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Archive for July 2nd, 2009

Obama Gives Health Plan a Town-Hall Pitch

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 2nd, 2009 4:46 am by HL

Obama Gives Health Plan a Town-Hall Pitch

Obama hugs

While Congress was away, President Obama made another play to boost public support of his health care reform plan. It came Wednesday in a town-hall-esque forum in Virginia.? Those hoping for the federal government to back a viable single-payer system, however, will have to keep on hoping.

The New York Times:

With members of Congress away for the week, the president had the stage to himself as he promoted his plan to lower the cost of health care and make coverage more accessible. He cast his proposal as a cost-saver, rather than a giant expenditure, saying the economy was not likely to rally without reversing “the crushing cost of health care.”

For weeks, the administration and Congressional leaders have struggled to reach a compromise on comprehensive health care legislation. So the White House sought to rally public support by staging a friendly forum here, just outside Washington, which was billed as an hourlong question-and-answer session from a live audience, as well as from people following along online.

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Paul Loeb: Letter to Obama from a Dying Friend

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 2nd, 2009 4:45 am by HL

Paul Loeb: Letter to Obama from a Dying Friend
My friend Robert Ellis Gordon is dying of lupus, with months left to live. He’s spent more than a decade teaching writing to prison inmates,…

Andy Worthington: Release of the “Holy Grail” of Torture Reports Delayed Again
Today was supposed to be the day that the Justice Department — after two delays — released an unclassified version of the CIA Inspector General’s 2004 Report into the interrogations of “high-value detainees.”

Les Leopold: Redefining Chutzpah: Wall Street Using Bailout Money to Kill Financial Consumer Protection Agency
With a straight face, the captains of Wall Street like are telling us that they don’t need to be heavily regulated — that regulations will kill innovation and stifle consumer choice.

Cameron Sinclair: Aspen Ideas Festival: Arne Duncan, it is also about the building
At the Aspen Ideas Festival on Wednesday Secretary Arne Duncan was under the spotlight on his plans to revamp the education system in America. With…


Fox hosts on Franken victory: “in denial”; Franken and nation crazy; Coleman originally won

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 2nd, 2009 4:44 am by HL

Fox hosts on Franken victory: “in denial”; Franken and nation crazy; Coleman originally won

After Norm Coleman conceded the 2008 Minnesota Senate race to Al Franken (D), several Fox News hosts expressed bewilderment, disappointment, and denial about the outcome. For instance, Glenn Beck said of Franken’s victory, “[I]t shows how crazy our country has gone.” He added: “[I]t shows that we’ve lost our minds.” Sean Hannity claimed that Franken is “not all there,” and later claimed, “I, in my heart of hearts, do not believe that Al Franken won that election.” And Brian Kilmeade said he’s “in denial” about Franken, who he said was “barely sane.” Gretchen Carlson responded to Kilmeade by again falsely claiming that Coleman “won in the original election.”

As Media Matters for America has documented, Fox News personalities have repeatedly promoted baseless claims of fraud in the Minnesota race and claimed that there was a lack of impartiality in the recount process to accuse Franken of “stealing” the election. However, in its unanimous 5-0 ruling, the Minnesota Supreme Court stated that “[n]o claim of fraud in the election or during the recount was made by either party” and that “Coleman’s counsel confirmed at oral argument that Coleman makes no claim of fraud on the part of either voters or election officials.” The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that experts said there was a “lack of crookedness in the election” and that Loyola Law School election law professor Rick Hasen “said the court’s ruling Tuesday was so thorough that it also ruled out the possibility that either candidate — or their lawyers — could be accused of stealing the election.”

Beck said on The O’Reilly Factor: “You don’t want me as a senator. This is — what is that? I mean, this is the — it’s — it shows how crazy our country has gone. You don’t want me as a senator. You don’t want Al Franken as a senator.” Beck added: “[I]t shows that we’ve lost our minds. It’s like we’ve slipped through a worm hole. It’s like this looks like the country I grew up in, but, no — Al Franken would never be a senator.” Beck also claimed that “Franken coming into office” means we “have entered a place to where there isn’t statesmanship anymore.”

During the June 30 edition of his program, Hannity suggested vote fraud by claiming, “[Y]ou have counties as they did in Minnesota where you had more votes than you did people registered to vote on Election Day.” While Hannity did not expand on his claim, a May 28 Minneapolis Star Tribune article reported that a conservative group, the Minnesota Majority, sued Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, claiming that “vote totals from [Minnesota election] canvassing boards exceed the stated number of registered voters by 406,398.” The Star Tribune article stated that Minnesota Majority’s report on registration listed one county as “having zero registered voters.” The article also said that “Ritchie disputed the claims” in the lawsuit. From the article:

Ritchie said Thursday that his office updated voter registration lists in April and continues to do so. “All lists are updated every day of the week,” he said. “People die, people move. The counties continuously update the lists.”

He said the goal was to match voter registration and the certified canvassing board totals within 1,000 names. “You’ll never get a perfect correlation between the two,” he said. “We were at 40,000 in April. We’re at about 30,000 now.”

[…]

Ritchie said he didn’t know why some counties turned up with zero registered voters in Minnesota Majority’s report. “Their number is so far different from the actual number in the database that it’s not possible for me to speak to it,” he said.

Aitkin County was listed in the report as having zero registered voters and 9,455 certified ballots. But Auditor Kirk Peysar said his county had reported its registered voters and that the number matched the ballots.

Previously, as Media Matters noted, on January 5, Hannity said of the recount, “We’ve got one county — ended up with 177 more ballots.” Hannity’s guest, Fox News contributor Dick Morris, added, “Yeah, Ramsey County — 177 more ballots than people voted.” In fact, according to a December 14 Star Tribune article, which cited election officials explaining human and technological errors in the voting process, a “machine jammed in Maplewood, resulting in 177 ballots going uncounted until the final day of the recount in Ramsey County.”

On the July 1 edition of Fox & Friends, Kilmeade said to his co-hosts, “Just don’t tell me Al Franken won until the end of the show.” After Carlson noted that Franken won, Kilmeade said, “I’m in denial still.” Kilmeade later said that Franken is “barely sane if you read his books, and quite angry in every facet of his life.” When Kilmeade asked former Minnesotan Carlson to “explain yourself,” Carlson said: “Excuse me, I’m under personal attack. I haven’t lived there since I was 17, but I do still consider it home, and I have nothing to do with the political process there.”

Carlson then falsely claimed that “Coleman won in the original election, but after the recount that some considered suspicious, Franken is now the new senator.” Carlson previously claimed on April 3: “[T]he last time I checked, Norm Coleman won the election after election night.” However, while Coleman was ahead in the vote count after election night, he was not certified the winner; state law mandated a recount because of the closeness of the results. Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly has similarly repeatedly falsely claimed Coleman “was certified the winner” in the race.

Later during the program, Kilmeade said of Franken:  “[L]et’s talk about who’s safe now that Al Franken’s going to be in the Senate. He’s a senator from Minnesota — yes, I said it out loud, and it hurts, but I said it.”  

From the June 30 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor:

BECK: It makes me very sad that we are living in a country — look, I have no problem when President Bush did something wrong, saying he did something wrong, and saying he did something right. Same with President Obama. President Obama is my president. I didn’t vote for him. I think that he is way off base.

But he’s still my president. I still support the office of the United States. It is — we have entered a place, I mean, with Al Franken coming into office, we’ve entered a place to where there isn’t statesmanship anymore. The president has not elevated himself to a higher standard.

[…]

MONICA CROWLEY (guest host): All right, let’s move on to Al Franken.

BECK: Yeah.

CROWLEY: So, we’ve got Norm Coleman, the incumbent Republican senator who put up a very valiant effort over many months. He has now conceded. The governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, now says he will certify Al Franken as his replacement in the Senate. This gives the Democrats a 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority. What does this mean?

BECK: This is like having me in the Senate. You don’t want me as a senator. This is — what is that? I mean —

CROWLEY: Al Franken.

BECK: — this is the — it’s — it shows how crazy our country has gone. You don’t want me as a senator. You don’t want Al Franken as a senator.

CROWLEY: Glenn, doesn’t it show that anything is possible in America?

BECK: No. It seems — it shows that we’ve lost our minds. It’s like we’ve slipped through a worm hole. It’s like this looks like the country I grew up in, but, no — Al Franken would never be a senator.

From the June 30 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

HANNITY: Well, do you think now, with a filibuster-proof Senate, and our good friend — who, by the way, folks —

MICHAEL STEELE (Republican National Committee chairman): Yeah.

HANNITY: — this guy, Franken, he’s not all there. All right. But do you think with him in a filibuster-proof Senate, do you think this is now problematic for the Republicans to stop it in the Senate?

STEELE: No, I don’t think it’s problematic for this reason: because unlike the House, the Blue Dogs in the Senate do not have the cover that Nancy Pelosi gave the Blue Dogs in the House.

They could afford to vote against this bill because they had the votes they needed to get it passed. And the Senate is a different story. You’re much more exposed. Every vote counts, every vote is on the board, and I think it’s going to be a lot harder for those Blue Dogs, especially, to stand up there and then go back home and justify —

HANNITY: Yeah.

STEELE: — raising people’s utility bills as they want — as this administration plans to do.

HANNITY: All right. What do you think — I believe that Norm Coleman — when you have counties as they did in Minnesota where you had more votes than you did people registered to vote on Election Day, and when you have different standards apply, I understand why he took it this far, and I understand why he stopped it today. He did it for the people of Minnesota.

STEELE: Yeah.

HANNITY: But I, in my heart of hearts, do not believe that Al Franken won that election. Do you?

STEELE: I don’t either. I think that this is just craziness at its worst here. You have one part of the state that voted where the ballots were accepted, and other parts where ballots weren’t accepted with the exact same vote.

It makes no sense. They were counting folks who, you know, in counties that didn’t exist. I mean, the whole thing is suspect at best. But, look, my hat goes out to my good friend Norm Coleman.

He fought the good fight. He really was a good public servant for the folks of Minnesota. I think they’re going to rue the day on this vote. I think they already have, Sean, quite frankly. I’ve talked to enough Democrats in the state —

HANNITY: Yeah.

STEELE: — who said, you know, if we could do a do-over, the results, I think, would be a little bit different.

From the July 1 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

STEVE DOOCY (co-host): Meanwhile, it’s only taken eight months, but Minnesota finally knows who their next senator will be. But it’s more than just a victory for Al Franken. Can you say supermajority? We’re going to explain all that.

KILMEADE: Just don’t tell me Al Franken won until the end of the show.

[…]

KILMEADE: Meanwhile, at the top of the hour, so much going in all facets of the news world, from Michael Jackson to Honduras and more.

CARLSON: And to Al Franken in Minnesota, the new senator.

KILMEADE: I’m in denial still.

CARLSON: But let’s start with — let’s start with Iraq.

[…]

KILMEADE: I would relabel that. How about this bizarre — you thought it was crazy when a wrestler became governor of your fun city. I thought that was a little —

CARLSON: State.

KILMEADE: — insane — state. And then all of a sudden we got a chance to meet him, and he was even crazier than we thought. Now we find out that Al Franken, who’s barely sane if you read his books, and quite angry in every facet of his life, is now the senator from Minnesota. Explain yourself, Gretchen.

CARLSON: Excuse me, I’m under personal attack. I haven’t lived there since I was 17, but I do still consider it home, and I have nothing to do with the political process there. But Al Franken is the new senator from Minnesota. Norm Coleman said enough is enough yesterday.

The Minnesota Supreme Court came back and said that those couple hundred votes that Franken got in the recount — remember, Coleman won in the original election, but after the recount that some considered suspicious, Franken is now the new senator, and Coleman says I’m not going to take this to the United States Supreme Court.

COLEMAN : I just had a conversation with Al Franken congratulating him on his victory, and I told him it’s the best job that he’ll ever have, representing the people of the people of the Minnesota.

FRANKEN : I received a very gracious call from Senator Coleman a little while ago. He wished me well. I wished him well. And we agreed that it is time to bring this state together.

DOOCY: So they got a comedian in charge — the junior senator from the great state, the land of 10,000 comedians, Minnesota.

[…]

KILMEADE: But straight ahead, let’s talk about who’s safe now that Al Franken’s going to be in the Senate. He’s a senator from Minnesota — yes, I said it out loud, and it hurts, but I said it. The huge impact on the balance of power in Washington.


Sanford: King David Didn’t Resign, So Why Should I?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 2nd, 2009 4:43 am by HL

Sanford: King David Didn’t Resign, So Why Should I?
digg_url = ‘http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/06/sanford_king_david_didnt_resign_so_i_wont_either.php’; reddit_url = ‘http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/06/sanford_king_david_didnt_resign_so_i_wont_either.php’; reddit_title = ‘Sanford: King David Didn’t Resign, So Why Should I?’; Mark Sanford has been holding a televised cabinet meeting this afternoon. And the South Carolina governor started out by using an interesting…





Climate Skeptic: “I Was Hoping People At EPA Would Pay Attention” To My Work
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Testing Iowa Already

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 2nd, 2009 4:40 am by HL

Testing Iowa Already
Radio Iowa reports someone is using automated phone calls to test the popularity of possible Republican 2012 presidential candidates: Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Bobby Jindal, and Jeb Bush.

Sestak Says He’s Running
Though Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) has been coy about whether he’ll actually challenge Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) in a Democratic primary for Senate next year, he was was very clear in an interview with the Wayne Independent.

Said Sestak: “I am going to get into the race against Arlen Specter… for senator.”

It was Sestak’s “first media interview as part of a three-week tour through all of the Commonwealth’s 67 counties.”


Slow Down: How Our Fast-Paced World Is Making Us Sick

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 2nd, 2009 4:39 am by HL

Slow Down: How Our Fast-Paced World Is Making Us Sick
Living under unnatural time pressures causes a myriad of psychological, social and physical ailments.

While the U.S. Dilly Dallies on Honduras, We Continue to Support a Right-Wing Thug in Colombia
Alvaro Uribe could be re-elected through just the type of referendum the ousted Manuel Zelaya has been accused of trying to carry out.

‘There Is No Way I Will Deploy to Afghanistan’ — Seeds of Dissent in the U.S. Military Are Growing
From suicide to desertion to refusal to deploy — service members' dissent may be growing into something far larger.

Chamber of Commerce Launches $100 Million Campaign to Protect Wall Street’s Power at Our Expense
The CoC is the world's most powerful lobbying machine and it's working to make sure our money gets funneled to corporate execs.

Adam and Eve Did What? A Visit to the Creationism Museum Makes Scientists Laugh, Cry
The museum argues, among other things, that war, famine and natural disasters are to blame on belief in evolution.


Leadership

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 2nd, 2009 4:38 am by HL

Leadership
Al Kamen, via Michael Crowley, offers up this spectacular piece of Americana: there is a General Tommy Franks Leadership Institute and Museum. If it merges with the Bernard Madoff Leadership Institute and Museum to form the Bernie-Tommy Leadership Institute and…


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The Global Warming Lie Detector
The House’s passage of the Waxman-Markey bill raises the possibility that the United States will finally do something on global warming. This prospect has the industry hacks screaming at top volume about the horrible fate that awaits the economy. Everyone…


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Gingrich On Private Health Insurance Companies: ?They Have It Done Well?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 2nd, 2009 4:37 am by HL

Gingrich On Private Health Insurance Companies: ?They Have It Done Well?
Newt Gingrich, one of the de facto leaders of the Republican Party, gave an interview to ABC Medical editor Dr. Timothy Johnson last week to discuss health care reform. Gingrich predictably went into scare-mongering mode, making arguments against measures that aren’t even part of the debate. He said the U.S. should not adopt a “single […]

newt-gingrich-webNewt Gingrich, one of the de facto leaders of the Republican Party, gave an interview to ABC Medical editor Dr. Timothy Johnson last week to discuss health care reform. Gingrich predictably went into scare-mongering mode, making arguments against measures that aren’t even part of the debate. He said the U.S. should not adopt a “single national health system” such as in Canada or the UK. “If I have to choose between my doctor and a government bureaucrat, I have zero doubt which one I want,” he said. Of course, no such choice is being offered.

But Gingrich also touted the success of private health insurers. When Johnson noted that it is insurance companies that are coming between patients and needed care, Gingrich claimed, “If you don’t like your current insurance company, you can change insurance companies.” He later argued that private insurers have done “well”:

GINGRICH: They have it done well. And the fact is, overall, 71 percent of Americans are relatively satisfied with the health insurance.

JOHNSON: But we have 46 million uninsured.

GINGRICH: Right. And we have — you know, that means you also have 260 million insured.

Perhaps Gingrich hasn’t been paying attention to how private insurance companies have been doing it. They continually deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions and drop coverage for many who have insurance (and have paid monthly premiums) when they become ill. In fact, just this month, the CEOs of the nation’s top three health insurers told a House committee that they would continue the practice of canceling medical coverage for sick policy holders, a controversial measure called “rescission.”

Moreover, many of those who have health insurance really aren’t “insured” from the financial burdens of rising health care costs. A national study released this year found that while medical debt contributed to 62 percent of the bankruptcies in 2007, 78 percent of those bankruptcy filers had health insurance but “still were overwhelmed by their medical debt.”

Perhaps because he hasn’t had to shop around for health insurance for quite a while, Gingrich doesn’t know that it’s not that easy to just “change insurance companies” if you’re unhappy with your current provider. Aside from the fact that insurer consolidation has resulted in limited choice and higher profits for insurers, those seeking insurance on the individual market face higher costs, as the Commonwealth Fund has noted:

Insurance in the individual market is often impossible to obtain or unaffordable. Nearly nine of 10 people who explored obtaining coverage through the individual market never bought a plan, citing difficulties finding affordable coverage or being turned down.

If private insurance companies have “done well” and a public plan is no option, how does Gingrich plan to reform health care?

In coup aftermath, Hugo Chavez seen as the ?George Bush of Latin America.?
The New York Times reports today that, despite Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s attempts to portray the U.S. as the instigators of last weekend’s coup in Honduras, the Obama administration appears to have out-maneuvered him. Obama “firmly condemned the coup, defusing Mr. Chávez’s charges,” and leaders of other Latin American countries and media outlets seemed unwilling […]

The New York Times reports today that, despite Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s attempts to portray the U.S. as the instigators of last weekend’s coup in Honduras, the Obama administration appears to have out-maneuvered him. Obama “firmly condemned the coup, defusing Mr. Chávez’s charges,” and leaders of other Latin American countries and media outlets seemed unwilling to accept Chávez’s portrayal of “Washington as the coup’s possible orchestrator.” Chávez’s unpopular and belligerent rhetoric inspired Venezualan opposition party Acción Democrática to dub him the “George Bush of Latin America“:

obama_chavezMr. Obama’s nonconfrontational diplomacy seems to have caught Mr. Chávez off balance. “Chávez is beginning to understand that he’s dealing with someone with a very different approach than his predecessor,” said Michael Shifter, vice president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington policy research group. …

Mr. Chávez’s threats of belligerence in Central America led one opposition party here, Acción Democrática, to issue a statement on Monday that was full of irony: “Hugo Chávez has become the George Bush of Latin America.”


Obama Holds Health-Care Forum in Virginia

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 2nd, 2009 4:36 am by HL

Obama Holds Health-Care Forum in Virginia
President Obama offered a wonkish defense of his embattled health-care reform effort during an hour-long town hall meeting in Northern Virginia yesterday that featured seven questions, including one sent via Twitter and several from a handpicked audience of supporters.

Recriminations Over Sarah Palin Mask Deeper GOP Troubles
On the same day Republicans surrendered a symbolically significant seat in the Senate, the Sarah Palin wars erupted again inside the party. Leaks followed by trash-talking followed by recriminations.


Bauer, Sanford’s Lieutenant Governor in South Carolina, Draws New Attention
With every word South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) utters about his extramarital affair, his would-be successor leaps closer to a job that he wants dearly but that many leaders in the state’s fractured Republican Party have been scheming to keep from him.

Opposition Leaders Defy Iranian Authorities, Call Ahmadinejad Government Illegal
TEHRAN, July 1 — Three opposition leaders, including a former president, openly defied Iran’s top political and religious authorities Wednesday, vowing to resist a government they have deemed illegitimate after official certification of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reelection.


Facts. Costs. Consequences. Who Cares?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 2nd, 2009 4:29 am by HL

Facts. Costs. Consequences. Who Cares?
David Harsanyi, Denver Post

Senate Must Resist Efforts to Weaken Climate Bill

Mark Sanford’s Slow-Motion Crackup
Joan Walsh, Salon

Only Republicans Can Save Obama Now
Dick Morris, The Hill