Saturday, November 24, 2007

Massachusetts Faces a Test on Health Care

NYT reported As the Democratic presidential candidates debate whether Americans should be forced to obtain health insurance, the people of Massachusetts are living the dilemma in real time.
This the plan both Hillary and Romney are proposing
A year after Massachusetts became the only state to require that individuals have health coverage, residents face deadlines to sign up or lose their personal tax exemption, worth $219 on next year’s state income tax returns. More than 200,000 previously uninsured residents have enrolled, but state officials estimate that at least that number, and perhaps twice as many, have not.
And since insurance will cost a lot more than $219 they may not.
Those managing the enrollment effort say it has exceeded expectations. In particular, state-subsidized insurance packages offered to low-income residents have been so popular that the program’s spending may exceed its budget by nearly $150 million.
That again is to be expected. The ones signing up are the subsidized ones, and even that subsidy is busting the budget.
But the reluctance of so many to enroll, along with the possible exemption of 60,000 residents who cannot afford premiums, has raised questions about whether even a mandate can guarantee truly universal coverage. Additional concerns have been generated by projections that the state’s insurers plan to raise rates 10 percent to 12 percent next year, twice this year’s national average.
This to be expected. If they have to appeal to people spending their own money, they keep prices low, but if it is a government mandate, there is no incentive to keeping prices low.
That would undercut the plan’s secondary goal of slowing the increase in health costs.


Class Stagnation

Comments from Left Field whined Not that this comes as a surprise, exactly. Anybody who’s been paying attention knows that the American middle class has been losing ground for a quarter century because the wealth has all been moving to the top while the responsibility has been moving toward the bottom.
As I commented over there, "There is nothing to prevent people who wants to make the effort to improve themselves from climbing up the ladder. People just want to sit and whine for the government to do it for them."
But there are a couple of surprises in the Pew Research study released this week. The first is that the study was a collaboration between 5 different think tanks, three conservative, one liberal (the ratio you’d more or less expect to find), and one non-partisan - Pew, that led the study. And there you have it - the bogus Bushian concept of the “Ownership Society” in all its furtive glory applied to blacks by a black historian of black culture. Of all people, shouldn’t he know better? I mean, the signal that property ownership doesn’t mean all that much
If you would rather pay for an appartment or a rent house, and not have those payments go to home ownership, you have that right. Nothing forces you to be smart.
in the face of racism and classism is in the very “subprime mortgage debacle” he references. The main targets of the scam were the poor, the old, the sick, and minorities, preferably all four at once.
No only the ignorant to stupid to read the contract, or who came from a public school program that did not teach them how to read.
“Home ownership”, whether getting or keeping, was the bait for the trap, the goat tied to a tree that entices starving villagers into rifle range to be slaughtered by their enemies.
Anyone that signed a sub prime mortgage without reading it tied themselves to the tree.
Home ownership is not, of course, a Bad Thing. But neither is it the automatic panacea for racism and classism absent other criteria like economic and social justice. As a stepping stone out of poverty and/or inequality, it is in fact more or less useless without them. It may work, it may not. Its efficacy is determined by circumstances, not itself, the most important of which is probably social mobility - the openness of any society toward upward economic movement by the lower classes, and - as the WaPo’s Eugene Robinson wrote in yesterday’s column, that door now carries a “Closed” sign.
Closed only to those not willing to expend the effort to improve themselves.


Global warming NOT Hell on Earth

The Australian reported As it is, the temperature projections (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) does come up with in its fourth and latest report range from a rise in the global average temperature by the year 2100 of 1.8C for its lowest emissions scenario to one of 4C for its highest emissions scenario, with a mean increase of slightly under 3C. The average annual temperature in Helsinki is less than 5C. That in Singapore is in excess of 27C, a difference of more than 22C. If man can cope with that, it is not immediately apparent why he should not be able to adapt to a change of 3C when he is given 100 years in which to do so.

And that assums they are right. If the weatherman has difficulty giving an accurate 5 day forecase, what makes you think a UN agency can accurately predict the weather 100 years from now?


Problems with Canadian Health Care

Pajamas Media reported Once a proud supporter of Canada’s social safety net, Heather Cook now wouldn’t mind seeing a little more free-market competition in her country. Maybe then she wouldn’t have to wait over a year to take her son to the doctor’s office.
You get what you pay for. And you wait for what you don't pay for. And in Canada, you can't even pay for it and get it when you need it.
Canadians are proud of their social safety net. Growing up in the True North, Strong and Free, I was never afraid of not being able to afford to go to the doctor and I knew that there were programs out there that magically took care of the sick and poor. Though I’ve never had to take social assistance, family members of mine have. But it wasn’t until I started paying taxes that I started to hold the system to higher expectations. And it wasn’t until I started getting some real world experience that I realized that in some ways the system is very broken.

If US health care is broken due to its inaccessibility, Canadian health care is broken because it’s too accessible. Imagine that US health care has ten doors with different admission costs. The line up for the ‘free’ door is long, but there’s still a steady stream at the other end where the entry is so expensive that there’s a sign overhead reading “if you have to ask - you can’t afford it”.
But there are also those other eight doors in the middle.
In Canada, there’s one door. And, lucky you, there’s no admission. Well, unless you count the provincial health care fees you have to pay if you make more than the accepted poverty level. And those pesky taxes.
We have the taxes too, but we can go to the doctor when we are sick. It just is not free.
Health care costs make up, on average, 40 percent of a province’s budget. About 73 percent of all health care is paid for by public funding (taxes), while the rest is paid for with supplementary insurance packages (paid for by the individual) and employer-based programs, or direct from the consumer’s pocket. But that one door? It has a heck of a lineup. Across Canada the words “wait times” are buzz words. They show up in campaign promises, opposition criticism and anywhere you find sick people. Provinces have developed “wait time registries.” What’s the median time for an MRI in Alberta? Almost 9 weeks. And for about 360 of the 18,839 people served in a 90 day period, their wait was up to a year.
I was in the hospital, and about to be discharged, and something came up the doctor wanted an MRI on. The wait for the hospital MRI was going to be several hours so I asked him to just discharge me, and I would get one on an outpatient basis. I called, and got an appointment for one the next day. I arrived, and did not even have to wait. They gave me the films and I hand carried them to the doctor.
Granted, if you arrive in the ER in desperate and dire need of an MRI, you are rushed to the front of the line. The rest just wait. Not knowing, wondering, waiting.


Aceh invites tourists to see Sharia law in action

Adnkronos reported Tourism authorities in Indonesia's Aceh province hope that its practice of Sharia or Islamic law will attract visitors. "We invite international tourists to visit Aceh to observe how an Islamic community lives and how the Islamic code of Sharia is applied," said Cipta Hunai, an Aceh tourism official, in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).
Gee, it sounds like a fun-filled vacation. You may not get to drink, or listen to music, or many other things, but you get to see women stoned to death, and people beheaded. Doesn't that sound like fun.
Muslim-devout Aceh is the only province in Indonesia allowed to apply Sharia law. However observers say that the application of Sharia in the province has harmed the rights of the poor and women.
And also the rights of middle class and rich and men. That is it's purpose.
Hunai said that Sharia allowed for the development of a peaceful and secure community in Aceh which would be appreciated by tourists. He said that Sharia law in Aceh was a tourist attraction because it allowed foreigners to see a reality, that perhaps, they did not already know. "Here the tourists can visit many mosques
One might be interesting, but what is to be gained by seeing many?
and see how a community lives under laws based on the Koran," he said. Hunai denied that public canings - which are allowed and used to punish some crimes - could shock and discourage non-Muslim tourists.
As long as they were not caned.
"We don't believe that this can scare anyone. In any case, the punishments are carried out to correct Muslims who have made mistakes," he said. "But one must remember that these punishments are only applied to Muslims and here even the religious minority is respected," he added.
Can Christians build Churches, and talk publically about their faith, or must they do that in secret, and pay a big tax besides?
Corporal punishment is carried out in Aceh for crimes including the sale or consumption of alcohol, gambling or meeting a person of the opposite sex, that is not your husband, wife or family member, in a private place.
Any of the fun stuff.
According to data provided by local tourism authorities, there has been an increase in the number of visitors to Aceh, the province that was the epicentre of the massive 26 December 2004 tsunami which killed some 170,000 people and left thousands of others homeless. In 2005, just over 4,000 international tourists
Probably to see if they could help those hurt by the tsunami, not for the pleasure of seeing Sharia in action.
and 320,000 Indonesian tourists visited the province
Hopefully they learned enough about life under Sharia that they will not extend it to the rest of the country.


Communism (and Socialism) do not work

NYT reported When the central government in Beijing announced an ambitious nationwide campaign to reduce energy consumption two years ago, officials in this western regional capital got right to work: not to comply, but to engineer creative schemes to evade the requirements.
Attention Hillary: Communism (and Socialism) do not work
... It was a cat-and-mouse game grimly familiar to Chinese officials, who have a long tradition of spearheading ambitious nationwide campaigns that are all too often thwarted at the local level, partly because local priorities clash with national ones.
As Thomas "Tip" O'Neill—a longtime Speaker of the House in the U.S. Congress—once declared "All politics is local"


Friday, November 23, 2007

Iraqi school guard and wife beheaded

Christian Today reported Three suspected al Qaeda militants, including two sisters, beheaded their uncle and his wife, forcing the couple's children to watch, Iraqi police said on Friday.The militants considered that school guard Youssef al-Hayali was an infidel because he did not pray and wore western-style trousers,
And he should lose his head for that? And what did his wife do?
they told police interrogators after being arrested in Diyala province northwest of Baghdad.


Indian court houses bombed

Jerusalem Post reported A series of near-simultaneous explosions ripped through courthouse complexes Friday in three north Indian cities, with blasts going off in Lucknow, Varanasi and Faizabad, killing at least ten lawyers and injuring dozens more, officials said.
I wonder if they have been reading Shakespeare's Henry VI, part 2 ('The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers')
... But Padam Kriti, a spokesman of the Uttar Pradesh Bar Association, said the state's lawyers had decided earlier this year not to defend any terror suspects, adding "it looks like" that decision may have been behind blasts.
No I guess it is just if they won't defend terrorists, let's kill more people, and maybe they will change their minds. Ahh, isn't the "Religion of Peace" peaceful.


Don't make me touch the Jooozzzz

Yahoo! News Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations decided Friday to attend next week's U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace conference. But the Saudi foreign minister said he would not allow "theatrics" such as handshakes with Israeli officials, insisting the meeting make serious progress.
They don't want to shake hands with the Israelis because they might get Jewish cooties on them.


Woman sentenced over religion

News24 reported An Egyptian Christian woman has been jailed for three years because her father's brief conversion to Islam 45 years ago made her legally a Muslim while her official papers said she was Christian.

Supposedly there is no compulsion in religion but it apparently does not extend to allowing a Christian to remain a Christian if her father converts to Islam for a short period while she is a child.
... Nagui Ibrahim left home in 1962 when daughter Shadia was two years old, converted to Islam and took on the Muslim name Mustafa. Three years later, after a reconciliation with his wife, he moved home and re-converted to Christianity. In the process, he got someone to forge his documents back to say he was Christian.... Authorities detained Ibrahim and also informed his daughter that on paper, Ibrahim was still a Muslim and therefore so was she. Children in Egypt automatically take their father's religion. Under Egyptian law it is also illegal for a Muslim woman to marry a Christian man.
Apparently even a woman that does not know she is a Muslim, and who has no intention of being a Muslim.
She was charged with "providing false information on official documents" for stating she was Christian on her marriage certificate in 1982.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Crazy in Seattle

FOXNews reported Seattle public schools want a side of political correctness served on your Thanksgiving table.

Washington state's largest school district sent letters to teachers and other employees suggesting Thanksgiving should be "a time of mourning" for its Native American students. The memo, from Caprice Hollins, the district's director of Equity, Race & Learning Support, included an attachment to a paper titled "Deconstructing the Myths of 'The First Thanksgiving.'"

It includes 11 "myths" disputing everything from what was served at the first Thanksgiving (no mashed potatoes or cranberries) and who provided the food to the nature of the Pilgrims themselves: Myth No. 3 calls the colonists "rigid fundamentalists" who came to the New World "fully intending to take the land away from its native inhabitants." But what got the Internet abuzz was Myth No. 11: "Thanksgiving is a happy time." It was followed by "Fact: For many Indian people, 'Thanksgiving' is a time of mourning ... a bitter reminder of 500 years of betrayal returned for friendship."
That is insane. Indians were not always treated well, but it has nothing to fo with the first Thanksgiving.
Hollins would not defend her letter,
How could she, it is indefensible.
but David Tucker, a spokesman for the district, said it was an effort to be sensitive to minorities in Seattle schools.
And make them feel victims.
"One of the core elements in education is not just understanding your own life history but also those of others," he said.
Even if you have to lie about it.
John blogged It is hard to understand how Seattle's "director of Equity, Race & Learning Support" thinks she is doing Native American children a favor by urging them to adopt a resentful, oppositionist attitude toward the Thanksgiving holiday.

DRJ blogged Pretty depressing stuff. Instead of Pilgrim and Indian costumes, I guess they expect kids to dress in sackcloth and ashes at Thanksgiving.

Gateway Pundit blogged The Leftist apologists controlling the school district in Seattle want the local kids to understand that Thanksgiving is really about the slaughter of American Indians. We are all bad people.

Dr Weevil blogged I think there’s room for wide agreement here. Surely men and women of good will can agree that Thanksgiving has always been a day of mourning . . . for turkeys.


Israel, the hope of the Muslim world

I can't imaging most Muslims would agree, but an article in Asia Times Online posits a very interesting thought: The state of Israel embodies the last, best chance for the Islamic world to come to terms with the modern world. Received wisdom in the foreign ministries of the West holds that relations with Muslims would be ever so much easier without the annoying presence of the Jewish state, which humiliates the Muslim world. Just the opposite is true. The Israeli presence in the territory of the ancient Jewish commonwealth, on land that once belonged to the Dar al’Islam, offers the single, slender hope for the future of the Muslim world, precisely because it constitutes a humiliation.

The premise of Western policy is to tread lightly upon Muslim sensibilities. That is an error of first magnitude, for Muslim sensibilities are what prevents the Islamic world from creating modern states.
Do they want modern states? Or do they want to revert to the eight century?
Islam cannot produce the preconditions for democracy in the Western sense out of its own resources.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Increase punishment to rape VICTIM

CNN reported The Saudi Justice Ministry Tuesday issued a "clarification" of a court's handling of a rape case and the increased punishment -- including 200 lashes --meted out to the victim. The case, which has sparked media scrutiny of the Saudi legal system, centers on a married woman. The 19-year-old and an unrelated man were abducted, and she was raped by a group of seven men more than a year ago, according to Abdulrahman al-Lahim, the attorney who represented her in court. The woman was originally sentenced in October 2006 to 90 lashes. But that sentence was more than doubled to 200 lashes and six months in prison by the Qatif General Court, because she spoke to the media about the case, a court source told Middle Eastern daily newspaper Arab News.
Is speaking to the media a crime? What punishment does the reporter get?
Al-Lahim told CNN his law license was revoked last week by a judge because he spoke to the Saudi-controlled media about the case.
Good thing he did not speak to Western media. They might have cut off his head.
In a statement issued to CNN, Saudi Ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir said, "This case is working its way through the legal process. I have no doubt that justice will prevail."
It certainly hasn't yet.
The Justice Ministry acknowledged in its statement Tuesday that the attorney is no longer on the case, saying he was punished by a disciplinary committee for lawyers because he "exhibited disrespectful behavior toward the court, objected to the rule of law and showed ignorance concerning court instructions and regulations."
An intersting way to deal with lawyers that don't understand court instructions. Disbar the and more than double the punishment to their clients.
It added that the permanent committee of the Supreme Judicial Council recommended an increased sentence for the woman after further evidence against her came to light when she appealed her original sentence.
What was the further evidence?
The judges of that committee also increased the sentences for the perpetrators based on the level of their involvement in the crime. Their sentences -- which had been two to three years in prison -- were increased to two to nine years, according to al-Lahim. The ministry also said it welcomes constructive criticism and insisted that the parties' rights were preserved in the judicial process.
Just not their backs.
"We would like to state that the system has ensured them the right to object to the ruling and to request an appeal," the statement continued, "without resorting to sensationalism through the media that may not be fair or may not grant anyone any rights, and instead may negatively affect all the other parties involved in the case." The statement also described the progress of the woman's case and explained that it was heard by a panel of three judges, not one judge "as mentioned in some media reports."
So there are three bad judges in Saudi Arabia.
It said the case was treated normally through regular court procedures, and that the woman, her male companion and the perpetrators of the crime all agreed in court to the sentences handed down.
How many more lashes would they have gotten if they had not agreed?


One year old suicide bomber

The Australian reported Investigators from Ms Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party said yesterday they believed the bomb, which killed 170 people and left hundreds more wounded, was strapped to a one-year-old child carried by its jihadist father.
I am sure the child is in heavan, and I hope the father is in the deepest part of Hell.
They said the suicide bomber tried repeatedly to carry the baby to Ms Bhutto's vehicle as she drove in a late-night cavalcade through the streets of Karachi. "At the point where the bombs exploded, Benazir Bhutto herself saw the man with the child and asked him to come closer so that she could hug or kiss the infant," Investigators were reported as saying. "But someone came in between and a guard felt that the man with the child was not behaving normally.
She is lucky to have such good protectors.
So the child was not allowed to come aboard Benazir's vehicle." Ms Bhutto is said to have told investigators she recalls the face of the man who was carrying the infant. She has asked to see recordings made by television news channels to try to identify the man.


Clinton mocks Obama's childhood experience

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES reported Hillary Rodham Clinton ridiculed Democratic rival Barack Obama on Tuesday for his contention that living in a foreign country as a child helped give him a better understanding of the foreign policy challenges facing the U.S.
It depends on the country. If he was living in Europe, I agree, but Barack Hussein Obama lived in a Moslim country. The only question is whether he learned enough about the threat we face, or whether that experience would cause hi to go too easy on the Islamoterrirists.
‘‘Voters will have to judge if living in a foreign country at the age of 10 prepares one to face the big, complex international challenges the next president will face,’’ Clinton said. ‘‘I think we need a president with more experience than that, someone the rest of the world knows, looks up to and has confidence in.’’


Unindicted co-conspirators

Washington Times, America's Newspaper reported The Council on American-Islamic Relations is seeking help from House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. to pressure the Justice Department to change the group's status as a co-conspirator in a terrorism case.
I believe CAIR should be removed as an "indicted co-conspirator" and named specifically as an indicted co-conspirator
CAIR officials recently met with Mr. Conyers, Michigan Democrat, and then wrote a letter asking him to lobby the new attorney general on behalf of the group, and to hold hearings.

CAIR is among several hundred Muslim groups listed as unindicted co-conspirators in a recent federal terrorism trial in Dallas into activities by the Holy Land Foundation Inc., a group linked to funding the Palestinian Hamas terrorist group. The trial recently ended in a mistrial and prosecutors have said they plan to re-try the case.

Scott blogged Is there anyone who thinks that bringing political pressure to bear on the United States Attorney's Office to influence its handling of the Holy Land Foundation case might be...improper?

Robert blogged CAIR seems to be following a risky course here. Conyers himself may be pliant, but if there are hearings, some information may come out that CAIR doesn't want to see coming out.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Swift Kids videos

23/6 has several cute Swift Kids videos: Hillary Clinton/6, Barack Obama, and John Edwards. If that seems too right wing to you, view The World through Bush Colored Glasses.


The Politics of Planting

Hat tip to Hot Air for coming up with a video illustration of something I posted about earlier: Why did so many of the “undecided voters” who asked questions at last week’s Democrat debate turn out to be either anti-war, labor, race politics or Democrat party activists?