No Child Left Uncovered

An editorial in this week’s issue of The New England Journal of Medicine (as well as an accompanying article) argue for renewal of the SCHIP program. They also criticize George Bush for opposing the renewal on ideological grounds. The editorial concludes:

Despite the considerable bipartisan support for the bills, President Bush has made it clear that he will veto any measure that increases costs by more than $5 billion over 5 years, an amount that, instead of providing coverage to additional children, would require ending coverage for children who are already covered. Some senators from his own party are astounded that he has already announced his intention to veto the legislation, even before the two versions of the bills have been brought to a conference committee. His objection to the legislation rests solely on ideological grounds; he believes that expansion of the program will be just another entitlement moving the country toward government-sponsored health insurance, an approach that he has consistently opposed. He further argues that the additional SCHIP funds would be used simply to replace existing private insurance coverage. Instead, the president favors a program of tax incentives to encourage the uninsured to purchase private insurance. In late August, the Bush administration placed new limitations on the use of SCHIP funds for any but the very lowest income children. But in turning his back on SCHIP, the president is finding precious little company; organizations as diverse as the American Medical Association, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the AARP, and the Children’s Defense Fund all support the legislation.

The possible merits of the president’s tax-incentive approach deserve debate, but tax reform is a long-term issue that should not stand in the way of the necessary expansion of SCHIP and its September 30 deadline. We believe that the president is making a serious mistake in holding children hostage for the sake of his personal political agenda. SCHIP, a small block-grant program of inarguable merit, is scarcely a stalking horse for universal health care. It is a shining example of what is good about our country. We have enormous wealth, and in our best moments we have been willing to share it with the most fragile members of our society. If the president is sincere in his commitment to leave no child behind, he must begin by leaving no child uncovered.

More Evidence Released Debunking 9/11 Conspiracy Theorists

Six years after the anniversary there’s still those who deny the fact that the twin towers collapsed as a result of a terrorist attack consisting of two airplanes hitting the World Trade Center. The BBC has posted additional evidence to refute those who propose alternative conspiracy theories. (Hat tip to Ed Morrissey).

Dr Keith Seffen set out to test mathematically whether this chain reaction really could explain what happened in Lower Manhattan six years ago. The findings are to be published in the Journal of Engineering Mechanics.

Previous studies have tended to focus on the initial stages of collapse, showing that there was an initial, localised failure around the aircraft impact zones, and that this probably led to the progressive collapse of both structures.

In other words, the damaged parts of the tower were bound to fall down, but it was not clear why the undamaged building should have offered little resistance to these falling parts.

“The initiation part has been quantified by many people; but no one had put numbers on the progressive collapse,” Dr Seffen told the BBC News website.

Dr Seffen was able to calculate the “residual capacity” of the undamaged building: that is, simply speaking, the ability of the undamaged structure to resist or comply with collapse.

His calculations suggest the residual capacity of the north and south towers was limited, and that once the collapse was set in motion, it would take only nine seconds for the building to go down.

There has already been extensive work debunking the claims of the 9/11 conspiracy theorists, such as in this review by Popular Mechanics and this computer simulation I previously posted. Of course none of the evidence will have any influence on the type of people who buy into these conspiracy theories, as I found after the last time I debunked their claims.

Update: Additional references were added in the comments:

Scientific American

The 9/11 Truth Movement in Perspective

Debunking 911 Conspiracy Theories

911 Conspiracy Theories

Muslims Fight For Right To Renounce Islam

There are many forms of commemorate the anniversary of the 9/11 attack. The Times of London reports on a group in the Netherlands fighting for the right to renounce Islam:

The provocative move reflects a growing rift between traditionalists and a younger generation raised on a diet of Dutch tolerance.

The Committee for Ex-Muslims promises to campaign for freedom of religion but has already upset the Islamic and political Establishments for stirring tensions among the million-strong Muslim community in the Netherlands.

Ehsan Jami, the committee’s founder, who rejected Islam after the attack on the twin towers in 2001, has become the most talked-about public figure in the Netherlands. He has been forced into hiding after a series of death threats and a recent attack

The threats are taken seriously after the murder in 2002 of Pim Fortuyn, an antiimmigration politician, and in 2004 of Theo Van Gogh, an antiIslam film-maker.

Speaking to The Times at a secret location before the committee’s launch today, the Labour Party councillor said that the movement would declare war on radical Islam. Similar organisations campaigning for reform of the religion have sprung up across Europe and representatives from Britain and Germany will join the launch in The Hague today.

“Sharia schools say that they will kill the ones who leave Islam. In the West people get threatened, thrown out of their family, beaten up,” Mr Jami said. “In Islam you are born Muslim. You do not even choose to be Muslim. We want that to change, so that people are free to choose who they want to be and what they want to believe in.”


Just Because You Screwed Up Health Care Reform Once Doesn’t Make You An Expert

Obama’s advisers find it frustrating that Hillary Clinton benefits politically from her failed experience in health care, as described in The New Yorker:

The issue of health care has been particularly vexing. It has not proved to be the liability for Clinton that her opponents assumed it would. “At the S.E.I.U. health-care forum in Las Vegas, it doesn’t go that well for Barack,” the Obama adviser explained, referring to one of the numerous candidate cattle calls this season. “He tried to leave it at the highest level of principle, and then he’s roundly panned. S.E.I.U. says, ‘You’re a joker.’ They asked, ‘What is your plan?’ He did what all the experts said to do: just get up and say what your general view is, because if you release details you get hammered. The public reaction and the S.E.I.U. reaction was extremely negative.”

In describing this dynamic, Obama’s adviser became more and more agitated. “Then Hillary Clinton doesn’t come out with any plan! Because she just says, ‘I know a lot about health care,’ they have let her go for months without a plan! And then her advisers, on background, criticize Obama’s plan, even though they don’t have one.” He continued, “Coming up with a plan to solve America’s health-care crisis is not an easy thing. We pulled a lot of all-nighters. And I’m, like, Why doesn’t she have to come out with a plan?” (Clinton is scheduled to unveil a plan soon.) The adviser was baffled about why many experts in the health-care field believe that Hillary’s experience in 1993 and 1994 is an asset. “I’m sure George Bush learned how not to invade Iraq,” he said. “Should we then trust him to invade Iran?” 

Clinton’s experience should not be considered an asset. She developed a terrible plan, and as a consequence something which hadn’t happened in such a long time nobody considered it a possibility occurred–the Democrats lost control of Congress. If Obama’s advisers find this vexing, perhaps they should consider bringing up the faults in Hillary Care. If all the other candidates pretend that Hillary is an expert on health care, or at least don’t challenge that assumption, that becomes the conventional wisdom, just like the conventional wisdom that Saddam had WMD.