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Archive for October 1st, 2009

The Public Option Only Looks Dead

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 1st, 2009 4:45 am by HL

The Public Option Only Looks Dead
The strangest aspect of the debate over a public option for health coverage is that the centrists who oppose it should actually love it. READ THE WHOLE ITEM By E.J. Dionne

The strangest aspect of the debate over a public option for health coverage is that the centrists who oppose it should actually love it.

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Obama’s Afghanistan Dilemma
During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama repeatedly called for expanding the war in Afghanistan. Be careful what you wish for. READ THE WHOLE ITEM

By Stanley Kutler

During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama repeatedly called for expanding the war in Afghanistan. Be careful what you wish for.

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Frank Dwyer: Political Haiku: Are We Standing Up to the Knuckle-Draggers?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 1st, 2009 4:44 am by HL

Frank Dwyer: Political Haiku: Are We Standing Up to the Knuckle-Draggers?
Hooray! Finally! An Opposition Party! (He’s Alan Grayson.)…

Gates Has Growing Doubts About U.S’s Afghan Strategy
President Barack Obama met with senior counselors for three hours Wednesday to launch his review of Afghan war strategy, amid indications that his defense secretary…

Michelle Obama: Crime Won’t Hurt Chicago Olympic Bid
First Lady Michelle Obama, off to Copenhagen on Tuesday night to lobby for Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid, said the rash of crime in Chicago won’t…

Lincoln Mitchell: Why 2010 Will Not Be 1994
In the last few weeks, Republicans have put a new twist on their campaign of never ending fear. Now the Republicans are trying to scare…

Aaron E. Carroll: How to have a rational debate about health care reform
Is there anyone left willing to talk about health care reform calmly?  At this point, the dialogue has become so partisan and stained that it…


Despite evidence to contrary, Fox News machine claims Jennings “cover[ed] up statutory rape”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 1st, 2009 4:43 am by HL

Despite evidence to contrary, Fox News machine claims Jennings “cover[ed] up statutory rape”

Despite evidence to the contrary, Fox News — led by Sean Hannity — and other right-wing media have claimed that Department of Education official Kevin Jennings “cover[ed] up statutory rape” and violated Massachusetts law by not reporting to authorities a 1988 conversation in which a high school student told Jennings about his relationship with an older man. In fact, Jennings’ attorney wrote in a 2004 letter that the student was 16 years old, which is — and was at the time — the legal age of consent in Massachusetts.

Fox, right-wing media claim Jennings covered up “statutory rape”

Sean Hannity: “As The Washington Times said, ‘At the very least, statutory rape occurred,’ and he didn’t report it.” On the September 30 edition of Fox News’ Hannity, host Sean Hannity said: “We have the safe schools czar, a guy by the name of Kevin Jennings, OK? And he writes this book, and he gives information to a 15-year-old — ABC News and Jake Tapper write about this tonight — a 15-year-old sophomore, and his advice to him when he’s having a gay relationship is, you know, ‘Did you use a condom?’ He knew it was an older adult. Now, as The Washington Times said, ‘At the very least, statutory rape occurred,’ and he didn’t report it. Now he’s saying that he made a mistake, only because it’s been reported on. My question is, where’s the vetting process? Why was he even put in this position?” Hannity went on to call for Jennings to be “fired.”

The Fox Nation: Jennings “Cover[ed] Up Statutory Rape.” The Fox News website TheFoxNation.com posted the following headline on September 30:

Gateway Pundit: “Jennings hid pedophilia from authorities.” In a September 30 post titled “Obama’s ‘Safe Schools Czar’ Expresses Regret for Not Reporting Statutory Rape,” the right-wing blog Gateway Pundit claimed: “Barack Obama’s ‘safe school’s czar’ Kevin Jennings hid pedophilia from authorities. Jennings violated a state law that required him to report the abuse.”

Malkin: Jennings failed to report “homosexual child predator.” Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin wrote a September 30 blog post titled “Safe Schools czar now ‘regrets’ failure to report child predator” in which she referred to Jennings’ purported “failure as a young gay teacher to protect a 15-year old student from a homosexual child predator.”

Jennings’ attorney stated in letter that student was 16, which is, and was, MA age of consent

Jennings’ attorney: Conversation was “with a sixteen-year-old student”; “no factual basis” that Jennings was “aware of any sexual victimization of any student.” In an August 3, 2004, letter, Constance M. Boland of the law firm Nixon Peabody — which represented the organization that Jennings ran — wrote that the “conversation” Jennings had was with “a sixteen-year-old student” and that there “is no factual basis whatsoever for” the “claim that Mr. Jennings engaged in unethical practices, or that he was aware of any sexual victimization of any student, or that he declined to report any sexual victimization at any time.” [Boland letter, 8/3/04]

Massachusetts age of consent is — and was at the time — 16. According to a footnote in the 1982 Massachusetts case Commonwealth v. Calvin D. Miller, chapter 265, section 23 of the General Laws of Massachusetts, as amended in 1974, at the time provided:

Whoever unlawfully has sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse, and abuses a child under sixteen years of age shall, for the first offense, be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for life or for any term of years, or, except as otherwise provided, for any term in a jail or house of correction, and for the second or subsequent offense by imprisonment in the state prison for life or for any term of years, but not less than five years.

According to the legislative history available in the Lexis database, the provision was not amended after 1982 until 1998. It was amended again in 2008, and now provides:

Whoever unlawfully has sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse, and abuses a child under 16 years of age, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for life or for any term of years or, except as otherwise provided, for any term in a jail or house of correction. A prosecution commenced under this section shall neither be continued without a finding nor placed on file.


Health-Reform Foe Runs Firm Serving Patients Who Would Benefit From Public Option

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 1st, 2009 4:42 am by HL

Health-Reform Foe Runs Firm Serving Patients Who Would Benefit From Public Option
Rick Scott, a key opponent of health-care reform, runs a for-profit company that operates a chain of walk-in clinics targeted at the uninsured and underinsured — the very people who would most benefit from a public option.


Sparkman’s Son: “He Didn’t Do This To Himself”
Bill Sparkman’s son tells the AP that he has no doubt his father was murdered. “No person on this planet is going to fight cancer like he did, then … kill himself ” said Josh Sparkman, whose father, a Census Bureau worker, was found dead with the word “Fed” scrawled across his chest.


Lobbyist’s Political Fundraising Paid For Mistress’s Gifts, Kids’ School Fees, Say Feds
Alan Mendelsohn, a Florida lobbyist, ran a scheme in which he raised money through political contributions and lobbyist fees, then diverted that money to personal expenses while avoiding lobbying disclosure rules, says prosecutors. Mendelsohn pleaded not guilty today.



Tales from the FOXholes Part 7

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 1st, 2009 4:38 am by HL

Tales from the FOXholes Part 7
Senate Panel Rejects Gov’t-Run Insurance Option – David Espo, AP, Sept. 29, 2009. Bad News for Public Option? – Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight.com, Sept. 29, 2009. Prospects for Public Option Dim in Senate – Shailagh Murray & Lori Montgomery, Washington Post, Sept. 30, 2009.


Toomey Edges Specter in Pennsylvania

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 1st, 2009 4:37 am by HL

Toomey Edges Specter in Pennsylvania
A new Quinnipiac poll in Pennsylvania finds Pat Toomey (R) inching ahead of Sen. Arlen Specter (D), 43% to 42%.

This reverses a 20-point lead Specter held in May just after his switch from Republican to Democrat to escape a primary battle with Toomey.

In the Democratic primary, Specter remains far ahead of Rep. Joe Sestak (D), 44% to 25%. But Sestak runs almost as well as Specter against Toomey, trailing the Republican only 38% to 35%.

Said pollster Peter Brown: “Toomey and Specter are neck and neck in what could be a 13-month horse race… Specter has more than enough time to reverse his fortunes, but being tied with the relatively unknown Toomey is evidence that this election has become a referendum on Specter.”


Republicans Have Decided to Call Anything a Democrat Ever Does or Says "Nazi"

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 1st, 2009 4:36 am by HL

Republicans Have Decided to Call Anything a Democrat Ever Does or Says "Nazi"

The cause du jour for the Republican Party is to make as many rapid-fire comparisons between the Democrats and the Nazis as humanly possible.

Flush with Cash From Bank Lobbyists, Conservative Dems Are Killing the Consumer Protection We All Need

Wall Street-influenced Democrats may not act as nutty as their GOP counterparts, but they're dealing out the same economic damage.

No, Not All Bi Women Love Threesomes: Silly Myths About Women and Bisexuality

Being bisexual means that you are attracted to members of both sexes, even if you’re not sleeping with them. Here are some things bisexuality doesn’t mean.


Class Warfare Ahead?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 1st, 2009 4:35 am by HL

Class Warfare Ahead?
What’s wrong with these two pictures? I believe there is a dangerous disconnect between the “investor class” and everyone else in the country. The S & P 500 keeps climbing and jobs keep disappearing. If this situation is not…


Sponsored Topics: ClimbingTechnologyBusinessWashingtonKids and Teens

Obama at the UN: “No More Excuses – Now Who’s In?”
Current US foreign policy is driven by what I’d call the “ante up doctrine.” The United States is ready to put its chips into the middle of the table and expects the rest of the world community to do the…


Sponsored Topics: United StatesForeign policy of the United StatesUnited NationsUSWarfare and Conflict

Unemployment Or Unemployability? A Story.
So the recession is over but unemployment is not falling, at least not yet. How on earth can a recovery be “jobless”? And how might this fit with the fact that, in the 1960s, about 60,000 new businesses a year…


Sponsored Topics: Dave MarshallCanadaBusinessMexicoRepair


Health Insurance Stocks Rise After Defeat Of Public Option Amendments

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 1st, 2009 4:34 am by HL

Health Insurance Stocks Rise After Defeat Of Public Option Amendments
Yesterday, the Senate Finance Committee voted down both the Rockefeller and Schumer amendments, which would have added a public insurance plan to the committee’s bill. As the Wall Street Journal reports, shares in health insurers Humana and UnitedHealth shot up following the votes: Shares of companies that operate private health plans turned higher or trimmed […]

Yesterday, the Senate Finance Committee voted down both the Rockefeller and Schumer amendments, which would have added a public insurance plan to the committee’s bill. As the Wall Street Journal reports, shares in health insurers Humana and UnitedHealth shot up following the votes:

Shares of companies that operate private health plans turned higher or trimmed losses in afternoon trading Tuesday after a Senate committee rejected an amendment that would have created a government-run insurance option. Humana Inc. (HUM) shares, which had been down earlier, were recently up 1% at $38.41. UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) shares gained 3 cents to $25.83.

Private health insurers have bitterly fought the creation of a public insurance option, fearing that such an option would cut into their profits. Yesterday, Life And Health Insurance News reported that the insurance industry has responded positively to the defeat of the public option amendments. “We are pleased by the rejection of both the Rockefeller and Schumer amendments,” said Tom Currey, president of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. Janet Trautwein, president of the National Association of Health Underwriters, also told the press that her organization is pleased by the failure of the Schumer and Rockefeller amendments.

Meanwhile, disgraced former CEO of Columbia/HCA Healthcare Rick Scott, who heads the anti-reform front group Conservatives for Patients Rights, released a video where he called yesterday’s vote “a great day.”

If anyone knows how the insurance industry feels about protecting its profits from the introduction of a new public plan, it’s whistleblower Wendell Potter, who left Cigna last year over its opposition to health care reform. Potter appeared on Democracy Now! this morning and told host Amy Goodman that the Finance Committee advancing legislation without a public option marks the “first time” that a health reform bill has been put together that the industry supports:

POTTER: Yeah, this is the first time that the insurance industry has really seen great opportunity in healthcare reform, with an individual mandate, which would require all of us to buy insurance if we are not eligible for a public, government-run program, which, fortunately, many people are. We would have to buy it in the private market from insurance companies, many of whom—many of which are for-profit companies. … So billions and billions of taxpayers’ dollars will flow right into the treasuries of these big for-profit insurance companies. So we will be essentially paying a tax that will help support these insurance companies. It will be an enormous bailout of the health insurance industry.

Watch it:

Potter also told Goodman that while numerous members of Congress sought out his advice as they crafted health care legislation, “not once” did he ever hear from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus’s (D-MT) office. He ended the interview by saying that there should be a debate about single-payer health care in the United States, and that he thinks “it will eventually take a social movement to get the kind of healthcare that we need in this country.”

National Review’s John Derbyshire: Women Should Not Have The Right To Vote
John Derbyshire, a British-American conservative author and columnist for the National Review, has written a new book titled We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism. The book contains a section called “The Case Against Female Suffrage.” Yesterday on his radio show, Alan Colmes asked Derbyshire to articulate his argument. “What is the case against female suffrage?” Colmes […]

john_derbyshireJohn Derbyshire, a British-American conservative author and columnist for the National Review, has written a new book titled We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism. The book contains a section called “The Case Against Female Suffrage.” Yesterday on his radio show, Alan Colmes asked Derbyshire to articulate his argument.

“What is the case against female suffrage?” Colmes asked. “The conservative case against it is that women lean hard to the left,” Derbyshire responded nonsensically. “They want someone to nurture, they want someone to help raise their kids, and if men aren’t inclined to do it — and in the present days, they’re not much — then they’d like the state to do it for them.”

Colmes then pressed Derbyshire on whether women should have the right to vote. “Ah…” Derbyshire sighed, attempting to dodge the question initially. “I’m not putting forward a political program here,” he said. But then Derbyshire slowly began to open up:

DERBYSHIRE: Among the hopes that I do not realistically nurse is the hope that female suffrage will be repealed. But I’ll say this – if it were to be, I wouldn’t lose a minute’s sleep.

COLMES: We’d be a better country if women didn’t vote?

DERBYSHIRE: Probably. Don’t you think so?

COLMES: No, I do not think so whatsoever.

DERBYSHIRE: Come on Alan. Come clean here [laughing].

COLMES: We would be a better country? John Derbyshire making the statement, we would be a better country if women did not vote.

DERBYSHIRE: Yeah, probably.

Derbyshire reasoned that we “got along like that for 130 years.” Colmes countered by asking if he also wants to bring back slavery. No, Derbyshire responded, “I’m in favor of freedom personally.” Colmes noted that freedom didn’t extend to women’s right to vote, however. Derbyshire said, “Well, they didn’t and we got along ok.” Listen here:

Later in the interview, Derbyshire said there’s also a case to be made for repealing the 1964 Civil Rights Act because you “shouldn’t try to force people to be good.”


Congressional Health Benefits Could Soon Change

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 1st, 2009 4:33 am by HL

Congressional Health Benefits Could Soon Change
Senators debating health-care reform legislation have unanimously approved a proposal requiring members of Congress and their staffs to obtain health insurance through new state-based purchasing exchanges set up by the health-care reform bill under consideration.

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Senate Finance Panel Has Votes To Pass Health Bill, Baucus Says
Democrats on a key Senate panel backed off a plan to impose billions of dollars in new taxes on senior citizens with catastrophic medical expenses Wednesday and defeated Republican amendments on abortion, immigration and other divisive issues, aiming to bring a comprehensive health-care overhaul…

‘Cadillac’ Health Plans May Be Target of Tax, but Few Agree on a Definition
NEW YORK — In the scramble to find money to overhaul the health-care system, Senate Democrats have been eyeing the most generous insurance packages — what some call the “Cadillac” plans — as a lucrative target to tax.