Monday, September 03, 2012

Wow! British TV channel airs doubts about the history of Islam

This has been known among scholars for years but was totally unknown to the general public. Unlike the four gospels, all the written records of Mohammed and his doings date from around 200 years after the events alleged. There is a view that he is a myth created for the purposes of Egyptian politics in the 9th century AD

I myself find it a little strange that the allegedly all-conquering Muslims coexisted alongside the Christian Greek empire of Byzantium for roughly half a millennium. And when Byzantium did fall, it fell to marines of the Most Serene Republic (of Venice) -- not to Muslims. Cursed be Doge Dandolo! Though Muslims soon exploited the damage done by the Venetians

Channel 4 is at the centre of a storm over a programme it broadcast on the history of Islam. Islam: The Untold Story has triggered nearly 550 complaints to both the television regulator Ofcom and Channel 4 itself. It has also sparked a bitter war of words on Twitter involving leading historians and Islamic scholars.

Since it was screened last week, presenter Tom Holland, a historian with a double first from Cambridge, has been subjected to a torrent of abusive tweets, some of which have included physical threats. He is accused of distorting the history of Islam by claiming the Koran makes little or no reference to the religious city of Mecca.

One Twitter user accused Mr Holland of trying to destroy Islamic history while another called him a ‘fool’ for suggesting Islam is a ‘made-up religion’.

The Islamic Education and Research Academy has published a lengthy paper denouncing the programme. But historians have rallied to Mr Holland’s defence.

Dan Snow, who has presented history shows for the BBC with his father Peter, described the programme as ‘a triumph’, tweeting: ‘Dear angry, mad people – it is conceivable that you know more than the world’s leading scholars, but very unlikely.’

The Academy claims the programme’s assertion that there are no historical records detailing the life and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad is flawed. ‘Holland appears to have turned a blind eye to rich Islamic historical tradition,’ says the Academy.

Ofcom, which has received 150 complaints about the programme’s alleged bias, inaccuracy and offence caused to Muslims, is considering an investigation.

Last night Mr Holland said: ‘The origins of Islam are a legitimate subject of historical inquiry and this film is wholly in keeping with other series and programmes on Channel 4. 'We were of course aware that we were touching deeply-held sensitivities and went to every effort to ensure that the moral and civilisational power of Islam was acknowledged.’




Within minutes of the announcement that Paul Ryan would be Mitt Romney's running mate, the Democratic attack machine shifted into high gear. "Paul Ryan will destroy Medicare as we know it," claimed the ads. "So will Mitt Romney." Be afraid. Be very afraid.

But isn't ObamaCare what seniors should really be scared of? Yes, indeed. And to hide that fact, the Obama forces are telling five big lies.

Lie Number One: Health Reform Is Good For Seniors.

Millions of taxpayer dollars (that's our dollars) have been spent on Andy Griffith television ads and other advertisements trying to convince seniors that they are big winners under health reform. If the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) could claim jurisdiction over these ads, a lot of Obama administration folks would be headed for the hoosegow.

In fact, 40% of the cost of giving subsidized insurance to young people is being paid for by reduced spending on the elderly and the disabled. For the next 10 years, the spending reduction totals $716 billion. That's no small change.

The Obama ads and the White House television talking points stress new benefits for seniors: a free annual wellness exam and the eventual closing of the "donut hole" for drug coverage. What they conceal is that for every $1 spent on new benefits, seniors will lose $9 in other spending — which gives a whole new meaning to the term "bait and switch."

Consider people reaching the age of 65 this year. Under ObamaCare, the average amount spent on these enrollees over the remainder of their lives will fall by about $36,000 at today's prices. That sum of money is equivalent to about three years of benefits. For 55 year olds, the spending decrease is about $62,000 — or the equivalent of six years of benefits. For 45 year olds, the loss is more than $105,000, or nine years of benefits.

In terms of the sheer dollars involved, the planned reduction in future Medicare payments is the equivalent of raising the eligibility age for Medicare to age 68 for today's 65 year olds, to age 71 for 55 year olds and to age 74 for 45 year olds. But rather than keep the system as is and raise the age of eligibility, the reform law instead tries to achieve equivalent savings by paying less to the providers of care.

Lie Number Two: Seniors Will Not Lose Any Medicare Benefits.

To begin with, one in four Medicare beneficiaries is in a Medicare Advantage plan. These plans may be overpaid by Medicare, but they are required to "spend" their overpayments on extra benefits for the enrollees. These include extra drug coverage, dental benefits, etc. Over the next 10 years, ObamaCare will reduce spending on these plans by $156 billionand this reduction will inevitably lead to a loss of benefits. The remainder of the cuts in Medicare spending will mainly be in the form of reduced payments to providers. Although promised benefits won't change under orthodox Medicare, in the very act of reducing provider fees, health reform will cause seniors to get less care. So while the White House claim that beneficiaries will not lose benefits may not be technically a lie, surely the FTC would pounce on a private company if it said the same things.

Remember: lower payment to providers means less access and less access means less care. One study of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) found that simply enrolling children in CHIP did not result in more health care. That is, they had the same number of doctor visits, etc. However, increasing the fees CHIP pays to doctors does result in more care. And presumably the converse is true as well.

According to the Medicare Office of the Actuary's memorandum, in about two years, Medicare payments to doctors will fall below Medicaid rates and will fall further and further behind Medicaid with each passing year. Medicare payments to hospitals will basically match the Medicaid rate, indefinitely into the future. What will this mean? Seniors will be lined up behind welfare mothers in the attempt to find doctors who will see them and institutions that will admit them. As Harvard University health economist Joe Newhouse has explained, seniors will likely have to seek care at community health centers and safety net hospitals. As the Medicare Office of the Actuary has explained, in a few short years, hospitals will begin closing and senior citizens will have increasing difficulty obtaining access to care.

Lie Number Three: Health Reform Has Made Medicare More Solvent.

Remember, all the health reform act does is pay doctors and hospitals less money. On paper this makes the Medicare trust fund appear to last longer because its expected expenses go down. But if you think this is a legitimate way to make Medicare more solvent, why not be even more aggressive? We could wipe out Medicare's $43 trillion unfunded liability entirely if we reduce doctor and hospital fees all the way to zero!

The problem is: seniors would not be able to find a doctor who would see them or a hospital that would admit them.

Lie Number Four: ObamaCare Is Fully Paid For.

The White House claims that ObamaCare makes a small profit — that is, that it actually reduces the deficit.

Yet last Sunday on ABC's This Week, Cokie Roberts baldly asserted that the (ObamaCare) cuts in Medicare spending will never happen. In fact she asserted this with such an air of inside-the-Beltway authority that none of the other talking heads on the program dared to challenge her. She may be right.

We've already been through this exercise with a piece of Republican legislation — the 1996 budget act. The Republicans decided to balance the budget, in part, by slowing in the growth of Medicare doctors' fees. However, in the following years, Congress repeatedly stepped in at the last minute to delay the reductions. The next point of reckoning will come in January, 2013, when a 10-year "doctor fix" will require about $271 billion.

Think about that for a moment. Republicans and Democrats together have promised various constituencies almost $1 trillion in benefits — to be paid for by taking $1 trillion away from Medicare providers over the next 10 years. Yet, like Cokie Roberts, no one in Washington thinks that Congress will stick to the bargain.

If it doesn't, that means that ObamaCare was never really paid for, that it will create a new entitlement that will add hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit, and that nothing has happened to make Medicare more solvent.

By the way, neither the Congressional Budget Office nor the Office of the Medicare Actuaries thinks the cuts are sustainable. That's why both agencies have put out "alternative" projections of Medicare finances for future years — which is Washington's way of telling Congress, "We don't believe you."

Lie Number Five: Health Reform Is Going to Make Medicare More Efficient.

An alternative to cutting provider fees is to slow the growth of Medicare by making the whole system more cost effective.

The goal here really isn't a partisan issue. The Obama administration has continued a number of the pilot programs and demonstration projects started under the Bush administration. These are designed to find ways of making Medicare less costly through pay-for-performance, coordinated care, managed care, home-based care, electronic medical records, etc. The Congressional Budget Office has looked at these efforts on three separate occasions and each time has concluded that they are not working or, in the few cases where there are positive signs, the performance is lackluster.

In the absence of such efficiencies, the law basically mandates a reduction in provider fees.



Liberal pundits use race to demonize Republicans


People of good will must be puzzled by the liberal media's obsession with race in this week's Republican National Convention. Presuming to understand the motives of strangers, liberal pundits manage to find bigotry in nearly every utterance by a Republican. Whether you were watching MSNBC or reading Harper's or Politico or National Journal or the New York Times -- or any number of other left-leaning outlets -- you learned that racist code exists wherever a Republican opens his mouth.

For example, who knew that the word "Chicago" is a racist epithet? It is, according to MSNBC's Chris Matthews. "They keep saying Chicago," he said of the convention speakers. "That's another thing that sends that message -- this guy's helping the poor people in the bad neighborhoods, screwing us in the 'burbs." His guest replied: "There's a lot of black people in Chicago." And there you were, thinking Chicago was merely Obama's hometown.

America also learned this week that chants of "U.S.A., U.S.A.!" are racist as well. The chant actually broke out on the convention floor when Romney-backers were trying to drown out Ron Paul supporters. But Jack Hitt of Harper's recognized the racism right away -- this rowdiness occurred when a Republican Party officer from Puerto Rico was speaking from the podium.

To the liberal mind, all policy criticisms of President Obama seem motivated by race. National Journal's Ron Fournier detected it in Mitt Romney's ads about the 1996 welfare reforms, which Obama opposed as a state senator and whose work requirements he has illegally given states permission to dilute. "Romney's team knows, or should know, they are playing the race card," Fournier wrote. The New York Times joined in, noting that Romney's message on this issue contains "a sharper edge and overtones of class and race." Better not to discuss welfare policy at all -- or at least not while Obama is president.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., commented this week on Obama's enthusiasm for golf: "He hasn't been working to earn re-election. He's been working to earn a spot on the PGA tour." That may sound like a wry jab at a political opponent, but MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell saw right through it: "Well, we know exactly what he's trying to do there," he told host Martin Bashir on Wednesday. "He is trying to align to Tiger Woods and surely, the -- lifestyle of Tiger Woods with Barack Obama. ... these people reach for every single possible racial double entendre they can find in every one of these speeches." (Don't try to understand the logic -- it's way over your head.)

So many racial dog whistles. Or maybe not. Maybe these liberal pundits are just trying to invent a nobler cause in their own minds than the one they actually serve. Maybe it helps their self-esteem to pretend that, instead of defending a failed presidency and a lousy economic recovery, they are living 50 years ago, standing alongside freedom riders and marchers in the segregated South. Their fantasy lets them confer upon themselves all the glory of the Civil Rights struggle, without ever having to face the insults, the discrimination, the firehoses, the lynchings, the state-sanctioned terrorism or any of the other dangers that far braver Americans fought against decades ago.



Liberalism, as we know it

By George F. Will

After a delusional proclamation — General Motors “has come roaring back” — Obama said: “Now I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs, not just in the auto industry, but in every industry.” We have been warned.

He intervened to succor one of two of the U.S. auto industries. One, located in the South and elsewhere, does not have a long history of subservience to the United Auto Workers and for that reason has not needed Obama’s ministrations. He showered public money on two of three parts of the mostly Northern auto industry, the one long entangled with the UAW. He socialized the losses of GM and Chrysler. Ford was not a mendicant because it was not mismanaged.

Today, “I am GM, hear me roar” is again losing market share, and its stock, of which taxpayers own 26 percent, was trading Thursday morning at $21, below the $33 price our investor in chief paid for it and below the $53 price it would have to reach to enable taxpayers to recover the entire $49.5 billion bailout. Roaring GM’s growth is in China.

But let’s not call that outsourcing of manufacturing jobs, lest we aggravate liberalism’s current bewilderment, which is revealed in two words it dare not speak, and in a four-word phrase it will not stop speaking. The two words are both verbal flinches. One is “liberal,” the other “spend.” The phrase is “as we know it.”

Jettisoning the label “liberal” was an act not just of self-preservation, considering the damage liberals had done to the word, but also of semantic candor: The noble liberal tradition was about liberty — from oppressive kings, established churches and aristocracies. For progressives, as liberals now call themselves, liberty has value, when it has value, only instrumentally — only to the extent that it serves progress, as they restlessly redefine this over time.

The substitution of “invest” for “spend” (e.g., “We must invest more in food stamps,” and in this and that) is prudent but risky. People think there has been quite enough of (in Mitt Romney’s words) “throwing more borrowed money at bad ideas.” But should progressives call attention to their record as investors of other people’s money (GM, Solyndra, etc.)?

In 1992, candidate Bill Clinton’s campaign ran an ad that began: “For so long government has failed us, and one of its worst features has been welfare. I have a plan to end welfare as we know it.” This was before progressives defined progress as preventing changes even to rickety, half-century-old programs: Republicans “would end Medicare as we know it.”

When did peculiarly named progressives decide they must hunker down in a defensive crouch to fend off an unfamiliar future?

Hoover Dam ended the lower Colorado River as we knew it...

Rockefeller Center ended midtown Manhattan as we knew it...

Desegregation ended the South as we knew it.

The Internet ended...

You get the point. In their baleful resistance to any policy not “as we know it,” progressives resemble a crotchety 19th-century vicar in a remote English village banging his cane on the floor to express irritation about rumors of a newfangled, noisy and smoky something called a railroad.

Given Democrats’ current peevishness, it is fitting that Sandra Fluke will address their convention. In February she, you might not remember, became for progressives the victim du jour of America’s insufficient progress. She was a 30-year-old-student — almost half way to 62, when elderly Americans can begin collecting Social Security — unhappy about being unable to get someone else (Georgetown University, a Catholic institution) to pay for her contraceptives.

Say this for Democrats: They recognize a symbol of their sensibility when they see one.



My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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