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Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Ugly Irony of Sarah Palin's Book Title

Going Rogue. It's cute. It's sassy. It's mavericky. The title of Sarah Palin's memoir is designed to sell books. If it had been titled Everything I Need to Know I Learned Playing Point Guard for the Wasilla High School Girls Basketball Team, it might not have had quite the same zing. Perhaps the title is meant to encapsulate the fierce, independent spirit that many had learned to associate with the woman who came closer to the vice presidency than any Republican woman in history. But there are many back here in Alaska who heard Going Rogue and were horrified, struck by the ugly irony of her book title.

When the Lower 48 was still asking "Sarah who?" the GOP was relying on the talking point, "She's the most popular governor in the nation." And she was. While other governors with approval ratings in the high fifties were feeling pretty pleased with themselves, Sarah Palin was luxuriating in approval ratings that at one point approached a stratospheric 90 percent. Without that number, she would likely never have been the vice-presidential nominee.

But as it was, that statistic played a significant role in the magical attraction to this virtually unknown candidate, who appeared to be the best kept secret in the country. If people in her own state were so thrilled, then she obviously must be doing something right, people reasoned. After all, how could 90 percent of Alaskans be wrong? That question has a two-part answer.
Schmidt Calls Palin's Memoirs "Total Fiction"
To read Sarah Palin's shockingly shallow Going Rogue, one is immediately struck by how nasty and vindictive Palin is, and that her book is little more than a veiled mechanism for settling scores with old foes who have triumphed over her throughout Palin's lifetime.

Is Palin really going rogue? Hardly. Getting even is more like it.

Palin's biggest score to settle is with those senior advisers--Republicans all--in the John McCain campaign, on whose shoulders Palin lays the blame for her failed and tortured debut on the American political stage last fall. Most notable among them, of course, is "The Bullet," Steve Schmidt, who took over McCain's teetering campaign in July of 2008 and was a staunch advocate of Palin's selection as McCain's running mate.

He has told the Huffington Post that Palin's allegations against the McCain campaign are "total fiction."

Schmidt now joins a host of former McCain staffers, including Mark Salter and Nicolle Wallace, who have challenged the veracity of Palin's book even before it hits the streets on Tuesday. One McCain aide who worked closely with Palin and who "liked her personally" described Palin's account of the campaign as "blatantly and absolutely inaccurate."

McCain aides are shocked-- though not entirely surprised--by Palin's allegations. They caught enough of her act during the 60-plus days of her campaign sojourn to know that she plays "fast and loose with the truth."

During the months that she served as the Republican Party's vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin had what could best be described as an acrimonious relationship with the press. Thrust into the national spotlight from relative political obscurity, the former Alaska Governor saw her professional record and personal story come under a powerful microscope. And as controversy was exposed and questions were raised, the animosity that Palin felt for the fourth estate became nearly all-consuming.

In her upcoming book, "Going Rogue," the former governor spends ample time airing her grievances with the way she was and continues to be treated by the media. The cast of characters she disparages range from the famous to the obscure, the national to the local - all of whom are accused of either peddling scandal or playing out political vendettas.
Palin pens a payback

Rights Group Fires Back at Israel

AP / Abdel Kareem Hana

Human Rights Watch is accusing Israel and its backers of waging a campaign of misinformation in an effort to discredit the group. HRW has been a leading voice in condemning alleged Israeli war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

Israel 'personally attacking human rights group' after Gaza war criticism

This Day in Infamy: Gitmo’s Birthday

Happy Birthday, Gitmo

Much has occurred [1] today [2] with regards to Guantanamo Bay and many decisions are yet to come [3].

But there is another milestone worthy of note: Today marks the eighth anniversary of the creation of the legal foundation for the prison and the second-tier justice system established to try terrorism suspects there.

On Nov. 13, 2001, President George W. Bush signed what has become known as Military Order No. 1 [4] in what he termed a Global War on Terrorism. Without informing his national security adviser, his secretary of state, his chief of staff or his communications director, Bush approved [5] what would appear three days later in the Federal Register as: "Military Order of November 13, 2001: Detention, Treatment, and Trial of Certain Non-Citizens in the War Against Terrorism."

The few people inside the former administration who knew about the order were instrumental in its creation, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, his lawyer David Addington, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, former Attorney General John Ashcroft and a young, and then unknown, lawyer inside the Justice Department named John Yoo [6].

The order created a separate track of justice for any foreign citizen picked up on a global battlefield with the Pentagon serving as jailer, prosecutor and judge.

The findings, drafted in secret [5], also laid the way for many of the asserted war powers that the Bush administration later relied on.

9/11 Trial Poses Unparalleled Legal Obstacles

WASHINGTON — In a move both politically and legally risky, the Obama administration plans to put on trial the professed mastermind of the Sept. 11 terror attacks and four alleged accomplices in a lower Manhattan courthouse.

The venue for the biggest trial in the age of terrorism means prosecutors must balance difficult issues such as rough treatment of detainees and sensitive intelligence-gathering with the Justice Department's desire to prove that the federal courts are able to handle terrorism cases.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced the decision Friday to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to trial in a courtroom barely a thousand yards from the site of the World Trade Center's twin towers they are accused of destroying.

Trying the men in civilian court will bar evidence obtained under duress and complicate a case where anything short of slam-dunk convictions will empower President Barack Obama's critics. U.S. civilian courts prohibit evidence obtained through coercion, and a number of detainees were questioned using harsh methods some call torture.

Holder insisted both the court system and the untainted evidence against the five men are strong enough to deliver a guilty verdict and the penalty he expects to seek: a death sentence for the deaths of nearly 3,000 people who were killed when four hijacked jetliners slammed into the towers, the Pentagon and a field in western Pennsylvania.

"After eight years of delay, those allegedly responsible for the attacks of September the 11th will finally face justice. They will be brought to New York – to New York," Holder repeated for emphasis, "to answer for their alleged crimes in a courthouse just blocks away from where the twin towers once stood."

Holder said he decided to bring Mohammed and the other four before a civilian court rather than a military commission because of the nature of the undisclosed evidence against them, because the 9/11 victims were mostly civilians and because the attacks took place on U.S. soil.

Lawyers for the accused will almost certainly try to have charges thrown out based on the rough treatment of the detainees at the hands of U.S. interrogators, including the repeated waterboarding, or simulated drowning, of Mohammed.

Republicans Are Shocked The Public Is Mad At Them For Voting Against Franken’s Anti-Rape Amendment

Friking Wankers
So basically, the only lesson they learned is that next time, they have to hide their votes when they decide to screw over women’s rights. That way, they can support their allies in the contracting business and the public will never find out.
Last month, 30 Republican senators voted against Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) amendment that would punish defense contractors “if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.” His amendment was inspired by Jamie Leigh Jones, who was gang-raped by her co-workers while working for Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad in 2005, and then had to fight her employer for justice.

The GOP senators who sided with defense contractors at the expense of women — such as John Thune (SD) — have been facing an intense backlash. David Vitter (LA) refused to give a rape victim a straight answer when she confronted him about his vote, claiming that he is “absolutely supportive of any [rape] case like that being prosecuted criminally to the full extent of the law.”

Politico reports that Republicans are now scratching their heads at why the public is so incensed about their “no” votes:

Privately, GOP sources acknowledge that they failed to anticipate the political consequences of a “no” vote on the amendment. And several aides said that Republicans are engaged in an internal blame game about why they agreed to a roll-call vote on the measure, rather than a simple voice vote that would have allowed the opposing senators to duck criticism.

As BarbinMD writes, “Seriously? They voted against an amendment that was prompted by the brutal gang-rape of a young woman by her co-workers while she was working for a company under contract for the United States government, after which she was locked in a shipping container without food or water, threatened if she left to seek medical treatment, and was then prevented from bringing criminal charges against her assailants. And they failed to anticipate the political consequences?”

Thune is also claiming that Franken doesn’t really care about Jones and other rape victims whose employers have blocked them from seeking justice; he and other Democrats just wanted to “create a vote which they could use to attack Republicans.”

So basically, the only lesson they learned is that next time, they have to hide their votes when they decide to screw over women’s rights. That way, they can support their allies in the contracting business and the public will never find out. LinkHere

The Board Of The ‘Voice Of Business’ Is A Republican Money Machine

Eye Opener=====Check it out

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which purports to be “the voice of business,” is run by a Republican money machine. As the nation’s largest lobbying shop, the Chamber is spending millions of dollars from its corporate members against President Obama’s progressive agenda of health care, energy, and financial reform. The Chamber claims that the “board’s membership is as diverse as the nation’s business community itself,” but this is false. A ThinkProgress analysis of federal election contribution data compiled by the LittleSis project has found that the Chamber’s 116-member board of directors has given more than six times as much money to Republican candidates and committees ($4,741,747) as it has to Democrats ($778,282), with $1,074,697 flowing to corporate political action committees:
The top beneficiary of this outpouring of conservative cash is the Republican National Committee, which has received over ten times as much money from the Chamber’s board as the Democratic National Committee — $1,257,201 versus $102,950. Contributions went 4.5 to 1 for John McCain ($373,150) versus Barack Obama ($82,150).

ACORN Suing U.S. Over "Unconstitutional" Defunding Bill

Source: Talking Points Memo

ACORN is suing the U.S. government over a law passed recently by Congress that bars the controversial community group from receiving federal money.

In a complaint filed this morning in U.S. District Court in New York, ACORN charges that the law is unconstitutional, because it's a bill of attainder -- that is, it targets a specific individual or group for punishment.

The complaint, brought on behalf of ACORN by the Center for Constitutional Rights, also mounts a broader push-back against ACORN's conservative critics. According to a draft version examined by TPMmuckraker, it claims that the law to defund ACORN was passed thanks to "a public relations campaign orchestrated by political forces" that are hostile to its work registering low-income voters. And it charges that ACORN "earned the animosity of political forces who are dedicated to the proposition that the fewer poor people who vote the better."

"It is outrageous to see Congress violating the Constitution for purposes of political grandstanding," said Bill Quigley of the Center for Constitutional Rights. "Congress bowed to FOX News and joined in the scapegoating of an organization that helps average Americans going through hard times to get homes, pay their taxes, and vote. Shame on them."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Boxer: Senate Has Votes To Block Stupak Amendment

Source: Huffington Post

With Reporting By Ryan Grim

One of Congress's foremost champions of abortion rights said on Monday that the Senate did not have the votes to add a more restrictive anti-abortion amendment to health care reform legislation.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said that 60 votes would be needed to strip the current health care bill of its abortion-related language and replace it with a version resembling that passed by the House of Representatives on Saturday. And, in an interview with the Huffington Post, the California Democrat predicted that pro-choice forces in the Senate would keep that from happening.

"If someone wants to offer this very radical amendment, which would really tear apart compromise, then I think at that point they would need to have 60 votes to do it," Boxer said. "And I believe in our Senate we can hold it."

"It is a much more pro-choice Senate than it has been in a long time," she added. "And it is much more pro-choice than the House." LinkHere

Army Sends Infant to Protective Services, Mom to Afghanistan

Published on Friday, November 13, 2009 by Inter Press Service
Army Sends Infant to Protective Services, Mom to Afghanistan

by Dahr Jamail

VENTURA, California - U.S. Army Specialist Alexis Hutchinson, a single mother, is being threatened with a military court-martial if she does not agree to deploy to Afghanistan, despite having been told she would be granted extra time to find someone to care for her 11-month-old son while she is overseas. Hutchinson, of Oakland, California, is currently being confined at Hunter Army Airfield near Savannah, Georgia, after being arrested. Her son was placed into a county foster care system.

Hutchinson has been threatened with a court martial if she does not agree to deploy to Afghanistan on Sunday, Nov. 15. She has been attempting to find someone to take care of her child, Kamani, while she is deployed overseas, but to no avail.

According to the family care plan of the U.S. Army, Hutchinson was allowed to fly to California and leave her son with her mother, Angelique Hughes of Oakland.

- snip -

"To me it sounds completely bogus," Sussman told IPS, "I think what they are actually going to do is have her spend her year deployment in Afghanistan, then court martial her back here upon her return. This would do irreparable harm to her child. I think they are doing this to punish her, because they think she is lying."

Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja

Source: The Guardian

Doctors in Iraq's war-ravaged enclave of Falluja are dealing with up to 15 times as many chronic deformities in infants and a spike in early life cancers that may be linked to toxic materials left over from the fighting.

The extraordinary rise in birth defects has crystallised over recent months as specialists working in Falluja's over-stretched health system have started compiling detailed clinical records of all babies born.

Neurologists and obstetricians in the city interviewed by the Guardian say the rise in birth defects – which include a baby born with two heads, babies with multiple tumours, and others with nervous system problems - are unprecedented and at present unexplainable.

A group of Iraqi and British officials, including the former Iraqi minister for women's affairs, Dr Nawal Majeed a-Sammarai, and the British doctors David Halpin and Chris Burns-Cox, have petitioned the UN general assembly to ask that an independent committee fully investigate the defects and help clean up toxic materials left over decades of war – including the six years since Saddam Hussein was ousted.

"We are seeing a very significant increase in central nervous system anomalies," said Falluja general hospital's director and senior specialist, Dr Ayman Qais. "Before 2003 I was seeing sporadic numbers of deformities in babies. Now the frequency of deformities has increased dramatically."

The rise in frequency is stark – from two admissions a fortnight a year ago to two a day now. "Most are in the head and spinal cord, but there are also many deficiencies in lower limbs," he said. "There is also a very marked increase in the number of cases of less than two years with brain tumours. This is now a focus area of multiple tumours." LinkHere

Fox News Declares Cyberwar on the Liberal Blogosphere

Source: The Gawker

How do you annoy the maximum number of Liberal blogs with minimal effort? If you're Fox News, all you have to do is shut down the YouTube channel that supplies them with infuriating O'Reilly Factor clips. Today, Fox did this!

Spend even a few minutes on a politically-inclined blog that leans to the left, and you'll spot the little red-and-white "News1News" logo (above) attached to the upper-left corner a YouTube clip, usually of Glenn Beck ranting hilariously or otherwise being horrible. News1News specializes in capturing and uploading Fox bloviator's most outrageous statements for all of eternity. And each day, we bloggers—from the Huffington Post, Mediaite, Truthdig, Gawker, etc.—plucked newsworthy clips from News1News' Youtube channel, surrounded them with our words, and put them on our sites. (In fact, Mediaite's feature "Your Moment of Glenn" is all News1News clips.) From all this blog love, News1News had more than 20 million cumulative views by the time it was shut down. It was the simple, convenient way to stoke Liberal ire!

But today, it appears that Fox News determined it was time to shut down this one-stop Liberal blog fodder shop: They sent more than 150 DMCA takedown notices to YouTube regarding Fox News clips on the News1News channel, said the channel's proprietor, John. (John, a doctor living in Washington, DC, didn't want his last name to be used). This put the channel well over YouTube's controversial "three-strike" copyright violation limit. The channel was shut down, and John was inundated with emails from caffeine-addled bloggers asking, frantically, "what happened!?"

Because, now, if you try to watch Hannity's infamous apology to Jon Stewart on the Huffington Post, or Michael Jackson's "ghost" on Gawker, or Glenn Beck saying dumb stuff on Truthdig, you will only see "This Video is no longer available due to copyright claim by Fox News LLC". (SPOOKY!!)


News1News is back up, at a new address—at least until Fox takes it down again. But what's surprising about this whole episode isn't that Fox will use digital copyright law to fight back against its political opponents; it's that the operators of these popular cable news-ripping YouTube channels are actually pretty important players in the blog game. Think about it: They not only get to select which cable news clips have the possibility of "going viral" and becoming news themselves, but if they're taken down, whole swaths of video-based blog posts become a lot of words surrounding a big empty space. LinkHere

C.I.A. Didn’t Violate (Valerie Plame Wilson's Free Speech) Rights, Court Says

Edited on Fri Nov-13-09 12:39 PM by sabra
Source: NY Times

The Central Intelligence Agency did not violate the free speech rights of a former operative, Valerie Wilson, when it prohibited publication of details of her work before 2002 for the agency, a federal appeals court ruled. Ms. Wilson, left, whose classified status was exposed by Bush administration officials, redacted portions of her 2007 book, “Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House” because of the ban, but argued that the information was already in the public domain and publication should have been permitted. The opinion from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York, stated that “When Ms. Wilson elected to serve with the C.I.A., she accepted a life-long restriction on her ability to disclose classified and classifiable information.” Others may have disclosed it, and “may well have warranted investigation” for their disclosures, but “these circumstances do not absolve Ms. Wilson of her own secrecy obligations.” David B. Smallman, a lawyer for Ms. Wilson and her publisher, Simon & Schuster, said that an appeal was under consideration. LinkHere

Stewart Responds To Hannity's Apology: Nothing's Worth Sitting Through His Show

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Anita Dunn Takes Parting Shot At Fox, Hannity And Beck

In a parting shot at Fox News, White House Communications Director Anita Dunn mocked the conservative-leaning network on Friday and laughed off its controversial host Glen Beck for calling her a Mao enthusiast.

The outgoing administration spokeswoman took a clear and enjoyable dig, first at Sean Hannity for recently airing spliced footage designed to make a crowd of anti-health care protesters seem bigger than reality.

"A fun fact from this week is that an opinion show on a certain news network was using edited footage to make it appear that a rally last week, and political opposition to the president, was much larger than it appeared," said Dunn. "Some of you may have heard about it. The people who went in and did fact checking on that, and actually exposed the spliced edited was... Jon Stewart of the 'Daily Show' on Comedy Central. Well that is where you are getting fact-checking and investigative journalism these days folks. It is a different media environment."

Showing an even greater appreciation for the "Daily Show"'s Fox News fact-checking abilities, Dunn referenced another Stewart triumph later in her question-and-answer session.

"Jon Stewart actually did one of the most amazing pieces of journalism last week or a couple of weeks ago," she said, "in which he looked at the way Fox, on their opinion shows, raises some issue that then gets reported on by their news division as 'a controversy.' ... Now, that's a point of view. That's fine. That's entertainment. It helps their ratings. But I think if you go downstairs and walk through the Newseum that's not traditionally what you think of as traditional news -- to some extent inventing the story."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Why Are Hawkish Lawmakers Willing To Pay For An Escalation Of The War But Not For Health Care?

In recent days, heated policy discussions in Washington have largely focused on two topics: a possible escalation of the war in Afghanistan and health care legislation. Both a troop escalation and health care legislation carry significant price tags: roughly $100 billion and $80-$100 billion a year respectively. (It should be noted that health care reform, unlike a troop surge, would cut the deficit.)

In his New York Times column today, columnist Nicholas Kristof asks why hawks claim health reform is “fiscally irresponsible” while enthusiastically supporting a troop surge in Afghanistan, given the fact that fixing our broken health care system is, unlike a troop surge, essential to the health and well-being of Americans:

The health care legislation pays for itself, according to the Congressional Budget Office, while the deployment in Afghanistan is unfinanced and will raise our budget deficits and undermine our long-term economic security.

So doesn’t it seem odd to hear hawks say that health reform is fiscally irresponsible, while in the next breath they cheer a larger deployment of troops in Afghanistan?

Meanwhile, lack of health insurance kills about 45,000 Americans a year, according to a Harvard study released in September. So which is the greater danger to our homeland security, the Taliban or our dysfunctional insurance system?

Indeed, hawkish legislators have lined up to both demand a costly surge in U.S. troops in Afghanistan while at the same time claiming that deficit-cutting health care legislation would simply be too expensive:

RNC employee health insurance plan covers abortion.

Last week, 176 House Republicans joined with 64 Democrats in voting for the so-called Stupak amendment, which could “could effectively stop many employer-provided health insurance plans from covering abortions for tens of millions of Americans” and restrict any private plan in the insurance exchange from offering abortion coverage. However, Politico reports today that the RNC’s own employee health care plan covers elective abortion — “a procedure the party’s own platform calls ‘a fundamental assault on innocent human life’”:

Federal Election Commission Records show the RNC purchases its insurance from Cigna. Two sales agents for the company said that the RNC’s policy covers elective abortion.

Informed of the coverage, RNC spokeswoman Gail Gitcho told POLITICO that the policy pre-dates the tenure of current RNC Chairman Michael Steele.

“The current policy has been in effect since 1991, and we are taking steps to address the issue,” Gitcho said. [...]

According to several Cigna employees, the insurer offers its customers the opportunity to opt out of abortion coverage — and the RNC did not choose to opt out.

Recently it was also revealed that the health insurance plan used by the right-wing, anti-choice organization Focus on the Family also covered “abortion services.” LinkHere

Cao: Obama Administration ‘Has Been Tremendous’ For New Orleans On Katrina Recovery Effort

Last month, President Obama visted New Orleans for the first time since taking office and touted his administration’s focus on assisting the area’s still on-going recovery effort four years after Hurricane Katrina. “I’m pleased to report that we’ve made good progress,” he said. “We’ve got a long way to go, but we’ve made progress.”

But conservatives such as Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) criticized Obama’s visit calling it a “drive-through daiquiri summit,” while others “criticized the president for not touring the battered wetlands.”

Yesterday during an interview with Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA) — the lone Republican to vote for the House health care bill last week — Washington Times radio channeled the GOP criticism. “He didn’t even stick around very long during his trip,” the host said. But Cao defended what the administration has done for the area:

CAO: Well, I just want to set the record straight, that even though the President only visited New Orleans once since his election, it was a brief stay, but this administration has been tremendous for the people of the 2nd district. Secretary Napolitano has been down here three or four times, the secretary of HUD, the secretary of Education, they have been down here numerous times. [...]

So I guess for me, it’s not that important to have the visit of the President, its much more important for me that I have a good working relationship with the administration and have the commitment…from the administration to push all the recovery issues of the 2nd District forward and they have been doing that in the last 9 months.

Paul Rainwater, the executive director of the state-run Louisiana Recovery Authority, agrees with Cao’s approach. “I would say it’s more important to have your cabinet secretaries down here,” he said last month. Indeed, the White House said there were 22 visits by senior administration officials to the area from March to August, 13 of them by cabinet secretaries.

Business Groups ‘Worried’ About The Effects Of Banning The Importation Of Goods Made With Child Labor

One of the worst abuses in the international labor markets is the use of child labor. The most recent report on the issue by the International Labor Organization found that as of 2004 more than 218 million children were engaged in illegal work, as defined by international treaties. It’s estimated that 126 million of these children were engaged in hazardous work such as “mining or handling chemicals.”

In order to combat the issue, the Senate Finance Committee has included sections in S.1631, the Customs Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Reauthorization Act of 2009, that would ban the importation of goods made “with convict labor, forced labor, or indentured labor under penal sanctions.” Such a measure by the world’s largest importer would strike a crucial blow against the use of child and slave labor.
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow covered the story last night. Addressing the business interests opposing the measure directly, she said, “You think that child labor and slave labor and forced convict labor are cheap and therefore cool with you? Go ahead, make your case. I would love to hear it …. you child labor-endorsing, pro-slavery freaks.” LinkHere

Scozzafava Maddow Interview: Purging Party Of Independent Thinkers Leads To Minority Status

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

I sure as hell hope this is wrong!!!!!

Owens-Hoffman Race Tightens: NY-23 Election Will Depend On Absentee Ballots
ALBANY, N.Y. — It turns out that the special election in New York for a U.S. House seat may not be over after all.

After last week's election, Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman conceded and Democrat Bill Owens was sworn in.

The routine recanvassing of votes, however, shows Owens' lead has narrowed to 3,000 votes. The outcome will depend on how not-yet-counted absentee ballots break.

If the count overturns the election, Owens could be removed from office.

The Syracuse Post-Standard first reported that problems in some counties resulted in underreporting of votes for Hoffman on the night of the election.

Hoffman's campaign is monitoring the recanvassing. Owens' spokesman didn't immediately return a message left by The Associated Press.

Massive Media Fail: Female Cop Did Not Bring Down Fort Hood Killer

With the publication of an interview with Sgt. Mark Todd, the actual cop who gunned down the killer at Fort Hood -- following its account of an unnamed eyewitness last night -- The New York Times finally underlined what some of us noticed from nearly the start: the media fell hook, line and sinker once again for a military account of what happened during the tragedy.

First, it was the "death" of Major Hasan, not corrected for many hours. Then, for days, the story of how a white female cop brought down the shooter, even as she was receiving serious wounds. Yet I noticed just hours after the attack that scattered eyewitnesses, via the Web and Twitter, were saying that the killer re-loaded after Kimberly Munley went down.

How could he have done that if she had just plugged him four times, supposedly ending the rampage? Some of those witnesses said they yelled at the second cop to shoot Hasan--which he did, and then went up and kicked his gun away. Yet for almost a week the media rarely questioned the military's "official" story of Munley as savior. The New York Times was one of many who put Munley on the front page and declared that she was the person who nailed Hasan. Its headline: "She ran to gunfire, and ended it." It said flatly that she "brought down the gunman."

To its credit: The Times much later did help bring out the truth.

Most news outlets for days labeled Munley "the" (singular) Fort Hood hero. She was the "Mighty Mouse." It wasn't until two days ago that Sgt.Todd got feature billing, although in a secondary role. Now, in the past day, he is finally getting his due as the original account begins to fall away. The cop who saved the day is a black man, not a white woman.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

KBR improperly billed ($103 million) for security guards, senator says

Source: Houston Chron/Bloomberg

KBR, the largest contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan, improperly billed the Pentagon and was paid about $103 million for armed security guard services, a U.S. senator says.

In a Nov. 6 letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who chairs a contracting oversight panel, wrote that the Pentagon has recovered $42 million of the payments.

McCaskill said she was concerned the Defense Department "is not moving quickly enough to recover the remaining $61 million” and asked Gates for a status report by Dec. 1.

KBR officials have not seen the McCaskill letter but “the assertion KBR has engaged in 'improper' billings is false,” said company spokeswoman Heather Browne in an e-mail. “KBR has previously addressed billing issues and worked with the government to answer questions raised,” she said.

The billings were part of the Houston-based company's $34 billion contract to provide housing, food, laundry, mail delivery and fuel. The Defense Contract Audit Agency first identified the billings in August 2007. McCaskill said the failure to recover all the money by now “raises questions about the sufficiency” of Pentagon efforts “to recover disapproved costs on other contracts.” LinkHere

Jon Stewart Catches Sean Hannity Falsifying Footage To Make GOP Protest Appear Bigger

The Men Who Stare at Votes

2,266 Veterans Died In 2008 Because They Were Uninsured

According to a study released by the Harvard Medical School, 2,266 veterans under the age of 65 died last year as a result of not having health insurance. Researchers emphasize that "that figure is more than 14 times the number of deaths (155) suffered by U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2008, and more than twice as many as have died (911 as of Oct. 31) since the war began in 2001."

The 1.46 million working-age veterans that did not have health insurance last year all experienced reduced access to care as a consequence, leading to "six preventable deaths a day."

Like other uninsured Americans, most uninsured vets are working people -- too poor to afford private coverage but not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid or means-tested VA care," said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a professor at Harvard Medical School. [...]

Dr. David Himmelstein, the co-author of the report and associate professor of medicine at Harvard, commented, "On this Veterans Day we should not only honor the nearly 500 soldiers who have died this year in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also the more than 2,200 veterans who were killed by our broken health insurance system. That's six preventable deaths a day."

The study's authors warn that the health care legislation "would do virtually nothing for the uninsured until 2013" and would "leave at least 17 million uninsured over the long run when reform kicks in," leaving many veterans still without care.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Oh, to be a fly on the wall at President Barack Obama’s closed-door meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

What a friking sleeze bag!!!!!!!!

Posted on Nov 9, 2009
White House / Pete Souza
President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu exchange greetings at the United Nations earlier this year.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall at President Barack Obama’s closed-door meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two administrations have been at odds over Israel’s settlement construction, a disagreement that might have had something to do with Obama’s snubbing of Netanyahu by holding a meeting that lacked the usual fanfare.

Haaretz reports that the prime minister was prepared to be “generous” but stop short of a total freeze on construction and any perceived compromise on Israel’s security.

Netanyahu has called on his Palestinian counterpart, President Mahmoud Abbas, to “seize the moment to reach an historic agreement,” but his own policies have made that exceedingly difficult. —PZS

AFP via Yahoo:

Netanyahu on Monday urged moderate Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, who last week announced he would not run for re-election in January, to immediately renew peace negotiations.

“I say today to Mahmud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, ‘let us seize the moment to reach an historic agreement. Let us begin talks immediately,’ ” he told a conference of North American Jewish leaders.

But Washington’s efforts to relaunch Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, a goal the US administration has made the cornerstone of its Middle East policy, have recently encountered serious setbacks.

Google says Murdoch stories can be taken off

Dump The Bum, who friking cares!!!!!Just keep him in the USA, we sure as hell don't want him
Google said on Tuesday, in response to threats by Rupert Murdoch to ban the search engine from listing content from his news empire, that any company could ask to have stories taken off.

In an interview in his native Australia, Murdoch accused Google of stealing stories from News Corp. newspapers for the Google News service, and said he might ban them once he introduces charges for the papers' online editions.

Google said it was up to individual news organisations to decide whether they wanted their stories listed on Google News, and there were "simple technical standards" that would remove them if they wished.

"News organisations are in complete control over whether and how much of their content appears in search results," it said said in a statement issued in London.

"Publishers put their content on the web because they want it to be found, so very few choose not to include their material in Google News and web search. But if they tell us not to include it, we don't."

It added: "If publishers want their content to be removed from Google News specifically all they need to do it tell us."

Google said its news listings service and web searches were a "tremendous source of promotion" for news organisations, sending them "about 100,000 clicks every minute".

It added that Google News's approach was "fully consistent with copyright law", as it only showed the headline, short snippet of the story and a link to the publishers' site where readers could read the full version.

News Corp owns an enormous number of newspapers around the world including The Australian, the New York Post and The Times of London, and is planning to soon charge all its online readers.

Marine reservist chases, assaults Greek Orthodox priest who he mistook for an Arab terrorist.

COProgressive says:
Isn’t it great what being feed a constant diet of hate and fear can do for you critical thinking ability?
“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.” – Bertrand Russell
Alexios Marakis, a Greek Orthodox priest visiting the U.S., got lost in Tampa and tried to stop and ask directions from Marine reservist Jasen D. Bruce. But instead of offering help, “Bruce struck the priest on the head with a tire iron.” The reservist believed Marakis, who spoke limited English, was an Arab terrorist. Bruce chased the priest for three blocks, “and even called 911 to say that an Arabic man tried to rob him.” According to a news release:

“During the chase, the suspect called 911 and claimed an Arabic male attempted to rob him and he was going to take him into custody,” a Tampa Police Department news release states. “When officers arrived, the suspect claimed the man was a terrorist.”

Police arrested Bruce for “aggravated battery with a deadly weapon” and are investigating whether he committed a hate crime.

Lawsuit alleges that New York Post DC bureau chief’s goal was ‘to destroy’ Obama

The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein reports today that a fired New York Post employee, Sandra Guzman, has filed a complaint against the Post, the paper’s parent company News Corp., and Post editor-in-chief Col Allan “alleging harassment as well as ‘unlawful employment practices and retaliation.’” Stein reports that Guzman “paints the Post newsroom as a male-dominated frat house and Allan in particular as sexist, offensive and domineering. Guzman alleges that she and others were routinely subjected to misogynistic behavior.” But in addition to horrible workplace conditions, the Post’s news division is operating with a clear partisan bias, according to Guzman. She said the Post’s Washington D.C. bureau chief vowed to bring down President Obama:

She says that hiring practices at the paper — as well as her firing — were driven by racial prejudices rather than merit.

And she recounts the paper’s D.C. bureau chief stating that the publication’s goal was to “destroy [President] Barack Obama.”

Guzman’s revelation isn’t all that surprising considering that a Senior Vice President at Fox News, also a News Corp. subsidiary, admitted earlier this year that the network is consciously aiming to be “the voice of opposition” to the Obama administration “on some issues.”

Narrow, Surprising Victory in Seattle Mayor’s Race

Source: NY Times

SEATTLE — A former Sierra Club leader who rode his bicycle to campaign events and relied heavily on volunteer support claimed a narrow and surprising victory on Monday in the race for mayor of this environmentally friendly city.

“You cared, you believed, and we’ve got a lot more work to do,” Mike McGinn told supporters after the city’s mail-in election showed him winning 51 percent of the vote, by a margin of 4,939 votes out of about 190,000 cast in the mayor’s race.

He was met by the same chant he heard on the campaign trail: “We like Mike!”

* * *

Mr. McGinn, who was outspent more than 3 to 1 and did not receive endorsements from major political and business leaders, defeated Joe Mallahan, a vice president with T-Mobile who contributed more than $200,000 to his own campaign.

Halliburton, KBR named in suit over 'burn pits'

Source: Houston Chron/AP

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A pair of Kentucky men who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are suing two U.S. military contractors and accusing the companies of exposing them to toxic fumes and ash from “burn pits.”

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Louisville on Monday by former Air Force Sgt. Sean Alexander Stough of Stanton and Charles Hicks of Bellevue. It accuses Houston-based Halliburton Co. and KBR Inc. of burning everything from human remains to tires in open air pits, exposing everyone nearby to toxic ash and fumes.

KBR spokeswoman Heather Brown said the company denies the allegations and follows military regulations on the disposal of waste.

Halliburton didn’t immediately return a call for comment on Tuesday.

George W. Bush: The Worst President Ever!

George W. Bush's vacation time (grand total)
487 days at Camp David
490 days at Crawford Ranch
43 days at Kennebunkport Compound

Total: 1020 days, more than 1/3rd of his presidency. Bush set the record for most vacation time taken by any president.

Carter took 79 days in 4 years.
Clinton took 152 days in 8 years.

Reagan took 335 days in 8 years.
Bush Sr. took 543 days in 4 years!

So much for the mythological Republican hard worth ethic.

Obama Ft. Hood Speech:

Monday, November 09, 2009

Weiner Takes Lieberman On For "Audacity" Of Filibuster

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) took on Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on "Morning Joe" Monday, chastising the former Democrat for pledging to join a filibuster against health care reform if it contains a public option.

"It's inconsistent with common sense to say I oppose something that will hold down costs for the taxpayers and residents of Connecticut," Weiner said. "The insurance industry is a powerful force in Washington and so is the status quo, but the audacity to saying, and I think he backed away from it, 'I will not permit a vote on the concept?' Let's let the majority decide this issue."

Weiner offered to debate the senator, saying "If you want to bring Lieberman here, I think that I can talk him into it." LinkHere

Ft. Hood Victim's Family Speaks Out Against Anti-Muslim Sentiment

Army Chief Of Staff Warns Of Backlash... Conservative Group: Time To Purge Muslims From Military... Resolute Soldiers Injured At Ft. Hood Ready To Return
Army chief of staff Gen. George Casey said this weekend that he is concerned that the deadly shooting at Ft. Hood last week could "cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers."

"I've asked our Army leaders to be on the lookout for that," Gen. Casey told CNN on Sunday, stating that "as great a tragedy as this was, it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty as well."

On Monday, the family of one of the victims offered a hand of support to the Muslim community. Michael Cahill, a physician's assistant at the base, was the only civilian to be killed in the attacks, and his family spoke to CBS News to denounce the scapegoating of Muslims.

"You can't blanket a whole group of people. There's extremists in every religion, and there's extremists all over the world," said Cahill's daughter, Kerry. "And I don't think that we can blanket a whole group of people when this man obviously was ill, I think."

Cahill's other daughter, Keely Vanacker, expanded: "The death of our father, or any of these victims, shouldn't be an excuse or reason to begin to hate an entire group of people."

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Sunday, November 08, 2009


Complicated Suicide considered in Census Workers death

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Fort Hood tragedy.

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More Military Murders

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Right Jumps To Conclusions

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Post Scrip on Preamble

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"By The People"

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Obama urges passage of Health Care Bill

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Revealed: FBI warned CIA repeatedly about interrogation

Previously censored documents released late Friday by the Department of Justice have shed more light on the FBI investigation into CIA interrogation tactics. Part of the record shows how FBI officials understood that the 'battleground tactics' used by the Pentagon were ineffective and wouldn't lead to prosecutions. As early as 2003, the Federal Bureau of Investigations sent repeated warnings to the Department of Defense, but abusive interrogations occurred for 4 more years.

These latest documents were part of an ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit being conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union. Last week, newly released memos indicated that the FBI began to conduct an investigation into CIA interrogation techniques and secret prisons, but was denied regular access to prisoners. Department of Justice officials decided that there was not enough evidence to prosecute CIA interrogators.

This week, fresh documents in the ACLU lawsuit go deeper into the conflict between the FBI and the Pentagon. The belief at the Bureau was that though the Army-based interrogation tactics were useful for battlefield information gathering, "the reliability of information obtained using such tactics is highly questionable, not to mention potentially legally inadmissible in court.” This memo from May 2003 brings important questions to mind: Did the Office of Legal Counsel lawyers drafting later memos for the CIA not know about these early warnings? Did the CIA dismiss these warnings altogether, or were they told to ignore them?

Senior officials from the Criminal Investigative Task Force “lamented the fact that many DHS [Defense Human Intelligence Services] interrogators seem to believe that the only way to elicit information from uncooperative detainees is to use aggressive techniques on them.”

Brave teenager rescues one, then another

Source: The Age
LACHLAN Edwards, 15, had already rescued one man when he swam straight back into the rip at Point Impossible on the weekend to save a drowning woman. Struggling behind the break of the waves, she had taken in a lot of water and was too exhausted to keep fighting the current. ''She was a bit panicky, she was like 'someone please help me', and I said, 'I'm here now. You can hold on to me if you want','' Lachlan said.

He grabbed her arm and tried to swim her through the pounding waves. She realised how young he was and told him to swim back to safety without her. ''I kept assuring her that I could get back with her and she kept saying, 'leave me here, swim back, don't put yourself in danger' From the small crowd on the beach near Torquay, someone phoned police.

When leading senior constables Justin Joseph and Kelly Wray arrived, they saw Lachlan and the woman about 70 metres out. Leading Senior Constable Joseph stripped to his underpants and socks and ran into the water. He said he was surprised to see such a young rescuer and was immediately impressed.

''She was distraught; she kept saying 'I'm going to drown, I'm going to drown'. He was beyond his years, he relaxed her,'' Leading Senior Constable Joseph said.

The water was about four metres deep and Lachlan was becoming exhausted, trying to break through the rip with the woman. Police believe the woman had swum out to try to rescue the first man, who was being helped by another man when Lachlan initially responded to his scream. ''They got a bit stuck so I went out to help them,'' Lachlan said. ''I brought him back in but then I realised there was another woman who'd already gone to help this guy.'' LinkHere

Lieberman Pledges To Filibuster House Health Care Reform Bill, "As A Matter Of Conscience"

Graham: House Bill Would Be DOA In Senate, Lieberman Pledges Filibuster

They're such a SCUMBAG!!!!!!!

Deport Lieberman to Israel. n/t
Lieberman showed no sign of dropping his filibuster threat on Sunday morning, when he pledged to help kill any health care reform that includes a public option.

The Hill reported last week that the Connecticut senator had reached a "private understanding" with Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to let the bill pass. Both he and Democratic leadership denied the report, and publicly Lieberman is only increasing his commitment to the filibuster.

"A public option plan is unnecessary. It has been put forward, I'm convinced, by people who really want the government to take over all of health insurance," he told Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday." "If the public option plan is in there, as a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote."

Sen. Joe Lieberman calls Fort Hood massacre a 'terrorist' act

Source: NY Daily News

Sen. Joe Lieberman called the Fort Hood massacre an act of "Islamist extremism" - even as top Army brass warned Sunday against guessing at a motive, fearing backlash against Muslim soldiers.

"There are very, very strong warning signs here that Dr. Hasan had become an Islamist extremist and, therefore, that this was a terrorist act," Lieberman (I-Conn) told Fox News on Sunday.

"If the reports that we're receiving of various statements he made, acts he took are valid, he had turned to Islamist extremism."
Lieberman's comments were in stark contrast to U.S. Army chief of staff George Casey, who told CNN he's deeply worried "that the speculation could cause something that we don't want to see happen." LinkHere

Can An Unstable Pakistan Keep Safe Its Nuclear Arsenal?

Defending the Arsenal
America’s dealings with Pakistan may be increasing the risk of radicalization.
In the tumultuous days leading up to the Pakistan Army’s ground offensive in the tribal area of South Waziristan, which began on October 17th, the Pakistani Taliban attacked what should have been some of the country’s best-guarded targets. In the most brazen strike, ten gunmen penetrated the Army’s main headquarters, in Rawalpindi, instigating a twenty-two-hour standoff that left twenty-three dead and the military thoroughly embarrassed. The terrorists had been dressed in Army uniforms. There were also attacks on police installations in Peshawar and Lahore, and, once the offensive began, an Army general was shot dead by gunmen on motorcycles on the streets of Islamabad, the capital. The assassins clearly had advance knowledge of the general’s route, indicating that they had contacts and allies inside the security forces.

Pakistan has been a nuclear power for two decades, and has an estimated eighty to a hundred warheads, scattered in facilities around the country. The success of the latest attacks raised an obvious question: Are the bombs safe? Asked this question the day after the Rawalpindi raid, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “We have confidence in the Pakistani government and the military’s control over nuclear weapons.” Clinton—whose own visit to Pakistan, two weeks later, would be disrupted by more terrorist bombs—added that, despite the attacks by the Taliban, “we see no evidence that they are going to take over the state.”

Clinton’s words sounded reassuring, and several current and former officials also said in interviews that the Pakistan Army was in full control of the nuclear arsenal. But the Taliban overrunning Islamabad is not the only, or even the greatest, concern. The principal fear is mutiny—that extremists inside the Pakistani military might stage a coup, take control of some nuclear assets, or even divert a warhead.

On April 29th, President Obama was asked at a news conference whether he could reassure the American people that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal could be kept away from terrorists. Obama’s answer remains the clearest delineation of the Administration’s public posture. He was, he said, “gravely concerned” about the fragility of the civilian government of President Asif Ali Zardari. “Their biggest threat right now comes internally,” Obama said. “We have huge . . . national-security interests in making sure that Pakistan is stable and that you don’t end up having a nuclear-armed militant state.” The United States, he said, could “make sure that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is secure—primarily, initially, because the Pakistan Army, I think, recognizes the hazards of those weapons’ falling into the wrong hands.”

The questioner, Chuck Todd, of NBC, began asking whether the American military could, if necessary, move in and secure Pakistan’s bombs. Obama did not let Todd finish. “I’m not going to engage in hypotheticals of that sort,” he said. “I feel confident that the nuclear arsenal will remain out of militant hands. O.K.?”

Obama did not say so, but current and former officials said in interviews in Washington and Pakistan that his Administration has been negotiating highly sensitive understandings with the Pakistani military. These would allow specially trained American units to provide added security for the Pakistani arsenal in case of a crisis. At the same time, the Pakistani military would be given money to equip and train Pakistani soldiers and to improve their housing and facilities—goals that General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the chief of the Pakistan Army, has long desired. In June, Congress approved a four-hundred-million-dollar request for what the Administration called the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund, providing immediate assistance to the Pakistan Army for equipment, training, and “renovation and construction.” LinkHere

The Night They Drove the Tea Partiers Down

Rage At Wall Street Against Background Of Despair

Published: November 7, 2009
FOR all cable news’s efforts to inflate Election 2009 into a cliffhanger as riveting as Balloon Boy, ratings at MSNBC and CNN were flat Tuesday night. But not at Fox News, where the audience nearly doubled its usual prime-time average. That’s what happens when you have a thrilling story to tell, and what could be more thrilling than a revolution playing out in real time?
As Fox kept insisting, all eyes were glued on Doug Hoffman, the insurgent tea party candidate in New York’s 23rd Congressional District. A “tidal wave” was on its way, said Sean Hannity, and the right would soon “take back the Republican Party.” The race was not “even close,” Bill O’Reilly suggested to the pollster Scott Rasmussen, who didn’t disagree. When returns showed Hoffman trailing, the network’s resident genius, Karl Rove, knowingly reassured viewers that victory was in the bag, even if we’d have to stay up all night waiting for some slacker towns to tally their votes.

Alas, the Dewey-beats-Truman reveries died shortly after midnight, when even Fox had to concede that the Democrat, Bill Owens, had triumphed in what had been Republican country since before Edison introduced the light bulb. For the far right, the thriller in Watertown was over except for the ludicrous morning-after spin that Hoffman’s loss was really a victory. For the Democrats, the excitement was just beginning. New York’s 23rd could be celebrated as a rare bright spot on a night when the party’s gubernatorial candidates lost in Virginia and New Jersey.
The Democrats’ celebration was also premature: Hoffman’s defeat is potentially more harmful to them than to the Republicans. Tuesday’s results may be useless as a predictor of 2010, but they are not without value as cautionary tales. And the most worrisome for Democrats were not in Virginia and New Jersey, but, paradoxically, in the New York contests where they performed relatively well. That includes the idiosyncratic New York City mayor’s race that few viewed as a bellwether of anything. It should be the most troubling of them all for President Obama’s cohort — even though neither Obama nor the national political parties were significant players in it

The LONE Republican To Vote For Health Care Reform

One Republican lawmaker out of 177 crossed party lines to support the health care reform legislation offered by Democrats.

Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao, the Louisiana Republican who hails from a decidedly Democratic New Orleans district, voted yea on the final passage of legislation. He joined 219 Democrats to make the final margin 220 to 215 in favor of reform's passage.

Cao was a major (and possibly the lone) target for Democrats hoping to get even a semblance of bipartisan support for the bill. He said after the vote that he had obtained a "commitment from President Obama that he and I will work together to address the critical health care issues of Louisiana."

In the past, Cao has been touted by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) as "the future" of the GOP. Republicans clearly went the distance to keep him in the fold for the health care vote. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who promised protesters at a Tea Party rally this week that "not one Republican will vote for this bill," was standing beside Cao as the historic vote unfolded.

After the vote, Cao put out a long statement explaining his vote and emphasizing the fact that he also voted in favor of a key anti-abortion amendment, presumably to try to stave off the heavy incoming attacks from conservative activists.

Of his vote, Cao said: "Tonight, I voted to keep taxpayer dollars from funding abortion and to deliver access to affordable health care to the people of Louisiana.

Cao said: "I read the versions of the House [health reform] bill. I listened to the countless stories of Orleans and Jefferson Parish citizens whose health care costs are exploding - if they are able to obtain health care at all. Louisianans needs real options for primary care, for mental health care, and for expanded health care for seniors and children. [...]

Cao said: "Today, I obtained a commitment from President Obama that he and I will work together to address the critical health care issues of Louisiana including the FMAP crisis and community disaster loan forgiveness, as well as issues related to Charity and Methodist Hospitals. And, I call on my constituents to support me as I work with him on these issues.

Cao said: "I have always said that I would put aside partisan wrangling to do the business of the people. My vote tonight was based on my priority of doing what is best for my constituents.

Ahahahahahahah the goons are going to be apoplectic tonight, Thank you Beck, Limbaugh, Palin, Bauchman, Pawlenty, and all the rest of you, Thank You!!

One cool move President Obama!!!!

The newest member of Congress speaks:

My district needs this. Speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives for one of, if not the, first time since being elected to office, Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.) made it clear that he would vote for health care reform and viewed the legislation as a boon for small business.

"My district needs one thing: jobs," said the newly elected Democrat. "In upstate New York, small businesses are the jobs engine. Over the past 15 years, they have been responsible for nearly two-thirds of all the jobs created in [the area]. But the cost of health care is grinding the engine down. Over the last decade, small business insurance premiums are up 129 percent. That means much higher expenses, more businesses dropping coverage, and a sicker, more financially-strapped work force, and enormous pressure on small business owners...

"This bill can change that. It creates a competitive marketplace where individuals and small businesses can shop for polices at fair rates. It guarantees preventive care for a healthier, more productive work force, and it encourages Americans to start businesses of their own because the cost of health care will no longer tie them to the same job. The people of my district need jobs. They need me to vote yes. I came to congress to move America forward. This will do that."

Owens' vote, in the end, likely won't be the deciding margin if the House passes health care legislation Saturday evening. While the margin of the final vote seems likely to be small, it's mainly because Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have allowed a group of moderate Democrats to vote against the legislation for electoral purposes.

But Owens' vote is indeed a potent symbol in the eyes of Democratic leaders. Earlier in the day, President Barack Obama pointed to Owens' victory in upstate New York earlier this week as a reason that the party should rally behind the House's legislation.

"He said to look at Bill Owens," a senior Hill aide who was at the meeting recalled. "There is a House seat that's been in Republican hands for more than one hundred years. But Owens didn't run away from reform. He campaigned on it. And he still got elected."
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