Saturday, August 29, 2015

Services celebrating Michael Muftic, MD's life, will be held at the Hyatt Regency Convention Center Hotel in Denver at 5 PM on Tuesday, September 15 and at the Church of Eternal Hills in Tabernash, Colorado at 11 AM on Saturday, September 12. There will be receptions after both services. In Denver, after the reception there will also be a no host dinner at the hotel's restaurant, Altitude. The hotel requests that reservations for the dinner should be made in advance at 303 486 4434.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

GOP candidate debate: sins of omission

In watching the GOP candidate debates, I was struck by how little the needle was moved on the issue meter. There were no surprises or taking back of the individual candidate positions enunciated before the debates.  What was not said was also noteworthy.  Especially ignored were alternatives to Obamacare and the effectiveness of the verification provisions of the Iran deal.  In 2012, jobs and the economy were the overwhelmingly hot topic, though not quite as front and center in this debate. Perhaps the improving economy and jobs picture took winds out of those red sails.
  The shades of conservatism were on display in spite of Donald Trump’s hogging more minutes on the clock than others.  The Fox inquisitors put each on the spot to respond to and clarify their past statements that could be seen as controversial or defining of their deviation from the rest of the herd. Trump’s post- debate objection insulted a FOX news anchor. Both John Kasich and Jeb Bush made brief, but clear and convincing defense of such positions, Bush on common core and immigration, and Kasich caring about the poor in context of Medicaid expansion. 
What the Fox questioners did not do is to ask the candidates to rebut Democratic positions at the top of the Democratic issue priority list, including environment, global warming, income inequality, voter suppression, and financial services reform.  However, the candidates supported defunding Planned Parenthood, a guaranteed turn-off of young women voters.
The most glaring sin of omission concerned the Iran deal, condemned by nearly all on the stage.  Rarely did the word “verify” pass their lips.  Repeated charges that Obama was naïve to trust Iran completely ignored the entire text of the  agreement which  was about the verification process approved by all  nuclear and non- proliferation experts in the world, hardly the naïve ones. Candidates like other anti- deal critics remained intentionally ignorant of the details.   The exception was GOP’s amateur hour politicians citing the 24 day permission request for inspection. That had been defended by the nuclear experts as way to put a cap on delay tactics and clandestine nuclear development traces could not be destroyed in that time period.
 Complained the candidates and others, the deal failed because Iran’s behavior toward Israel would not be changed. Those were never the goals. Stopping Iran from getting the bomb was. That without the deal Iran could have nuclear weapons in months was simply ignored. It seemed less important to the candidates than there was a chance Iran could have nuclear weapons in ten years. Do they really mean that short term nuclear proliferation was not a concern, but long term was? Or do they mean war now was the only alternative to keeping Iran from nukes? How is another mid- east war in US interests?

Another sin of omission was the mantra shared by all GOP candidates:  repeal and replace Obamacare.  Once simply kill Obamacare was the line. Promoting a replacement is at least an acknowledgement of the effectiveness of Obamacare in getting 11 million more insured.  What was glaringly missing was with what they would replace it, including  details of costs and who would lose/keep/gain affordable  coverage.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Heads up: the issue spinners are at work
It is bad enough that the issues facing America are complex, the decisions consequential to our security or to the lives of citizens, but when advocates for one side or the other tell untruths, mislead, or leave out important details, it becomes difficult for citizens to form rational opinions based on facts.  Issues with highly technical components are especially vulnerable to abuse by false advertising.
There are two issues hot on the burner these days which are rife with spin doctors plying their trade. One concerns the Iran nuclear deal and the other, defunding Planned Parenthood. Whatever your position on either issue, heads up.  Media fact checkers are blowing the whistle.
Much of the Iran nuclear deal is very technical. You may have seen the commercial claiming the Iran nuclear deal is a bad deal, ending with “we need a better deal”.   There is very little in the ad that is not misleading.  The ad claims that there will be no inspection of 50 military sites. In Arizona, television station ABC15 ‘s  fact checker consulted experts  and found there will indeed be inspection of military sites that are nuclear  development capable. Other heavyweight experts agree. Not all military sites are appropriate for inspection. If the inspection request is refused, sanctions would be re- imposed.  Touts the ad, Iran can build a nuclear weapon in two months because Iran keeps nuclear facilities.  Experts looking at the deal say because the centrifuges needed to build a bomb are mothballed and enriched uranium is limited or destroyed, it would take at least a year.
The ad is paid for by Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, an ironic name because the result would be a nuclear Iran sooner than much later, if at all. The ad purports to support negotiating a better deal.  We note while we reinstate sanctions and try to reassemble any willing negotiators, Iran could build their bomb within months, and no inspectors would be there to detect it.  Threat of sanctions is not the only enforcer. If Iran breaks the deal, nothing in the agreement prohibits a military strike, per Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.
Selective editing of undercover video is a technique as old as video.  Such is the case of the film used to convince lawmakers and the public that Planned Parenthood sells fetal tissue for a profit., an independent non- partisan fact checking group, looked at the original video of an “interview” of a Planned Parenthood official and compared it to the version widely circulated in the media used as a pretext by anti- abortion activists to motivate Congress to defund the organization. Left out of the version often repeated on news reports is the part in which the official carefully explains that the fetal tissue is used for research and that there is no profit. cites experts who calculate that Planned Parenthood’s charges probably do not even cover expenses. That Planned Parenthood makes a profit on donated fetal tissue is not true.  Of course, federal money by law cannot be used for abortions and the federal money now goes only for cancer screening and other women’s health services, which would be defunded. 

A version of this was run as a column in the August 6, 7 2015 (destroys 2/3 centrifuges and limits all but 3.67% enriched uranium stores; limit refining metal to 5% over 15 years; after 10 years can build some centrifuges)