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Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Deceptive and Dishonest" Health Insurers (Companies Would Kill Reform at Any Cost)

Published: October 17, 2009
Filed at 6:12 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama lashed out on Saturday against the "deceptive and dishonest" efforts of health insurance companies, who he said are trying to kill healthcare reform, no matter the cost to the country.

The Democratic president's push to overhaul the $2.5 trillion (1.528 trillion pound) U.S. healthcare industry, his top domestic policy priority, received a big boost this week when the Senate Finance Committee approved its version of a reform measure with the support of Republican Senator Olympia Snowe.

Many experts expect some version of a healthcare bill will pass this year, but there are still major disagreements on details including whether the measure will include a government-run insurance program, the "public option." "For the first time ever, all five committees in Congress responsible for health reform have passed a version of legislation," Obama said in his weekly radio address. "As I speak to you today, we are closer to reforming the health care system than we have ever been in history."

However, he acknowledged the overhaul still must clear significant hurdles before becoming law. "And there are still those who would try to kill reform at any cost," he said. "The history is clear: for decades rising health care costs have unleashed havoc on families, businesses and the economy. And for decades, whenever we have tried to reform the system, the insurance companies have done everything in their considerable power to stop us."

Obama Threatens Insurers’ Anti-Trust Exemption
Source: The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Obama mounted a frontal assault on the insurance industry on Saturday, accusing it of airing “deceptive and dishonest ads” to derail his health care legislation and threatening to strip the industry of its longstanding exemption from federal anti-trust laws.

In unusually harsh terms, Mr. Obama cast insurance companies as obstacles to change interested only in preserving their own “profits and bonuses” and willing to “bend the truth or break it” to stop his drive to remake the nation’s health care system. The president used his weekly radio and Internet address to push back against industry assertions that legislation will drive up premiums.

“It’s smoke and mirrors,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s bogus. And it’s all too familiar. Every time we get close to passing reform, the insurance companies produce these phony studies as a prescription and say, ‘Take one of these, and call us in a decade.’ Well, not this time.”
Rather than trying to curb costs and help patients, he said the industry is busy “figuring out how to avoid covering people. And they’re earning these profits and bonuses while enjoying a privileged exemption from our anti-trust laws, a matter that Congress is rightfully reviewing.”
Weekly Address: Taking the Insurance Companies on Down the Stretch

Bill Maher On The Year In Ridiculous Republicans

Powell warned of ‘terror-industrial complex’ in 2007 interview

When MSNBC's Keith Olbermann welcomed three former members of Monty Python to Countdown on Wednesday, his biggest surprise was a question from Terry Gilliam, "How come that Colin Powell interview about the terror-industrial complex didn't become a bigger story?"

Olbermann was taken aback by the question, but by the next day he had uncovered Powell's September 12, 2007 interview with GQ Magazine. Powell's apology in that interview for his use of faulty intelligence prior to the Iraq War grabbed the headlines at the time, but he also delivered a far less-noticed warning against what Olbermann now calls "an entire aspect of the nexus of politics and terror."

"What is the greatest threat facing us now?" Powell asked. "People will say it’s terrorism. But are there any terrorists in the world who can change the American way of life or our political system? No. ... The only thing that can really destroy us is us. We shouldn’t do it to ourselves, and we shouldn’t use fear for political purposes—scaring people to death so they will vote for you, or scaring people to death so that we create a terror-industrial complex."

CNN’s Castellanos Problem: On-Air Contributor Revealed To Be Paid By GOP, Insurance Industry

The Plum Line’s Greg Sargent has confirmed that CNN contributor Alex Castellanos’ political consulting firm, National Media, is the ad buyer for the insurance industry group America’s Health Insurance Plan’s (AHIP) new ad blitz attacking Democratic health reform plans.

Not only does he fashion himself as the “father of the modern attack ad,” but Castellanos is also the father of the Republican approach to health reform. In July, Castellanos wrote a memo for the GOP leadership on how to kill health reform. The memo emphasized the use of buzzwords to characterize Democratic plans — like “risky” and “experiment” — but most importantly defined the ultimate goal: “If we slow this sausage-making process down, we can defeat it.” Additionally, according to the FEC website, the Republican Party has been paying Castellanos’ firm for media work. Starting on July 23rd, Castellanos received four payments totaling $434,336 from the Republican National Committee.

Since Castellanos is being paid by both the private health insurance industry and the Republican Party, why has the network given him a platform to attack President Obama’s plans to overhaul the healthcare system? Here’s a look at some recent comments made by Castellanos about health reform while appearing on CNN:

CASTELLANOS: The Republicans actually have a very different approach than the Democrats do, but it’s very concrete. Instead of a big gamble, this one [... ] I believe the insurance industry supports that. Obama and Republican — President Obama put that on the table. If he put tort reform, if he put portability, if he put shopping across state lines, he could put together a package right now and Republicans would stand with him 100 percent. [CNN, 9/30/09]

CASTELLANOS: Democrats are not signing on to this huge, expensive trillion-dollar experiment. [...] That, one, this is a huge experiment with health care. You know, President Obama has spent really, his family, more time picking the family dog than they have crafting this health care plan that’s going to transform 20 percent of the — of our economy and your health care forever. [CNN, 7/22/09]

CASTELLANOS: The more people learn about [Obama's] health care plan, the less they seem to like it. [CNN, 7/23/09]

A network spokeswoman has confirmed that CNN will soon clarify the conflict of interest Castellanos has in regards to AHIP. However, CNN should note that he has been paid by the RNC, and if he is to continue opining on the health debate, disclosure should be made during every segment in which he appears. Indeed, the policy of full disclosure should extend to other CNN pundits, including Frank Donatelli, a GOP lobbyist who represents Blue Cross Blue Shield

Friday, October 16, 2009

George H.W. Bush: Olbermann And Maddow Are "Sick Puppies". Excuse Me whose the sick puppies, old man?

A true American patrician opens Pandora's Box by turning loose the Roger Ailes' of the world and now bemoans the result - especially as it involves his beloved son.
You reap what you sow, elder George.

Former President George H.W. Bush feels that the tone of the national discourse lacks civility. "I don't like it," Bush told CBS. "The cables (TV) have a lot to do with it."

Bush said he believes Obama was "entitled to civil treatment" when it comes to his critics. But it was not just those on the right, who presumably make up a majority of Obama's critics, that Bush felt were responsible for the angry tone. The left was guilty as well.

Singling out MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann, Bush said, "the way they treat my son and anyone who's opposed to their point of view is just horrible." Maddow and Olbermann, he added, are "sick puppies."

Needless to say, Maddow and Olbermann weren't taking Bush's criticism lying down. Watch their response: LinkHere

There is an inherent lack of decency that runs through the entire Bush family. One has to only look at the campaigns they ran and the way they governed. They are detached from humanity and outraged when people infringe on their perceived entitlement.

Father Calls Insurance Company's Decision To Drop Son's Coverage "Attempted Murder"

Rather than continue to pay for Ian Pearl's million dollar medical treatments, one insurance company has decided to end certain lines of coverage altogether, reports William Ehart of the Washington Times. Pearl, 37, suffers from Type II spinal muscular dystrophy, and has been using a wheel chair and connected to a breathing tube for most of his life. Patients with his type of muscular dystrophy rarely live past infancy, but Peal credits his vitality to the care he has received all his life.

On December 1 his insurer, Guardian, is discontinuing a portion of its coverage, which will effectively kill him. Without his extensive coverage Pearl will be admitted to a state hospital under Medicaid, with less treatment. Pearl's mother said that in a state hospital her son would be lucky to live more than a few weeks. Pearl's plan, as of now, covers 24-hour home nursing, which Medicaid, and the vast majority of plans, do not.

"This is attempted murder" said his father, Warren, "the insurance companies are cheating in order to have obscene profits." Last year Guardian reported $437 million profits, up 50 percent from 2007. LinkHere

Power Company Switches Off Cancer Patient's Oxygen Machine

Mable Randon is suffering from the late stages of cancer, keeping her in a wheelchair and only breathing with the help of an electrically-powered oxygen machine. Rucks Russell of KHOU in Houston reports that her case is getting even worse, as her local power company sent her a disconnection notice because of late bills. "I'm on a fixed income," she said, "it's been hard." She applied to the Critical Customer Program, a payment plan seemingly tailor-made for people in Randon's condition who depend on electric life support. Randon was denied. The stoppage of her electricity would mean cutting off her oxygen, leaving her fearing for her life. "What am I to do?" she asked.

Her provider, Freedom Power, already has the most complaints of any energy company in Texas, and the Texas Public Utilities Commission launched an investigation into Randon's case on Wednesday, which will keep the power on for the time being. Texas-based Amegy Bank has set up a fund to help her keep her lights on, which anyone can donate to by going to a local branch. KHOU also has a video.

From the mouths of babes!!!!!!

Fourth Grader To Obama: "Why Do People Hate You?"
At a town hall meeting in New Orleans Thursday, fourth-grader Terrence Scott earnestly asked the question that has probably been on many people's minds as they witnessed the rage that has been directed at Obama these last few months: "why do people hate you?" The young man seemed genuinely concerned as he asked the question, and he went on to tell Obama that "They supposed to love you." Obama responded by giving the young man a hug while saying, "That's what I'm talking about." Then came the hard part of actually answering his question.

Hope so, We'll see if a public option passes the Senate

Obama: We will outlast opponents
(CNN) — President Barack Obama says he's determined to fight for his agenda and to outlast his critics.

"Some of our opponents think they are going to wear us down," the president said at a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee Thursday night in San Francisco. "I'm not tired, I'm refreshed."

"We are not going to stop until we get health care done, until we've got an energy bill that we're proud of," said Obama. "They're going to get tired; we're not going to get tired — we're going to keep on going." LinkHere

Fox's motto should be ...We Deceive, You Believe.

Obama aide fires back at Beck over Mao remarks

Source: CNN
WASHINGTON (CNN) – White House communications director Anita Dunn fired back at criticism from TV commentator Glenn Beck on Friday, saying that a Mao Tse-tung quote Beck took issue with was picked up from legendary GOP strategist Lee Atwater.

"The Mao quote is one I picked up from the late Republican strategist Lee Atwater from something I read in the late 1980s, so I hope I don't get my progressive friends mad at me," Dunn told CNN.

As for Beck's criticism: "The use of the phrase 'favorite political philosophers' was intended as irony, but clearly the effort fell flat — at least with a certain Fox commentator whose sense of irony may be missing."

On Thursday night's program, Beck showed exclusive video of Dunn discussing the communist leader, who was responsible for a cultural revolution in 1966 that included re-education camps and setting the army and students on witch hunts against his opponents.

Millions of Chinese suffered or died, most notably teachers, writers, political opponents or anyone deemed a "reactionary." LinkHere

Indicted Man Threatened To Kill President And Scrawl "Fed ..." On His Chest

Source: Talking Points Memo

In the latest unhinged threat on Barack Obama's life, a California man has been indicted by a federal grand jury after allegedly writing a deranged and racist email screed that urged recipients to "kill the 'president,'" and seemed to invoke the recent death of a Census Bureau worker in an apparent act of anti-government violence.

On September 28th, according to the indictment filed by prosecutors and examined by TPMmuckraker, John Gimbel of Crescent City sent an email whose subject line read:

Operation kill big--rig: kill the 'president' , then write 'fed shit' on his chest with a felt tip.

That last clause appears to be a reference to the recent death of a Census Bureau worker, who was found in rural Kentucky with a rope around his neck and the word "Fed" scrawled on his chest, in what many have suggested was an act of anti-government violence. LinkHere

When asked who spoke for the Republican Party, the answer was overwhelmingly: Fox News.

GOP Base Driven By Bizarre Ideology, Not Racism, Report Finds

When Stan Greenberg and fellow Democratic researchers launched a study of the conservative Republican world's reaction to President Obama, he figured they'd find ample evidence of racism.

They didn't. Not at all.

"Race just wasn't brought up," said a surprised Greenberg on a conference call with reporters Friday. He said that the focus groups were given as much time to talk about race as they could possibly need.

"If there was any kind of a racial element, we thought we'd pick it up. We didn't," said James Carville, who also worked on the report.

And when asked who spoke for the Republican Party, the answer was overwhelmingly: Fox News.

The study was done by Democracy Corps and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and was also authored by Karl Agne and Jim Gerstein.

What drives the GOP base, rather than race, was a genuine belief that Obama has a "secret agenda" to drive the country in a socialist direction, said the authors. These voters want more opposition, not more cooperation.

"They want more opposition," said Carville. "If you don't wanna get primary-ed, there's nothing in this [report] that tells [a GOP member of Congress] to go compromise on anything. Quite the contrary." LinkHere

Murdoch: Fox News liberal pundit fired
Source: Hollywood Reporter

NEW YORK -- Rupert Murdoch continued Fox News Channel's duel with the White House on Friday while also announcing the termination of the network's left-leaning analyst Marc Lamont Hill.

Asked about the White House's recent suggestion that Fox News is acting like an arm of the Republican Party, Murdoch simply said at a shareholders meeting that the criticism has "tremendously increased their ratings."
Murdoch also said that Hill has been fired. He revealed the move after a shareholder had raised the question of how Hill was hired, citing his "reputation of defending cop killers and racists." LinkHere

53 House Republicans Call On "Safe Schools Czar" To Be Fired Over Fox News Smears

Following the cue of Fox News personality Sean Hannity, fifty-three House Republicans have written President Barack Obama calling on him to fire "safe schools czar" Kevin Jennings.

In their letter, the Republicans repeat a thoroughly debunked claim that Jennings ignored the sexual abuse of a student while teaching high school.
Fox News has issued a correction for reporting this fake story (the child in question was 16 at the time, the legal age of consent in Massachusetts.) However, House Republicans continue to treat it as fact. The rest of the letter is filled with vague accusations seemingly based on a Family Research Council campaign, debunked here. The letter was put together by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who has repeatedly argued that protecting gay people from hate crimes will help pedophiles.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) responded that targeting Jennings was just a way to promote increasingly unpopular anti-gay views.

"This is just an effort to exploit anti-gay feeling -- they have this anti-gay view that they understand is becoming less and less popular with the public," Frank told The Hill on Thursday. LinkHere

Vietnam, Agent Orange and Secretary Shinseki's Timely Decisions

A small article appeared on the bottom of a right-hand inside page of USA Today this week with the headline "VA May Ease Rules for Vietnam Vets." The story, acknowledged as first reported by the New York Times, was short and required further research to understand. What it boils down to is that three new medical conditions may gain presumptive status as to their causal relationship to Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam. These conditions, Parkinson's disease, ischemic heart disease, and B cell leukemias will join an existing list already presumed to be caused by Agent Orange exposure including prostate cancer, respiratory cancers, soft tissue sarcomas, Hodgkin's disease, multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki was quoted as saying, "Since my confirmation as Secretary, I've often asked why, 40 years after Agent Orange was last used in Vietnam, we're still trying to determine the health consequences to our veterans who served in the combat theatre. Veterans who endure a host of health problems deserve timely decisions." Indeed, and with due respect, Secretary Shinseki.

I spent twenty years working with Vietnam combat veterans as a result of two years of intense research for my first film, Home of the Brave. I received hundreds of letters and phone calls from Vietnam veterans who were willing to tell their stories, mostly for the first time, for this work. The stories were so disturbing, reflecting the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) of their tellers, that I experienced PTSD symptoms myself from continuing exposure to their trauma, and actually underwent treatment at my local Vet Center in order to complete the project. The film was used as an education and therapy tool in schools, family counseling centers and veteran treatment facilities and also aired on PBS. LinkHere

Arianna Challenges Cable's Wall-To-Wall Coverage Of Balloon Boy

A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to Talk About Afghanistan

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Balloon boy says 'we did this for a show'
Claims he heard calls of his name
Said it was all done 'for a show'
Father denies hoax claims LinkHere

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Defense Contractor Will Pay $25 Million For Fraud

CHICAGO — A defense contractor has agreed to pay a fine and damages totaling $25 million to resolve allegations that it overcharged the government for more than a decade, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.

MPC Products Corp., a Skokie-based manufacturer and supplier of parts used in fighter jets, helicopters and other military systems, will plead guilty to a single count of wire fraud and pay a $2.5 million fine plus $22.5 million in civil damages, the U.S. attorney's office said.

It said taxpayers lost millions of dollars as a result of the fraud. LinkHere

Jindal Booed Loudly At Obama Town Hall

Jon Stewart Aghast At Republicans Who Voted Against Franken's Anti-Rape Amendment

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

White House aide turns up heat on Fox News by saying many of its stories are just "not true"

FOX News told reporter: "We'll tell you what the news is. The news is what we say it is."
Source: NY Daily News

The White House fired off a more salvos yesterday in its war with Fox News.

"I have watched many stories on that network that I found not to be true," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said of the cable network.

It was was catnip for Fox News Channel host Glenn Beck, who happily dove into the indignation playpen.

On his show, Beck installed a red phone which the White House was supposed to call if he uttered an untruth and "correct anything on this program." LinkHere
Reporters Blow Whistle on Fox News

THE CORPORATION [17/23] Unsettling Accounts


Fox's motto should be ...We Deceive, You Believe.
Larry Klayman, Conservative Attack Dog, Slams Fox News And Bush

Both conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats can agree on one thing: When Larry Klayman calls, start sweating.

The fastest trigger finger in D.C. when it comes to filing legal briefs, the founder of Judicial Watch is best known for playing an instrumental role in fueling the Whitewater crisis that drowned President Clinton in multiple scandals.

But in the decade since the Lewinsky scandal, Klayman has outraged Republicans with his attacks on Bush administration and former Vice President Dick Cheney's secretive energy task force.

In his new subtly-titled book, "Whores: Why And How I Came To Fight The Establishment," Klayman details his career as a thorn in the side of the powerful.

Describing his decision to take on the case of Scott Tooley, a congressional aide convinced that he was on a terrorist watch list and that his phone was being wiretapped by the government, Klayman engages in the usual hyperbole:

"The Tooley case, which continues to this day, went directly to abuses of power -- this time, by an administration that colored itself conservative but too often behaved as if the Constitution is an inconvenience to be sidestepped or even ignored.... Bush and Cheney did more to pave the way for Obama's push toward socialism than Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao Tse-tung could have ever dreamed or hoped for."

Klayman says that he met with Senator John McCain in 1997 to discuss allegations that the Clinton administration was illegally soliciting campaign contributions in exchange for seats on trade missions. Asked why the congressional hearings into the matter had ended in failure, McCain admitted that it was because both political parties had checkmated each other, telling Klayman: "Yes, my party is involved as well in the illegal fund raising. It's a disgrace."

Klayman reserves particular venom for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, whom he targeted by filing complaints with the House Ethics Committee. When he ran into former GOP Congressman Bob Barr (R-Ga.) at a hearing and asked the conservative lawmaker what he thought about DeLay, Barr laughed: "He's a crook but he's our crook!" LinkHere

SHOCKING VIDEO: Gay Man Beaten Near-Death In Vicious Hate Crime

Olbermann Fact Checks Limbaugh's Today Show Interview (VIDEO)

Olbermann also concluded that boasting about "spawning" Glenn Beck was dubious at best: "Like congratulating yourself on spreading syphilis." LinkHere

HuffPost's Editor Roy Sekoff Discusses Liz Cheney's New Group On The Ed Show

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Jon Stewart Takes On Fox News For Not Covering Gay Rights March

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Health Insurance Stocks Down As Reform Hopes Rise

Health insurance stocks took a dive Tuesday, with the S&P Health Care Sector index becoming the worst-performing segment of the S&P 500, largely because of health insurance companies.

The followed a public declaration of war by the health insurance industry's lobbying arm against the White House's health care reform efforts.

America's Health Insurance Plans, or AHIP, released a methodologically questionable study on Sunday claiming that the Senate Finance Committee bill would result in higher premiums for families.

Aetna started the day trading at 26.38 per share, went down -3.1% and closed at 25.59.

Cigna started the day at 29.57; went down -3.14% and closed at 28.71.

UnitedHealth Group Inc. opened at 25.17, went down -3.73% and closed at 24.31.

Interestingly, after a majority of members of the Senate Finance Committee voted for the health care reform legislation offered by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., many of those stocks started to creep back up. The Baucus bill does not contain a government-run health care option to compete with private insurers – an option AHIP and its members oppose.

AHIP is now running TV ads against the effort in many states, as ABC News' Teddy Davis takes a look at HERE.

"Is it right to ask 10 million seniors on Medicare Advantage for more than their fair share?" asks the ad's narrator. "Congress is proposing more than $100 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says many seniors will see cuts in benefits." LinkHere

Lakeville Country Club: Swastika, "Obama" Carved Into Golf Course

The Secret Service and local police are investigating after a swastika was found carved into a Massachusetts golf course green next to President Barack Obama's name.

Authorities say the vandalism was discovered early Monday on the 18th hole of the Lakeville Country Club. LinkHere

Why We're Breaking With the Blue Dogs on the Public Option

Throughout the congressional health care debate, considerable attention has focused on the Blue Dog Coalition - a group of House Democrats committed to fiscal responsibility and budget discipline.

We're Blue Dogs, too, and we believe in the group's core principles. But we've broken with our Blue Dog sisters and brothers over their lukewarm support for the public insurance option a concept we think must be part of a successful health care reform package.

Far from being an option of last resort or a government-funded takeover of the country's health care system, we see the public option as a critical market mechanism that will drive down costs, foster competition and expand Americans' insurance choices.

This is not just smart health care policy, it is smart economic policy.

A Gallup-Healthways survey has identified more than 290,000 uninsured people in our congressional districts alone. This is astonishing, and, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, their medical care cost local hospitals and other health care providers $65 million last year.

How can providers stay afloat in the face of such expenditures? By charging people who have insurance more. A recent study by the Center for American Progress found that more than 10 percent of the average Californian's premiums, approximately $500 each year, goes to covering the cost of caring for the uninsured. LinkHere
WASHINGTON — About 30 unions will run a full-page ad in newspapers Wednesday announcing their opposition to the Senate Finance Committee's health overhaul bill, a top labor lobbyist said.

The ad will state that unions will oppose the measure on the Senate floor unless improvements are made, according to Chuck Loveless, legislative director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

The ad will state, "Real health care reform and nothing less," Loveless said.

Labor has been a major Democratic ally in the health care debate but is unhappy the legislation lacks a publicly run insurance plan and would tax expensive policies in an effort to drive down costs. Officials also want it to prevent insurance companies from refusing to cover some people and to force employers to cover their workers.

The Finance Committee voted Tuesday to approve the bill, the most conservative of five health overhaul bills congressional panels have written this year. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., plans to combine it with the Senate health committee's more liberal version and bring it to the full Senate in perhaps two weeks.

Besides AFSCME, sponsors included the AFL-CIO and the Communications Workers of America. The ad will run in The Washington Post, USA Today and Capitol Hill newspapers. LinkHere

'Daily Show' Destroys CNN For Fact-Checking 'SNL' Instead Of Their Guests (VIDEO)

Nobody leaves more things there!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
CNN Leaves It There
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Fox’s Williams: There’s no debate that Fox News is ‘conservative audience-oriented programming.’

Last Sunday on CNN, White House communications director Anita Dunn defended her past comment that Fox News is “opinion journalism masquerading as news.” “The reality of it is that Fox News often operates as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party,” she told CNN’s Howie Kurtz, adding, “it really is more of a wing of the Republican Party.” Many of Fox News’ hosts spent most of the day yesterday defending against Dunn’s remarks. But during the Special Report All-Star panel last night, Fox News contributor Juan Williams appeared to be the only one to recognize the reality:

WILLIAMS: Well, the case that the White House is making is largely that some of the personality driven shows on Fox go over the top, that they are trying to say that the president wasn’t born in the country or that the president is a racist or he’s socialist or a communist. [...] Now what they have lost in this is, first of all, a lot of those programs, people know exactly what to expect when you’re watching prime time Fox. We’re a conservative audience-oriented programming. And I don’t think anybody is going to debate that.


Health Insurance Industry Exposes Its Insatiable Greed

In the past few days, the health insurance industry's outrageous greed has been nakedly exposed.
After pretending for months to cooperate with the Obama administration and Democrats to secure a reasonable health reform bill, the industry's CEOs and lobbyists on Sunday double-crossed their one-time political allies by openly attacking a compromise bill crafted by Max Baucus, the conservative Montana Democratic who chairs the Senate Finance Committee. The Obama White House and the Democratic leadership in Congress were taken by surprise, and are angry at the industry's about-face on health reform.

"I'd spent a couple of hours with insurance industry folks last week, and yes I did feel blindsided," Nancy Ann DeParle, White House Office of Health Reform director, told NBC about the industry's stunt. "I did feel we were working constructively."

This could, ironically, help the reform cause, if the Democrats translate their anger at the big insurance companies into a tougher stance -- such as a stronger public option to compete with the private insurers and keep them honest with regard to profits, premium prices, and consumer neglect.

For months the Obama administration and Senate Democrats have been coddling the insurance industry giants, hoping to enlist their support for insurance reform. Karen M. Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the industry trade association, has been orchestrating the industry's cooperative stance with the Democrats drafting health care legislation. The mainstream media have published glowing profiles of Ignagni, admiring her skill at coaxing the big insurance companies to try to co-opt, rather than confront, the Democrats. The media has contrasted the industry's collaborative approach with its more combative stance during the early1990s, when President Clinton sought to enact health care reform. Then, the industry was a highly visible opponent of reform from the get-go, including paying for the infamous "Harry and Louise" TV ads that helped kill the Clinton reform plan.

But since then the number of Americans without any health insurance, and the number who face bankruptcy due to sky-high insurance bills, has increased significantly. Recognizing Americans' pent-up anger, the insurance industry changed its tactics, but not its goals. What the insurance industry wants is for the federal government to require all Americans to buy private insurance and to provide subsidies to families who can't afford the premiums. LinkHere
Insurance-Company Racketeers Have Overplayed Their Hand
The insurance companies have overplayed their hand this time, one suspects. I wouldn't want to play poker against the Chicago pols now in the White House. The rapacious and desperate insurance companies will be sorry they pulled this latest stunt of making threats, even as predictable as they might be.

"Insurance companies aren't playing nice any more," read the HuffPost lead paragraph of Monday's story detailing the latest extortion threats of this disgraceful, thieving lot.

Since when have these thieves ever "played nice?"

They're the same crowd who sent busloads of drooling, misguided and uninformed flunkies out to town halls this summer to subvert democracy with their idiotic yammerings. It's the same racketeering industry that has attacked a good man, President Obama, ceaselessly since he began trying to keep his campaign promises about health care.

If the health insurance companies had been around during the Civil War, they would have sent goons out to heckle the Gettysburg Address. Goons with guns, probably.

For-profit health insurance companies are a national disgrace, and a uniquely American one.

They are also the most visible sign of the kind of rogue capitalism that has seen its high-water mark and exists nowhere else in the world today.

The insurance companies have overplayed their hand this time, one suspects. I wouldn't want to play poker against the Chicago pols now in the White House. The rapacious and desperate insurance companies will be sorry they pulled this latest stunt of making threats, even as predictable as they might be.

The other night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, a guy I truly respect and admire, did an hour-long Special Comment/rant about health care. His central thesis is that the health care debate, above all, is about death, forestalling it or allowing it.

But it's about more than that. It's also about pain and suffering. Not every untreated injury results in death. Just suffering. And pain, sometimes of the intractable variety. E.g., broken bones, migraine headaches, wounds that won't heal.

These won't necessarily kill people. They'll just make humans suffer needlessly. Especially those with "pre-existing decisions."

So what if the Senate Finance Committee votes Tuesday NOT to slam the greedy, heartless bastards from the insurance companies and begin to put them out of business, where they surely are relegated?. Didn't four other Congressional committees approve a public option?

Why should Max "No Headroom" Baucus' committee, whose members represent less than seven percent of the U.S. population, have the final say? Why should insurance whores from small states easily bought off with insurance-company blood money have the final word on any of this?
And why should anyone believe -- or heed -- a single word of what the treacherous, greedy bastards from the organized-crime insurance rackets have to say?

The health-insurance companies will soon enough be relegated not to the ashheap of history, but to its sewage-treatment facility.
Unions will oppose Baucus bill unless it's changed
Source: ap

WASHINGTON — A top labor lobbyist says about 30 unions will run a full-page ad in newspapers Wednesday announcing their opposition to the Senate Finance Committee's health overhaul bill.

The ad says that unless the bill brought to the Senate floor makes substantial progress to address the concerns of working men and women, unions will oppose it.

The legislative director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Chuck Loveless, says unions are unhappy that the legislation lacks a publicly run insurance plan and would tax insurers that provide expensive coverage.

Sponsors included the AFL-CIO and the Communications Workers of America. The ad will run in The Washington Post, USA Today and Capitol Hill newspapers. LinkHere

Salesman: I Was Fired For Voting For Barack Obama

Man Says Boss Carried Out Threat To Fire Him for Voting for Obama
KANSAS CITY, Kan. - A salesman says he was fired for voting for Barack Obama, after his boss sent an email to all employees warning that he would fire them if they dared to do that. He claims Matthew Brandt, the owner of KK Office Solutions, sent the email threat to "All Employees" on Oct. 29, 2008 warning them "to rethink your vote on November 4th."
Elliot Snell sued KK Office Solutions in Wyandotte County Court. The email warned that if Obama were elected, all salespeople will have to pool their sales commissions to give underachieving salespeople a "fair shake;" that hourly employees will pool their wages, including overtime, to help those who are "too busy to for overtime;" that top management was to be referred to as "the government," and would be exempt from pooling because the law doesn't apply to it; and that the last few people hired "should clean out their desks."
The email, included in the complaint, continued: "Don't feel bad though, because President Obama will give you free healthcare, free handouts, free oil for heating your home, free food stamps, and he'll let you stay in hour home for as long as you want even if you can't pay your mortgage. If you appeal directly to our democratic congress [sic], you might even get a free flat screen TV and a coupon for free haircuts ..." It concludes: "If for any reason you are not happy with the new policies, you many want to rethink your vote on November 4th," followed by Brandt's signature and title.
Snell says he openly supported Obama, and was fired on Nov. 20, 2008, despite acquiring more than $300,000 in accounts during his 6 months with KK Office Solutions.
He seeks reinstatement, lost pay and damages of $1.2 million. He is represented by Lawrence Williamson LinkHere

Nobel Jury Defends Obama Decision: We Disagree That He Has Done Nothing

He said most world leaders were positive about the award and that most of the criticism was coming from the media and from Obama's political rivals.
OSLO — Members of the Norwegian committee that gave Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize are strongly defending their choice against a storm of criticism that the award was premature and a potential liability for the U.S. president.

Asked to comment on the uproar following Friday's announcement, four members of the five-seat panel told The Associated Press that they had expected the decision to generate both surprise and criticism.

Three of them rejected the notion that Obama hadn't accomplished anything to deserve the award, while the fourth declined to answer that question. A fifth member didn't answer calls seeking comment.

"We simply disagree that he has done nothing," committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland told the AP on Tuesday. "He got the prize for what he has done."

Jagland singled out Obama's efforts to heal the divide between the West and the Muslim world and scale down a Bush-era proposal for an anti-missile shield in Europe.

"All these things have contributed to – I wouldn't say a safer world – but a world with less tension," Jagland said by phone from the French city of Strasbourg, where he was attending meetings in his other role as secretary-general of the Council of Europe.

He said most world leaders were positive about the award and that most of the criticism was coming from the media and from Obama's political rivals.

"I take note of it. My response is only the judgment of the committee, which was unanimous," he said, adding that the award to Obama followed the guidelines set forth by Alfred Nobel, the Swedish industrialist and inventor of dynamite, who established the Nobel Prizes in his 1895 LinkHere

Palestinian Memo: Hopes In Obama "Evaporated" After "Zionist Lobby" Pressure

JERUSALEM — The Palestinian president's political party says all hopes in the Obama administration have "evaporated," accusing the White House of caving in to pressure from the pro-Israel lobby and backing off a demand to freeze Jewish settlement.

Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Party also accused the U.S. of failing to set a clear agenda for a new round of Mideast peace talks, according to an internal memo obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday.

"All hopes placed in the new U.S. administration and President Obama have evaporated," the document said. Obama "couldn't withstand the pressure of the Zionist lobby, which led to a retreat from his previous positions on halting settlement construction and defining an agenda for the negotiations and peace."

The Palestinians initially greeted Obama's election with enthusiasm, welcoming his outreach to the Muslim world and hoping he would depart from what they viewed as the pro-Israel bias of his predecessor, George W. Bush. Obama raised Palestinian hopes further with his repeated calls for Israel to halt all construction in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem – areas the Palestinians claim for a future state.

But in recent weeks, the U.S. appears to have softened its stance on settlements. Washington says it has not abandoned the objective of halting settlement construction, but U.S. officials have indicated they do not see this as a condition for resuming talks.

The memo comes at a time of turmoil within Fatah after Abbas quickly reversed a decision to suspend efforts to bring Israel before a U.N. war crimes tribunal in connection with the Gaza war.

The document, dated Oct. 12, was issued by Fatah's Office of Mobilization and Organization. The office is headed by the party's No. 2, Mohammed Ghneim.

It was not immediately clear whether the document reflects Abbas' views or whether it was leaked to pressure Obama to bear down harder on Israel. Abbas' aides had no comment and Ghneim could not immediately be reached for comment.

The U.S. Embassy in Israel did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The document reiterated Fatah's demand for Israel to freeze settlement construction and agree to a clear agenda for peace talks before negotiations can resume.

The Palestinians want talks to resume from the point they broke down last year under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's predecessor, Ehud Olmert. Netanyahu says he is not bound by any concessions Olmert may have made.

Obama personally intervened last month, when he summoned Abbas and Netanyahu to a three-way meeting in New York. But he failed to break the impasse. LinkHere

GOP Senator Votes With Democrats... Senate Committee Passes Bill

Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe Bucks Her Party, Says Health Care Is Too Important...
GOP Leaders Had Demanded Snowe Vote 'No'...
Senate Finance Committee Approves Health Care Reform 14-9
Sixty-four years ago, President Harry Truman stood before a joint session of Congress and called on the body "to assure the right to adequate medical care and protection from the economic fears of sickness."

Forty-nine years later, President Bill Clinton made the same demand.

On Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. Congress moved closer to achieving that goal than it ever has. The hold-out Senate Finance Committee voted by a 14-9 margin to move the fifth and final health care reform proposal through the conservative panel.

The package, coming in at under $900 billion over ten years, is the least generous in terms of subsidies for working and middle-class Americans to purchase health insurance, and it does not include a national public health insurance option. But the bill would dramatically reorganize the nation's system of health care and health insurance and stands as the foundation on which Democrats hope to build a strong reform package with negligible GOP support.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) was the lone Republican to support the package. "My vote today is my vote today. It doesn't forecast what my vote will be tomorrow," she said, although her vote does keep her at the negotiating table and at the center of the health care reform debate. Snowe risked marginalizing herself with a no vote. LinkHere
Leading Country of the Free World? I don't think so!!!!!!
YOU CAN HELP: Mother Who Went Blind To Save Her Children's Sight Struggling With Medical Debt

"If you can help us in a small way we'd greatly appreciate that," Stein said, but also suggested that, as an alternative, readers could give their time and donations to free medical fairs that cater to the uninsured and under-insured across the country."

On September 28, HuffPost featured the story of Monique Zimmerman-Stein, a mother who shares a rare genetic disorder with her children that causes blindness. Though Zimmerman and her family have health insurance, they are still saddled by astronomical debt from medical bills, which has forced this mother to save her daughters' sight by sacrificing her own.

The St. Petersburg Times, which originally published the story, also posted a video of Zimmerman speaking out about her family's health care predicament and her daughters' future.

Many readers, touched by the Stein family's story, have asked for a way to help them. HuffPost Impact got in touch with Gary Stein, Monique Zimmerman-Stein's husband, a Hillsborough County health department employee, who reported that the family's medical bills have continued to amass. A few months ago, Stein had a heart attack scare and his daughter had a playground accident that sent her to the emergency room. After tests and scans came out clear, both hospital visits were deemed medically unnecessary and the family was charged additional co-pays, which have since gone into collection.

A few weeks ago, Zimmerman-Stein had a minor stroke, known as a TIA, possibly caused by stress. She suffered no lasting side effects... other than the bill for the three-day hospital stay, which so far is $5,000 -- after insurance -- and mounting.

Despite this, Stein says "we find, every day, a reason to be brave because our system is difficult. I have a family to support and we make tough decisions every day on how to move forward and how to be normal." Stein says they know they aren't the only ones struggling to remain hopeful in the face of mounting health care debt.

"It just wrenches your gut to think that we live in such a great country but people can't get the medical care they need and that they have to make decisions on what bills to pay, what things to forgo."

The Steins are acutely aware that their story is just one of hundreds of thousands, and Zimmerman-Stein is adamant in her belief that free clinics need to be supported and that our representatives need to be held accountable. "I don't care who you are, everyone in this world gets sick," she said. LinkHere

"The betting is it's going to get a bit of a haircut,"

Supreme Court Will Hear Jeff Skilling's Appeal
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will take up former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling's appeal of his convictions for his role in the collapse of the energy giant, accepting another high-profile challenge to a favorite tool of prosecutors in white-collar and public corruption cases.

Skilling's appeal stems from his convictions in 2006 on 19 counts of conspiracy, securities fraud, insider trading and lying to auditors involving the 2001 collapse of Enron.

The justices already are entertaining similar claims from former newspaper magnate Conrad Black and a former Alaska lawmaker ensnared in a public corruption scandal.

At issue in all three cases is prosecutors' use of the federal "honest services" fraud statute, a 28-word law that critics call vague and unfair. Among the federal charges against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is an "honest services" count, while his predecessor, former Gov. George Ryan was convicted of it.

The law makes it a crime to deprive shareholders or the public of "the intangible right to honest services."

Former federal prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg said the court probably will rein in the use of the law. "The betting is it's going to get a bit of a haircut," said Zeidenberg, who prosecuted some public officials for honest services fraud.

Zeidenberg, now a partner at the DLA Piper law firm in Washington, acknowledged that it is easier to prove honest services fraud than bribery, which typically requires demonstration that some promise was made or action was taken in exchange for money.

"I think a lot of defense attorneys would say it's a refuge for prosecutions that otherwise don't measure up," he said.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Two Wrongs Make Another Fiasco

Published: October 10, 2009
THOSE of us who love F. Scott Fitzgerald must acknowledge that he did get one big thing wrong. There are second acts in American lives. (Just ask Marion Barry, or William Shatner.) The real question is whether everyone deserves a second act. Perhaps the most surreal aspect of our great Afghanistan debate is the Beltway credence given to the ravings of the unrepentant blunderers who dug us into this hole in the first place.

Let’s be clear: Those who demanded that America divert its troops and treasure from Afghanistan to Iraq in 2002 and 2003 — when there was no Qaeda presence in Iraq — bear responsibility for the chaos in Afghanistan that ensued. Now they have the nerve to imperiously and tardily demand that America increase its 68,000-strong presence in Afghanistan to clean up their mess — even though the number of Qaeda insurgents there has dwindled to fewer than 100, according to the president’s national security adviser, Gen. James Jones.

But why let facts get in the way? Just as these hawks insisted that Iraq was “the central front in the war on terror” when the central front was Afghanistan, so they insist that Afghanistan is the central front now that it has migrated to Pakistan. When the day comes for them to anoint Pakistan as the central front, it will be proof positive that Al Qaeda has consolidated its hold on Somalia and Yemen.

To appreciate this crowd’s spotless record of failure, consider its noisiest standard-bearer, John McCain. He made every wrong judgment call that could be made after 9/11. It’s not just that he echoed the Bush administration’s constant innuendos that Iraq collaborated with Al Qaeda’s attack on America. Or that he hyped the faulty W.M.D. evidence to the hysterical extreme of fingering Iraq for the anthrax attacks in Washington. Or that he promised we would win the Iraq war “easily.” Or that he predicted that the Sunnis and the Shiites would “probably get along” in post-Saddam Iraq because there was “not a history of clashes” between them.

What’s more mortifying still is that McCain was just as wrong about Afghanistan and Pakistan. He routinely minimized or dismissed the growing threats in both countries over the past six years, lest they draw American resources away from his pet crusade in Iraq.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize win mocked in GOP fundraising letter

Republicons = no class, no honor

Source: NY Daily News
The GOP is using President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize as a fundraising tool, by mocking the award in a send-money letter to Republicans.

Russia's president congratulated Obama on Saturday for the surprising honor, and even Cold War foe Fidel Castro said he was happy for him.

But Republican National Committee head Michael Steele is bristling with outrage, saying in a letter that Obama won the prize "for awesomeness."

It shows "how meaningless a once honorable and respected award has become," he wrote, asking for contributions of $25 to $1,000 for the RNC.

The Nobel committee's selection of Obama has been criticized, with some saying he hasn't been in office long enough or accomplished enough yet. LinkHere

President Obama Says He Will End 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

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