Thursday, July 20, 2017

University of Chicago Professor: Infanticide Is Morally Acceptable

But when ‘progress’ equals murder, we should question his logic.

By Jeff Cimmino — July 19, 2017
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Jerry Coyne (left), University of Chicago

Jerry Coyne, a professor in the department of ecology and human evolution at the University of Chicago, recently posted a defense of killing disabled infants on his Why Evolution Is True blog:
If you are allowed to abort a fetus that has a severe genetic defect, microcephaly, spina bifida, or so on, then why aren’t you able to euthanize that same fetus just after it’s born?
His argument, which is riddled with flaws and mistaken assumptions, begins with a claim commonly found in the works of pro-infanticide philosophers:
After all, newborn babies aren’t aware of death, aren’t nearly as sentient as an older child or adult, and have no rational faculties to make judgments (and if there’s severe mental disability, would never develop such faculties). It makes little sense to keep alive a suffering child who is doomed to die or suffer life in a vegetative or horribly painful state.
In short, lack of sentience and reason boosts the moral acceptability of killing deformed and handicapped infants. This reasoning makes sense only in a “throwaway culture,” which presumes that it’s right to discard the weakest and most vulnerable simply because they don’t meet an arbitrarily imposed marker of when life is worth saving.

It is the logic of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World: eliminate any responsibility to care for the suffering by trying to remove all suffering. The problem, however, is that killing is a poor means of reducing pain and suffering. It fosters a culture that undermines the value of life. And this isn’t merely words on a page. In the Netherlands, for example, some patients have been euthanized because they were “tired of living,” as the Washington Post reported in a recent story on assisted suicide. Promoting death is a recipe for more suffering and loss, not less.

Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton, and Patrick Lee, a professor of philosophy at Franciscan University of Steubenville, have pointed out, in “The Wrong of Abortion,” additional problems with this argument:
This argument is based on a false premise. It implicitly identifies the human person with a consciousness which inhabits (or is somehow associated with) and uses a body; the truth, however, is that we human persons are particular kinds of physical organisms. . . . We are not consciousnesses that possess or inhabit bodies. Rather, we are living bodily entities.
George and Lee continue by arguing that “it makes no sense to say that the human organism came to be at one point but the person — you or I — came to be at some later point,” because “to have destroyed the human organism that you are or I am even at an early stage of our lives would have been to have killed you or me.” Coyne’s primary claim, that lack of sentience or rational faculties significantly bolsters the case for killing disabled newborns, is flawed.
Coyne later tries to put a positive spin on his argument by asserting that changing views about euthanasia are “the result of a tide of increasing morality in our world, a tide described and explained by Steve Pinker in his superb book The Better Angels of Our Nature.”

In Coyne’s mind, the historical tide of progress has led the world to euthanasia. He rests his assumptions on the crass Enlightenment triumphalism of Pinker, whose profoundly misleading book was perhaps best described by philosophical theologian David Bentley Hart, in “The Precious Steven Pinker,” as “not only in excess of the facts, but in resolute defiance of them.” Even a cursory reading of history over the past few hundred years reveals an unprecedented degree of violence simply because it was once impossible to produce violence on such a mass scale. Furthermore, the aggressive rise of moral relativism has muddied the moral waters by casting doubt on the sheer existence of right and wrong. The progressive optimism of Coyne and Pinker is unfounded.

It is also difficult to miss the shadow of eugenics hanging over Coyne’s argument. Coyne, in fact, tries to preempt any criticisms on this front:
As for the “slippery slope” argument — that this will lead to Nazi-like eugenics — well, this hasn’t come to pass in places where assisted suicide or euthanasia of adults is legal.
Superficially, he is correct, but it is silly to think that abuses will occur only in such an explicit manner. “The violence we commit,” writes Hart, “is more hygienic, subtler, and less inconvenient than that committed by our forebears.” Indeed, Wesley J. Smith has highlighted how an increasing number of mentally ill patients are euthanized in countries where it is legal. As he noted at NRO, these patients tend to be “the prime candidates for conjoining euthanasia with organ harvesting.” Sometimes, however, fatal malpractice is more explicit: In 2015, hundreds were euthanized in the Netherlands without request.

Ultimately, Coyne doesn’t think humans are any different from other animals, and this justifies euthanasia:
The reason we don’t allow euthanasia of newborns is because humans are seen as special, and I think this comes from religion — in particular, the view that humans, unlike animals, are endowed with a soul.
Coyne’s Darwin-mad viewpoint is rooted in the faulty notion that modern science and the theory of evolution have taken man down from his pedestal, a process the British humanist and philosopher Raymond Tallis critically termed “aping mankind.” Such a presumption is, to adopt Hart’s phrase, in excess of the facts. Scores of scientists and philosophers would (and do) dispute this sort of hyper-materialistic reductionism. (See Stephen Barr’s The Beliveing Scientist, Hart’s The Experience of God, and Kenneth Miller’s Finding Darwin’s God, for starters.)

Unfortunately, Coyne has a platform to teach students at a respectable university. One can only hope that his students see through and reject his misguided, poorly constructed arguments.


— Jeff Cimmino is an editorial intern at National Review.

Saquon Barkley's freak-show legs carry Heisman hype and Penn State's title hopes

July 19, 2017
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Saquon Barkley's freak-show legs carry Heisman hype and Penn State's title hopes (Sports Illustrated)
The first scouting reports noting Saquon Barkley’s rare physical gifts came from Penn State’s Beaver Hall during the summer of 2015. Barkley’s freshman roommate, running back Andre Robinson, called home to detail what he’d seen on the twin bed six feet away: “He has veins in his thighs and popping out of his calves. I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life. He’s a freak.”
A similar sense of awe soon swept through the Nittany Lions’ program, as Barkley routinely hurdled safeties and bowled over linebackers. By the end of his sophomore year—during which he ran for 1,496 yards on 272 carries and 18 touchdowns—it had become clear that he would be the next college tailback to crash the top of the NFL draft. The 4.33 40-yard dash Barkley ran during spring testing would have made him the fastest running back at the 2017 NFL combine. His 32 bench-press reps of 225 pounds would have ranked fourth . . . among defensive linemen—and tied a combine record for rushers.
After scoring a touchdown in a 45–12 win over Michigan State last November, the 5' 11", 228-pound Barkley even reverse-engineered the typical lineman-tailback celebration by hoisting 305-pound Ryan Bates off the ground. “When I was growing up, Bo Jackson was a Greek myth with the things he was able to do,” says Penn State running backs coach Charles Huff. “I’m not saying he’s Bo Jackson, but Saquon is head and shoulders above what a normal athlete should do in this day and age.”
Coach James Franklin believes Barkley is what would result “if you had Frankenstein build a running back.” His elite genetics (great-nephew of former middleweight boxing champion Iran Barkley), big-game performances (249 total yards and three TDs in the Rose Bowl) and Heisman potential have drawn outsized comparisons. “He’s as close to Ezekiel Elliott as I’ve seen with the ball in his hands,” says former Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell. “He’s as dynamic as we’ve played against.”
Fickell’s opinion is largely informed by Barkley’s breakout game: a 26-carry, 194-yard day against the Buckeyes as a freshman. The Nittany Lions finished that season with seven wins for the third consecutive time but had a full complement of scholarships for the first time in four years after the NCAA sanctions in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Barkley has since emerged as the face of the new Penn State. He led the 2016 team to its first double-digit win total (11–3) since ’09 and first Big Ten title since ’08. With 16 starters returning and an offensive line that’s finally not a liability, Penn State has national-title aspirations this season. Like their star tailback, the Lions are on the rise.
Yet just three years ago Barkley’s future lacked the same aura of inevitability. He struggled so much with confidence that his coaches at Whitehall (Pa.) High considered themselves more psychologists than strategists. As a sophomore Barkley confided to friends that he hoped to earn a scholarship to Division II Kutztown (Pa.) University. “It’s hard to believe,” says Whitehall athletic director Bob Hartman, “how far he’s come in two years.”
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Some 160 miles away from State College, Saquon’s father, Alibay, climbs the creaky wooden stairs of the family’s two-bedroom row house in Coplay. He reaches the attic and steps into the bedroom where Saquon slept on a twin mattress on the floor. Ali, Saquon’s 15-year-old brother, uses another mattress across the room. A Barry Sanders action figure, still in its original packaging, is one of the relics of Saquon’s childhood. “It’s small,” Alibay says of the house, “but we get by.”
Saquon’s path to stardom starts with his family’s escape from New York. Alibay and his wife, Tonya Johnson, grew up in housing projects in the Bronx. Alibay says he struggled with a crack cocaine addiction for seven years and that as a teenager he served nearly a year on Rikers Island for gun possession. Tonya recalls that drug dealers operated on her block. “We wanted something different for our kids,” Tonya says.
In 2001 the couple decided to take their five children—Saquon is the third—and get out. The family eventually settled in Coplay (pop. 3,222), north of Allentown. A photo of Martin Luther King Jr. shaking hands with Malcolm X hangs over the entrance to the dining room. The house is tidy, other than the clutter of Saquon’s awards and trophies, which overflow the shelves.
Alibay, 48, has spent nearly all his time in Pennsylvania as a short-order cook, and he works at a Chili’s these days. He says he earned his GED nearly a decade ago, a higher level of education than his father achieved. Tonya, 46, works in retail, moonlighting at a second job for part of the year. They demand that their kids attend college for at least two years. They are also candid with the children about their extended family. “They know our past,” Tonya says. “If someone was a murderer, they know someone was a murderer. We don’t hide nothing from them.”
Saquon’s success has presented a new set of problems. Tonya says she gets at least one call or Facebook message a day from agents and financial planners. She also had to figure out how to buy an insurance policy for Saquon and decide on the coverage. She ended up getting multimillion-dollar policies for permanent and total disability or loss of value, but the process was time-consuming and confusing.
Tonya doesn’t worry about what will happen to Saquon if he makes big money in the NFL. She laughs at the thought of him driving a $100,000 car or wearing $3,000 shoes. And in conversation Saquon doesn’t show much interest in the shiny temptations of the future. Instead, he’s grateful for the creaky stairs and cramped quarters that shaped him. “My family is not perfect and has been through a lot,” he says. “But the stuff they went through is the reason I am who I am today.”
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Penn State head coach James Franklin celebrates a 41-14 win against Iowa with running back Saquon Barkley (26) on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa. (Abby Drey/Centre Daily Times)
Brian Gilbert’s windowless office in the basement of Whitehall High’s field house sits near the weight room, a concrete block notable for its lack of air-conditioning, rusted barbells and the stench of sweat, which hits like a haymaker. Two jumbo loaves of white bread, oversized jars of Jif peanut butter and squeeze bottles of Smucker’s grape jelly greet Gilbert’s visitors. A sign on the door advertises chocolate milk for 50 cents, and debtors’ names appear on a whiteboard. (The biggest delinquent owes $1.70; interest is charged.)
Two retired numbers are painted on the building’s brick exterior: the 83 of Matt Millen, a former Penn State linebacker who won four Super Bowls with three teams, and the 77 of Dan Koppen, who won two Super Bowls as an offensive tackle with the Patriots. Before Barkley’s number 21 appeared a near certainty to earn a spot alongside them, he took advantage of the no-frills offerings inside it, starting his workouts by gorging on PB&Js. But he needed more than just physical nourishment.
Barkley had been frustrated about splitting carries as an eighth-grader, and when he didn’t find immediate success as a freshman, he pondered quitting football. He simply didn’t think he was good enough. “I’d tell him, ‘You are the fastest and the strongest, but you are mentally weak,’ ” says Dennis McWhite, then the running backs coach at Whitehall. “There are things you’re going to need to overcome mentally.”
The summer before his sophomore year, Barkley had the first in a series of breakthroughs: He squatted 300 pounds for the first time. “I vividly remember him being unsure he could do it,” Gilbert says. “It was a matter of confidence.”
As his self-assurance grew, his maturity needed to follow. He missed one practice when he went for a haircut . . . in New York City. He missed another because of a gash on his head suffered on a roller coaster. Whitehall administrators still tease Barkley about how he used to hop along the school’s multicolored floors to avoid the white tiles, which he imagined were lava. They also admit that such playfulness and a halogen smile occasionally helped the kid everyone knew as Sa-Sa wriggle out of trouble.
Still, as a sophomore Barkley played only part-time on varsity, which gnawed at him. Academically he lacked motivation at times and struggled in particular with Spanish.
But much of that changed the summer before his junior year, after Rutgers assistant coach Norries Wilson noted Barkley’s “completely effortless running” on film—no matter that most of the rushes came against junior varsity competition. During a Rutgers camp, Wilson brought Barkley to coach Kyle Flood’s office. The kid who couldn’t make varsity full-time the previous season was floored to receive a scholarship offer. “I remember trying to look so serious and professional, but biting down and smiling,” Barkley says. “I was like No way this is happening.”
Barkley accepted soon after, and the commitment offered an adrenaline jolt on and off the field. Barkley’s weight room numbers rocketed, he locked in on Spanish class and teachers chipped in with extra tutoring. “Rutgers was the turning point for him,” says Linda MacGill, his school counselor. “His grades started to match what I thought his ability was.”
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Penn State’s Saquon Barkley jumping over Iowa’s Brandon Snyder in the No. 20 Nittany Lions’ 41-14 victory on November 5, 2016. Barkley had 211 all-purpose yards. Credit Brett Carlsen/Getty Images
Barkley’s appreciation for what teachers and administrators did for him is clear in how he used his free time before the 2017 Rose Bowl. While his teammates visited Hollywood, Barkley spent an evening with his old assistant principal from Whitehall, Alicia Knauff, and her family. When it comes to the people “who never gave up on me,” Barkley says, “I can go down a big list.”
Flood & Co. asked Barkley to keep his commitment quiet; they didn’t want to draw attention to their hidden gem. But Barkley proved a secret impossible to keep. In September of his junior year he rushed for 211 yards and four touchdowns on 13 carries against Liberty High in Bethlehem. The game brought national recruiting attention, and Barkley began having second thoughts about Rutgers. Those intensified after he attended Penn State’s 43–40 quadruple-overtime victory over Michigan in October 2013. Flood grew worried enough that he showed up at a Whitehall practice, telling Gilbert he skipped Rutgers practice that day to check in on Barkley.
A few months later coach Bill O’Brien left Penn State to take over the Houston Texans and Franklin moved from Vanderbilt to State College. Barkley laughs as he recalls Franklin’s pitch: “I don’t care if I have to come to your house and slap you in the head, but you have to play for Penn State. You have no say.”
It pained Barkley to decommit from Rutgers. A New York City kid by birth, Barkley grew up rooting for the Scarlet Knights and the Jets. (Alibay has a red Jets tattoo on his left forearm, which will certainly become a talking point at the next NFL draft.) Saquon called Franklin for advice on what to say to the program he had jilted. “I’m forever thankful for Rutgers, Coach Flood and that coaching staff,” Barkley says now, “for taking a chance on me.”
When Barkley finally flipped to the Nittany Lions in February 2014, he ranked as the state’s No. 7 player and the country’s No. 21 running back. A nice prospect, but not one who seemed as if he could carry Penn State out of the trough of mediocrity that followed the NCAA sanctions.
At a Whitehall basketball game this winter, school officials planned to introduce Barkley at halftime and recognize him for being named Big Ten offensive player of the year. Barkley got so nervous that he sweated through his shirt, and he never made it to midcourt. Instead he shuffled out near the free throw line, concealed his shirt’s blossoming wet patches with alligator-arm waves, then scurried off. Kids surrounded him for autographs. Adults clamored for pictures. Eventually Gilbert had to escort him out of the gym. “No one was watching the basketball game,” the coach says. “Everyone lined up to see him. [His fame] changes everything.”
That’s the latest hurdle for both Barkley and Penn State, one that seemed difficult to imagine even a year ago. How do they handle grandiose expectations? Three years after pounding peanut butter and jelly and stammering through Spanish, Barkley is a Heisman candidate with a higher GPA at Penn State than he held at Whitehall. (His squat has doubled to 600, too.)
Both Barkley and the program’s leap forward can be tied to the December 2015 arrival of offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead from Fordham. Moorhead installed an RPO-spread that highlighted the mobility of quarterback Trace McSorley and used tempo to compensate for an undermanned line. The offense distributes the ball to soft areas of the defense by giving the QB multiple options to run or pass based on a presnap read. That means Barkley is often steaming into holes where the defense is outnumbered, or he’s isolated against slower players in open space. “Every time Saquon touches the ball,” says Huff, the running backs coach, “he has a chance to do something explosive because of the system we run.”
No one will argue with the results. The Nittany Lions scored 14.4 more points per game in 2016 than they did in ’15, and their rank in total offense jumped to 49th (432.6 yards per game) from 105th (348.6). The signature win came against No. 2 Ohio State in October. Barkley ran for 99 yards on 12 carries in a 24–21 upset, thanks to a 60-yard touchdown return on a blocked field goal.
The victory also highlighted the inherent awkwardness of Penn State’s on-field success in the wake of the Sandusky scandal. Franklin drew criticism nationally for calling the result “a big step in the right direction in terms of healing.” The stigma surrounding the university’s misdeeds still lingers; three administrators were sentenced to jail time for child endangerment in June because of their roles in the case. Any mention of a revival or overcoming obstacles on the field links back to the horrors that led to the school’s punishments in 2012.
Franklin acknowledges a “fine line” when mentioning healing and said his comments were understood better locally. “I have avoided that ever since,” Franklin says. “But here where there were so many people that took so much pride in this place and in this university and in this community and this team that, there was an aspect that having something to be excited about and feel good about that this community and team and university needed.”
Barkley wasn’t thinking about scandals or jail sentences or horrors past when he decided to come to Penn State, but the community Franklin talks about played a role. “I wanted to be part of something bigger than myself. That’s why I came to this school,” he says. “And you really don’t notice it now, but maybe 20, 30 years from now they might write something or do a 30 for 30 on a team like us.”
If so, the central figure will be a freak-show, Frankenstein-creation running back seeking the vein-popping height of his powers.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Unable To Confront The Migrant Crisis, Europe Is Committing Suicide

July 18, 2017
Angela Merkel has once again defended her open doors migrant policy
Angela Merkel (AFP/Getty Images)
On Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would not limit the number of refugees coming into the country. “On the issue of an upper limit, my position is clear,” Merkel said. “I won’t accept one.”
Setting aside the electoral implications of Merkel’s statement, which defied her party’s long-term coalition partner just two months before federal elections, it perfectly captured the refusal of European leaders to face the migrant crisis head-on—a refusal that in turn epitomizes the slow suicide of European civilization.
President Trump’s Warsaw speech earlier this month provoked predictable cries of racism and xenophobia from a mainstream media worried that even the term “western civilization” was a dog whistle for alt-right nationalists. Implicit in such criticism is the dubious notion that western values are not really western, that people of all cultures and religions desire more or less the same thing.
His critics say Trump was playing on white Europeans’ fears that Muslim migrants won’t adopt western values and won’t assimilate into European society, and therefore pose a direct threat to western civilization. But there’s another group that Trump no doubt had in mind, a group that also rejects western civilization and has little interest in defending or preserving it: European elites.

European Elites Refuse to Defend Women

Without splitting hairs over what we mean by “western civilization,” let’s stipulate that, at minimum, it encompasses things like freedom of speech and religion, equal rights for both sexes, and democratic rule of law. One could argue that these are elements of western civilization most people in Muslim-majority countries don’t share with the denizens of Europe. But let’s set that aside and ask an equally pressing question: do European political leaders believe in them? Do their policies reflect a desire to defend and preserve these principles?
Increasingly, the answer is no. Take women’s rights, for example. In Europe as in America, the equality of the sexes has for decades been held as an immutable fact. But Europe is even more militant about its feminism than America. For Europeans, the very idea of a housewife is backwards and oppressive; mothers are expected to work and send their children to state-subsidized child care, not opt out of the workforce to raise a family. This is the official policy of the EU, which has entire commissions dedicated to ensuring more women enter the workforce.
For Muslim immigrants to Europe, who come from societies in which women are generally subordinate to men, this comes as a shock. Yet for a long time Europe insisted that newcomers adopt western attitudes regarding women’s rights and sexual freedom. As Christopher Caldwell has noted, this was the only non-negotiable demand Europe made of its immigrants. The European ruling class might have been willing to look the other way on free speech and denounce as fascist anyone who worries about Islam and terrorism, but on feminism there was no room for negotiation: “It is the litmus test according to which assimilation—and even membership in the national community—is judged. It is the one area where Europeans retain both a deep suspicion of Muslim ways and a confidence in their own institutions that is free of self-doubt.”
At least, that’s how it used to be. Caldwell wrote those lines in 2009, long before the migrant crisis coincided with a spike in sexual assaults perpetrated mostly by Muslim men. The mass sexual assault in Cologne and other German cities on New Year’s Eve last year made headlines—not just because of the brazen nature of the attacks but also because German authorities tried to suppress information about them. It was only after rumors and eyewitness accounts began cropping up on social media that authorities acknowledged what had happened.
The most infamous case of this kind is perhaps the Rotherham child sex exploitation ring, which first came to light in 2010. An independent inquiry found in 2014 that British men of Pakistani origin had groomed at least 1,400 underage girls for sexual exploitation over the previous 16 years. The girls, some as young as 12, were variously abducted, raped, tortured, and forced into prostitution. Even more shocking than the details of the sex ring is why it persisted for so long: police and city officials knew what was happening but didn’t take action for fear of being accused of racism.
You would think this would be enough for the government to take action and protect the women and girls being preyed upon by these men, but you’d be wrong. Two years after the inquiry, an investigation by the Daily Express found that nothing had changed; the exploitation was still happening “on an industrial scale.”
The Rotherham case predated the migrant crisis, but there are signs that the ongoing influx of Middle Easterners and North Africans—more migrants have already arrived in Europe this year than in all of 2016—is making the problem much worse.
Last week, Cheryl Benard, who spent years working with refugees all over the world, wrote about the growing incidence of sexual assault committed by refugees against local women. The vast majority of such assaults are reportedly being committed by young Afghan men, sometimes in broad daylight. In some cases, passersby have intervened to prevent women from being raped by multiple assailants. As in the Rotherham and Cologne cases, the fact of the assaults was disturbing, but equally disturbing was the reaction of the media and government officials. Writes Benard:
It took a while for the pattern to be recognized because, until recently, western European media deliberately refrained from identifying an assailant’s refugee or asylum status, or his country of origin. Only when the correlation became so dramatic that it was itself newsworthy did this policy change. At that point, it became clear that the authorities had known about, and for political reasons had deliberately covered up, large-scale incidences of sexual assault by migrants.

The Migrant Crisis Exposes a Morally Exhausted Europe

The inability or unwillingness of Muslim migrant men to conform to the sexual mores of Europe is of course just one of the problems the migrant crisis has brought to the continent. But the knee-jerk reaction of European elites to either ignore or deny these sorts of problems speaks volumes about their commitment to western civilization.
In his new book, “The Strange Death of Europe,” British journalist Douglas Murray documents his travels across Europe reporting on the migrant crisis, and concludes that Europe is so morally exhausted that it rejects its own right to exist. “Europe today has little desire to reproduce itself, fight for itself or even take its own side in an argument,” writes Murray. “Those in power seem persuaded that it would not matter if the people and culture of Europe were lost to the world.”
According to Murray, the migrant crisis perfectly encapsulates this exhaustion. In some ways, it’s a case of competing virtues: the desire to be virtuous to the rest of the world is competing against justice for the people of Europe. Increasingly, virtue is winning out over justice because a misguided commitment to hollow notions of “respect,” “tolerance,” and “diversity” has supplanted the deep roots of European civilization. The problem, argues Murray, is that European values have “become so wide as to become meaninglessly shallow.”
As the crisis deepens, it’s become obvious that Europe’s leaders are now so ambivalent about the survival of their own civilization they’re unable to speak of the bad things that have come, and will keep coming, with mass migration.

Now that the GOP can replace ObamaCare, it’s suddenly got cold feet

July 17, 2017
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Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks with reporters July 18 about the withdrawn Republican health care bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein – RTX3BYO7

If the Republican attempt to repeal and replace ObamaCare ultimately fails, it will be a lesson in the wages of political bad faith.
The current path of the Senate bill has plenty of obstacles, including the sheer inertia of the ObamaCare status quo and the fact that no one has made the public case for the Republican legislation. But the effort also suffers from a mismatch between the longtime public posture of Republicans (ObamaCare must and will be fully repealed) and their private misgivings (Do we really have to do this, even partially?).
It’s not just that Republicans have said for years that they would repeal ObamaCare — they actually voted to do it. In December 2015, a bill passed the Senate that was more stringent than the version now struggling to collect GOP support. The 2015 bill only tried to repeal ObamaCare (although it fell short of that goal), while the current bill attempts to repeal and replace, i.e., forge a Republican alternative.
Only two GOP senators voted against the 2015 repeal, Susan Collins of Maine, who is still a “no,” and Mark Kirk of Illinois, who is out of the Senate. Every other Republican was on board, and celebrated a righteous blow against ObamaCare.
Churchill said that nothing is so exhilarating as getting shot at without consequence. For Republicans, nothing was as exhilarating as repealing ObamaCare without consequence.
The repeal bill inevitably got vetoed by President Barack Obama. Republican congressional leaders thought they could pick up where they had left off. They failed to account for the changed — and more difficult — dynamic with a Republican in the White House ready and eager to sign whatever gets to his desk.
The prospects of the current bill are clouded by the hesitance of the Medicaid moderates, Republican senators from states that accepted the ObamaCare expansion of the program.
The legislation is hardly Dickensian on this front. It allows states to continue the expansion, but, over time, brings the level of federal funding for the new population down to the levels for the rest of Medicaid. (Years from now, it also establishes a new per-capita formula for all of Medicaid.)
The 2015 law was tougher on the expansion — it simply ended it after two years — and yet all of today’s hand-wringers voted for it.
Perhaps they are disturbed by the coverage numbers the Congressional Budget Office has produced about the current bill? According to the CBO, it would lead to 22 million fewer people having insurance. But the earlier repeal bill, per the CBO, would have led to . . . 32 million fewer people having insurance.
Perhaps they think the current bill should be more generous? The fact is the Senate bill unveiled a few weeks ago spends roughly $600 billion on replacing ObamaCare, or $600 billion more than the December 2015 bill. It has since been revised to spend even more, and scale back the tax cuts.
As the publication Health Affairs starkly noted of the 2015 legislation at the time, “it would end the premium tax credits, the cost-sharing reduction payments, the Medicaid expansion, and the small business tax credits — that is, all of the assistance that the ACA gives to low- and moderate-income Americans.”
(Rand Paul, whose shtick is libertarian purity, is guilty of his own hypocrisy. He portrays the 2015 bill as preferable to the current version, which he opposes for not fully repealing ObamaCare regulations. But the 2015 bill didn’t touch any of the major ObamaCare regulations.)
All of this is why the Plan B endorsed by President Trump — to revert to a repeal-only bill if the current bill fails — is a non-starter. If there aren’t 50 Republican votes for today’s relatively generous bill, there won’t be 50 votes for anything like what passed a year-and-a-half ago.
Unless, perhaps, Trump promises to veto it, and Senate Republicans can consider it once again a blissfully consequence-free vote.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

How the Left Hijacked the American Psychiatric Association and Normalized Personality Disorders

By Mark A. Hewitt
July 17, 2017

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Breitbart:  Trump Defense Department Delays Obama’s Transgender Push in the Military
“The Pentagon is working to delay the July 1 deadline to fully implement the Obama-initiated policy that one year ago lifted the ban on transgender individuals serving in the U.S. military.” 
While the Pentagon directive to allow transgender men and women to join the military faces an indefinite delay this may be a good time to review just how America was ensnared with this Obama-era policy.

The evidence is clear—the American Left succeeded in lobbying the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to eliminate some of the sexual identity disorders from their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). 

Most Americans have little knowledge of the DSM, its contents, and its implications.  The DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and “offers a common language and standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders.”  It is used, or relied upon, by clinicians, researchers, psychiatric drug regulation agencies, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, the legal system, and policy makers.  In the United States the DSM serves as a universal authority for psychiatric diagnoses.  The Department of Defense uses the DSM as its source reference for psychiatric diagnoses and metal disorders. 

First published in 1968, DSM-II, Section 3, Part V, listed Personality Disorders and Certain other Non-psychotic Mental Disorders.  In this section, homosexuality was listed as a mental disorder.  Under pressure from the Left and gay-rights groups, the APA compromised, removing homosexuality from the DSM but replacing it with the kinder and gentler descriptor: “sexual orientation disturbance” for people “in conflict with” their sexual orientation.  

In 1987 homosexuality was struck from the DSM by a majority vote of the APA members.  In 2012, transvestitism, was also eliminated from the DSM-5 (fifth edition), replaced gender identity disorder and further redefined and softened the previous personality disorder into gender dysphoria.  The change in terminology removed all implication and designation that transvestitism was a mental illness.  Dysphoria is defined as the distress a person experiences as a result of the sex and gender they were assigned at birth.  

With transvestitism finally voted out of the DSM, in June 2015 LGBT rights groups had one urgent agenda item for President Barack Obama: End the ban on transgender people serving in the military.  It wasn’t that transgender people were straining red rope barriers, lining up at recruiting stations to serve in the military in a rush of abject patriotism; no, acceptance into the military allowed transgenders free government-paid sexual reassignment surgery.  No longer was transvestitism considered a mental disorder, it was now considered a medically correctable condition, like a cleft lip and palate. 

Medically-correctable conditions like cleft lip and palate correct physical birth defects.  Sexual identity disorders are not physical birth defects but mental defects.  Dr. Paul R. McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital continues to stress that transgenderism is a “mental disorder” that merits treatment, that sex change is “biologically impossible,” and that people who promote sexual reassignment surgery are collaborating with and promoting a mental disorder. 
“The assumption that one’s gender is only in the mind regardless of anatomical reality, has led some transgendered people to push for social acceptance and affirmation of their own subjective ‘personal truth,’” said Dr. McHugh.  As a result, some states—California, New Jersey, and Massachusetts—have passed laws barring psychiatrists, “even with parental permission, from striving to restore natural gender feelings to a transgender minor.”  Politics rule over common sense.
Dr. McHugh also said, “The pro-transgender advocates do not want to know that studies show between 70% and 80% of children who express transgender feelings ‘spontaneously lose those feelings’ over time.  Also, for those who had sexual reassignment surgery, most said they were ‘satisfied’ with the operation ‘but their subsequent psycho-social adjustments were no better than those who didn’t have the surgery.’”
With the updated DSM-5, the APA voted against Dr. McHugh and his side, common sense, and biology. 

The APA was once the leader in psychiatric medicine—now it too is a joke; compromised beyond measure.  For the APA and the DSM, it is clear.  If you get enough votes, you can negate, soften, redefine, and ultimately legitimize any of the mental disorders.  With enough votes you can turn a disorder into a disability or by elimination, like a magician’s trick and a snap of the fingers, “you’ve just become plain normal.”  Now, the new normal is confused boys who can spontaneously “identify” as girls and confused girls who can spontaneously “identify” as boys.  Dr. Paul R. McHugh and thousands of other rational members of the APA know that sex change is “biologically impossible” and that people who promote sexual reassignment surgery are collaborating with and promoting a mental disorder. 

The problems with the updated DSM are well known and extensive.  It is obvious the DSM as the U.S. universal authority for psychiatric diagnoses has been corrupted by external pressures. 

From Wikipedia
“Various authorities criticized that many DSM-5 revisions or additions lack empirical support; inter-rater reliability is low for many disorders; several sections contain poorly written, confusing, or contradictory information; and the psychiatric drug industry unduly influenced the manual's content.  Many of the members of work groups for the DSM-5 had conflicting interests, including ties to pharmaceutical companies.  Various scientists have argued that the DSM-5 forces clinicians to make distinctions that are not supported by solid evidence, distinctions that have major treatment implications, including drug prescriptions and the availability of health insurance coverage.  General criticism of the DSM-5 ultimately resulted in a petition, signed by many mental health organizations, which called for outside review of DSM-5.”  
The DSM, as the United States’ universal authority for psychiatric diagnoses, has been fully compromised and subject to the whims of an out of control Left-majority APA.  Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “When the people find that they can vote themselves money that will herald the end of the republic.”  The personality disordered wing of the Left is voting the most odious personality disorders off the pages of the latest version of the DSM, not because the science is there.  There is nothing like being able to vote themselves a document to declare them to be of sound mind and body.  

The American military used to go through great lengths to recruit, train, and employ men and women “of sound mind and body.”  However, “there is no standardized mental assessment for people trying to enter the military.  A bill before Congress may finally direct the U.S. military to screen individuals for mental issues before they are allowed to enlist.  If the DSM remains DOD’s universal authority for psychiatric diagnoses, the sexual identity disorders, such as transgenderism, will not be considered as mental disorders.  What will they test?  The DSM is the standard reference.

The Trump Administration needs to decertify the compromised DSM as the universal authority for psychiatric diagnoses in the United States and reject its authority as the source reference for the Obama policy of transgenders in the military.  To do anything less is collaborating and promoting mental disorders. 

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How Aaron Judge Built Baseball’s Mightiest Swing

By Billy Witz
July 17, 2017

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Apr 17, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) hits a two run home run against the Chicago White Sox during the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

When Milwaukee outfielder Keon Broxton went clattering into the center-field wall this month at Yankee Stadium to steal an extra-base hit from Aaron Judge, he also caught something else: the sight of Judge smiling at him.

“It was just a friendly smile — ‘Hey, c’mon, man, why you got to do me like that?’” Broxton said with a laugh. “And I’m like: ‘Yeah, you got 30 bombs. Chill. It’s O.K.’”

Several innings later, Judge sent Broxton scrambling again with a towering fly ball. Broxton turned and ran, tracking the ball’s flight, certain that he’d haul it in again. As it turned out, Broxton was not close. The ball clanked off the facing of the restaurant windows above Monument Park — an estimated 445 feet from home plate.

Judge, who is 6 feet 7 inches and 282 pounds, leads the major leagues in home runs and showed off his prodigious power before a national audience last week in winning the Home Run Derby during the All-Star Game festivities in Miami.

But Judge, his uncommon size notwithstanding, is not just a musclebound galoot who clubs baseballs over the wall with brute strength. His swing, from start to finish, is a portrait of technical precision that has allowed his rare physical gifts to flourish.

Nobody hits the ball harder — his average exit velocity, 96.2 miles an hour, is by far the highest in baseball. And nobody hits more balls farther more often — 14 of his homers have traveled at least 425 feet, including a 496-footer that is the longest in baseball this season.

Judge has returned from the All-Star break in a brief funk with one hit, a dribbler in front of the plate, in 15 at-bats entering Sunday night’s game against the Red Sox. But his starburst of a first half was born of a winter of work — tinkering with and refining the mechanics of his swing after a rude introduction to the big leagues last August, when he batted .179 and struck out in half his at-bats.

“It’s a project,” said Judge, 25, who declined to discuss in detail his swing or the changes he had made. “Ever since I got drafted by the Yankees, I’ve been working on my swing. So it’s just a culmination of all those things, and I’m finally starting to see some results.”

Still, Yankees’ hitting instructors and opposing catchers and pitchers point to a number of subtle changes that have been integral to his transformation. Judge is standing slightly farther off the plate than he was last season, the leg kick that he incorporated in the minor leagues at the start of 2015 has been toned down, and his weight, when he assumes his stance, is now anchored firmly on his back hip.

That last point may be the most significant. When Judge met with the hitting coach Alan Cockrell and his assistant, Marcus Thames, at the end of last season, they had a message to convey: Judge needed to make better use of the lower half of his body.

How to do that was left up to Judge. So over the winter, he pored over video of players he admired, like Josh Donaldson, Miguel Cabrera, Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez, power hitters who used the entire field. He focused on trying to feel anchored on his back hip, where he could not only achieve good balance, but also feel the force he could unleash with his swing. Judge said in February that Rodriguez told him “he wanted to feel like he was squatting 300 pounds.”

As a result of being “cemented on his back side,” as Houston Astros catcher Brian McCann put it, Judge’s head has less movement now, which has helped him recognize pitches — be it the spin on a two-seam fastball that runs inside or a breaking pitch that swerves off the plate.

Judge has reduced his swings at pitches out of the strike zone by almost a third, to 25 percent from 34 percent last year, taking him from the range of his free-swinging teammate Starlin Castro to that of Boston’s selective Dustin Pedroia.

“The good hitters, you don’t gain too much ground forward,” Toronto catcher Russell Martin said. “It’s kind of a theme: They have their heads still because your head is your camera. If you move your head at all, it kind of changes how you’re seeing things.”

By staying so heavily weighted on his back side, carrying that sensation of squatting 300 pounds through his hip, Judge has improved his pitch selection and his balance. In the early part of his swing, it is as if the lower and upper halves of his body are operating independently — throughout the leg kick there is little movement from the waist up. Although many hitters lose power when their front foot comes down after the leg kick, when Judge’s front foot lands his body remains back — and his hip still loaded — waiting to unleash the torque from his hips.

That force was unbridled this month on a 3-2 fastball at the knees from the Blue Jays left-hander J. A. Happ. The pitch was hit at 118 miles per hour and on a line (the ball left the bat at an angle of 18.2 percent, his lowest launch angle of any home run this season), and it left a dent in a metal door casement in the Yankees bullpen. The distance was put at 453 feet.

“That’s as hard a ball as I’ve ever seen hit,” Martin said.

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Aaron Judge holding his 2017 Home Run Derby trophy (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Judge’s ability to hit the ball so hard also helps explain why he is hitting for such a high average, .319, fifth in the American League entering Sunday’s games. While he still strikes out a lot — 112 times, on pace to shatter Curtis Granderson’s franchise record of 195 for a single season — Judge hits ground balls so hard, they often scoot through the infield. He is hitting .411 on balls in play, second best in baseball.

It would figure that such an enormous man with long limbs, or levers in baseball parlance, would find adaptations to his swing to be laborious. But Judge has long been skilled at translating what he sees, hears and feels into the movements of his swing. If there is a glitch or a fundamental change, he can translate the fix quickly.

“His proprioception — what his body parts are doing when he’s not looking at them — is off the charts,” said Mike Batesole, Judge’s coach for three years at Fresno State. “I can take Judgie right now and in half a bucket fix his swing. Some guys it’s a two- or three-day process. We’re going to start here, work our way through this kink and that will help with the next kink. He’s not that way.”

When Cockrell and Thames sent Judge away last fall, they wanted him to consider ways to better incorporate the lower half of his body. They also wanted him to re-evaluate his approach. With 95 major league plate appearances under his belt last season, he had an idea how pitchers were trying to get him out. It was the study guide he used to begin preparing for the test of his first full season.

“What am I taking to the plate to face this guy? What is this guy trying to do to me?” said Thames, who began working with Judge at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2015. “He’s looking in a certain location and he’s ready to go.”

One of those instances came early in the season, when Judge was ahead in the count against the Chicago White Sox left-hander Derek Holland, who delivered a 3-1 curveball. Judge hit it into the left-center-field bullpen at Yankee Stadium.

He was asked afterward if hitting the type of pitch that had given him trouble the year before was gratifying.

“The big thing is, it’s about learning which off-speed pitches to swing at,” Judge said that night. “A lot of people say, ‘Oh, this guy can’t hit a curveball, this guy can’t hit an off-speed pitch.’ But it’s about swinging at the right one. Swing at the hangers. Swing at the ones you can handle.”

If one element of Judge’s approach is discerning how the pitcher is trying to get him out, the other is formulating where he wants to hit the ball. Thames described it as “trying to hit it through the center-field wall,” which explains why Judge’s home runs have been so equally dispersed: 10 to left field, 11 to center and nine to right.

The book on Judge before this season was a brief one.

“Just spin him,” Blue Jays reliever Ryan Tepera, referring to breaking balls, said of Judge, whom he has faced six times in the big leagues and also in the minor leagues last season.

But all the modifications — honing of his pitch recognition, moving a bit farther off the plate and refining his approach — have coalesced so neatly that pitchers are reconsidering their approach.

“I threw some really good off-speed pitches that stayed in the zone and broke late, and he spit on pretty much every one,” said Brewers left-hander Brent Suter, who gave up a single and a walk to Judge and also struck him out.

The Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn, who struck Judge out twice and walked him once, said that Judge’s newfound ability to lay off pitches out of the strike zone is “a very superstar-like quality; very few guys can do that at that young of an age.”

As he patrolled center field last weekend at Yankee Stadium, the Brewers’ Broxton had a clear view of just how together Judge looked at the plate. Broxton said that when he faced Judge in the minors last year, he was not anywhere near the menace at the plate that he is now.

But Broxton said he was not surprised.

“You could see the talent; you could see what he was capable of,” Broxton said. “Right now, any pitcher that steps on the mound and he gets in the box, they’re obviously going to be a little shaky. They’re going to want to control every single one of their pitches way better than they would any other batter. There’s definitely an intimidation factor when he steps into the box.”