Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"Stand By Me" Farsi Style

On June 24, Iranian Superstar Andy Madadian went into an LA recording studio with Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and American record producers Don Was and John Shanks to record a musical message of worldwide solidarity with the people of Iran.

This version of the old Ben E. King classic is not for sale - it was not meant to be on the Billboard charts or even manufactured as a CD.....it's intended to be downloaded and shared by the Iranian people...to give voice to the sentiment that all people of the world stand together....the handwritten Farsi sign in the video translates to "we are one".

If you know someone in Iran - or someone who knows someone in Iran - please share this link.

In the News

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford said Tuesday that he "crossed lines" with a handful of women other than his mistress — but never had sex with them.

The governor said he "never crossed the ultimate line" with anyone but Maria Belen Chapur, the Argentine at the center of a scandal that has derailed his once-promising political career.

"This was a whole lot more than a simple affair, this was a love story," Sanford said. "A forbidden one, a tragic one, but a love story at the end of the day."

Minnesota Supreme Court Says Al Franken Won
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered that Democrat Al Franken be certified as the winner of the state's long-running Senate race.

Justices said Franken is entitled to the election certificate he needs to assume office. With Franken and the usual backing of two independents, Democrats will have a big enough majority to overcome Republican filibusters.

Coleman hasn't ruled out seeking federal court intervention.

Jackson/Rowe Not the Biological Parents

Michael Jackson was not the biological father of any of his children. And Debbie Rowe is not the biological mother of the two kids she bore for Michael. All three children were conceived in vitro -- outside the womb...Debbie Rowe was merely the surrogate mother

Fixing Hearts

Ken Milles, 39, volunteered for an experimental treatment with stem cell therapy after his heart attack.
Ken Milles, 39, volunteered for an experimental treatment with stem cell therapy after his heart attack (CBS)

Fixing The Heart with Stem Cells

CBS News reported this morning that researchers are now in clinical trials using a cardiac patient's own stem cells to heal the heart.
In a heart attack, the blood supply to part of the heart is shut off by a clot in a clogged artery - causing scarring of the heart muscle, which reduces the ability of the heart to pump.

The best that doctors have been able to do is to promptly open up the clogged artery and limit the damage with drugs.

But one day, there may be a way to get that damaged heart to grow its own brand-new muscle tissue. How? By using the patient's own cardiac stem cells.

This week doctors in Los Angeles have given a heart attack patient an infusion of stem cells grown from his own heart muscle.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Offsetting Greenhouse Gases

feature photo

It has long been known that white-roofed buildings, like this one in Andalusia in Spain, stay cooler in hot weather. Three energy experts make the case that painting white the roofs and pavement in the hot parts of the planet could offset the greenhouse gases. Josep Altarriba

Sam Kornell wants to know, "Is White the New Green?"
Three California energy experts make a convincing — and sincere — case that painting roofs white in the hot parts of the planet could offset the greenhouse gas woes caused by the world's cars.

In early January, Hashem Akbari sent federal officials a rather improbable sounding proposal. An Iranian-born nuclear engineer who, for the last three decades, has worked as a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Akbari would like to see $3 billion of the economic stimulus package directed toward painting white or a light color as many of the nation's roofs, and as much of its pavement, as possible — all with the goal of directing more solar radiation into space.

Akbari, along with Surabi Menon, another LBNL scientist, and Arthur Rosenfeld, a former LBNL scientist and now a California Energy Commission board member, claim that painting urban surfaces in warm parts of the world white or a light color could offset the carbon emissions of all 600 million of the world's cars for 18 to 20 years — at a savings equivalent to at least $1 trillion worth of CO2 reductions.

This is not a hoax: Akbari, Menon and Rosenfeld are three of the country's leading experts in their field, and their study published in the journal Climatic Change is backed by years of carefully calculated data.

It has long been known that white-roofed buildings stay cooler in hot weather. Blinding confirmation of this can be found in the streets of Andalusia in Spain, or the Greek Islands.

It turns out that they cool the air outside of their walls, too. On a typical summer day, Los Angeles is 5 degrees warmer than surrounding areas, and studies have consistently shown that by far the largest factor in this discrepancy is the absorption of solar heat by dark roofs and pavement — a phenomenon known as the "urban heat island" effect.[...]

The Obama administration has made it clear that it wants a substantial portion of the stimulus package to go toward creating a greener economy, but that desire has to be balanced against the imperative to immediately circulate cash and create jobs. Painting or resurfacing roofs or pavement, Akbari said, would nicely fulfill both objectives. The technology exists and is readily available, and since a substantial portion of the country's home and commercial real-estate owners are going to need to re-roof at some point in the near future anyway, it's about as shovel-ready as any proposal currently on the table.

Akbari has thus far not heard back from the government, but he's holding out hope that his funding proposal will be folded into the energy-efficiency provision of the stimulus package.

"We must make Obama do the right things."

Robert Reich has an interesting article on:

"What Can I Do?"
Someone recently approached me at the cheese counter of a local supermarket, asking "what can I do?" At first I thought the person was seeking advice about a choice of cheese. But I soon realized the question was larger than that. It was: what can I do about the way things are going in Washington?

People who voted for Barack Obama tend to fall into one of two camps: Trusters, who believe he's a good man with the right values and he's doing everything he can; and cynics, who have become disillusioned with his bailouts of Wall Street, flimsy proposals for taming the Street, willingness to give away 85 percent of cap-and-trade pollution permits, seeming reversals on eavesdropping and torture, and squishiness on a public option for health care.

In my view, both positions are wrong. A new president -- even one as talented and well-motivated as Obama -- can't get a thing done in Washington unless the public is actively behind him. As FDR said in the reelection campaign of 1936 when a lady insisted that if she were to vote for him he must commit to a long list of objectives, "Maam, I want to do those things, but you must make me."

We must make Obama do the right things. Email, write, and phone the White House. Do the same with your members of Congress. Round up others to do so. Also: Find friends and family members in red states who agree with you, and get them fired up to do the same. For example, if you happen to have a good friend or family member in Montana, you might ask him or her to write Max Baucus and tell him they want a public option included in any healthcare bill.

The Benefit of Species Diversity

Via Miller-McCune: Keeping More Species Around May Dilute Disease Threat

Biodiversity provides humanity with many benefits, including clean air and water, climate stability and renewable natural resources.

But a groundbreaking experimental study has shown that species diversity is good for something else: It protects people from dangerous zoonotic (animal-borne) diseases.

Scientists investigating an outbreak of hantavirus among farmers in Panama's Azuero Peninsula discovered the disease was harbored in two particular rodent species that thrived in areas where tropical forest had recently been cleared for cattle pasture.

In their experiment, researchers mimicked human-caused habitat degradation by removing all the native rodent species from selected plots of land at the forest-pastureland interface except for the two hantavirus-linked species, the pygmy rice rat and the cane rat. Without competition from other species, their numbers exploded — and more of the rodents became infected with hantavirus [...]

The idea that greater biodiversity might reduce disease transmission originated with British ecologist Charles Elton, who noticed that a greater diversity of plant species was accompanied by a lower rate of disease, according to Richard S. Ostfeld, a participant in the Panama study. [...]

Ostfeld says that the study has deep policy implications. "Biodiversity loss is probably at least as important as climate change in terms of overall impacts on human society," he said.

If biodiversity loss can be directly tied to an increase in human, plant and animal disease, it becomes a concrete factor to be taken into account when human development threatens natural habitat, he said.

"The next step is to try to change policy so that biodiversity loss is reduced."

feature photo

A study on Panamanian rats and hantavirus suggests another and less obvious benefit to biodiversity — it may diminish the threat humans face from zoonotic diseases by diluting the reservoir of animals carrying pathogens. wikipedia.org


The Hypocrisy of Holier than Thou


Via Firedoglake:

Governor Mark Sanford worked hard to pass South Carolina's discriminatory constitutional amendment banning recognition of relationships that aren't between one man and one woman.
“You’ve drifted a long way when you have to actually go about the business of defining what marriage is,” Sanford said.
Watch Rachel Maddow put his actions in perspective:

Nice and Rough

Here's a way to start the day:
Y' know, every now and then
I think you might like to hear something from us
Nice and easy
But there's just one thing

You see we never ever do nothing
Nice and easy
We always do it nice and rough

So we're gonna take the beginning of this song

And do it easy

Then we're gonna do the finish rough

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Where is the Money Going?

Has anybody really thought about the $45 billion of government funds that went to Citigroup Inc.? How did the U.S. bank use this enormous amount of money? Citigroup Inc. just announced that base salaries of many employees who are in top positions at the bank will increase.
Citigroup Inc., the U.S. bank that got $45 billion of government funds, will raise base salaries by as much as 50 percent to help compensate for a reduction in annual bonuses, a person familiar with the plan said.

The biggest increases will go to investment bankers and traders, said the person, who declined to be identified. Workers in consumer banking, credit cards, legal and risk management will see smaller salary adjustments. The New York-based company also plans to award stock options to try to keep employees after Citigroup’s market value plummeted 84 percent in the past year.

Citigroup joins Morgan Stanley and UBS AG in boosting salaries for executives and employees. Morgan Stanley said last month it will increase base pay for many of the New York-based firm’s top executives and double the pay of Chief Financial Officer Colm Kelleher.

Anyone Surprised?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Green Wave

Irans' New Revolutionaries By Babak Sarfaraz
If there is one iconic image that has emerged from the extraordinary recent events, it is that of the masked young men and women who have appeared at all the major flashpoints. The Green Wave--the name chosen by Moussavi for his movement--is a multigenerational, multiethnic and multiclass phenomenon, though with a strong urban, middle-class accent. It is also composed of men and women in roughly equal numbers.

Supporters of Mousavi, as they listen to his speech at a demonstration in Tehran on Thursday June, 18, 2009.

Talking Out of Both Sides of his Mouth

Will the right-wing pundits ever stop their bashing of President Obama in order to see that they are truly hypocrites?

Last Friday, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer disdainfully attacked President Obama for referring to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the “Supreme Leader” of Iran. “‘Supreme Leader’? Note the abject solicitousness with which the American president confers this honorific on a clerical dictator,” wrote Krauthammer. But during an interview on Dennis Miller’s radio show Monday, Krauthammer himself referred to the ayatollah as “Supreme Leader”:

KRAUTHAMMER: And the reason he did it is that he thinks he needs to preserve his relations with the existing regime so that he can negotiate nuclear disarmament with them, which in and of itself is a lunatic fantasy. It’s not going to happen. There’s no way he’s going to sweet talk, you know, the Supreme Leader out of his nukes. So, that was the point. He thought that if I support the protesters too much, I alienate and I prevent the relations with the government and I can’t.

Listen here.

The New Republic’s Chris Orr notes that Krauthammer also referred to Khamenei as “Supreme Leader” days before his column attacking Obama for using the phrase was published. This isn’t surprising, considering that top conservatives have regularly referred to Khamenei as “Supreme Leader.”

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Voter Fraud

Remember before, during and after the Presidential election when the GOP along with Fox News and all of the right-wing media pundits were absolutely appalled at ACORN because a few of their employees were caught participating in voter fraud. To refresh your recollection, here is an article by Josh Marshall in 10/08, The Gist of the ACORN Story:

ACORN registers lots of lower income and/or minority voters. They operate all across the country and do a lot of things beside voter registration. What's key to understand is their method. By and large they do not rely on volunteers to register voters. They hire people -- often people with low incomes or even the unemployed. This has the dual effect of not only registering people but also providing some work and income for people who are out of work. But because a lot of these people are doing it for the money, inevitably, a few of them cut corners or even cheat. So someone will end up filling out cards for nonexistent names and some of those slip through ACORN's own efforts to catch errors. (It's important to note that in many of the recent ACORN cases that have gotten the most attention it's ACORN itself that has turned the people in who did the fake registrations.) These reports start buzzing through the right-wing media every two years and every time the anecdotal reports of 'thousands' of fraudulent registrations turns out, on closer inspection, to be either totally bogus themselves or wildly exaggerated. So thousands of phony registrations ends up being, like, twelve.

I've always had questions about whether this is a good way to do voter registration. And Democratic campaigns usually keep their distance. But here's the key. This is fraud against ACORN. They end up paying people for registering more people then they actually signed up. If you register me three times to vote, the registrar will see two new registrations of an already registered person and the ones won't count. If I successfully register Mickey Mouse to vote, on election day, Mickey Mouse will still be a cartoon character who cannot go to the local voting station and vote. Logically speaking there's very little way a few phony names on the voting rolls could be used to commit actual vote fraud. And much more importantly, numerous studies and investigations have shown no evidence of anything more than a handful of isolated cases of actual instances of vote fraud.

The Los Angeles Times recently had a blurb about voter registration in California.

The owner of a voter-registration company pleaded guilty Tuesday to voter-registration fraud, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Laguna Beach resident Mark Jacoby, who collects signatures for petition drives, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to three years' probation and 30 days of service with the California Department of Transportation.

Jacoby, owner of Young Political Majors, registered to vote at Los Angeles addresses that were not his own. State law requires petition circulators to be qualified voters. Jacoby will also be required to show proof he is registered at his correct address.

What is of interest is that the perpetrator in California wasn’t a liberal, wasn't a Democrat, and ACORN wasn't involved...surprise, surprise...he was a Republican.

Brad Friedman has more:
What's perhaps most interesting here is what isn't mentioned in this story, as written on the Los Angeles Times' "L.A. Now" blog. And what they didn't bother to mention in that story?...Amongst other things, the fact that Jacoby and Young Political Majors were hired by the California Republican Party to head up their voter registration efforts in the state. Jacoby had been arrested for Voter Registration Fraud last October, smack dab during the media's orgasmic heights of last year's phony GOP ACORN "Voter Fraud" hoax, even as Fox "News" (and the other news outlets who similarly fell for the scam) was going wall-to-wall with unsupported insinuations about voter fraud by ACORN, Democrats, and Obama.

UPDATE: I hadn't noted it originally (though it's available in a number of the links in the story above), but though Jacoby pleaded guilty to the most benign offense, in fact, his company is alleged to have changed thousands of registrations from Democratic to Republican, assuring that those voters would not be able to vote, as expected, in the Democratic primary. When they didn't outright fake voter signatures on change of registration forms, they used tricks to get voters to give their signature, fooling them into thinking they were signing a petition against child molesters or for cancer hospital funding.

...[A]llow me to underscore again that this was the head of the firm, which is also under investigation in three other states for similar activity. That all, of course, is a very different situation from ACORN where it was a handful of workers who were accused of registration fraud, and defrauding ACORN themselves, before being turned into official by ACORN themselves!...In the meantime, while voters were unable to cast votes at all thanks to Jacoby and YPM, there is not a single allegation of any actual voter fraud having been committed by, or at the behest of ACORN. They are, however, guilty of registering thousands upon thousands of low to middle income voters, who tend to vote Democratic, and thus, they continue to be the target of phony, baseless attacks from the desperate rightwing.

America's Immigration Problems Begin...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

9 Conservative Myths About Right-Wing Domestic Terrorism

The following article by Sara Robinson is important to read in order to counter the right-wing myths about domestic terrorism. I have included the complete article.

It's been a wild couple of weeks for those of us in the wingnutology business. Our services have been in tremendous demand as the mainstream media try to sort out the meaning of what Scott Roeder and James von Brunn did.

I've done an average of one radio show every day for the past two weeks trying to help various lefty talkers around the country make some sense of it all; and I'm generally gratified at how seriously people are starting to take this.

At the same time, I'm also appalled (though, sadly, hardly surprised) by the conservative mythmaking that's going on around the very serious issue of right-wing domestic terrorism. So it's obviously time to pull together another "Firing Back" piece to give progressives what they need to separate fact from fiction when these talking points start flying.

I've actually had every one of the following myths pitched to me by on-air interviewers, phone-in callers and/or online commenters over the last two weeks. Most of them have come up over and over, which suggests to me that you're likely to encounter them, too. So let's walk 'em through:

1. These are just "lone wolf" psychos who are acting alone. You can't hold anybody else responsible for what crazy people decide to do.

True and false. But mostly false.

It's true that every one of the nine right-wing terrorists who've made the news since Jan. 20 had a history of mental illness, domestic violence, and/or drug abuse. Several were military veterans who were having a really hard time adjusting to civilian life. None of these people could reasonably be considered sane; and, for whatever twisted reasons, they made a personal choice to do what they did.

But it's not true that they were acting alone. People who are dealing with these kinds of demons are often drawn into movements that offer a strong narrative that helps them make sense of a world that never seems to add up right for them. They're usually drawn into organizations like Operation Rescue or the Minutemen that are nominally nonviolent, but which also indoctrinate them into a worldview that justifies and motivates people to commit terrorist acts. They come to believe that they must do this to save the world, to serve God and to be the heroes they desperately want to be.

They're already walking sticks of dynamite. But it takes the heat of that apocalyptic, dualistic, eliminationist, pro-violence narrative to light their fuses and make them explode.

Unfortunately, these groups also make it easy to take that final step over the line, because they often have close ties to other, more secretive groups that do advocate and plan terrorist violence as a solution. Operation Rescue teaches that killing abortion doctors is justifiable homicide, and then feeds its most extreme members into the Army of God.

The Aryan Nations and several other white nationalist groups supplied the nine members of The Order, a racist terrorist group that killed two people (including left-wing talker Alan Berg) and stole over $4 million during a nine-month spree in 1984. Al-Qaida got many of its recruits from the nominally nonviolent (but still radical) Hizb al-Tahrir. Of course, when violence actually occurs, these groups always denounce it -- but they also usually have a very good idea of who was involved, because they've been hanging around with the perpetrators for quite a while themselves.

One of the things the public is finally beginning to understand is that the "lone wolf" story has never been accurate, because these guys are never really alone in the world. Every one of them was well-marinated in large, long-established subcultures that put them up to terrorism and promised to make heroes out of them if they succeeded.

2. These terrorists are really left-wingers, not right-wingers. Because everybody knows that fascism is a phenomenon that only occurs on the left.

False does not even begin to cover the absurdity of this claim.

Fascism has always been a phenomenon of the right. Every postwar academic scholar of fascism -- Robert Paxton, Roger Griffin, Umberto Eco and onward -- has been emphatically clear about this. Benito Mussolini admitted as much. It's part of the very definition of the word.

Jonah Goldberg has gotten a lot of traction on the right for his argument that fascism is somehow a left-wing tendency; but in his badly argued, barely researched tome Liberal Fascism, he gets here by taking logical leaps that no college professor would accept from the greenest freshman.

The worst, perhaps, is the way he conflates "fascism" with "totalitarianism." There is such a thing as left-wing totalitarianism: Stalinism and Maoism both qualify. But they were communist, not fascist, movements. It's only when totalitarianism happens on the right that we call it fascism.

Still, this idea has caught on like wildfire and is being widely promoted by right-wing talkers like Glenn Beck. If you want the full takedown on this, I refer you to Dave Neiwert's exhaustive series of debunking articles, which are linked to in the sidebar at Orcinus.

3. Public right-wing groups like Operation Rescue or the Minutemen don't advocate violence, so these acts have absolutely nothing to do with them.

As noted above: These groups may not engage in violence themselves, but they do provide the narrative and worldview that convinces people that terrorism is the only available means of getting what they want. As I wrote here, these narratives have a very specific structure that sets people up for terrorism:

Long before they turn dangerous, political and religious groups take their first step down that road by adopting a worldview that justifies eventual violent action. The particulars of the narrative vary, but the basic themes are always the same. First: Their story is apocalyptic, insisting that the end of the world as we've known it is near. Second: It divides the world into a Good-versus-Evil/Us-versus-Them dualism that encourages the group to interpret even small personal, social or political events as major battles in a Great Cosmic Struggle -- a habit of mind that leads the group to demonize anyone who disagrees with them. This struggle also encourages members to invest everyday events with huge existential meaning, and as a result sometimes overreact wildly to very mundane stuff.

Third: This split allows for a major retreat from consensus reality and the mainstream culture. The group rejects the idea that they share a common future with the rest of society, and curls up into its own insular worldview that's impervious to the outside culture's reasoning or facts. Fourth: Insiders feel like they're a persecuted, prophetic elite who are being opposed by wicked, tyrannical forces. Left to fester, this paranoia will eventually drive the group to make concrete preparations for self-defense -- and perhaps go on the offense against their perceived persecutors. Fifth: Communities following this logic will also advocate the elimination of their enemies by any means necessary in order to purify the world for their ideology.

Once people have accepted these ideas as truth, terrorist violence begins to seem like an unavoidable imperative -- and lone wolves, smelling blood, will start to hunt for targets.

4. This is just a minority movement that isn't really capable of changing anything. We don't really need to worry about it.

False, and evidence of tremendous denial.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of hate groups in the U.S. is up 54 percent since 2000, with nearly 1,000 such groups active across the country right now. Fueled by bone-deep racism, an unnatural terror of liberal government, frustration over the economic downturn, and fears about America's loss of world standing, they tell us, the militant right is rising again. You can find groups in every corner of the country, incidents of racist violence are rising; and the traffic on far-right Web sites is up, too.

Make no mistake: The right-wing radicals are angry, and there are enough of them out there to do some real damage. As noted, they're far more cohesive and better-connected than they've ever been. And they're only getting started.

5. It's not fair to hold right-wing media talking heads responsible for the things their listeners might do.


Advertisers will spend about $50 billion this year on TV ads, and $15 billion more on radio. That's a lot of money. These ads take up roughly one-third of every hour of airtime -- and sponsors pay up gladly, because long experience has shown that broadcast ads are a very powerful way to influence consumer behavior.

But this argument asks us to believe that what happens during the other 40 minutes per hour has absolutely no effect on anybody, ever. Got that? Ads: Powerful influences on behavior. Featured content: No influence whatsoever. Absurd.

Furthermore, conservatives have railed against Hollywood for decades, claiming that movies, TV shows, music and video games are a powerful corrupting influence on the country's morals. They've howled even louder in recent years about Al-Jazeera's perceived negative effect on the political discourse in the Middle East. But when it comes to their own media -- no, no, nothing to see here. Nobody's really listening to us, let alone acting on anything we might say. How could you even suggest such a thing?

As usual, they're trying to have it both ways. The religious right came to power almost exclusively on the persuasive (and fundraising) strength of cable-TV shows. The conservative grip on the country's red counties is largely attributable to right-wing talk radio and Fox News. Obviously, conservatives strongly believe that other people's media have tremendous power to undermine their preferred narratives; and there's no denying that they've been very aggressive in using it to promote their own worldview for decades.

But now they're turning around and insisting that nope -- nobody ever did anything because some talking head told them to. And that sound you hear? Don't worry -- it's just the head of the ad sales department quietly having a stroke because we've completely undermined her ability to ever sell another spot.

6. All that crazy stuff you hear on the right -- you can find the left wing saying things just as bad. They're equally culpable for how bad it all its.

False. There is no equivalency whatsoever to be drawn here.

It’s absolutely true that the commenters can get just as out of hand on liberal sites as they do on conservative ones. (And most of us who've been hanging around the Internet for a while have the flamethrower scars to prove it.) But the problem has nothing to do with the commenters. It has to do with the opinion leaders who are driving the conversation.

On the right, it's actually hard to name a single major voice who hasn’t called for the outright extermination, silencing, harassment or killing of liberals. Rush. Bill O’Reilly. Ann Coulter. Sean Hannity. Laura Ingraham. Michelle Malkin. Michael Savage. Glenn Beck. Bernard Goldberg, who has been cited by at least one assassin as the inspiration for his actions. Michael Reagan, just yesterday. This kind of eliminationist language is stock in trade on the right. A lot of them literally cannot get through the week without it.

And I’m sorry -- but you just don’t hear anything like this same murderous vitriol coming from any of the major voices on the left. Kos' commenters may engage in that, but Kos himself does not. Nor does Arianna [Huffington]. Ed Schultz talks tough, but he's never called for liberals to silence conservatives. Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow are flaming liberals -- but they would choke on air before actually threatening anyone with bodily harm. Both of them have said repeatedly that they regard that kind of thing as a grossly irresponsible use of a media soapbox. Every reputable left-wing leader or talker wholeheartedly agrees.

Furthermore, you don’t see Volvos and Priuses (Prii?) out there sporting "conservative hunting licenses," despite the fact that "liberal hunting licenses" have been a hot item on the right for years. We’re not the ones driving the huge surge in gun purchases, either. And most importantly: You don’t see us out there shooting up fundamentalist churches, crisis pregnancy clinics, conservative gatherings or cops.

You have to go all the way back to the 1970s to find anything like that kind of overt political terrorist violence coming from the left. But starting in the 1980s, we've had ongoing waves of it coming out of the right -- now including the nine violent right-wing attacks on innocent Americans since Barack Obama was inaugurated.

I agree that it’s time to dial this down. But since it's the right wing who gathers power by whipping up people’s fear and anger -- and it's the right wing (and only the right wing) that's now actually taking up arms and killing people -- then all I have to say is:

You first.

7. "Dial it down?" Don't you mean that you want to use the power of government to forcibly shut up right-wing hate talkers?

False. There are a few folks in Congress who tried to gin up support for some kind of legislation -- but progressives should resist this impulse and denounce it as the shameless grandstanding that it is. We believe in the First Amendment. And if we compromise it now, we're no better than the Bush-era conservatives who were so eager to shred the Constitution when they felt threatened. We are better than that -- or should be.

Besides, we've already perfected a tried-and-true method that actually works. Even better, it's grounded completely in conservative free-market philosophy; so when the right wing starts blustering about it, we get to fire right back and call them out as hypocrites. Big fun all around ... and so much more elegant than wantonly trampling on people's civil rights.

Short and simple: We take our appeal to the advertisers. We note who the hate talkers are, what they're saying, what date and time they said it -- and then we write letters to the CEOs of the companies that sponsored those shows. Do these people speak for you? Is this the kind of media you want your product associated with? If the answer is no, what do you intend to do about it?

Note that this is not a boycott -- just a call for moral accountability. Being associated with hate speech is so bad for business in so many ways that no boycott should be required. It taints the brand. It usually violates the sponsors' own human resources standards -- any employee who said that stuff at the office would be canned on the spot. It's horrible PR, especially if some enterprising blogger decides to make an issue out of it. Simply pointing that out has often been enough to convince executives that it's a bad idea, and they need to get out before it blows up in their faces.

Don Imus lost his show this way. So did KSFO's Melanie Morgan. (There's even a verb for it -- "spockoed" -- referring to the blogger who used this technique to get Morgan and several other California hate talkers off the air.) It turns out that advertisers actually read these letters -- especially when they're getting them by the hundreds. It doesn't take much of this before they pull back their ads; and when their major sponsors walk away, the talkers lose their shows. They may thrash a little -- but usually, it's all over in a matter of just a few weeks.

Note, too, that both TV and radio stations are already losing revenue year over year at a rate that's starting to rival newspapers, so they're probably even more exquisitely sensitive to this kind of pressure now than they were just a couple of years ago. If we want these people off this air, this is the way to get them gone for good -- and make the cultural point that this garbage is no longer acceptable on the nation's airwaves.

8. But what you're suggesting is censorship! You're trying to censor free speech!

Oh, please. Anybody who argues this with a straight face shouldn't be allowed into a voting booth until they're sent back to eighth-grade civics for a basic refresher, because they apparently know less about the Constitution than the average immigrant who's had to take a citizenship test.

Follow me here: "Censorship" is strictly defined as "government suppression of free speech."

When citizens appeal directly to advertisers, that's not censorship, because the government isn't anywhere in the mix. It's just the Almighty Divine Hand of the Unfettered Free Market at work, y'all. The sponsors are voting with their dollars -- which, in the conservative free-market utopia, is precisely how it's supposed to work.

9. What about that guy who shot the recruiters in Arkansas -- isn't that proof that the left wing is just as bad as the right?

False. I mean, really, really false.

Abdulhakim Mohammed's assassination of two military recruiters was an act of Muslim terrorism, no different than 9/11 or the London subway bombings or Richard Reid and his amazing explosive sneakers. He didn't have a pile of Thom Hartmann books in his apartment. There have been no reports that his computer bookmarks linked to Firedoglake and Crooks & Liars. Near as we can tell, Mohammed was radicalized after being held and abused in a Yemeni prison -- and had absolutely no association with the American left at all.

Yes, he said that he did it because he protested the war. (I actually fielded a radio caller who insisted that his opposition to the war was de facto proof that he's a raving liberal.) But here's a news flash, kiddos: You don't need to be a progressive to think the war was a bad idea. It may come as a surprise to learn that there are a lot of people in other parts of the world who also think it was a bad idea. An absolutely shocking number of them are Muslims and/or people who've spent time in the Middle East. Go figure.

It's a sign of how far detached from reality the right wing is that it no longer can tell the essential difference between Muslim terrorists and garden-variety American progressives. We're not wrong to ask: Should people who are that thoroughly blinded by their prejudices be issued driving licenses?

* * *

This is terrorism we're dealing with. We can't afford to let ourselves be distracted by spin. We will not be able to respond effectively until we're able to deal in facts. The sooner we shoot down these myths, the sooner we'll be able dispel fear, think clearly and start having some real, honest conversations about the actual threats we face.

Sara Robinson is a fellow at the Campaign for America's Future and a consulting partner with the Cognitive Policy Works in Seattle. One of the few trained social futurists in North America, she has blogged on authoritarian and extremist movements at Orcinus since 2006, and is a founding member of Group News Blog.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Don't Mess with the Prez

We Need a New Direction in Afghanistan

From Brave New Film's documentary, "Rethink Afghanistan." Exclusive footage from the recent US air strikes in Afghanistan provides a sobering look at the dire situation on the ground.

For more information read, "Becoming What We Seek to Destroy" by Chris Hedges.
The bodies of dozens, perhaps well over a hundred, women, children and men, their corpses blown into bits of human flesh by iron fragmentation bombs dropped by U.S. warplanes in a village in the western province of Farah, illustrates the futility of the Afghan war. We are not delivering democracy or liberation or development. We are delivering massive, sophisticated forms of industrial slaughter. And because we have employed the blunt and horrible instrument of war in a land we know little about and are incapable of reading, we embody the barbarism we claim to be seeking to defeat.

We are morally no different from the psychopaths within the Taliban, who Afghans remember we empowered, funded and armed during the 10-year war with the Soviet Union. Acid thrown into a girl’s face or beheadings? Death delivered from the air or fields of shiny cluster bombs? This is the language of war. It is what we speak. It is what those we fight speak. [...]

We are the best recruiting weapon the Taliban possesses. We have enabled it to rise from the ashes seven years ago to openly control over half the country and carry out daylight attacks in the capital Kabul. And the war we wage is being exported like a virus to Pakistan in the form of drones that bomb Pakistani villages and increased clashes between the inept Pakistani military and a restive internal insurgency. [...]

The U.S. fuels the bonfires of war. The more troops we send to Afghanistan, the more drones we send on bombing runs over Pakistan, the more airstrikes we carry out, the worse the unraveling will become. We have killed twice as many civilians as the Taliban this year and that number is sure to rise in the coming months. [...]

We are faced with two stark choices. We can withdraw and open negotiations with the Taliban or continue to expand the war until we are driven out. The corrupt and unpopular regimes of Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan and Asif Ali Zardari are impotent allies. The longer they remain tethered to the United States, the weaker they become. And the weaker they become, the louder become the calls for intervention in Pakistan. During the war in Vietnam, we invaded Cambodia to bring stability to the region and cut off rebel sanctuaries and supply routes. This tactic only empowered the Khmer Rouge. We seem poised, in much the same way, to do the same for radical Islamists in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

President Barack Obama needs to "Rethink Afghanistan." We need a new direction.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Another Disturbing Outcome of the War

The following article By Matt Kennard, Neo-Nazis are in the Army Now, is a disturbing view of, "Why the U.S. military is ignoring its own regulations and permitting white supremacists to join its ranks."
Editor's note: Research support for this article was provided by the Nation Institute's Investigative Fund.

Since the launch of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. military has struggled to recruit and reenlist troops. As the conflicts have dragged on, the military has loosened regulations, issuing "moral waivers" in many cases, allowing even those with criminal records to join up. Veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder have been ordered back to the Middle East for second and third tours of duty.

The lax regulations have also opened the military's doors to neo-Nazis, white supremacists and gang members — with drastic consequences. Some neo-Nazis have been charged with crimes inside the military, and others have been linked to recruitment efforts for the white right. A recent Department of Homeland Security report, "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment," stated: "The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned, or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today." Many white supremacists join the Army to secure training for, as they see it, a future domestic race war. Others claim to be shooting Iraqis not to pursue the military's strategic goals but because killing "hajjis" is their duty as white militants.

Soldiers' associations with extremist groups, and their racist actions, contravene a host of military statutes instituted in the past three decades. But during the "war on terror," U.S. armed forces have turned a blind eye on their own regulations. A 2005 Department of Defense report states, "Effectively, the military has a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy pertaining to extremism. If individuals can perform satisfactorily, without making their extremist opinions overt … they are likely to be able to complete their contracts."

Carter F. Smith is a former military investigator who worked with the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command from 2004 to 2006, when he helped to root out gang violence in troops. "When you need more soldiers, you lower the standards, whether you say so or not," he says. "The increase in gangs and extremists is an indicator of this." Military investigators may be concerned about white supremacists, he says. "But they have a war to fight, and they don't have incentive to slow down." [...]

"The anti-Arab racism came from the brass. It came from the top"

Once white supremacists are in the military, it is easy to stay there. An Army Command Policy manual devotes more than 100 pages to rooting them out. But no officer appears to be reading it.[...]

[T]he regulations on racist extremists got jettisoned with the war on terror.[...]

White supremacists may be doing more than avoiding expulsion. They may be using their military status to help build the white right. The FBI found that two Army privates in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg had attempted in 2007 to sell stolen property from the military — including ballistic vests, a combat helmet and pain medications such as morphine — to an undercover FBI agent they believed was involved with the white supremacist movement. (They were convicted and sentenced to six years.) It found multiple examples of white supremacist recruitment among active military, including a period in 2003 when six active duty soldiers at Fort Riley, members of the Aryan Nation, were recruiting their Army colleagues and even serving as the Aryan Nation's point of contact for the state of Kansas.

Rooting out extremists is difficult because racism pervades the military, according to soldiers.

The policy seems to be one 'don't ask, don't tell, and ignore what we do know.'


Iraq veteran Forrest Fogarty sailed through recruitment despite his neo-Nazi tattoos.
Forrest Fogarty

Photo: Matt Kennard

Monday, June 15, 2009

Rally in Iran

The BBC speculates that the rally in Iran was 1-2 million...

(Sky News) Tens of thousands of supporters of Iran's opposition leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi, have defied a ban to attend a rally in Tehran after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won a landslide victory in the presidential elections.


What Now!

Steve Clemons in The Washington Note has and article about the ever changing situation in Iran, There will be Blood. Clemons suggests that what we are seeing on TV is just the tip of the iceberg according to his Iranian contact.


(To get a feel for what is going on in the streets of Tehran, watch this linked BBC video clip.)

Last night in London after appearing on Keith Olbermann's show, I got an email from a well-connected Iranian who knows many of the power figures in the Tehran political order asking to meet me. I told him that the only place possible was Paddington on the way to Heathrow -- and there we met.

He conveyed to me things that were mostly obvious -- Iran is now a tinderbox. The right is tenaciously consolidating its control over the state and refuses to yield. There is a split among the mullahs and significant dismay with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. A gaping hole has been ripped open in Iranian society, exposing the contradictions of the regime and everyone now sees that the democracy that they believed that they had in Iranian form is a "charade."

Sound Familiar?

But the scariest point he made to me that I had not heard anywhere else is that this "coup by the right wing" has created pressures that cannot be solved or patted down by the normal institutional arrangements Iran has constructed. The Guardian Council and other power nodes of government can't deal with the current crisis and can't deal with the fact that a civil war has now broken out among Iran's revolutionaries.

My contact predicted serious violence at the highest levels. He said that Ahmadinejad is now genuinely scared of Iranian society and of Mousavi and Rafsanjani. The level of tension between them has gone beyond civil limits -- and my contact said that Ahmadinejad will try to have them imprisoned and killed.

Likewise, he said, Rafsanjani, Khatami, and Mousavi know this -- and thus are using all of the instruments at their control within Iran's government apparatus to fight back -- but given Khamenei's embrace of Ahmadinejad's actions in the election and victory, there is no recourse but to try and remove Khamenei. Some suggest that Rafsanjani will count votes to see if there is a way to formally dislodge Khamenei -- but this source I met said that all of these political giants have resources at their disposal to "do away with" those that get in the way.

He predicted that the so-called reformist camp -- who are not exactly humanists in the Western liberal sense -- may try and animate efforts to decapitate the regime and "do away with" Ahmadinejad and even the Supreme Leader himself.

I am not convinced that this source "knows" these things will definitely happen but am convinced of his credentials and impressed with the seriousness of the discussion we had and his own concern that there may be political killing sprees ahead.

This is not a vision he advocates -- but one he fears.

UPDATE: Check out the Huffington Post's Live Blogging on the Iran Uprise.

Rigged or Not Rigged...

Iran Election Cartoon

...that is the question. Below are several opinions on whether the Iranian election was determined by vote fraud or not.

Middle East experts are falling into two broad camps on the Iranian election. One argues that numerous irregularities in voting patterns combined with reports of intimidation, vote buying and other abuses are de facto evidence supporting claims that a presidential coup has taken place in Iran. (Read the arguments of Middle East scholars Juan Cole and Stephen Zunes for more details.) A second camp argues caution, suggesting that many in the media had come down with a case of "wishful thinking" that raised expectations of a possible victory by Mir Hossein Mousavi beyond reason, and the gap between the expectations and results is leading to an eagerness to embrace the opposition's claims of massive fraud. (See Middle East scholar Abbas Barzegar's take for more.)

Josh Marshall writes, "going forward I have to imagine that either new facts or simply the momentum of one or other of the narratives will take hold and be the defining one in countries outside Iran," and adds, "I'm eager to see which one it is."

Into that debate, a new statistical analysis of the election results is making the rounds that suggests that the numbers reported by the Interior Ministry are evidence of large-scale vote-fraud, which you can review here.

But respected polling expert Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com, while saying he has "no particular reason to believe the results reported by the Interior Ministry," finds the analysis unpersuasive. Read his post here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Iranian Election Results

Via Gil Ross:
Last week Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won re-election as Iran’s President. The election results were surprising because his rival, Mir Hossein Moussavi, had been far ahead in the polls.

Both Mr. Ahmadinejad and Diebold, who rented the voting machines to Ahmadinejad, expressed shock at any controversy regarding the election results...

It’s like Deja Vu, all over again...

Here's Michael...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Public Health Option

A few thoughts on the Public Health Option:

Fact-Checking Republican Attacks Against The Public Option

During his speech in Green Bay, Wisconsin, President Obama reiterated his support for the public health option. “One of the options in the exchange should be a public insurance option — because if the private insurance companies have to compete with a public option, it will keep them honest and help keep prices down,” Obama said.

Indeed, a new public health insurance plan could restore competition into the consolidated health insurance market, lower health care premiums, lead the way in innovation, and improve health quality.

Republicans have mischaracterized the public option as a “government takeover” of health care.

Karl Rove penned an editorial in the Wall Street Journal attacking the public health care option. Rove’s ‘myths’ echo the poll-tested talking points of Frank Luntz and other conservatives determined to protect the private insurer’s monopoly over coverage and deny Americans choice. Below is a fact-check of Rove’s assertions. [Download a PDF version.]

Myth 1: A public option is unnecessary.
Myth 2: Private competition in Medicare Part D has reduced costs.
Myth 3: A public plan would shift costs to Americans with private insurance.
Myth 4: A public plan will lead to a welfare state.
Myth 5: The public option is too expensive.
Myth 6: Americans will be forced into a public option.
Myth 7: The public option would put a bureaucrat between you and your doctor.

MYTH 1: A public option is unnecessary: “It’s unnecessary. Advocates say a government-run insurance program is needed to provide competition for private health insurance. But 1,300 companies sell health insurance plans. That’s competition enough.” [WSJ, 6/11/2009]

TRUTH: Insurer and hospital markets are dominated by large insurers and provider systems. Private insurers rarely negotiate with dominant hospital systems and typically pass on the higher costs to beneficiaries in the form of higher premiums. Already, “1 in 6 metropolitan areas in a 2008 study of more than 300 U.S. markets is dominated by a single health insurer that controls at least 70% of consumers enrolled in health maintenance organizations or preferred provider organizations.” Such consolidation negates any real competition. Without it, insurers don’t negotiate prices and boost their profits. In fact, “there have been over 400 health care mergers in the last 10 years,” and premiums have risen “nearly eight times faster than average U.S. incomes.” A public plan could, in an environment of head-to-head competition, push private insurance companies to negotiate more aggressively with providers and dramatically lower health care spending.” [Urban Institute, 10/03/2008; LA Times, 4/09/2009]

MYTH 2: Private competition in Medicare Part D has reduced costs: “The results of robust private competition to provide the Medicare drug benefit underscore [the ability of private competition to lower prices]. When it was approved, the Congressional Budget Office estimated it would cost $74 billion a year by 2008. Nearly 100 providers deliver the drug benefit, competing on better benefits, more choices, and lower prices. So the actual cost was $44 billion in 2008 — nearly 41% less than predicted. No government plan was needed to guarantee competition’s benefits.” [WSJ, 6/11/2009]

TRUTH: Medicare Part D beneficiaries have experienced significant cost increases. According to a recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows “significant increases in premiums, costsharing amounts, use of specialty tiers, and utilization management restrictions since 2008 that could have important implications for beneficiaries’ access to needed medications and out-of-pocket expenses.” [KFF, 6/2009]

MYTH 3: A public plan would shift costs to Americans with private insurance: “Second, a public option will undercut private insurers and pass the tab to taxpayers and health providers just as it does in existing government-run programs. For example, Medicare pays hospitals 71% and doctors 81% of what private insurers pay.” [WSJ, 6/11/2009]

TRUTH: Private insurer payments promote medical inefficiency. A new public option will change the way the health care reimbursement system so that we pay for value, not volume and reward efficient providers. According to MedPAC, Medicare rates are adequate and consistent with the efficient delivery of services. In fact, over-payments by private insurers to health-care providers drives up overall costs. “Hospitals which didn’t rely on high payment rates from private insurers ‘are able, in fact, to control their costs and reduce their costs when they need to’ and ‘combine low costs with quality.’” [WSJ, 3/17/2009]

MYTH 4: A public plan will lead to a welfare state:“If Democrats enact a public-option health-insurance program, America is on the way to becoming a European-style welfare state.” [WSJ, 6/11/2009]

TRUTH: Americans will choose a public health insurance plan from a menu of different options. The private insurance market isn’t going anywhere. Private insurers will play an important role in providing more integrated coverage options than the public plan and would retain a “brand advantage” (in the same way that a lot of people rather have the branded drug than the generic) for consumers. Private insurers who “offer a superior product through high levels of efficiency, satisfaction in consumer preferences and ease of access to quality medical services” will thrive in a reformed market. [Urban Institute, 10/03/2008]

MYTH 5: The public option is too expensive: “Fourth, the public option is far too expensive. The cost of Medicare — the purest form of a government-run “public choice” for seniors — will start exceeding its payroll-tax “trust fund” in 2017. The Obama administration estimates its health reforms will cost as much as $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. It is no coincidence the Obama budget nearly triples the national debt over that same period.” [WSJ, 6/11/2009]

TRUTH: A public option will lower family premiums. If a public plan is “far too expensive” and has higher premiums, then Americans will not enroll. But if a public plan offers lower premiums, it will motivate private insurers to lower their costs. As a result, health care costs would decrease across the board.

MYTH 6: Americans will be forced into a public option: “Government-run health insurance would crater the private insurance market, forcing most Americans onto the government plan.” [WSJ, 6/11/2009]

TRUTH: The government would not force Americans to purchase coverage from the public plan, but Rove would force everyone under 65 to enroll with a private insurer. Rove is essentially arguing that the public plan would work too well. It would use its inherent efficiencies to lower family premiums and force private insurers to aggressively negotiate on behalf of their beneficiaries.

MYTH 7: The public option would put a bureaucrat between you and your doctor: “The public option puts government firmly in the middle of the relationship between patients and their doctors.” [WSJ, 6/11/2009]

TRUTH: A public option improves the doctor-patient relationship. Existing reform legislation explicitly preserves the doctor-patient relationship. As a draft of the HELP bill notes, “a strong doctor-patient relationship is essential to the practice of medicine, and patents have a right to an effective doctor patient relationships…Doctors, nurses, and other health professional have the right to judge what is best for their patients.” Moreover, the public plan’s payment innovations would reward doctors for providing quality care and spending more time listening to their patients. [HELP Legislation, 6/09/2009]

Read more »

Keeping Them Honest
By Paul Krugman

But the devil is in the details. Health reform will fail unless we get serious cost control — and we won’t get that kind of control unless we fundamentally change the way the insurance industry, in particular, behaves. So let me offer Congress two pieces of advice:

1) Don’t trust the insurance industry.

2) Don’t trust the insurance industry.
But how can we have fundamental reform of what Mr. Obama calls a “broken system” if the current players stay in place? The answer is supposed to lie in a combination of regulation and competition.

What’s still not settled, however, is whether regulation will be supplemented by competition, in the form of a public plan that Americans can buy into as an alternative to private insurance.

Now nobody is proposing that Americans be forced to get their insurance from the government. The “public option,” if it materializes, will be just that — an option Americans can choose. And the reason for providing this option was clearly laid out in Mr. Obama’s letter: It will give Americans “a better range of choices, make the health care market more competitive, and keep the insurance companies honest.”

Be warned, however. The insurance industry will do everything it can to avoid being held accountable.

At first the insurance lobby’s foot soldiers in Congress tried to shout down the public option with the old slogans: private enterprise good, government bad.

At this point, however, they’re trying to kill the public option in more subtle ways. The most recent ruse is the proposal for a “trigger” — the public option will only become available if private insurers fail to meet certain performance criteria. The idea, of course, is to choose those criteria to ensure that the trigger is never pulled.

And here’s the thing. Without an effective public option, the Obama health care reform will be simply a national version of the health care reform in Massachusetts: a system that is a lot better than nothing but has done little to address the fundamental problem of a fragmented system, and as a result has done little to control rising health care costs. Read more »

Battle over Public Option to Private Insurance Plans
By Din McCanne, MD

The insurance industry contends that a public plan would provide “unfair” competition to the private plans, just as the private Medicare Advantage plans had to be granted large overpayments to counter the “unfair” advantage of the traditional public Medicare program. It is surprising how many others perpetuate this framing that the private insurers should be granted extra tax dollars in order to level the playing field with a more efficient government health financing system. The real unfairness is gifting taxpayer funds to the private insurers.

So what is being proposed as a compromise public insurance option? Let’s have the government set up a private insurance-style PPO, and require it to copy the private sector business model of taking away choice through restricted provider lists, expanding administrative functions including the necessity of marketing its product, competing on benefits and cost-sharing provisions, and engaging in all of the other non-beneficial excesses of the marketplace. Just to be absolutely certain that the public option has all of the flaws of the private health plans, Len Nichols would put up even stronger firewalls between the government administrators and the government’s own public option disguised as a private plan. And this ridiculous effort to “level” the playing field is all for the benefit of… not the patients… but the insurers! Read more »

Four Reasons Why the Public Health Care Option is Irrefutable
By Cenk Uygur, The Young Turks
Politicians who talk about compromising on it have no policy ground to stand on. Without the public option, there is no health care reform.

Here are four indisputable reasons why the public option must be part of the healthcare proposal:

1. The government doesn't have to advertise. No marketing budget means less costs to pass down to the consumer.

2. The government will not take a profit. That is about 10-30% of costs wiped out immediately. Private companies by their nature will add a certain percentage to the product for their own profit. That comes directly out of our pocket. An option that doesn't take profit also doesn't take as much money from us.

3. The government will have enormous negotiating leverage with drug companies and health care providers, so they can drive down the costs to the consumer even more.

4. It is an option! If it turns out that the government option does not work as well or costs more, no problem, just use the private insurance you have now. This is only an option you have in a more competitive market. Who can argue with that?

There are legitimate concerns that progressives have with the public option. It is not single payer. The government does not pick up the tab. You still have to pay a premium and the current system is largely maintained. But I think this is better than single payer. It gives us a choice and allows the market to dictate which system works better in the healthcare industry - public or private.
Read more »