Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Article about Jared Kushner’s paternal Grandmother

Hollie McKay - Fox News

Putin could make move to absorb Belarus, Europe’s ‘last dictatorship,’ 

“But its history is one with tragedy and bloodshed. Upwards of 40 percent – some 3 million – citizens were killed during the Second World War. The country was overtaken by Nazi occupation between 1941 and 1944, bringing about the absolute destruction of more than two-thirds of its cities and decimating its Jewish population.”

“At one chilling memorial ghetto in the beautifully sleepy western town of Novogrudok, photographs and remnants remain of the hundreds of women escorted out by the Nazis to be shot and the hundreds who survived following a daring tunnel escape. That remarkable act of Nazi defiance was orchestrated by the bold Rae Kushner – Jared Kushner's paternal grandmother – who was just 16 when she was summoned to the ghetto with her family. Subsequently, the Kushner name carries steep remembrance and respect in Belarus, considered to be a front-runner in Holocaust education and commemoration.”

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Michael Bloomberg Now Under Scrutiny

Bloomberg’s “mercenaries” inside state AG offices

A program funded by 2020 presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is paying the salaries of lawyers who are farmed out to liberal state attorney general offices to pursue climate-based litigation -- a compact critics say amounts to Bloomberg buying state law enforcement employees to advance his preferred political agenda.

The Hill -- Heather MacDonald
Bloomberg on “Stop, Question and Frisk”

The New York Police Department’s use of the tactic helped bring the city’s homicide rate down another 50 percent during Bloomberg’s tenure in office from 2002 to 2013, something few criminologists believed possible. Sixteen hundred minority lives were saved in the process.
Forbes -- Rich Karlgaard
Iran and China -- Black Swans No One Mentions

These two black swans get little attention precisely because they are real black swans – low probability risks with gigantic consequences.

Black Swan #1

Hackers Seriously Disrupt the U.S. Power Grid

Consider the U.S. power grid. The electricity grid is the engine that powers all mechanisms of commerce and civilization in the U.S. Should this engine fail, all dependent activities immediately cease to function, including water and sanitation, the food supply chain, financial institutions, healthcare, media, transportation and law enforcement.

Black Swan #2

China Grabs Taiwan for TSMC

There is, however, one critical exception to China’s tech prowess. China, in 2020, and likely for the next three to five years at least, is not world-class at manufacturing chips. (See here, here, and here to learn more.) Now, China can steal IP, but it’s much harder to steal a 3-nanometer fab plant that will cost $20 billion to build. Of the world’s companies that are world-class – including Intel and Samsung – none are in China. Perhaps the best of the bunch is Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, or TSMC as it is known.

China's Advances in Technology

TechRadar -- jamie Carter

6 ways that Chinese tech is ahead of the rest of the world

Your smartphone comes from China, a country where ‘phone commerce’ via a messaging app is commonplace. It’s the home of Huawei, Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent and Xaomi, and it’s home to massive investments in AI, 5G, self-driving cars, robotics, electric vehicles and even missions to Mars. Here are just a few ways that an increasingly high-tech China is creeping ahead of the rest of the world.

Monday, January 27, 2020

The greatest threat to humanity in the next 100 years is climate change; that is, nuclear warfare resulting is a “nuclear winter” destroying most of the foundations of life on earth.

Fox News -- Chris Ciaccia
The  Doomsday Clock Moves to 100 seconds to Midnight

“Sharon Squassoni, Georgetown University professor and member of the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, noted how extreme the nuclear weapons situation has become. She cited the recent collapse of the Iran nuclear deal, the reemergence of North Korea's nuclear capabilities and the continued buildout of weapons from the U.S., Russia and China.”

Monday, January 13, 2020

China is Abolishing Religious Liberty

Fox News
China Imposes Harsh New Rules Governing Religious Groups

China is striking the "final blow to religious liberty" with new administrative measures set to take place in February with total submission to the Chinese Communist Party, according to a watchdog group.

"In practice, your religion no longer matters, if you are Buddhist, or Taoist, or Muslim or Christian," a Chinese Catholic priest told AsiaNews. "The only religion allowed is faith in the Chinese Communist Party."

The Far Center - China: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Demand Absolute Loyalty to Beijing at Chinese Universities Triggers Dissent.

Academic independence and freedom of thought are stripped from charters of three institutions, replaced by adherence to Communist Party rule

WSJ -- Philip Wen
China Draws Fire Over Academic Controls

Amendments to the charters of three Chinese universities that place 
absolute adherence to Communist Party rule over academic independence have provoked heated online debate and prompted some prominent academics to raise concerns amid a backdrop of tightening ideological control on China’s campuses.

References to academic independence and freedom of thought were stripped out of the charter of Shanghai’s prestigious Fudan University …. Substituted were references to “serving the governance of the Communist Party” and “dedication to patriotism” 

The Far Center - China: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

What's Wrong with FISA

Fox News
Judge Andrew Napolitano on What’s Wrong with FISA

The Constitution requires probable cause of crime to be demonstrated to a judge before the judge can sign a search warrant. That was the law of the land until FISA came along. FISA set up the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and it authorized the judges on that court to issue search warrants based on a lower standard of probable cause.

Isn't that contrary to the Constitution? Yes, it is. But a challenge has never reached a non-FISC federal court because the government has never used evidence that it admits was obtained from a FISC warrant in a criminal case for fear that a federal court will invalidate the FISA standard.

It gets worse.

Because FISC meets in secret, and because only government lawyers appear before it, we have a dangerous recipe: Secrecy and no defense counsel produce tyranny. That combination has the standard for issuing search warrants sliding even further down the slope of tyranny and absurdity.

FISA established probable cause of foreign agency as the standard that government lawyers must meet. That morphed into probable cause of foreign personhood. That morphed into probable cause of speaking to a foreign person. And that morphed into probable cause of speaking to any person who has ever spoken to a foreign person. All of this happened in secret.

The Federalist -- Mollie Hemingway 1/12/20
Spy Court Picks FISA Abuse Denier to Tackle FISA ABUSE 

The appointment of a former official who served as an apologist for the FBI signals that the court isn't particularly concerned about the civil liberty violations catalogued by Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

Monday, December 9, 2019

China and Cybersecurity

Gatestone Institute -- Gordon Chang
China adopts malicious cybersecurity rules

After all these "cybersecurity" rules are in place, no foreign company may encrypt data so that it cannot be read by the Chinese central government and the Communist Party of China. In other words, businesses will be required to turn over encryption keys.

Beijing's system, once implemented, will be so invasive that Chinese authorities will no longer need to ask foreign businesses to turn over data. Chinese officials will simply be able to take that data on their own.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Russia has indeed disrupted our presidential politics and democratic elections.

Hill says Russia wanted to "delegitimize our entire presidency" in 2016

The Washington Post announced within minutes of his inauguration that the “campaign to impeach President Trump has begun.”
Newt Gingrich -- Plot against the president is real and bigger than many think
Since the day Trump was elected president, Democrats have been formulating and executing the plot we have been watching unfold. After Trump won a massive electoral majority, Democrats started digging.

Make no mistake: This is not politics as usual. It’s a concerted effort by one political party, the Washington bureaucracy, and the media to overrule the American people.
Newt”s World -- Podcast 46 -- The plot against the president

Start with Transparency to Reform Health Care

Hospital Cost Transparency is a necessary first step in Affordable Health Care

“No one would buy a car without knowing the sticker price. Few would hire a house painter without getting an estimate — or several — first. Yet, hospital patients usually don’t learn the cost of their medical care until after they’ve been treated and receive a bill.”

“A new Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services rule could change all that by demanding price transparency of every U.S. hospital. By January, 2021, the federal agency will require hospitals to disclose charges for every service they provide, including cash discounts and rates negotiated with third-party payers, such as insurance companies. Additionally, they’ll be required to publish plain-language estimated costs for all associated charges for 300 “shoppable” services, such as joint replacements and other common treatments.”

What Does a Knee Replacement Really Cost?

The actual cost? $10,550 at most, including the physicians. The list price was five times that amount.

The Sanctity of Life, Abortions, and the Death Penalty in Ohio

Some of the Republican legislators in Ohio support both a ban on abortions and the death penalty.  If they were serious about the sanctity of life maybe they should consider abolishing the Death Penalty in Ohio.

Some Ohio Lawmakers Want to Ban Abortions and Charge Doctors with Murder.

One-third of Republicans in the state House of Representatives signed onto a bill that would ban all abortions in the state – and charge doctors who perform them with murder.

The proposed legislation, which has not been introduced, would almost certainly trigger a lawsuit. A federal judge temporarily blocked similar legislation in Alabama last month. 

Reconsidering the Death Penalty in Ohio

In 2007, 88% of the executions worldwide occurred in China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. This is the company that we keep…

Monday, November 25, 2019

Even the Wealthiest Support at Least Some Tax Reform.

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have agreed that they should be paying more taxes and Jeff Bezos could afford to pay out a 38 billion dollar divorce settlement.

Money -- Catherine Clifford
Wealth Number Ranking Shows Inequality
Indeed, in 2018, the world’s wealthiest 26 individuals had the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of the population, according to an Oxfam report published in January. That’s down from the 43 wealthiest people the year before.

St.Louis Fed
What Wealth inequality in America Looks Like
Wealth inequality in America has grown tremendously from 1989 to 2016, to the point where the top 10% of families ranked by household wealth (with at least $1.2 million in net worth) own 77% of the wealth “pie.” The bottom half of families ranked by household wealth (with $97,000 or less in net worth) own only 1% of the pie.

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Resistance from the beginning has been about trying to nullify the 2016 Presidential election by impeaching Donald Trump. They have spent 3 years not investigating a crime, but investigating to try and find a crime.  

Global News
Adam Schiff slams “charlatan in the White House” at California convention
Schiff urged Democrats to help “send that charlatan in the White House back to the golden throne he came from.”

Hamilton Wouldn’t Impeach Trump
Hamilton on impeachment
 “The prosecution of [such offenses] will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties, more or less friendly, or inimical, to the accused. In many cases, it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side, or on the other; and in such cases, there will always be the greater danger, that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.”

Attorney General Bill Barr on the Scorched-Earth War of Resistance

Daily Mail -- Ariel Zilber
Bill Barr says the Left is sabotaging the President by waging a scorched-earth war of resistance.

‘In waging a scorched-earth, no-holds-barred war of resistance against this administration, it is the left that is engaged in a systematic shredding of norms and undermining the rule of law,’ Barr told guests of the Federalist Society convention in the capital.
Barr, who was named Attorney General by Trump after the resignation of Jeff Sessions last year, accused the ‘resistance’ of ‘dangerous’ and ‘incendiary’ language by questioning the legitimacy of the sitting government.  ‘This is a very dangerous and indeed incendiary notion to import into the politics of a democratic republic,’ Barr said.

Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers the 19th Annual Barbara K. Olson Memorial Lecture at the Federalist Society's 2019 National Lawyers Convention

   Immediately after President Trump won election, opponents inaugurated what they called “The Resistance,” and they rallied around an explicit strategy of using every tool and maneuver available to sabotage the functioning of his Administration.  Now, “resistance” is the language used to describe insurgency against rule imposed by an occupying military power. It obviously connotes that the government is not legitimate. This is a very dangerous – indeed incendiary – notion to import into the politics of a democratic republic.  What it means is that, instead of viewing themselves as the “loyal opposition,” as opposing parties have done in the past, they essentially see themselves as engaged in a war to cripple, by any means necessary, a duly elected government.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

It is not just a do-nothing Congress, but one of total resistance and attempts by the Democrats to nullify the election of Donald Trump.

For three years there has been a cabal of the deep state, a “coup” to impeach President Trump. There have not been investigations of a crime, but investigations to find a crime.  This has been “the insurance policy” described by Peter Strzok. The accusations have included collusion, obstruction, racism, mental incompetence, and now abuse of power and possibly still the emolument cause.  The liberal press has promoted these narratives. Since impeachment is a political process the Democratic House of Representatives will bring articles of impeachment and these will be voted down by the Republican Senate.

   The double standards of the intelligence community investigations and the  political nature of the impeachment efforts will be highlighted by the Horowitz report right in the middle of of the hearings.

   In the meantime, there has been a do-nothing Congress with the Democrats resistance resulting in no significant action on infrastructure, USAMC tariffs, funding the budget, immigration policy, or border security.

   This will all play out in the Presidential election of 2020 which will again be very close and with significant consequences.

Fox News

Mark Zaid, one of the attorneys representing the intelligence community whistleblower at the center of the Democrats' ongoing impeachment inquiry, tweeted conspicuously in January 2017 that a "coup has started" and that "impeachment will follow ultimately."

Then, in July 2017, Zaid remarked, "I predict @CNN will play a key role in @realDonaldTrump not finishing out his full term as president." Also that month, Zaid tweeted, "We will get rid of him, and this country is strong enough to survive even him and his supporters."

RealClear Politics

Dershowitz said the effort to get Trump on any crime reminded him of Stalin's secret police chief Lavrentiy Beria who famously said: "Show me the man, and I’ll find you the crime."

"Whether you’re from New York or the middle of the country, you should be frightened by efforts to try to create crimes out of nothing," Dershowitz said. "The latest twist was people on television, particularly CNN and MSNBC, are saying that if the president or somebody else were to name the whistleblower in the Ukrainian situation that person would be guilty of a crime."

"Well, I spent the afternoon yesterday searching the federal criminal statutes from beginning to end. I couldn’t find the crime."

“First they made up collusion… I searched the statute books. There’s no crime of collusion… with a foreign country. After that, they said obstruction of Congress,” Dershowitz said. "In a desperate effort to try to find crimes [committed by] President Trump, they’re just making it up. And that means we are all in danger."

James H. Rutherford, M.D.

How do artificial intelligence, the American power grid, capital punishment, tariffs against autocracies, the theat of nuclear war, and medical ethics inter-relate.

   Artificial intelligence can be a great step forward, but it can also be used for nefarious purposes and complex computer systems can be vulnerable to attack.  

   The use of facial recognition and all of the tracking done through cell phones, social media, and financial transactions is being used in China to create a “personal social credit score.” The Chinese government can control where you live,work, and travel, where your children go to school, and limit your freedom of expression and religion. 

   The use of coercive power has led to the development of nuclear weapons and a foreign policy of mutual assured destruction.  A combination of brinkmanship and computer controlled response times for nuclear weapons measured in minutes now threatens not only self-destruction, but also the destruction of most of the foundations of life on earth. 

   An electromagnetic pulse attack (EMP) via a high altitude nuclear detonation or a cyberattack could destroy the Amercan electrical power grid. The loss of power, communication, and transportation would lead to total chaos and threaten survival.

   Most autocratic government use capital punishment or the threat of capital punishment to maintain control. This is the company that we keep with our continued use of the death sentence. 

   China, Russia, Iran, and their proxies in North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela have nothing in common except their common goal to overthrow the Western liberal tradition and make the world safe for autocracies.  The tariffs are thus about much more than the economy. 

   Max Weber described government as having a monopoly on coercive force. That coercive power can be used to suppress individual freedoms. Terror tactics, with the use the asymmetrical power of torture, killing, and destruction, can also be used also by anacrhists and non-governmental groups for political purposes.

   We now live in a pluralistic global community with access to weapons of mass destruction. There is a need to pay attention to diversity, but because we are very tribal there is also a need to recognize what we share in common.  Medical ethics are based on a respect for life, understood as a respect for our individual personal dignity and our common humanity. Medical ethics also understand human nature to be multidimensional which leads toward what has been described as a balance of consciousness, a reflective equilibrium, or a parliament of the mind. Medical ethics in this context provide some coherence to moral and political philosophy.  They are one source of an applied moral philosophy that can provide cross-cultural understanding and enable ethical dialogue. In a political context, medical ethics at least have the capacity for accommodation in a pluralistic global community without coercion or alienation.  


Fast Company

Amnesty International

The Far Center

The Far Center

Paper given at the World Congress of Philosophy in Beijing

James Rutherford, MD

Monday, October 21, 2019

Buyer Beware on China

Newt’s World Podcast -- Episode 38

American investors are being conned into investing in Chinese companies traded on U.S. stock exchanges that have misrepresented their values and over-inflated the stock price. 

Why Are American Investors Funding Chinese Fraud?

COMMENTARY -- By Christopher A. Iacovella
...diligence in China is impossible because the Communist Party won’t allow it. This roadblock should have immediately stopped the sale of these securities to America’s retail investors. But, in true Wall Street fashion, it didn’t because the ETF issuers desperately want access to the Chinese market and the index providers bowed to a regime that pressured them to increase China’s access to global capital. As a result, neither the index providers nor the ETF issuers know whether the Chinese companies in the indexes they sold are Enron-like frauds, arms of the Chinese military, or supporting human rights abuses

China has Printed more Money then any Country in History

TheSoundingline -- Kyle Bass
“The Chinese print more money than any other country has printed, in gross terms, in world history… Since 2001, they’ve printed roughly $30 trillion worth of RMB (Chinese Yuan). Think about that for a second. The debate here in the US, about the Fed, is: ‘Is the Fed balance sheet too big? Is it too large? It got to $4.5 trillion. Should it be $3.5 trillion?’ China has printed $30 trillion worth of RMB in a decade (18 years). The scale to which they have printed is… unprecedented. Can the Chinese run their stock market up? Absolutely. They control the price. They control the printing press. They control the police and they control the narrative. ...As we noted here, China has created over three times as much money supply as the US since 2008.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Global Education -- An Issue of Our Times

Learning English is the gateway to all of the free world-class educational materials on the internet. www.Top20English.com is a curated (hand-selected) directory for the best free videos and websites for learning English as a second language (ESL). There is also a program for learning one’s first 200 words of English using Google Translate in 103 different languages. There are separate directories for phonics, vocabulary, grammar, listening, conversation, free online courses, and testing options. Top20English on Facebook now has over 500,000 followers.
www.top20education.com has hand-selected and aggregated the best free videos and websites for over 50 high school and college topics. The materials for the for the first two years of medical school are free online at www.top20medicalschool.com. These are great free resources for both teachers and students.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

The tariffs are about more than the economy

The post WWII world order is now being challenged by the autocracies of China, Russia, and Iran and their proxies in North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela. What is telling is that China, Russia, and Iran have significant historical and Ideological conflicts, but these are superseded by their common bond of autocratic control of power. Their common desire is to replace the Western liberal tradition based on individual freedom and equality with a new type of world order that makes the world safe for autocracies and to create a new global balance of power.

China does not seek a direct military conflict with the United States, but seeks to use its technological advances to achieve a global economic hegemony. A control of infrastructure in communication, transportation. artificial intelligence, aerospace, biomedicine, renewable energy, and advanced weapons systems as well as a global leadership in manufacturing and trade all could be used to achieve a predominant military position as well. Iran and Russia also have the energy and military resources with which to make other countries dependent. Their common tactics also show a disregard for ethical constraints. This is demonstrated by their support of North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and terrorist groups as well as their own abuse of human rights and the persecution and extermination of opposition.

China -- The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Monday, August 19, 2019

Public Opinion is needed to support democratic change and the New York Times has its own agenda.

The New York Times spent two and a half years /trying to convince the nation that Donald Trump had colluded with Russia and accused him of being a puppet of Putin and guilty of treason.  The Mueller report debunked this partisan political narrative meant to overturn the election of 2016. They have instead now chosen to focus on calling President Trump a racist and focussing on the racial history of the country. 
The left will continue to focus on diversity rather than what we all share in common. Their perception is that this will be a winning strategy for the 2020 elections, which only time will tell. 

The Washington Examiner --  Bryon York
“So the New York Times has two big plans. One would be big enough: to focus on the universe of racism accusations that increasingly surround the president at a time when he just happens to be running for reelection. But the other is even bigger: to "reframe" American history in accordance with the values of New York Times editors. It's an extraordinarily ambitious undertaking for people in what used to be known more simply as the news business.”

AMgreatness.com -- Victor David Hansen
One of the weirdest characteristics of our global politicians and moral censors is their preference to voice cosmic justice rather than to address less abstract sin within their own purview or authority. These progressive virtue mongers see themselves as citizens of the world rather than of the United States and thus can impotently theorize about problems elsewhere when they cannot solve those in their own midst.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Biology Will Become the Primary Paradigm in this Century

Biology rather than physics will become the primary paradigm or model of thought
in this century.  This is in part due to the genome project and the influence that it will have on scientific research.  It will also, however, be a result of a much broader understanding of co-evolution and our interaction with the world in which  we live.

It will be driven by our need to incorporate human values and also our need to live in a pluralistic global community.  Biology will not become the new paradigm, however, until it develops a methodology and multidimensional understanding of human nature that is  broad enough  to include not only the life sciences, but also the other basic sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities.

Epistemology is the study of ways of knowing and biology is an epistemological process.  Unlike physics and chemistry, biology also relates to information, which in human biology is both genetic and cultural.  In evolutionary biology and in culture the transmission of information is also historical.  Life means the presence of intrinsic and functional values.  Biological diversity and complexity are based on information about how to compose, maintain, reproduce, and transmit life processes.  This is the type of self-affirming information that is lost in the reduction of biology to physics and chemistry.
“By natural selection we are not indifferent to our fate.”

There are emergent properties, synergies, and functional and cultural values that are lost in the translation to the basic elements.  By natural selection we are not indifferent to our fate. We are also, to some degree, capable of modifying our environment and transcending nature with our human individual and cultural values. It has been noted that life is a countercurrent to entropy and culture may be a countercurrent to natural selection.  

Ecology is the interaction between an organism and its environment.  Adaption is an ecological word. One could surmise an entanglement of a factual realism based on literal correspondence and a practical and sometimes metaphysical realism that incorporates our desire for both survival and well-being.  In moral terms these would include both a Socratic quest and a humanistic commitment.  The Socratic quest, however, can result in an unproductive and pedantic skepticism without a humanistic commitment.  A humanistic commitment, whether secular or religious, on the other hand, also needs to some degree to be open-ended and questioning to avoid what Eric Hoffer, after World War ll and in response to fanaticism of all kinds, described as the “true believer.”

What Medical Ethics Has to Offer Philosophy and a Pluralistic Global Community


Medical ethics are one applied example of a very useful four-part framework of analysis that brings some coherence to philosophy and the moral perspectives and categories. Historically medical ethics have been able to incorporate facts and values, nature and nurture, and faith and reason. They are a resource that can provide cross-cultural understanding and enable ethical dialogue. In the political context, medical ethics can provide a well-balanced source of affirmation, moderation, and accommodation in a pluralistic world. Medical ethics have a lot to offer at this particular time in history, in part, because they bring some coherence to philosophy and they have the capacity to accommodate pluralism in a global community without coercion or alienation. 

Power politics reaches an absurdity when there is a foreign policy of mutual assured destruction in which that power cannot be used without not only self-destruction, but the destruction of the foundations of much of life on earth. There is thus also a need for moral concepts of universal equality understood as a respect for individual personal dignity and our common humanity. It is the moral concept of universal equality that makes the accommodation of diversity and a wide variety of attributes possible. 

Medical Ethics 

As a physician I consider a respect for human life, understood as a respect for personal dignity and our common humanity, to be the primary moral principle of the medical profession. The Declaration of Geneva of the World Medical Association includes this principle of a respect for human life. A respect for human life is a moral assertion and at its foundation it is a self-affirmation and an affirmation of our common humanity. 

Modern medicine, however, also considers human nature to be multidimensional. The four general principles of medical ethics are:

Beneficence - (the Golden Rule to do unto others as you would have them do unto you or a concept of reciprocity)

Nonmaleficence - (the Silver Rule or don’t do unto others what you don’t want them to do unto you. This is based on the concept of reversibility and the adage of “do no harm.”)

Justice - (social justice)

Autonomy - (individual rights) 

These four principles recognize the individual, social, rational, and metaphysical / integrative dimensions of human nature. This is also an applied example of a very useful four-part framework of analysis that brings some coherence to moral and political philosophy. In this framework of analysis one looks at the individual as well as the social perspectives which are sometimes in tension. One also looks at the rational consequences of an action, but also at one’s duties and what are perceived to be the right principles for one’s actions, and these are also sometimes is tension. Indeed, most of the difficult or quandary questions in moral philosophy are not about good versus evil, but about choosing between two different perspectives of the good or between the lesser of two evils. This is a very useful four-part framework of analysis and not meant to come to a particular conclusion. Often the very difficult issues are settled by some agreed upon process that is felt to be at least fair and does justice to the ends, such as a vote by the people or a vote by a Supreme Court. 

Medicine from the beginning has also involved both a science and an ethic, both facts and values. Medicine considers both nature and nurture and it is descriptive, but also prescriptive. 

The Historic Origins of the Concept of Universal Equality 

This four-part framework of analysis, based on the multidimensional aspects of human nature, can also be applied to the several origins of the concept of equality in Western Civilization and their incorporation into United States Constitutional Democracy. 

The United States Declaration of Independence is written in the manner of Euclidean geometry. Its first moral assertion was that “all men are created equal,” and this put everything that followed, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in a moral context. We have struggled to live up to that ideal, but Jefferson, Madison, Tocqueville, Lincoln, and the great reformers, such as the women suffragettes and Martin Luther King, Jr., all considered the primary moral concept of United States Constitutional Democracy to be equality. 

There were several origins of the concept of universal equality in Western Civilization. Canon Law, Roman Law, English common law, and the social contract theory associated with constitutional law each had a different source of moral authority. Each was based on a different type of ethical system and each focused on a different aspect of human nature. 

Canon Law, for example, was based on the authority of God and was related primarily to what it understood to be the soul of man. It is based on a duty to “love God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” (Lev 19:18, Deut 6:5, Lk 10:27, Mk 12:29) The equal dignity and worth of all persons in this religious system derives from a belief that God not only created humanity, but that man and woman were also made in God’s image. It is based on a reverence for God and reciprocity towards one’s fellow man. Equality is intrinsic and not derived from one’s individual attributes, but from the relationship between God and humanity. 

Roman Law, on the other hand, incorporated significant aspects of natural law. This was a perceived natural moral order in the universe which could be understood by all persons because it was believed that all persons share a capacity for right reason, the ability to know right from wrong. It was also based on a concept of reversibility which requires reason, imagination and empathy. 

English common law in feudal society derived its moral authority from yet another source -- not from God or nature, but from social custom and tradition. It was based on the traditional rights and responsibilities in society. Traditional English rights progressively became a basis for communal solidarity. 

Finally, the social contract theory associated with constitutional law derives its moral authority beginning with the individual in a state of nature concerned primarily about his own safety and happiness. Its very premise is that not only are all free and equal in a state of nature, but that everyone is also endowed with natural rights which they are entitled to defend. It is based on what we now describe as human rights and a just claim to resist the violation of those rights. 

United States Constitutional Democracy incorporates and balances each of these four ethical systems as they apply to the several aspects of universal equality and the coercive powers of government. It incorporates each of these concepts of equality with a division and balancing of power into legislative, judicial, and executive branches. Religion and the freedom of speech and opinion are then separated from the coercive powers of government. 

Why Now? The “Nuclear Trap” 

The political tragedies of the 20th Century bore witness to the need for a respect for human dignity and our common humanity. In 1948, the United Nations, for example, thus passed The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Preamble begins, “Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” 

Since World War II, however, there has also been a concern that our technical progress has far exceeded our biological adaptive mechanisms and cultural moral structures. In evolutionary theory this is referred to as the “nuclear trap,” We already have nuclear defense policies of mutual assured destruction with response times measured in minutes. There is a need for a balance of power, but power politics also reaches an absurdity when that power cannot be used without not only self-destruction, but the destruction of the foundations of much of life on earth. Among the problems that threaten the the future of all peoples are those of nuclear or biological warfare, and the level of totalitarianism and terrorism which technology has made possible. It is difficult to imagine an adequate resolution of global problems without a concept of universal equality and a respect for human life and our common humanity. The advantages of cooperation are enormous; cooperation requires community; and to live in a community requires some moral constraint. We now live in a pluralistic global community. There is a need for moral constraint to build a more stable world order. 

Discord and alienation often result when one of our levels of understanding is emphasized to the exclusion of the others or when as a society we develop ideologies that relate to one of our concepts of metaphysics, nature, society, or the individual, but to the exclusion of the others. Singular theories that have based order and moral authority on only individual materials needs, society, reason, or a metaphysical/religious concept have often led to individual and communal tragedy. By focusing on even perhaps a particular truth, in a quest for certainty, they have too easily justified the use of coercive force or been the cause of alienation. The quest for certainty often seeks truth in only one parameter and then the end is often used to justify the means. 

Ideas and moral values are important, for our survival, well-being, and the enjoyment of individual freedom are not inevitable. They are contingent, to a large degree, on our willingness and ability as moral agents to place our free will within ethical constraints. It is indeed the self-imposed ethical and moral foundations of government that change mere obedience to coercive powers of government into a sense of consensual responsibility for a moral duty, a just order, the common good, and human rights. The coercive powers of government are also less needed when those moral values and ethical constraints are incorporated into the culture and the intermediary institutions, such as voluntary associations, education, law, medicine, economics, science, religion, and philosophy. 

From the perspective of medical ethics, a respect for personal dignity and our common humanity is the underlying foundation of the four principles of autonomy, justice, non-maleficence, and beneficence. This is one applied example of a very useful four-part framework of analysis This multidimensional understanding of human nature brings some coherence to moral and political philosophy.

Medical ethics are also one source of an applied moral philosophy that can enable cross-cultural understanding and ethical dialogue. Medical ethics have a lot to offer moral and political philosophy at this particular time in history because they have at least the capacity to provide a well-balanced source of affirmation, moderation, and accommodation in a pluralist global community without coercion or alienation.

American Exceptionalism

Most nations have been historically based on a common ethnicity, language, religion, or history. The recent Constitution of the Maldives, for example, grants citizenship only to Muslims. In contrast to this, Seymour Martin Lipset, in the summary chapter of his book American Exceptionalism (1996), quoted from my own work, Moral and Political Philosophy, noting that in the United States: “The free and equal individual with moral responsibility is the basis of communal solidarity.”

In April, 2009, Barack Obama missed the historical point of American Exceptionalism when he stated:
“I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.”
Jefferson, Madison, Tocqueville, Lincoln, and the great reformers such as the women suffragettes and the Rev, Martin Luther King, Jr. all considered equality to be the primary moral concept of our government. Our democracy incorporates a quantitative concept of equality with ‘“one person — one vote.” It is the Constitution with the Bill of Rights, however, that incorporates qualitative and substantive concepts of freedom and equality that protect the individual from the possible abuses of majority rule. Even the Constitution, however, can be amended by a super-majority of two-thirds of the Congress and three-fourths of the states. Concerning this ability of a super-majority to change the Constitution and the the Bill of Rights, James Madison thus wrote that he hoped the Bill of Rights “might acquire by degree the character of fundamental maxims of free government, and as they become incorporated into the national sentiment, counteract the impulses of interest and passion.”

It would help us to both understand and convey our values if our government officials, the media, and academics began to refer to our moral concepts as including both equality and freedom, our government as a constitutional democracy, and American exceptionalism as being based at least historically on the free and equal individual with moral responsibility as the basis of our communal solidarity. This was unique or "exceptional" at the time of our founding.

James H. Rutherford, M.D.