How The Spooks Took Over the News
Shadowy intelligence agencies are pumping out black propaganda to manipulate public opinion – and that the media simply swallow it wholesale. LinkHere
Save A Soldier. Impeach A President.
I'm liveblogging the latest Iran election fallout. Email me if you see anything notable.
6:24 PM ET -- More house arrest reports. The National Iranian American Council notes reports that Ahmadinejad's main challenger, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, has been placed under house arrest, as well as another of the four presidential candidates, Mehdi Karroubi, and Karroubi's campaign manager (and former Tehran mayor) Gholamhossein Karbaschi.
6:12 PM ET -- "Deafening." From a reader: "My next door neighbor is an Iranian immigrant who came here in 1977. He just received a SAT phone call from his brother in Tehran who reports that the rooftops of nighttime Tehran are filled with people shouting 'Allah O Akbar' in protest of the government and election results. The last time he remembers this happening is in 1979 during the Revolution. Says the sound of tens of thousands on the rooftops is deafening right now." It's almost four in the morning in Iran.
6:00 PM ET -- Not just Tehran. Video of protestors at the university in Shiraz, Iran.
5:53 PM ET -- Report: Khatami's brother arrested. The excellent National Iranian American Council, which I've cited several times today, offers some new translations of Twitter messages coming out of Iran.
One says the brother of former Iranian President Khatami (who was defeated by Ahmadinejad) has been arrested. Earlier today, as we noted, Khatami's clerical group called for the election to be redone.
"Seyed Mohamad Khatami has not been arrested, but his brother Mohammad Reza Khatami and (his wife) Zahra Esraghi have been"
"[Tehran Univ. political scientist] Ahmad Ziadabadi and [prominent political blogger] Saeed Shariati have been arrested"
"There has been no news published about the house arrest of Mir Hossein Mousavi" LinkHere
Former President George H.W. Bush stood up for his former judicial nominee Sonia Sotomayor Friday.
(CNN)–Former President George H.W. Bush stood up for his former judicial nominee Sonia Sotomayor Friday, telling HLN Anchor Robin Meade that GOP critics who called President Obama's Supreme Court pick a racist were off-base, and unfair.
"I don't know her that well but I think she's had a distinguished record on the bench and she should be entitled to fair hearings. Not – [it's] like the senator John Cornyn said it," he told CNN. "He may vote for it, he may not. But he's been backing away from these…backing off from those radical statements to describe her, to attribute things to her that may or may not be true.
"And she was called by somebody a racist once. That's not right. I mean that's not fair. It doesn't help the process. You're out there name-calling. So let them decide who they want to vote for and get on with it."
High-profile Republican voices like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh had both accused the judge of racism for her past comment that a "wise Latina" might make more informed judicial decisions than a white male. Gingrich later backed away from that assessment.
Cornyn had urged Republicans to avoid labeling Sotomayor a racist, calling that brand of criticism unhelpful to the process. LinkHere
Sotomayor Attacks Could Do Long-Term Damage To GOP
WASHINGTON — Republicans may have a window of opportunity to turn public opinion against President Barack Obama's first Supreme Court nominee, but a new poll finds that such a campaign could hurt their party's already weak standing with Americans, especially Hispanics, the nation's fastest-growing voter group.
Fully 55 percent of Americans said they hadn't yet heard enough about Sonia Sotomayor to have an opinion of her, according to a new McClatchy-Ipsos poll. That could be the opportunity that Republicans can exploit by attacking her. Even so, 54 percent said the Senate should confirm her, while only 21 percent said it should not, and one in four Americans isn't yet sure. LinkHere
Never underestimate the power of a woman or the influence of the media. In Tehran, the local press has already dubbed Zahra Rahnavard "the Iranian Michelle Obama." Rahnavard, a 64-year-old political scientist and sculptress who heads a university, has made an impact on Iranian politics. If Iran finally opens up to the world and buries the axe with America, she may even deserve some of the credit.
Rahnavard is not running for office in Iran's presidential election. The clerics who screen potential candidates have eliminated all women. But she is nevertheless one of the most powerful campaigners in this important election and the most valuable asset of the leading opposition candidate, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who is her husband.
In a country where the wives of politicians are traditionally invisible, she is seen everywhere at her husband's side, often addressing campaign rallies herself. At a recent meeting in Tehran she told the crowd, "We must change the laws that do not give women equal treatment." The audience, many of them young women, chanted "Rahnavard, Rahnavard! Equality between men and women!"
Women were at the forefront of the Islamic Revolution that toppled the Shah of Iran in 1979. They voluntarily put on the head scarves and all-enveloping black chadors as a symbol of opposition to the old regime. Now, three decades later, young women pull back their scarves and, like Rahnavard, use cosmetics and bright colored materials. She has won over women and young people by denouncing the police campaigns against "immodestly" dressed women and the arrests of feminist campaigners under the current administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is better known in the West as a serial holocaust denier.
Her husband, who is also an accomplished artist as well as an architect, was an early revolutionary who became prime minister during the 1980-88 war between Iran and Iraq and has now mellowed into pragmatism. Like his wife, Mousavi seeks to reconcile the values of the Islamic Revolution with openness to the modern world. He favors dialogue with the Obama administration and negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. LinkHere
Group That Coined "Socialized Medicine" Term 80 Years Ago Has A New Enemy
Just days before President Barack Obama is set to address the American Medical Association to pitch its members on his vision for health care reform, the 250,000-member physician group announced it would oppose a major component of that effort.
On Wednesday night, the New York Times reported that AMA was "letting Congress know" that it would resist a public plan for health insurance coverage.
Politically, the revelation could be a potentially significant blow to progressive health care reform advocates, who contend that a public option is the best way to reduce costs and increase insurance coverage. AMA has the institutional resources and the prestige to impact debates in the halls of Congress.
Historically and philosophically, however, AMA's opposition is hardly newsworthy. Despite a lofty reputation and purported commitment to universal coverage, AMA has fought almost every major effort at health care reform of the past 70 years. The group's reputation on this matter is so notorious that historians pinpoint it with creating the ominous sounding phrase "socialized medicine" in the early decades of the 1900s.
"The AMA used it to mean any kind of proposal that involved an increased role for the government in the health care system," Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of health policy at the University of North Carolina, told NPR in a 2007 interview. "They also used it to mean things in the private system that they didn't like. So, at one point, HMOs were a form of socialized medicine."
Indeed, the role played by AMA throughout health care reform battles past has often been primarily as the defender of the status quo. In 1935, fears of an AMA backlash helped persuade Franklin Roosevelt's advisers to drop a health care article from the Social Security package -- fearful that the opposition would sink the legislation altogether.
Concerned about government restriction on and oversight over surgical activities -- not to mention the loss of physician income -- the group deployed the "socialized medicine" argument to undermine Harry Truman's effort at a national health care system years later. LinkHere
Health Insurance, Republicans, and Insurance Companies
The Health Insurance Mafia Deserves a Good Screwing
voluntary financial rape
Not so long ago, I lost my health insurance.
The coverage was provided through my small business, that is until the carrier (rhymes with Screw Costs) decided to triple the monthly premium completely at random, leaving me with a common ultimatum: either cancel the plan or spend myself out of business. So I canceled the plan.
Good timing, considering that while riding my bike last year I was hit by a car and, upon being hurled to the street, I fractured my T10 vertebra. (My auto insurance covered my medical expenses free and clear, and I'm gratefully back to riding 80 or so miles a week.)
Coupled with my wife's back surgery from the middle 1990s, though, there are currently two fairly serious preexisting conditions on our family medical records, and so now whenever I shop for health insurance, I'm either turned down or quoted a premium that amounts to a request for voluntary financial rape. There are an array of other craptastical tricks and awfulness dished out by the insurers, but those are the most common walls I run into.
My only other option is to abandon my career and take a job that provides health insurance. As happy as that might make some comment trolls, I'm not in a position to do that either. But even if I did, there aren't any guarantees that the insurer wouldn't deny coverage that I paid for, along with a mélange of various other screwings the health insurance industry routinely gets away with. LinkHere
Iran Election: Ahmadinejad Chances Threatened By Leading Clerics
Senior Cleric Enters Fray, Decries 'Fabrications'
WASHINGTON — Republicans accused Democrats Wednesday of moving too hastily on Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination, warning that the decision could imperil her confirmation as they pressed the judge for more documents from her past. The top Senate Republican blasted Democrats' decision to schedule mid-July hearings for Sotomayor's confirmation, while another senior GOP senator floated the possibility of a filibuster by angry Republicans against President Barack Obama's first high court nominee.
"They want the shortest timeline in recent memory for someone with the longest judicial record in recent memory," said Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the minority leader. "This violates basic standards of fairness and it prevents senators from carrying out one of their most solemn duties."
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said many Republicans may end up voting against Sotomayor because they feel they haven't had time to learn enough about her. Others, he said, might decide to protest what they see as unfair treatment with stalling tactics in the Judiciary Committee or on the Senate floor to block her from being confirmed. LinkHere