Saturday, September 11, 2010

Obama's science czar suggested compulsory abortion, sterilization By David Freddoso



Internet reports are now circulating that Obama's Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, John Holdren, penned a 1977 book that approved of and recommended compulsory sterilization and even abortion in some cases, as part of a government population control regime.

Given the general unreliability of Internet quotations, I wanted to go straight to this now-rare text and make sure the reports were both accurate and kept Holdren's writings in context. Generally speaking, they are, and they do.

The Holdren book, titled Ecoscience and co-authored with Malthus enthusiasts Paul and Anne Ehrlich, weighs in at more than 1,000 pages. Of greatest importance to its discussion of how to limit the human population is its disregard for any ethical considerations.

Holdren (with the Ehrlichs) notes the existence of “moral objections to some proposals...especially to any kind of compulsion.” But his approach is completely amoral. He implies that compulsory population control is less preferable, because of some people's objections, but he argues repeatedly that it is sometimes necessary, and necessity trumps all ethical objections.

He writes:

Several coercive proposals deserve discussion, mainly because some countries may ultimately have to resort to them unless current trends in birth rates are rapidly reversed by other means. Some involuntary measures could be less repressive or discriminatory, in fact, than some of the socioeconomic measures suggested. 

Holdren refers approvingly, for example, to Indira Gandhi's government for its then-recent attempt at a compulsory sterilization program:

India in the mid-1970s not only entertained the idea of compulsory sterilization, but moved toward implementing it...This decision was greeted with dismay abroad, but Indira Gandhi's government felt it had little other choice. There is too little time left to experiment further with educational programs and hope that social change will generate a spontaneous fertility decline, and most of the Indian population is too poor for direct economic pressures (especially penalties) to be effective.

When necessary, then, compulsory sterilization is justified. This attitude suffuses the following passage, in which the possibility of putting a “sterilant” into a population's drinking water is seriously discussed. Holdren and his co-authors do not recommend this particular method, but their objections to it are merely practical and health-related, not moral or stemming from any concern for human freedom:

Adding a sterilant to drinking water or staple foods is a suggestion that seems to horrify people more than most proposals for involuntary fertility control. Indeed, this would pose some very difficult political, legal, and social questions, to say nothing of the technical problems. No such sterilant exists today, nor does one appear to be under development. To be acceptable, such a substance would have to meet some rather stiff requirements: it must be uniformly effective, despite widely varying doses received by individuals, and despite varying degrees of fertility and sensitivity among individuals; it must be free of dangerous or unpleasant side effects; and it must have no effect on members of the oposite sex, children, old people, pets, or livestock...Again, there is no sign of such an agent on the horizon. And the risk of serious, unforeseen side effects would, in our opinion, militate against the use of any such agent, even though this plan has the advantage of avoiding the need for socioeconomic pressures that might tend to discriminate against particular groups or penalize children.

Even though they do not recommend it, note that Holdren and his co-authors treat this as a serious policy proposal with serious drawbacks -- not as an insane idea unworthy of consideration.

They look with more favor on this “milder” form of coercive sterilization:

Of course, a government might require only implantation of the contraceptive capsule, leaving its removal to the individual's discretion but requiring reimplantation after childbirth. Since having a child would require positive action (removal of the capsule), many more births would be prevented than in the reverse situation.

Holdren and his co-authors also tackle the problem of illegitimacy, recognizing that it could be one consequence of a society which, in its effort to limit births, downgrades the value of intact nuclear families and encourages lifelong bachelorhood:

[R]esponsible parenthood ought to be encouraged and illegitimate childbearing could be strongly discouraged. One way to carry out this disapproval might be to insist that all illegitimate babies be put up for adoption -- especially those born to minors, who generally are not capable of caring properly for a child alone...It would even be possible to require pregnant single women to marry or have abortions, perhaps as an alternative to placement for adoption, depending on the society.

Holdren's suggestion here is presented perfectly in context. It stands alone in the text without any accompanying reservations.

President Obama has spoken repeatedly in favor of putting science before ideology. The real debate, however, has never been about whether ethics are needed in science, but rather over whose ethics should determine where science will or will not go.

Nowhere has Obama suggested that science should be completely ethics-free. But Holdren is his Science Czar all the same.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Vaccine begins to arrive as flu season nears By Don Sapatkin


Aug. 25, 2010

David Yoslov, 23, gets a flu shot from pharmacist Eric Reid at the CVS at 19th and Chestnut.

Remember the seasonal flu?

The last typical season was the winter of 2008-09. The pattern was upended by an out-of-season pandemic flu the following spring and fall, and hardly any flu at all last winter.

Now the best educated guess by public-health experts is that influenza will next appear in a more-or-less normal season that contains several strains, including the so-called swine flu.

And vaccine is starting to arrive.

Several retail drugstore chains are already offering vaccine or plan to start soon. (For locations and eligibility, go to

Most county health departments in the Philadelphia region have begun receiving vaccine, and all plan clinics in the fall. Shipments to private practices are harder to measure. But all five manufacturers reported two to three weeks ago that they had already started delivering what is anticipated to be a record 150 million to 180 million doses, vaccine expert William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine said Tuesday.

In a conference call with reporters, Schaffner delivered a message that is likely to be repeated many times in the coming months by public-health officials who worry that confusion and flu fatigue - the verbal kind - could get in the way of prevention.

"Influenza can put you in the hospital," said Schaffner, an adviser to federal agencies on flu policy. "It's not too early to get vaccinated."

Emphasizing the point was Serese Marotta of Dayton, Ohio, whose son - Joseph, 5, with no preexisting health conditions - died of the new H1N1 flu last October, nine days after he threw up on a school bus.

He had been hospitalized almost immediately, was diagnosed with pneumonia and later influenza, and appeared to be over the worst of it when, in the midst of a conversation with his mother, "his eyes rolled back and then the monitor went off," Marotta said. She said the official cause of death was "catastrophic intestinal rupture" as a result of the flu virus.

While the flu is typically known for causing respiratory illness, that case is a reminder that "it has the potential of causing all sorts of life-threatening complications," said W. John Langley, chief medical officer for Maxim Healthcare Services, a firm that gives seasonal flu shots in many states. Langley, a pediatrician, was also on the conference call organized by Families Fighting Flu, a nonprofit made up of families and health-care workers that says it seeks to educate the public about the severity of influenza and the importance of vaccination.

What is known as "seasonal flu" actually consists of several strains, with the dominant strain varying from year to year. A pandemic flu by definition is a new strain - sometimes lethal, sometimes not - to which most people have little immunity. After it's been around for awhile, people develop immunity and it moves into a seasonal pattern.

Many experts expect that to happen this year, although it is not known whether the new H1N1 or an older H3N2 - already seen in a few areas this summer - will dominate.

The seasonal vaccine offers protection against both of those Type A flus, along with a Type B that tends to come later in the season and cause milder illness. This so-called trivalent formulation is typical of recent seasons, although the strains often differ from year to year. There is no separate vaccine for the new H1N1, also known as swine flu.

But there are two noteworthy changes this year:

A stronger formulation was approved specifically for people age 65 and older, whose immune systems are not as robust as those of younger people. The single shot, made by Sanofi Pasteur, is known as Fluzone High-Dose.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has been gradually expanding the population it recommends receive flu shots, this year added healthy adults ages 18 to 49. That means everyone over six months of age is now recommended to receive the vaccine. (The nasal spray form is approved only for healthy people ages 2 to 49.)

David Yoslov, 23, of Center City, belongs to that demographic. Last week, he said, he looked online for flu shots locally and made an appointment for the CVS Pharmacy at 19th and Chestnut Streets.

"I just feel it is one of the few things you can do to help keep yourself healthy," Yoslov said after getting the shot Tuesday.

CVS accepts insurance but Independence Blue Cross, the region's largest insurer, rejected the submission. A spokeswoman said Tuesday night that most plans cover vaccines, and she was trying to determine what happened in this case.

For Yoslov, the rejection was an inconvenience, but he had no qualms about paying the $29.95 to get his shot.


Contact staff writer Don Sapatkin at 215-854-2617 or

Sunday, September 05, 2010

How 'Brilliant' Can President Obama Be? By Jeffrey S. Howard



Every person, newscaster and commentator always prefaces any, even the mildest criticism, of President Obama's policies with some statement about how dazzlingly brilliant the man is. Liberals, conservatives, independents — it never changes. Why is this? And most important of all, is it true?

What and where is the proof that Obama is such a sharp fellow? The recorded evidence is unavailable since his academic records, and test scores from three universities are sealed at his demand. Sure, he graduated from Harvard, but so did George Bush, who earned an MBA but is still pilloried by some as dumber than dirt.

We shall have to examine Obama's performance and make our own assumptions based on observations.

Obama selected advisers and Cabinet heads who have basically no experience in the private sector. He relies heavily on them to tell him what to do about the sick economy. Their knee-jerk responses are Keynesian (borrow and spend), based on a dubious theory popular 70 years ago, and proved unworkable in the past.

They sold us the stimulus ("porkulus") package of spending.The result? Rising unemployment and falling home sales prove that "recovery summer" is going down the tube without touching the sides. The president retains his economic Rasputins. Is loyalty to failure a sign of a great mind?

Obama farmed out the stimulus, omnibus budget, financial reform, cap-and-tax and health care bills to Congress — allowing it free rein. He did not exercise leadership and instead abdicated to the whims of Nancy Pelosi, David Obey, Harry Reid and Chris Dodd.

Trillions are borrowed and spent on the public sector while real jobs evaporate. Banks invest in bonds instead of businesses. Impending and threatened mandates, regulation and tax increases choke off entrepreneurial ambitions. Does this activity indicate a high level of intelligence, or just managerial ineptitude?

The president is unable to string a cogent sentence together without a pair of Teleprompters working perfectly. He can deliver a mesmerizing speech but can't even remember who is standing beside him when the tape runs off the tracks. His most often used extemporaneous word is "um."

This may be a clue as to why he has granted fewer press conferences than any president in memory. Can such performances be equated to "brilliance"? Not in my book.

Stepping in the political equivalent of a doggie dumpling seems to bring out the worst in Obama. Why and how could he pop off with everything from "The Cambridge Police acted stupidly" to flip-flops on the New York mosque issue, and everything in between? His inane mumblings about the skivvy shorts bomber, the public trial of the 9/11 plotters, the fanatic major who gunned down 13 soldiers, the Arizona immigration law and "saving or creating" jobs belies any vast reservoir of intelligence.

Sharp presidents do not dive into lose/lose situations with such gusto.

How is Obama's foreign policy working out? The U.S. needs strong allies to defeat monstrous enemies. Dissing the British, scolding Israel, canceling the missile shield in Eastern Europe and groveling to foreign royalty do not bode well. Our enemies, from Iran to Venezuela, smell weakness and timidity. Ignoring cold reality and dreaming that personal charisma is the solution to international tensions is probably on the daft side of the intelligence continuum.

The "4 million green jobs" mantra espoused by the president is a canard when examined closely. Renewable energy technology exists only due to huge government subsidies. Ethanol is inefficient, raising the prices of gasoline and corn. Wind farms produce intermittent power that flummoxes the grid and requires conventional power plants to run continuously as backup. The net carbon reduction is miniscule.

Both schemes are massive misallocations of resources better used elsewhere. An astute president would inform himself on both sides of the issue rather than blatantly parrot a load of poppycock from the Van Jones crowd.

A Republican president who parties far more than he works would be trashed by every media outlet in the land. But Obama is a Democrat who enjoys the media's deep support. He escapes any serious questions about his busy golf schedule, multiple vacations, endless fundraising and campaigning, constant banquets and concerts in the White House, and his obvious detachment from the people he supposedly leads.

He appears more of a dilettante than a leader. A smart fellow would move to de-emphasize his privileged lifestyle instead of flaunting it in front of a nation mired in a recession.

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, maybe Obama is smart. Then again, Jimmy Carter was intelligent but proved to be the worst president of our lifetimes — up to now.

• Howard, a Redmond, Wash.-based real estate developer, appeared on this page Aug. 20 with an "Open Letter To President Obama."

Enforcement On ICE



Politics: If there's one agency that's been made useless by its leaders, it's Immigration and Customs Enforcement. If, under a new policy, being here illegally is no longer reason enough for deportation, why does it still exist?

The Obama administration has effectively declared open borders to millions of would-be illegal immigrants — not through legislation, but with a sneaky policy move.

On Aug. 20, its man at ICE, John Morton, wrote a memo stating that being in the U.S. illegally is no longer sufficient reason to send someone home. An illegal immigrant now has to be a security threat or else commit a crime — and a violent one at that. To everyone else, ICE turns the blind eye.

Director Morton says it's a matter of priorities. But make no mistake: This is amnesty by another name.

Adding insult to injury, ICE will empty its costly, just-built detention centers of 17,000 existing deportation cases as long as an illegal can show that he or she has applied to become legal.

This, says the New York Times, will "pare huge case backlogs." And to ICE bureaucrats, it's proof they're doing their jobs.

In fact, it's an astonishing abrogation of duty. The policy turns ICE into a $6 billion border-jitney service for the subset of illegals who were picked up by other law enforcement agencies, convicted of violent crime and have served their time, and whose jailers didn't forget to put them on an "immigration hold" list.

Any others can make themselves at home.

That goes for the Mexican Zeta cartel members who are busy recruiting assassins in barrooms around Phoenix, as Fox News reported Friday.

Nothing violent about recruiting, you know — and that goes for illegal immigrants who've illegally voted in U.S. elections.

In the latter case, Fox reported that ICE itself helpfully sent a form letter to an illegal who admitted doing that, coaching him to take his name off the voter rolls first so his application could go through smoothly. ICE didn't mind that the man had admitted to committing a felony. The bureaucrats just wanted to issue him his U.S. citizenship so they could clear the backlog.

It also goes for the Mexican cartel members who may be buying off city governments like that of Cudahy, Calif., which is under FBI investigation. It also goes for illegal immigrants who invade rural properties at night in Arizona, terrifying ranchers.

Not surprisingly, there's no one angrier about this mission-nullification than ICE agents themselves. Last June their union issued a letter expressing a membership consensus of "no confidence" in Morton and Assistant Director Phyllis Coven.

They have "abandoned the agency's core mission of enforcing United States immigration laws and providing for public safety, and have instead directed their attention to campaigning for programs and policies related to amnesty," the agents declared.

By extension, no one's happier than the Mexican cartels that have muscled into the immigrant-smuggling business, making about a third of their income from fees charged for such assistance.

Morgan's no-deport policy is just the enticement they need to bring in new business that will fatten up the fee income they use to make war on the Mexican state.

Last Monday's discovery of a massacre of 72 would-be illegals in Tamaulipas, Mexico, on their way to Los Angeles makes clear what lies ahead. Human smuggling is an evil ICE should not encourage.

The cartels are monopolies that make $500,000 or so per human "load" into the U.S., but they also press many illegals into becoming foot soldiers. Some are forced into sex slavery, and others — as the sole survivor of the Tamaulipas massacre claimed — are ordered to become cartel assassins in the U.S. — or else.

The fact that the U.S. no longer enforces immigration laws for anyone except those with violent criminal or terrorist convictions will draw would-be immigrants into this racket like a magnet.

At a time when U.S. diplomats' families have been ordered to evacuate the consulate in Mexico's second-biggest city, Monterrey — as happened Friday — any encouragement of illegal immigration works at cross purposes to the real national security mission of defeating cartels.

ICE leaders talk smugly about "priorities," but they've effectively abandoned their agency's core law-enforcement mission and become servants of the immigration lobby. ICE should be allowed to do the job it's tasked with. Failing that, it should be disbanded.

For A Return To American Exceptionalism By Rep. Lamar Smith



During an interview last year, when asked if he believed in American exceptionalism, President Obama replied, "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism, and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism."

It is remarkable that the first black president would not recognize American exceptionalism simply by looking in the mirror. President Obama's election is itself a prime example of American exceptionalism.

To understand what makes America unique, we must look to history. Our nation was largely settled by the English, who came to the new world with a unique legal culture based on the Magna Carta, which was the foundation for the rights of all Englishmen.

The settlers also brought a commitment to making money, as the colonies were commercial propositions. By making money for investors in England, the colonists created wealth for themselves. Separated from England by thousands of miles, the self-reliance needed to live in America's frontier communities and to begin new lives had major political implications that ultimately led to a revolt against English authority.

The outcome of the American Revolution boosted the elements of American exceptionalism and led to its most fundamental element: the first national constitution in history. Our Constitution reflects key elements of American exceptionalism, which led to the development of the wealthiest and strongest nation in the world.

The Constitution creates a federal union, allowing for local experimentation. It ensures "a republican form of government," which means, as President Lincoln said, "a government by the people, of the people, and for the people."

It establishes checks and balances between different branches of government and between the national government and the states. Most dramatically, it establishes a representative democracy. True, it was limited to white men, but the seeds were laid for a national right to vote.

The Constitution provides not only a political framework, but also a blueprint for economic and social success. For example, it protects the sanctity of contracts and, through the Bill of Rights, ensures the protection of individual property from government seizure.

Such constitutional rights established in law what the Declaration of Independence reflected: that all people are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, rights that no government can take away. From the founding documents, we see the essence of American exceptionalism, a combination of individual liberty and equality of opportunity.

Trust in individuals and distrust of institutions that could threaten individual freedom is at the core of our government.

Both Congress and the president were subject to the laws, and the Supreme Court established that the courts would ensure that the other branches acted only in accordance with the Constitution. This diffusion of power kept any one branch from overwhelming the others.

In addition, unlike the later constitutions adopted by many foreign governments, our Constitution and the Bill of Rights are limiting documents. They limit the power of the federal government to intrude into the lives of average Americans. Instead of Americans needing the permission of their government to do things or go places, the government in the United States needed the permission of its people to do things.

These elements, a commitment to individual liberty, equality and the rule of law, form the essence of American exceptionalism. The nation eventually overcame its failure to live up to its basic principles with the abolition of slavery. As the nation grew, it became a draw for immigrants.

A central aspect of American exceptionalism is that being an American depends not on race, color, religion or ethnicity. It depends on fidelity to the core principles of liberty and equality and the rule of law. America is an idea as much as a place. And it is that idea and the bedrock principles that underlie it that make America unique.

We are now facing crises on several fronts — a deep recession with high unemployment, a staggering debt load that will only get substantially worse on our present course, an implacable enemy in radical Islamic terrorists and rogue regimes developing nuclear weapons. In other words, the world continues to be a dangerous place, often hostile to America's principles.

By returning to the ideas that underlie American exceptionalism, we can again lead the world. Ultimately, it is the American people who must live up to the principles of the Founders and demand that their representatives return the government to those core principles. It is in the people's hands to renew our national compact of liberty and equality and exceptionalism.

President Obama must reject the big-government solutions his administration has offered and instead return to our founding principles. If he does not, the American people need to seek a president who recognizes that America is truly different, with a unique heritage, serving as a beacon to all nations. A president who will rally us toward this view will enable the American people to preserve our preeminence in the world.

• Smith, who represents Texas' 21st congressional district, including San Antonio and Austin, is the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.

Abridging Too Far



The Cost Of Speech: Philadelphia is charging bloggers $300 for a "privilege" license. In the city where the Declaration of Independence was adopted and the Constitution signed, a right has become a privilege.

The scheme went virtually unreported until the Philadelphia City Paper ran a story last week noting that the city requires privilege licenses for any business engaged in what local tax attorney Michael Mandale terms "activity for profit." The tax is levied "whether or not they earned a profit during the preceding year," a policy likely to shut down many bloggers.

Bloggers write about an endless number of topics, from politics to sports to music to hobbies (and obsessions), both common and obscure. Few are in it for the money, which is probably for the best, since the blogosphere is not typically a place that yields fortunes.

For many, blogs are a simple way to communicate ideas and express opinions. Some are just personal journals posted in cyberspace rather than a notebook. Blogging is not a privilege to be trifled with by grasping city officials, but a right guaranteed by the Constitution. Speech is free — and not to be priced by government.

But greed knows no bounds, not even those laid down in Philadelphia more than 200 years ago. Governments at all levels are scouring the land in search of revenues from any source they can bleed. This impulse was never clearer than when states began their campaign to tax interstate Internet sales. They couldn't let the dollars fly by without trying to get their hands on some of them.

History is repeating itself in Philadelphia. This time it's not an effort to promote freedom, but to cover poor policies. The City of Brotherly Love is showing its affection by raising taxes to keep up with its spending.

We would concede that Philadelphia might have a case if it spent money in some way to protect or facilitate blogging and bloggers. But it does neither. Bloggers aren't driving on city streets. They don't need fire or police service. Nor do they require, as some say a for-profit business does, a bureaucracy of regulators, inspectors or paper pushers who need compensating. They don't even create trash that has to be collected. They can get by on their own.

Philly bloggers, as well as tax watchdogs and speech guardians outside the city, are understandably upset. If city hall can tax speech, it can tax anything. What — and who — is next? Should Philadelphia get away with this, other cities will surely follow. Constitutional rights are small hurdles for covetous lawmakers.

Stem Cell Research: Adults Only?



Bioethics: A federal judge rules that the administration violated congressional intent when it lifted restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. No, this will not usher in a new dark age.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth was striking enough. Lamberth said that when President Obama lifted Bush administration restrictions on ESCR, he violated the Dickey-Wicker Amendment. First passed in 1996, and passed every year as part of the federal budget, Dickey-Wicker blocks federal funds for stem cell research in which human embryos are destroyed.

Perhaps more striking is the press coverage of Lamberth's ruling. The Associated Press reported that it "blocked rules expanding stem cell research," a move "that could stall potentially lifesaving research." But all Lamberth did was enforce the law. Lifesaving research using stem cells is still free to proceed.

In lifting the Bush executive order, the Obama administration thought it had found a clever way around Dickey-Wicker. Under new National Institutes of Health guidelines, if private money were used to destroy the embryos, federal money could still be used to fund later research on the derived cell lines, as long as those donating the embryos were told of other options, including donating the embryo to an infertile couple.

Judge Lamberth said, uh, no. The circumstances of the embryo's destruction did not matter. The federal prohibition was clear and absolute: Federal funds could not be used for embryonic stem cell research, period. The new guidelines were a clear violation of federal intent.

The problem for opponents of the new guidelines was finding someone with standing in the courts. The embryos themselves could not sue, nor could anyone else sue on their behalf since the clients weren't accepted as human beings.

That problem was solved when a federal appeals court ruled that several plaintiffs, doctors who did research with adult stem cells, could sue over the new guidelines on the grounds that the guidelines could cause funding for their research, including federal money from NIH, to dry up.

Congress could amend Dewey-Wicker to allow the hair-splitting in the new guidelines, but in this politically volatile year, and after the controversy over abortion funding hidden in the fine print of ObamaCare, it is not likely to do so, at least not before a lame-duck session.

So does this stop stem cell research in its tracks? The answer is no. Private money can still be used to conduct ESCR that involves the destruction of human embryos. And the simple fact is that research involving adult stem cells has proved the more promising, producing actual treatments and therapies for actual people.

In 2004, vice presidential candidate John Edwards promised that if running mate John Kerry won, people would rise out of their wheelchairs and walk. In the 2006 election, actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's, made a commercial for Democratic Senate candidates in which he urged voters to support those candidates who opposed restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

As we noted then and note again now, ESCR was not the "most promising" avenue of stem cell research, and that was due not to lack of federal funds but to the difficulties of controlling the embryonic stem cells and what they develop into.

In 2006, researchers led by Dr. Shinya Yamanaka of Japan's Kyoto University were first able to "reprogram" human skin cells to behave like embryonic stem cells. Ironically, the National Institutes of Health says this type of stem cell offers the prospect of having an endless and renewable source of replacement cells and tissues to treat diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, spinal cord injury, stroke, burns, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, to name a few.

The media and many politicians have ignored adult stem cell successes and embryonic stem cell failures. We hope that stem cell research of all types will be driven by sound science leading to real results, not by ideology or tricky guidelines that ignore the intent of Congress.