Friday, June 05, 2015

Transgender Surgery Isn't the Solution: A drastic physical change doesn't address underlying psycho-social troubles By Paul McHugh

June 12, 2015
Wall Street Journal

The government and media alliance advancing the transgender cause has gone into overdrive in recent weeks. On May 30, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services review board ruled that Medicare can pay for the "reassignment" surgery sought by the transgendered—those who say that they don't identify with their biological sex. Earlier last month Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that he was "open" to lifting a ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. Time magazine, seeing the trend, ran a cover story for its June 9 issue called "The Transgender Tipping Point: America's next civil rights frontier."

Yet policy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention. This intensely felt sense of being transgendered constitutes a mental disorder in two respects. The first is that the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken—it does not correspond with physical reality. The second is that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.

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

A man who looks into the mirror and sees himself as a woman

With body dysmorphic disorder, an often socially crippling condition, the individual is consumed by the assumption "I'm ugly." These disorders occur in subjects who have come to believe that some of their psycho-social conflicts or problems will be resolved if they can change the way that they appear to others. Such ideas work like ruling passions in their subjects' minds and tend to be accompanied by a solipsistic argument.

For the transgendered, this argument holds that one's feeling of "gender" is a conscious, subjective sense that, being in one's mind, cannot be questioned by others. The individual often seeks not just society's tolerance of this "personal truth" but affirmation of it. Here rests the support for "transgender equality," the demands for government payment for medical and surgical treatments, and for access to all sex-based public roles and privileges.

With this argument, advocates for the transgendered have persuaded several states—including California, New Jersey and Massachusetts—to pass laws barring psychiatrists, even with parental permission, from striving to restore natural gender feelings to a transgender minor. That government can intrude into parents' rights to seek help in guiding their children indicates how powerful these advocates have become.

How to respond? Psychiatrists obviously must challenge the solipsistic concept that what is in the mind cannot be questioned. Disorders of consciousness, after all, represent psychiatry's domain; declaring them off-limits would eliminate the field. Many will recall how, in the 1990s, an accusation of parental sex abuse of children was deemed unquestionable by the solipsists of the "recovered memory" craze.

You won't hear it from those championing transgender equality, but controlled and follow-up studies reveal fundamental problems with this movement. When children who reported transgender feelings were tracked without medical or surgical treatment at both Vanderbilt University and London's Portman Clinic, 70%-80% of them spontaneously lost those feelings. Some 25% did have persisting feelings; what differentiates those individuals remains to be discerned.

We at Johns Hopkins University—which in the 1960s was the first American medical center to venture into "sex-reassignment surgery"—launched a study in the 1970s comparing the outcomes of transgendered people who had the surgery with the outcomes of those who did not. Most of the surgically treated patients described themselves as "satisfied" by the results, but their subsequent psycho-social adjustments were no better than those who didn't have the surgery. And so at Hopkins we stopped doing sex-reassignment surgery, since producing a "satisfied" but still troubled patient seemed an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs.

It now appears that our long-ago decision was a wise one. A 2011 study at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden produced the most illuminating results yet regarding the transgendered, evidence that should give advocates pause. The long-term study—up to 30 years—followed 324 people who had sex-reassignment surgery. The study revealed that beginning about 10 years after having the surgery, the transgendered began to experience increasing mental difficulties. Most shockingly, their suicide mortality rose almost 20-fold above the comparable nontransgender population. This disturbing result has as yet no explanation but probably reflects the growing sense of isolation reported by the aging transgendered after surgery. The high suicide rate certainly challenges the surgery prescription.

There are subgroups of the transgendered, and for none does "reassignment" seem apt. One group includes male prisoners like Pvt. Bradley Manning, the convicted national-security leaker who now wishes to be called Chelsea. Facing long sentences and the rigors of a men's prison, they have an obvious motive for wanting to change their sex and hence their prison. Given that they committed their crimes as males, they should be punished as such; after serving their time, they will be free to reconsider their gender.

Another subgroup consists of young men and women susceptible to suggestion from "everything is normal" sex education, amplified by Internet chat groups. These are the transgender subjects most like anorexia nervosa patients: They become persuaded that seeking a drastic physical change will banish their psycho-social problems. "Diversity" counselors in their schools, rather like cult leaders, may encourage these young people to distance themselves from their families and offer advice on rebutting arguments against having transgender surgery. Treatments here must begin with removing the young person from the suggestive environment and offering a counter-message in family therapy.

Then there is the subgroup of very young, often prepubescent children who notice distinct sex roles in the culture and, exploring how they fit in, begin imitating the opposite sex. Misguided doctors at medical centers including Boston's Children's Hospital have begun trying to treat this behavior by administering puberty-delaying hormones to render later sex-change surgeries less onerous—even though the drugs stunt the children's growth and risk causing sterility. Given that close to 80% of such children would abandon their confusion and grow naturally into adult life if untreated, these medical interventions come close to child abuse. A better way to help these children: with devoted parenting.

At the heart of the problem is confusion over the nature of the transgendered. "Sex change" is biologically impossible. People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women. Claiming that this is civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder.

Dr. McHugh, former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, is the author of "Try to Remember: Psychiatry's Clash Over Meaning, Memory, and Mind" (Dana Press, 2008).

Monday, June 01, 2015

Obituary - Ellis

Tina Aileen Ellis

Profile Views: 363
Birthday: November 08, 1946
Death: May 16, 2014
Place of Rest: Shalom Memorial Cemetery in David

Life Story

Tina A. Ellis, 67, died Friday, May 16th, 2014 at her Home in Northeast Philadelphia. She was born November 8, 1946 in Philadelphia, the daughter of Mildred and Louis Fagan.Tina Aileen Ellis is survived by her husband, Zeke; a daughter, Lindsay of Fox Chase ; a step-daughter Dawn Cassidy of Florida; a son, Lewis of Pennsauken, NJ; a step-son Frank of Medford, NJ; one sister Nanette Berman of Texas; four step grandchildren; a great step-grandchild; and a few nieces and nephews and pre-deceased by her little daughter Jaime Rachel.A graveside funeral service was held Sunday May 18th 2014 at the Shalom Memorial Park in Hundingdon Valley. 


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What to Eat with IBS By Amber

April 26, 2015

Having Irritable Bowel Syndrome means that every single thing I eat has a direct effect on my intestines and whether or not I will have symptoms.  Since IBS is extremely individualized and symptoms and severity can vary from person to person, finding what works best for YOU and YOUR body is literally a lengthy process of trial and error.  I'm still learning what works for my body. 
There are medication options, as well as natural remedy options, but for some people, like myself, one or a combination of both of those treatments are not enough.

For me, and many others, altering what I eat, has made a huge difference in managing my IBS. For a while, I feared food because I felt that no matter what I ate, my intestines would become irate, and they did. My flareups lasted weeks, and I almost was always experiencing symptoms for a period of time. I couldn't pinpoint a cause to all my suffering, because there were too many variables (foods) causing it.  

The question of "What to Eat with IBS" has taken me over a year to find an answer for and is one I'm still working on. Beginning the process of finding what foods work for you requires effort and hard work, BUT, it is worth it. I always say, "Our Health is Our Greatest Wealth"

To get started with your "What to Eat with IBS" Journey, use a Symptom Diary
This will help you document what you eat and how much you eat, as well as symptoms and bowel habits.  It isn't only the food itself, but the amount of food that can cause symptoms in those with IBS.

Now, before we get started, I need to make one thing clear:
I HATE the word diet. It tends to have such a negative connotation associated with it, and is seen as something done for the "short term" so for the purpose of this post, I am going to call the options for "What to Eat with IBS" Eating Plans.  
Getting Started:
1. As ALWAYS - Talk to your doctor, before trying ANYTHING.  
In this case, he or she may be able to assist you (if trying something like Low Fodmap) or they may suggest you see a nutritionist
2. Download a Symptom Diary 
3. Seek support - this is NOT easy, having people who are going to be able to support you, whether it be family, friends, or an online community, will make the process easier

Tips for the Process:
  • Do NOT go crazy measuring food amounts, rough estimates are fine. For example, no need to record 1/2 cup of quinoa, but make note of how much you filled that bowl and use that same bowl  through out your trial and error process.  Eat ten carrots and get cramps write it down. Then, next time, try only five carrots. 
  • Do NOT eliminate/test out multiple foods at a time. Finding what triggers your symptoms is a literal science, if you suspect something is causing you symptoms, you must eliminate it or test these foods out, one at a time, take notes of your symptoms, and then re introduce them one a a time.
  • Do NOT expect people to understand. This was my issue and became the root of a lot of heartache for me while trying to figuring out what foods worked best for my body. I got called "difficult", a "picky eater" and even worse, accused of being anorexic and having an eating disorder when I tried to explain why I would not eat certain foods anymore, even IF they were gluten free and lactose free.  
  • Educate yourself and others AS MUCH as possible. In order to gain support from loved ones, I began sending them articles about food and its effect on those with IBS. In specific, the certain types of Eating Plans I chose to follow
  • Even IF you find a food causes you to experience symptoms, it is still YOUR choice to eat it or not. Although I know eating french fries or something with milk in it can cause me to become sick, sometimes I think it is "worth" the suffering for the enjoyment.  It's YOUR body, YOUR rules!
IBS Eating Plans
Based on YOUR IBS and symptoms, one or a combination of Eating Plans may be necessary. When combining Eating Plans, certain foods may be "OK" on one plan, but not on another, so listen to your body and decide whether the food is is safe for you or not. I put an asterisk* next to the Eating Plans that I currently follow. 
I avoided listing foods, or providing too many specifics because I want YOU to do your own research and consult your doctor when attempting this process, this is all based on MY experience and research.
  • Anti-Gas*
       Avoiding or limiting foods that produce gas - see photo below Read More for a list
       Some Low Gas Foods are High FODMAP - beware!
  • Avoiding IBS Irritants*
       Not all "irritants" will irritate those with IBS - see what you can and cannot have
       - Alcohol (I don't drink for this reason, I am a very atypical 20something year old)
       - Caffeine (I can personally have caffeine once a day)
       - Chocolate (I can eat dark chocolate, no problem)
       - Coffee (I can have one cup a day, it actually stimulates my intestines in the morning)
       - Fatty Foods (I cannot eat high fat content food)
  • High Fiber
       This can be beneficial for those with IBS D. Those with IBS C should ONLY attempt a high fiber 
       plan IF a doctor suggests it, I was on one for a period of time, and it made my symptoms worse.
  • Lactose-Free*
       Whether you are diagnosed as Lactose Intolerant or not, milk products cause a variety of intestinal 
       distress for those with IBS because lactose is: gas producing and also a HIGH FODMAP!
       IF you can ingest lactose no problem - keep at it! No need to eliminate something that doesn't 
       cause you issues!
       Many, including myself, who cannot have lactose CAN have greek yogurt with no issues
  • Low Fat*
       Through my own personal trial and error, I have found that eating foods high in fat content, 
       whether it be healthy or unhealthy, (avocado, anything fried, guacamole, nuts, nut butters, etc.)
       causes me to bloat and become constipated. This does NOT mean I never eat cookies, cupcakes, 
       or things that are fried.  I STILL eat fat, I just space it out through out the day, or take the  
       consequences of eating an entire basket of french fries, because sometimes eating for enjoyment 
       is worth it.
  • Low Fiber*
       I avoid eating foods that are high in fiber. Instead, I space my fiber intake out through out the 
       day.  Bars, breads, and other grain products that have high fiber content for a single serving are 
       NOT my friend (I'm looking at you Quest Bars!).
  • Low FODMAP*
       FODMAPS are carbohydrates (sugars) found in foods but not all carbohydrates are FODMAPS.
       There are five groups: Fructose, Lactose, Fructans, Galactans, and Polylols.
       FODMAPS are osmotic, meaning they draw water into the intestinal tract, and can easily ferment 
       with bacteria causing symptoms with those that have IBS.
       A Low FODMAP plan is VERY individualized since not ALL the foods listed in each group need to be 
       avoided, and some can be allowed in certain amounts, it just depends on YOUR body.
       For example, asparagus is a moderate FODMAP. I can have a few spears with no problem, if I eat 
       ten, I get extreme cramps for the evening. Therefore, I limit my intake, and it is not a food item 
       I eat every single day.

Simply put, WHAT I eat and HOW MUCH I eat of it will forever be a factor for me in managing my IBS, as well as the case for so many others.  Sometimes, it's a mathematical equation that can be exhausting, especially when it's a food that has nutritional benefits, such as watermelon.  Except, what's supposed to be "healthy for everyone" may not be healthy for you if it causes you symptoms!

Following an IBS Eating Plan is not easy, it requires advocacy for yourself, and often explaining to others why you are avoiding certain foods BUT it IS worth it.  While the list of foods I cannot eat may be longer than the ones that I actually can eat, I am happy and I am healthy, and I am no longer afraid of food.

Closing Tips
  • IBS Eating Plans CAN change.  Once your IBS is manageable, try introducing a food item back into your plan in small amounts. You MAY be able to tolerate it again!
  • Do NOT be afraid to try new foods and ingredients, just err on the side of caution with the amount you try and take notes if any symptoms occur
  • MAKE A LIST/PLAN FOR YOURSELF. I created a Word Document with three categories: Safe, Limit, and Avoid and a list of foods for myself, organized by food groups. That way, when I want to try something new or when I'm suffering, I can check my list and see, did I eat too much of a limit food item, or did I have a new recipe that used an "avoid" ingredient I forgot about.
  • It is YOUR body and YOUR rules. IF you experience negativity about your choices to try and live a healthier and happier lifestyle by managing your symptoms through an IBS Eating Plan, stand your ground and advocate for yourself.  Only YOU know what is best for your body, no one else!
  • Do you follow an Eating Plan for IBS or another condition?
  • Do you think food can be used as medicine?
  • Have you ever experience negativity due to a choice you made for your health?
I am not a a medical doctor, and the information, advice, and tips provided are based on my own experiences with IBS and research I have done myself.  My information is by no means a replacement for seeing an actual doctor, and any medication or supplements should not be taken unless you consult with your doctor first.  IBS is a complex condition that is different for everyone, so what works for me, may not work for you.  Keep reading, researching, and experimenting until you find what works best for your body! 
Helpful Science Backed Resource:  and 
This list provides you with foods that are gas-producing.  These are NOT to be confused with FODMAPS, but rather are foods that cause gas to be produced when digested in the intestines.
  • Just because a food is "high gas" and says to avoid, does not mean YOU HAVE TO avoid the specific food item.  For example, I can eat carrots, in small quantities, NO PROBLEM.  As I said, with EVERYTHING else, it is a process of trial and error.
  • Some Low Gas foods, such as Grapes are actually Moderate FODMAPS, so be careful when looking at eating plan lists, because what is "safe" for one type of Eating Plan may not be on another.
  • DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH :) It's YOUR body, just because a list says it is "allowed/limit/avoid" doesn't mean YOUR body will react that way!  We are all individuals, these lists are here as a guide to help, not to strictly adhere to!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Soprano is an expert on the grape By Barbara S. Rothschild

April 29, 2015

To cantorial soloist Sandra Messinger, a fine wine can be a religious experience.

The soprano, who leads Mount Laurel’s Reform synagogue Adath Emanu-El in song both sacred and joyous, is also an expert on the grape — a happy pairing that is, in fact, a byproduct of Messinger’s vocation.

Call it bashert, the Yiddish term for “destiny”: This vocalist is as comfortable reading a wine list as she is following the musical patterns of a religious trope. In both disciplines, the notes are varied and complex — and a way for Messinger to challenge herself while doing what she loves.

Sandra Messinger, cantor at Adath Emanu-El, talks about wine pairings during a tasting at the synagogue. Tracie Van Auken/Freelance

“Wine is a part of many Jewish celebrations, from weddings to sanctifying the Sabbath. So if you are going to rejoice with wine, it should be something that tastes good,” Messinger said. “It’s very much a part of celebration and joyfulness — as long as it’s in moderation. If you are going to have a little bit of something, it should be wonderful.”

Messinger, 44, is a Willingboro native whose family joined Adath Emanu-El when the future chanteuse was 5. The synagogue, then known as Temple Emanu-El, was a fixture in Willingboro until it moved to Mount Laurel in 1997. Messinger’s family remained in Willingboro, but continued to attend the renamed temple.

Messinger opens a sparkling white zinfandel for sampling. Tracie Van Auken

The John F. Kennedy High School graduate majored in music performance at Rowan University, followed by a study in opera performance at the International Academy in Rome. There, she performed such classic roles as Tosca, Contessa Almaviva from “The Marriage of Figaro,” Suor (Sister) Angelica, and Magda from “The Consul.” At the same time, she began cultivating an appreciation of fine wines as she also became more attuned to her faith.

Messinger said she started developing an interest in wine while touring Europe in her 20s. “It was partly because of the culture of it, and partly because I’m a foodie — and food and wine go together,” she said.

Faith had something to do with it, too. “One of the times I really started connecting with wine was when I was singing in Italy,” Messinger said. “Wine was a part of the culture, and even the table wines were spectacular.”

Sandra Messinger, cantor at Adath Emanu-El, talks about wine pairings during a tasting. Tracie Van Auken

At the same time, she was feeling like a fish out of water in Rome, a city without many Jews. She found the Jewish quarter and reconnected with her religion while embracing the city’s wine offerings.

“The two really overlapped in Rome, as I gained a new appreciation of Judaism and of wine. That is where they connected in my mind,” Messinger said.

At that event, about a dozen participants indulged in everything from cheese, nuts and chocolate to carrot cake, cheesecake, brownies and fruit pies while pairing them with six wines selected by Messinger, with an emphasis on products from local vineyards. Tracie Van Auken/Freelance

After returning from Europe, Messinger got a job singing and waiting tables at La Boheme, a now-defunct Northern Italian restaurant — despite the French name — in the Chambersburg section of Trenton.

“It was a small restaurant and other than the chef, I was the one who knew about wine,” she recalled. “They didn’t have a sommelier, and they wanted someone to suggest wine pairings.”

Sandra Messinger pours a sparkling white zinfandel during the tasting. Tracie Van Auken/Freelance

From there, Messinger got a job at what was then The Pantheon, an Italian restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton on Broad Street in Philadelphia. “I was waitressing at the beginning, and buddied up to its sommelier. I learned everything I could from him, and I became the go-to person about wines when he was not available,” she explained. “The chef there let me taste things, and the manager was very supportive of my education in terms of wines and pairings.”

After that, Messinger further developed her wine palate by frequenting wine tastings and festivals. In 2001, she became cantorial soloist at Adath Emanu-El.

“I kept studying wine for my own enjoyment while learning how to better serve my congregation through music and developing professionally in the Jewish community,” said Messinger, who has performed in England, Spain and Israel as well as in Italy and various U.S. locales.

An ice wine from Tomasello Winery was among the sweet wines sampled during the tasting. Tracie Van Auken

In addition to her cantorial role, Messinger acts as conductor for the temple’s youth, teen and adult choirs, and is also a bar/bat mitzvah tutor and Hebrew teacher. Soon, she hopes to complete her bachelor’s degree — coursework having been interrupted by her performing abroad — and earn certification as a full-fledged cantor.

Messinger has held several wine pairing events at Adath Emanu-El, aiming to help others develop their own palates. Topics have included general pairings, kosher wines and, most recently, dessert wines.

Messinger has held several wine pairing events at Adath Emanu-El, aiming to help others develop their own palates. Topics have included general pairings, kosher wines and, most recently, dessert wines. Tracie Van Auken/Freelance

At that event, about a dozen participants indulged in everything from cheese, nuts and chocolate to carrot cake, cheesecake, brownies and fruit pies while pairing them with six wines selected by Messinger, with an emphasis on products from local vineyards.

“This is the one I’m most excited about,” said Messinger as she indicated a bottle of Valenzano’s Jersey Devil No. 1 — a honey wine, or mead, from the Shamong winery, with hints of Madagascar vanilla beans and orange zest. She remarked that the mead, aged in bourbon barrels that add depth of flavor, went really well with the brownies.

Also from Valenzano, Messinger chose a sweet-yet-tart plum wine and a full-bodied blackberry syrah. “The syrah is good with the nuts, too. They work with the spiciness in the syrah,” she said. “And dark chocolate and blackberry — that’s a gimme.”

Her other offerings included a sauvignon blanc from New Zealand, a California white zinfandel, and a vidal blanc ice wine, made from partially frozen grapes, from Tomasello Winery in Hammonton.

“It’s all about what brings out the flavors you like and hides the favors you don’t,” she said, advising the group to rinse with water — and then spit it out — between wines. “It’s not a matter of right and wrong. Is anyone finding that some things taste better with the wine and some things taste awful?”

Participants at the dessert wine pairing were pleased to let their palates be their guide. “I liked the sauvignon blanc with the cheesecake, but not with the fruit,” said Sunny Butchin, of Willingboro.

Added Willingboro resident Josselyne Jackson, “I liked it better with the strawberries.”

Messinger said there remain certain chemical truths about wines and food — that a harsh-tasting red wine will cut through the fat in meats and cheeses, while the fat in the food will cut the harshness in the wine, for instance.

But, she added, the old way of looking at wine pairings — white with fish, red with beef — is not how people should approach the discipline today. “Pairings have to be user-friendly now,” Messinger said.

Maria Kelly of Edgewater Park said she was a fan of the plum wine. “It’s very good with the gouda,” Kelly said, prompting Messinger to say, “The plum wine balances it.”

Moorestown resident Judy Richter said she knows very little about wine. “I wanted to get an idea of what goes best with fruit, cake and nuts,” she said.

Eileen Chmielinski, of Evesham, said she took one of Messinger’s classes before. “It was fun then, too. I think wine is a good thing to enjoy and add to your meals.”

Messinger said white port is one of her favorite new finds. She always gets excited about amarone, a red wine from the Tuscany region of Italy that she describes as “big, rich, complex and fabulous.”

In all her travels, Messinger has continued to gravitate to wine, noting that it has given her an appreciation of cultural differences while making her more grounded in self-knowledge. Sharing her hobby of wine appreciation with those she mentors professionally as a Jewish spiritual guide is truly the best pairing for her.

“It’s a way of finding what home is, in terms of both a congregation and favorite wines,” Messinger said. “For me, home is where I started. Not everyone gets to do that.”

Cantor Teaches Wine Pairing

A sauvignon blanc from Peter Yealands was among the wines sampled at a tasting event held at Adath Emanu-El in Mount Laurel.

Cantor Teaches Wine Pairing

Cantor Teaches Wine Pairing

Valenzano’s Jersey Devil No. 1 — a honey wine, or mead, from the Shamong winery, with hints of Madagascar vanilla beans and orange zest, goes really well with brownies, said Messigner.

Cantor Teaches Wine Pairing

Cantor Teaches Wine Pairing

Pies, cakes, chocolate and candy accompanied the various sweet wines sampled at the tasting.

Cantor Teaches Wine Pairing

Cantor Teaches Wine Pairing

Sunny Butchin, of Willingboro, (from left), Josselyne Jackson, of Willingboro, and Laura Simon, of Mount Laurel, chat before a wine tasting event at Adath Emanu-El in Mount Laurel.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

9 Uncomfortable Questions For Hillary Clinton By Jamie Weinstein

April 20, 2015

The media have a new favorite question for Republican presidential aspirants.

“You believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman, but if someone in your family or in your office happens to be gay and they invite you to their wedding, would you go?” Univision’s Jorge Ramos asked 2016 GOP contender Marco Rubio Wednesday.

Since then, the question has spread like ISIS, replacing “do you believe in evolution” as the hot query for media types trying to make Republicans look like neanderthals. So far, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Scott Walker and John Kasich have all been asked variations of the question. (For those keeping score, like Rubio, Kasich and Walker said they would attend — in fact, Walker said he has attended a gay marriage ceremony — while Santorum said he would not. Cruz crafted his answer to say nothing at all.)

You might complain that Ramos posed a “gotcha” question with no relevance, but if you run for president, you should be prepared to answer just about anything. Almost nothing is or should be out of bounds. The real problem is similar questions are not often asked of Democratic contenders. (RELATED: Politicians Complain About ‘Gotcha’ Questions, But What Exactly Are They?)

When Rand Paul was recently asked about whether he believed there should be any exceptions to his anti-abortion stance, like in cases such as rape or incest, he fired back at the media for failing to ask Democrats comparable questions on social issues like abortion.

“Here’s the deal — we always seem to have the debate way over here on what are the exact details of exemptions, or when it starts,” he complained. “Why don’t we ask the DNC: Is it OK to kill a seven-pound baby in the uterus? You go back and you ask Debbie Wasserman Schultz if she’s OK with killing a seven-pound baby that is not born yet. Ask her when life begins, and you ask Debbie when it’s okay to protect life. When you get an answer from Debbie, get back to me.”

In that spirit, here are 9 uncomfortable questions for reporters to ask Hillary Clinton — that is, if she ever gets around to submitting to an interview:

1.) What would you say if your daughter came out of the closet as a born again Christian who opposes gay marriage?

2.) Should a Christian baker be forced under penalty of law to bake a cake for a Satanist wedding ceremony?

3.) Do you oppose male only golf clubs? If so, do you also oppose female only gyms, like Curves? If not, why not?

4.) What is the appropriate pay ratio for CEOs compared to their workers? Should that ratio also apply to the Hollywood actors who have donated to your campaign compared to the crew that produce their movies?

5.) Speaking of greedy CEOs, is there a level of speaking fee which we should consider rapacious? If so, is it more or less than your speaking fee of $300,000?

6.) Would you accept the endorsement of someone who helped spark an anti-Semitic riot like, say, Al Sharpton? Or do you confine your association with him just to friendly correspondence on his birthday?

7.) Do you believe that global warming is, as John Kerry has said and as you’ve intimated in the past, the greatest threat to mankind? If so, explain in detail how you sought to curb greenhouse gas emissions in your own life? Also, while president, will you set an example by grounding Air Force One?

8.) Do you think a candidate should be disqualified from running for president if they consider a former Ku Klux Klan leader as their mentor? If so, how do you justify your continued presence in the race considering you called the late Sen. Robert Byrd, who once served as a KKK recruiter, a “mentor” of yours?

9.) Do you believe that women should have the right to choose a cosmetic or sex-selective abortion?

Follow Jamie on Twitter

Friday, March 27, 2015

Be skeptical of ‘net neutrality’ By Robert J. Samuelson


March 4, 2015

As a young reporter in the 1970s, I covered the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). Created in 1887, the ICC regulated the nation’s railroads and sought to protect the public against abusive freight rates. Congress deregulated the railroads in 1980 and ultimately abolished the ICC. The verdict was that the agency had so weakened the industry that a government takeover might be necessary. Deregulation was a desperate alternative to nationalization.

I mention all this because there are obvious parallels between the Internet today and the railroads in the late 19th century. Like the railroads then, the Internet today is the great enabling technology of the age. Like the railroads then, Internet companies inspire awe and dread. And now there’s another parallel: the resort to regulation.

Just recently, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to adopt a proposal to ensure “net neutrality.” The new rules will promote an Internet that’s “fast, fair and open,” said FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. As a slogan, net neutrality is swell. Who could oppose it? Speed is good, and hardly anyone wants an Internet that favors some users and penalizes others.

Be skeptical. The FCC’s new rules weaken — or reverse — decades of minimal regulation, during which the Internet flourished. As often as not, economic regulation has adverse, unintended side effects. That was true of the railroads, and it may be true of the Internet.

The railroads needed ICC approval for almost everything: rates, mergers, abandonments of little-used branch lines. Shippers opposed changes that might increase costs. Railroads struggled to meet new competition from trucks and barges. In 1970, the massive Penn Central railroad — serving the Northeast — went bankrupt and was ultimately taken over by the government. Others could have followed.

The ensuing deregulation succeeded brilliantly, as economist Clifford Winston has shown. Costs and freight rates both declined. Railroads shed unprofitable lines and offered pricing packages that rewarded shippers for moving more freight in bulk. Mergers consolidated railroads into four major companies. Profits rose. The industry brags that it has spent $575 billion since 1980 to improve the rail network.

Switch now to the Internet. It’s unclear what justifies new regulation. The FCC plan bars companies such as Verizon and Comcast — Internet Service Providers (ISPs) — from blocking any Internet connection. But there was never any support for this sort of censorship, and the agency’s press release contains no evidence that it is widespread. “It’s a red herring,” says Brookings Institution economist Robert Litan.

The real issue is who pays for new Internet investment. Do big users such as Netflix and Facebook bear some costs, or are these left to the ISPs — which shift them to the monthly bills of households? For example: In 2014, Netflix agreed to pay Comcast for smoother streaming of its videos. The open question is whether the FCC will permit these interconnection payments and, if so, at what level. But the FCC has weakened the ISPs’ bargaining position by requiring them to accept all comers.

Note the consequences: If Netflix doesn’t pay its full costs, someone else will. In practice, there could be massive cross-subsidization. Promoted as protecting the “little guy,” net neutrality may do the opposite.

For the moment, the FCC majority promises not to adopt “utility style” price regulation (in effect: limiting profits), which — it concedes — would discourage investment in added Internet capacity. Instead, Wheeler pledges “light-touch” regulation. But this promise is good only until some future FCC changes it. If typical telecom bills increase, political pressures for full-scale rate regulation would surely intensify.

What’s also inconsistent with the “light touch” is “a general conduct rule that,” as Wheeler describes it, “can be used to stop new and novel threats to the Internet.” Translation: Anyone with an Internet gripe can petition for relief. Though the FCC need not comply, this creates enormous uncertainty.

The Internet poses many genuine problems, led by cybersecurity; net neutrality is not among them. It is an opportunity to impose more regulation that, as the example of the railroads warns, threatens to exact a slow and growing economic toll on the Internet’s vitality.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Rubio: Cuba deal makes Obama 'worst negotiator' since Jimmy Carter By Ben Kamisar

December 17, 2014

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) harshly criticized President Obama for agreeing to exchange Cuban spies for an American imprisoned in Cuba, calling his foreign policy “naïve” and “truly counterproductive for the future of democracy in the region.”

“All of these tyrants around the world know that the U.S. can be had, that it’s a pretty easy deal,” he said on Fox News Channel’s “America’s Newsroom."

“At minimum, Barack Obama is the worst negotiator that we’ve had as president since at least Jimmy Carter, and maybe in the modern history of the country.”

Those sentiments came on top of a statement released by Rubio’s office in which he asserted that “America will be less safe as a result of the president’s change in policy.”

Rubio’s parents fled Cuba in the 1950s, as Fidel Castro rose to power and started clamping down on political opponents. The senator said that, while he’s happy American aid worker Alan Gross will return to his family, he believes that the move “puts a price on every American abroad.”

“Governments now know that, if they can take an American hostage, they can get very significant concessions from the United States,” he said.

“It’s par for the course with an administration that is constantly giving away unilateral concessions, whether it’s Iran or, in this case Cuba, in exchange for nothing.”

The Cuban government freed American aid worker Alan Gross Wednesday morning in an exchange involving three Cuban prisoners held in the United States.

Those prisoners were part of the “Cuban Five,” a group of Cuban spies who have been serving time in American prisons since their conviction in 2001.

On top of the exchange, the president is expected to announce steps to normalize full diplomatic relations with Cuba. Rubio said he expects those steps to include opening trade and travel between the countries, as well as increasing diplomatic communications, as the administration hopes to inspire democracy.

American-Cuban relations have been tense since the U.S. instituted an embargo in 1960, as Cold War tensions with Communist countries heightened.

“Nothing the president will announce today will further that goal,” Rubio said on the possibility of Cuba becoming more democratic.

“They are creating no economic openings, no concessions on freedom of speech, no concessions on elections.”

In the statement released by his office, Rubio added that as incoming chairman of a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee, he will “make every effort to block this dangerous and desperate attempt by the president to burnish his legacy at the Cuban people’s expense.”

Rubio said later Wednesday morning on CNN’s “This Hour” that the current embargo can be leverage for the United States to help influence democratic changes in a new government after current President Raúl Castro, who is 83-years-old, passes away. He added that easing restrictions on Cuba now hurts that long-term strategy.  

“When has tourism ever brought about democracy?” he said on CNN.   “This government controls every aspect of life in Cuba. Every single policy change the U.S. has ever made towards Cuba, whether it’s more travel, more person to person contact, more remittances, they have manipulated every single one of them and they will manipulate this as well."  

"They will use all of these changes to their advantage, they will never allow any of these changes to undermine their grip on the island.”

A Victory for Oppression

President Obama’s policy is bad news for the Cuban people living under a dictatorship, and it sends a dangerous message to the world.

By Marco Rubio

December 17, 2014

Wall Street Journal

The announcement by President Obama on Wednesday giving the Castro regime diplomatic legitimacy and access to American dollars isn’t just bad for the oppressed Cuban people, or for the millions who live in exile and lost everything at the hands of the dictatorship. Mr. Obama’s new Cuba policy is a victory for oppressive governments the world over and will have real, negative consequences for the American people.

Since the U.S. severed diplomatic relations in 1961, the Castro family has controlled the country and the economy with an iron fist that punishes Cubans who speak out in opposition and demand a better future. Under the Castros, Cuba has also been a central figure in terrorism, narco-trafficking and all manner of misery and mayhem in our hemisphere.

As a result, it has been the policy and law of the U.S. to make clear that re-establishing diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba is possible—but only once the Cuban government stops jailing political opponents, protects free speech, and allows independent political parties to be formed and to participate in free and fair elections.

The opportunity for Cuba to normalize relations with the U.S. has always been there, but the Castro regime has never been interested in changing its ways. Now, thanks to President Obama’s concessions, the regime in Cuba won’t have to change.

The entire policy shift is based on the illusion—in fact, on the lie—that more commerce and access to money and goods will translate to political freedom for the Cuban people. Cuba already enjoys access to commerce, money and goods from other nations, and yet the Cuban people are still not free. They are not free because the regime—just as it does with every aspect of life—manipulates and controls to its own advantage all currency that flows into the island. More economic engagement with the U.S. means that the regime’s grip on power will be strengthened for decades to come—dashing the Cuban people’s hopes for freedom and democracy.

Of course, like all Americans, I am overjoyed for Alan Gross and his family after his release from captivity after five years. This American had been a hostage of the regime, and it was through his imprisonment that the Cuban regime again showed the world its cruel nature.

But the policy changes announced by President Obama will have far-reaching consequences for the American people. President Obama made it clear that if you take an American hostage and are willing to hold him long enough, you may not only get your own prisoners released from U.S. jails—as three Cuban spies were—you may actually win lasting policy concessions from the U.S. as well. This precedent places a new price on the head of every American, and it gives rogue leaders around the world more clear-cut evidence of this president’s naïveté and his willingness to abandon fundamental principles in a desperate attempt to burnish his legacy. There can be no doubt that the regime in Tehran is watching closely, and it will try to exploit President Obama’s naïveté as the Iranian leaders pursue concessions from the U.S. in their quest to establish themselves as a nuclear power.

Reasonable people can disagree about the efficacy of American foreign policy toward Cuba and even the embargo, but no serious person can argue that the manner in which President Obama unilaterally granted concessions to the regime in Havana was well advised.

For these reasons and many more, in the weeks and months ahead I will work with Republicans and Democrats who share my concerns and do everything in my power to prevent President Obama’s dangerous policies from becoming reality.

While my personal ties to Cuba and its people are well known, this is not just a personal issue. American foreign policy affects every aspect of American life, and our people cannot realize their full promise if the world becomes more dangerous because America retreats from its role in the world. Moreover, the Cuban people have the same rights that God bestowed on every other man, woman and child that has ever lived. All of those who are oppressed around the world look to America to stand up for their rights and to raise its voice when tyrants like the Castros are trying to crush their spirits.

By conceding to the oppressors in the Castro regime, this president and his administration have let the Cuban people down, further weakened America’s standing in the world and endangered Americans.

Mr. Rubio, a Republican, is a member of the U.S. Senate from Florida.

Net Neutrality’s Babes in Toyland: Netflix, Google and Tumblr sent the Internet into Washington’s heart of darkness. By Daniel Henninger

March 11, 2015

Washington’s seizure of the Internet is one of the great case studies in the annals of political naïveté.

Over several years, leading lights of the Web—among them Netflix,Google and Tumblr—importuned the Obama White House to align itself with the cause of net neutrality.

“Net neutrality,” like so many progressivist-y causes—climate change, health care for all—is a phrase designed to be embraced rather than understood.

But net neutrality had real meaning. Its core idea was that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, a Washington agency whose employees have been regulating communications since 1934, should design and enforce a price mechanism for the Internet. Up to now, nobody did that.

In February the FCC did, and on that day the Little Red Riding Hoods of net neutrality found out what big teeth grandma has. The FCC said its plans to regulate the Web were in a 332-page document, which no one can see until the agency is ready.

Within days, Netflix CFO David Wells spoke about the Internet coming under the FCC’s Title-II control: “Were we pleased it pushed to Title II? Probably not. We were hoping there might be a non-regulated solution. But it seems like companies that are pursuing their commercial interests including us have to arrive at something like that.”

The Internet’s descent into the Washington heart of darkness is a perfect example of that famous Santayana-ism: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

For our purposes, the personification of this forgotten wisdom would be David Karp, the 28-year-old founder of the Web’s popular blogging platform, Tumblr. Mr. Karp got Barack Obama’s ear on net neutrality at one of the president’s nonstop New York City fundraisers. Mr. Obama then told aides and lawyers in the White House to move on it, and they told Chairman Tom Wheeler of the nominally independent FCC that regulating the Web was a done deal.

Netflix and the others are being mocked for turning the Internet over to a telecommunications law written in the 1930s. But you don’t have to travel back that far to understand the fix they’ve gotten themselves into. The more relevant political event is the Telecommunications Act of 1996, passed when Mr. Karp was . . . 10 years old.

Mr. Karp and the rest of the 20-something and 30-something Peter Pans in the app development world should find their way to the 80-something communications lawyers and lobbyists retired in Florida for a tutorial on what it’s like trying to get Washington off your back once it has climbed on. Here’s the tweet-length version: You are going to pay and pay and pay. To save you, Washington will bleed you.

Briefly, in 1987 the FCC proposed partially deregulating its ancient control of long-distance telephone rates; and it proposed allowing more competition among AT&T, other national carriers and the regional Bell operating companies, or Baby Bells. What ensued over nine years was arguably the greatest pig-out of lobbying fees and campaign-contribution shakedowns in Washington history. The Beltway bled political payments out of these businesses until Congress finally disgorged a law in 1996.

In one of the umpteen litigations that ensued, AT&T v. Iowa Utilities Board (involving, among other things, the “pick and choose” rule), Justice Antonin Scalia said the 1996 act “is in many important respects a model of ambiguity or indeed even self-contradiction.”

For sure. The telcom act set up a 14-step “competition test” for the Baby Bells. A congressional staffer called the law “a communication lawyer’s dream.”

Political ironies abound in the net-neut saga.

About the only faction unabashedly cheering the FCC’s capture of the Internet is the Occupy-everything left. Their numbers include such famous high-tech innovators as The Center for Media Justice, Demand Progress, 18 Million Rising and Popular Resistance.

This is the same left that loathes Hillary and Bill Clinton for their crony capitalism, such as the Clinton Foundation donor stories. That’s rich. What the left and Barack Obama have done with the Internet and all the rest of this administration’s reregulation (banks, health care, education, utilities) is put Clintonalia back in control of Washington. No one can do business until they first run it through the Beltway bosses. For the K Street corridor, it’s the golden age all over again.

Along the partisan divide, the Internet providers—AT&T, Verizon,Comcast—are seen largely as part of the Republican donor base, while the new Web companies and their high-asset employees trend Democratic for reasons, they say, of social conscience.

That divide is too neat now. The days of blissed-out Patagonia progressivism are ending with FCC regulation of the Internet. It’s time for these new-generation techies to think about where their political interests lie.

Got a new Web idea? Run it by your Washington reps. Which will include the regulatory enablers of the Obama White House. They didn’t invent the Internet. But now they run it


Iran's emerging empire By Charles Krauthammer


January 23, 2015

While Iran's march toward a nuclear bomb has provoked a major clash between the White House and Congress, Iran's march toward conventional domination of the Arab world has been largely overlooked. In Washington, that is. The Arabs have noticed. And the pro-American ones, the Gulf Arabs in particular, are deeply worried.

This week, Iranian-backed Houthi rebels seized control of the Yemeni government, heretofore pro-American. In September, they overran Sanaa, the capital. On Tuesday, they seized the presidential palace. On Thursday, they forced the president to resign.

The Houthis have local religious grievances, being Shiites in a majority Sunni land. But they are also agents of Shiite Iran, which arms, trains and advises them. Their slogan — "God is great. Death to America. Death to Israel" — could have been written in Persian.

Why should we care about the coup? First, because we depend on Yemen's government to support our drone war against another local menace, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). It's not clear if we can even maintain our embassy in Yemen, let alone conduct operations against AQAP. And second, because growing Iranian hegemony is a mortal threat to our allies and interests in the entire Middle East.

In Syria, Iran's power is similarly rising. The mullahs rescued the reeling regime of Bashar al-Assad by sending in weapons, money and Iranian revolutionary guards, as well as by ordering their Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, to join the fight. They succeeded. The moderate rebels are in disarray, even as Assad lives in de facto coexistence with the Islamic State, which controls a large part of his country.

Iran's domination of Syria was further illustrated by a strange occurrence last Sunday in the Golan Heights. An Israeli helicopter attacked a convoy on the Syrian side of the armistice line. Those killed were not Syrian, however, but five Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon and several Iranian officials, including a brigadier general.

What were they doing in the Syrian Golan Heights? Giving "crucial advice," announced the Iranian government. On what? Well, three days earlier, Hezbollah's leader had threatened an attack on Israel's Galilee. Tehran appears to be using its control of Syria and Hezbollah to create its very own front against Israel.

The Israelis can defeat any conventional attack. Not so the very rich, very weak Gulf Arabs. To the north and west, they see Iran creating a satellite "Shiite Crescent" stretching to the Mediterranean and consisting of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. To their south and west, they see Iran gaining proxy control of Yemen. And they are caught in the pincer.

The Saudis are fighting back the only way they can — with massive production of oil at a time of oversupply and collapsing prices, placing enormous economic pressure on Iran. It needs $136 oil to maintain its budget. The price today is below $50.

Yet the Obama administration appears to be ready to acquiesce to the new reality of Iranian domination of Syria. It has told the New York Times that it is essentially abandoning its proclaimed goal of removing Assad.

For the Saudis and the other Gulf Arabs, this is a nightmare. They're engaged in a titanic regional struggle with Iran. And they are losing — losing Yemen, losing Lebanon, losing Syria and watching post-U.S.-withdrawal Iraq come under increasing Iranian domination.

The nightmare would be hugely compounded by Iran going nuclear. The Saudis were already stupefied that Washington conducted secret negotiations with Tehran behind their backs. And they can see where the current talks are headed — legitimizing Iran as a threshold nuclear state.

Which makes all the more incomprehensible President Obama's fierce opposition to Congress' offer to strengthen the American negotiating hand by passing sanctions to be triggered if Iran fails to agree to give up its nuclear program. After all, that was the understanding Obama gave Congress when he began these last-ditch negotiations in the first place.

Why are you parroting Tehran's talking points, Mr. President? asks Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez. Indeed, why are we endorsing Iran's claim that sanctions relief is the new norm? Obama assured the nation that sanctions relief was but a temporary concession to give last-minute, time-limited negotiations a chance.

Twice the deadline has come. Twice no new sanctions, just unconditional negotiating extensions.

Our regional allies — Saudi Arabia, the other five Gulf states, Jordan, Egypt and Israel — are deeply worried. Tehran is visibly on the march on the ground and openly on the march to nuclear status. And their one great ally, their strategic anchor for two generations, is acquiescing to both.

Everything You Need To Know About Obama's Executive Amnesty By Conn Carroll


November 21, 2014

In a primetime address on November 20, President Obama made his sales pitch to the American people for a series of immigration executive actions he will sign on November 21 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Here is what you need to know:

What actions is Obama taking specifically?

The key to Obama's new immigration policy is the creation of one new amnesty program and the expansion of another.

Specifically, Obama's new amnesty program will give illegal immigrants who have been in the United States for at least five years, and who are parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents, a three year work permit. This permit will also allow them to obtain a Social Security number and get a driver's license. Pew estimates that 3.5 million current illegal immigrants will qualify for this program.

Obama is also expanding the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals amnesty program. Previously only those illegal immigrants who were born before 1981 and entered the U.S. as a minor before 2007 were eligible for benefits. Now all illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. as a minor before 2010 will be eligible for amnesty. Like the parents above, DACA recipients will also get work permits, Social Security numbers, and driver's licenses. Pew estimates that 235,00 illegal immigrants will gain eligibility for benefits through this program expansion.

Is this legal?

Obama didn't think so. As recently as this spring, and on more than 20 other occasions, Obama said he could not rewrite immigration law by executive action. 

Specifically, this March Obama told Univision, "But what I’ve said in the past remains true, which is until Congress passes a new law, then I am constrained in terms of what I am able to do. ... t at a certain point the reason that these deportations are taking place is, Congress said, ‘you have to enforce these laws.’ They fund the hiring of officials at the department that’s charged with enforcing. And I cannot ignore those laws any more than I could ignore, you know, any of the other laws that are on the books.

More damning, in 2011, Obama told the National Council of La Raza, "Believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. I promise you. Not just on immigration reform. But that's not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That's not how our Constitution is written."

How is Obama justifying this amnesty?

The Office of Legal Counsel memo released before Obama's speech cites Obama's Article II Section 3 constitutional duty to "take care that the Laws be faithfully executed" as the source of his power to grant this amnesty. 

The memo reasons that since there are 11.3 million illegal immigrants in the country today, and DHS only has the resources to remove 400,000 illegal immigrants every year, Obama must choose which immigrants to deport and which to ignore. This "prosecutorial discretion" power, the memo claims, allows Obama to choose which illegal immigrants get work permits, which illegal immigrants will continue to be ignored, and which illegal immigrants will be deported.

Under this legal theory, Obama could give all current 11.3 million illegal immigrants work permits and driver's licenses, as long as he kept deporting at least 400,000 illegal border crossers every year.

Will courts let Obama get away with this?

They already have. In 2012, after Obama announced his DACA program, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents sued the Department of Homeland Security challenging the legality of Obama's first executive amnesty program.

But while the court found that the border agents "were likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the Department of Homeland Security has implemented a program contrary to congressional mandate," the court also ultimately determined that the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue DHS since the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 already established an administrative process for resolving disputes between federal employees and their employer.

The harms from Obama's illegal amnesty programs are just too diffuse for any one litigant to establish standing in federal court.

If courts can't stop Obama in time, who can?

Only Congress can stop Obama's amnesty program by defunding it. 

Now it is true that since the federal agency that issues work permits, the United States Citizen and Immigration Services office, is self-funded through fees it would keep issuing permits in the event of a federal government shutdown.

But that does not mean Congress does not have any power over the agency. Congress could still attach a rider to any appropriations bill forbidding USCIS from using any federal funds, including those collected through fees, for the purpose of carrying out Obama's amnesty programs. 

Will Congress stop Obama?

Some in Congress, like Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), have said they will use the power over the purse to defund Obama's amnesty.

Others like House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) have said they want to pass a long-term government funding bill which would essentially rubber stamp Obama's amnesty.

How would Obama's amnesty effect legal immigrants?

After Obama enacted DACA, wait times for visas for legal immigrants tripled from 5 months to 15. Obama essentially allowed illegal immigrants to jump in line in front of law-abiding legal immigrants. Since Obama has requested no new funding from Congress to pay for his new amnesty, and since his new amnesty is three times larger than his last amnesty, legal immigrants should not only expect to head to the back of the line again, but they should also expect much longer delays.

Obama claims all these amnestied immigrants will get background checks, Is that true?

If history is any guide, no. Background checks are expensive and time consuming and USCIS does not have the resources to process additional amnesty programs on top of their normal duties. Judicial Watch uncovered documents in June 2013 showing that instead of full background checks normally used by the agency, DACA recipients got cheaper and less comprehensive "lean and lite" checks.

Obama said illegal immigrants will be held accountable by paying taxes. Is that true?

It is true that the IRS already allows illegal immigrants to pay income taxes by obtaining a tax identification number. Most illegal immigrants also already pay state and local taxes. Obama's amnesty program changes none of this. In fact, Obama's new amnesty lets illegal immigrants of the hook but not paying any fines or penalties for breaking the law.

How will Obama pay for this new amnesty program?

The White House has not explained that yet.

What about Democrats who claim Reagan and Bush also acted unilaterally on immigration?

President Reagan did pass an amnesty program through Congress in 1986, but it failed to accomplish its goals. At the time there were just 3 million illegal immigrants in the country and today there are more than 11 million. This is why most Americans do not support amnesty today.

Reagan also used an executive action to ease immigration standards for 200,000 Nicaraguans who feared persecution from the communist Sandinista regime. President Bush used similar powers to grant deportation relief to hundreds of Kuwaiti nationals who had been evacuated to the United States during the first Gulf War.

But both of these executive actions were perfectly in line with the true scope of a president's prosecutorial discretion powers. They were limited in nature, applied to specific smaller groups of immigrants, and were not designed to thwart congressional intent on immigration policy.

Obama's amnesty is the exact opposite. It is a broad-based program in response to no crisis other than Congress isn't doing what Obama wants it to do. As Obama once said, "That's not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That's not how our Constitution is written."

9 Tips for Healthy Bowel Movements By Aldo Russo, MD


March 20, 2015

Did you know the average person generates about five TONS of stool in his or her lifetime? Also, the average person passes gas 14 to 17 per day (yes, there was a study about this), and on average, you’ll pass about half a liter of gas/day.

Frequency, shape, size, color, and other fecal features can tell you a great deal about your overall health, how your gastrointestinal tract is functioning and even give you clues about serious disease processes that could be occurring, like infections, digestive problems and even cancer.

Here are a few tips for achieving healthy bowel movements:

  1. Eat a diet that includes minimally processed foods and is rich in fresh, organic vegetables and fruits that provide good nutrients and fiber; most of your fiber should come from vegetables, not from grains.
  2. Avoid artificial sweeteners, excess sugar (especially fructose), chemical additives, MSG, excessive amounts of caffeine and processed foods as they are all detrimental to your gastrointestinal (and immune) function.
  3. Boost your intestinal flora by adding naturally fermented foods into your diet, such as sauerkraut, pickles and kefir. Add a probiotic supplement if you suspect you’re not getting enough beneficial bacteria from your diet alone.
  4. Try increasing your fiber intake; good options include psyllium and freshly ground organic flax seed (shoot for 35 grams of fiber per day).
  5. Make sure you stay well hydrated with fresh, pure water.
  6. Be active. At least thirty minutes of calisthenics four times a week translates into healthy bowel habits plus many other health benefits.
  7. Avoid pharmaceutical drugs, such as pain killers like codeine or hydrocodone which will slow your bowel function. Antidepressants and antibiotics can cause a variety of GI disruptions.
  8. Avoid stress (or at least learn how to control it).
  9. Consider squatting instead of sitting to move your bowels. As crazy as it sounds, squatting straightens your rectum, relaxes your puborectalis muscle and encourages the complete emptying of your bowel without straining, and has been scientifically shown to relieve constipation and hemorrhoids.
Aldo Russo

Aldo Russo, MD
Dr. Russo received his undergraduate degree and medical degree from Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquez Urena in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Following this he completed his... read more