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Archive for February 3rd, 2010

Pseudo-Reality Web Show Zooms In on Abortion Issue

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 3rd, 2010 5:46 am by HL

Pseudo-Reality Web Show Zooms In on Abortion Issue
Would any pregnant woman want American viewing audiences to decide whether she should keep or abort her baby? Luckily, even the producers of the new Web-based show “Bump” know that that kind of programming wouldn’t fly, but they did go so far as to dramatize that idea by using actors in various prenatal scenarios to stage their stories for an online voting audience.

Bump

Would any pregnant woman want American viewing audiences to decide whether she should keep or abort her baby? Luckily, even the producers of the new Web-based show “Bump” know that that kind of programming wouldn’t fly, but they did go so far as to dramatize that idea by using actors in various prenatal scenarios to stage their stories for an online voting audience.

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Mel Gibson Is Done With Apologizing, Calls Reporter an A-Hole
Is it unfair to bring up Mel Gibson’s troubles? After all, it’s been more than three years since the superstar allegedly blamed those “fucking Jews” for “all the wars in the world.” Gibson loses it in this interview, saying “I’ve done all the necessary mea culpas.”

Is it unfair to bring up Mel Gibson’s troubles? After all, it’s been more than three years since the superstar allegedly blamed those “fucking Jews” for “all the wars in the world.” Gibson loses it in this interview, saying “I’ve done all the necessary mea culpas.”

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Joe Wilson, Rob Miller House Race Is Among Best Financed

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 3rd, 2010 5:45 am by HL

Joe Wilson, Rob Miller House Race Is Among Best Financed
WASHINGTON — Rep. Joe Wilson and challenger Rob Miller raised more than $626,000 combined in the last quarter of 2009, sharply down from their third-quarter…

Jenny Sanford: ‘Cheap’ Mark Sanford Dropped ‘Faithful’ From Wedding Vows
CHARLESTON, S.C. — In a new memoir, South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford writes that Gov. Mark Sanford sought her advice about his romance and…

Pelosi: Piecemeal Reform No Better Than A “Get Well Card”
Amid the wreckage of the health care debate, some rescue workers have been searching for small pieces that could be salvaged. On Tuesday, House Speaker…

Mary Wald: The Main Street Brigade
The campaigns to stop the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) are providing a valuable glimpse of what the upcoming elections could look like, now that…

Palin To Headline Tea Party Rally In Harry Reid’s Hometown Of Searchlight, Nevada
Sarah Palin will headline a tea party rally in Searchlight, Nevada, the hometown of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, according to The Washington Post. The…


On Hannity , O’Keefe repeats false suggestion that Landrieu took $300 million bribe

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 3rd, 2010 5:44 am by HL

On Hannity , O’Keefe repeats false suggestion that Landrieu took $300 million bribe

Appearing on Fox News’ Hannity following his arrest for charges relating to an alleged plot involving Sen. Mary Landrieu’s phones, James O’Keefe repeatedly falsely suggested that Landrieu had received a $300 million bribe in return for a vote on health care reform legislation. In fact, Landrieu did not receive $300 million; rather, the Senate version of the health care bill included a provision that could give $300 million to Louisiana Medicaid to deal with the fallout from Hurricane Katrina.

O’Keefe repeatedly falsely suggested Landrieu took $300 million bribe

O’Keefe: Landrieu “received a few hundred million dollars in money in exchange for her vote on the health care bill.” During his February 1 appearance on Hannity, O’Keefe stated that the reason he had entered Landrieu’s office was that “there were reports that Senator Landrieu — her constituents was, were not able to get through to her. She said her lines were jammed for a few weeks after she received a few hundred million dollars in money in exchange for her vote on the health care bill.”

O’Keefe: “We deserve to find out if they’re accepting $300 million in money.” Later in the interview, O’Keefe said of his actions in Landrieu’s office: “Generally speaking, it’s the people’s office. It’s — these are representatives of our country and we deserve to find out if they’re accepting $300 million in money. We deserve to find out what’s going on, why the people of Louisiana couldn’t get through to her.”

Previously, O’Keefe claimed Landrieu constituents “didn’t want her taking millions of federal dollars.” In a statement posted on BigGovernment.com, O’Keefe asserted: “I learned from a number of sources that many of Senator Landrieu’s constituents were having trouble getting through to her office to tell her that they didn’t want her taking millions of federal dollars in exchange for her vote on the healthcare bill.”

Money actually for Louisiana Medicaid, not Landrieu

Landrieu: Hundreds of millions in Senate bill to deal with shortfall in Louisiana Medicaid caused by Katrina. As the Washington Independent’s David Weigel noted in response to O’Keefe’s statement on BigGovernment.com: “[T]he controversy is not over whether Landrieu is “taking millions of federal dollars,” but why the Senate added $300 million in Medicaid subsidies that stood to benefit Louisiana. That’s a legitimate issue — O’Keefe, trying to clear the air, bends it into a bribery smear.” Indeed, several media outlets noted that Landrieu had secured funding to increase federal contributions to Medicaid as part of the Senate version of the health care reform bill worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Landrieu described the provision in a press release announcing her support for the health reform legislation, stating that it was necessary to deal with the fact that Louisiana’s “per capita income was abnormally inflated” due to “one-time recovery dollars” given to Louisiana as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita:

Finally, I was also proud to work with Leader Reid and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus to address an inequity in the formula that determines the federal match of Medicaid dollars. As we all know, in 2005 Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged the Gulf Coast and destroyed homes, neighborhoods, and even full communities throughout South Louisiana. In an effort to aid the recovery, Congress approved a much-needed aid package for Louisianans that infused grant dollars and direct assistance to speed our recovery.

Some necessary one-time recovery dollars, in addition to labor and wage costs going up because there was a constriction in the market, were calculated into our State’s per capita income. The result has been that Louisiana’s per capita income was abnormally inflated, and put us in a category with richer states like Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maryland.

The result is that our federal match for Medicaid dropped pretty dramatically. I worked with my colleagues to correct this formula. I never asked for special treatment for Louisiana, but only for understanding of the unintended consequences of our state’s unique situation. We only wanted to be treated fairly and not to get penalized because we have been forced to rebuild following the worst natural disaster in the United States’ history. Our federal Medicaid match rates should reflect the reality on the ground in Louisiana, not the cold calculations of inflexible federal formulas.

Louisiana Republican Sen. Vitter reportedly said there are “legitimate arguments in favor of the Louisiana hurricane-Medicaid fix.” From a January 28 article in the Baton Rouge Advocate:

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said Landrieu’s actions and the controversy that followed it hurt the merits and prospects of state congressional members to securing future federal Medicaid dollars.

“I’m afraid that legitimate arguments in favor of the Louisiana hurricane-Medicaid fix will never be focused on now because of the deal-making over the Obama health-care bill,” Vitter said.

AP: Jindal’s administration has “publicly sought a fix to the temporary drop in federal Medicaid match money for Louisiana.” From a January 20 Associated Press article:

Without Landrieu’s language, Louisiana’s federal assistance for Medicaid will be cut because the state’s post-Hurricane Katrina economic surge temporarily drove up average income in the state because of government aid and high-paying reconstruction jobs. The federal share of Medicaid aid is higher for states with lower average incomes. State officials have argued the state shouldn’t be penalized for an artificial, temporary per-capita income boost.

“Louisiana only asked to stay where we were; to have the same payment schedule that we’ve always had,” Landrieu said.

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration and much of the state congressional delegation have publicly sought a fix to the temporary drop in federal Medicaid match money for Louisiana, though Jindal and most of the state’s congressmen oppose the Democrat’s health care bill.

Times-Picayune: Jindal health secretary says people should be “grateful that Landrieu used her leverage” to try to get health care fix. An November 20, 2009, article in the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported (via Nexis):

While the Republican National Committee immediately charged that Landrieu has made a “backroom deal with (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid for her support of the government takeover of our health care system,” Alan Levine, Louisiana secretary of health and hospitals in the Jindal administration, said that even those who oppose the bill ought to be grateful that Landrieu used her leverage to try to fix the state’s so-called “FMAP” problem.

“Look,” said Levine, who has been lobbying the administration and Congress on the FMAP issue for eight months, “it’s good to have a senator in a position to be able to make demands like that.”

“While I don’t support the bill, she is doing the best she can to help the state, and she should be applauded,” he said.


James O’Keefe: Portrait Of An Activist As A Campus Gadfly

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 3rd, 2010 5:43 am by HL

James O’Keefe: Portrait Of An Activist As A Campus Gadfly
James O’Keefe and his brand of Candid-Camera activism first appeared on the national stage with last year’s ACORN pimp scandal. But the origins of O’Keefe’s methods go back to his time at Rutgers, where he launched an alternative newspaper, carried out his first video sting operations, and generally cultivated an image as campus conservative gadfly.

Tea Party Nation Speaks Out: ‘We Never Did This To Be Rich And Famous’
Tea Party Nation organizers say they will no longer ‘be silent’ and issued a long statement detailing the unraveling sponsorships and event speakers for their upcoming convention.


Crime Does Pay — If You’re a Health Insurer

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 3rd, 2010 5:39 am by HL

Crime Does Pay — If You’re a Health Insurer


Stuck in Time: The Ancient English Band The WHO Is Playing at Half Time at the Super Bowl

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 3rd, 2010 5:38 am by HL

Stuck in Time: The Ancient English Band The WHO Is Playing at Half Time at the Super Bowl
Could CBS have picked a more dated (and less diverse) musical act?

Could CBS have picked a more dated (and less diverse) musical act?

America’s System Failure: Only a Wave of Democratic Participation Can Save This Country
As welcome as it was, the removal of George W. Bush was not enough to cure what ails us. It goes to the root of our political system.

As welcome as it was, the removal of George W. Bush was not enough to cure what ails us. It goes to the root of our political system.

Will Avatar’s Pro-Indigenous Narrative Bother Oscar Voters?
James Cameron’s science fiction blockbuster Avatar is nominated for nine Academy Awards. But should we worry about its controversial racial politics?

James Cameron’s science fiction blockbuster Avatar is nominated for nine Academy Awards. But should we worry about its controversial racial politics?

Obama Religious Adviser Wants President to Speak Against Ugandan ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill at Prayer Breakfast
At a press conference where a gay Ugandan was too frightened to show his face to the media, a member of Obama’s religion council and other clergy threw down the gauntlet.

At a press conference where a gay Ugandan was too frightened to show his face to the media, a member of Obama's religion council and other clergy threw down the gauntlet.

It’s Now More Dangerous to Give Birth in California Than It Is in Kuwait or Bosnia
Pregnancy-related deaths rise in California, but state officials have held onto report.

Pregnancy-related deaths rise in California, but state officials have held onto report.


GOP Media Mistake

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 3rd, 2010 5:37 am by HL

GOP Media Mistake
The Republican House members invited President Obama to their retreat. The White House suggested that the whole session including the Q & A be on camera. The Repubs agreed. But as Luke Russert tweets from Baltimore. GOP aides telling…


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Tea Party Profiteers: How Republican Operatives Are Exploiting Economic Anxiety For Power, Cash

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 3rd, 2010 5:36 am by HL

Tea Party Profiteers: How Republican Operatives Are Exploiting Economic Anxiety For Power, Cash
Republican partisans — aided by lobbyists and corporate front groups — are exploiting the legitimate feelings of anger and distrust among many struggling Americans. These operatives and profiteers, many of them experienced public relations professionals, have set up sophisticated social networking portals and online solutions to control the flow of information within tea party organizations. […]

Pirate ShipRepublican partisans — aided by lobbyists and corporate front groups — are exploiting the legitimate feelings of anger and distrust among many struggling Americans. These operatives and profiteers, many of them experienced public relations professionals, have set up sophisticated social networking portals and online solutions to control the flow of information within tea party organizations. As gatekeepers to ostensibly open forums, these political operatives and profiteers have been able to set the political agenda of the tea parties and hand out marching orders. And tea party profiteers are making millions cashing in on the movement. They are selling tea party support to candidates and policies which continue the legacy of Bush-era unregulated capitalism and corporate bailouts:

Eric Odom: Odom, who appears regularly on Fox News and on other venues as a spokesman for the tea party movement, is at the center of tea party profiteering. Odom maintains dozens, possibly hundreds of tea party websites and community forums which he controls through a “Ning” technology based social networking platform. Odom’s vast online control of county, state, and issue oriented tea party websites is done through his two for profit consulting companies: American Liberty Alliance and Strategy Activism, LLC. His American Liberty Alliance has served as a hub between disparate tea party groups and right-wing front groups. In a biographical video he posted on YouTube, Odom explained that he has worked for years on local and statewide Republican campaigns developing “stealth type marketing…some say ‘attack sites.’” He boasted that he built “sites behind the scenes, many of them to this day no one today knows I took part in, some of them were actually very effective in defeating the opponent.” While it is unclear exactly who is paying Odom now for his tea party profit ventures, Odom has delicately straddled independent populist rhetoric while proclaiming that his network will work exclusively for the election of Republican candidates this year.

Allen Fuller: According to Tennessee business records, Odom’s Strategic Activism, LLC business partner is Republican new media consultant Allen Fuller, who also maintains a firm called Flat Creek Public Affairs. Fuller may be the best clue to find out who pays Odom. On his website, Fuller counts Jane Norton, the GOP candidate for Senate in Colorado, as a client, and also receives payments from several other Republican members of Congress. Fuller helps corral tea party support to American Majority, a Republican training organization.

Glenn Beck: Beck, the most powerful promoter of the tea parties in the media, often rants during his regular programming that investing in gold is the only way to hedge against a supposed deep inflation in the future. He does not disclose, however, that gold companies are his primary sponsors, or that the gold companies he promotes have predatory fees: Goldline, one of Beck’s sponsors, sells gold for 30-35% more than market value. “Here’s the deal, call Goldline, study it out, pray on it,” Beck advises his listeners. Beck has cemented his control over the tea parties by launching his own 9.12 project network of social networking sites — which are hosted by his for profit media company Mercury Radio Arts.

Tea Party Nation: As a for-profit business, Tea Party Nation organized the Tea Party Convention this year at Nashville’s swank Opryland Gaylord hotel. The convention, set at the “grassroots” ticket price of $550 per person, features a Madison Avenue fashion company selling tea party jewelry and a paid ($120,000) speech by Sarah Palin. Tea Party Nation also maintains a message board.

Dick Armey: As ThinkProgress has documented, Armey has a long history of organizing conservative grassroots causes in support of his corporate clients. Armey presents himself as a ideologue, who helms his nonprofit FreedomWorks as a mere exercise in his free market beliefs. But while Armey rails against the Wall Street bailout and efforts to rebuild the foundations of the economy, his own lobbying firm represented AIG, Lehman Brothers, and Merrill Lynch during the bailouts. Indeed, even his nonprofit still pays him a lobbyist salary of $550,000 per year.

Tea Party Express: The Tea Party Express bus tour, and affiliated political action committee, has raised funds using tea party messages. The Tea Party Express effort has been a slick public relations gimmick of the Sacramento-based consulting firm Russo, Marsh and Rogers (RMR). RMR has worked on several stealth campaigns for Republican clients, including the underhanded push to recall Gov. Gray Davis (D-CA). In any case, the Tea Party Express, which RMR staffers operate, has proved to be a cash cow for RMR — in 2009 alone, it plunged at least $1,025,559 of money it raised back into RMR.

The profiteers say that the original American revolutionaries cast their tea into the Boston harbor as a simple rejection of taxation, so the modern tea party movement should similarly reject increased financial regulations, health reform, and taxes on the rich. But the history tells a different story. Boston revolutionaries rejected subservience to the East India Company, a British-run international corporation. They cast the tea into the harbor as a symbolic message to say that their taxes should go back into the American community, not subsidizing the profits of London elites and foreign corporations. Now, Republican tea party profiteers are trying to exploit the movement, pushing them to oppose policies which would actually liberate the middle class and crack down on international corporations. Despite the populist rhetoric, the profiteers see the tea party movement as a pool to extract fundraising dollars and volunteers for Republican campaigns. Indeed, RNC Chairman Michael Steele, himself a former lobbyist, has said that he has an “expectation” that tea partiers loyally toe the Republican line.

Bachmann Suggests Critics Of Health Care Reform Will Be Put On A ?List? And Denied Treatment
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) painted an Orwellian vision of health care reform yesterday, claiming that critics of the Democrats’ plan could be denied coverage. Citing an unnamed Japanese man who supposedly approached her in Washington, Bachmann suggested that critics of the Japanese government are placed on a “list” and prohibited from receiving medical care under […]

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) painted an Orwellian vision of health care reform yesterday, claiming that critics of the Democrats’ plan could be denied coverage. Citing an unnamed Japanese man who supposedly approached her in Washington, Bachmann suggested that critics of the Japanese government are placed on a “list” and prohibited from receiving medical care under Japan’s universal health care system. Saying “a government takeover of health care is the crown jewel of socialism,” Bachmann insinuated a similar situation could occur in “our future”:

BACHMANN:He said that in Japan, to wait and get health care is almost impossible. You get on a list and you wait and you wait and you wait. But he said this is something people don’t know: in Japan, people have stopped voicing their opinion on health care. There are things that are wrong with Japanese health care, but people are afraid of voicing. ‘Well why is that,’ I asked. [He said], ‘Because they know that would get on a list and they wouldn’t get health care. They wouldn’t get in. They wouldn’t get seen. And so people are afraid. They’re afraid to speak back to government. They’re afraid to say anything.’ Is that what we want for our future? That takes us to gangster government at that point!

Watch it (beginning at 0:50):

Other than one individual’s account, Bachmann provides no evidence to support her slur of Japan’s health care system, let alone any evidence to suggest that the same thing would transpire in the U.S. The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Eric Roper “could not find evidence to back up the claim that Japan withholds health care from government critics.” He noted that a recent Washington Post article “describing the pros and cons of the Japanese health system makes no mention of it.”

Japan’s universal system has been able to keep health care costs far lower than those in the U.S., despite an aging population, allowing Japanese to visit a doctor nearly 14 times a year. Bachmann is also wrong when she claims that wait times make it “almost impossible” to receive care in Japan. As ABC News noted, “waiting lists are not a major problem” in Japan, and patients can even “go to a doctor without an appointment, but may have to sit for a long time in the waiting room.”

The Republican National Committee made a similar false accusation last August when it mailed a fundraising appeal that suggested that Democrats might use an overhaul of the health care system to deny medical treatment to Republicans.


The Next Man on the Moon Will Be Chinese

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 3rd, 2010 5:32 am by HL

The Next Man on the Moon Will Be Chinese
Colin Pillinger, The Guardian
Turn autoplay offTurn autoplay onPlease activate cookies in order to turn autoplay offAfter yesterday's retreat, the US and Europe will fall behind in the space race. The next man on the moon will be ChineseFew people who ­remember the 1960s can fail to have been inspired by the drama and excitement of the space missions, which pitted the United States against the Soviet Union in a race to land a man on the moon. Today there is still a massively competitive space race; but yesterday the Barack Obama administration cancelled its Constellation programme, which had aimed to put…

Deficit Hawks or Dodos?
Michael Lind, Salon
One of the reasons progressives are losing the debate about fiscal policy arises from the fact that the debate is taking place at two levels: that of the academic seminar and that of the kitchen table. At the seminar level, the case for spending now, as long as the crisis lasts, and paying down the deficit later, when the economy is sustainably growing again, is based on macroeconomic theory. At the level of the kitchen table, however, the debate is framed in terms of what passes for folksy common sense.The policy of slashing government spending during a near-depression, which the deficit…

New Hampshire is Scott Brown Country
Michael Graham, Boston Herald
Mr. President, welcome to Brown country!No, Nashua isn't technically in Massachusetts. But since your doppelganger Deval Patrick tried to extend our sales tax across the border – and thousands of Bay Staters buy their sales-tax-free booze there already – we've come to think of New Hampshire as a colder, more libertarian extension of our state.Kind of like Alaska, but without the hot governor.New Hampshire is full of Scott Brown voters, even though they couldn't cast a ballot. Three weeks ago, Brown offices were packed with New Hampshire folks who came south to make calls, wave…

What Happened to Democracy?
Robert Reich, The American Prospect
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Corporate Speech is Not ‘Un-American’
Bill Maurer, Seattle Times
The Seattle Times CompanyNWjobs | NWautos | NWhomes | NWsource | Free Classifieds | seattletimes.comEditorials / Opinion Originally published Monday, February 1, 2010 at 4:10 PM Comments (7)     E-mail article      Print view      Share Guest columnist Corporate free speech is not un-American The U.S. Supreme Court decision clearing the way for corporations to contribute more freely to political campaigns has…