Tuesday, September 01, 2015

More on the Birthright Citizenship issue

Only Donald Trump could get everyone talking about the arcane intricacies of the 14th Amendment.

After Trump announced his intention to review birthright citizenship to curtail the “anchor baby” problem, a fiery debate has erupted as to whether it was both morally and constitutionally right to do such a thing.

Considering The Donald’s involvement, it’s no surprise some of the most vociferous arguments against the billionaire populist’s proposal have come from the right.

The Federalist’s Robert Tracinski declared that there is “nothing more conservative than birthright citizenship.” The desire to eliminate it is thoroughly “un-conservative,” in Tracinski’s opinion, and would be a gross violation of the Constitution if enacted.

John Yoo, former Bush administration Department of Justice lawyer and the man who authored the legal justification for enhanced interrogation, argued in National Review that eliminating citizenship for the children of illegals would undermine the very nature of the Constitution. Employing conservative-friendly “living Constitution vs. Constitution’s text” rhetoric, Yoo makes the case for why the 14th Amendment is just fine the way it is and how only “nativist Democrats” would want to change the fabric of the Constitution.

And this argument comes from the guy who “discovered” justification for enhanced interrogation in our country’s premier legal document.

Tracinski and Yoo aren’t the only voices on the right up in arms over the idea of changing America’s laws overseeing citizenship. The Wall Street Journal, Reason, Commentary, a plentiful number of Fox News personalities and every conservative columnist published by The Washington Post are also incensed by the proposal and attack it as an affront to American values.

Even though the majority of conservative commentators seems to be supporting giving the children of illegal immigrants citizenship, the vast majority of right-leaning voters is not on the same page.

According to a 2011 Rasmussen poll, nearly two-thirds of likely American voters are opposed to giving automatic citizenship to so-called anchor babies. That number included 83 percent of conservatives and 71 percent of self-professed moderates.

It’s no wonder then that several GOP candidates followed up Trump’s announcement with their own promises to reform America’s citizenship laws — with the notable exceptions of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. But why then is there such a major disconnect between the conservative establishment and its followers on this issue?

Because, as The Donald’s strong poll numbers are also showcasing, the two sides may be motivated by different principles. On the conservative establishment side are those who stand for the traditional precepts of classical liberalism above all else; on the grassroots side are those who stand for “America First” above all else.

Ben Domenech made the best analysis of this divide in his widely shared Federalist essay, “Are Republicans For Freedom Or White Identity Politics?” While the title should give away which side Domenech places himself on, the commentator says the party is being torn apart by these diverging ideologies.

The Federalist publisher claims the GOP has always been the party of classical liberalism, but that the passions unleashed by Trump and his supporters represents a dangerous threat to that Republican heritage. It also pushes the party in line with trends in Europe — a continent that no longer has serious old-school liberal parties anymore, while having plenty of successful nationalist fronts.

As Domenech notes, the rise of these apparently “dangerous” parties is due to the failures of the established political class, which is the same reason why Trump is so popular right now among disaffected American voters.

While the author likes to characterize the present Republican civil war as one between freedom and “white identity politics,” a more accurate way to describe it as classical liberalism versus nationalism.

It’s very possible for both of these political attachments to share the same party roof and for most of its history, the GOP has housed both ideological traits. However, on issues like birthright citizenship, you can see these two persuasions battling it out and ending up with irreconcilable differences.

Wanting to give anchor babies automatic citizenship solely on the basis of a divided Supreme Court decision that concerned the child of legal immigrants strikes many conservative voters as absurd. To them, this attitude values abstract principles over common sense.

It’s also absurd for a movement that prides itself on publicly opposing other Supreme Court decisions to accept a single one from 1898 as an unamendable legal commandment.

But to the right-wing supporters of automatic birth citizenship, that’s an acceptable cost for cherishing classical liberalism.

It’s not surprising that there is so much acrimony between those who show any sympathy for Trump’s candidacy and the many conservative pundits who loathe everything about the mogul. You can see the fighting at any given hour on Twitter.

That animosity and the sense that Trump’s campaign jeopardizes Republican chances in the general elections has prompted a few consultants to call for the “cleansing” of the billionaire’s supporters. Considering he is polling with at least a quarter of Republican support, that call amounts to a wish for electoral suicide.

But even without the attempted purging, the division will still be there if Republican and conservative leaders don’t try to meet their base halfway — particularly on anchor babies.

On an issue that has wide-ranging support among the American public, Republican legislators should respond to the call and resolve the anchor baby problem. If it takes an amendment to fix, so be it.

And contrary to the views of some conservative critics, revising birthright citizenship would not undermine our nation’s founding principles.

Furthermore, support for citizenship reform would go a long way towards mending the fences with alienated conservatives.

But if the establishment would prefer to stick with the interests of illegal immigrants over the interests of their own voters, then they can expect the party’s bloody civil war to escalate into a conflict that could doom the GOP’s future.



States Approving Huge Premium Increases for medical insurance

“My expectation is that [rate increases] come in significantly lower than what’s being requested,” Barack Obama told a Nashville audience last month. After all, he promised ObamaCare would bend the cost curve down, right? And that it would save the typical family $2,500 a year in premiums, right? Wrong. So much for that.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Tennessee Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak “answered [that question] on Friday by greenlighting the full 36.3% increase sought by the biggest health plan in the state, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. She said the insurer demonstrated the hefty increase for 2016 was needed to cover higher-than-expected claims from sick people who signed up for individual policies in the first two years of the Affordable Care Act.” So, Madam Commissioner, you’re telling us the Affordable Care Act isn’t exactly, uh, Affordable?

So far, Tennessee’s rate increase is the highest approved this year, but two other states — North Carolina and Maryland — exceeded 30%, and half a dozen more were in double digits. Others, like Minnesota (seeking a whopping 54% hike), are yet to be determined. And lest anyone think higher premiums were paying for better coverage, most insurance carriers are also increasing deductibles and copays. Our own plan here in our humble shop now offers this wonderful trifecta of higher premiums, higher deductibles and higher copays. So we pay more up front, we pay more before we can receive care, and then we pay more when insurance finally does kick in. Remind us again how great ObamaCare is…



The fish oil religion takes a hit

There are a number of beliefs in medical science that are highly resistant to disconfirmation.  The magic power of fish oil is one such religion.  So the findings below will barely shake the faith

Fish oil supplements are taken by millions of people to keep their wits sharp as they age.  But doubts have emerged as to whether the capsules actually do anything to slow mental decline.  A study of 4,000 people found no evidence omega-3 supplements helps people maintain their brain power.

Scientists tracked the patients for five years, finding that the whole group declined at roughly the same rate, no matter whether they had taken the supplements.


Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Lutein/Zeaxanthin, or Other Nutrient Supplementation on Cognitive Function

Emily Y. Chew et al


Importance:  Observational data have suggested that high dietary intake of saturated fat and low intake of vegetables may be associated with increased risk of Alzheimer disease.

Objective:  To test the effects of oral supplementation with nutrients on cognitive function.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  In a double-masked randomized clinical trial (the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 [AREDS2]), retinal specialists in 82 US academic and community medical centers enrolled and observed participants who were at risk for developing late age-related macular degeneration (AMD) from October 2006 to December 2012. In addition to annual eye examinations, several validated cognitive function tests were administered via telephone by trained personnel at baseline and every 2 years during the 5-year study.

Interventions:  Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) (1 g) and/or lutein (10 mg)/zeaxanthin (2 mg) vs placebo were tested in a factorial design. All participants were also given varying combinations of vitamins C, E, beta carotene, and zinc.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  The main outcome was the yearly change in composite scores determined from a battery of cognitive function tests from baseline. The analyses, which were adjusted for baseline age, sex, race, history of hypertension, education, cognitive score, and depression score, evaluated the differences in the composite score between the treated vs untreated groups. The composite score provided an overall score for the battery, ranging from −22 to 17, with higher scores representing better function.

Results:  A total of 89% (3741/4203) of AREDS2 participants consented to the ancillary cognitive function study and 93.6% (3501/3741) underwent cognitive function testing. The mean (SD) age of the participants was 72.7 (7.7) years and 57.5% were women. There were no statistically significant differences in change of scores for participants randomized to receive supplements vs those who were not. The yearly change in the composite cognitive function score was −0.19 (99% CI, −0.25 to −0.13) for participants randomized to receive LCPUFAs vs −0.18 (99% CI, −0.24 to −0.12) for those randomized to no LCPUFAs (difference in yearly change, −0.03 [99% CI, −0.20 to 0.13]; P = .63). Similarly, the yearly change in the composite cognitive function score was −0.18 (99% CI, −0.24 to −0.11) for participants randomized to receive lutein/zeaxanthin vs −0.19 (99% CI, −0.25 to −0.13) for those randomized to not receive lutein/zeaxanthin (difference in yearly change, 0.03 [99% CI, −0.14 to 0.19]; P = .66). Analyses were also conducted to assess for potential interactions between LCPUFAs and lutein/zeaxanthin and none were found to be significant.

Conclusions and Relevance:  Among older persons with AMD, oral supplementation with LCPUFAs or lutein/zeaxanthin had no statistically significant effect on cognitive function.

JAMA. 2015;314(8):791-801. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.9677

There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


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