Tuesday, September 12, 2023

The US House of Representatives & the US Senate Need Proxy Voting for Incapacitated Members

Of the three branches of the federal government, only one, the executive, has a mechanism to remove and replace an incapacitated officeholder. 

The 25th Amendment to the US Constitution provides a method for the president to self-declare that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office and provides, alternatively, that the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet may find that that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.

For public and non-partisan acceptance, it would take an amendment to the US Constitution for a similar mechanism in the case of the incapacitation of a member of the US Supreme Court.

However, the US House of Representatives and the US Senate each have the power without a constitutional amendment to avoid problems of incapacitated members by changing its procedural rules.

The advanced ages of many members and the close margins of the two major parties in control of the two houses of Congress are evidence of the need to address incapacitation in representatives and senators.  The recent speaking difficulties of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the ongoing health issues of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) demonstrate the urgency. 

Both branches of Congress need to change their rules to allow “Proxy” voting when a member is “Incapacitated,” physically or mentally.  Here is a proposed rule.

There should be two ways for Proxy voting to go into effect.  First, a member might initiate the process by signing a 30-day “Certificate of Incapacitated” to be delivered to the Speaker of the US House of Representatives or the Majority Leader of the US Senate.

Second, Proxy voting would be effective when a member is found to be Incapacitated by the member’s “Personal Physician” or an “Incapacitated Board.”  The Personal Physician or Incapacitated Board would deliver a 30-day Certificate of Incapacitated to the Speaker of the House or the Majority Leader of the Senate.

Under this proposed rule, members would designate a Personal Physician (and a substitute Personal Physician, should the original become unable to serve).  The Personal Physician would make a finding of Incapacitated for an initial 30-day period and renew the determination as necessary for subsequent 30-day periods. 

The Personal Physician would attest in the finding that he or she met with the member within five days of the finding and was mindful of, although not strictly bound by, the requirements for the appointment of a guardian in the state that the member represents.  The Personal Physician would have the “Certificate of Incapacitated” delivered to the Speaker of the House or the Majority Leader of the Senate.  The member could change his or her Personal Physician (and substitute Personal Physician) designee(s) any time he or she was not under a Certificate of Incapacitated.

Under this proposed rule, members would also designate another member of the US House of Representatives or US Senate to be their Proxy.  The Proxy would be able to vote for the member in committees or on the legislative floor when the member declares himself or herself Incapacitated or when he or she is so found by his or her Personal Physician or an “Incapacitated Board.”  The member could change his Proxy designee any time he or she was not under a Certificate of Incapacitated.

The proposed rule would require all members of the US House of Representatives or US Senate to designate a Personal Physician and a Proxy.  In the event that a member did not designate a Personal Physician and a Proxy within 10 days of taking the oath of office, the Speaker of the House or the Majority Leader of the Senate would act as the Proxy. Within 15 days of the beginning of the session the Speaker would appoint a House Incapacitated Board and the Majority Leader would appoint a Senate Incapacitated Board. 

Each Incapacitated Board would consist of three physicians to make Incapacitated decisions for members who had not designated Personal Physicians.  In making a finding of Incapacitated, each physician on the House or Senate Incapacitated Board would attest that he or she had met with the member within five days of the finding and was mindful of, although not strictly bound by, the requirements for the appointment of a guardian in the state that the member represents.  The House or Senate Incapacitated Board findings would have to be unanimous.

In the absence of a Personal Physician’s finding of Incapacitated, a request for the House or Senate Incapacitated Board to consider whether a member was Incapacitated would require the signatures of at least 25 percent of the US House of Representatives or US Senate.

Under a determination of Incapacitated, a member would continue to be paid and covered by benefits.

A determination of Incapacitated could be overturned by a majority vote of the US House of Representatives or US Senate.




Tuesday, April 25, 2023


 “Most researchers agree that keeping both your body and your mind active as you age probably benefits your brain,” said Ronald C. Petersen, the director of the Mayo Clinic’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.    https://www.washingtonpost.com/wellness/2022/11/10/crossword-memory-loss-brain-games/


On the issue of memory, the New York Times recently reviewed “The Complete Guide to Memory: The Science of Strengthening Your Mind” by Dr. Richard Restak, a neurologist and clinical professor at George Washington Hospital University School of Medicine and Health.  The review quoted Dr. Restak: “The point of the book is to overcome the everyday problems of memory.” https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/06/well/mind/memory-loss-prevention.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share&referringSource=articleShare


The article noted that the book features mental exercises, sleep habits and diet that can help “boost memory.”  According to the New York Times, Dr. Restak argues that “[m]emory decline is not inevitable with aging” and that bolstering all three types of memory--immediate recall, working memory, and long-term memory—is the “key to warding off later memory issues.” 


The review stated that Dr. Restak calls “working memory” the most critical type of memory and that he recommends that “exercises to strengthen it should be practiced daily.”


As examples of memory exercises, the Times noted that Dr. Restak suggests recalling lists of US Presidents or favorite sport teams players or authors, to engage your working memory, “maintaining information and moving it around in your mind.” 


On this topic, I have recently published “Memorize This” on Etsy.  It is a collection of stuff to memorize—get your working memory, working.  Fill in those crossword spaces.  Call out the correct Jeopardy answers.  See it at https://www.etsy.com/shop/notesonideas/


Here is the Table of Contents:





US Presidents


President, First Lady, Vice President


US States


States and Capitals


States Dates of Ratification and Admission


State Flowers


State Birds


State Nicknames


National Anthem – Star Spangled Banner


Abraham Lincoln – Gettysburg Address


Shakespeare Selections






  Julius Caesar


  Henry V


  Merchant of Venice


  As You Like It


  Romeo and Juliet


NFL Teams by City


American Football Conference


National Football Conference


National Basketball Association Eastern Conference


National Basketball Association Western Conference


National Hockey League Eastern Conference


National Hockey League Western Conference


American League Baseball


National League Baseball


About the Editor




Sunday, February 5, 2023

Personal News

Personal News

“Free Online College Courses,” a PDF information article, is the first posting to my new ETSY shop, Notes on Ideas, https://www.etsy.com/shop/notesonideas/

Notes on Ideas is a digital download shop where PDF information articles can be immediately downloaded after purchase.

I will still be offering photographs for sale in my original ETSY shop, BostunPhoto, https://www.etsy.com/shop/bostunphoto


I also have opened a store on Cafe Press, called Wry Photo Paintings, https://www.cafepress.com/wryphotopaintings

In the Wry store, I will be offering photographs that, in most cases, have been enhanced by photo software.

Please visit.



Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Long Covid 19

“Roughly 18 million American adults (7 percent of the adult population) have at least one symptom [of Long Covid 19] that has lasted 12 weeks after infection” according to an article October 31, 2022, in the Boston Globe. The most common symptoms people report are “fatigue, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, and muscle aches.” Some people with these symptoms say that their daily activities are limited; 4.5 million describe their limitations as “a lot.”

The recommendations of Katie Bach, a writer on the economic impact of Long Covid 19 and David Cutler, an economics professor at Harvard University, include expanded access to affordable treatment and more research. As to work issues, they urged accommodations where possible. For those workers, “whose jobs are physically demanding and ineligible for remote work,” for whom accommodations are not sufficient, they listed the following short-term disability proposals that Congress should address:

“[F]ederally funded short-term disability insurance to allow long COVID patients early in their disease to rest and, hopefully, recuperate; adjusted Supplemental Security Income/Social Security Disability Insurance guidance and expedited review processes for infection-associated illness patients, who need a different standard of “proof’’ of disability and for whom early rest may be crucial to recovery.”

Bach and Cutler also noted that the 24-month Medicare waiting period for those on disability should be waived.


Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Comfort TV

Brian Broome wrote an article Monday of this week (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/07/25/comfort-tv-golden-girls-escape/) about turning off “the strife” in our relentlessly cruel, crazy world. His solution is to watch comfort TV, and he listed his favorites.

He said: “And I watch them over and over. I long ago memorized all the dialogue and every twist and turn that these shows and episodes will take.”

Broome noted that, “You might even engage in this soothing ritual alone . . . .[because you] just can’t deal with the outside world. . . . We are supposed to ignore those nagging feelings of worry, angst and helplessness . . . .”

Broome’s article resonated with me because I also watch comfort and escape shows and also because this is also something that disabled people sometimes do. See my blog post of October 1, 2019: https://disabilitydisability.blogspot.com/2019/10/do-you-watch-tv.html

As I pointed out in that blog, taken from my book on how to apply for Social Security & SSI disability, claimants for disability benefits actually have to explain their “watching television” so as not to be denied benefits.

Social Security disability administrative law judges are trained, when questioning about memory issues, to ask claimants, “Can you follow the story on TV[?]”

Television comfort shows, as I have written, serve many purposes:

“In reality many people leave a television on as background noise or to offset other noise in an apartment building or on the street outside, as a way to block out intrusive thoughts and/or as company when lonely and depressed. Many people identify with the characters portrayed in television series—they become almost like real friends. Many people will doze off for brief periods when watching television particularly people who are in constant pain and people who are unable to sleep through the night. Perhaps a claimant may be able to concentrate on television programs, and that while watching TV, his pain is somewhat dulled.”

Monday, July 4, 2022

Vaccination vs. Non-Vaccination (Demographics vs. Psychological History)

With Covid 19 vaccination at issue, in this study, researchers attempted to identify “health messaging that is more empathic, respectful, and sensitive to the deep-seated needs of vaccine-hesitant and resistant audiences.”

Taking advantage of an ongoing longitudinal study (a 5-decade longitudinal birth cohort study, the New Zealand Dunedin Study), researchers uncovered personal psychological stories associated with vaccine intentions.

The researchers concluded that “demographic groups are poor proxies for people's actual long-held personal beliefs, preferences, cognitive abilities, and motivations that might feed into their vaccine intentions . . . .” [Emphasis added.]

The abstract stated:

“Vaccine-resistant and vaccine-hesitant participants had histories of adverse childhood experiences that foster mistrust, longstanding mental-health problems that foster misinterpretation of messaging, and early-emerging personality traits including tendencies toward extreme negative emotions, shutting down mentally under stress, nonconformism, and fatalism about health. Many vaccine-resistant and -hesitant participants had cognitive difficulties in comprehending health information. Findings held after control for socioeconomic origins. Vaccine intentions are not short-term isolated misunderstandings. They are part of a person's style of interpreting information and making decisions that is laid down before secondary school age.”

“Deep-seated psychological histories of COVID-19 vaccine hesitance and resistance”

https://academic.oup.com/pnasnexus/article/1/2/pgac034/6553423 [Accessed 07-04-2022]

Nicely Said

“. . . the court’s new originalist majority appears most of the time to be making history by inventing it, instead of by interpreting the law.”

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2022/06/clarence-thomas-gun-decision-bruen-anti-originalist.html (Clarence “Thomas’ Latest Guns Decision Is Ahistorical and Anti-Originalist” by Saul Cornell, June 24, 2022). [Accessed 07-04-2022; h/t Laurence Tribe/Brian DeLay on Twitter]