaming poor forest management was based on a “misunderstanding.” The federal government manages 46 percent of land in California.

“The thing he’s tweeting about is his property,” Shawkey said.

California’s outgoing and incoming governors said they would join Trump on Saturday.

Democrats Gov. Jerry Brown and governor-elect Gavin Newsom said they welcomed the president’s visit and “now is a time to pull together for the people of California.” Brown and Newsom have been vocal critics of Trump.

There were also worries the presidential visit would be disruptive.

“It’s already a zoo here and I don’t care who the president is. He needs to wait because the traffic’s already horrendous,” said Charlotte Harkness, whose home in Paradise burned down. “He could just tweet something nice — three words: ‘I am sorry,’ and that’s fine.”

More than 450 searchers continued looking for human remains in the ashes.

Around 52,000 people have been driven out and have gone to shelters, motels and the homes of friends and relatives. With winter coming on, many are seeking answers on what assistance will be provided.

At the Chico Mall where the Federal Emergency Management Agency and others set up an assistance center, 68-year-old Richard Wilson sought information about lodging. His wife is nearly bedridden from lupus and fibromyalgia.

“We’re having to stay at a Marriott, which is like $100 a night, and we’re running out of money,” Wilson said as he stood outside in rubber sandals and no socks — the only footwear he had when he fled the flames that destroyed his home.

In Southern California , meanwhile, more residents were being allowed back in their homes near Los Angeles after a blaze torched an area the size of Denver and destroyed more than 600 homes and other structures. The blaze was 69 percent contained, authorities said.

At least three deaths were reported.

Schools across a large swath of the state were closed because of smoke, and San Francisco’s world-famous open-air cable cars were pulled off the streets.

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Associated Press reporters Janie Har and Olga Rodriguez in San Francisco contributed to this report.

___

This story has been corrected to show that Crowder spoke by Walmart and that Wilson spoke at an assistance center.

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Foreign Affairs

The Saudi predicament requires radical changes in our foreign affairs positions

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Saudi predicament requires radical changes in our foreign affairs positions

The United States is at a foreign affairs crossroads. One of our most important allies in the most important region in the world is being led by a man that U.S. intelligence (and pretty much everybody else) believes ordered the murder of a journalist living in our nation and writing for one of its biggest news outlets. How can we reconcile between what’s right and what’s smart?

Further evidence was leaked today that Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince and de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, ordered the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month. The CIA concluded this based on multiple pieces of circumstantial evidence, including phone calls intercepted between Khashoggi and Mohammed’s brother assuring Khashoggi’s safety if he went to the Saudi consulate where was murdered.

CIA concludes Saudi crown prince ordered Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/cia-concludes-saudi-crown-prince-ordered-jamal-khashoggis-assassination/2018/11/16/98c89fe6-e9b2-11e8-a939-9469f1166f9d_story.html?utm_term=.718b2d26599cThe CIA’s conclusion about Mohammed’s role was also based on the agency’s assessment of the prince as the country’s de facto ruler who oversees even minor affairs in the kingdom. “The accepted position is that there is no way this happened without him being aware or involved,” said a U.S. official familiar with the CIA’s conclusions.

Among the intelligence assembled by the CIA is an audio recording from a listening device that the Turks placed inside the Saudi consulate, according to the people familiar with the matter. The Turks gave the CIA a copy of that audio, and the agency’s director, Gina Haspel, has listened to it.

This is much more complicated than deciding whether or not to punish Mohammed. The stakes are unfathomably high, including balance of power in the Middle East, a potential oil crisis that could cripple the world economy, and the future of a peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians.

Unfortunately, what’s right and what’s smart are diametrically opposed in this situation.

What’s right?

Every ounce of evidence points to the near-certainty that Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. He was a permanent residence of the United States who lived in Virginia and worked at the Washington Post. While not a citizen, he lawfully earned the right to fall under our nation’s protections.

The right thing to do is to condemn the Crown Prince, even if that will irreversibly damage our relationship with Saudi Arabia.

What’s smart?

Based on the current geopolitical status quo, Saudi Arabia is our best proxy to keep Iran in check in the Middle East. They are also the reason the dollar is still the world’s reserve currency despite efforts by Russia, China, and other nations to change that. This status allows the dollar to maintain artificial stability. There are many factors in play that could cripple the dollar if Saudi Arabia and OPEC started dealing in other currencies, bur national debt alone would be enough to catastrophically collapse our entire economy if the world had the means to turn its collective back on us.

Saudi Arabia and the so-called “petrodollar” is the force that maintains the illusion of stability.

The arms we sell Saudi Arabia account for a substantial chunk of revenue and jobs in the United States, but more importantly it gives them the technological edge they need over Iran. If the Saudis turn to Russia or China, our influence over the region would diminish greatly.

The smart thing to do is to sweep this under the rug. Throw symbolic punishment at some sacrificial Saudi lambs and move on.

Time for change

There is no way to do what’s right and still do what’s smart, so it would seem the White House has to pick between the two.

Perhaps they don’t. Perhaps there’s a third option.

Even if we do the “right” thing by condemning Saudi Arabia Mohammed, ties will not deteriorate immediately. There will be a wind down during which time the Saudis will be looking for other partners and the Americans will be trying to salvage the relationship.

What if we didn’t? What if we acknowledged for the first time that Saudi Arabia is more than just the country that murdered Khashoggi. Their human rights record is atrocious. They have directly or indirectly harmed the United States for years, including a significant role in terrorist attacks. They spread Wahhabism across the world. If you haven’t heard much about Wahhabism, it’s because the radical Islamic sect that drives the House of Saud is protected from media scrutiny. See Network, which only partially satirizes the influence the Saudis have on U.S. media.

Saudi Arabia is a horrible ally. They’re necessary because we’ve made them necessary, but if we drastically cut budgets and spending, the economic ramifications of a break with them would be mitigated. It’s time to make deals with nations that do not smile at us in public and subvert us in private. Nations that do not like us, including Brazil and Venezuela, could be brought under our wing to replace Saudi Arabia on the oil front. It’s unimaginable now, but we live in fast-moving times.

Also, build the Keystone XL pipeline.

As for stability in the Middle East, it’s time we go all-in with Israel. They are the only true democracy and the one nation in the Middle East we can count on to not stab us in the back. They are capable of being the check against Iran. Abandon all talks of a two-state solution, work with Israel as our primary proxy in the Middle East, and make Saudi Arabia turn to others for support.

All of this sounds dangerous because, well, it is. The dominoes that will fall when we take drastic measures against Saudi Arabia will be painful. But there’s one thing to consider before balking at this. We may be heading in this direction already. The difference is it wouldn’t be us initiating (and therefore prepared for) these changes. Saudi Arabia has been quietly seeking a better deal for decades. They haven’t found it yet, but someday they will. When that happens, they’ll pull the rug out from under us.

We should be the ones pulling the rug. If we’re not, the permanent repercussions will be devastating.

Radical change in our foreign affairs stance is long overdue. Saudi Arabia is the worst kind of ally to rely upon, not just because of Khashoggi but because of everything else they’ve done. None of this seems feasible now, but it may be the only path forward.

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