The Feres Doctrine and the Military: Why it needs to go

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Every military member that has ever served, or that is currently serving, will agree on this piece of advice for other service members, if you need any kind of medical procedure or advice, try and get a referral off base.

Everyone who has served for any amount of time has seen the horrors that medical has inflicted on service members. While I served, I knew a guy that had his jaw broken by dental, twice. That same guy had back surgery done by a military doctor, they botched it, so he’ll never walk right again.

I knew another service member who got a vasectomy by military doctors, now it hurts every time he has sex because they botched that procedure too. I can’t name all the people I know that have woken up while dental has been taking their wisdom teeth out because the anesthesiologist botched the dosage amount.

Me personally, I was sent for a pre-op appointment following a dislocated finger because the MRI they sent me out for said I had some torn tendons. Only when I got to the civilian doctor, he told me that OF COURSE I had some torn tendons, I had just dislocated my finger, but I certainly didn’t need surgery! His words “anyone who has been through medical school should know this”.

The good news for all these service members dealing with incompetent doctors? There isn’t a damn thing you can do. Thanks to something called the Feres doctrine, military members are barred from opening medical malpractice suits against their military doctors.

Now I certainly didn’t need a medical malpractice suit opened for my case, but what about the case of Sgt. 1st Class Rich Stayskal? His cancer showed up on a scan in January 2017, but did anyone tell him about it? No. How about a few months later when he was passing out and coughing up blood? Nope wasn’t worth mentioning.

It wasn’t until June when he was referred to a NON-MILITARY doctor, that he was told that he had cancer. And by then it had spread. His cancer is now terminal.

How about the case of Rebekah Daniel? She died following child birth due to excessive bleeding five years ago. What caused the excessive bleeding and why couldn’t the military doctors stop it? Well they’re not quite sure and they aren’t trying to find out. They don’t care.

Now don’t get me wrong the Feres doctrine has its worth, military doctors shouldn’t be held liable for treating wounds caused on the battlefield. Those are extraordinary cases where outcomes can’t be guaranteed, and doctors can’t be second guessing themselves.

But during routine medical procedures and care, military doctors should not be allowed to botch the medical care that they provide to military personnel without consequence. There are only two types of doctors in the United States that can practice without medical malpractice insurance, military doctors and civilian doctors that work on military personnel. This needs to change, our military members deserve better.

Dear Congress and Donald Trump: Let Mr. Motawakil into the Country

terminal_e_waiting_areaMohasif Motawakil risked his life by becoming an interpreter for US troops in Afghanistan in 2012. Despite the dangers to himself and his family he made the choice to help the Americans that were there, potentially saving our service members lives.

After waiting for years to be approved Mr. Motawakil finally had approval for him and his family to come live in America as a thank you for his service in Afghanistan. It should have been a time of immense joy for the Motawakil family.

But that was not to be the case. Instead Mr. Motawakil and his family were detained in Houston and they are being threatened with deportation, a fate that will likely lead to them all being killed upon their return, all because Mr. Motawakil’s medical documents were opened when they shouldn’t have been.

And while this is something to be looked into, it shouldn’t be something where deportation is even suggested. This man risked EVERYTHING to help American service members, when it would have been even easier to just turn his back on them and ensure his own safety.

This is not the way to treat people who risk their lives for our people. This is a situation that every Congressman and every Senator should agree on. Let Mr. Motawakil into the country, he and his family have earned that privilege, and please stop threatening to send this man to his death by returning him to Kabul.

 

Trump and his “National Emergency”

CBP_Tours_San_Diego_Border_Wall_Prototypes_with_POTUS_(25935924167).jpgAs President Trump gets more and more frustrated with the government shutdown it seems he is more and more likely to do the unthinkable, declare the lack of a border wall a “national emergency” and try and use the military to build it.

It’s an unthinkable abuse of power, one that would be instantly contested in court, and almost certainly be blocked. But the mere notion of suggesting that the military should be used to enforce a partisan agenda, is terrifyingly dangerous.  

It is not the job of the military to do the bidding of the President in partisan issues. The fact that this is even a thinkable action to be taken goes to show how far the role of Commander in Chief has gone astray.

The role of the Commander in Chief should be to direct troops into wars that have already been authorized in Congress, or direct troops into a war that is being approved by Congress (something that has been abused by Presidents’ of both parties in recent years).

But the use of the United States military to enforce domestic partisan policies significantly raises the risk of the United States taking a step towards becoming an authoritarian government. If the President can order the military to build his wall, why can’t he order the military to enforce drug policies? Isn’t that a national emergency too? What about immigration control in sanctuary cities? The implications of what the President thinks he can do is appalling and terrifying.

And while attempting to use the military to circumvent Congress will be challenged and overturned in the court system, the mere mention of using them degrades our service members. They joined to serve their country and they deserve better then to be used as political pawns by the President to enforce his domestic political agenda.

Blue Water 2019: It’s time to FINALLY do the right thing

Vietnam_Veterans_with_Washington_Monument.jpgBlue Water Vietnam veterans have been fighting Congress for decades to have their service related health care problems covered by the VA. Congress’ response has always been the same, it’s too expensive.

Last year the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2018 passed unanimously in the House before it stalled in the Senate because of comments made by VA Secretary Robert Wilkie with concerns about the cost.

Here’s the thing when it comes to the cost of providing healthcare for service related issues, yeah it might suck that it’s so expensive, but if you want to stop paying those bills stop sending people to fight your wars.

America’s Soldiers, Marines, Airman, and Sailors deserve to be taken care of while they are serving our country and after they are done serving it. They deserve to be treated better than a used washrag after they made so many sacrifices in the defense of our country.

Secretary Wilkie and every Senator that helped to prevent these veterans from getting the help that they need, not just last year, but every year before that, should be ashamed of themselves. Their policy has been unwavering, just keep pushing it down the road and eventually all the Vietnam veterans will die off.

Instead of treating these veterans the policy has been to let the diseases that they acquired because of their military service kill them, and the quicker the better so this whole fiasco just goes away.

Of all the cheap, immoral, and downright appalling ways to try and save a buck.

The good news, the House just passed the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019. Now its just up to the Senate to do the right thing and give these veterans that they help that so desperately need and deserve.

The GOP and Trump’s flawed border wall arguments

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The GOP has come up with some creative arguments for trying to justify building an archaic wall to stem illegal immigration at our nations southern border. But the problem with most of their arguments lack substance.

Argument One:

The GOP is the only party that cares about illegal immigration.

The Reality:

Former President Obama, as well as just about every other major leader in the Democratic Party, is against illegal immigration. But what the GOP is against in the Trump era isn’t illegal immigration, it’s immigration from the Middle East, Mexico, Latin America, and South America.

It doesn’t matter if people from Latin America are coming seeking asylum. To Trump they are “invaders” or “terrorists”. People seeking a legal immigration status in the United States are being turned away by the Trump administration before they even have the chance to apply. They are looking to do it legally but are being miscategorized as “illegals” to better fit the Trump narrative.

To be clear Democrats are anti-illegal immigrant, Trump and the GOP are anti-immigrant.

Argument Two:

A border wall will solve our illegal immigration problems.

The Reality:

Most illegal immigrants entering the United States today, around 65 percent, are visa overstays. Additionally, the amount of people crossing the border illegally has been dramatically declining since 2000, from 1.64 million then to just under 304 thousand in 2017.

It all ties into the fact that over 75 percent of the illegal immigrants living in the United States have been here for over a decade, and that only 5 percent of illegal immigrants have arrived in the last 5 years.

The problem facing the illegal immigration crisis in the United States today isn’t that too many people are crossing illegally today, its that too many people were crossing illegally years ago. If we’re going to fix this problem, we need to figure out what to do with the people already here, not spend billions of dollars preventing an “invasion” of people that aren’t coming.

Argument Three:

Mexico really IS paying for the wall

The Reality:

Trump repeatedly ran on the campaign promise that Mexico would pay for the wall, and since being elected he’s repeatedly backtracked on that promise. Any way you cut it, if the money needs to be approved by the United States Congress then the American people are going to be paying for it. And any way you cut it, the American people have far more important things to be funding then an archaic wall that won’t solve our nations illegal immigration problems, namely the trillion dollar deficit and 22 trillion dollar national debt.

Who do you believe, Kavanaugh or Ford? Depends if you’re a Democrat or a Republican.

Mike_Pence,_Brett_Kavanaugh,_Mitch_McConnell,_and_Jon_KylEven in the post-Trump world of US politics not many things have garnered the level of attention and controversy that his confirmation process of Judge Brett Kavanaugh has brought.

Still it’s just another example of the stark political divisions that reside within the country today. Think about it, and whether you believe Judge Kavanaugh or Doctor Christine Blasey Ford can almost always be answered by one simple question, are you a Republican or a Democrat?

And if you think your side has the moral high ground, think again. Because I can guarantee you that if the roles were reversed and it was a Democratic nominee being contested by Republicans you would almost certainly feel the exact opposite of your current stance. All one needs to do is look back at the allegations surrounding former President Bill Clinton to see this.

Think about the situation objectively for a second. A Supreme Court nominee stands accused of sexually assaulting a woman 36 years ago while he was in high school. Currently only two people know what truly happened that day 36 years ago, Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford.

If you claim to “know” otherwise you’re only fooling yourself. You choose to believe Judge Kavanaugh or Dr. Ford, and your belief is likely directly tied to your political views.

If the Senate confirms Judge Kavanaugh and he is guilty they just put a rapist on the Supreme Court. If they deny him the chance to serve on the Court and he didn’t do it, they just ruined an innocent man’s life. It’s an impossible decision to make if you aren’t being influenced by outside factors, which is why the issue is so starkly divided by political lines.

More importantly though, nothing being said in the Senate is going to change anyone’s mind. Republicans will believe Judge Kavanaugh and Democrats will believe Dr. Ford, and once again the political lines that divide this nation will be dug a little deeper.

Both sides need to step back and realize that the accusations around Judge Kavanaugh can never be proven or disproven, and that if they were on the other side of the aisle, they’d be believing the other person. Instead of focusing on the accusations we should be looking at his record on the issues that he will be addressing if he is nominated to the Court.

As a nation we need to start looking at the issues that matter in the country and start ignoring some of the political and media fluff that is designed to draw votes and money.

 

Roseanne and Racism: How did we get here?

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Roseanne Barr, star of the show Roseanne, was fired by ABC following a racist tweet comparing Valerie Jarrett to a monkey, and conservatives collectively lost their minds.

Let’s begin by getting one thing straight, comparing an African American to a monkey is racist. Failure to recognize this overlooks years of racial oppression and the use of this comparison to marginalize Africans’ and African Americans’ for years. It is racist (If you still can’t wrap your mind around that read more about it here).

Secondly, conservatives being “outraged” by a private organization choosing to act on an individual for making a “political statement” is laughable. After years of conservatives preaching that the NFL should punish players for kneeling during the national anthem, they claim outrage that a private organization can punish an individual for exercising their free speech.

The same conservatives that voted for Donald Trump, who said this about the NFL protesters “Wouldn’t you love to see one of those NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’”

You don’t get to get upset when every private organization doesn’t follow your political and personal ideology. You either continue to support the company or you don’t. Personally, I don’t see a problem with a company condemning racism.

The fact that this has divided the country epitomizes what exactly is wrong with the United States today. Racism in all it’s forms must be stamped out. Since when did that reemerge as a partisan issue? Since when did open racism become acceptable once again? And more importantly, how do we condemn it once and for all?

Genetic Sequencing and Your Privacy: Should You Be Worried?

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Photo Credit: Max Pixel

Genetic sequencing was used to catch the Golden State Killer in a way that it never has been before. And because of the phenomenal result the privacy implications of what was done has been largely overlooked (to check out how police used genetic sequencing to track down the killer click here)

To be clear, getting a serial rapist and murderer off the streets is a fucking phenomenal result. But it shouldn’t be used to justify the ethical quandary of the methods that they used.

So, what did they do exactly? They used publicly available genetic information on millions of individuals to track down the identity of the killer without having the genetic information of the killer himself. Instead, they found the genetic data from the killer’s relatives and were able to utilize that data to determine who the killer was.

Where does the potential ethical dilemma arise? It’s with what else that publicly available data can be used for. As an example, your genetic information can be used to tell if you are more susceptible to certain diseases or health conditions.

The problem isn’t that the police used this information to track down the killer, they’d be foolish to not utilize the databases that are available to them. The problem is that ANYONE can access many of these databases.

Think about if a potential employer had this data. Two applicants, one who is more susceptible to develop cancer than the other. Which do you hire? The individual that is more likely to get sick, miss time from work, and raise your company’s health insurance costs, or the individual that is more likely to stay healthy?

Of course, using this data to determine who you are going to hire is illegal. Just like it’s illegal to pay a woman less than a man for the same day’s work. You see how well that’s going.

The obvious solution is not to put your data out there, that way you are protected right? Wrong. The problem is that even if you protect your data what the police investigating the Golden State Killer proved is that your data is extremely similar to your relatives’ genetic data.

But we already knew this, that’s why brothers often look so similar. So, do you have a family member in the military? A convicted felon? Register for a program like GEDmatch? If so your information is already compromised.

Boy Scouts, Masculinity, and Feminism: The Hard Truth

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Every time a story about Boy Scouts of America allowing girls to join their organization pops up on one of my newsfeeds I scroll through the comments and am appalled with what I see. The amount of resistance to the idea is horrendous. A private organization has decided to change their policies to try and be more inclusive and the world responds with hate.

Who cares if they decided to allow girls to join? Why does it matter? As someone with both a son and daughter I don’t see why my son should have the opportunity to go camping and learn survival skills while my daughter is told to go sell cookies. And honestly, I don’t understand why my son can’t sell cookies if he wants to.

But it’s not until you understand the basics of masculinity and feminism that you can make sense of either the reason for the change or the opposition to it.

The right wing screams that masculinity is dying or dead, but what they fail to realize is that feminism is doing the same thing. Feminism is evolving into masculinity, and masculinity is evolving into feminism. But this only makes sense if you understand what both feminism and masculinity used to be, so you can understand what they are becoming.

Being masculine used to mean that you drank beer, watched football, and objectified women. It used to mean that you protected and provided for your family. It used to mean that you took care of your family by going to work every day.

Feminism used to mean that you stayed at home and were submissive to your husband. It used to mean that you were meek and quiet. It used to mean that you raised your kids and loved them unconditionally. It used to mean that you took care of your family by staying home every day.

But now that changes.

Masculinity still means that you protect and provide for your family, but now it also means that you raise your kids and love them unconditionally. It means that you take care of your family at both work AND home. It means that you can still drink beer and watch football, but that you respect women, even in the locker room.

Feminism still means that you raise your kids and love them unconditionally, but now it also means that you protect and provide for them as well. It means that you take care of your family at both work AND home. It means that you can drink beer and watch football, and that you respect men, even in the locker room.

You see they’re becoming the same thing, as they should be. And in a world that defines masculinity the same way it describes feminism there is no longer a need for an organization that raises boys to become men in a different manner then it raises girls to become women.

Feel free to let me know what you think in a respectful manner in the comments below!

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica: You’re Missing the Real Issue

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There are two groups of people that are upset by the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook scandal rocking the world right now. There are those upset because they are just now realizing that they have no privacy on the internet, those that are upset that Facebook sold that information to a foreign individuals and governments to try and influence elections.

The former group’s outrage is based off their own ignorance. No, those posts you put on Facebook telling them they can’t use your information didn’t do anything. The fact that you thought it did would be laughable if it wasn’t so pathetic. You don’t get privacy on the internet, especially when you are using a free service. That’s not going to change, nor should it. It’s what allows services like Facebook to make money while offering a free service.  

The second groups concerns have more merit, but what is going unaddressed is the disturbing underlying reasons on why this is such a problem. No, I’m not talking about the overall plethora of groups that have probably been doing this long before the 2016 election. And no, I’m not talking about the fact that Facebook could have and should have done more to prevent this.

What I’m talking about is that sad fact that this might be an effective way to influence elections in the United States. The founding fathers knew that the republic that they had created was entirely dependent on a well-educated populace to be effective.

That well-educated populace would not be susceptible to such rudimentary tactics by foreign entities to influence our elections. With all the ways the people can access information today there is no reason for people to be swayed by biased or outright false ads on a social media platform. With the information available people can independently verify or determine where each candidate stands on each issue and be able to determine the truth behind any other claims being made.

But the sad fact is that a large portion of the country is unable or unwilling to do this. This leads to a large portion of the country voting in an election that they really don’t know much about.

And yes, the way that Facebook sells ads on their platform needs to be addressed. But unless we address the underlying issue that makes Americans so susceptible to attacks like this we can rest assured that Cambridge Analytica won’t be the last group to exploit it.