Monday, August 31, 2009

POOR AMERICA ON SOCIALISM

Star Parker is an African-American syndicated columnist.

BACK ON UNCLE SAM’S PLANTATION
By Star Parker

Townhall.com
February 9,2009

Six years ago I wrote a book called Uncle Sam's Plantation. I wrote the book to tell my own story of what I saw living inside the welfare state and my own transformation out of it.

I said in that book that indeed there are two Americas -- a poor America on socialism and a wealthy America on capitalism.

I talked about government programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS), Emergency Assistance to Needy Families with Children (EANF), Section 8 Housing, and Food Stamps.

A vast sea of perhaps well-intentioned government programs, all initially set into motion in the 1960s by Democrats, that were going to lift the nation's poor out of poverty.

A benevolent Uncle Sam welcomed mostly poor black Americans onto the government plantation. Those who accepted the invitation switched mindsets from "How do I take care of myself?" to "What do I have to do to stay on the plantation?"

Instead of solving economic problems, government welfare socialism created monstrous moral and spiritual problems -- the kind of problems that are inevitable when individuals turn responsibility for their lives over to others.

The legacy of American socialism is our blighted inner cities, dysfunctional inner city schools, and broken black families

Through God's grace, I found my way out. It was then that I understood what freedom meant and how great this country is.

I had the privilege of working on welfare reform in 1996 which was passed by a Republican controlled Congress.

I thought we were on the road to moving socialism out of our poor black communities and replacing it with wealth-producing American capitalism.

But, incredibly, we are now going in the opposite direction.

Instead of poor America on socialism becoming more like rich America on capitalism, rich America on capitalism is becoming like poor America on socialism.

Uncle Sam has welcomed our banks onto the plantation and they have said, "Thank you, Suh."

Now, instead of thinking about what creative things need to be done to serve customers, they are thinking about what they have to tell Massah in order to get their cash.

There is some kind of irony that this is all happening under our first black president on the 200th anniversary of the birthday of Abraham Lincoln.

Worse, socialism seems to be the element of our new young president. And maybe even more troubling, our corporate executives seem happy to move onto the plantation.

In an op-Ed on the opinion page of the Washington Post, Mr.Obama is clear that the goal of his trillion dollar spending plan is much more than short term economic stimulus."

This plan is more than a prescription for short-term spending -- it's a strategy for America 's long-term growth and opportunity in areas such as renewable energy, healthcare, and education."

Perhaps more incredibly, Obama seems to think that government taking over an economy is a new idea. Or that massive growth in government can take place "with unprecedented transparency and accountability."

Yes, sir, we heard it from Jimmy Carter when he created the Department of Energy, the Synfuels Corporation, and the Department of Education.

Or how about the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 -- The War on Poverty -- which President Johnson said "...does not merely expand old programs or improve what is already being done. It charts a new course. It strikes at the causes, not just the consequences of poverty."

Trillions of dollars later, black poverty is the same. But black families are not, with triple the incidence of single-parent homes and out-of-wedlock births.

It's not complicated. Americans can accept Barack Obama's invitation to move onto the plantation. Or they can choose personal responsibility and freedom.

Does anyone really need to think about what the choice should be?

WHY WE NEED HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM 3

I have been getting a lot of flack from some of my conservative friends for posting two New York Times op-ed columns on health care by Nicholas Kristof. Kristof, not to be confused with conservative columnist William Kristol, is an unabashed liberal. I strongly differ with him on many of his positions.

Near the end of his "Until Medical Bills Do Us Part" Times column, Kristof wrote: So, for those of you inclined to believe the worst about President Obama, think it through. Suppose he is indeed a secret, foreign-born Muslim agent who is scheming to undermine American family values while killing off as many grandmothers as possible.

I took considerable offense to that paragraph. To me it sounds like Kristof thinks all of us who oppose Obama’s health care reform package, or parts of it, belong to the genre of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other far-right pundits who have spread a bunch of out and out lies about Obamacare that were started by those who hate the president no matter what.

Kristof did not need to insert those comments in an otherwise excellent column. The Republican opposition keeps emphasizing that 90% of Americans are happy with their health insurance. Those happy Americans haven’t yet experienced a catastrophic illness within their families, one in which the insurance industry limits how much and what kind of treatment they will pay for. Those happy Americans haven't yet been denied health insurance because of pre-existing conditions.

I am not going to apologize to my conservative friends for posting Kristof’s columns. His comments about the shortfalls of health insurance hit the nail right on the head! For years, I have maintained that our health care system needs to be overhauled. There is something terribly wrong with a system in which a catastrophic illness can wipe out a family’s life savings even if they were insured.

So, just because someone is an unabashed liberal, like Kristof and the just departed Ted Kennedy, I am not going to disregard his views if he appears to be right.  

SWINE FLU WARNING FOR SENIORS

Every day I read five Israeli newspaper ".coms" because, as most of you know, I am truly concerned about the Jewish state’s long-term survival.

What I have learned in the last few weeks is quite alarming, but has nothing to do with Israel’s survival. It has to do with the swine flu.

Our health experts have told us over and over that it is the young who need to be vaccinated against the swine flu because they are the ones most likely to die from this disease. Only when there is a sufficient supply of vaccine for everyone that is not a senior citizen, can us older folks get vaccinated, and that includes those of us with diabetes, asthma, and other debilitating conditions.

Well guess what? There have been quite a few swine flu deaths in Israel, an alarming number for a tiny nation. And these deaths have been occurring mostly among Israelis in their 50s and older.

So let that be a warning to all seniors. Just because the deaths for swine flu in this country have been largely among younger people, the Israeli experience tells us that our government’s policy of limiting vaccinations to the younger population may constitute a death sentence for many seniors when the expected flu epidemic hits us later this fall.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF TESTOSTERONE

Last June, agents of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC), together with officers of the Fort Worth police department, raided a gay bar [My blog, "Police Pride Vs. Gay Pride" (6-30-09)]. That raid led to a shit-storm of protests from the gay community. TABC has now fired two agents and their supervisor. And to be politically correct, they also disciplined two mid-managers.

Here is what a retired TABC official told me about the disciplining of the TABC personnel:

"Allegedly, the agents were clad in special event uniforms. Sort of a black para-SWAT outfit emblazoned with POLICE in large letters. They had been working a special event earlier in the evening and so the operation plan called for the special attire.

However, after the event was over they stood around with the local police and thought, since we are already outfitted for trouble lets go to some problem spots and enforce the law. I don't know what kind of history the gay bar had but it probably should not be taken into consideration.

The Sergeant should have known that things were going to get out of hand. Testosterone was flowing like a gusher in West Texas. No operation plan was filed and I don't believe that TABC allows special event uniforms on routine inspections. So when the agents and local police entered the gay bar dressed like SWAT, the customers may have thought the Village People had arrived. Apparently things went downhill from there.

I don't agree that the lieutenant and captain should have been suspended. They were home in bed. In my opinion, the suspension was just a reminder that they are being watched from HQ."

I suspect that the lieutenant and the captain were disciplined to appease the gay community. In any event, what happened to the TABC agents involved in the gay bar raid should serve as a warning to all cops. When acting under the influence of testosterone, think twice about what you’re doing!

Here is a report of the TABC action:

TEXAS LIQUOR BOARD FIRES 3 OVER GAY BAR RAID
By Angela K. Brown

Associated Press
August 28, 2009

FORT WORTH — Texas’ liquor board fired two agents and a supervisor, disciplined two other supervisors and changed several policies in the wake of a raid at a gay bar that left a customer with a serious head injury, officials announced Friday.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said agent Christopher Aller and agent trainee Jason Chapman, who participated in the June 28 raid at the Rainbow Lounge, were fired Friday. Their supervisor, Sgt. Terry Parsons, was not at the Fort Worth bar that night but also was fired, effective Sept. 2.

Aller and Chapman failed to report that they used force when arresting the customer or that he was seriously injured, according to a report on the agency’s investigation released earlier this month. They also were accused of participating in the raid without their supervisor’s approval, disrupting the business during the raid and wearing improper attire, the report states.

Parsons failed to ensure that the agents submitted a report on using force during the arrest, did not take appropriate action after learning they didn’t wear proper attire during the raid and did not notify supervisors that multiple arrests had been made that night, the report states.

The commission said Parsons’ direct supervisor, Lt. Gene Anderson, would be suspended without pay for three days and be on probation for six months for his lack of monitoring the training of new agents and inadequate oversight of his employees and their activities.

Also, Capt. Robert "Charlie" Cloud, who oversaw the Dallas and Fort Worth TABC offices, has received a written reprimand for not following the incident notification policy, inadequately monitoring new agents’ training and inadequately supervising Fort Worth employees and their activities, the agency said.

In announcing the disciplinary actions Friday, the agency’s chief of field operations, Joel Moreno, said he was confident that Anderson and Cloud could make the necessary improvements.

"The first step is by working more closely with their employees, mentoring them and serving as positive role models by exemplifying the agency’s four cornerstones: service, courtesy, integrity, and accountability," Moreno said in a statement. "It is essential that every employee understands our core value: We do the right thing, not what we have the right to do."

TABC Administrator Alan Steen, who will make the final decision on any appeals, was not available to comment Friday, agency spokeswoman Carolyn Beck said.

The five may protest their disciplinary actions by submitting a written grievance in the next 10 working days.

Aller, who had worked for the agency for five years, and Chapman, who was hired in April, had been on desk duty during the investigation. Parsons had planned to retire Sept. 2 after completing 20 years with the agency but had been using vacation time.

Another sergeant will be transferred from the Fort Worth to the Dallas office next week "for the betterment of the agency and to create change in the office," but that is not considered disciplinary action, Beck said.

Aller and Chapman accompanied six Fort Worth police officers on a raid of the Rainbow Lounge in what police initially billed as a routine liquor license inspection for a new business. Six people were arrested for public intoxication, and one patron, Chad Gibson, was hospitalized with a severe head injury he suffered while in the agents’ custody, the agency and police have said.

Gibson was hospitalized for a week but has said he has a blood clot behind his right eye.

Since the raid, the agency has changed several policies — including how it uses force in certain situations — and is shortening agents’ shifts, increasing cultural diversity training and reviewing the agent trainee field training program, Moreno said. Many of those changes were in the works before the raid, Beck said.

"Most of these were not as a direct result of this incident, but we hope they will prevent a similar incident from happening," he said Friday.

A report addressing whether the agents’ use of force was appropriate during the raid is expected to be released in September.  

A FORMER CORRECTIONS OFFICER ANSWERS BACK

A former corrections officer was upset with my "18 Years of Phantom Parole Supervision" blog and responded as follows:
 
Ya know what pisses me off? What pisses me off is administrators and other petty bureaucrats who hamstring public safety officers by refusing to back them when they do their job.

When these people take more interest in pursuing complaints by inmates/parolees/and their families than they do in supporting an officer's efforts to maintain the line.....to maintain order and discipline in a housing unit or a parole region.

Administrators and petty bureaucrats have learned in the past twenty years that they can make more hay out of persecuting and firing employees for "misconduct", than they can for ensuring public safety.

I retired early. I got sick of trying to enforce rules that others winked at....rules that were meant to keep my housing units safe. Because when I enforced those fucking rules and kept my housing unit safe I pissed off the gangsters that were running their little businesses and protection rackets and gambling enterprises.

So these guys complained. They conspired to file complaints on every little misstep, perceived or invented, that I might take, and they complained and got their families to complain. And they got some play with supervisors, bureaucrats, and administrators who would rather sit on their fat asses and do nothing and wait for their next promotion than to back an honest hard working officer.

Bureaucrats without regard for public safety take the path of least resistance. Pacify the complainant. Buy them off by disciplining an honest cop, cause it's easier and makes them look good to their superiors.

Newspapers and a few prosecutors are all too happy to go after a peace officer who has been labeled dirty or who has been accused of some civil rights violation, whether it happened or not.

I was at Corcoran in the early 90's ....working in the SHU.....putting inmates out to yards who we knew were hot and we knew were going to fight .....because of idiot administrators who demanded that we do things that way.

You have no idea how bad things have gotten in this state since you wore a badge.

Line staff are much more afraid of losing their jobs and of being sued because of inept and corrupt administrators than they are of walking the tiers, the yards, or the ghetto streets at night. We can deal with the inmates and the parolees. It's the administrators we are really worried about.

It's so easy to sit in a safe little office and write about lazy cops not doing their job. There are a few of those....but only a few. The real problem is further up the chain of command.

WHY WE NEED HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM 2

UNTIL MEDICAL BILLS DO US PART
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

The New York Times
August 29, 2009

Critics fret that health care reform would undermine American family values, not least by convening somber death panels to wheel away Grandma as if she were Old Yeller.

But peel away the emotions and fearmongering, and in fact it is the existing system that unnecessarily takes lives and breaks apart families.

My friend M. — you’ll understand in a moment why she’s terrified of my using her name — had to make a searing decision a year ago. She was married to a sweet, gentle man whom she loved, but who had become increasingly absent-minded. Finally, he was diagnosed with early-onset dementia.

The disease is degenerative, and he will become steadily less able to care for himself. At some point, as his medical needs multiply, he will probably need to be institutionalized.

The hospital arranged a conference call with a social worker, who outlined how the dementia and its financial toll on the family would progress, and then added, out of the blue: "Maybe you should divorce."

"I was blown away," M. told me. But, she said, the hospital staff members explained that they had seen it all before, many times. If M.’s husband required long-term care, the costs would be catastrophic even for a middle-class family with savings.

Eventually, after the expenses whittled away their combined assets, her husband could go on Medicaid — but by then their children’s nest egg would be gone, along with her 401(k) plan. She would face a bleak retirement with neither her husband nor her savings.

A complicating factor was that this was a second marriage. M.’s first husband had died, leaving an inheritance that he had intended for their children. She and her second husband had a prenuptial agreement, but that would not protect her assets from his medical expenses.

The hospital told M. not to waste time in dissolving the marriage. For five years after any divorce, her assets could be seized — precisely because the government knows that people sometimes divorce husbands or wives to escape their medical bills.

"How could I divorce him? I loved him," she told me.

"I explored a lot of options with an attorney here in town," she added. "The attorney said, ‘I don’t see any other options for you.’ It took about a year for me to do the divorce, it was so hard."

So M. divorced the man she loves. I asked him what he thought of this. He can still speak, albeit not always coherently, and he paused a long, long time. All he could manage was: "It’s hard to say."

Long-term care constitutes a difficult and expensive challenge in any health system. But the American patchwork, full of cracks through which people fall, has a special problem with medical expenses of all kinds bankrupting couples.

A study reported in The American Journal of Medicine this month found that 62 percent of American bankruptcies are linked to medical bills. These medical bankruptcies had increased nearly 50 percent in just six years. Astonishingly, 78 percent of these people actually had health insurance, but the gaps and inadequacies left them unprotected when they were hit by devastating bills.

M. still helps her husband and, quietly, continues to live with him and care for him. But she worries that the authorities will come after her if they realize that they divorced not because of irreconcilable differences but because of irreconcilable medical bills. There were awkward questions from friends who saw the divorce announcement in the newspaper.

"It’s just crazy," she said. "It twists people like pretzels."

The existing system doesn’t just break up families, it also costs lives. A 2004 study by the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, found that lack of health insurance causes 18,000 unnecessary deaths a year. That’s one person slipping through the cracks and dying every half an hour.

In short, it’s a good bet that our existing dysfunctional health system knocks off far more people than an army of "death panels" could — even if they existed, worked 24/7 and got around in a fleet of black helicopters.

So, for those of you inclined to believe the worst about President Obama, think it through. Suppose he is indeed a secret, foreign-born Muslim agent who is scheming to undermine American family values while killing off as many grandmothers as possible.

If all that were true, why on earth would he be trying so hard to reform our health care system? We already know how to prod families into divorce and take a life unnecessarily every 30 minutes — all we need to do is reject reform and stick with exactly what we have.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

AMERICAN STYLE POLICING FOR ISRAEL?

Israel has been policed by a national police force. Its government is now planning to establish local police departments like those in the United States. Is that a good idea?" I don’t think so. Israel is a tiny nation well suited for having all of its entities protected and served by a national police force.

The system in America, where every little town has its own police force, has some real drawbacks. Foremost among them is the politicization of local police agencies. Even large cities are not immune from undue political influence. It appears that one of the main goals of the Houston Police Department is to make the city’s mayor look good in order to enhance his chances of securing the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchinson.

Canada has a much better policing system. There are the metropolitan area police departments such as those for the Toronto, Montreal and Hamilton areas which include the smaller cities and towns bordering on or surrounding those entities. And many of Canada’s cities and towns contract either with the Provincial Police or with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for their policing needs.

In the United States some of the best policing, and the least politicized, is found in the regional or metro police agencies that have been established in many parts of Virginia and Maryland, and in some parts of Florida, Tennessee and several other states. These regional police agencies eliminate the fragmentation and duplication of police functions and services found throughout the country. And regional police agencies are much more cost efficient and offer a much higher quality of police services than the traditional local police departments.

So my advice is that Israel stick with its current national police setup and forget local policing. The report on the Israeli government’s proposal follows:

MAYORS, POLICE, MINISTERS DEBATE ‘AMERICAN STYLE’ POLICING
by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

IsraelNationalNews.com
August 28, 2009

The Israeli government is planning to establish a system of local The Israeli government is planning to establish a system of local city police forces, dedicated to exclusively serving specific urban regions throughout the nation. The question remains as to under whose authority they would operate, their respective mayor's or that of the national police. On Tuesday, the issue was debated in a forum for municipal government leaders and security chiefs, attended by Police Commissioner Dudu Cohen and Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch.

Shlomo Bouhbut, chairman of the Union of Local Authorities (ULA), told the gathering, "There is a need for thousands of more police officers and we are prepared to pitch in and assist the Public Security Minister. In our view, the proper approach is the American model, making the police subject to the mayor."

In full agreement with Bouhbut was the chairman of the ULA's Security Committee, Avi Naim. He explained the union's position further: "Only the mayors are familiar with the situation from up close, with all of its problems: vandalism, violence, reckless driving, a lack of security guards in the educational institutions, alcohol abuse, and all such problems at our doorsteps. We - the mayors, the security officers, the city hotlines, the patrolmen and the inspectors - deal with them every hour of every day. The mayor must head the local police in collaboration with the [national] police department in order to solve the citizens' daily problems. If he fails to do so, he won't be reelected."

Minister Aharonovitch rejected the proposal to incorporate the local police forces into the nation's municipalities.

"I have full confidence in you, mayors, and I think that with today's level of violence only the mayors will be able to bring about a strengthening of personal security for the citizens of Israel," he said. "On the other hand, I was in America, and the American model is not appropriate for us. We need a large-scale local police force that will learn about the needs of the municipalities. The Israel Police Department has made a great effort and allocated many resources to the start of this learning process."

Israel Police Commissioner Cohen agreed that the local police departments must be a strong force in the nation. However, like the minister, he called for maintaining "one military, one Israel Security Agency, and one national police force."

‘A STRONG POLICE FORCE AND FEARLESS JUDGES’

Naim said that the local police forces could theoretically be deployed as early as next year. "Then we'll see a significant improvement in the public's personal security situation. People will be able to enjoy a walk on the promenade," he said enthusiatically.

The chairman of the Union of Regional Councils, Shmulik Rifman, expressed opposition to the idea of local police departments altogether. He doubted that it would help drive down crime in the country, saying, "Only a strong police and judges unafraid to hand down punishments will deter criminals and cause them to think twice."

Rifman was echoing the point of view expressed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu earlier this week. At the weekly cabinet meeting, he said, "For a long time I have thought that the punishment for violent crimes in Israel is not strong enough, that there is not enough deterrence." Netanyahu has not staked out a position on the issue of authority over the local police departments, but he is thought to support a national oversight.

In contrast, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, who has discussed the budegtary issue with Minister Aharonovitch, has said that the American model would be the most effective under current circumstances.

Friday, August 28, 2009

18 YEARS OF PHANTOM PAROLE SUPERVISION

By now, unless you’re living under a rock, you have learned that Jaycee Lee Dugard, who was kidnapped in California 18 years ago when she was only 11-years-old, has been found alive.

Jaycee, now 29, had been kept in a backyard shed and tent in Antioch, California by convicted rapist Phillip Craig Garrido, 58, and his wife. Jaycee gave birth to two girls – now 15 and 11- fathered by Garrido. That piece of shit was on parole in Nevada at the time of the kidnapping and his parole was transferred to California 10 years ago. However, authorities believe he has actually been living in Antioch since before the abduction. (Garrido was imprisoned for a parole violation from April to August of 1993 when Jaycee was 13.)

A University of California at Berkeley cop was instrumental in the happy ending to this case. She became suspicious of Garrido who, accompanied by two adult women (his wife and Jaycee) and two young girls, was handing out religious tracts on campus. She observed that he was wearing a GPS ankle monitor. Her questioning of Garrido led to a background check which revealed he was a sex offender on parole. Thereupon she contacted his parole agent.

The parole agent then ordered Garrido to come to his office. He showed up with his wife, Jaycee and the two girls. The parole agent questioned Garrido and obtained his confession to the kidnapping. A job well done, but it would have been far better had he rushed out to Garrido's residence for an after-dark surprise visit.

Scott Kernan, Undersecretary of Operations for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), was quick to heap a bucket full of praise on the parole agent and on CDCR. Whoa! That’s where we part company. While the parole agent did a commendable job in his office, where was the field supervision in Nevada and in California for the past 18 years?

What were the parole officers in Nevada doing while Garrido was really living in Antioch? Apparently nothing! And what kind of field supervision was this sex offender getting in California for the past 10 years? Apparently little if any! You cannot adequately supervise a parolee just through office visits and by monitoring his GPS ankle bracelet. What we had in this case was nothing more than a "phantom parole."

A good job of parole field supervision would long ago have uncovered that Garrido had kidnapped Jaycee and was holding her captive. I am sure that he has had several different California parole agents over the past 10 years. None of them did the job expected of them and that includes the agent who got Carrido to confess.

This case is a huge embarrassment and represents a colossal failure of the parole system. Instead of heaping praise on CDCR, this case should be a wakeup call on the sorry state of phantom parole supervision, not only in California and Nevada, but throughout the United States as well.

As for that piece of shit Garrido, Bob Walsh had this to say on PacoVilla’s Corrections blog: Jaycee has been reunited with her mother. Sometimes there are happy endings. It would be happier if they were going to fry that bastard Garrido and maybe his wife who was apparently a direct participant in the kidnapping, but we don’t do that any more.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

WHY WE NEED HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM

HEALTH CARE FIT FOR ANIMALS
By Nicholas D. Kristof

The New York Times
August 26, 2009

Opponents suggest that a "government takeover" of health care will be a milestone on the road to "socialized medicine," and when he hears those terms, Wendell Potter cringes. He’s embarrassed that opponents are using a playbook that he helped devise.

"Over the years I helped craft this messaging and deliver it," he noted.

Mr. Potter was an executive in the health insurance industry for nearly 20 years before his conscience got the better of him. He served as head of corporate communications for Humana and then for Cigna.

He flew in corporate jets to industry meetings to plan how to block health reform, he says. He rode in limousines to confabs to concoct messaging to scare the public about reform. But in his heart, he began to have doubts as the business model for insurance evolved in recent years from spreading risk to dumping the risky.

Then in 2007 Mr. Potter attended a premiere of "Sicko," Michael Moore’s excoriating film about the American health care system. Mr. Potter was taking notes so that he could prepare a propaganda counterblast — but he found himself agreeing with a great deal of the film.

A month later, Mr. Potter was back home in Tennessee, visiting his parents, and dropped in on a three-day charity program at a county fairgrounds to provide medical care for patients who could not afford doctors. Long lines of people were waiting in the rain, and patients were being examined and treated in public in stalls intended for livestock.

"It was a life-changing event to witness that," he remembered. Increasingly, he found himself despising himself for helping block health reforms. "It sounds hokey, but I would look in the mirror and think, how did I get into this?"

Mr. Potter loved his office, his executive salary, his bonus, his stock options. "How can I walk away from a job that pays me so well?" he wondered. But at the age of 56, he announced his retirement and left Cigna last year.

This year, he went public with his concerns, testifying before a Senate committee investigating the insurance industry.

"I knew that once I did that my life would be different," he said. "I wouldn’t be getting any more calls from recruiters for the health industry. It was the scariest thing I have done in my life. But it was the right thing to do."

Mr. Potter says he liked his colleagues and bosses in the insurance industry, and respected them. They are not evil. But he adds that they are removed from the consequences of their decisions, as he was, and are obsessed with sustaining the company’s stock price — which means paying fewer medical bills.

One way to do that is to deny requests for expensive procedures. A second is "rescission" — seizing upon a technicality to cancel the policy of someone who has been paying premiums and finally gets cancer or some other expensive disease. A Congressional investigation into rescission found that three insurers, including Blue Cross of California, used this technique to cancel more than 20,000 policies over five years, saving the companies $300 million in claims.

As The Los Angeles Times has reported, insurers encourage this approach through performance evaluations. One Blue Cross employee earned a perfect evaluation score after dropping thousands of policyholders who faced nearly $10 million in medical expenses.

Mr. Potter notes that a third tactic is for insurers to raise premiums for a small business astronomically after an employee is found to have an illness that will be very expensive to treat. That forces the business to drop coverage for all its employees or go elsewhere.

All this is monstrous, and it negates the entire point of insurance, which is to spread risk.

The insurers are open to one kind of reform — universal coverage through mandates and subsidies, so as to give them more customers and more profits. But they don’t want the reforms that will most help patients, such as a public insurance option, enforced competition and tighter regulation.

Mr. Potter argues that much tougher regulation is essential. He also believes that a robust public option is an essential part of any health reform, to compete with for-profit insurers and keep them honest.

As a nation, we’re at a turning point. Universal health coverage has been proposed for nearly a century in the United States. It was in an early draft of Social Security.

Yet each time, it has been defeated in part by fear-mongering industry lobbyists. That may happen this time as well — unless the Obama administration and Congress defeat these manipulative special interests. What’s un-American isn’t a greater government role in health care but an existing system in which Americans without insurance get health care, if at all, in livestock pens.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

GETTING THEIR POUND OF FLESH

The Obama administration has just announced that Attorney General Eric Holder has appointed a prosecutor to investigate the abuse (torture) of prisoners by the CIA. This comes after the president had previously said that he did not want to drag up the past.

So much for another one of Obama’s phony pronouncements. Does anyone in their right mind believe that Holder would initiate an investigation of CIA anti-terrorism tactics without the president’s approval? Does anyone doubt that, in this case, the real goal of the Obama administration is to see what former top ranking Bush administration officials they can pillory before the public?

Obama and Holder must have no shame! The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and on the Pentagon were unprecedented. Never before in our history had 3,000 civilians been killed by a foreign terrorist attack. The terrorists were celebrated throughout the Muslim world and they promised further attacks on the United States.

The prospects of further attacks called for extreme measures. There is no doubt the CIA broke the law by torturing suspected terrorists. But CIA interrogators did not do so with criminal intent. They did it because they believed that by subjecting terrorist prisoners to waterboarding and other harsh methods they would be able to obtain information needed to prevent any further attacks on our country.

Former Vice-President Dick Cheney, no doubt, is one of the primary targets of the Obama administration’s investigation. In attempting to justify his support for the CIA tactics, he claims they succeeded in stopping several terrorist attacks on our soil. True or not, that has nothing to do with the controversy raised by the investigation.

Cheney had this to say about the CIA interrogations: The people involved deserve our gratitude. They do not deserve to be the targets of political investigations or prosecutions. President Obama’s decision to allow the Justice Department to investigate and possibly prosecute CIA personnel, and his decision to remove authority for interrogation from the CIA to the White House, serves as a reminder, if any were needed, of why so many Americans have doubts about this Administration’s ability to be responsible for our nation’s security.

Ok, so they broke the law, but they did it with the best of intentions. Those that want to get their pound of flesh out of the Bush administration will tell us that the end doesn’t justify the means and that lawbreakers must be brought to justice. Ordinarily I would agree, but these were far from ordinary times. Our country was under the threat of further terrorist attacks.

It would have been enough for the Obama administration to ensure that we would never again resort to the torture of prisoners, no matter the circumstances. But they had to go after their pound of flesh. There is little to be gained by dragging up the past other than to satisfy the left-wing’s lust for the blood of top officials in the former Bush administration.

The investigation of the CIA and those who authorized the abuse of prisoners, and any prosecutions that may ensue, will end up endangering our troops overseas, bolster Islam's war against the West, and cause more harm to our country’s standing in the international community. Thanks a lot Mr. President and General Holder.

1+1=3 KILLED MICHAEL JACKSON

It has just been revealed that Dr. Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson’s personal physician, administered the following drugs to Wacko Jacko in the hours before his death.

1:30 A.M.: Valium

2:00 A.M.: Lorazepam (Intravenously)

3:00 A.M.: Midazolam

5:00 A.M.: Lorazepam (Intravenously)

7:30 A.M.: Midazolam

10:40 A.M.: Propofol (Intravenously)

Dr. Murray administered Valium, Lorazepam and Midazolam to induce sleep. When these drugs failed to work, Jackson begged him for a dose of Propofol. Jackson died shortly after the injection of Propofol. The combination of these drugs probably led to a fatal Synergistic Effect.

The effect of two drugs on a person can be greater than the effect of each drug individually, or the sum of the individual effects. The presence of one drug enhances the effects of the second. This is called Synergistic Effect or Synergy. In simple terms it’s the same as 1+1=3.

Any physician, other than an out and out quack, knows about the dangers of the synergistic effect. Shit, most police officers who work in drug enforcement are well aware of this problem. So there is little excuse for a doctor to administer multiple drugs designed to achieve the same end over a relatively short period of time.

Many people die every year from the synergistic effect. Movie stars Marilyn Monroe and Allan Ladd both probably died from the unintended synergistic consequences of mixing alcohol and sleeping pills.

I suspect that Dr. Murray’s medical career appears to be in extreme jeopardy. It sure looks like 1+1=3 killed Michael Jackson.

HOPE FOR HEART ATTACK SURVIVORS

ISRAELI RESEARCHERS MAKE DRAMATIC BREAKTHROUGH IN TREATING HEART DISEASE
By Dan Even

Haaretz.com
August 26, 2009

Israeli researchers have made a dramatic breakthrough in treating heart disease, growing heart muscle in rats' abdomens and using it to patch the hearts of rats that suffered heart attacks.

The experiment, whose results were published this week in an American journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to demonstrate the possibility of rejuvenating the heart after a heart attack. While many researchers have tried to develop heart patches, until now, none of the tissue patches have survived implantation into the heart.

The Israeli researchers were led by Dr. Tal Dvir, who developed the new method for his Ph.D. thesis at Ben-Gurion University and is now at MIT.

The researchers planted cardiac cells taken from newborn rats on a laboratory "scaffold" and seeded them with growth agents. Once the cells had grown sufficiently, the entire scaffold was implanted in the rat's abdomen, where the tissue continued to grow and developed a network of blood vessels. A week later, the new tissue was removed from the abdomen and transplanted into the damaged heart.

After 28 days, the blood vessels in the patch had linked up with the damaged heart's own blood vessels. This, Dvir said, prevented it from dying of lack of oxygen, as previous bioengineered patches have.

Moreover, the patch appeared to actually improve the damaged heart. A heart attack leaves a scar that usually tightens over time and exerts pressure on the heart wall, which often leads to another heart attack. The tissue patch prevented this deterioration.

GUN CONTROL CAN REALLY BE GOOD

Trey, a former State Police lieutenant, sent me the following report which shows us what kind of gun control this country really needs. At least one dirtbag of a crook has been terminally rehabilitated due to outstanding gun control.

 
Plantation, FL -- Last week police were called to investigate an attempted armed robbery:

A 71-year-old retired Marine who opened fire on two robbers at a Subway shop in Plantation , Florida late Wednesday, killing one and critically wounding the other, is described as John Lovell, a former helicopter pilot for two presidents. He doesn't drink, he doesn't smoke, and he works out everyday. Mr. Lovell was a man of action Wednesday night.

According to Plantation police, two masked gunmen came into the Subway at 1949 North Pine Road just after 11 p.m. There was a lone diner, Mr. Lovell, who was finishing his meal. After robbing the cashier, the two men attempted to shove Mr. Lovell into a bathroom and rob him as well.

They got his money, but then Mr. Lovell pulled his handgun and opened fire. He shot one of the thieves in the head and chest and the other in the head.

When police arrived, they found one of the men in the shop, K-9 units found the other in the bushes of a nearby business. They also found cash strewn around the front of the sandwich shop according to Detective Robert Rettig of the Plantation Police Department.

Both men were taken to the Broward General Medical Center , where one, Donicio Arrindell, 22, of North Lauderdale died. The other, 21-year-old Frederick Gadson of Fort Lauderdale , is in critical but stable condition.

A longtime friend of Lovell was not surprised to hear what happened. The friend said, ''He'd give you the shirt off his back, but he'd be mad as hell if someone tried to take the shirt off your back.''

Mr. Lovell was a pilot in the Marine Corps, flying former Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. He later worked as a pilot for Pan Am and Delta.

He is not expected to be charged authorities said. ''He was in fear for his life,'' Detective Rettig said, "These criminals ought to realize that most men in their 70's have military backgrounds and aren't intimidated by idiots."

Something tells me this old Marine wasn't 'in fear for his life', even though his life was definitely at risk. The only thing he could be charged with is participating in an unfair fight. One 71-year young Marine against two punks.

Two head shots and one center body mass shot - outstanding shooting! That'll teach them not to get between a Marine and his meal.

A DIFFERENT POSSIBLE SOLUTION

THE THREE STATE SOLUTION
by Bruce Bialosky

Townhall.com
August 25, 2009

The conventional wisdom that has been in place for at least two decades has been that the people now known as Palestinians should have a country that is their own. Discussions have focused on what has been called "the two-state solution." The real answer is to have a "three-state solution."

The two-state solution became the official position of the United States when adopted by the Bush Administration. This occurred after the disastrous negotiations held at the end of the Clinton Administration and the resulting Second Intifada. The Obama Administration has forcefully asserted their support for a two-state solution. This has caused even Bibi Netanyahu to mutter the words.

You have to wonder whether this whole thing makes sense. To create a single state for the Palestinians would involve two tracts of land with no actual border. An independent country between them – Israel - uniquely divides the two tracts. There has been a proposal to build a dedicated highway that cuts through Israel to connect the two proposed parts of the country. This proposal is preposterous for all parties involved. For Israel it provides an insurmountable security risk. For the Palestinians it provides the opportunity for Israel to cut off the connections between the two distinct areas.

For the past sixty years these two areas – Gaza and the West Bank -- have existed independent of each other and only forced upon each other by political convenience. The people who occupy these two distinct areas may speak the same language and may have been in the middle of the same conflict, but they have lived lives that are separate and unequal. They may both be called Palestinians, but after an extended period they have developed distinctly different lives.

They also have separate governments. Since the elections in 2006, a divide has developed between the governments of Gaza and The West Bank. Some have cited the election as a misstep on the part of the Bush Administration by trusting people who are not ready for democracy with an election. It can also be viewed as a defining moment. It has caused a split with Hamas ruling Gaza and Fatah ruling the West Bank. While each area may have elements of the other’s political interest, the ruling interests have solidified their control in each area. Now each of the existing tracts has its own culture and distinct government.

Some would say that Fatah is not a significantly different political party from Hamas. If you read their pronouncements you would certainly be led to believe that to be true. Fatah has made some of the same extreme statements about what they demand from Israel. Others would say that neither Hamas nor Fatah are willing to accept Israel, and the difference between them does amount to essentially a hill of beans.

Yet recent statistics from the Israeli government, supported by independent organizations, show a different picture. The West Bank has become a much calmer area and has had resulting economic growth reflecting that newfound peace. With 2,000 new businesses having entered the area, the West Bankers are harnessing themselves to the Israeli economic engine. The economic growth rate of 7% is one of the highest in the world. Instead of fighting they are building shopping malls. The Israeli government credits this success to the Palestinian people and the West Bank government.

Because of the reduced violence there, Israel has responded with reductions of restrictions and soldiers. This is creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more the West Bankers succeed, the more freedom they are given and the more success they achieve.

So while the West Bank is flourishing Gaza continues its dismal situation. Led by the ineffective Hamas government, growth is stifled with a resulting 40% unemployment rate. The Gazans may want what the West Bankers are achieving, but they are allowing Hamas to be their rulers and determine their fate.

Because of some bad decisions and the lack of leadership in the Arab world, two separate areas have been lumped together as though it is one country. The people of the region need to come to the realization that Israel is not going anywhere. Once that is done they will realize that Gaza and the West Bank are two separate and distinct entities. The three-state solution will then come to pass. Once this is crystallized then a real path to peace can occur.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

ISRAEL LIKELY TO BE CLUBBED BY OBAMA'S HAMMER OF THOR

CANDIDLY SPEAKING: THERE MAY BE WORSE TO COME
By ISI LEIBLER

The Jerusalem Post
August 25, 2009

President Obama’s na├»ve efforts to appease the Arabs by bullying and distancing the United States from Israel has backfired. However despite increasing unease extending to some of Obama's most fervent supporters, the administration has yet to signal any change in policy.

The futility of trying to appease tyrannies is evident everywhere; the thuggish behavior of the Iranian regime toward its own people makes a farce of Obama's efforts to reason with Ahmadinejad; in response to unilateral US overtures to the Syrians, President Assad visited the Iranian president, congratulated him on his bogus reelection and declared that their alliance had never been stronger; the North Koreans displayed utter contempt for Obama's friendly outreach; Arabs states all responded negatively to Obama's entreaties to provide a few crumbs of recognition in return for Israeli concessions; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was publicly humiliated by the Saudi Foreign Minister, who insisted there was nothing to negotiate unless Israel accepted all Arab demands.

The Palestinian response was even more noxious. Clearly emboldened, the Fatah General Assembly displayed contempt for any initiative that could further the peace process. Their intransigence again demonstrated the absurdity of the notion that this corrupt and duplicitous leadership could be a genuine peace partner. There were even elements of surrealism when the Fatah Assembly unanimously accused Israel of having assassinated Arafat and provided standing applause for a mass murderer.

They decreed that unless Israel acceded to all their demands, no further negotiations would take place and they could renew the "armed struggle." Far from encouraging Arab moderation, Obama's tough approach to Israel simply bolstered the hardliners.

The facts on the ground today make prospects for peace more remote than ever. The only clear message emerging from the Fatah Congress is that, as with Hamas, elimination of Jewish sovereignty in the region remains its ultimate objective. Were that not so, Mahmoud Abbas would have accepted Ehud Olmert's offer, which virtually granted him all his territorial demands and even hinted at a compromise over the Arab right of return.

Obama's advisers must have been bitterly disappointed when their diktats against Israel backfired. Indeed, their one-sided demands and bullying tactics can take credit for having created a rare consensus among the Israeli public, which today overwhelmingly supports Netanyahu.

To add to Obama's problems and despite predictions to the contrary, American Jewish leaders have begun to openly challenge some of his policies. There is a growing unease even among some Jewish Democrats that Obama is betraying the unequivocal undertakings he made during the elections to faithfully preserve the alliance with Israel.

This was exemplified in remarks made by Howard Berman, the influential Democratic chair of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, who in a closed meeting with Jewish leaders explicitly criticized the Obama administration's pressure on Israel over settlements. Berman said Abbas was now "waiting for the US to present him Israel on a platter". Stanley Hoyer, the Democratic House majority leader visiting Israel, made similar comments at a Jerusalem news conference.

OBAMA MUST also have been stunned when his friend and loyal supporter Alan Solow, the Chairman of the Presidents Conference representing 52 major American Jewish organizations, condemned his demands to limit Jews settlements in Jerusalem and its suburbs.

In a full page New York Times advert Abe Foxman of the Anti Defamation League stated "The problem is not settlements, it's Arab rejection...Mr. President, it's time to stop pressuring our vital friend and ally". David Harris of the American Jewish Committee expressed similar feelings to a Congressional group. Whilst usually ritually reiterating their belief that Obama would not abandon Israel, Jewish leaders have begun openly criticizing the administration's behavior toward the Jewish state.

Obama's standing with American Jewish activists plummeted further when, contemptuously dismissing a rare virtually unanimous Jewish protest, he personally participated in the ceremony honoring former Irish president and 2001 UN Durban hate-fest convener Mary Robinson with the highest human rights award in the US. This was perceived as yet another manifestation of Obama's new love affair with the UN and its anti-Israel affiliates.

It must also have been disappointing for Obama's Jewish advisers promoting the J Street line when they became aware that despite expensive media promotions, opinion polls indicated that most Jewish activists remained contemptuous of the left-wing Jewish fringe groups urging Obama to force Israel to make further concessions.

However, as of now, while continuing to avoid any initiative which could irritate the Arabs, the US is maintaining its heavy-handed approach toward its erstwhile ally, Israel. While a face-saving compromise may soon eventuate, appreciating the unprecedented backing he currently enjoys from his constituency, Netanyahu would be unwise to capitulate to Obama's demands.

Alas, irrespective of the settlement issues, there may be worse to come from this administration. After Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's recent warm meeting with Obama in Washington, he effusively praised the policy changes introduced by the president and hinted of further impending "positive" US initiatives.

There are also chilling predictions that without prior consultations with Israel, Obama intends to unilaterally submit a US plan for a comprehensive settlement at the UN or elsewhere. It is rumored that this plan would use as a starting point the irresponsible offers made to Abbas by Olmert during the death throes of his tenure - offers which would unquestionably have been repudiated by the Knesset and people of Israel in a referendum. Such a move would be an unprecedented betrayal of a long-standing ally.

UNTIL SUCH time as a genuine Palestinian peace partner emerges, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu cannot be expected to create a miraculous magic plan which would bring about a comprehensive final settlement. But his task now must be to preempt a disastrous imposed settlement by the Americans.

In doing so he must he speedily identify the red lines which his government, backed by the vast majority of Israelis, would never contemplate crossing.

To this end he should also martial the support of the mainstream American Jewish leadership and encourage them to convey to their president that they too have red lines. They have already begun to signal that they will not remain passive if their government attempts to unilaterally impose a solution which could endanger the Jewish state.

ARAB AND MUSLIM INTOLERANCE

ARAB LEAGUE FURIOUS OVER JEWISH PRAYER ON TEMPLE MOUNTby Maayana Miskin

IsraelNationalNews.com
August 25, 2009

The Arab League reacted with fury on this week to reports that a small group of Jews had prayed on the Temple Mount on Sunday. Secretary-General Amr Moussa termed the spontaneous prayer gathering "a violation of international law."

Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, head of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem, led the guided tour on the Temple Mount. While guards on the mount have a policy of preventing Jewish prayer or religious gestures such as kneeling or bowing, Rabbi Ariel's group managed to briefly pray at the site.

"This is the first time since 1967 that Jews have conducted prayers on Al-Aksa during the month of Ramadan," Moussa declared. "We condemn this act," he added, in the name of the 22 countries belonging to the League.

The prayer session was "a serious blow to the holiness of the site," Moussa claimed, adding that Jews should not be allowed to pray at the site "whether it is Ramadan or any other time of year."

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City is the site on which the Temple and Second Temple once stood, and according to Judaism, is the holiest place on earth. For approximately 1,000 years, the mount has housed the Al Aksa mosque.

Rabbi Chaim Richman, another Temple Institute leader, said Moussa was misinformed. Rabbi Ariel's prayer was not the first of its kind – in fact, Jews pray on the Temple Mount whenever they can, he said, and always have.

"There's a positive commandment for Jewish people to pray on the Temple Mount," Rabbi Richman explained. "I was on the Temple Mount on Wednesday, and I prayed."

Far from being a violation of international law, Jewish prayer at the site is a fundamental human right, he said. "We go there out of a deep desire to express the most basic human right that we have, which is to pray to G-d." 

Monday, August 24, 2009

DON'T CALL FOR A COP!

Some of you already know that I do volunteer work at a nature center. I belong to a crew that maintains the center’s facilities. Before breaking for lunch, the crew usually sits down and has a bull session while downing a bottle or can of beer.

A week or so ago, the bull session somehow turned to a news story about some cops who had been caught doing something bad. One of the crew, a pseudo-intellectual type, blurted out that "all cops are corrupt." I don’t have to tell you how incensed I became when that asshole made his stupid stereotypical remark.

Why am I writing about that asshole’s remark? I am doing so because there are far too many idiots in this country who really believe all cops are corrupt. Although nothing could be further from the truth, these idiots make a difficult task that much harder for those who lay their lives on the line every day to protect society.

Sure, there are some crooked cops, but what do you expect when there are more than 800,000 full-time sworn law enforcement officers in the United Sates? There are bound to be some rotten apples in the barrel.

I can assure you that the overwhelming majority of cops are NOT crooks. Yes, many of them accept free coffee and half-priced meals, but that does not make them corrupt. They wouldn’t accept such questionable perks if restaurants would not insist on providing them.

So for those idiots who believe that all cops are corrupt, I have only one thing to say: Stuff that stereotypical crap up your ass and if you're ever in a situation where your life or your property is in immediate jeopardy, DON’T CALL FOR A COP!  

Sunday, August 23, 2009

PALESTINIANS MILK SWEDISH BLOOD LIBEL FOR ALL IT'S WORTH

PALESTINIAN NEWS AGENCY ‘CONFIRMS’ ORGAN SNATCHING STORY
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH

The Jerusalem Post
August 23, 2009

The Bethlehem-based Palestinian news agency Ma'an published a report over the weekend which it said confirmed allegations that IDF soldiers kill Palestinian civilians to harvest their organs.

The charges appeared last week in Sweden's left-leaning Aftonbladet newspaper and have since been widely quoted in Palestinian and Arab newspapers.

"They plunder the organs of our sons," read the headline in Sweden's largest daily newspaper, which devoted a double spread in its cultural section to the article.

Ma'an, which is funded by Denmark and the Netherlands, headlined its feature: "Disappearances, Holding Bodies, Organ Theft - Intertwined Crimes."

The feature is based on an interview with Abdel Nasser Farwaneh, a former security prisoner in Israel who is described by the news agency as an "expert on prisoners' affairs."

Farwaneh is quoted as saying that the "findings" published by the Swedish newspaper are true.

"All the facts, evidence and testimonies over the past few decades regarding the way the occupation forces were treating and killing innocent civilians don't leave room for doubt about the credibility of the report in the Swedish newspaper," he said.

The "expert" claimed that hundreds of Palestinian and Arab prisoners have disappeared in Israeli detention centers and prisons.

"This policy of hiding prisoners is surely connected to what the Swedish newspaper published," Farwaneh said. "It's possible that all those missing prisoners, or a large number of them, were deliberately killed so that their organs could be stolen and used illegally. The remains of these prisoners are then hidden in secret cemeteries known as the Cemeteries of Numbers."

Farwaneh told the agency that there was also good reason to believe that the allegations were true because many bodies of Hizbullah gunmen that were returned by Israel were missing organs.

He also claimed that IDF soldiers had "executed" more than 50 civilians after arresting them during the second intifada, which began in September 2000. "This could be related to what the Swedish newspaper reported about organ harvesting," he said.

Farwaneh expressed deep admiration for the Swedish newspaper and the journalist who reported the allegations, Donald Bostrom, and called on the international media to follow suit and expose Israeli "atrocities and war crimes" against Palestinians.

BIBI NOT SEEKING APOLOGY Foreign Ministry of Sweden funded research for the blood libel

In "Another Blood Libel" [8-21-09], I wrote: The Israelis are not asking the Swedish government to prevent the publication of any article. They are not asking the Swedish government to apologize for a patently false story designed to inflame Swedes and others against Jews and the State of Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has told the Swedes he is not seeking an apology for the Aftonbladet article which accused the Israeli army of killing Palestinians in order to harvest their organs. But he clearly wants the Swedish government to condemn an article that is patently false - a blood libel whose real purpose is to serve the Palestinian cause by inciting hatred against Jews.

Don't look for an official condemnation because IsraelNationalNews.com has now reported that Sweden’s government helped fund the "research" for the story. "Most of the material in last week’s controversial article is old, having appeared in a book written in 2001 by the author of the article. The book, entitled Inshallah, was funded by various bodies, including the Foreign Ministry of Sweden, Swedish labor unions, and some organizations based in the Palestinian Authority-controlled areas."

NETANYAHU TO SWEDEN: CONDEMN IDF ORGAN HARVESTING ARTICLE
By Barak Ravid and Assaf Uni

Haaretz.com
August 23, 2009

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday called for the Swedish government to condemn an article in a Stockholm newspaper suggesting Israel Defense Forces troops harvested the organs of Palestinians they killed.

An official present at the weekly session of the cabinet said Netanyahu told his ministers he did not expect the Swedish government to apologize for the article in the tabloid Aftonbladet but he did expect it to take a stand.

"We’re not asking the Swedish government for an apology, we’re asking for their condemnation," the official - speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with Cabinet rules - quoted Netanyahu as saying.

The prime minister added that the story was "reminiscent of medieval libels that Jews killed Christian children for their blood," said the official.  

Saturday, August 22, 2009

COLD-BLOODED KILLER DENIED PAROLE

Leonard Peltier should have been executed for executing two FBI agents. May this cold-blooded killer never see the light of day outside a prison wall!

NATIVE AMERICAN ACTIVIST PELTIER DENIED PAROLE

The Associated Press
August 21, 2009

American Indian activist Leonard Peltier, imprisoned since 1977 for the deaths of two FBI agents, has been denied parole after authorities decided that releasing him would diminish the seriousness of his crime, a federal prosecutor said Friday.

Peltier, who claims the FBI framed him, will not be eligible for parole again until July 2024, when he will be 79 years old.

U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley announced the decision of the U.S. Parole Commission.

Peltier is serving two life sentences for the execution-style deaths of FBI agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams during a June 26, 1975, standoff on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

He was convicted in Fargo, N.D., in 1977.

He has said the FBI framed him, which the agency denies, and unsuccessfully appealed his conviction numerous times. He also was denied parole in 1993.

"Leonard Peltier is an unrepentant, cold-blooded murderer who executed FBI special agents Williams and Coler, and in doing that he tore them from their families and from their communities forever," Wrigley said. "Leonard Peltier is exactly where he belongs — federal prison, serving two life sentences."

An angry defense attorney Eric Seitz declined to comment Friday, saying the Parole Commission had not had the "courtesy" to inform him of the decision. "We've heard nothing," he said.

Parole Commission spokesman Tom Hutchison said the board notifies both sides of a decision, and can't control whether one party makes it public before the other can be notified.

Peltier had a full parole hearing for the first time in 15 years last month at the Lewisburg, Pa., federal prison where he is being held.

The hearing was closed to the public, but Seitz said he focused on factors that would support parole. He said a representative from the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa reservation in North Dakota, where Peltier grew up, said the tribe had made arrangements to incorporate Peltier back into society should he be paroled. Seitz also said Peltier has had no documented misconduct in prison in the past 10 years.

Wrigley said Peltier's past criminal conduct while behind bars was a factor in the Parole Commission's decision. In 1979, Peltier escaped for a time in California, and he also has had numerous infractions in prison, some of them drug-related.

Wrigley also said that Peltier "has neither accepted responsibility for the murders nor shown any remorse."

Seitz said earlier that the 64-year-old Peltier is in poor health, with diabetes, high blood pressure, a jaw problem and a urinary system ailment.

Parole was abolished for federal convicts in 1987, but Peltier remains eligible because he was convicted before then.

CAN'T RECOGNIZE A RECRUITMENT POSTER

Come on Sheriff, can't you see that your deputies were only trying to help you out. So what if it took a few beers for them to get creative? After all, they did come up with a surefire recruitment poster.

TEXAS SHERIFF REPRIMANDS DEPUTIES OVER WAITRESS PIC

Austin American-Statesman
August 21, 2009

MIDLAND, Texas — A Midland County sheriff's deputy was fired after police say he and four other deputies asked a waitress to take a picture with one of their service rifles while they were visiting a restaurant in Round Rock last week, Midland Sheriff Gary Painter said.

Deputy Daniel Subia was fired, Deputy Art Nunez received a letter of reprimand, and three others — Deputies Miguel Ramos, Chris Evans and Ron Wright — received three days of suspension without pay, Painter said.

The deputies will not face criminal charges, according to Melissa Hightower, an investigator with the Williamson County attorney's office.

On Aug. 10, Round Rock police were called to the Twin Peaks restaurant — where waitresses typically wear halter tops and short shorts — at 100 E. Louis Henna Blvd. after an off-duty Manor police officer reported seeing a waitress holding what appeared to be a rifle in the parking lot, according to a police report. The deputies were taking photos as she held it, the report said.


The pose that got a cop fired

The report says the waitress told police that the deputies asked her to come outside and pose with the weapon, according to the report.

The off-duty officer called Round Rock police.

The deputies were in Round Rock for training, Painter said.

Eric Poteet, a spokesman for Round Rock police, said they did not charge the deputies because no crime was committed. Dee Hobbs, chief of the criminal division of the Williamson County attorney's office, had said the officers could face charges of disorderly conduct, a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail.

Painter said it would have been a "knee-jerk reaction" to fire all of the deputies involved. Instead, he interviewed each deputy separately and doled out reprimands based on the deputies' participation in the incident. Subia, who was fired, was "the one who handed the weapon to the lady," Painter said.  

Friday, August 21, 2009

ANOTHER BLOOD LIBEL

The pre-Nazi history of Eastern European anti-Semitism is replete with blood libels. Jews, particularly in Poland and Russia, were often accused of killing little Christian children in order to drink their blood. Now we have a modern version of blood libel.

Swedish "journalist" Donald Bostrom, in a story published Monday by the Swedish daily tabloid Aftonbladet, accused the Israeli army of killing young Palestinians in order to harvest their organs for the illegal transplant market. What proof did Bostrom offer? He was told this by some Palestinians he interviewed.

The editor of Aftonbladet stands behind the story. Israel has asked the Swedish Government to condemn the Aftonbladet article, but it refuses to do so, maintaining that an official condemnation would constitute a restraint of free expression.

Restraint of free expression? The Swedes must think they're dealing with some fucking fools. The Israelis are not asking the Swedish government to prevent the publication of any article. They are not asking the Swedish government to apologize for a patently false story designed to inflame Swedes and others against Jews and the State of Israel. A government rebuke of a false inflammatory article does not constitute restraint of free speech.

Palestinian claims that the Israeli army deliberately killed young Palestinians for their organs are so farfetched that it is almost unimaginable any journalist would report them as being true and that any reputable newspaper would publish them. The story would be laughable except for the fact that, as with past blood libels, there are an awful lot of people out there willing to believe such hateful falsehoods.

Here are some excerpts from a couple of Jerusalem Post articles on Bostrom’s allegations:


BILDT REFUSES TO CONDEMN ‘AFTONBLADET’
By AP AND HERB KEINON

The Jerusalem Post
August 20, 2009

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has rejected Israeli calls for official condemnation of a Swedish newspaper article about organ harvesting, saying freedom of expression is a cornerstone of democracy.

Bildt said in a blog posted late Thursday that he would not condemn an article in the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet that suggested Israeli troops had harvested the organs of dead Palestinians. He said freedom of expression is part of the Swedish constitution.

"Freedom of expression and press freedom are very strong in our constitution by tradition. And that strong protection has served our democracy and our country well," Bildt wrote. "If I were engaged in editing all strange debate contributions in different media I probably wouldn't have time to do much else."

Bildt said he understood why the article stirred strong emotions in Israel, but said basic values in society are best protected by free discussion.

The article, published Monday, recounted Palestinian allegations that IDF soldiers killed Palestinians to harvest their organs, and implied a link to the recent arrest in the United States of an American Jew suspected of illicit organ trafficking.


SWEDISH JOURNALIST DENIES WRONDOING
By JONAH NEWMAN

The Jerusalem Post
August 20, 2009

Swedish journalist Donald Bostrom told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday that he has received a number of death threats alongside a wave of harsh criticism for an article he wrote for popular Swedish daily Aftonbladet.

[Bostrom] heard in the West Bank in 1992 that Israeli soldiers were illegally removing organs from Palestinians killed in fighting with a campaign for Israeli organ donors, supposed illegal purchases of organs in Israel in the early 2000s, and the recent story of American Levy Izhak Rosenbaum who was accused of illegally trafficking Israeli organs.

"We know that the need for organs in Israel is large, that an extensive illegal organ moving is ongoing and has been for a long time, that it is done with the blessing of the authorities, the senior doctor at the major hospital is involved, as well as officials at various levels. And we know that the Palestinian young men disappeared, they were back five days later in secrecy at night, sewn up," Bostrom wrote in the conclusion of his story.

"Apologize for what?" he said. "I am just referring to what other people are telling me. Everything is true. And I cannot apologize about what I experienced that night, which was terrible."  

Thursday, August 20, 2009

AMERICANS MUST EVACUATE THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES WEST OF THE ATLANTIC OCEAN

ISRAELIS REMIND US OF ITS LAND-GRABBING PAST

Israel Today Staff
August 20, 2009

A group of Israelis on Wednesday protested US President Barack Obama's demand for a Jewish settlement freeze by dressing up as Native Americans outside the US Embassy in Tel Aviv.

The protestors noted that not so long ago, the US seized land it has no prior connection to in order to expand its borders, while Obama is denying Jews the right to live on lands that form the very cradle of their civilization and faith.

To demonstrate the absurdity of Obama's position, the protestors carried signs insisting that the US surrender lands it stole from the Native Americans. They read:

"Three countries for three races"

"America, we understand you – understand us, too"

"Freeze building west of the Atlantic Ocean. Red-skinned American within 1492 border"

Organizers told Ynet they were unable to obtain a permit to hold a larger demonstration, but that many tourists and passersby saw what they were doing and joined in the protest.

WILL SOMEONE PLEASE HELP THAT POOR MAN

My tears almost short-circuited my computer keyboard. So, someone please help poor old Phil Spector get moved to a nicer prison.

PHIL SPECTOR FEARS FOR HIS SAFETY IN PRISON
‘They’d kill you here for a 39-cent bag of soup,’ writes the music producer

Associated Press
August 19, 2009

LOS ANGELES - Music legend Phil Spector, in prison for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson, has been writing letters about his life behind bars — saying in a letter released Wednesday that he fears for his safety and would like to be moved to "a better prison."

Spector wrote to his friend Steve Escobar, a musician and music journalist, of his chagrin at being in the same prison as notorious murderers including Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan.

He said he is working with his attorneys "to get a better prison with people more like myself in it during the appeal process instead of all these lowlife scumbags, gangsters and Manson types....They’d kill you here for a 39-cent bag of soup!"

Spector, 69, said his spirits were up because his wife, Rachelle, has begun visiting him two days a week at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison at Corcoran. The prison is 400 miles from their Alhambra home, he said, and his wife has been driving back and forth each weekend.

"She’s a real trouper," he said of his 29-year-old wife. "...All in all, it’s like a dream come true having her by my side again."

Spector said his wife brings him packaged food so that he doesn’t have to go the dining hall with other inmates.

"I know it is a chance to get out of my cell going to the dining room but the less I see of the inmates, the better and safer I feel," he said. "Even though 24/7 lockdown in a 3’ by 7’ cell is very tough."

Spector, the difficult genius whose "Wall of Sound" production technique turned pop songs into mini-symphonies in the 1960s, was sentenced to a term of 19 years to life.

Clarkson, 40, was found shot through the mouth at Spector’s Alhambra mansion in February, 2003.

Spector’s lawyers spent two trials arguing that Clarkson killed herself while battling depression. Prosecutors called witnesses to show that Clarkson was the last in a long line of women whom Spector threatened with guns.

In his heyday in the early and mid-1960s, Spector produced dozens of hits, including The Ronette’s "Be My Baby," The Crystals’ "Da Doo Ron Ron" and The Righteous Brothers’ classic, "You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin."’ Spector also worked on the Beatles album "Let It Be" and John Lennon’s album, "Imagine."

Spector’s letters were released by Hal Lifson, a publicist working for Spector and his wife. Escobar, who lives in Northern California, said he has also received several phone calls from Spector since he went to prison.

A RECENT COLLEGE GRADUATE WHO ACTUALLY MAKES REAL SENSE

Wow! This is really refreshing for a change.

OBAMA, COLLEGE PROFESSORS AND RACE 101
by Scooter Schaefer

Townhall.com
August 20, 2009

As a recent graduate of George Mason University, I can attest that the details of this July's Obama-Gates controversy will most likely fade into the sun-drenched carefree months of your typical college students' summer. An arrest, President Obama calling police officers stupid, beer at the White House, what kind of beer they drank. However, there is a lesson that we can take from both Professor Gates and President Obama.

A backfire erupted because most Americans, college students included, immediately saw through the racial facade that Prof. Gates and the President implied. To most Americans, the arrest was unfortunate, but appropriate given the circumstances. Nevertheless, despite there being no legal grounds to determine wrongdoing on the part of the Officer, and no indication that race was a factor, both Prof. Gates and Obama criticized Sergeant Crowley’s motives and integrity when they cried race-related foul play.

What should have been addressed with respect to Prof. Gates and President Obama is the interjection of pre-conceived notions and biases into a situation that was initially void of race or color. By publicly denouncing Sgt. Crowley’s motives, they unwittingly uncovered their own race-related presumptions. Most would hope that the President of the United States and a "distinguished" Harvard Professor should be the first to withhold judgment based on personal presumptions before the facts were presented.

As a new school year approaches, consider that our colleges and universities are beleaguered with the same bias and presuppositions that were unsuccessfully advanced by President Obama and Prof. Gates. It is no myth that the academic community has an overwhelming liberal slant. But the extent of activism and agenda-driven education by our university professors has not been given adequate attention. A purely objective and "liberal" education, in its classical definition has been almost entirely replaced with an educational system based on a pre-conceived liberal bias of American society, including matters of race.

It is logical to assume the same reactions and presumptions by President Obama in the White House Press Room are made in the halls of Harvard and other prestigious universities by professors on a daily basis. Let us not forget President Obama himself was once a law professor at the University of Chicago and discussed these same topics in his Racism and the Law class.

It is well established that college professors too often interject their own presumptions and biases into the classroom, just as Prof. Gates did when he so brazenly cried racism as Sgt. Crowley was carrying out his responsibilities. It may not be as blatant and reckless as it was from the President and Prof. Gates; effective bias and prejudice can be subtle in nature. From an English professor providing his own list of liberal "classics" as required reading, to the political science professor applying the term "neo-con" to any conservative he or she may wish, presumptions and bias are around every corner of American’s universities.

In another era, it would have been all too easy to simply accept both the President's and the Professor's quick judgment of Gates’ arrest. In 2009, Americans chose to examine the facts, to hear the testimony of Sgt. Crowley, to leave race out of the equation, and to come to their own conclusions. Students too are intelligent enough to catch the same liberal presumptions that are not-so-cleverly inserted into their classrooms. And, with the advent of the internet and alternative news sources, students today have the necessary resources at their fingertips to challenge any premise or presupposition that a hasty professor may imply.

This Fall, students should take on the responsibility of not accepting professors’ tendencies to rely on suppositions, but instead should question the very conjectures that irresponsible professors such as Gates "stupidly" interject.  

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

HUCKABEE ENDS VISIT TO ISRAEL

HUCKABEE: THERE CAN BE NO PALESTINIAN STATE HERE

Israel Today staff
August 19, 2009

Wrapping up his visit to the Holy Land on Tuesday, former US presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said it was "unrealistic" to propose establishing a sovereign Palestinian Arab state alongside the Jewish state of Israel.

Huckabee suggested that the small sliver of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is simply too small to support two sovereign states, especially when many of the citizens of one seek the eradication of the other.

"There is going to be nothing but conflict" is the international community insists on layering two governments and two nations so often at odds with each other, he said.

Huckabee's recommendation is that the international community honor its decision made at the San Remo Conference in 1920 to return the entirety of the land to Jewish control, and to find a different place for the Palestinians to call their national home.

While he didn't go into specifics, many Israelis to the right of the political spectrum have noted that at San Remo, the international community also ceded to Jewish control all of what is today the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. When the territory east of the Jordan River was separated to make room for another Arab state, that should have satisfied past and present calls for a Palestinian national homeland. In fact, 70 percent of Jordan's population are "Palestinians."

Huckabee is touted by some as a frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Huckabee refrained to say if he would run for that office or not, but did say that as US president he would defer to Israel regarding how best to solve the conflict, even though he personally doesn't see the two-state solution as workable.

DON'T GIVE HER THE FINGER !

This is for all you freeway commuters.

A MAN WHO KNOWS HIS NUMBERS

I was riding to work yesterday when I observed a female driver, who cut right in front of a pickup truck, causing the driver to drive onto the shoulder to avoid hitting her. This evidently angered the driver enough that he hung his arm out his window and gave the woman the finger.

'Man, that guy is stupid,' I thought to myself. I ALWAYS smile nicely and wave in a sheepish manner whenever a female does anything to me in traffic, and here's why:

I drive 48 miles each way every day to work. That's 96 miles each day. Of these, 16 miles each way is bumper-to bumper. Most of the bumper-to-bumper is on an 8 lane highway.

There are 7 cars every 40 feet for 32 miles. That works out to 982 cars every mile, or 31,424 cars. Even though the rest of the 32 miles is not bumper-to-bumper, I figure I pass at least another 4000 cars. That brings the number to something like 36,000 cars that I pass every day.

Statistically, females drive half of these. That's 18,000 women drivers! In any given group of females, 1 in 28 has PMS. That's 642.

According to Cosmopolitan, 70% describe their love life as dissatisfying or unrewarding. That's 449.

According to the National Institute of Health, 22% of all females have seriously considered homicide. That's 98.

And 34% describe men as their biggest problem. That's 33.

According to the National Rifle Association, 5% of all females carry weapons and this number is increasing.

That means that EVERY SINGLE DAY, I drive past at least one female that has a lousy love life, thinks men are her biggest problem, has seriously considered homicide, has PMS, and is armed.

Give her the finger?

I don't think so!

A VALUABLE CLASSROOM LESSON

A former colleague and now retired North Carolina State University physics professor sent me the following:

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before but had once failed an entire class.

That class had insisted that Obama's socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama's plan". All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A.

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B.

The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.

As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

The scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

Could not be any simpler than that.

OBAMA'S ELECTION PROFITABLE FOR GUN AND AMMO MANUFACTURERS AND DEALERS

Manufacturers of firearms and ammunition pay a federal excise tax -- a major source of wildlife conservation funding -- on all firearms and ammunition manufactured (11% on long guns and ammunition and 10% on handguns).

This latest excise tax report which covers the time period of January 1, 2009 through March 31, 2009, shows that $33.0 million was collected in taxes for pistols and revolvers, $38.9 million for long guns and $37.8 million for ammunition. Compared to the same quarter in 2008, collections were up 65.5% for handguns, 42.9% for ammunition and 28.3% for long guns.

TRANSLATION TO SALES

Using the latest collections as an indicator of sales, a projection of $1.03 billion was generated in the first quarter (calendar year) of 2009. Please keep in mind that although excise taxes are one of the best indicators of industry performance, they only report what the manufacturers paid in taxes and do NOT reflect retail mark-up and final retail sales.

Pistols and revolvers: $33,043,554.83 / .10 = $330,435,548.30 = $330.4 million for handguns

Long guns: $38,979,972.16 / .11 = $354,363,383.27 = $354.3 million for long guns

Ammunition: $37,846,038.52 / .11 = $344,054,895.64 = $344.0 million for ammunition

Total estimation for the quarter: $1.028 billion.

CO-OPS

If Mr. Egan had refrained from bashing Sarah Palin, Chuck Grassley and the Republicans, his op-ed piece would have been much more credible. Oh yes, I too am a member of REI.

PRAIRIE HEALTH CARE COMPANION
By Timothy Egan

The New York Times
August 18, 2009

SEATTLE …..Finding Democrats in the north of Idaho can be like panning for gold in the East River of New York. The area is white, rural and extremely conservative.

But if you get sick in that land of deep lakes and ponderosa pines, a consumer-governed, nonprofit health care provider — Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound — offers extensive coverage at some of the lowest premiums in the nation. And if you need advice on baling twine or baby chicks, the Co-op Country Store, now in its 75th year, can provide service that the nearby Home Depot cannot.

I mention these successful member-owned businesses in a deeply red state because as the public health care option gets hammered by a campaign of disinformation, the co-op model deserves a fair hearing.

Co-ops may not work as the best way to extend care to the more than 45 million Americans without coverage. But they do tend to keep private insurers honest, are fairly good at controlling costs, and will be harder to demonize. When Sarah Palin starts making things up about co-ops, as she did with the famous nonexistent death panels, she’ll be lying about a familiar model for many Alaskans.

Plus, co-ops are built around something that’s been missing thus far in a debate dominated by ill-informed shouters: the consumer.

The West is the native ground of co-ops. It’s in our collective DNA. People buy their tents, sleeping bags and bikes from the nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI, founded in Seattle in 1938, now with 3.5 million active members. It’s consistently rated one of the best places to work in the United States.

Yes, people wince at paying $20 for a water bottle, but they can bring it back any time — and usually count on part of the purchase price returning to them in the form an annual dividend. Last year, REI paid the highest dividend in its history: $73 million.

By way of disclosure, I should say I belong to REI, not out of any political conviction, but because I can get stuff there that I can’t find anywhere else, the sales people are not commission-motivated, and I like that dividend check.

Group Health, founded here in 1947, serves nearly 600,000 people in Washington and northern Idaho, with doctor-choice and an emphasis on preventive care. It’s consumer-governed and nonprofit.

But perhaps because those consumers who run Group Health are less cold-hearted than insurance company bureaucrats, Group Health is sometimes seen as too generous, and thus unable to control costs as much as it would like. Still, the business model has much to contribute.

All over the West, people get their electricity, their hardware, their water from co-ops, and sell their apples, their wheat, their medical services in the same way. I can see why Senator Kent Conrad, the Democrat from North Dakota, has been pushing co-ops. They come out of the prairie progressive tradition.

For now, Republicans have decided to wage a scorched-earth policy on health reform, a strategy that may restore them to power but won’t do a thing for the majority of Americans concerned about the future. Palin, auditioning for the role of most willfully ignorant politician in America, and Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the grumpy old man who is supposed to be a serious voice for bipartisan legislation, have told whoppers about killing grandma, and have become heroes to their base because of it.

They will lie about the co-op model as well. "You can call it a co-op," said Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, "which is another way of saying a government plan."

But it’s not, as hikers and farmers in Utah can tell him, or as Mormon-run welfare and retail outlets in Salt Lake City could attest.

Here in Seattle, a city known for a certain kind of caffeinated capitalism, Group Health is a major market player, and a big reason why our health care premiums are cheaper than those in most cities. We also have public power, giving us some of the lowest electrical rates anywhere, and a chain of co-op grocery stores, which I find a bit too granola-crunchy for my tastes, but which others swear by.

In order for the co-ops to get beyond the vague outlines that Senator Conrad has put forth, they will need some government seed money, $4 billion to $6 billion by most estimates — a mere week in the life of bank bailouts. They will also need to be large enough to compete, as Group Health does here.

But if there’s any doubt a health care co-op can work, ask the people who own one, including more than 11,000 consumers in the sparsely populated, deeply Republican north of Idaho.

ISRAEL'S NATIONAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

Here are some excerpts from "The US Health Care Debate" editorial in yesterday’s Jerusalem Post:

As Israelis observe Americans debate universal healthcare, we find ourselves struck by the fact that our little country is actually more advanced than the US in providing all residents with medical coverage. But we take no pleasure in the realization that political discourse in the US has sometimes deteriorated to the crude levels too often seen in Israel.

……WE DO not presume to tell Americans how to proceed. We can only point to our own experience which demonstrates - albeit on a smaller scale - that universal coverage is workable.

However, there is no doubt that Israelis sacrifice a level of privacy that Americans enjoy. For instance, medical records in Israeli health funds are computerized, and their confidentiality is hardly airtight.

Visiting a family doctor here tends to be a no-frills affair. Care is generally of a high standard, but there are no stylish offices or solicitous receptionists. You hand the physician your magnetic card; there's a minimum of small talk; you're treated and quickly out the door.

Israelis belong to one of four health funds, equivalent to HMOs: Clalit, Maccabi, Meuhedet and Leumit. Your GP does not oversee your care during hospitalization. There may be a wait for elective procedures.

But hospitalizations and medications are fully covered, though most people also purchase supplementary health insurance from their health fund and some take out additional private insurance coverage.

Everyone is covered. We pay for it all through individual sliding-scale health taxes deducted from our salaries and transferred to the health funds via the National Insurance Institute.

It may well be that a modified version of our system could work well in the American setting.

COPS ARE NOT THE ONLY RACIAL PROFILERS

Recently, I blogged "Racial Profiling By Police Not Altogether Bad" (8-1-09) and "Racial Profiling As Effective Police Work" (8-2-09). I pointed out that when I was a cop, racial profiling was used as an effective crime fighting tool and that today, the judicious use of racial profiling continues to be just as effective in fighting crime.

In today’s Townhall.com, columnist Walter Williams covers a whole range of racial profiling, especially its use in the field of medicine. Williams, who happens to be black, also includes racial profiling as it applies to criminal behavior. That is the part I have chosen to reproduce below. His column shows that cops are not the only racial profilers – even Jesse Jackson is one!

IS RACIAL PROFILING RACIST?
by Walter E. Williams

Townhall.com
August 19, 2009

Harvard Professor Henry Gates' arrest has given new life to the issue of racial profiling……

……Surely, race and ethnicity are not perfect indicators of ……. criminal behavior; however, there are concrete factual data that surely indicate associations. Criminologist Marvin Wolfgang says, "For four violent offenses -- homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault -- the crime rates for blacks are at least 10 times as high as they are for whites."

In a 1999 article, "Capital Cabbies Salute Race Profiling," James Owens writes, "If racial profiling is racism, then the cab drivers of Washington, D.C., they themselves mainly blacks and Hispanics, are all for it. A District taxicab commissioner, Sandra Seegars, who is black, issued a safety-advice statement urging D.C.'s 6,800 cabbies to refuse to pick up 'dangerous looking' passengers. She described 'dangerous looking' as a young black guy ... with shirttail hanging down longer than his coat, baggy pants, unlaced tennis shoes."

The Pizza Marketing Quarterly carried a story of charges of racial discrimination filed in St. Louis against Papa John’s pizza delivery services. Papa John's district manager said she could not and would not ask her drivers to put their lives on the line. She added that the racial discrimination accusation is false because 75 to 85 percent of the drivers in the complaining neighborhood are black and, moreover, most of those drivers lived in the very neighborhood being denied delivery service.

Some years ago, the Rev. Jesse Jackson complained, "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." ……