Sunday, April 30, 2006

Bad Medicine-S.1955

Thirty-nine state attorneys general have urged U.S. Senators to oppose S. 1955
a bill that would dramatically change the health insurance marketplace by preempting state-mandated benefit coverage, gutting important state consumer protections and permitting insurance carriers to sue states that do not adopt the new federal standards.
[Illinois AG Lisa] Madigan said that while the bill was allegedly designed to help small businesses provide some form of health insurance to their employees, the bill actually would allow all types of insurance plans (individual, small group and large group) to offer bare-bones policies that do not include services that Illinois law currently requires, such as mammograms and other types of cancer screening, supplies necessary for diabetes management, access to specialists, care for newborns and adopted children, mental health treatment and other important healthcare safeguards.

According to Madigan, the bill would also preempt important state protections against unfair claims handling practices, potentially eliminating the right of Illinois HMO beneficiaries to an external, third-party review of a claim denial. Without these important protections, consumers would lose meaningful rights to contest unwarranted denials of insurance coverage and might not obtain benefits to which they are entitled.
I do have a personal interest here. I am a member of the American Optometric Association, which strongly opposes this bill. This bill would preempt states' "any willing provider" laws, which would limit the public's access to healthcare services.

This bill would be a gift to insurance companies. It would wipe out state laws that have been enacted to protect the public. S. 1955 is a Republican bill that would expand the power of the federal government at the expense of states' rights. Huh.

I urge everyone to contact their Senators and tell them to oppose S. 1955. It's a bad bill for healthcare consumers, and it could come to the Senate floor this week.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Visit To The Border

Michael Totten continues to show the mainstream media what real reporting is all about, as he travels to northern Israel; to the border with Hezbollah-occupied southern Lebanon.
“How dangerous is it here, really?” I asked the [IDF] lieutenant.

“I say this to my guys every morning: Everything could explode at any moment. Just after I said it this morning a bus load of pensioners showed up on a field trip. An old woman brought us some food. It’s crazy. They shouldn’t be here. You shouldn’t be here.”

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Real George Allen?

The New Republic profiles the Virginia Senator.
He tells reporters he is more like Ronald Reagan than George W. Bush. But it's not Bush from whom Allen ultimately needs to distance himself. There is a graveyard of old Allen personas--unpresidential personas, downright ugly ones--that could threaten his political ascendance. Even his authentic self--or, rather, the man described by his own family--might prove just as great a liability. His identity crisis has created the most intriguing duel of 2008: Before he runs for president, George Allen has to run against himself.

Desperate Times For Hamas

Reuters:
The Hamas-led Palestinian government is weighing softening its stance toward
Israel to ease isolation but not without concessions from the Jewish state and the international community, Hamas officials said on Thursday.

They said ideas such as a 2002 Arab peace initiative, U.N. resolutions on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the Palestine Liberation Organization's national agenda -- all of which include recognition of Israel -- were on the table.
Does this mean that Hamas is going to be pragmatic and moderate its positions, or that it really needs foreign money?
One expert on Hamas said any softening would not involve a shift in ideology, but be a way to try to get Western aid restored to the
Palestinian Authority and heal a growing rift with President Mahmoud Abbas over government powers.
Question answered. Now, why do I think that this ploy will meet with at least some success?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Know Hope

Michael Totten arrives in Tel Aviv:
Arab countries have a certain feel. They’re masculine, relaxed, worn around the edges, and slightly shady in a Sicilian mobster sort of way. Arabs are wonderfully and disarmingly charming. Israel felt brisk, modern, shiny, and confident. It looked rich, powerful, and explicitly Jewish. I knew I had been away from home a long time when being around Arabs and Muslims felt comfortably normal and Jews seemed exotic.

First impression are just that, though. They tend to be crazily out of whack and subject to almost instant revision. Israel, I would soon find out, is a lot more like the Arab and Muslim countries than it appears at first glance. It’s not at all a little fragment of the West that is somehow weirdly displaced and on the wrong continent. It’s Middle Eastern to the core, and it has more in common with Lebanon than anywhere else I have been. The politics and the history are different, of course. But once I got settled in Tel Aviv I didn’t feel like I had ventured far from Beirut at all.

Feeling Tired?

The Glittering Eye is tired of many things:
I’m tired of Fortune 1000 CEO’s who make 100’s of millions of dollars when there’s not a doubt in my mind that an Indian CEO every bit as competent could be hired for a fraction of the cost.

I’m tired of companies like United and Ford where the employees hate their jobs while there are other companies (sometimes in the very same industries) like Southwest and Costco where the employees love theirs—even with lower salaries.

I’m tired of our leaders making nice with the cliques of thugs running the most horrible countries in the world because they think there might be a buck in it for an American company somewhere.

I’m tired of false equivalences. Neither we nor our government are as bad as the mullahs in Iran or the religious police in Saudi or the gangsters in the Chinese Politburo. George Bush has lots of shortcomings (where do I begin?). But he’s not a Hitler or a Kim Jong-Il and claiming he is just makes me angry. And tired. Clinton wasn’t as bad as his detractors made out, either.
(Via Donklephant).

Monday, April 24, 2006

Gas Pains

Word Around The Net has a thorough post that is worth reading.

Once A Fascist...

David Myatt, British neo-Nazi, becomes Abdul Aziz ibn Myatt, British jihadist:
“I spent several decades of my life fighting for what I regarded as my people, my race and my nation, and endured two terms of imprisonment arising out of my political activities.”

But his belief is now that: “The pure authentic Islam of the revival, which recognises practical jihad (holy war) as a duty, is the only force that is capable of fighting and destroying the dishonour, the arrogance, the materialism of the West . . . For the West, nothing is sacred, except perhaps Zionists, Zionism, the hoax of the so-called Holocaust, and the idols which the West and its lackeys worship, or pretend to worship, such as democracy.

“They want, and demand, that we abandon the purity of authentic Islam and either bow down before them and their idols, or accept the tame, secularised, so-called Islam which they and their apostate lackeys have created.

“This may well be a long war, of decades or more — and we Muslims have to plan accordingly. We must affirm practical jihad — to take part in the fight to free our lands from the kuffar (unbelievers). Jihad is our duty.”

Friday, April 21, 2006

Still Avoiding The "T" Word

It's business as usual from Reuters:
The Transportation Security Administration has warned aircraft owners and airport managers that Muslim extremists may be targeting private American jets and urged them to boost security.

"On April 13, 2006, a message posted in Arabic on an Internet forum explained how to identify private American jets and urged Muslims to destroy all such aircraft," the TSA said in an advisory issued on Thursday and obtained by Reuters on Friday.
If "extremists" destroy airplanes, and possibly use them as weapons, then what do terrorists do?

Media Watch-ABC

Do these people actually believe the garbage that they write? The sub-headline on an ABC article reads:
Lack of Funds and Support May Force Hamas to Return to Violent Ways
Is the writer suggesting that giving terrorists money will prevent them from being violent? If there is any doubt which side this writer is on, there is this:
For the last three weeks the IDF has fired about 4000 shells into Gaza in attempts to stop a handful of militants from firing the Qassams (homemade rockets that are mostly inaccurate) into Israel. (The last Israeli to be killed by a Qassam was in August 2005).

IDF shelling and other 'operations' have resulted in 30 Palestinian deaths, not including six children who were also killed. About 130 other Palestinians have been injured.
Just what is this supposed to mean? Should rocket attacks be ignored, because the weapons are inaccurate? Should Israel respond in kind, rather than using the forces at its disposal to strike back when attacked? I'd like to suggest to the writer that if the Palestinians stopped firing rockets into Israel, than just maybe the Israelis would stop their shelling. This is a pathetic attempt to blame the victim for fighting back. Nope, no bias at ABC.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Death And Defiance In Iraq

Mohammed at Iraq the Model has lost a family member to the violence plaguing his country.
The terrorists and criminals are targeting all elements of life and they target anyone who wants to do something good for this country…They think by assassinating one of us they could deter us from going forward but will never succeed, they can delay us for years but we will never go back and abandon our dream.
We have vowed to follow the steps of our true martyrs and we will raise the new generation to continue the march, these children of today are the hope and the future.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Insanity At The Boston Globe

An editorial in the Boston Globe has this to say about yesterday's suicide bombing in Tel Aviv:
It is in the nature of a vendetta that both sides try to justify as retaliation acts that otherwise would stand as sheer murder. The code of the blood feud assumes that every member of the enemy's camp may be slain in the name of avenging the honor of one's own clan, tribe, or nation. Whether innocent civilians are murdered by states, by their proxies, or by stateless terrorist groups, the threat is the same. The murders rip away at the civilized conventions that protect the innocent.
Does this in any way describe both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

The Purple Party

Is it time for a new political party?
Why can’t we have a serious, innovative, truth-telling, pragmatic party without any of the baggage of the Democrats and Republicans? A real and enduring party built around a coherent set of ideas and sensibility—neither a shell created for a single charismatic candidate like George Wallace or Ross Perot, nor a protest party like the Greens or Libertarians, with no hope of ever getting more than a few million votes in a presidential election. A party that plausibly aspires to be not a third party but the third party—to winning, and governing.

Let the present, long-running duopoly of the Republicans and Democrats end. Let the invigorating and truly democratic partisan flux of the American republic’s first century return. Let there be a more or less pacifist, anti-business, protectionist Democratic Party on the left, and an anti-science, Christianist, unapologetically greedy Republican Party on the right—and a robust new independent party of passionately practical progressives in the middle.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The (November) Contest

David Sirota on Democratic strategy:
For the first time in more than a decade, Democrats seem to have a shot at taking back Congress. But also for the first time in recent history, Congress is on the cusp of switching hands without a voter mandate. How is that possible? Because Democrats are only in the hunt thanks to gross Republican missteps--and they are going out of their way to make sure their potential election to the majority is about nothing. Call it the Seinfeld strategy.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Could You Blame Them?

The likelihood of American military action against Iran in order to prevent that country from producing nuclear weapons is currently a popular topic for discussion. An attack by Israel may be more likely, especially considering these latest comments from Iran's president:
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Israel a "permanent threat" to the Middle East that will "soon" be liberated. He also appeared to again question whether the Holocaust really happened.

"Like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation," Ahmadinejad said at the opening of a conference in support of the Palestinians. "The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm."
In a just world, this maniac would be condemned by the U.N. and by leaders all over the world. An Israeli response, whenever it might occur, would be fully justified by this blatant threat, which is not the first made by Ahmadinejad. Of course, in the world we actually live in, Israel would be condemned for an attack which might just be necessary for its survival.

In the fantasy world that Reuters inhabits,
the tone of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech was slightly more moderate than fiery rhetoric last year, when Iran's official IRNA news agency quoted him as telling a conference: "Israel must be wiped off the map."

Friday, April 14, 2006

Sinking Perceptions Of Islam

A CBS News poll reveals that only 19% of Americans have a favorable impression of Islam. That number was 30% in 2002. The CBS article about this poll has a curious first sentence (upcoming emphasis is mine):
Although Americans believe they are better informed about Islam than they were five years ago, a new CBS News poll finds fewer than one in five say their impression of the religion is favorable.
That's a big "although". Is CBS making an editorial comment that the American public's impression of Islam is mistaken, and due to a lack of information? Maybe they believe we are misinformed.

Is it possible that so many Americans have an unfavorable opinion about Islam because they really are better informed?

(Via LGF).

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Seder Too Long?

Michael Rubiner gives us a quickie service for Passover.
The story of Passover: It's a long time ago. We're slaves in Egypt. Pharaoh is a nightmare. We cry out for help. God brings plagues upon the Egyptians. We escape, bake some matzoh. God parts the Red Sea. We make it through; the Egyptians aren't so lucky. We wander 40 years in the desert, eat manna, get the Torah, wind up in Israel, get a new temple, enjoy several years without being persecuted again. (Let brisket cool now.)

Dutch Think Tank: Embrace Islam

Amazing. Jan Schoonenboom is a researcher for the Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR).
According to Schoonenboom "we should not be so spastic about the Sharia." It may be that the system leads to corporal punishment in countries like Saudi Arabia and Sudan, "but under the Sharia in Morocco, family law has been reformed, very much to the advantage of women's rights." The Sharia for Muslims is comparable to the Ten Commandments for Christians, in the researcher's view. "It is God's plan for human nature."
Schoonenboom advises "an adventurous foreign policy" for the Dutch government. "We must support the moderate Islamic powers much more, such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hezbollah in Lebanon, instead of secular movements without prospects in Muslim countries. We must talk to the Palestinian regime of Hamas. They are democratically elected. It is a terrorist movement, but so was Arafat's PLO. And the IRA in Ireland."
Schoonenboom denies that the WRR report is naive. It is a reaction of "a real fear of dangerous developments. Do we want to go on living in a land that is plagued by fear of attacks?
No, it's much better to surrender to fascists.

(Via LGF).

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Hersh Story On Plans For War With Iran

Joe Gandelman has a comprehensive roundup along with his own opinions on this big story.

John Kerry Speaks

It may have been a bad idea, at least according to Martin Peretz:
Kerry asserted that "the Koran, the Torah, the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles had influenced a social conscience that he exercised in politics." My God, what bullshit politicians feel obliged to utter! Or maybe the bullshit is already second nature, or even first. But since Kerry raised it, let me ask: What hadith of the Prophet influenced him the most, and why?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Memories Of Guantanamo

Teenagers who were released from Guantanamo Bay have fond memories:
Tracked down to his remote village in south-eastern Afghanistan, Naqibullah has memories of Guantanamo that are almost identical to Asadullah's. Prison life was good, he said shyly, nervous to be receiving a foreigner to his family's mud-fortress home.

The food in the camp was delicious, the teaching was excellent, and his warders were kind. "Americans are good people, they were always friendly, I don't have anything against them," he said. "If my father didn't need me, I would want to live in America."

Asadullah is even more sure of this. "Americans are great people, better than anyone else," he said, when found at his elder brother's tiny fruit and nut shop in a muddy backstreet of Kabul. "Americans are polite and friendly when you speak to them. They are not rude like Afghans. If I could be anywhere, I would be in America. I would like to be a doctor, an engineer _ or an American soldier."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Thoughts On Iraq

Thomas P.M. Barnett has some.
Saying we “lost the war” in Iraq is simply saying “I want a return to the old days of the Powell Doctrine,” which only got us 9/11 and the rising Occidentalism of the Salafis who think American “staying power” is defined by helicopters fleeing over the horizon with their tail rotors between their legs.
Read it all.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Imperial Ambitions

This is a must read. Efraim Karsh gives a history lesson on Islam and its empire-builders.

NBC Preparing NASCAR Sting

Michelle Malkin has the full story. It appears that NBC's Dateline is looking for Muslims to send to a NASCAR event in order to uncover anti-Muslim sentiment.

Monday, April 03, 2006

AP Bias Against The NY Mets?

Stay with me here. Here are two AP headlines from opening day:

1. Mets Get Break, Wagner Gets Save in Win
Okay, so the Mets only won because of a bad call by an umpire. In additon, they needed the game to be saved.

2. Braves Begin Title Quest by Beating L.A.
Here's an overwhelmingly postive headline about the Braves. Of course, you have to read a bit into the article to find out that the Braves had an 11-5 lead, and had to hang on to win 11-10.

This is an outrage!

Trashing The Koran

A European restaurant manager working in Bahrain has fled the country after accidentally throwing away copies of translations of the Koran.
A lawsuit against the manager has been filed by MP Mohammed Khalid Mohammed at the Public Prosecutor, which issued a warrant for his arrest.
Shaikh Mohammed said that Interpol should bring the manager to justice like any other criminal.

"I don't care where this manager is, the only thing that matters is for him to be brought back to the country to face the punishment he deserves," he said.

"This is a serious matter and the government shouldn't rest until this man is punished.

"He should have been arrested a long time ago, but everyone knows about the bureaucracy in this country.

"This person has made a mockery of Muslims and Islam and should get the severest punishment possible, but first he should be brought back.

"I am very angry and I will not breathe a sigh of relief until he is behind bars."

Women And Islam

Dr. Sanity:
I have said it before and I will say it again here: the treatment of women under Islam is not only the key to understanding the pathology of the culture, but also the key to developing an antidote to its most poisonous and toxic elements. Unveiling the women of Islam and eliminating their second-class status; empowering them in the oppressive Islamic countries where their individuality and self-expression has been crushed-- may cause a ripple effect that could eventually alter a family structure that currently encourages the development of generation after generation of dysfunctional and pathological men and women.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

This Is Hamas

Jerusalem Post:
Newly-installed Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar on Sunday reiterated Hamas's desire to eliminate Israel and replace it with an Islamic state.
"I dream of hanging a huge map of the world on the wall at my Gaza home which does not show Israel on it," Zahar said in the interview. "I hope that our dream to have our independent state on all historic Palestine (will materialize)."

This dream, he added, "will become real one day. I'm certain of this because there is no place for the state of Israel on this land."

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Thoughts On Cynthia McKinney

The circus that has followed Cynthia McKinney's little problem with the Capitol Police is, unfortunately, not at all surprising. Her supporters, mostly on the fringe of the left, rally around her and cry racism. The right excoriates her in a way that borders on racism (and sometimes crosses that border). McKinney's history does little to support her case, and it's good to see that some on the left recognize this:
I'm sorry, but what a pitiful excuse for a Democrat. Yes, let's cry racism and sexism and Democratism, I guess you'd call it, because a cop didn't recognize you and you decided to not even wear your member of Congress pin, or turn around when the cop called out to you while we're at war. Next time, it'll be better if the cop lets strangers without their pins just barge into the halls of Congress, bypass security, and oh blow the hell out of the entire building because they're afraid the person they stop might be - what? - a Democrat?

Like I said, the only thing more pathetic than McKinney is that NOW and the NAACP would lower themselves to attend this ridiculous farce of a press conference. Have they nothing better to do than pander to someone who belittles legitimate concerns about race and gender and political bias?

Pathetic liberal groups, and pathetic Democratic members of Congress. Their funders should cut them all off until they prove the worth of their continued existence.