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Archive for January 13th, 2010

Larry’s List: Mark Halperin’s Trash Edition

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 13th, 2010 5:48 am by HL

Larry’s List: Mark Halperin’s Trash Edition
Mark Halperin’s sleazy new book (the one that snared Harry Reid and beats up on John and Elizabeth Edwards) is proof, writes Glenn Greenwald, that our press corps. aspires to trash and gossip. This story, plus Nixon, Sinatra, Limbaugh, drugs and more after the jump. On a regular basis, Truthdig brings you the news items and odds and ends that found their way to Larry Gross, director of the USC Annenberg School for Communication. A specialist in media and culture, art and communication, visual communication and media portrayals of minorities, Gross helped found the field of gay and lesbian studies. Newer links are on top. “Political reporting” means “royal court gossip” The media excitement over a sleazy new “political” book reveals the real function of our press corps. Harry Reid…A Closed Book? Senator Harry Reid’s comments about Obama’s racial profile might be “a closed book” for our President. Google Threatens Pullout From China After E-Mail Accounts Are Hacked In a calm and understated blog post, Google said Tuesday that it had recently come under an unusual cyberattack from China. The Supremes’ Orthogonal Moment Arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday in the case of Briscoe v. Virginia, the University of Michigan law professor Richard Friedman gave the justices an unintentional vocabulary lesson … Hiding Movies From Critics I haven’t seen Armored, a new heist movie starring Matt Dillon and Laurence Fishburne. And, before it was released, neither did professional movie critics. Cost of war through September 30, 2010: $747 billion for Iraq $299 billion for Afghanistan These current year appropriations do not include funds to support the “surge” of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan proposed by the Obama administration on December 1, 2009. Nixon’s “Seduction” Of Frank Sinatra Gearing up for President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign, White House aides plotted the “seduction” of Frank Sinatra, who was viewed as a source of “massive financial resources,” Rush Limbaugh For OxyContin? A web site featuring a phony Rush Limbaugh endorsement of OxyContin is the target of a Drug Enforcement Administration probe into the illegal online sale of prescription medication…

Mark Halperin’s sleazy new book (the one that snared Harry Reid and beats up on John and Elizabeth Edwards) is proof, writes Glenn Greenwald, that our press corps. aspires to trash and gossip. This story, plus Nixon, Sinatra, Limbaugh, drugs and more after the jump.

On a regular basis, Truthdig brings you the news items and odds and ends that found their way to Larry Gross, director of the USC Annenberg School for Communication. A specialist in media and culture, art and communication, visual communication and media portrayals of minorities, Gross helped found the field of gay and lesbian studies.

Newer links are on top.


“Political reporting” means “royal court gossip”
The media excitement over a sleazy new “political” book reveals the real function of our press corps.

Harry Reid…A Closed Book?
Senator Harry Reid’s comments about Obama’s racial profile might be “a closed book” for our President.

Google Threatens Pullout From China After E-Mail Accounts Are Hacked
In a calm and understated blog post, Google said Tuesday that it had recently come under an unusual cyberattack from China.

The Supremes’ Orthogonal Moment
Arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday in the case of Briscoe v. Virginia, the University of Michigan law professor Richard Friedman gave the justices an unintentional vocabulary lesson …

Hiding Movies From Critics
I haven’t seen Armored, a new heist movie starring Matt Dillon and Laurence Fishburne. And, before it was released, neither did professional movie critics.

Cost of war through September 30, 2010: $747 billion for Iraq $299 billion for Afghanistan
These current year appropriations do not include funds to support the “surge” of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan proposed by the Obama administration on December 1, 2009.

Nixon’s “Seduction” Of Frank Sinatra
Gearing up for President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign, White House aides plotted the “seduction” of Frank Sinatra, who was viewed as a source of “massive financial resources,”

Rush Limbaugh For OxyContin?
A web site featuring a phony Rush Limbaugh endorsement of OxyContin is the target of a Drug Enforcement Administration probe into the illegal online sale of prescription medication…

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Chuck Norris, Conspiracy Theorist
What are the true patriots of the U.S. of A. to do when a bona fide Muslim-sympathizing, Constitution-shredding president signs a mysterious and probably anti-American “executive order” granting sinister “privileges, exemptions and immunities” to the France-based International Police Organization—aka Interpol? Enter Chuck Norris, onetime “Texas Ranger,” martial arts movie star and amateur conspiracy theorist, stage right.

Norris

What are the true patriots of the U.S. of A. to do when a bona fide Muslim-sympathizing, Constitution-shredding president signs a mysterious and probably anti-American “executive order” granting sinister “privileges, exemptions and immunities” to the France-based International Police Organization—aka Interpol? Enter Chuck Norris, onetime “Texas Ranger,” martial arts movie star and amateur conspiracy theorist, stage right.

Related Entries



Drew Westen: Why President Obama’s ‘Taurus Tax’ Is A Disaster

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 13th, 2010 5:47 am by HL

Drew Westen: Why President Obama’s ‘Taurus Tax’ Is A Disaster
President Obama promised that there would be no middle class tax hikes on his watch. Apparently he’s changed his mind.

Charles D. Ellison: New York Harold vs. Tennessee Harold
Dear Congressman: What’s good in the New Decade? Definitely dig the fact that you’re giving that New York Senate seat a shot. That’s what’s up….

Juge Rules To Keep Chris Dortleff, Ex-Blackwater Guard Accused Of Afghan Murders, Jailed Until Trial
NORFOLK, Va. — A former Blackwater contractor charged in the shooting deaths of two Afghans will be held in custody until his trial because his…


Fox Nation runs with RedState’s attacks on Southers

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 13th, 2010 5:46 am by HL

Fox Nation runs with RedState’s attacks on Southers

The Fox Nation is the latest media outlet to advance right-wing smears of Erroll Southers, President Obama’s nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), by linking to video clips of an interview Southers gave on national security and terrorism issues. Asking, “Will Pres. Obama’s TSA Nominee Recover from This?”, Fox Nation echoed attacks made by Red States’ Erick Erickson by distorting and misrepresenting Southers’ remarks.

Fox Nation false claim: Southers said, “A ‘common misconception’ about terrorism is that it’s committed by ‘Muslim radicals’ “

CLAIM: Fox Nation suggests Southers said in video, “A ‘common misconception’ about terrorism is that it’s committed by ‘Muslim radicals.’ ” On January 11, the Fox Nation — under the headline, “Will Pres. Obama’s TSA Nominee Recover From This?” — linked to a video of Southers with the text, “A ‘common misconception’ about terrorism is that it’s committed by ‘Muslim radicals.’ “

 REALITY: Southers said a “common misconception” is that “all terrorism” is committed by Muslim radicals. As the video to which the Fox Nation makes clear, Southers did not say that a ” ‘common misconception’ about terrorism is that it’s committed by ‘Muslim radicals.’ ” In fact, Southers said, “The most common misconception I think that people have about terrorism, first of all, to speak ethnically, that they think all terrorism is perpetrated, if you will, or committed by people who are Muslim radicals, Islamic extremists [emphasis added].”

Fox Nation distortion: Southers said, “A group that’s trying to achieve a balance” is most likely to commit acts of terror

 CLAIM: Fox Nation suggests Southers said that “[a] group that’s trying to achieve a balance” is “most likely to commit acts of terrorism.” The Fox Nation suggested that Southers answered the question, “Who is most likely to commit acts of terrorism?” by saying, “A group that’s trying to achieve a balance.”

REALITY: Southers said “achiev[ing] a balance” of “constant fear, constant threats, and the occasional attack” is what “people try to gain through terrorism.” Contrary to the Fox Nation’s suggestion, in the video to which the Fox Nation linked, Southers was actually answering the question, “What do people try to gain through terrorism?” — not a question about “who is most likely to commit acts of terrorism.” Southers responded:

SOUTHERS: Terrorism is perpetrated or carried out because you have an asymmetrical situation. You have a group, an entity, that can’t match against the power that they’re trying to go up against. In all cases, they’re trying to make some kind of political statement, sometimes religious, sometimes truly political, sometimes other, but it’s asymmetrical. So you’ve got a small power, if you will, against a much larger, immense power. They’re trying to achieve a balance. The balance is constant fear, constant threats, and the occasional attack, which is successful against a power that is much, much larger than they are.

Fox Nation distortion: Southers simply said, “Some people might argue that U.S. foreign policy exacerbates terrorism”

CLAIM: Southers simply said, “Some people might argue that U.S. foreign policy exacerbates terrorism.” The Fox Nation quoted Southers as saying, ” ‘Some people might argue that U.S. foreign policy exacerbates terrorism,’ ” without providing further context.

REALITY: Southers argued U.S. needs to “explain[] what we do.” In the video, after saying, “Some people might argue that U.S. foreign policy exacerbates terrorism,” Southers explains: “Our enemy, if you will, uses our foreign policy to suggest that, in the case of Islam, that this is a war against their religion.” He later states that the United States should be “explaining what we do, why we’re doing it,” in order to have an effective foreign policy:

SOUTHERS: Some people might argue that U.S. foreign policy exacerbates terrorism. Our enemy, if you will, uses our foreign policy to suggest that, in the case of Islam, that this is a war against their religion. And given media networks overseas, such as Al Jazeera and others, they use what we do to suggest that this is a holy war. So our foreign policy really needs to engage communities across the globe in explaining what we do, why we’re doing it, and partner with them. I don’t think our foreign policy is going to be effective unless we partner with other countries who have the same terrorist concerns that we do in addressing those concerns. I think it’s very important.

Fox Nation distortion: Southers claimed, “The War on Terror — as a priority — deserves to rank on par with ‘global warming’ “

CLAIM: Fox Nation quotes Southers saying, “The War on Terror — as a priority — deserves to rank on par with ‘global warming.’ “ Linking to another video, the Fox Nation suggested Southers said, “The War on Terror — as a priority — deserves to rank on par with ‘global warming’ ” and did not provide further context for the remark.

REALITY: Southers: “National security is always going to supersede everything else.” In the video, Southers answers the question, “How high should the ‘war on terror’ be on our list of national priorities?” by saying, in part, “I do think, however, [national security] deserves to perhaps have some parity with global warming, with education, with the economy. But, national security is always going to supersede everything else.” From the video:

SOUTHERS: [The ‘war on terror’] should be high on our list of priorities because of — speaking globally — the threat that exists. Due to connectivity that we have with countries such as Israel, France, countries that are seen by Al Qaeda as being infidels or anti-Islamic, by the true nature of our alliance with them means that we are subject to being attacked as well. I do think, however, it deserves to perhaps have some parity with global warming, with education, with the economy. But national security is always going to supersede everything else. I don’t think you could have all those other entities flourish in a state where the security is not felt to be confident, comfortable, and intact. So it’s always going to be a priority.

REALITY: Global climate change is seen by defense, intelligence experts as relevant to national security. In June 25, 2008, testimony, Dr. Thomas Fingar, then-chairman of the National Intelligence Council, stated that “global climate change will have wide ranging implications for US national security interests over the next 20 years,” citing the possible worsening of “existing problems — such as poverty, social tensions, environment degradation, ineffectual leadership, and weak political institutions” abroad, as well as the likelihood that “economic migrants will perceive additional reasons to migrate.” The NIC’s 2025 Global Trends Report, published November 2008, further stated that “Climate change is likely to exacerbate resource scarcities, particularly water scarcities.” Moreover, an August 8, 2009, New York Times article reported that “military and intelligence analysts” have said that climate change “will pose profound strategic challenges to the United States in coming decades.” And on October 28, 2009, the Associated Press reported that the American Security Project, “an advisory group of high-powered Republicans and Democrats,” affirmed that global warming is relevant to national security.

Fox Nation omits context of Southers’ remarks on domestic terror threats

CLAIM: Southers said “the most threatening homegrown terror groups in the U.S. are ‘Christian identity-oriented,’ ‘anti-government, anti-abortion,’ ‘survivalist,’ ‘white supremacist’ groups.” The Fox Nation linked to a video of Southers with the text, “The most threatening homegrown terror groups in the U.S. are ‘Christian identity-oriented,’ ‘anti-government, anti-abortion,’ ‘survivalist,’ ‘white supremacist’ groups.” The Fox Nation did not provide further context for the remarks.

REALITY: Southers was answering the question, “Which home-grown terrorist groups pose the greatest danger to the U.S?” and referenced specific acts of domestic terror associated with those groups. After speaking about the dangers of Al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist groups, Southers was asked, “Which home-grown terrorist groups pose the greatest danger to the US?” He replied:

SOUTHERS: Most of the domestic groups that we have to pay attention to here are white supremacist groups. They’re anti-government and in most cases anti-abortion. They are usually survivalist type in nature, identity orientated. If you recall, Buford Furrow came to Los Angeles in, I believe it was 1999 when he went to three different Jewish institutions, museums, and then wound up shooting people at a children’s community center, then shooting a fellow penal postal worker later on. Matthew Hale, who’s the Pontifex Maximus of the World Church of the Creator out of Illinois, and Ben Smith who went on a shooting spree in three different cities where he killed a number of African Americans and Jews and Asians that day. Those groups are groups that claim to be extremely anti-government and Christian identity oriented.

 REALITY: Southers’ comments on domestic terror threats came after extensive discussion of al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist groups. Prior to being asked about “which home-grown terrorist groups poise the greatest danger to the U.S.,” Southers discussed al Qaeda; the group’s history; the threat the group poses; and other “Jihadi Salafi” groups that have the U.S. “on their radar screen.”

Christian Identity movement –which ADL identifies as a “racist” and “anti-Semitic” ideology– reportedly responsible for plots for bombing, killing plots. Discussing homegrown terrorist groups, Southers mentions Christian Identity as a particularly dangerous ideology. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), “Christian Identity is a religious ideology popular in extreme right-wing circles. Adherents believe that whites of European descent can be traced back to the ‘Lost Tribes of Israel.’ Many consider Jews to be the Satanic offspring of Eve and the Serpent, while non-whites are ‘mud peoples’ created before Adam and Eve. Its virulent racist and anti-Semitic beliefs are usually accompanied by extreme anti-government sentiments.” According to the ADL, “In the 1990s, Identity criminal activity continued apace, including efforts by an Oklahoma Identity minister, Willie Ray Lampley, to commit a series of bombings in the summer of 1995 in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh.” ADL also states:

In 1998, Eric Rudolph, who had been associated with Identity ministers such as Nord Davis and Dan Gayman, became a fugitive after allegedly bombing gay bars, the Atlanta Summer Olympics, and an abortion clinic. The following year, Buford Furrow, a former Aryan Nations security guard, went on a shooting spree at a Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles, wounding four children and an adult, and later killing a Filipino-American postal worker.

Fox Nation suggests Southers’ comments about not winning “war on terrorism” are somehow disqualifying

CLAIM: Southers simply said, “We will never win the ‘war on terrorism,’ just like we will never win the ‘war on drugs.’ We should try to ‘contain’ terrorism.” The Fox Nation linked to video of Southers with the following text: “We will never win the ‘war on terrorism,’ just like we will never win the ‘war on drugs.’ We should try to ‘contain’ terrorism.”

REALITY: Southers said, “Terror is a strategy and it’s difficult at best, academically speaking, to have a war against a strategy.” In response to the question, “What is the ‘war on terror’?” Southers said:

SOUTHERS: First, terror is a strategy and it’s difficult at best, academically speaking, to have a war against a strategy. Second, to suggest a war suggests there’s a matrice for success. So, if the war on terror means that we’re going to mitigate terrorism from ever happening again we will never win that war. Much like, unfortunately, the war on drugs. The war on drugs has been around for as long as I am alive and narcotics trafficking is alive and well and prospering. So I would like to say that we have an effort here to contain terrorism, to reduce the risk of terrorism and I think that’s what you’ll find homeland security, national security agencies are engaged in, which is reducing that risk, making the environment hostile for them to operate in in order to be successful.

REALITY: Southers’ comments echo those of national security experts.

Stephen Flynn: “Natural disasters will happen, and not all terrorist attacks can be prevented.” In his 2007 book, The Edge of Disaster, Stephen E. Flynn, an Ira A. Lipman senior fellow for counterterrorism and national security studies, wrote that “[n]atural disasters will happen, and not all terrorist attacks can be prevented. However, what is preventable is the cascading effects that flow from these disasters and attacks.” He further wrote:

The danger from man-made attacks is growing despite the more-than- five-year reprieve the United States has enjoyed since 9/11. We have been hedging most of our security bets on open-ended military campaigns to combat terrorism overseas, a gamble that appears to have worsening odds. When we were focused on containing the Soviet Union during the Cold War, relying on the projection of our military power beyond our shores made sense. However, today, we are seeing that the far-flung radical jihadist threat cannot be encircled by deploying our armed forces to the Middle East and Central Asia. Indeed, those efforts have had the unintended consequence of attracting more recruits, including “self-starter” groups of first and second- generation Muslim immigrants in advanced democratic societies such as the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The use of sabotage by insurgents in Iraq has also helped to proliferate the number of individuals who possess the skills and technology to target critical facilities such as refineries, pipelines, water management systems, power generators, and electrical transformers. Whatever the long-term prospects for a more peaceful Middle East — and they do not look good for the foreseeable future — the global terrorist risk is going to get worse before it gets better. It is simply a matter of time before the United States is attacked again.

[…]

Thinking about and preparing for when things can go very wrong need not be about becoming a nation of Chicken Littles. It is foolish and self-destructive to oscillate between immobilizing fear, on the one hand, and blithely going about our lives playing a societal version of Russian roulette, on the other. However, Natural disasters will happen, and not all terrorist attacks can be prevented. what is preventable is the cascading effects that flow from these disasters and attacks. The loss of life and economic fallout that disasters reap will always be magnified by our lack of preparedness to manage the risk actively and to respond effectively when things go wrong.

Flynn: “While we cannot expect to be completely successful at intercepting terrorist attacks, we must get a better handle on how we respond when they happen.” Flynn further wrote in a January 3 Washington Post article:

Terrorism is a real and potentially consequential danger. But the greatest threat isn’t posed by the direct harm terrorists could inflict; it comes from what we do to ourselves when we are spooked. It is how we react — or more precisely, how we overreact — to the threat of terrorism that makes it an appealing tool for our adversaries. By grounding commercial aviation and effectively closing our borders after the 2001 attacks, Washington accomplished something no foreign state could have hoped to achieve: a blockade on the economy of the world’s sole superpower. While we cannot expect to be completely successful at intercepting terrorist attacks, we must get a better handle on how we respond when they happen.

Gen. Pace: Keeping “the level of crime below the level at which the government can function” is “really what winning in the war on terrorism is.” As Think Progress noted, a November 10, 2006, New York Times article reported that then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace “likened the fight against terrorism to fighting crime. ‘Example: Here in Washington, D.C., there’s crime, but there’s a police force,’ he said. ‘And the police force keeps the level of crime below the level at which the government can function. That’s really what winning in the war on terrorism is.’ “

Fox Nation’s attacks on Southers echo RedState — which got everything wrong

Erickson’s claims about Southers are distortions or downright falsehoods. As Media Matters for America noted, in a January 11 post, RedState’s Erick Erickson attacked Southers, falsely asserting that video shows that “[a]ccording to Erroll Southers, pro-life Christians and our support of Jews is a bigger threat to national security than Al Qaeda.” Other attacks launched by Erickson similarly distort or misrepresent Southers’ remarks.


Gaffney On Ex-FBI Agent Who Slept With Witness: He Was Fired For Opposing Sharia!

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 13th, 2010 5:45 am by HL

Gaffney On Ex-FBI Agent Who Slept With Witness: He Was Fired For Opposing Sharia!
Conservative columnist Frank Gaffney claimed in a recent column that FBI agent John Guandolo lost his job because he was too fiercely opposed to radical Islamic ideology, when in fact Guandolo resigned after sleeping with the key government witness in a major congressional corruption trial.

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Fox News’ New Palin Nation

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 13th, 2010 5:41 am by HL

Fox News’ New Palin Nation


Ford Keeps Talking Senate Bid

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 13th, 2010 5:40 am by HL

Ford Keeps Talking Senate Bid
In an interview with the New York Times, Harold Ford Jr. offered “a glimpse into a possible campaign strategy” saying “he would run as an insurgent who is uncontrolled by the entrenched political class” that he says has rallied around Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

Said Ford: “If I am elected senator from New York, Harry Reid will not instruct me how to vote.”

Some interesting items: Ford only rides the subway when he can’t catch a taxi in the winter, he “has breakfast most mornings at the Regency Hotel on Park Avenue, and he receives regular pedicures. (He described them as treatment for a foot condition.)”

He also says he remains a hunter, saying with a smile, “I shoot at things that can’t shoot back and will continue to do that.”


Study: Immigration Reform Will Ease Economic Decline

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 13th, 2010 5:39 am by HL

Study: Immigration Reform Will Ease Economic Decline
"When we allow more low-skilled immigrants to come in, it expands the overall economic pie, and creates jobs up the ladder, like managers, accountants, and salespeople."

"When we allow more low-skilled immigrants to come in, it expands the overall economic pie, and creates jobs up the ladder, like managers, accountants, and salespeople."

Pioneering Towns Are Rushing to Kick the Carbon Addiction — Has Yours?
This is a cultural shift involving people at all levels of the community, from tiny rural towns in red states to major metropolitan areas.

This is a cultural shift involving people at all levels of the community, from tiny rural towns in red states to major metropolitan areas.

Huge Toll Feared in Haiti Earthquake
The dead and injured lay in the streets even as strong aftershocks rippled through the impoverished Caribbean country.

The dead and injured lay in the streets even as strong aftershocks rippled through the impoverished Caribbean country.


The Last Big Question: Will Health Care Reform Be Paid For By The Rich or the Middle Class?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 13th, 2010 5:38 am by HL

The Last Big Question: Will Health Care Reform Be Paid For By The Rich or the Middle Class?
There’s only one big remaining issue on health care reform: how to pay for it. The House wants a 5.4 percent surtax on couples earning at least $1 million in annual income. The Senate wants a 40 percent excise tax…


Health careSenateExciseUnited States SenateHealth

Israelis Punish Turks for Gaza Criticism by Making Ambassador Sit In Kiddie Chair
Entry Revised Tuesday AM The original post dealt with a column by Gideon Levy about Israel’s seeming lapse into sheer nuttiness. (It’s still below). This latest shows that Levy’s theory is no exaggeration. The Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel, Danny…



IsraelGideon LevyMiddle EastUnited StatesWarfare and Conflict


Health Insurers’ Duplicitous Campaign Confirmed: Industry Covertly Gave Millions To Fund Anti-Reform Ads

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 13th, 2010 5:37 am by HL

Health Insurers’ Duplicitous Campaign Confirmed: Industry Covertly Gave Millions To Fund Anti-Reform Ads
Last September, ThinkProgress reported that, despite its public support for health care reform, the insurance industry was engaged in a “duplicitous” campaign to undermine the effort. Now the National Journal has confirmed that from September to December 2009, “six of the nation’s biggest health insurers began quietly pumping big money into third-party television ads aimed […]

Last September, ThinkProgress reported that, despite its public support for health care reform, the insurance industry was engaged in a “duplicitous” campaign to undermine the effort. Now the National Journal has confirmed that from September to December 2009, “six of the nation’s biggest health insurers began quietly pumping big money into third-party television ads aimed at killing or significantly modifying the major health reform bills moving through Congress.” The companies used America’s Health Insurance Plans — the lobbying arm of the insurance industry — “as a conduit to avoid a repeat of the political flack that hit the insurance industry after it famously ran its multi-million dollar ‘Harry and Louise’ ads to help kill health care reforms during the Clinton administration”:

That money, between $10 million and $20 million, came from Aetna, Cigna, Humana, Kaiser Foundation Health Plans, UnitedHealth Group and Wellpoint, according to two health care lobbyists familiar with the transactions. The companies are all members of the powerful trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans. The funds were solicited by AHIP and funneled to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help underwrite tens of millions of dollars of television ads by two business coalitions set up and subsidized by the chamber. Each insurer kicked in at least $1 million and some gave multi-million dollar donations.

Watch a compilation of some of these ads:

The industry’s covert ad campaign isn’t the industry’s only means of wasting millions of premium dollars on sabotaging reform. As former health insurance executive Wendell Potter told ThinkProgress, insurers are using a variety of front groups to advance a hidden attack campaign. The industry regularly feeds talking points to right-wing media like Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, mobilizes anti-reform “grassroots” groups and coordinates with conservative think-tanks to produce academic-appearing reports to advance their cause.

The insurance industry has also funded state efforts to challenge the constitutionality of health reform. Insurers have “spent heavily on political contributions” in the 14 states seeking to ratify constitutional amendments that would repeal all or parts of the new measure and contributed thousands of dollars to the attorneys generals seeking to disqualify reform. Earlier this month, Lee Fang reported that Blue Cross Blue Shield Association “played a pivotal role in crafting this anti-health reform states’ rights initiative.”

National Journal’s report should be the last nail in the coffin of AHIP’s public charm campaign. Throughout the health care debate, AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni repeatedly reassured the public that insurers were committed to health care reform and even produced a plan for reforming the system. “We understand that we have to earn a seat at the table,” Ignagni told Obama during the White House Health Summit in March 2009. “You have our commitment to play, to contribute, and to help pass health care reform this year,” she promised.

Even after the industry sponsored several reports criticizing reform legislation, AHIP always reiterated the insurance industry’s “commitment” to reforming the health system. “We don’t want to let Americans down. It’s very important. We promised that we are committed to this. Our industry is for-square behind it, but we have an obligation to explain how to make that happen,” Ignagni told Congress in October, as her industry was donating millions of dollars to defeat reform. In fact, insurers have long been dues-paying members of the Chamber. AETNA has given $100,000 to the Chamber, while Unitedhealth Group payed at least $20,000.

Cross-posted at the Wonk Room.


Many say U.S. race relations have improved under Obama, but divides remain

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 13th, 2010 5:36 am by HL

Many say U.S. race relations have improved under Obama, but divides remain
President Obama has ignited a surge of optimism among African Americans as they assess race relations and their prospects for the future, but the hope for reconciliation that accompanied the election of the nation’s first black president remains far off.

House, Senate remain divided over key issues in health bill
House and Senate leaders will meet with President Obama on Wednesday to try to reconcile differences over the shape of health care legislation. But the two houses of Congress remain at odds over fundamental issues, including the cost of the package and subsidies for the uninsured, aides said.

Report urges earlier planning for presidential transitions
An independent report on last year’s presidential transition urges that future candidates formally begin to prepare for the transfer of power within days of the major-party nominating conventions, a change that would allow more time for a process that White House veterans agree is too often squeezed…