The New SCHIP: Using the Children!

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The rhetoric is flying fast and furiously over the president’s promised and certainly pending veto of the newly expanded State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The SCHIP has actually been in existence since the majority Republican congress passed it in 1997 and for 10 years it has been providing health insurance for the children of low-income families who are making more than they are allowed to, to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to purchase health insurance — that is, at least, how the program is explained by the media. Now, however, since the congress is controlled by a Democratic majority, and since they operate on the assumption that anything that President Bush thinks is good is, in reality, rotten to the core, they decided to make the SCHIP bigger so it covers more people (and costs more).

Here are the basic opposing points of view as I understand them:

Those Senators and Congressmen who voted against the new SCHIP are saying they did so because this new program is a giant step in the direction of government administered Universal Health Care — much like then First Lady Hillary Clinton proposed some years ago. They say that this new incarnation of SCHIP would allow adults to receive SCHIP benefits (taking benefits away from children), allow illegal immigrants to receive SCHIP benefits (taking benefits away from American children) and cost the taxpayers tens of billions of additional dollars.

Those Senators and Congressmen who voted for the new SCHIP are apparently saying that the only reason the president is threatening a veto is simply because he wants more children to be uninsured and have to use emergency rooms for treatment. That basically is their only argument — aside from some accusations that he is opposing this because he doesn’t want insurance companies to loose money (well at least they can’t blame Halliburton this time).

It comes down to: who do you believe?

Looking at it logically, is it even a remote possibility that any Senator, Congressman or President would openly oppose children’s health care? I say no, of course not — that would be political suicide; not unless, that is, that the proposed children’s health care program was very badly flawed and the existing one was working well. That one argument alone causes me to believe those who opposed the new program over those who supported it.

Also looking at it logically from the Democrats point-of-view, what is the best way to assure that the President and his party look really really bad going into the 2008 election? How about by using the children? When children are involved many people stop thinking rationally and start acting from the gut; so by giving the president a piece of legislation that, on its surface, is good for the children but is, in reality, something they know he can never support; a piece of legislation that was tailored specifically to get vetoed, they can do some really bad damage to his image.

The sad thing is that this veto, no matter how well deserved it is, will most likely be spun so wildly by the media and by the presidential candidates who support the new SCHIP that it will all but kill the presidential hopes of anyone who does not support it. The major media outlets are, as they always are, supportive of anything that makes President Bush look bad, and what makes him look bad makes the Republican Party look bad.

News Links

Bloomberg: Democrats Recruit a 12-Year-Old to Combat Bush on Kids’ Health

Associated Press: GOP Solidarity Softens in Congress

From the Blogs

The Alan Katz Health Care Reform Blog: State Children Health Insurance Program Problems Don’t Bode Well for Health Care Reform

Democratic Talk Radio Blog: Following Bush Over a Cliff

News and commentary by: Whymrhymer can also be found at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

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Christopher Hitchens, My Flawed Exemplar

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The Washington post has a web based forum called: “On Faith” which has guest columnists who touch on all religious and, to their credit, anti-religious topics. Today’s (Sept. 26th) guest columnist, clearly from the anti-religious side, is Christopher Hitchens, the iconoclastic ‘Bard’ of the atheist community.

In Hitchen’s column he gives an example of what he calls the “the recrudescence of ‘faith-based’ teaching in Russian public schools.” Yes, recrudescence is a real english word, but if you read Hitchens it’s like reading The National Review’s William F. Buckley — you don’t go there without either a masters degree in English or a good dictionary (my default weapon of choice is the dictionary). Hitchen’s example of this ‘return’ of faith based teaching is a recent (we are led to imagine) event in the classroom of a Russian school where a teacher set aside regular school work and asked her second grade class: “Whom should we learn to do good from?” Her class, apparently as one, responded by saying: “From God!” After which the teacher told them they were right and continued on to give an example of God, in his incarnation as Jesus, doing something good.

Hitchens continues on to explode with frustration over this possibly fictional episode; he calls it a “grisly vignette, which almost perfectly summarizes the relationship between sadism and masochism in Christian teaching” (no, I don’t get the parallel either but then I don’t ‘get’ many of Hitchen’s references) and goes on to say that this is an example of how easy and “how wicked it is to lie to children when it’s done in the name of the “wrong” faith.”

Well if you know Hitchens, you know what followed, an even more scathing diatribe in which every religious believer is pictured as a fool or worse. That is the point at which Hitchens and I begin to part company. Hitchens makes his living (a very good living at that) trying to convince the religious that they have been ‘duped;’ he is intentionally sensational and insulting because that’s what sells. If he simply stated what he believes, who would care, but playing the attack-dog draws a lot more reader interest. In the title of this post I called Hitchens my “flawed exemplar” and that’s as close as I can come to explaining the paradox that begins with believing as he does and concludes with detesting his chosen public presence as an anti-religious missionary.

I believe, as does Christopher Hitchens, that there is no God sitting in his Heaven judging our actions and, in that sense, the religious have been duped; but I do believe that some God-like force created man (as posited in the Intelligent Design Theory) well before man had the wisdom to create God. Yes, I said ‘the wisdom’!

I believe that there are those who’s entire life is wrapped up in the belief in an omnipresent God and I see no gain in trying to shatter their belief. Then there are those who need that God-vision to simply exist as civilized human beings; without it they would rapidly turn uncivilized and endanger the rest of us. On the other hand there are those who USE the “existence” of God as a tool to get their way and/or as an excuse to commit atrocities — ‘in the name of some God or prophet’ of course.

News Links:

Washington Post: The Subtle, Lethal Poison of Religion

AllAfrica.com: Nigeria: Religion at Crossroads

From the Blogosphere (on Hitchens):

Atypical Guy: Christopher Hitchens vs. Al Sharpton on God and Atheism

The Domain For Truth: Why Christopher Hitchens Is Wrong About Billy Graham

Poe.com: In Drunken Rage, Atheist Guru Hitchens Bullies Hero Priest of 9-11

News and commentary by: Whymrhymer can also be found at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

Photo-IDs Keep the Voting Process Honest

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Soon the U.S. Supreme court will hear a case that will determine the constitutionality of requiring a government-issued photo ID to vote. The case they will hear was brought by the Democratic party in Indiana. Indiana, it seems has the strictest voter-ID laws in the country and the Democratic party is claiming that requiring a photo-ID places a particular burden on the poor and the elderly (two groups who’s votes the Democrats feel they ‘own’).

The problem of poor and elderly CITIZENS (emphasis intended) acquiring a photo ID is a very small problem that can be easily overcome by state and/or city governments; simply issue free voter ID cards to those who qualify for either status. As generous as the American people are and as generous as corporations are, the cost (or at least a substantial portion of the cost) of such a program would probably easily be underwritten by donations.

I suspect that the poor and the elderly are not the real problem however, I suspect that they are being used by the Democratic party (mainly the Democratic party) as ‘strawmen’ so the party workers can drag as many people to the polls as possible — people including those who are currently deceased and those who are here illegally and have no right to vote. Without the requirement of a photo-ID, all these illegal voters have to do is sign the names on their phony voter registration cards (assuming even that is required) and pull the proper lever.

There are those who will, because of that last paragraph, label me as a Republican but they will be wrong. I stand within neither party (or in any other party). I’m simply an American who understands that many, if not most, politicians are lowlifes who will do anything (with very few limits) to get votes. Historically, the Democratic party has been guilty of most of the vote-buying tactics and their current stand against a common sense principle like requiring a voter to positively identify himself or herself tells me I’m right when I accuse them of being guilty again.

It seems to me that the clearest and most solid argument for voter-ID can be made by reviewing the facts concerning illegal immigration. Thanks to our lax border enforcement over the last ten years or so (perhaps farther back than that) we have God knows how many millions of illegal immigrants here in the United States; and they are not without organization. There are many groups who stand up for their “rights” — even though common sense will tell you that they have no rights under our constitution — and these advocates of the illegals dream of having them cast votes for the candidates who support their causes. With a government-issued photo-ID as a requirement to vote, their dreams will not be easily realized.

Let me be clear, I’m not claiming that the case going before the Supreme Court is directly related to anything other than the poor and the elderly; but I am emphasizing that we are in a situation, created by our own government, where a “win” for the poor and the elderly (unless it is a tightly structured win) will also be a win for those crooked politicians and eager political workers who want to,effectively, steal the votes of legal voters. I can only hope that the justices will at least consider the impact they can have on the age-old problem of voter fraud when they render their decision.

News Links:

New York Times: Justices Agree to Hear Case About Voter ID Laws

USA Today: High court to hear challenge to voter identification law

From the Blogosphere

World Affairs Board: Supreme Court and Voter I.D. Discrimination Case

Opening Arguments: No evidence required

News and commentary by: Whymrhymer can also be found at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

Ahmadinejad ‘Scorched’ at Columbia

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Kudos (or mega-kudos, as Rush Limbaugh might say) to Columbia University’s President Lee Bollinger for giving Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the type of introduction he deserved: harsh, critical and insulting.

Bollinger received a lot of criticism for inviting Ahmadinejad to speak at the University but it appears now that Bollinger not only had an ulterior motive but also has a great understanding of the true spirit of American freedom. We are a free country where even, to quote Bollinger’s portrayal of Ahmadinejad during his introduction, “petty and cruel dictator(s)” are free to be heard. The bottom line appears to be that Bollinger’s motive for inviting Ahmadinejad to Columbia was simply to expose him for the fraud and liar that he is. Mission well accomplished.

At one point in his introduction, Bollinger brought up the Holocaust and Ahmadinejad’s public statements and actions regarding the Holocaust and then ‘scorched’ Ahmadinejad with his opinions of those statements and actions:

“In a December 2005 state television broadcast, you described the Holocaust as the fabricated legend. One year later, you held a two-day conference of Holocaust deniers. . . . When you come to a place like this, it makes you simply ridiculous. The truth is that the Holocaust is the most documented event in human history. You are either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated, will you cease this outrage?”

In response, the visibly angered Iranian president backtracked on his statements about the Holocaust; he now claims that he is not “passing judgment on whether the Holocaust occurred.” He then added a new dimension to the Holocaust; Ahmadinejad now claims that the Holocaust is being used a justification for Israeli mistreatment of the Palestinians.

First I’ve heard of it!

One of the biggest lies of the day was Ahmadinejad’s response to an audience question about the execution of homosexuals in Iran; his response: “In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country … I don’t know who’s told you that we have this.”

Wow! If Iran did not have any homosexuals, why would it need the laws that call for the execution of males for the crime of ‘penetration” with another male — but for those laws hundreds of Iran’s ‘non-existent’ homosexuals would be alive today.

Bollenger’s invitation, it turns out, exposed the Iranian leader for who and what he is and gave us (and the rest of the world) an additional justification for doubting Ahmadinejad when he asks the world to believe him, when he insists that his nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes. Can you trust this man? You be the judge!

News Links:

CTV Canada: Ahmadinejad called ‘petty’ and ‘cruel’ at forum

Bloomberg: Demonstrators Protest Ahmadinejad Speech at Columbia (Update3)

From the Blogs:

Idealist*dc: Ahmadinejad @ Columbia U

The Van Der Galiën Gazette: President of Columbia Blasts Ahmadinejad to His Face

News and commentary by: Whymrhymer can also be found at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

Jena, Louisiana: Perpetuating Racism

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It’s a damn shame that there are places like Jena, LA where racial prejudice not only lives but thrives! Places where a black kid can get beat up by white kids because he choose to sit under the wrong tree, places where children have been brought up to hate based on the color of a person’s skin and where these children are taught that the hangman’s noose is a symbol of “white justice,” places where racism has infiltrated and corrupted the judicial system to the point where the prosecutors file (or refuse to file) criminal charges based primarily on race rather than on the circumstances surrounding the act.

Then again its just as much of a damn shame that there are racists on the other side, racists like Rev. Jessie Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton, who care nothing about justice — unless its justice for blacks. I may be wrong, but I doubt if Jessie Jackson or Al Sharpton have ever stood up for a white man, woman or child falsely or overly charged with a crime where the victim (or supposed victim) was black. Men like these are as much of a scourge on our civilization as are cities like Jena, LA.

This week, thousands of protesters came to Jena to rally against, to quote the Associated Press: “what they see as a double standard of justice for blacks and whites.” That by itself is a good thing because it seems apparent, according to almost all media accounts, that there is indeed a double standard in Jena — that was all but proven by the fact that five black teens were charged with attempted second-degree murder (because the sixth perpetrator is a juvenile, charges against him were never publicized) because they ganged up on a white teen and beat him into unconsciousness. That’s a brutally violent act but it apparently was a charge trumped up due to prejudice on the part of the white prosecutor and because of the public outcry those charges were reduced to aggravated second-degree battery — before the kids had their days in court.

What is perverse about the situation is that now that the charges have been lowered to a reasonable level, by all appearances, the protests have changed from outrage over injustice to support for six kids who clearly committed a criminal act. These kids should be considered outcasts — they are every bit as ignorant and evil as any member of the Klu Klux Klan. There was nothing noble or worthy of public support in what they did, regardless of why they think they did it. They should have justice applied as it should be applied to everyone else regardless of their race. If the protests in Jena accomplish that, they will have accomplished something notable — and perhaps, after this incident has ‘died down’ and after the protests end, the officials in the justice system in Jena will be a little more introspective about their prejudices and a lot more interested in justice, before creating another unwelcomed situation for the city.

As for the citizenry of Jena, it’s very likely the black citizens of Jena will listen and take to heart the negative messages spread by the likes of Rev. Jackson and Rev. Sharpton, as the reverends stir their pot full of resentment. That’s what they do, everywhere they go and they always have lots of willing ears. What the citizens of Jena (both white and black) should be listening to, instead of race baiters on either side, are messages that make them aware that the only reason this situation started and is being perpetuated is because many of them have raised their children, as they were raised, to be ignorant brutes rather than thoughtful individuals.

It may be a damn shame but there will always be racists, black ones and white ones, who look at you and see nothing but the color of your skin. Racism is motivated by fear and a lack of understanding of a different culture and is complicated by the fact that it is a ‘learned’ attitude. Kids in kindergarten look around at kids of a different race and ignore the differences — what’s important to them is which kids are fun to play with. Wouldn’t it be a much better world if we didn’t teach those kids to hate and disrespect based on appearance?

News Links:

Boston Globe Editorial: Long memories in Jena

Newsday: Jena rally lacks ugliness of decades past

From the Blogosphere:

The end of elite media empires and rise of citizen journalism: What do Hillary and Obama have to say about the Jena six?

Plantation Life: Jena Six and the Emasculating Nature of Society

News and commentary by: Whymrhymer can also be found at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

The Confluence of Religion and Politics

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The Wall Street Journal today (9/15/07) published an excerpt of Mark Lilla’s new book titled: ‘The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West’. Mark Lilla is a professor at Columbia University.

Judging from the WSJ excerpt, Mr. Lilla has done a credible job of taking the reader from ancient time to the present while examining religious thought, theory and practice as it applies to political systems. Despite the implication in his book title that ‘God is dead’ (“Stillborn”), Lilla does not (at least in the excerpt) come across as a take-no-prisoners, iconoclastic atheist, ala Christopher Hitchens. He acknowledges that different people approach the facts of their existence, in relation to whatever God(s) they do or do not believe in, in different ways. After acknowledging that, however, he does make it clear which side he leans toward with the statement that: “Religion is something that happens to human beings, arising out of ignorance and fear or as a mythical expression of a society’s collective consciousness”.

Mark Lilla’s religious beliefs are not, however, as important as the questions he poses and hopes to answer:

“Why do certain religious beliefs get translated into doctrines about political life?

What reasons do people give for appealing to God in their political thought?”

Judging from this excerpt, Lilla’s answers to those questions will be eloquent and well thought out — and are perhaps ‘hinted at’ by the following excerpt from the WSJ’s excerpt:

“. . . political theology is a way of thinking; it is an activity, not a psychological state. Subjectively viewed, religion is a choice, perhaps even a rational choice, for individuals and societies. We all face the implicit alternative between living in light of what we take to be divine revelation, or living in some other way.”

This will be a book worth reading if you live as a firm believer, an inflexible doubter or anywhere in between. Read, however, not to justify your personal beliefs but to to understand why personal religious beliefs often translate into public policy — and to, perhaps, answer the question that Lilla did not choose to pose: ‘under what, if any, circumstances is the confluence of religion and politics appropriate and desirable’.

And remember, as you read and interpret, that only a very small minority of religious people and a very small minority of the non-religious are completely inflexible in their belief (or disbelief), and the motivation for those who refuse to even attempt to understand their opposite number is simply insecurity. Mark Lilla shows no signs of insecurity — nor should his readers.

News Links:

Wall Street Journal articles: BOOK EXCERPT: ‘The Stillborn God: Religion,
Politics, and the Modern West’
Contested Authority By PETER BERKOWITZ

New York Sun: The Age Of Political Theology

From the Blogosphere:

The Faithful Skeptic: the politics of God: Mark Lilla’s new book

Rumblings: The Political and the Divine

News and commentary by: Whymrhymer can also be found at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

Kid Nation: Irresponsible Charges of Irresponsible Conduct

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There have been many, many commentators quick to criticize the new CBS “reality show” Kid Nation; while much of their criticism is unfounded even more borders on the ridiculous.

General criticism’s have been based on CBS’s promo: “Forty kids with no parents, no teachers . . . anywhere.” This has led to charges ranging from “irresponsible” to “child abuse” to “slavery” and those charges were (and are) based on nothing more than the mental picture of 40 kids running around unsupervised ala “Lord of the Flies.”

What nonsense! How does anyone in their right mind imagine that a major television network would EVER allow that? Of course they wouldn’t and didn’t! There were no parents or teachers, that’s true but there were medical professionals constantly on the scene and a production crew that was continually on the watch for any situation that would lead to allegations of abuse or a lawsuit after the production wrapped.

The kids, you can be sure, had a great time because they actually were in charge of many aspects of their lives while the show was being filmed — you can be sure that they didn’t have absolute freedom but they had the freedom to make and implement many decisions involving their daily life. The only kids that wouldn’t enjoy that are the kids that have strict and neurotic parents who don’t allow their children to have more than limited freedom and who don’t feel that kids are capable of making decisions — those are the kids that weren’t at Kid Nation anyway.

The most hysterical charge I’ve heard against CBS was on yesterday’s Michael Medved radio show. He painted a picture of the living conditions, asking his listeners how they would like having their 8-year old sleeping in the same room with older kids that weren’t related or even close friends. He continued into a station break with the accusation that CBS’s motive was “sexual titillation.” Wow! If those sleeping conditions, conditions very similar to every summer camp, caused Mr. Medved to be sexually titillated, me thinks that Mr. Medved has a very disturbing problem. Perhaps he was molested at a summer camp as a child? Well those things do happen but they are very less likely to happen in a place run by a mult-million-dollar corporation that is very aware of the legal and public-relations consequences of something like that.

The kids on Kid Nation were safer than they would be at any summer camp and as safe as they would have been if 40 sets of parents were standing on the side-lines making it all but impossible to produce the series.

If I didn’t work nights or if I had a TIVO type device to record Kid Nation I’d watch it for sure! It’s not gong to be great television and I don’t think the ratings will be sky-high but it’s worth a look just because it’s unique. I’m sure I’ll catch highlights on the news or entire segments on YouTube.

How about you? Are you going to give Kid Nation a look-see?

News Links:

International Herald Tribune: CBS backs ‘Kid Nation’ despite outcry

Chicago Tribune: What were ‘Kid Nation’ parents thinking?

From the Blogs

Mixed Media: Let’s Give Kid Nation a Chance

Ed Martin’s Watercoller TV: Advertisers are the First to See Kid Nation!

News and commentary by: Whymrhymer can also be found at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals