Friday, November 06, 2009

Friends hail police Sgt. Kimberly Munley for taking down Fort Hood gunman, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan By Rich Schapiro


November 6th 2009

Police Sgt. Kimberly Munley is credited with ending the Fort Hood mass shooting before even more people were shot."

The hero cop who ended the bloody rampage at Fort Hood by pumping four bullets into the crazed gunman even though she was wounded is known for her toughness, friends say.

Before relocating to Texas, civilian police Sgt. Kimberly Munley spent about five years as a cop in North Carolina where she forged a reputation as a no-nonsense officer.

"I'd like to say I'm surprised, but I'm really not," said close friend Drew Peterson, 27.

"She was born and bred to be a police officer. If you were ever to be in a fight, she'd be the first person to stand up next to you and back you up. She's a tough cookie."

Munley's toughness and grace under pressure were on display Thursday when she and her partner responded within three minutes of reported gunfire, said Army Lt. Gen. Bob Cone.

Munley, who had been trained in active-response tactics, rushed into the building and confronted the shooter as he was turning a corner, Cone said.

"It was an amazing and an aggressive performance by this police officer," Cone said.

Munley was only a few feet from Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan when she opened fire.

Wounded in the exchange of bullets, the 34-year-old Munley was reported in stable condition at a local hospital.

In a posting on her Twitter page before the shooting, she wrote: "I live a good life....a hard one, but I go to sleep peacefully @ night knowing that I may have made a difference in someone's life."

Munley's brother Daniel Barbour told ABC News that his sister had been shot three times in the hand and the leg.
One of the bullets pierced an artery, requiring her to undergo surgery Friday.

The diminutive Munley - she stands 5-foot-4 and weighs about 120 pounds - served as a cop in Wrightsville Beach,
N.C., before she moved to Texas to enlist in the military, friends said.

She is married with two daughters and is no longer in the armed forces.

"She's the happiest, sweetest, most fun-loving girl you'd ever want to be friends with - and never want to cross," Peterson said.

The hero cop spent Thursday night phoning fellow officers to let them know she was fine and to find out about casualties in the attack - the deadliest ever on a military base in the U.S., Cone said.

Cone said Munley's aggressive response training taught her that "if you act aggressively to take out a shooter you will have less fatalities."

"She walked up and engaged him," he said. He praised her as "one of our most impressive young police officers."

10 Failed Doomsday Predictions By Benjamin Radford


Nov 4, 2009

With the upcoming disaster film "2012" and the current hype about Mayan calendars and doomsday predictions, it seems like a good time to put such notions in context.

Most prophets of doom come from a religious perspective, though the secular crowd has caused its share of scares as well. One thing the doomsday scenarios tend to share in common: They don't come to pass.

Here are 10 that didn't pan out, so far:

The Prophet Hen of Leeds, 1806

History has countless examples of people who have proclaimed that the return of Jesus Christ is imminent, but perhaps there has never been a stranger messenger than a hen in the English town of Leeds in 1806. It seems that a hen began laying eggs on which the phrase "Christ is coming" was written. As news of this miracle spread, many people became convinced that doomsday was at hand - until a curious local actually watched the hen laying one of the prophetic eggs and discovered someone had hatched a hoax.

The Millerites, April 23, 1843

A New England farmer named William Miller, after several years of very careful study of his Bible, concluded that God's chosen time to destroy the world could be divined from a strict literal interpretation of scripture. As he explained to anyone who would listen, the world would end some time between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. He preached and published enough to eventually lead thousands of followers (known as Millerites) who decided that the actual date was April 23, 1843. Many sold or gave away their possessions, assuming they would not be needed; though when April 23 arrived (but Jesus didn't) the group eventually disbanded-some of them forming what is now the Seventh Day Adventists.

Mormon Armageddon, 1891 or earlier

Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church, called a meeting of his church leaders in February 1835 to tell them that he had spoken to God recently, and during their conversation he learned that Jesus would return within the next 56 years, after which the End Times would begin promptly.

Halley's Comet, 1910

In 1881, an astronomer discovered through spectral analysis that comet tails include a deadly gas called cyanogen (related, as the name imples, to cyanide). This was of only passing interest until someone realized that Earth would pass through the tail of Halley's comet in 1910. Would everyone on the planet be bathed in deadly toxic gas? That was the speculation reprinted on the front pages of "The New York Times" and other newspapers, resulting in a widespread panic across the United States and abroad. Finally even-headed scientists explained that there was nothing to fear.

Pat Robertson, 1982

In May 1980, televangelist and Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson startled and alarmed many when - contrary to Matthew 24:36 ("No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven...") he informed his "700 Club" TV show audience around the world that he knew when the world would end. "I guarantee you by the end of 1982 there is going to be a judgment on the world," Robertson said.

Heaven's Gate, 1997

When comet Hale-Bopp appeared in 1997, rumors surfaced that an alien spacecraft was following the comet - covered up, of course, by NASA and the astronomical community. Though the claim was refuted by astronomers (and could be refuted by anyone with a good telescope), the rumors were publicized on Art Bell's paranormal radio talk show "Coast to Coast AM." These claims inspired a San Diego UFO cult named Heaven's Gate to conclude that the world would end soon. The world did indeed end for 39 of the cult members, who committed suicide on March 26, 1997.

Nostradamus, August 1999

The heavily obfuscated and metaphorical writings of Michel de Nostrdame have intrigued people for over 400 years. His writings, the accuracy of which relies heavily upon very flexible interpretations, have been translated and re-translated in dozens of different versions. One of the most famous quatrains read, "The year 1999, seventh month / From the sky will come great king of terror." Many Nostradamus

devotees grew concerned that this was the famed prognosticator's vision of Armageddon.

Y2K, Jan. 1, 2000

As the last century drew to a close, many people grew concerned that computers might bring about doomsday. The problem, first noted in the early 1970s, was that many computers would not be able to tell the difference between 2000 and 1900 dates. No one was really sure what that would do, but many suggested catastrophic problems ranging from vast blackouts to nuclear holocaust. Gun sales jumped and survivalists prepared to live in bunkers, but the new millennium began with only a few glitches.

May 5, 2000

In case the Y2K bug didn't do us in, global catastrophe was assured by Richard Noone, author of the 1997 book "5/5/2000 Ice: the Ultimate Disaster." According to Noone, the Antarctic ice mass would be three miles thick by May 5, 2000 - a date in which the planets would be aligned in the heavens, somehow resulting in a global icy death (or at least a lot of book sales). Perhaps global warming kept the ice age at bay.

God's Church Ministry, Fall 2008

According to God's Church minister Ronald Weinland, the end times are upon us-- again. His 2006 book "2008: God's Final Witness" states that hundreds of millions of people will die, and by the end of 2006, "there will be a maximum time of two years remaining before the world will be plunged into the worst time of all human history. By the fall of 2008, the United States will have collapsed as a world power, and no longer exist as an independent nation." As the book notes, "Ronald Weinland places his reputation on the line as the end-time prophet of God."

Video: 2012 Cataclysm or Ancient Myth?

Benjamin Radford is managing editor of the Skeptical Inquirer science magazine. His books, films, and other projects can be found on his website. His Bad Science column appears regularly on LiveScience.

Let states lead the way: Washington's one-size-fits-all reform won't work By Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry


November 6, 2009

Congress is on the verge of enacting the largest unfunded mandate in American history. At a time when most states are struggling with rising unemployment, declining tax revenue and the worst national economic climate in 30 years, Congress is demonstrating that it is more out of touch than ever.

The Democratic health "reform" bill in the Senate would require states to expand Medicaid to include all people earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, or $29,327 for a family of four. House Democrats want to require expansion to 150 percent of the poverty level, or $33,075 for a family of four. Even Texas, which has a balanced budget and nearly $9 billion in its rainy-day fund, isn't prepared to absorb this type of blow.

Complaints from majorities of Republican and Democratic governors alike continue to fall on deaf ears. Congress seems intent on forcing a one-size-fits-all mandate on states, some of which actually have solutions to repair their health-care systems that Washington is preventing them from trying.

Texas, for example, has adopted approaches to controlling health-care costs while improving choice, advancing quality of care and expanding coverage. Consider the successful 2003 tort reform. Fewer frivolous lawsuits have attracted record numbers of doctors to the state as medical malpractice insurance premiums dropped by half. Christus Health, a large Catholic nonprofit system with a significant presence in Texas, spent about $100 million on liability defense payments in 2003. Last year, Christus spent $2.3 million on such payments. Much of that savings has gone into expanding health-care services in low-income neighborhoods.

You might think Washington would be curious about plans to provide more low-income Texans with insurance, reduce expensive emergency-room visits for basic care and make it easier to buy into employer-sponsored insurance. Unfortunately, Washington has failed for 18 months to give Texas permission to use Medicaid dollars for these policies.

Historically, the federal government has paid an average of 57 percent of state Medicaid costs. In a transparent attempt to bribe governors and state legislatures into accepting 15 million to 20 million new people nationwide onto Medicaid rolls, Congress is proposing a series of additional subsidies to states to cover 90 percent of the costs of the newly mandated populations. In true Washington form, these handouts would be debt-financed, through the generosity of foreign bankers, to be paid back by future generations of American taxpayers.

Expanding the Medicaid program in Texas alone to include an additional 2 million people would cost $20 billion to $30 billion over the next 10 years. Regardless of how that cost is shared between the federal and state governments down the road, we believe that level of new mandated spending is grossly unacceptable.

Even more stunning than this fiscal irresponsibility is Congress's disregard for the quality of the Medicaid program and the well-being of the people in it. Medicaid is the lowest payer in the health-care system. It reimburses physicians 20 to 30 percent less than even Medicare, which pays costs at a much lower rate than do private insurers. If a doctor or hospital is facing bills, staff salaries and medical malpractice premiums, it is obvious which patients will get preference.

We note with concern that the Government Accountability Office reported in January that Medicaid made an estimated $32.7 billion in improper payments in 2007, equal to a full 10 percent of the program. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) pointed out that the average improper payment rate for non-health government programs is 3.9 percent. He introduced an amendment in the Senate Finance Committee that would have prevented expansions of Medicaid until the secretary of health and human services could certify that its improper payment rate was equivalent to that of non-health programs, but that amendment failed on a party-line vote. The rate of improper payments needs to be addressed.

The Democratic health-care proposals do nothing to expand choice, lower costs and empower patients. They would add to, without reforming, bulky, overpriced programs that would in turn add to our already crushing burden of national debt. Reckless expansion would ultimately reduce the quality of U.S. medical care.

Such tragedies can be averted if the powers-that-be in Washington set aside their devotion to centrally planned, debt-financed, one-size-fits-all solutions and work cooperatively with those laboratories of innovation known as states. Otherwise, we'll end up with a one-size-hurts-all situation.

Newt Gingrich, founder of the Center for Health Transformation, was speaker of the House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999. Rick Perry is governor of Texas.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Health Reform Faces Moment Of Untruth By Sen. Tom Coburn and Rep. Paul Ryan



As Congress works to "make history" with health care reform, the American people have a far more sensible ambition for policymakers: get a grip on our unsustainable fiscal course.

By 2-to-1, Americans continue to believe that Congress should address the deficit first, then health care. Yet the best that Congress has come up with to address our entitlement and fiscal crisis is to create a costly new open-ended entitlement.

The American people suspect what we know to be true: Congress really has no idea how to pay for "reform," or anything else for that matter. Fiscal restraint remains off the agenda, while there is of course the desire to appear to be fiscally responsible.

Behind closed doors, negotiators have been performing budget gymnastics. House and Senate leaders have been fudging their cost estimates to meet the president's demand of not adding a dime to the deficit.

For instance, the bill won't be fully implemented until 2013, but tax hikes will take effect immediately. This gimmick will produce 10 years of revenues but only seven years of cost. Once fully implemented, however, the plan will cost nearly $2 trillion over 10 years — double the $900 billion touted as a passing grade from the Congressional Budget Office.

Still, congressional leaders are sticking to their talking point. "We're very excited by the CBO scores," Speaker Nancy Pelosi said gleefully when the plan's Enron-style accounting produced a positive score. The CBO, however, is less excited about Congress' fiscal management. As it recently told Congress, "Slowing the growth rate of outlays for Medicare and Medicaid is the central long-term challenge for federal fiscal policy."

President Obama seems to agree. He recently said: "If we do nothing to slow these skyrocketing costs, we will eventually be spending more on Medicare and Medicaid than every other government program combined. Put simply, our health care problem is our deficit problem. Nothing else even comes close."

He's right, which makes the fiscal irresponsibility of the "reform" process all the more breathtaking. The current bills dump half of the uninsured in Medicaid, create new federal handouts paid for by taxpayers, and build on the unsustainable Medicare status quo while cutting what's working best in Medicare.

Budget gimmicks are not only disingenuous, but will harm our economy. Sustained economic growth is not possible should Congress continue to pile debt on top of debt, or attempt to tax our way out of our fiscal hole.

As the CBO reminded Congress, "If spending grew as projected and taxes were raised in tandem, tax rates would have to reach levels never seen in the U.S. High tax rates would slow the growth of the economy, making the spending burden harder to bear."

Especially troubling is the fact that Congress' long-term cost estimates of government-run health programs have been notoriously inaccurate. When Medicare was created, Congress predicted it would cost $12 billion in 1990. It cost $110 billion in 1990. Medicaid now costs 37 times what it did when it was launched in 1965; Medicare 16 times, both adjusted for inflation.

If the current reform bill outperforms Medicare and Medicaid and grows by a factor of 10, it will cost $1.8 trillion every year. If it follows the path of Medicaid, it will cost $6.7 trillion every year.

What is at stake in this process is not merely a lower standard of living for future generations, but a decline of freedom at home and abroad. We are risking our own national economic stability and security if we continue — through excessive borrowing — to hand potential adversaries leverage over our foreign and domestic policy.

We believe health care needs to be reformed, which is why earlier this year we introduced detailed legislation, the Patients' Choice Act. We drafted our plan cognizant of the fact that we already spend more than 2 1/2 times per person on health care than any other country in the world.

If our health care sector were a stand-alone economy, at $2 trillion it would be the eighth largest in the world, ahead of countries like India and Russia. We don't need to spend more, nor do we need to raise taxes. Instead, we need to direct resources to actual health care rather than the bureaucratic management of health care.

The current reform product does not meet the test of either real reform or fiscal responsibility. Nor does it represent the best of both parties. It represents the frustrated ideological ambitions of one party that believes the way to pull the welfare state back from bankruptcy is by expanding it.

We can fix what's broken in health care without breaking what's working, and without creating a huge new entitlement program that will accelerate the bankruptcy of this country. The American people deserve better.

• Coburn, a practicing physician, is the junior senator from Oklahoma.

Sunday, November 01, 2009



November 01, 2009


My recent column titled “Obama Taking Us on a Path to Fascism” (October 28, 2009) started an explosion, with both praise and criticism bursting forth. So I thought I’d write a column explaining and justifying some of the uncomplimentary adjectives I’ve aimed at President Barack Hussein Obama, ‘Mm, ‘Mm, ‘Mm. Many people aren’t used to having their political Messiah described with the parade of pejoratives I’ve been launching since the earliest days of the 2008 presidential election.

What happens when legitimate criticism, when telling like it is, when calling a spade a spade and a phony a phony, when the plain unvarnished truth goes out of style because of demands for civility, because of the pressure of political correctness, because of fear of being accused of name-calling, and because of an assumed need for faux politeness when describing our president? And I might add when legitimate criticism and truth telling are jarring because the critic wants to describe the president of the United States in most uncomplimentary but truthful terms. I happen to be in the cross fire on this issue because as soon as Barack Hussein Obama emerged as a serious candidate, I labeled him as a world-class liar, phony, fraud, fibber, faker and four-flusher who also can’t be trusted because of his long association with America-haters, bigots, racists, and even terrorists. That crew of Obama’s close associates includes Rev. Jeremiah “God Damn America” Wright, Bill “Terrorist” Ayres, Father Michael “Racist” Pfleger, Bernadine “Terrorist” Dohrn, and all the rest.

I responded to my critics that I was not name-calling, as I had carefully documented those well-chosen adjectives describing Obama in over 100 columns written for the Philadelphia Bulletin. I believe in civility in public discourse, but civility should not trump truth telling, and political correctness can be potentially fatal and dangerous, as it is when the Obama administration refuses to use the words “war against terror” and “jihadism” and wants to substitute such words as “overseas contingency operation.” That kind of denial is not just semantic shading; it is insanity pure and simple. It is denial and dangerous delusion wrapped in deception. Can you defeat an enemy you are unwilling to correctly describe and instead insist on sanitizing and euphemizing those posing an existential threat?

Take a few of the adjectives used above and consider their applicability to President Barack Hussein ‘Mm ‘Mm ‘Mm Obama. I know this is a hard dose of truth and reality, especially when the mainstream media and much of the public view this man as a Messiah, the Anointed One, and the Chosen One.

LIAR. This is perhaps the easiest case to make, starting with his denial of knowing what Rev. Jeremiah “God Damn America” Wright was up to. After sitting in the pews of his church for twenty years, after closely working with him, after selecting his church to facilitate his own (i.e., Obama’s) political advancement, after using the title of one of his sermons for the title of his book, Obama claims to have heard nothing, to have read nothing, and to know nothing about Rev. Wright’s bigoted views. After being an active community organizer and politician in Wright’s community and being exposed to all kinds of stories and discussions of Wright and his philosophy, he still knows nothing. This means Obama is either the biggest liar in the world or the biggest idiot. I give him the benefit of the doubt by charitably accepting the former rather than the latter explanation. For further proof of Obama’s status as an habitual world-class liar consider a few of the things he’s said about Obamacare: If you like your doctor or your health insurance plan, you can keep it. The bill does not cover illegal immigrants or abortion. The bill will not add one dime to the deficit. Remember his campaign promises to keep lobbyists out of his administration and to accept public financing of his election. And what about his constant theme of bipartisanship and transparency? He is as bipartisan as Genghis Khan and as transparent as a 12-inch wall of lead.

PHONY AND HYPOCRITE. Obama clearly does the opposite of what he says. He was the great non-partisan, bipartisan hope, a man who saw not Blue States and Red States but the United States. In practice, over his career and certainly in the White House he is the most partisan of politicians. He says he wants to listen to all points of view, but comes over as one who rejects all criticism as the “old politics” and as “game playing.” He is a thin-skinned crybaby who apparently has never learned to take criticism and listen to opposing points of view. He promises a most transparent administration and then delivers the opposite. He stands by without objection as the Democratic Congress ignores and locks out the Republicans. The latest outrage is that they can’t even look at the Senate bill that just came out of committee.

SOCIALIST. This description came into vogue after his “spread the wealth” remark to Joe “The Plumber.” But his whole history shows not only Marxist and Communist associations, but also his frequent statements of that philosophy. He criticized the U.S. Constitution for not providing for “economic freedom” and redistribution of wealth. And now his answer to every problem is to redistribute wealth and soak the rich. Under his sweet rhetoric there is a full-scale class war going on, in which capitalism, profit, and free markets are demonized. In March, the Pew Research Center found 70 percent of Americans believe in the free market system, but a socialist, anti-free-market system is being rammed down their throats.

FASCIST. I’d add one final description, perhaps the harshest but nonetheless on target. Elements of fascism include the suppression of opposition and the suppression of private enterprise. Both are obvious Obama’s objectives. The latter is most obvious, as he expands the reach of government, takes over auto companies and banks, and expands government and our national debt in an unsustainable and reckless manner, thus crowding out private enterprise. He wants to take over the health care industry, one-sixth of the economy, and the energy sector, with Cap and Trade (and Tax) legislation. Then there is the attempt to regulate the pay of executives in financial institutions, not just the ones taking federal bailout money. As Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal put it, this is an unprecedented government regulatory grab, subjecting private enterprise to a Pay Czar “Mussolini.” Every move is to expand government programs and government itself. There’s an entitlement or a bag of them for one Democratic interest group after another. And now look what he is doing with critics. Humana and other insurers were subjected to a “gag order” when they criticized Obamacare. The Fox Cable News Network has been the subject of a White House attack that attempts to destroy, delegitimize, and demonize a major television network. He is after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as an evil demon, that spends a half a billion dollars on lobbying, to defeat essential reforms. He moves to punish critics in the insurance industry by trying to repeal their anti-trust exemption. He moves or his Congressional supporters move on all kinds of anti-democratic measures to silence critics and aid supporters –such as the Fairness Doctrine, diversity and localism to kill conservative talk radio, the Net Neutrality Rules to launch a government takeover of the Internet, and the Employee Free Choice Act to strengthen his friends, the labor bosses, and to destroy the secret ballot in union elections and put decision making on union contracts in the hands of government bureaucrats. Then there is Obama’s close association over many years with ACORN, the corrupt community organization that has often used intimidation to force businesses to take action on the ACORN agenda. But what did you expect when Obama surrounds himself and brings into the White House Marxists, communists, extremists, radicals, those who view Chavez’s revolution as “democratic,” and look to Mao for advice and wisdom, those who disparage America and seem to carry a portfolio of anti-American values and programs?

Don’t kid yourself. America, as we know it, America, as conceived by the Founding Fathers, is under attack by Obama, the Democratic Congress, and the Obama Administration. He has to be stopped if America is to be saved. The great columnist Thomas Sowell is right when he said that it’s time to stop weighing the evidence, and start stopping Obama as his anti-American programs and values are crystal clear to anyone paying attention. This will require an organized uprising of citizens to stop his programs, especially the most dangerous and damaging ones such as Obamacare and Cap and Trade. The time for action is right now, and any delay may be fatal to the survival of the greatest nation in the history of the world. We better hear “freedom’s call” and answer it now in its defense in every legal and appropriate way. Or we may be well on the way to becoming a broken down banana republic, a European socialist-style state or worse. There is a war going on against America values, and we better fight back in full force or we will lose that war and will lose America.

(Herb Denenberg is a veteran Philadelphia journalist, writing columns and doing television for over 30 years. He has served as Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commissioner, and the Loman Professor of Insurance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He has also served as a consultant to over a dozen government agencies, and has won over 100 journalistic awards, including 42 local Emmys and awards from the National Press Club and the American Board of Trial Advocates. He has often testified before Congress on such matters as consumer protection, health care and insurance regulation, and co-authored “The Social Protection Plan of Puerto Rico,” the first no-fault law passed in a U.S. jurisdiction and was Associate Director of the Wisconsin Laws Revision Commission that was responsible for the most comprehensive revision of insurance laws in American history. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He blogs for “Freedom’s Call,” an activist organization that was recently launched. He is a graduate of Johns Hopkins (B.S.), Creighton University’s Law School (J.D.), Harvard Law School (LL.M.) and the University of Pennsylvania (Ph.D.) He has also received honorary degrees from Allentown College (now DeSales University) and Spring Garden College. He can be reached at

Herb Denenberg is a former Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner, professor at the Wharton School, and Pennsylvania Public Utility Commissioner. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and is a board member of the Center for Safe Medication Use. He is an adjunct professor of insurance and information science and technology at Cabrini College. You can write Herb at POB 7301,St. Davids, PA e-mail him at or reach him at his two Web sites: or