Monday, November 30, 2009

More on Expert Panels

From Doug O'Brien in Big Government.

Under Obamacare, new cost effectiveness panels will join the advisory panels like the Preventive Services Task Force. Instead of just making clinical recommendations primarily intended to improve the quality of patient care, they will make recommendations intended to also contain the cost of care. So when the cost effectiveness folks decide that mammograms are only indicated every two years and only for women over 50, that will become the reimbursement policy for Medicare and Medicaid, and the mandate for private insurance that must comport with coverage standards. Sure, you could pay higher premiums for more coverage or pay out of pocket if your and your doctor think it wise to have annual mammograms at age 40, but wait, we were told Obamacare would save us money and wouldn’t decrease our coverage.

So we have a federal panel of “experts” setting policies for medical treatment. That will hopefully prevent people from consuming unnecessary care that drives up the total cost of health care. (Never mind that defensive medicine caused by liability concerns are strictly off the table.) But we have just seen the knee jerk reaction of Congress and the White House to what is only a non-binding recommendation, where they instantly caved to public opinion and special interests (in the form of radiologists and the American Cancer Society) and disavowed the recommendations and assured American women that they could go right ahead and keep getting all the mammograms they want.

What will Congress do when the cost effectiveness folks decide that expensive colonoscopies should be denied to all but a limited group of patients? Is it possible that when voters start calling their offices that Congress will step in to protect access to limitless colonoscopies? Every time Congress or future administrations bow to pressure cost containment becomes more and more impossible.

We'll have political medicine. Talk about a mess.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Daniel Jonah Goldhagen: Worse Than War; Genocide, Eliminationism, and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity

I've made it to page 84 but probably will not finish Goldhagen's turning of the social scientist's eye on genocide here.
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's books are events. They stir passionate public debate among political and civic leaders, scholars, and the general public because they compel people to rethink the most powerful conventional wisdoms and stubborn moral problems of the day. Worse Than War gets to the heart of the phenomenon, genocide, that has caused more deaths in the modern world than military conflict. In doing so, it challenges fundamental things we thought we knew about human beings, society, and politics.

Drawing on extensive field work and research from around the world, Goldhagen explores the anatomy of genocide—explaining why genocides begin, are sustained, and end; why societies support them, why they happen so frequently and how the international community should and can successfully stop them.

As a great book should, Worse than War seeks to change the way we think and to offer new possibilities for a better world. It tells us how we might at last begin to eradicate this greatest scourge of humankind.
Not that I particularly disagree with his book. I just get numb from it. And what's worse than war is tangible in Chicago. We've become home for the trickles of survivors from the past century's slaughters. From the women I remember as a teenager in the garment factory with numbers on their forearms, my friends from Vilna every Christmas, to my barber in Elgin.
But of the devastation that drove the Bun family from Cambodia, they know nothing. That is how Bun prefers it, for now.

His choice is not unique.
Sometimes for now, not looking back is best... but don't doubt there are things worse than War. Chicago is filled with those who know.

James Corum: Surprising results from Afghanistan Debate

Corum tells the outcome to the motion: America cannot and will not succeeed in Afghanistan/Pakistan
Going into the debate, the sentiment was very much for the motion and for withdrawing from Afghanistan. The audience was polled before the debate and voted with a two to one margin in favour of the proposition (withdraw from Afghanistan): 48 per cent to 25 per cent. That is not surprising. New York is very liberal and New York University is far to the left. This is a part of the US where Obama won with over 60 percent of the voters and at New York University it was probably over 80 percent.

What was surprising was the poll after both sides presented their case for America’s Afghanistan strategy. The audience was evenly split, 45 to 43 percent against the motion - and supporting the reinforcement of the US effort. In short, a large part of an audience that leaned overwhelmingly to the left changed their minds and were won over to supporting General McChrystal’s Afghanistan strategy. If a very liberal New York audience can be won over, it means that one could win very strong support from the American public for a revised strategy that reinforces the effort in Afghanistan. However, such support can only be mobilized if the political leaders present their proposals in a clear and articulate manner.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Obama Salutes

CC chastises failures to google.

Made me recall Blackfive's recent post on Obama Salutes, and this link to the NYT. Reagan started the practice.....
Presidents have long been saluted, but they began returning salutes relatively recently. Ronald Reagan was thought to be the first, in 1981. He had sought advice on the matter from Gen. Robert Barrow, commandant of the Marine Corps. According to John Kline, then Mr. Reagan’s military aide and today a member of Congress from Minnesota, General Barrow told the president that as commander in chief he could salute anybody he wished. And so it began.

Mr. Reagan’s successors continued the practice, and I continued to be conflicted — believing that when it comes to salutes (and one or two other matters), presidents deserved to be cut some slack, but also feeling a little uneasy about the whole thing.

My ambivalence came to an end last week, when I saw a videotape of the president’s midnight trip to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where he had participated, very early that morning, in the “dignified transfer” of 15 Army soldiers and three Drug Enforcement Administration agents killed that week in Afghanistan. Mr. Obama stood ramrod straight and saluted as six soldiers carried the coffin bearing the body of Sgt. Dale Griffin of Indiana off a C-17 transport aircraft and into a waiting van. His salute, it struck me, was impeccable in every way.
I'm guessing after Obama announces his new Af-Pak strategy next week, I'll be Obama's defender here, and the anti-Obama emails in need of research we'll be flying the other way.

In defense of Empire

From an interview with Jan Urban,
What is your take on the Czech Republic today?

I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I am enjoying every day. On the other hand, I was born Czechoslovak and educated Czechoslovak. To people like myself, the Czech Republic was an entirely different concept. I did not like being defined by my language. I think that I am much more complicated. I want to be much more complicated. I believe that if you are looking for the most tragic mistake in European history it is acceptance of the concept of language-based nationalism.

Just yesterday I was giving a lecture in Vienna and said a hundred years ago Vienna was my capital. We only had one political system, one parliament, one currency, one transportation system. After two world wars and the expulsion of millions, are we any wiser?
As we get closer to 2014 and the centennial of the start of WW1 expect more on what was lost with multicultural i.e. multilignual Empires.

Boredom on the Earth

From The Prague Daily Monitor,
Prague, Nov 25 (CTK) - Former president Vaclav Havel yesterday gave the Vaclav Havel Library prize for the best student essay to Krystof Vosatka, from English College in Prague, for his work Boredom on the Earth.

Eighty-six secondary school students from throughout the country sent their essays to the first annual competition called Twenty Years of Freedom after Communism.
Havel said the time had come for a new and free reflection of yesterday's situation and a "deliberation on what we dislike and what should be."

Society needs a vision of its further development, Havel said, adding that it did not need a physical, but "a sort of existential revolution."

"Who else but you and your children should be its bearers," Havel said.

The competition focused on essay as this is the favourite genre of Havel, a writer and playwright.
Wonder what a YRUU manifesto of existential revolution would read? World does need one. Not sure we UUs or Liberals of any stripes the vessels.

Peace Making: The Dawn's Editorial on US Taliban Covert Talks

The closing paras from The Dawn's Editorial,
Ultimately, there has to be a negotiated end to the war. The issue is how to go about it. Do you talk to the enemy from a position of weakness, as Pakistan did during the Musharraf era and learned to its sorrow that this approach only served to strengthen the rebels? Or do you talk from a position of strength? To think that Hamid Karzai could help in this regard is to be naive.

Going by what Richard Holbrooke said on Monday, Washington has been in touch with Islamabad on the new AfPak policy yet to be unveiled. Pakistan has vital stakes in the outcome of the war.

All one hopes is that a phoney peace will not be achieved for the sake of a hurried withdrawal to placate an increasingly sceptical public in the West.

The Obama administration and those involved in back-channel probes must realise how dangerous it would be to quit Afghanistan in a manner that leaves the Taliban in a dominant position.
My emphasis on the final two paragraphs. I hoe this is not the route we're headed towards.

Also Bill Roggio on the Pak Army's hedging it's bets Pakistan hedges on Taliban as West seeks talks: Read more:
A perception of this wavering has also influenced the Pakistani military. An armed forces spokesperson claimed recently that the army had reached the headquarters of the Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan after a month-long campaign, and taken control of all key positions. The next step, under pressure from the US, was to have been to move into neighboring North Waziristan, the purported headquarters of al-Qaeda and the largest Taliban-led group, the Haqqani network.

However, the military, given the signals coming out of Britain, Italy, France and Canada, and the dithering of US President Barack Obama over sending more troops to Afghanistan, is not prepared at this point to extend its operations.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Abdul Rahim Wardak on Obama's long awaited and over elaborated decisions.

Al Jeezera via Bill Roggio's Long War Journal,
Abdul Rahim Wardak, Afghanistan's Defense Minister announced the Afghan Army would be expanded to more than 240,000 soldiers. Wardak described President Obama's process to decide on a US increase in troops as "long awaited and over-elaborated," which prompted laughter from the senior US generals in attendance, including General Stanley McChrystal.

Read more:
Long awaited and over-elaborated.... no way for a Commander-in-Chief to be seen.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Inside Surgery on the New Mammogram Guidelines

More on why I'm appalled with Expert Panels taking over practice in the name of reform: we'll get political medicine looking for budget fixes; and that's exactly what's happening with this latest goofy guideline. Via Inside Surgery
The federal government released new guidelines this week that recommend some startling changes in how women should be screened for breast cancer.

Current recommendations call for most women to get a baseline mammogram at the age of 40 and to get yearly screenings thereafter.

However, the 17 member panel of the United States Preventive Services Task Force (none of whom are oncologists or breast specialists) that made the recommendations now say that women who are of average risk of contracting breast cancer should begin regular, routine mammograms at the age of 50 and that yearly mammograms are not necessary. They are also recommending that women abandon the practice of self breast exams.

Should one infer then that if the panel is not recommending mammogram screening and not recommending self-exam, they are not recommending any diagnosis of breast cancer before age 50?
xp My Medical Informatics Blog

The Guarian: Climate sceptics claim leaked emails are evidence of collusion among scientists

Warmists uncovered, via The Guardian,
Hundreds of private emails and documents allegedly exchanged between some of the world's leading climate scientists during the past 13 years have been stolen by hackers and leaked online, it emerged today.

The computer files were apparently accessed earlier this week from servers at the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit, a world-renowned centre focused on the study of natural and anthropogenic climate change.

Climate change sceptics who have studied the emails allege they provide "smoking gun" evidence that some of the climatologists colluded in manipulating data to support the widely held view that climate change is real, and is being largely caused by the actions of mankind.

The veracity of the emails has not been confirmed and the scientists involved have declined to comment on the story, which broke on a blog called The Air Vent.
and here's The Air Vent.

We covenant with each other...

Ogre wrote at comment on 1:26 PM,
I believe that the understanding is that we covenant with each other, not with the church.
Yes, but, at my Church at least, there is a sense that those others includes everyone who has signed in the past and I suppose we could think of that as the Church.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sam Shem at HIS talk on Mammograms and Health Care

at HIS Talk today,
Re: mammograms. An independent body, after review and analysis of eight clinical trials, comes out with EVIDENCE that mammogram screening in under-40-year-olds has little or no value. What happens? The radiologists are up in arms and the Obama administration, in the person of DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, tells patients to just keep doing what you did last year. And they want to cut costs by a billion dollars over the next decade to pay for national health insurance? If anyone really believes this country will ever control the costs of health care, they are living in a dream land!”

Interesting, too, that nobody’s paying much attention to the study that showed that electronic medical records haven’t improved outcomes or cost so far, even as the government is spending lots of money on those, too. At least EHRs have potential. In an economy where jobs are dying out, politicians don’t have the guts to make serious change since the people unhappy with health care don’t have the clout of those who like it just fine. I cited statistics here years ago saying that health care was making a staggering economy look robust because of rising costs, profits, and high employment, all unsustainable in a global economy.
I suppose the question then is how confident anyone can be the government as opposed to markets can make Health Care a sustainable sector in the economy.

Considering the Gov's placing its bets on tick-box medicine, voodoo economics on preventive med, and EHR; I'm not very confident. I think it has to do with politicians guts and lack there of. Sarah Palin maybe? She has guts.

xp My Medical Informatics Blog

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Unitarian Universalist Conversions

Do we convert to Unitarian Universalism?

I would think not, and if I recall right, the two times I've signed books, the Minister told me I was not rejecting any past beliefs or traditions as part of my signing.

It seems for conversion, one would need to change from some past belief; and that's exactly what I was NOT doing when I signed. The Minister (I think) said so.

Now, if someone believes they are converting, we as a Church are not particularly equipped to find them wrong on it either. We don't see into the soul. It's not what were about.

So what exactly is happening when we covenant with a Church?

...we don’t hear much from the Awami Party folks other than their death notices.

Neo's comment over at Long War Journal about a party in Pakistan like minded westerners do ignore. Librealism's huge inexplicable failure to defend Liberal Islam.
It should be said that the Awami Party is not anti-Taliban, per se, but against the violence of both the Taliban and their government opponents. There movement is very much in the passive resistance activist mold, although they do not outright proscribe strict pacifism. The do tend to mirror western passive resistance movements in many ways. For much of the conflict they tended to be sympathetic to the plight of Pashtoons who joined the Taliban and blamed the Pakistani government and western powers as the ultimate source of conflict.

The Awami Party did rather well in regional elections only two years ago. At the time the Taliban intimidated them quite a bit, but found their votes temporarily useful for for drawing off PPP votes, and for the Awami stand against “America’s war” in Pakistan. Since then, the Taliban has declared open season on them and we don’t hear much from the Awami Party folks other than their death notices.

One would think the plight of the Awami Party would be an example to like minded westerners, but they are virtually invisible in the western press. I would tend to think of them as the canary in the coal mine for any prospects of pacifying the Taliban.
Here's Awami's blog.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The UUA Plan and Pelosi Care

I'm assuming this UUA Plan is going to turn out to be more expensive then the Gov Option, as will most Church's plans --if even available after reform-- so our Clergy and staff will be some of the first into the Government Option unless Churches chose to go beyond the 8% of salary costs (or whatever the threshold becomes).

I'd be worried. Especially if over 50.

Moral Superiority on Health Care Reform

Robert Samuelson calls out the hypocrisy: Obama's Malpractice,
The campaign to pass Obama's health care plan has assumed a false, though understandable, cloak of moral superiority. It's understandable because almost everyone thinks that people in need of essential medical care should get it; ideally, everyone would have health insurance. The pursuit of these worthy goals can easily be projected as a high-minded exercise for the public good.

It's false for two reasons. First, the country has other goals -- including preventing future financial crises and minimizing the crushing effects of high deficits or taxes on the economy and younger Americans -- that "health care reform" would jeopardize. And second, the benefits of "reform" are exaggerated. Sure, many Americans would feel less fearful about losing insurance; but there are cheaper ways to limit insecurity. Meanwhile, improvements in health for today's uninsured would be modest. They already receive substantial medical care. Insurance would help some individuals enormously, but studies find that, on average, gains are moderate. Despite using more health services, people don't automatically become healthier.
...and the closing thought,
If new spending commitments worsen some future budget or financial crisis, Obama's proposal certainly won't qualify as "reform," as the president and The Washington Post (also in its news columns) call it. A more likely verdict: self-inflicted wound.
Self-inflicted wound for America but Suicide for Democrats and that's exactly what Democrats will have done to their party with this bill.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Obama's bow to the Emperor

My Dad in Manila in 1945. He was a pretty mild guy and his whole family Midwestern isolationists, pretty much opposed to American involvement in WW2.

But once in he and my uncle and all the rest did their duty. My Dad met the Japanese in New Guina and then the Philippines. He would have been aghast at Obama's bow.

I expect many Chinese who remember and have been taught about The Rape of Nanking (caution graphic images) are aghast today, unlike my President or many Japanese who have memory-holed that atrocity.

There are things worse than war. The Chinese remember Japenese occupation and have taught their childred. Today's Japan has buried their history. Obama's bow will reverberate and anger. Just as it would have angered my Dad.

Footnote: Powerline with the fumbling response to the question on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. You'd almost think he didn't expect it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ehsan Fattahian was Hanged this Morning in Iran

via Mideast Youth,
According to several reports from Iran, Ehsan Fattahian was executed early this morning in Sanandaj Central Prison.

The mobilization of people to this effort has been amazing. Within a couple of days, over 10,000 people signed an online petition calling to stop the execution. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and several Iranian human rights organizations issued statements calling to halt the execution. However, from the moment the date of Ehsan’s execution was set, only the head of the Judiciary, Sadeq Ardeshir Larijani, could stop the execution. Larijani let this young man die despite being innocent.

Ehsan was executed for his political activities for the Kurdish minority in Iran. Despite being tortured, Ehsan refused to admit to participating in an armed struggle against the Iranian regime. His first sentence, exile for ten years, shows that the regime didn’t see him as serious threat. Only during the appeal process was he declared as an “enemy of God” and sentenced to execution. It is not only morally wrong to execute someone for wanting to be free, but it is also illegal, since international law makes it clear that all humans have the right to self determination.

This execution is just another tool in the Iranian regime’s mechanism of repression against the Kurdish minority. The Kurds in Iran are victims of arbitrary arrests, denial of education, denial of cultural expression, executions, raids, and denial of many other human rights.

For more information see

H/T Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi

Note his crime was being an enemy of God.

Also Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi's Planet Iran.

Peace Making: Rev Meeks takes on the Teachers Union

Not my favorite Chicago Preacher or Politican, but Obama's bombastic (and virulently homophobic) spiritual mentor takes on the Unions,
Less than one month after the brutal murder of Fenger High School student Derrion Albert during a gang brawl on 111th St. in Chicago shocked the world, one of Chicago's most powerful political and religious leaders, Reverend Senator James Meeks, shocked a group of teachers on Saturday, October 17, when he declared from the podium at the weekly meeting of Operation PUSH that the Chicago Teachers Union was a worse gang than the city's most notorious drug gangs.

According to one person who heard the show, Meeks said: "The BDs [Black Disciples] are not the biggest gang problem, the GDs [Gangster Disciples] are not the biggest gang problem, the Vice Lords are not the biggest gang problem, the Four Corner Hustlers are not the biggest gang problem... The biggest gang problem in Chicago is the Chicago Teachers Union." Others who were present during the PUSH event confirmed that he made such remarks.
Fellow bloggers JB Powers and Pat Hickey note,
Rev. Meeks has never drawn a stupid breath. He calculates his fiery passionate words to sum up a cold conclusion – only victory pay dividends.

He knows who the losers are in this rhetorical and political dog fight – he has strongly identified them – The Teachers Unions and their iron grip on gutless politicians.

Now, is the time for Rev. Senator James Meeks to sit down with people who can make genuine School Choice a reality – Let’s go up the Reform Food Chain. Senator Meeks ought to cross into the wilderness of School Choice to meet those people who have battled for the cause.

1. Legislators for School Choice
2. Chicago Charter School Leadership
3. Catholic and Private School Leadership
4. Editorial Boards – of all persuasions
5. National Media –with School Choice credentials
6. Secretary Arne Duncan and then his boss

Senator Meeks may yet prove to be the most important School Reform Warrior in Illinois.
I'd argue Peace Warrior too if Meeks pulls this off.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bill Ardolino: Iraq: The raveling

Ardolino via Threat Matrix. Sistani's role is interesting. If Iran's regime falls and it's Sistani's subtle influence found there too, History is going to judge what we did in Iraq very differently than many would think now.
It was vital to permit open candidate lists in order to maintain Iraq's popular trend towards nationalism, elevate truly qualified leaders, and break sectarian party strangleholds on government ministries. Notably, open list elections were supported by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and opposed by some of the major Kurdish and Shia Arab parties, the latter of which are often portrayed in the media as running Iraq at Iran's behest.

The open source news reports are typically light on detail, but this looks to be a milestone essential to Iraq's potential stability and political progress.

* The title is of course a light poke at Thomas Ricks' "Iraq, the Unraveling" series of blog posts, which I believe focus on negative aspects of Iraq without due consideration of what is working, when it works. Today it looks as if something important worked.

Read more:

Footnote: Bill Ardolino refers me here: See the subhead "A Split in Shia Islam" here:

Health Care Reform: Death Panels and Stupak's Life Panel

Gosh, you empower the Federal Government to make Medical Decisions between Patient and Provider and you'll get a lesson in be careful what you ask for: Health Care Reform Restricts Abortion Coverage

You want a single payor, you're going to get the universal protocols. As technology takes us deeper into bio-ethical tangles expect more decisions by a Federal Gov poorly equipped to adjudicate.

Capt. Russell Seager RIP

Capt. Russell Seager, 51, of Racine, Wis., was a psychiatrist who joined the Army a few years ago because he wanted to help veterans returning to civilian life, said his uncle, Larry Seager of Mauston.

Capt. Seager’s brother-in-law, Dennis Prudhomme, said Capt. Seager had worked with soldiers at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Milwaukee who were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He also taught classes at Bryant & Stratton College in Milwaukee, said Mr. Prudhomme, who is married to Capt. Seager’s sister.

Larry Seager said his nephew’s death left the family stunned, especially because the psychiatrist only wanted to help soldiers improve their mental health.

“It’s unbelievable. He goes down there to help out soldiers and then he …” Mr. Seager said, his voice trailing off. “I still can’t believe it.”

Russell Seager is survived by a wife and 20-year-old son.

Mr. Prudhomme said Capt. Seager was scheduled to go to Afghanistan in December and had gone to Fort Hood for training.

“Our family has suffered a great loss and we are all devastated,” Capt. Seager’s sister, Barbara Prudhomme, said in a statement read by her husband. “We are very proud of the way Russell lived his life, both personally and professionally, and our hearts go out to all the victims and their families.”

–Associated Press
The others listed here. Also this on Madison's 467th Combat Stress Control Army Reserve Detachment.

Sermon Titles in the News Letter and Pick-and-Chose Faith

Mike writes,
Many ministers preach from the Lectionary, and their sermons are based on the lesson of the day. As one moves leftward along the theological spectrum, ministers rely less on Scripture and may preach about secular topics such as the environment, politics, or other topics of civil life.

Thus, liberal churchgoers often wish to know what the sermon will be about, and are accommodated by sermon titles that are published in the newsletter and on the website. This is not a good practice. Such a policy creates a “pick and choose” faith – I like that topic so I’ll be there, I don’t like that one, so I’ll stay home.
The Chicago Tribune used to publish titles in advance, and I suppose people probably did pick-and-chose. And yes those choices yielded pick-and-chose faiths....

.....but that was still faith....

...and now?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Bosnia's Iron Lady "Biljana Plavsic" freed

via CNN
Former Bosnian Serb leader Biljana Plavsic was released from prison in Sweden Tuesday, after serving two thirds of an 11-year sentence for crimes against humanity.

Maybe if it had been Swedes in this picture or Scandinavians as corpses, Plavsic would have been hung instead.

Bosnia in the 90s made an interventionist of me. I had traveled through Bosnia in the 70s as a student and had fond memories of the people. I was stunned the world watched in the 90s as they were rapped and butchered.

It's sleazy and dangerous for politicians to be scoring points against Islam in a continent where Bosnian Muslims were being put in concentration camps until America intervened. --an advisor to Jordan's King Abdullah quoted page 28 of The Economist of Feb 11, 2006 speaking on the cartoons of the Prophet. My emphasis added.

...until America intervened.

Peace Making: 20 Years After the Wall

For all my participation in Peace Making talks, I rarely hear any talk of the great progress the world's made. A link to Der Spiegel's page marking 20 Years After the Wall, and a photo of Kohl, Bush, and Gorbachev at a recent symposium marking German reunification. The fall of a Communist Empire and the liberation of millions without a shot fired. Not a typical 20th Century Moment. Worth asking what went right?

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Major Hasan: Birmingham Star: Extremist religious leader educated killer major

Army's got some explaining to do about how a Psychiatrist like this can be out there "counseling" the troops. Via Brenda at RBO:
The Sunday Telegraph has reported the sole suspect in the massacre of 13 fellow US soldiers in Texas earlier this week was linked with radical imam, Anwar al-Awlaki, who was a “spiritual adviser” to three of the hijackers who attacked America on September 11, 2001.

Major Nidal Malik Hasan attended al-Awlaki’s Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Great Falls, Virginia, in 2001 at the same time as two of the September 11 terrorists.

Anwar al-Awlaki is an American-born Yemeni scholar who was banned from addressing a meeting in London by video link in August because he is accused of supporting attacks on British troops and backing terrorist organizations.

A fellow Muslim officer at the Fort Hood base in Texas, the scene of Thursday’s horrific shooting spree told the Telegraph that Hasan’s eyes used to light up when he mentioned his deep respect for al-Awlaki’s teachings.

Relatives said that the death of Hasan’s parents, in 1998 and 2001, turned him more devout.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Bishop Conley on HR 3962

Bishop Conley writes,
With more than 620 Catholic hospitals serving the public around the United States, hundreds of Catholic medical clinics and shelters, and even a few Catholic-affiliated medical schools, Catholics have a keen interest in healthcare reform. That interest isn’t new. It’s rooted in experience, including the experience of trying to help people with little or no health insurance at all. For decades, the U.S. bishops have pushed for an overhaul of our nation’s healthcare industry and the way it delivers its services. Why? Because the Church sees access to basic health care as a right and a social responsibility, not a privilege.

But Catholic support for the general principle of reform does not bind anyone to endorse a specific piece of legislation. God gave us brains for a reason, to think; and we need to use them, because the practical and moral problems we face on the way to good healthcare reform are as formidable as the goal is admirable. This is why the U.S. bishops’ conference has tried so diligently for the past three months to work with Congress and the White House in seeking sound compromise legislation. As of November 5, all those efforts have failed.

The bishops have a few simple but important priorities.
Read the rest here

Note the Bishop's fourth point:

Fourth—and this is so obvious it sometimes goes unstated—any reform must be economically realistic and financially sustainable. We can’t help anyone, including ourselves, if we’re insolvent. If we commit ourselves to health services, then we need to have the will and the ability to really pay for them. That’s a moral issue, not simply a practical one.

Bankrupting ourselves with an insolvent program is a moral issue. I'm not a bit fan of framing public policy in moral binaries, but HR 3962 takes us down an awful economic path.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Saeed Valadbaygi: We're live blogging from Tehran Streets

From his facebook,


At the moment at 8:00: all roads heading towards embassy have been closed and Basij and Anti riot forces have been placed
هم اکنون ساعت 8:00 ، تمام خیابانهای منتهی به سفارت بسته شده و نیروهای ضد شورش انتظامی و بسیجی در محلها مستقر شدند
8:30:Basij and sepaah with ful power Surrounded the Russian embassy
سفارت روسیه توسط نیروهای بسیجی ویگان ویژه به شدت محافظت میشود
8:35:Reports from Shiraz of 50+ security vehicles, some equipped, stationed behind radio/TV centre
تعدادی از نیروهای موتور سوار بسیجی در اطراف صدا و سیما و مراکز حساس شیراز در حال گشت زنی هستند
8:45:Plain clothes are severly overlooking the streets. The plain clothes have been palced at pre-designated with cameras at many major roads
نیروهای لباس شخصی به شدت خیابانها را زیر نظر دارند.در بسیاری از خیابانهای اصلی نیروهای لباس شخصی با دوربین در مکانهای از پیش تعیین شده ای مستقر شده اند
8:46: There are report of heavy anti riot police and plain clothes present in 7 tir
گزارشها حاکی از حضور پر تعداد نیروهای ضد شورش در میدان هفت تیر است
8:50:Metro will not stop at 7Tir,darvaze dolat and Taleghani
مترو در ایستگاههای 7تیر،طالقانی و دروازه دولت توقف ندارد
8:55:Tehran’s streets are quite inflame but yet calm. The primary core of people has not formed yet
خیابانها ی تهران به شدت ملتهب اما آرام است.هنوز هسته های اولیه مردم تشکیل نشده است
9:00:"Yare Dabestani" song and "down with dictator" chant can be heard from some Tehran's school since the first hours
سرود یار دبستانی و مرگ بر دیکتاتور از حیاط برخی مدارس تهران در اولین ساعات شنیده میشود
***Security guard with the order of Tehran’s prosecutor attacked the house of Mohsen Amoozadeh, member of “ Setade Javanane 88" Pro Khatami and Mousavi and after arresting him, searched his house for two hours.
ماموران امنیتی با حکم دادستانی تهران به خانه محسن عموزاده خلیلی از اعضای ستاد جوانان 88 حامی خاتمی و موسوی حمله نموده و ضمن بازداشت وی، به مدت دو ساعت به تفتیش خانه پرداختند
9:20:Students of Sanati Sharif are moving towards Tehran's university
دانشجویان دانشگاه شریف به سمت دانشگاه تهران در حرکتند
9:30:Helicopter are flying across Tehran's skies and the roads are still field with Anti-riot and security police.people have not fully formed their groups yet
هلی کوپترها در آسمان تهران در حال گشت زنی هستند اما خیابانها همچنان پر از ماموران ضد شورش و امنیتی است.هنوز تجمع قابل توجهی از مردم شکل نگرفته است
9:45:Tehran univesity students are leaving the univesity by chanting "down with dictator" and "it will be the same until AN is in power " Clashes are happening around the university. People are slowly joining
خروج دانشجویان از دانشگاه تهران با شعار مرگ بر دیکتاتور و تا احمدی نژاده هر روز همین بساطه. درگیریهای پراکنده اطراف دانشگاه مشاهده میشود.تعداد مردم رفته رفته بیشتر میشود

Could a UU Minister play the Priest's part on "V"?

From yesterday's Chicago Trib on last nights premier of "V",
Imagine this. At a time of political turmoil, a charismatic, telegenic new leader arrives virtually out of nowhere. He offers a message of hope and reconciliation based on compromise and promises to marshal technology for a better future that will include universal health care.

The news media swoons in admiration -- one simpering anchorman even shouts at a reporter who asks a tough question: "Why don't you show some respect?!" The public is likewise smitten, except for a few nut cases who circulate batty rumors on the Internet about the leader's origins and intentions. The leader, undismayed, offers assurances that are soothing, if also just a tiny bit condescending: "Embracing change is never easy."

So, does that sound like anyone you know? Oh, wait -- did I mention the leader is secretly a totalitarian space lizard who's come here to eat us?
And this on the character of Father Jack,
A handful of dissidents hold out against the rapturous reception given the V's. Some are simply uneasy, such as the youthful priest Father Jack (Joel Gretsch, "The 4400"), who sharply criticizes the Vatican's embrace of the V's as divine creations: "Rattlesnakes are God's creatures too."
So, why a Priest and not a skeptical UU Minister? Couldn't that work in a show like this? No believable?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

First came the Christian Scientists; then the Chiropractors

Another reason why I'm not game on Government run Health Care. The special interests lobby the expert panels about just what's Medical, and we'll end up with care-protocols as complex as the Chicago City Zoning Ordinances.

From Today's Chicago Trib: Should prayers be covered? Christian Scientists want 'spiritual care' as part of health bill.
As the health care battle moved forward last week, Phil Davis, a senior Christian Science church official, hurriedly delivered bundles of letters to Senate offices promoting a little-noticed proposal in the legislation requiring insurers to consider covering the church's prayer treatments just as they do other medical expenses.

Critics say the proposal would essentially put Christian Science prayer treatments on the same footing as science-based medical care by prohibiting discrimination against "religious and spiritual health care."

While advancing below the radar as debate focuses on larger issues such as the "public option," the Christian Scientists' proviso has begun to stir controversy because it rekindles debate on three long-running and sensitive issues: freedom of religion; the constitutional separation of church and state; and the question of whether faith-based approaches should be treated as equivalent to science-based medicine.
The Chiropractors aren't far behind.
Former House Majority Leader Gephardt Joins Chiropractic Cause

The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) has retained Gephardt Government Affairs, headed by former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, to reinforce its efforts to ensure that any national health care reform legislation passed by Congress includes the services of doctors of chiropractic on par with other physician services in respect to access, reimbursement and scope of practice.

ACA hired Gephardt Government Affairs to enhance its current lobbying efforts and to underscore the necessity of including chiropractic care without limitations and on an equal level to other health care providers. Gephardt, one of Washington’s most respected and well-known political figures, has been a strong proponent of the chiropractic profession. His company is one of Washington’s top public affairs groups.

“The American Chiropractic Association continues to work to achieve professional and patient-focused goals in the health care reform debate,” said ACA President Rick McMichael, DC. “We are maximizing our effectiveness by having Dick Gephardt and his team on the side of doctors of chiropractic. This is a critical time in the ongoing health care reform debate, and ACA is taking this significant step forward to ensure chiropractic is rightfully included.”

“Chiropractic care is a valuable and cost-effective service,” said Dick Gephardt. “I am pleased to be working with the American Chiropractic Association to ensure that doctors of chiropractic and chiropractic services are treated equitably in the reformed health care system.”

ACA, based in Arlington, Va., is the largest chiropractic organization in the United States. The association provides lobbying, public relations, professional and educational opportunities for doctors of chiropractic, funds research, and offers leadership for the advancement of the profession. ACA promotes the highest standards of ethics and patient care, contributing to the health and well-being of millions of chiropractic patients.

Gephardt Government Affairs was founded in 2007 by former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and specializes in helping clients develop political and public policy strategies. Learn more at:
Cost effective is the key word. These interventions have a lot of appeal to budget strapped legislatures because they're cheap. Get them into the Gov-Approved-Expert-Panel-Evidence-driven-protocol and that's how Medical care will be delivered with Health Care reform. It'll be your only choice.