Doug Archives

Widespread Adult Stem Cells

Adult stem cells may be more plentiful than we thought.

With the plethora of research and published studies on stem cells over the last decade, many would say that the definition of stem cells is well established and commonly agreed upon. However, a new review article appearing in the July 2014 issue of The FASEB Journal , suggests that scientists have only scratched the surface of understanding the nature, physiology and location of these cells. Specifically, the report suggests that embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells may not be the only source from which all three germ layers in the human body (nerves, liver or heart and blood vessels) can develop. The review article suggests that adult pluripotent stem cells are located throughout the body and are able to become every tissue, provided these cells receive the right instructions.

No need for the ethical minefield that are embryonic stem cells.

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    What Works and What Doesn’t: Health Care

    (This is part of the script for the latest episode of my podcast, "Consider This!". You can listen to it on the website, or subscribe to it in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Blubrry, Player.fm, or the podcast app of your choice.)

    Liberal columnist Ezra Klein, writing in the Washington Post, June of 2009:

    If you ordered America’s different health systems worst-functioning to best, it would look like this: individual insurance market, employer-based insurance market, Medicare, Veterans Health Administration.

    Yeah, he really said that, and it was obviously untrue back then. But that didn’t stop his love of socialized medicine. Here he is again in 2011:

    The thing about the Veteran’s Administration’s health-care system? It’s socialized. Not single payer. Not heavily centralized. Socialized. As in, it employs the doctors and nurses. Owns the hospitals. And though I think there’s some good reason to believe its spending growth is somewhat understated — it benefits heavily from medical trainees, for instance — accounting for that difference still means a remarkable recent performance.

    He also called the VA system, “the program is one of the most remarkable success stories in American public policy.” Of course now everyone’s saying that the system has been awful for decades, so you can’t blame Obama for it. While that’s certainly true, you can blame liberal pundits who have been trying to suggest for years that the performance of the VA means that ObamaCare ought to work. It seems like they’ll say anything to get their policies enacted. Never mind reality.

    And they’re making the same claim as a certain presidential candidate did 6 years or so ago. So in a sense, you can blame the President for foisting on us a system based on one that was, and is, a money pit and an abject failure, and which is utterly dishonest about those failures. They can, or should, be able to see what works and what doesn’t, but I guess Obama is going with the idea that this time, it’s gonna’ work.

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      What Works and What Doesn’t: Gun Control

      (This is part of the script for the latest episode of my podcast, “Consider This!”. You can listen to it on the website, or subscribe to it in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Blubrry, Player.fm, or the podcast app of your choice.)

      For the month of May, 2013, the number of shooting victims in New York City went up 43% vs. May of last year. New mayor Bill deBlasio is proud of this. Well, OK, not the statistic per se, but of the fact that he’s made the New York police force reactive instead of proactive. Sure, 129 people were shot last month, but hey, at least gang-bangers are free from having to be stopped and frisked. I mean really, you have to have your priorities, people!

      OK, here’s the thing. If liberals like deBlasio think that guns are the problem, why are they against getting them off the street? I understand the personal liberty issues, and I think they are worth serious consideration, but was any judgment ever passed on them in this case? If not, the mayor is reaping what he’s sown. Well, actually the citizens of the Big Apple are the ones getting reaped.

      Look into those questions, but meanwhile, if you see what works and what doesn’t, and still ignore it, you might be a Democrat. And sure enough, that’s what he is.

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        (This is part of the script for the latest episode of my podcast, “Consider This!”. You can listen to it on the website, or subscribe to it in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Blubrry, Player.fm, or the podcast app of your choice.)

        Sometimes people ask what the real difference is between the Republicans and Democrats, and sometimes, for certain issues, I’m inclined to agree; not much. However, when it comes to promoting economic growth, there’s certainly a trend that favors one over the other.

        It’s been said that the states are the laboratories of American democracy. Though more and more autonomy has been taken from them by the federal government, there is still enough that one can look across the country from sea to shining sea and see what works and what doesn’t. So what has the government’s Bureau of Economic Analysis told us about the year 2013?

        Here were the top 10 states in GDP growth:

        • North Dakota — 9.7 percent
        • Wyoming — 7.6 percent
        • West Virginia — 5.1 percent
        • Oklahoma — 4.2 percent
        • Idaho — 4.1 percent
        • Colorado — 3.8 percent
        • Utah — 3.8 percent
        • Texas — 3.7 percent
        • South Dakota — 3.1 percent
        • Nebraska — 3.0 percent

        This was all while the nation’s GDP growth was just 1.8 percent. Tom Blumer writing at the NewsBusters website noted that only Colorado and West Virginia could be considered something other than deep-red states — and despite having several prominent Democrats in statewide and national office, they both arguably lean red.

        And let’s not forget, as I covered back in February, that Wisconsin, under Republican Governor Scott Walker, went from running a deficit to a $1 billion surplus by cutting taxes.

        In all of this, you’d think that someone would have predicted such an economic outcome from these policies. Oh wait, they did, and those people are called “conservatives”. So if you indeed see what works and what doesn’t, and still ignore it, you might be a Democrat.

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          More Money for Medicare?

          One of the alternatives to ObamaCare that the Left suggested is that Medicare should just be expanded to cover everyone. It “worked”, so they said, and thus that would be a simpler way to get health care coverage expanded.

          But an investigation by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services said that the program spent $6.7 billion (with a “b”) too much for office visits and other services. And that’s just in 2010; just one year’s worth of fraud, abuse and/or incompetence.

          We keep hearing about how this politician or another wants to save the government and the taxpayer money by eliminating this kind of waste, but it never happens. Here’s one reason why. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs Medicare, said it doesn’t plan to review the excess billing payments that account for this because it isn’t cost-effective to do so. Essentially what they’re saying is that it would cost more than $6.7 billion to save that $6.7 billion. Really? Is…is that job opening available? Because if it is, I think I could do it for half that cash. Or, at least I’d like to try.

          See, this is a prime example of the problems of big government. It can waste billions – billions – and then claim that it’s not cost effective to deal with the waste. And then the recipients of that fraud have nothing to worry about. Their scam is safe within the walls of a massive bureaucracy. Oh sure, it’s helping the poor and elderly, but really, is there no way at all for that to happen without flushing away billions every year? Really?

          This is also a prime example of what happens to centralized government programs. They become bigger and costlier, and, as Ronald Reagan observed, they wind up being the closest thing to eternal life we’ll see this side of heaven. They are a power unto themselves, and any attempt to rein them in has to deal with that inertia, not to mention that, as I said earlier, any attempt to curb such waste gets those attempting it the injustice of being considered hateful, racist, and whatever else the Left can come up with today.

          There’s a trend here on the issue of big government programs, both in the money they cost, and the way they’re defended in spite of their results. And yet, we just keep adding to their numbers. If one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results, it’s time to have the government committed.

          It has been a tenet of the Left that government can be a force for good, and no one’s really denying that. It’s just that there are places for it, and places where it shouldn’t be, and if you overextend government’s reach, prepare for these very consequences. The Constitution was written to keep those kinds of folks in check. Unfortunately, there’s not been enough pushback, and now too many Americans expect this sort of overreach, but they want others to pay for it.

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            The Burning Human Rights Question of Our Time

            (This is part of the transcript of my latest podcast episode, "Consider This!")

            An article at the Hoover Institution asks, do chimps have human rights?

            No.

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              More Money for the VA?

              (This is part of the transcript of my latest podcast episode, "Consider This!")

              In an opinion piece at the Huffington Post by H. A. Goodman, he argues that Republicans have been complaining about how bad the VA is, but hypocritically voted against a bill for various funding for the VA back in January.

              Here’s a problem with that, and it’s not something you’ll hear on most newscasts. For the last 5 years, the VA has not spent its full health care budget; as much as $1.163 billion extra to as “little” as $450 million in medical-care funding from this past fiscal year. And still vets have been waiting too long for care, some paying with their lives. Clearly, clearly, throwing more money at the problem has done nothing whatsoever to fix it.

              The Republicans, back in January, said that if the huge catch-all bill were split up into separate bills, there were plenty of items they would vote for. The issue was fiscal responsibility. Democrats, on the other hand, really do have the mindset that enough greenbacks will solve any problem, especially if the problem is one that makes liberalism look bad. And the single-payer VA medical system absolutely fits that particular bill. Creating a single source of a particular product or service (in this case, health care) inevitably leads to scarcity (in this case, waiting lines). If vets could choose any hospital they wanted, and if the government still picked up the tab, would we have this problem? No. But this would be an indictment of a system that Democrats want to see implemented all over, and so it cannot be seen to fail.

              Remember this when Democrats like Mr. Goodman accuse Republicans of “hating the poor” or of being “racist” because they don’t want to throw more money at programs that are similarly flawed. Since the mid 60s, when the “War on Poverty” began, the poverty rate has been bouncing around between 10 and 15% of the population. Nothing has changed. Prior to that, the poverty rate had been steadily decreasing, from 30% in 1950 to 15% when we went to war on it. We were gaining ground, but since “going to war”, it’s been nothing but a stalemate, even though the programs have been costlier every year. But just look askance at the programs, just try to reign in some of that continue rise in cost, and you get accused of all manner of hate and villainy. For nearly half a century we’ve been pouring more and more money into it, just like the VA. And, just like the VA, it is not doing what it is supposed to be doing, or doing it incredibly inefficiently.

              But if you want to change the flat tire and try to get things done better, you’re accused of hating the car. The flat’s got us this far, it can go further, right?

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                Global Warming Update

                "Antarctic sea ice has set a new record for May, with extent at the highest level since measurements began in 1979."

                And it’s not a blip, but a trend that’s been going on since 1979.

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                  The Real Issue With the VA

                  (This is part of the script for the latest episode of my podcast, "Consider This!". You can listen to it on the website, or subscribe to it in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Blubrry, Player.fm, or the podcast app of your choice.)

                  Presidential candidate Barack Obama, back in 2007, gave a speech titled “A Sacred Trust”. It was a speech about the military; his plans for it, and for the veterans who came home from it. Here is one thing he said in it, “No veteran should have to fill out a 23-page claim to get care, or wait months – even years – to get an appointment at the VA.”

                  How was he going to fulfill that goal? Here was his promise, “It’s time for comprehensive reform. When I am President, building a 21st century VA to serve our veterans will be an equal priority to building a 21st century military to fight our wars. My Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs will be just as important as my Secretary of Defense.” He followed that with specific changes he was going to make. But, whether he made those changes or not, whether or not vets are means-tested for care, whether or not VA budgets were passed on time every year, the result is still the same; long waits, and deaths due to them.

                  Obama knew of the problems in the VA before he became President. At least 5 years ago, he was warned about the specific wait time issue. What has changed? Nothing. And now he claiming he was shocked to hear about it; not from his advisors, but from the media. Let’s not forget that he was shocked about the IRS targeting conservatives, up until the point where he claimed that there was “not a smidgen of corruption”. I guess his views on that “evolved”.

                  There is another line from that speech that I think bears considering. His plans for the VA were a blueprint for something else. “The VA will also be at the cutting edge of my plan for universal health care, with better preventive care, more research and specialty treatment, and more Vet Centers, particularly in rural areas.” That’s right. ObamaCare was the next step, and what’s happening now with the VA is the future of what’s going to be happening with you. Centralized health care, or passing laws to create facilities and doctors out of thin air, doesn’t work.

                  And honestly, this has been the issue for decades. It didn’t start when Obama was elected. Presidents from both parties have presided over this long-running debacle, some say as far back as the Kennedy administration, because the fundamental problems are always there. On MSNBC, one of their military analysts, Army Col. Jack Jacobs, spoke on The Reid Report about how Veterans Affairs Sec. Eric Shinseki was a good guy and was doing a good job, but in the end, the VA’s system of health care itself cannot give us what we need from it, regardless of how much money you throw at it.

                  Yeah, that really aired on MSNBC. But if the VA is the blueprint for ObamaCare, then the question is this: If we can’t take care of those we are the most indebted to, how is it going to work for all of us? Centralization like this – one of the pillars of the liberal view of government – is a failure. It has been shown not to work, specifically with regards to health care, and yet we just keep doing it bigger and costlier. Vets are dying in service to this social and political experiment. That’s certainly not the war they signed up for.

                  And in the meantime, Army Private and convicted felon Bradley Manning has been on the fast-track to get his sex change. Got to have your priorities.

                  The White House vowed to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by year’s end. That’s if they agree to leave. Comedian Argus Hamilton says, if given the choice between surviving Taliban attacks in the Afghan mountains and surviving VA care when they get home, they like their chances in the mountains.

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                    Unique Lawsuit Against ObamaCare

                    George Will, writing in the Washington Post, highlights a very novel lawsuit working its way through the courts. Essentially, the thought process of the suit goes like this:

                    1. The Constitution says explicitly that, “All bills for raising reveornue [that’s the 1700s spelling of “revenue”] shall originate in the House of Representatives”.
                    2. The ObamaCare bill originated in the Senate. No problem there, but…
                    3. The Supreme Court, in what Will calls a “creative” reading of the law, called the bill a “tax” on certain activity (or, in the case of ObamaCare, inactivity).
                    4. As a tax, it is therefore a revenue bill, but it did not originate in the House, and is therefore unconstitutional.

                    Ya’ gotta’ wonder if Chief Justice John Roberts played rope-a-dope with the liberals on the bench in creating this particular interpretation, and was hoping someone out there would notice.

                    There are some other issues with how the bill was created, and reading this short piece, from a link in the show notes, is incredibly enlightening. Keep an eye on Matt Sissel and the Pacific Legal Foundation’s lawsuit. We may be hearing about it more prominently in the months to come.

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                      Shoving Us Down the Slope

                      The liberal-leaning magazine, The New Republic, had an article recently in which it re-redefines marriage. Titled “It’s Time to Ditch Monogamy”, it tries to make the case that the idea of a single spouse is just so “outdated”, as they put it. Their arguments are:

                      • We’re living longer, which can lead to boredom.
                      • Young people are used to “varied and transient love affairs.”
                      • Girls can be more independent now than they could 50 years ago.
                      • And basically, after a while, we just can’t help ourselves over our urges to wander, so to speak.

                      The only lip service Helen Croydon, the author, pays to the major responsibility of child rearing is to note that, hey, women can get artificially inseminated. Never mind that she’s encouraging the difficulty of single motherhood, reducing men to sperm donors, and ignoring the huge task of actually raising a child. No, it’s all just a technological hurdle to overcome.

                      As I’ve said before, cross one line, and there’s always another line to cross, another cultural norm to overturn. Remember, it’s conservatives that look to tradition and experience to determine the best course of action, while liberals are, by their own definition, “progressive”; trying out new things and throwing off old ideas, because, in their mind, this new thing ought to work, based on whatever arguments they can come up with. Hey, we’re bored, we can’t help ourselves, so let’s chuck these ideas that have worked in the past and try some social experimenting that may or may not actually work better, but at least we’ll feel better about ourselves after we indulge ourselves.

                      That is a recipe for a slippery slope, one that has been, rather easily, predicted by conservatives.

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                        I Now Pronounce You Man and Machine

                        A man in Florida is suing to be allowed to marry his pornography-filled computer. Chris Sevier would like to marry his Macbook, who, for the purposes of this post, I’ll just call “Mac”.

                        Chris tried to get a license to marry Mac, but apparently was turned down. Clearly, Florida is against true marriage equality, and apparently prefers PCs. Why else would they allow for this sort of discrimination?

                        Listen to some of what Chris says, and you, too, just might be won over.

                        If gays have the right to “marry their object of sexual desire, even if they lack corresponding sexual parts, then I should have the right to marry my preferred sexual object.”

                        If gays feel as is they are second class citizens, Mr Sevier argues then “those of us in the real minority, who want to marry machines and animals, certainly feel like third class citizens”.

                        “Allowing my marriage to go forward will not adversely impact the fertility rate any more or less than a same sex couples.”

                        “If there is a risk that is posed to traditional marriage and children, both man-man couples and man-machine couples pose it equally.”

                        “In considering the equal protection clause, there are no fewer policy reasons for preventing man-machine couples from marrying than there are for same-sex couples.”

                        Florida, as well as Utah, where he filed another suit, both turned him down. But how different, really, are his arguments than the ones for same-sex marriage. True, the main difference is that Mac isn’t sentient and can’t truly give consent for this, but the arguments are still quite similar. If who you love is the only determiner of who you can marry, who’s to say who you’re allowed to love?

                        Or maybe, just maybe, marriage is actually about more than just love. Maybe, there’s a purpose, a goal, which marriage was the answer to, and the further we get away from it, the more pointless it will become.

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                          Same-sex Marriage vs. State Sovereignty

                          States? States? We don’t need no stinkin’ states! At least, that’s what a federal judge said last month. The state of Ohio does not have same-sex marriage, but the just said that they had to recognize a marriage license for one that was granted in another state.

                          Well let me ask you, does the state of Ohio have to recognize law licenses, or medical licenses, or even hunting licenses from other states? No, they don’t. They may grant some leeway for licenses professionals from other states, they certainly don’t have to. It is within their state’s rights not to recognize them at all.

                          The judge in the case cited the tradition of Ohio recognizing marriages from other states that Ohio itself would not have allowed. He didn’t say specifically, but I’m guessing things like marriages between people who are related to closely. In 2004, Ohio broke with tradition and passed a ban on recognizing same-sex marriage. But the judge seems to think that tradition is somehow legally binding. Ohio was well within its rights to make such a law, as it can with other license recognitions. But the judge was apparently channeling Tevye from “Fiddler on the Roof”; “Traditiooon!”

                          Well anyway, I guess we can now start applying this new legal concept to things like gun licenses, eh? No, we can’t? This wouldn’t have anything to do with politics or activist judges of a particular leaning now, would it?

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                            The "Tolerance Police" Claim Their Next Victim

                            I mentioned the case of Brendan Eich a little while ago. He’s the genius that basically invented JavaScript, which web programmers are very familiar with and have been using since 1995. He co-founded Mozilla, the company that produces, among other things, the Firefox web browser. He was going to be the company’s CEO recently, until someone noticed he gave $1,000 to the Proposition 8 effort in California to keep marriage to mean one-man-one-woman. He was run out of the company for what I called a Thought Crime. He was eminently qualified to be the CEO of the company, but because he had the politically incorrect idea that marriage should mean what it’s meant for millennia, he was pressured to resign. There were no allegations that he had ever treated someone badly because of their sexual orientation, but he had, according to some, the wrong idea about marriage, and therefore he was unfit to be CEO of the technology company he helped create.

                            That’s what I want to stress here. In every other way, he was qualified for the job, but he had opinions that some disagreed with, and they created an atmosphere where Eich could not function in that job. That, ladies and gentlemen, is precisely what the word “intolerance” means. The irony is that those who created that atmosphere would very likely consider themselves the tolerant ones. The sad part is, they are unable to see intolerance in themselves because of the way they have redefined the word “intolerance” to mean “disagreeing with me”.

                            That was exhibit A. Exhibit B showed up a couple weeks ago when twin brothers Jason and David Benham were green-lit to host a new show on Home and Garden TV – HGTV – about fixing up dilapidated houses for families in need. Who in the world could be against that?

                            Well, in a radio interview, David Benham said this, and made some people mad.

                            Read the rest of this entry

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                              The Shape of Things to Come

                              Government health care, adored by the Left, has been here in the States for a very long time now. It’s called the Veteran’s Administration, and the latest scandal is simply a matter of well-known sub-standard care bubbling to the surface.

                              The obvious question to ask about the VA scandal is: Why? Why would a VA hospital administrator direct doctors not to perform colonoscopies until patients had three positive tests for bloody stools? Or why were VA employees ordered to “cook the books” and hide long wait times that veterans faced when seeking care from heart, cancer, or other specialists? Why did some VA administrators go so far as to create a secret waiting list to hide year-plus wait times?

                              There’s only one plausible answer to these questions: rationing. The VA is but a smaller version of the sort of government-run, single-payer health care with which the political left is so enamored.

                              As a cousin of mine observed, "if you cant offer proper medical care to those you are most indebted to (i.e. the military veterans), what can we expect our level of care to be?" Indeed.

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