In case you missed it, NFL superstar quarterback Drew Brees did the unthinkable. He encouraged children to "live their faith" and participate in "Bring Your Bible to School Day" on Oct. 3. Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family sponsors the occasion, which Brees helped promote in a 22-second video.
Far-left media, bloggers and social media pundits are apoplectic over Brees promoting the Christian faith. Even a few quasi-mainstream media organizations are attacking Brees for associating with a "hate group."
No way will the left allow a modern celebrity to promote Christian beliefs without trying to destroy him. Let's not forget the media's treatment of former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who thanked his "Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" during interviews.
Newsweek published an all-caps headline under the category "news" that said: "DREW BREES, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS QUARTERBACK, RECORDS VIDEO PRODUCED BY ANTI-GAY GROUP FOCUS ON THE FAMILY."
"Drew Brees Records Video for Anti-LGBT Religious Organization," claims a headline in the New Orleans-based Big Easy Magazine.
The story went on to falsely accuse Brees of encouraging Christian children "to convert their fellow students at school." He did no such thing. He asked students to "share God's love with their friends."
New York-based Fatherly.com -- a popular parenting magazine for millennials -- published the headline "Drew Brees Supported the Bigots at Focus on the Family. So Where's the Apology?"
The Fatherly article by Patrick A. Coleman associates Brees with "The quasi-cult leader of Focus on the Family." That leader: James Dobson. That man, the author assures us, is guilty of "really hating gay people."
There's just one problem with that attempt at guilt by association. Dobson left Focus on the Family in 2010. He has no affiliation with the organization. Jim Daly has led Focus since -- the same Jim Daly who teamed with Ted Trimpa, a Colorado pioneer in the gay rights movement, to work against human trafficking.
Fatherly cited the Southern Poverty Law Center to further denigrate Brees and Focus on the Family. Turns out Dobson long ago founded the Family Research Council, which the Law Center blacklisted as a hate group. The Family Research Council separated from Focus 28 years ago, but let's not let another inconvenient fact stop a journalistic hit piece.
Media need to get up to speed. No informed person -- no matter how progressive -- cares what the Southern Poverty Law Center claims. The law firm is embattled by multimillion-dollar defamation lawsuits. The organization's disgraced founder, Morris Dees, recently left the firm under accusations he fomented racial- and gender-based workplace hostility.
Brees -- under siege by unfair headlines, articles, and hateful left-wing tweets -- went public to defend himself. If Focus ever disparaged the LGBT community, he was unaware.
"The only thing I was promoting was encouraging kids to bring their Bibles to school on national 'Bring Your Bible to School Day,' to live out your faith with confidence...," Brees explained.
And that is the true concern of the secularist left. They don't want children living out their family's faith with confidence. They must discourage such talk, and facts will be damned when they try.
Brees added: "I know that there are, unfortunately, Christian organizations out there that are involved in that kind of thing. And, to me, that is totally against what being a Christian is all about. Being a Christian is love, it's forgiveness, it's respecting all, it's accepting all."
That may be a bridge too far, Mr. Brees. "Accepting all" would include accepting pedophiles, violent criminals, and racists.
However, we know what Brees meant. He passes no judgment on the basis of sexual orientation. He does not judge or disparage individuals who don't look, act and believe just like him.
Brees advocates a life of love and compassion, as promoted by Jesus. He wants to live and let live. His critics, meanwhile, have zero tolerance for a man who promotes Christian faith and the Bible. They exude anti-Christian bigotry. Enlightened society should frown on that.
If you’re reading this, I’m talking to you! I don’t care what your religion is or if you are an atheist, that is what freedom of religion is, freedom to believe in what you choose. But why should we have to be so tolerant of the Muslim faith but are supposed to be ashamed of our own beliefs and not be allowed to lend support in a simple cause like Brees did here without having to worry about a media mob coming after him as he is now being attacked. Is this the country you want? Question is.....is it too late to stop it?
- Mark Sanford, the former representative and governor of South Carolina, has now joined former representative Joe Walsh and former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld in challenging President Trump for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination.
Of course they have no chance. But the hope of some Democrats and NeverTrumpers is that a primary challenge will weaken the president enough that he will lose to his Democratic opponent in the general election.
Trump adversaries often note that no president who has faced a significant primary challenge in the last 50 years has gone on to win re-election.
They point to President George H.W. Bush, who lost in 1992 after a primary challenge by Pat Buchanan. To Jimmy Carter, who lost in 1980 after a primary challenge by Ted Kennedy. To Gerald Ford, who lost in 1976 after a primary challenge by Ronald Reagan. And to Lyndon Johnson, who withdrew in 1968 after a primary challenge by Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy.
How can Donald Trump have a chance to win in 2020, now that he is facing challengers of his own?
The answer is that there are primary challenges and then there are primary challenges.
To say the least, there is a significant stature gap between Sanford-Walsh-Weld and the challengers of the past. Robert Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Ted Kennedy were major political figures at the height of their careers when they decided to take on sitting presidents. Buchanan was a well-known White House aide, commentator, television personality and all-around legend among conservatives.
Sanford, Walsh and Weld are all former officeholders whose best years in politics are behind them.
"Let me ask you something," Buchanan told me in a recent conversation. "If Trump were not running in 2020, how would Joe Walsh and Bill Weld and Mark Sanford do in the New Hampshire primary? They would do nothing. Their calling card is, we can't stand Trump and he ought to be thrown out. If that's all it is, it's wholly negative."
Buchanan stunned Bush in New Hampshire in February 1992, taking 37% of the vote against the president's winning total of 53%. Buchanan went on to chip away at Bush, winning between 20% and 35% of the vote in primary after primary. When it was over, Buchanan totaled 22% of the vote overall.
He did it on the strength of a solid agenda. Reading Buchanan's Dec. 10, 1991, speech announcing his candidacy, one is struck today by how contemporary it sounds -- Buchanan staking out positions on trade, nationalism, interventionism, culture and the economy that seem remarkably current. "We will put America first," Buchanan declared.
Besides his obvious talent, Buchanan had other advantages over today's challengers. Perhaps the biggest is that he was the only GOP opponent of the president. The other was that Bush had always had a problem with the more conservative wing of the Republican Party.
"That's where the vacuum was," Buchanan recalled. "It was among conservative Republicans dissatisfied with Bush, who believed Bush had promised certain things, and hadn't delivered, and didn't care about them."
That is how Buchanan, a conservative favorite, won 37% of the vote in New Hampshire against a president of his own party. But is there an analogous situation today with Trump, not among conservatives, with whom Trump is quite popular, but with moderate Republicans? Perhaps there is an opportunity for a hypothetical not-Trump candidate. But it seems unlikely that Weld, or Walsh, or Sanford would be that candidate.
The president has serious reasons to worry about losing in the general election. In the RealClearPolitics average of polls, his job approval rating stands at 43%, against a 53.9% disapproval rating. Even though Trump won in 2016 with a high personal disapproval rating, there's no assurance the states that gave him the election by narrow margins last time -- Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin -- will go for him again next year.
But a Trump defeat, should there be one, would be the result of Trump himself, and not his GOP opponents. Separately or as a whole, today's challengers are simply not on the level of the Kennedys, Reagan or Buchanan.
Still, some of Trump's opponents hope a primary challenge might cripple Trump. Nothing is impossible, but the fact is, 2020 is not 1992, or 1980, or 1976. Trump might indeed lose, but it won't be at the hands of the retreads who are challenging him in the GOP primaries.
“Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, and punish its Members for disorderly Behavior, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.”
-Article 1, section 5, clause 2
Most of us know how our Constitution laid out the branches and powers of our government. Article One established the legislative branch, we know as Congress.
Congress consists of two houses: the House of Representatives and the Senate. It established Congress’ enumerated powers and their ability to pass laws. It defined the powers of the states.
It vested the office of the President and designated the implicit powers of his office. It further detailed the structure and responsibilities of the judicial branch and their authority to judge if laws were or were not constitutional. And it also set forth the process for each branch to remove members in violation of the ethics of their office.
We are aware of the impeachment process and recall when Bill Clinton was indicted for lying under oath and obstruction of justice. Although there was compelling evidence to convict Clinton, an over-quoted phrase from his grand jury trial questioning the meaning of the verbiage "is" enabled him to obfuscate the truth during impeachment. “It depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is. If it means he is and never has been, that is not – that is one thing. If it means there is none, that 'is' a completely true statement". After weeks of Clinton’s parlor games, along with unrelenting media criticism for impeachment, a frustrated Senate failed to convict him with a two-thirds majority vote.
Despite the clear violations of law during the Clinton impeachment, it demonstrated the “power of the press” that mocked the entire process. The sheer mention of impeachment is an ugly word for a president. When the media failed to elect their favorite daughter, Hillary Clinton, they went after Donald Trump. There was three years of supermarket tabloid pomp and circumstance by the media before this grammar school bullying mercifully ended. It was poetic justice when the Robert Mueller report dealt a knockout blow to anti-Trump forces that had invested their hopes in finally impeaching him.
“This Russia thing is far from over. They’ll be talking about it until next Valentines day.” - Chris Christie
The progressive left has spent three years trying to impeach Trump yet they have members in their own House who have proven far less fit for governing. And nobody has suggested that any of them be removed from office. Under the provisions of the Constitution, members of Congress may have their services ended by action of the house of Congress in which they are considered unworthy of serving. They may be removed from office by expulsion, or be determined incompatible for public office by their body of Congress. For a member to be removed from office from the Senate or the House, it requires a formal vote on a resolution agreed to by two-thirds of the body of its members.
Over the decades, several forms of discipline have evolved in the House. The most severe type of punishment is expulsion, which is followed by censure, and finally reprimand. But these are not the only penalties which the House may levy on members.
In the 1960s, the Committee on Ethics was given the ability to issue a formal “Letter of Reproval.” The Ethics Committee may also register its disapproval of an action or continued actions unbefitting for an elected official. Members may also be fined, stripped of committee leadership positions, suspended, or deprived of assorted privileges.
"Last year we said, 'Things can't go on like this', and they didn't, they got worse." -Will Rogers
Traditionally expulsion has been reserved to punish the most culpable conduct or crimes such as suspected treason against the government. It was used for the first time during the Civil War when three individuals were expelled from the House: Missourians John Clark and John Reid, and Henry Burnett from Kentucky who joined the Confederacy to fight in the Civil War against the U.S. Two members accused of selling appointments to U.S. military academies following the Civil War, North Carolina’s John DeWeese, and South Carolina’s Benjamin Whittemore, resigned their seats before the House voted to expel them. The House still censured both men, even after their resignations.
In 1872, George Train and Thomas Durant, of the Union Pacific Rail Road, formed a phony company to protect shareholders and charge the government extortionate fees during construction of a new western line. It enabled them to circumvent many of our federal finance rules. They were able to maintain this fraud by giving discounted shares to members of Congress who also agreed to support additional funding, The House submitted nine members for investigation: William Allison, James Bayard Jr., George Boutwell, Roscoe Conkling, James Harlan, James Patterson, and John Logan, along with Henry Wilson. Ultimately, Congress investigated 13 members and censured two.
“One way to find out if a man is honest is, ask him. If he says yes, he is a crook.” - Groucho Marx
In the last four decades, expulsion has been used on two other occasions, both of which involved egregious violations of criminal law and/or flagrant abuses of office. In 1980, Michael J. Myers was convicted of bribery and, in 2002, James A. Traficant was charged and convicted of conspiracy to commit bribery, fraud, receipt of illegal gratuities, obstruction of justice, filing false tax returns, and racketeering. A total of five House members have been expelled, twenty-one have been censured, and ten have been reprimanded. Two resigned but were censured on their way out of the door.
Richard Conway said, "We reserve the ultimate punishment for the worst of the worst.” Expulsion, censure and reprimand are fitting punishments for violations of ethics and dereliction of duties. But the House Ethics Committee has been too lenient by not handing out judgments to many current members of the House who have proven unfit to serve in Congress. If openly vowing allegiance to rogue regimes, condemning our country and the principles of our Constitution, inciting social and political unrest, promoting acts of violence, and protecting those who are breaking our laws aren’t grounds for discipline, what is?
“Let the punishment fit the crime.” - William Schwenck Gilbert
In its first productive act, the 116th Congress just passed a bill to modernize the legislative branch 418-12. The vote on Title II of the rules package was a non-controversial aspect of the Democrats’ rules package that most Republicans support.
For the first time in decades, we have a chance to address issues that have excogitated in Congress that has turned it into an odious carnival of reject thespian-orators. It is time for American voters to step forward and demand Congress adopts more stringent rules for policing themselves and handing out punishments to those who betray their duty to America by continuing to disrupt the governing of our nation. This opportunity is long overdue.
This is our government, and our chance to make the House more accountable to “we the people.” Each party leader will appoint six members, including two from the House Administration and Rules panel. But the caveat is, each party must select at least two “freshman.” Therefore it is vital every American voter watches this panel closely and continually voices their opinion on new rules before the final report is submitted to the full House for a vote at the end of this session.
It is time we let Congress know we want them to govern and start “cleaning house in the House.” And it’s also time to remind them that:
“The house of representatives can make no law, which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as the great mass of society. -James Madison
The Center Square
A month after launching a petition drive to get a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana on the 2020 Florida ballot, the prospective measure’s sponsors have already raised more than $1 million in contributions.
Make It Legal Florida (MILF), which registered its "Adult Use Of Marijuana" initiative with the state’s Division of Elections (DOE) on Aug. 1, reported on its September finance filing that it had raised $1.09 million in cash and received $104,500 in in-kind contributions.
The money comes from two donors, both heavy hitters in the nation’s burgeoning marijuana industry, with each kicking in $545,000 – Surterra Wellness and MadMen, Inc.
Atlanta-based Surterra, which operates 31 medical marijuana dispensaries in Florida – tied with Trulieve as the most among the state’s licensed medical marijuana operators – is a five-year-old company with similar “vertical operations” in Texas, Nevada and Massachusetts that generated $50 million in 2018 revenues.
MedMen, headquartered in Culver City, Calif., and founded in 2010, operates 92 retail sites in 12 states, including one in Florida. The publicly traded company reported $39.8 million in revenues last year.
MadMen Southeastern Director of Government Affairs Nick Hansen chairs the Tampa-based Make It Legal Florida (MILF) committee.
MILF’s ballot proposal would legalize recreational marijuana use among adults 21 and older and allow medical marijuana dispensaries to distribute the drug as long as it was contained in childproof packaging and not marketed to children.
The proposed amendment would apply to the possession, display and transport of marijuana in quantities up to 2.5 ounces and would also apply to marijuana accessories.
The committee has about five months to collect the 766,200 verified voter signatures necessary to qualify for the November 2020 ballot before the Feb. 1 deadline.
MILF’s initiative is the third active petition effort filed with the DOE seeking to legalize recreational marijuana.
Floridians For Freedom’s "Right Of Adults To Cannabis" petition drive has been underway since August 2015 with little recent activity. As of Tuesday, it had collected 24,279 petition signatures.
Sensible Florida’s "Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol to Establish Age, Licensing, and Other Restrictions" petition drive, launched in March 2016. Sensible Florida, sponsored by Regulate Florida, has gathered 88,813 signatures, enough to meet the threshold for a state Supreme Court review of its language. It has raised $177,883 and received $245,725 in in-kind contributions.
Regulate Florida’s proposal seeks to regulate recreational marijuana similarly to alcohol but does not create a retail stricture for cannabis corporations such as Surterra and MadMen.
According to Ballotpedia, the average cost per required signature (CPRS) in Florida in petition drives was $6 in 2018, but that was before lawmakers adopted a slate of new rules regulating petition-gathering that went into effect on July 7.
The new rules essentially extend the state’s voter registration system for absentee ballots to petition-gathering, requiring every citizen initiative organization sponsoring a signature-drive to have its own numbered, serialized petition provided by county election offices.
It requires petition-gathers to register with the state and have a permanent Florida address, effectively barring out-of-state entities from ballot campaigns. The bill prohibits signature gatherers from being paid on a per-petition basis.
MILF’s and Regulate Florida’s dueling petitions should find plenty of support for their proposals.
In a July 16-18 survey of 800 “likely 2020 voters” conducted by Ft. Lauderdale-based Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, 67 percent said they favored legalizing the use of marijuana for adults age 21 or over.
A June Quinnipiac University poll fixed support for marijuana legalization among likely Florida voters at 65 percent.
According to CQ/Fiscal Note, there are at least 20 prospective citizen-initiated measures in nine states related to marijuana vying to qualify for 2020 ballots.
In addition to Florida, 11 possible constitutional amendments in seven states — three in Arizona, two in South Dakota, New Jersey, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska — would ask voters to legalize recreational use of marijuana for adults.
Recreational marijuana use is legal in 11 states. Medical marijuana programs have been approved in 33.
The U.S. market for cannabis products, $10.4 billion in 2018, is projected to explode into a $344 billion global industry within a decade, according to New Frontier Data, an analytics firm that focuses on the cannabis industry.
The Center Square
For decades now, the Hollywood left has romanticized those brave Communist Party members who were blacklisted in the 1950s for refusing to cooperate with congressional investigations into their Soviet espionage. Just three years ago, Bryan Cranston was nominated for an Oscar for best actor for playing communist screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, a man so deluded that he compared North Korea's invasion of South Korea to the 1776 American Revolution. Even now, there are two films in development that revisit the history of Roy Cohn, a lawyer for Joe McCarthy ... and, later, for Donald Trump.
But the Hollywood left isn't a fraction as tolerant of differing opinions as it likes to pretend. It can't stand conservatives, and it especially can't stand public supporters of President Trump. The latest example began when The Hollywood Reporter declared that President Trump would appear at a Beverly Hills reelection fundraiser on Sept. 17.
The stars of NBC's rebooted gay-agitprop sitcom "Will & Grace" announced a new blacklist.
Eric McCormack tweeted, "Hey, @THR, kindly report on everyone attending this event, so the rest of us can be clear about who we don't wanna work with. Thx." His co-star Debra Messing tweeted "Co-signed" and added another tweet: "Please print a list of all attendees please. The public has a right to know."
Two of the possibly five Trump-supporting actors replied. Kristy Swanson, best known for playing Buffy in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," tweeted, "It's absolutely heartbreaking that you would say something like this & then ask The Hollywood Reporter to get on board with you (so sad)." Dean Cain tweeted, "I'm not attending, because I'll be out of town. Otherwise, I'd have been happy to attend."
Swanson and Cain are not the most popular folks in Tinseltown. They appeared this spring in a Washington, D.C., play by Phelim McAleer called "FBI Lovebirds: Undercovers," about political corruption in the Obama administration. There was nothing contrived, nothing untrue. It wasn't even "based on real events," Hollywood-speak for "We made most of this up." They used the actual text messages of former Justice Department officials/illicit lovers Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. The reaction? A leftist tweeted at them, "Someone set the theatre on fire."
(Twitter, predictably, took no action.)Tolerance, liberal style.
But then, something strange happened. Others did not comply.
The media elites ignored McCormack and Messing's call for lists of Trump donors in Hollywood. Defenders were few, and it flopped. In fact, one famous liberal entertainer took to the airwaves to call out the hypocrisy, given all the blacklisting lectures delivered by her industry over the decades. From her perch on ABC's "The View," Whoopi Goldberg, no Trump fan, blasted the idea of circulating Trump-backer lists. "Listen, last time people did this, people ended up killing themselves," she argued. "This is not a good idea, OK? Your idea of who you don't want to work with is your personal business. Do not encourage people to print out lists, because the next list that comes out, your name will be on, and then people will be coming after you."
The backlash was strong enough that the "Will & Grace" stars began pretending they never suggested denying work to Trump backers. McCormack posted on Instagram: "my social media post from last week ... has been misinterpreted in a very upsetting way. I absolutely do not support blacklists or discrimination of any kind." Messing tweeted a photo of his post and added, "I couldn't have said it better."
Yes, they could have. They could have kept their mouths shut.
L. Brent Bozell III and Tim Graham
Don't you hate picking up a local paper and reading about this great event you just missed? I do, so take a moment and put this on your schedule. There are so many events at so many locations around town, that there must be a few of these shows you can get to.
The Sixth Annual Island Hopper Songwriter Fest returns Sept. 20-29, 2019, to Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach & Sanibel Island with music and fun at a number of tropical venues.
The festival will take place over 10 days on Southwest Florida’s most beautiful barrier islands. It’s also a chance for fans to hear popular songs they’ve heard on country radio performed by the actual songwriters
Headliners include Gone West, a new rock-country quartet featuring Colbie Caillat, in a show with special guest Ryan Hurd at Pinchers at The Marina at Edison Ford in downtown Fort Myers on Sept. 25.
Caillat, a two-time Grammy Award winner, has sold more than six million albums worldwide and more than 10 million singles. Hurd has written songs for Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, Tim McGraw and many others. He has also penned songs for his wife, Maren Morris, who headlined Island Hopper in 2016.
Nashville-based Gone West consists of two couples, Caillat and her fiancé and singer-songwriter Justin Young, and married songwriters, multi-platinum singer-songwriter Jason Reeves and ACM and CMT nominated Nelly Joy.
Country music hit singer-songwriter Rodney Atkins brings his star power to round out the list of headliners. Atkins will perform on the final night of the festival, Sept. 29, at Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina on Fort Myers Beach.
There are just too many events and performers scheduled to list them all here but the 2019 performance schedule is available at: https://www.island-hopper.fortmyers-sanibel.com/schedules, or you can download the app. to your phone.
Island Hopper app
The official Island Hopper mobile app is now available for free download on iOS and Android devices. This new app was designed to enhance your festival experience. Features of the app include:
• First chance to purchase
tickets for select
• Personalized schedule
• Artist information
• Performance times and
• Festival coupons
• Island Hopper hotel deals
• Festival maps
• Updates and alerts
• And more!
Download the app at: https://www.islandhopperfest.com.
This event runs from September 20, 2019 to
September 29, 2019.
DOJ is hesitating to Indict Comey for lying and leaking…we do not know the true reason and understand there may well be a reason that involves other charges and testimony as part of a deal…HOWEVER, if he is getting a free ride for all the OTHER serious Felonies he committed, without testimony that goes UP the pay scale, then Lady Justice is getting a knife through the heart.
DOJ should have stated clearly that the “declination” applied only to lying and leaking and other serious charges that are still on the table!
Comey was behind the illegal FISA warrants that he signed off on knowing full well that his sworn signature was based upon his belief that the information was true, correct, accurate TO THE BEST OF HIS ABILITY. It was not! He knew the information was “unverified and salacious” according to his own statements that we all heard and that is a felony, in the least! He violated the Civil Rights of several US citizens including Carter Page. He did it to conspire to affect a US Presidential election, a Felony. He conspired to tamper with evidence to obtain an illegal FISA wiretap on a US Citizen, a Felony.
Comey also conspired to remove a Duly Elected President by creating a false FBI Investigation, a false Counter Intel Case, to unseat a duly elected President, another felony. He used his Official Position as Director of the FBI to Obstruct Justice in the Criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton, to retain a high paying job, a Hobbs Act- Political Corruption violation. He tampered with evidence by withholding evidence from the FISA court, withholding evidence found on the Weiner's computer allowing Peter McCabe to break The federal Rules of criminal Procedures and by NOT reporting that the evidence was found, requirements of FBI Rules and Regulations and Best Evidence Rules on reporting evidence found.
James Comey was FBI Director and not Jesus Chris himself. He committed multiple Felonies that almost destroyed the criminal investigation on Clinton and the Presidency of Donald Trump!
HE MUST NOT WALK, MR PRESIDENT!
YOU SIMPLY MUST DIRECT THE AG TO INDICT COMEY ON ANY OF THE FELONIES HE COMMITTED…
It is undeniable that Comey and EVERY OTHER DOJ Official who signed the Carter Page FISA Wiretap Application committed Fraud Against the FISA Court!
As the Chief Lawman, Mr President…you cannot allow that to go unanswered!
Indict everyone who signed the warrant and related papers. Then deal with each case individually…DO NOT LET THESE BASTARDS GIVE YOU, US AND LADY JUSTICE THE FINGER!
You MUST TAKE CHARGE!
J GARY DILAURA
Retired FBI Agent
Even before The New York Times launched its "All Slavery, All the Time" project, no one could accuse that paper of skimping on its race coverage, particularly stories about black males killed by white(ish) police officers.
Here's one you haven't heard about. I happened upon it by sheer accident.
Antwon Rose II was a 17-year-old boy shot by an East Pittsburgh police officer in June 2018 after he bolted from a jitney car that had been stopped by the officer. The Times published about a half-dozen stories on Antwon Rose -- or as the Times calls him, "Antwon, who was unarmed."
After the officer was acquitted on all charges in March of this year, the Times ran an article by Adeel Hassan on the verdict.
Here's what you would learn from the Times: -- Antwon was unarmed. -- Antwon "was in his high school's honors program." -- Antwon "played basketball and the saxophone." -- Antwon "volunteered for a local charity." -- In 2016, Antwon wrote a poem titled, "I Am Not What You Think!" which included these lines: I see mothers bury their sons, I want my Mom to never feel that pain. -- A policeman stopped the gold Chevy Cruze Antwon "was riding in" because it "matched the description" of a car "involved" in a drive-by shooting minutes earlier. -- The jury consisted of nine whites and three African Americans.
If you read the Times piece, all you would know is that an honor student who loved his mom ... was KILLED for the crime of riding in a car similar to one that had just been used in a crime.
Wow. Just wow.
Here are some of the facts the Times left out: -- The gold Chevy Cruze Antwon fled did not merely "match the description of" a car used in a drive-by shooting: It was the car used in the drive-by shooting, as proved by surveillance video posted
online days after the shooting and shown to the jury. -- The video shows 13 shots being fired from the back seat of that exact car, with -- according to the prosecutor -- Antwon riding in the front seat. -- The backseat passenger, Zaijuan Hester, later pleaded guilty to the drive-by shooting. -- One of the victims of the drive-by shooting told police it was Antwon who shot him. "The beef was between me and him," William Ross told a Pennsylvania State Police officer. "That car came by, he shot me, I ran to the store." -- The jitney driver told police that, right before the shooting started, he heard the backseat passenger ask, "Is that him?" -- The gun used in the drive-by was recovered in the back seat of the car. -- A stolen gun was found under Antwon's seat, an empty magazine in Antwon's pants pocket, and there was gunpowder residue on Antwon's hands. -- The car stopped by the officer was riddled with bullet holes. -- The jury that unanimously acquitted the officer was led by an African American foreman, who stoutly defended the verdict.
None of that made it into the Times story on the trial's conclusion.
I'm glad that Antwon did charity work, but isn't it rather more important that he had participated in a drive-by shooting of two other black guys 13 minutes before being stopped by a police officer?
That's not conjecture or speculation. Hassan wasn't writing about the case the day after the shooting. These are facts that were presented in court and copiously reported by the local media -- even in the British press.
Normal Person to The New York Times: Why did you say the car "matched the description" of the car used in a drive-by shooting -- but not say that it WAS the car used in the drive-by shooting? NYT: I'm sorry, who are you and do you have a press pass? Normal Person: You didn't mention that a stolen gun was found under Antwon's seat and a matching cartridge in Antwon's pocket??? NYT: We only have so much space and I needed room for Antwon's poem. Normal Person: You didn't have space to say that gun residue was found on Antwon's hands? NYT: I could have run more of the poem. It was a good poem. Normal Person: Or that one of the victims of the drive-by said Antwon was the one who shot him? NYT: The officer didn't know that. Normal Person: Did the officer know about Antwon's A.P. classes? It goes to the likelihood of his behavior being perceived as threatening. The officer could certainly see that the car's back window had been shot out. NYT: You're a white supremacist and white nationalist and, yes, I know they're different, but you're both. There's no reason to think this isn't standard operating procedure at the Times. The editors can't say, OK, OK, that one got past us! The Times has told wild lies about the racist shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri (false), the racist arrest of Freddie Grey in Baltimore (false), the racist shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida (false), the racist gang-rape of a black stripper by a Duke lacrosse team (false) and so on. Antwon Rose's shooting wasn't even a flood-the-zone, hair-on-fire story. But the Times lied about it, too. This is a newspaper that cannot be trusted on anything touching on race. They're liars and ideologues, not reporters and editors.
“Some think depression is simply being sad, that OCD is being uptight. They think the soul is sick, not the body. It is, they believe, something that you have some choice over.” – David Levithan
The mental health system in America is in crisis. Although most healthcare policies include mental health coverage, after Obamacare passed, the system to deliver services imploded. States have no criteria to judge who urgently needs help, and too few providers. Since states have also passed restrictive drug laws, the mentally ill can only get medications from a specialist. The average age of a psychiatrist is roughly 50 years old and nobody is stepping up to fill the void when they close their doors. Patients are left alone in a world not made for them to exist in without essential medications. Some go off the edge and are committed to overcrowded institutions; and some are not that lucky.
The growing national concern about mental healthcare exposes mental illness as a leading cause of disability in the U.S. It is the most under-treated health impairment in the nation. The suicide rate has increased three-fold in the last two decades due to lack of access to mental health treatment. The cultural and social stigma surrounding mental illness has left many patients to suffer silently with no one to turn to for help.
When they come out of the closet, they discover psychiatrists are not taking new patients; even those are hundreds of miles away from their homes. “If and when” they do receive treatment, it is usually too little too late. Others just give up, and another productive life is wasted.
Mental health is physical health. The brain is a part of the body. When it is ill, it must be treated. If a person has good mental health, they are able to think clearly and interface with others in society. This allows them to live their lives the way they wish. But if they are prevented from doing this due to a reaction from a crisis or an event in their lives, this affects their mental health. When they can’t cope with problems or solve them, they feel as bad or worse than any other illness they have ever had.
“A lot of people are living with mental illness. Either you love one or are one.”
– Mark Ruffalo
Mental illness ranges from moderate to severe. A serious mental illness is a behavioral, emotional or other condition that alters the state of a mind into functional impairment. When these conditions substantially limit a person’s daily life activities, they become totally disabled. Those living without professional help and medication get worse and are institutionalized.
Those with the most severe cases are hospitalized for lengthy periods, and sometimes for an entire life. The tragedy is many of them could be living productive lives if they had received treatment when they first needed help.
The demand for mental healthcare in the U.S. is rapidly rising along with the aging population. The American Medical Association estimates 1 in 5 people have serious mental health issues that must be treated immediately. The impact on their lives and society without treatment affects the patient’s income, quality of life, relationships and productivity. The American Psychiatric Institute confirmed their death rate is higher than any disease in America. The most common disorders left untreated include depression, anxiety and cognitive impairment.
“When a person’s struggle becomes their identity, too many just give up.”
– Dr. Janis Diets
While the U.S. has a shortage of doctors, the paucity of mental health professionals is greater than any other field. According to the Health Services Administration over 89 million Americans reside in federally designated Mental Health Shortage Areas. The National Council for Mental Health says the demand for mental health services continues to increase, but we are losing providers that are not being replaced. There was a shortage before Obamacare passed. Now many are retiring early and this vacuum is epidemic. Over half of those seeking help for themselves or a loved one are turned away; even with the best insurance coverage. Many providers are no longer taking insurance and others “cherry pick” their patients. This use to be the exception: now if has become the new norm.
Everyone in our nation is aware there always was and always will be drug trafficking as long as we have unprotected boarders. A study by the International Institute of Medicine estimates about 95 percent of street drugs come across the border or are made illegally. As states pass one-size-fits-all drug laws, they restrict dispensing of anxiety and depression drugs to those who need them most. Now the mentally ill can no longer have prescriptions written by their PCP for medications they once got from them, when they were denied treatment from a psychiatrist. They live torturous lives without their medications, and suffer in silence.
“Nothing’s more isolating than a mental illness.”
National studies point to government and insurers for making the already over-taxed system worse with the passage of Obamacare. To meet federal demands that include routine procedures in over-inclusive generic insurance plans, mental healthcare was short changed. Due to huge deductibles, half of those who need help must choose between physical and mental health treatment. Almost half of those who can’t find doctors taking new patients, or can’t pay cash for life saving help, lose their most productive years isolated from the world. They anguish through life suffering in silence.
“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” – Demi Lovato
Although Obamacare required insurers to provide mental healthcare coverage, the cost of these plans escalated due to the federal demands placed on insurers. One of the ludicrous claims made by its proponents was insurance premiums would go down. Instead, premiums ballooned to pay for additional services. This decreased access to mental healthcare by mandating new requirements for insurers, raising taxes, and forcing mentally ill patients into cookie cutter plans. This reduced options for the mentally ill, and raised the costs and co-pays exponentially. Today, even many of those with good coverage that experience a major crisis can no longer get life-saving treatments.
Singer Lady Gaga recently said, “Those who don’t feel your pain can’t tell you it will just go away.” Obama’s healthcare mandates on insurance companies violated our free markets and backfired. Now the mentally ill are left on the outside looking in. Mental illness in America has always been considered a subordinate medical ailment. Any good intentions Obama’s Congress had when they signed Obamacare into law constituted a death certificate for many mentally ill. Our over-loaded mental healthcare network short-circuited. Now there are even fewer providers who will treat them.
People from all over the world come to America to take advantage of our healthcare. They flock to our hospitals for life-saving treatments they can only get here. Yet we are denying services to many of our citizens afflicted with moderate and severe mental illness. Obamacare mortally wounded our once coveted healthcare system. If “Medicare for all” becomes law, it will be the fatal and final blow to totally dismantle our mental healthcare system. It will leave thousands more Americans living in an intimidating world of anxiety and depression that could have been helped with proper treatment.
Mental illness is physical illness and can affect anyone. Nobody is immune to it. It’s time to speak up for those that suffer in silence.
"If you use your platform and your voice to raise awareness and enforce change, I feel deeply there is nothing more respectable one can ever do.” – Lady Gaga
William Haupt III
The Center Square
The right of pharmaceutical companies to speak freely with doctors about truthful information regarding their products’ uses is under attack, according to the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute.
The institute highlighted the story of Howard Root, a Minnesota CEO who created a billion-dollar medical device company, to illustrate its point.
Root, founder and former CEO of Vascular Solutions (VSI), a Minneapolis-based company that manufactures medical devices to treat vascular disease, was facing three years of prison time and the destruction of his company because of federal prosecutors.
It all started after some VSI sales representatives, against Root’s orders, discussed with doctors the potential off-label uses of one of VSI’s medical devices, the Vari-Lase short kit. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claimed such a discussion was illegal.
After years of battling the government, a jury acquitted Root and VSI of all criminal charges in 2016.
The cost to Root was great: $25 million spent on legal fees to defend himself, his employees and VSI. The value of VSI’s stock plummeted, and medical devices that might have saved countless lives went undeveloped during years of court proceedings, the Goldwater Institute argues.
After Root’s four-year ordeal, the institute developed a blueprint report, “The Free Speech in Medicine Act” for other states to implement in order to protect the free-speech rights of pharmaceutical, manufacturing, healthcare providers and companies.
“The U.S. Constitution provides a floor of protection for individual rights, not a ceiling, leaving states free to enact laws that protect those rights more broadly than the federal Constitution does,” the report states.
The FDA generally approves a new drug or device for a single condition and after a long and expensive review process involving years of clinical studies. Once approved, doctors generally can discuss the use of the product/drug/device or prescribe it to treat patients with other ailments. Such a practice is called “off-label.”
Various medical journals cite the use of off-label drugs accounting for 20 to 25 percent of all drugs legally prescribed. Yet, if drug and device companies promote “off-label” devices or products that have not been approved by the FDA for their specifically intended purpose, even if the promotions are true, the federal government claims they are breaking the law.
As a result, drug companies have paid billions of dollars to settle both civil and criminal allegations brought by the federal government over the use of off-label marketing. Corporate executives also have been criminally prosecuted on fraud and conspiracy felony charges because of off-label claims made by their company’s sales representatives, even if the executives had no knowledge of them.
When it comes to making choices about their healthcare, “people need to have more information so that they can make informed decisions – not less,” Goldwater Institute Executive Vice President Christina Sandefur said. “What the FDA is doing is taking important information away from doctors and away from patients.”
“Government can restrict conduct – it can make it illegal to perform brain surgery or prescribe drugs – but it can’t restrict communication without surviving First Amendment scrutiny,” says Dana Berliner, litigation director at the Institute for Justice, a libertarian nonprofit law firm.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court have both found that drug companies and company sales consultants have constitutionally protected rights to free speech – including discussing the off-label uses of products, free speech advocates note.
The Center Square