Thursday, September 24, 2009

Loony or Lucid

In 1966, Alan Bates starred in a wonderful movie, King of Hearts. The movie takes place during WWI in a small French town. Through a series of events the doors to an insane asylum are accidentally left open. The town has been deserted and the inmates inhabit the town. At the end of the film, the question becomes who is more insane, those in the asylum or the soldiers on the battlefield.

Which brings us to today.

When the news is manipulated. When journalists are really actors. When the narrow-minded are considered intelligent. When lies are considered truths. When lunatics command a following. This is when I think of the movie the King of Hearts and wonder, whose really insane.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It's Time to Protect the Insurance Companies CEO's

Something Terrible is Happening!

A slew of celebrities have gotten together to speak out to protect and help insurance companies.

Sarcastically, of course. Will Ferrell & Friends.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Serious Men's Business

South African Braai Etiquette

Tea Party Shenanigans

Comedy writers would have a hard time coming up with such an hilarious skit.
You may have heard that GOP Rep. Kevin Brady, staunch tea partier, is protesting that the taxpayer-funded D.C. Metro didn’t adequately prepare for the anti-government 9/12 rally. He’s even suggesting Metro’s failure to transport tea partiers may have hurt turnout.

Soon after the 9/12 march, Brady released a letter he sent to D.C. Metro griping that it had failed to transport tea partiers to the protest. Brady said they “were frustrated and disappointed that our nation’s capitol” failed to “provide a basic level of transit for them.”

Brady’s office complained about a train shortage. “METRO did not prepare for Tea Party March!” he tweeted. “People couldn’t get on, missed start of march. I will demand answers.”

But earlier this year, Brady voted against the stimulus package. It provided millions upon millions of dollars for all manner of improvements to … the D.C. Metro.

Every House GOPer, of course, voted against the stimulus. Still, it’s a real head-spinner to bash a government-run system for failing to adequately serve an enormous anti-government protest after opposing government funding for it.

Tell Blanche Lincoln and Mike Ross to Act Like Democrats

Jane Hamsher and FireDog Lake (FDL) have been leading the battle for health care.
Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AK) and Rep. Mike Ross (D-AK) are blocking what Arkansas wants: competition for the bloated insurance industry.

Both Lincoln and Ross are up for election next year. Recent polling in the state shows that not only are they both vulnerable, but the public option is a popular issue with Arkansas voters.

It should be a no-brainer. Yet Lincoln and Ross are both doing the bidding of the insurance industry to block the public option.

Mike Ross recently said that the people in his district didn't want a public plan that would save them $2000 a year in medical costs.2 Daily Kos polled Arkansas and found that's not true -- a majority of all Arkansans, and 80% of Arkansas Democrats, want a public option.

We need to let Arkansas voters know the truth: Lincoln and Ross are blocking true health care reform by standing with the health insurance industry.

And if Lincoln and Ross still won't side with Arkansas Democrats, we'll have to find someone who will.

Stand with Arkansas Democrats: watch our new ad to air in Arkansas and donate now to put it on TV. Click here:

We're ready to hold members of Congress accountable for the public health insurance option, but we can only do it with your help.

Thanks for all you do.

Jane Hamsher
FDL Action PA

Friday, September 18, 2009

Czar In, Czar Out

The GOP has been very vocal about the danger of Obama's Czars. Numerous Republican Senators and Representatives have commented that the use of Czars by Obama is extremely detrimental to the democracy of this country.

Rep Eric Cantor (R-VA): “Vesting such broad authority in the hands of people not subjected to Senate confirmation and congressional oversight poses a grave threat to our system of checks and balances…the current administration has more czars than Imperial Russia.” [Washington Post, 7/30/09 ]

Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT): “The president's decision to expand the executive branch and bypass cabinet officers with a group of presidential assistants given the title of ‘czars' undermines the Constitution.” [Sen. Bennett Press Release, 9/15/09 ]

Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Kit Bond (R-MO), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Bob Bennett (R-UT): Six GOP Senators Wrote A Letter To White House Requesting The Authority, Qualifications And Transparency Of 18 Czars Appointment By The Obama Administration. “The creation of ‘czars,' particularly within the Executive Office of the President, circumvents the constitutionally established process of ‘advise and consent,' [and] greatly diminishes the ability of Congress to conduct oversight and hold officials accountable.” [Politico, 9/16/09]

The GOP apparently has short term amnesia. President George W. Bush had appointed a total of 47 "czars" during his administration. Click HERE for a list.

What exactly is a 'czar'. It is a policy adviser to the President. Since the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt (1933–1945) all U.S.Presidents, with the exception of John Kennedy, have appointed czars.

For a historical perspective, NPR's Andrea Seabrook and Michele Norris explored the history of the term "czar" in American politics. The show aired in May, 2007 after the appointment of Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute as President Bush's so-called "war czar" for Iraq and Afghanistan. Apparently, the term first surfaced in reference to Second Bank of the United States president Nicholas Biddle in 1832.

SEABROOK: And as Mr. Cordesman stated more recently, John Love became the first energy czar under President Nixon in 1973, followed in 1989 by President Reagan's drug czar, William Bennett. There's been lots of U.S. czars since then right up to food safety czar, David Atchison, who took office this month.

NORRIS: Well, it turns out that the government czars don't particularly appreciate the term.

SEABROOK: Hurricane Katrina recovery czar Edward Blakely, former White House terrorism czar Richard Clarke and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

NORRIS: And as we mentioned, President Bush avoids using the term czar. He's called General Lute the full-time manager for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Obama White House has recently issued a "Reality Check" on this issue:
Just to be clear, the job title "czar" doesn’t exist in the Obama Administration. Many of the officials cited by conservative commentators have been confirmed by the Senate. Many hold policy jobs that have existed in previous Administrations. And some hold jobs that involved coordinating the work of agencies on President Obama’s key policy priorities: health insurance reform, energy and green jobs, and building a new foundation for long-lasting economic growth.
The DNC National Press Secretary Hari Sevugan issued a statement in response to the Republican critics.
"Most telling of the credibility of these attacks is that they come from the same Republican party that didn't utter a peep about the 47 documented czars in the Bush administration even when the so called 'abstinence czar' was caught soliciting. They come from the same Republican party that, not satisfied with the number of czars in the Bush Administration, asked for the creation of additional czars on multiple occasions. They come from the same Republican party that themselves served as czars in the Bush administration. In leveling these ludicrous attacks, Republicans have crowned themselves the czars of hypocrisy."
The DNC also put together a fun video on You Tube showing how Glenn Beck has exploited this issue. Everytime Beck counts an Obama "Czar" a picture of that czar from the Bush Administration is shown.

Watch Dancing with the Czars:

Carter's Rant on Racism May Be Right

All of the angst. All of the anger. All of the name calling. Now Rush Limbaugh sets the matter straight. It is racism, pure and simple. What else would you call it? Limbaugh says, "We need segregated buses."

Referring to an incident in which a white student was beaten by black students on a bus, an incident which local police have since said was not racially motivated, Limbaugh said:

“I think that’s wrong. I think not only it was racism, it was justifiable racism. I mean, that’s the lesson we’re being taught here today. Kid shouldn’t have been on the bus anyway. We need segregated buses — it was invading space and stuff. This is Obama’s America.”
A full transcript of Limbaugh’s comments on his radio show is available at

There you have it. Rush is the expert on racism. He should know. He's been spouting racist remarks for years. Now he is suggesting that racism is acceptable because it's 'inborn.'
“If homosexuality being inborn is what makes it acceptable, why does racism being inborn not make racism acceptable?” the talk show host asked. “I’m sorry — I mean, this is the way my mind works. But apparently now we don’t choose racism, we just are racists. We are born that way. We don’t choose it. So shouldn’t it be acceptable, excuse — this is according to the way the left thinks about things.”

Limbaugh just proved that former President Jimmy Carter is right when he said personal attacks on Obama are "based on racism."

What Are We Waiting For?

The Daily Kos put together this synopsis of various Democrats commenting on the Baucus Report.

Nancy Pelosi briefed reporters today and reiterated that she, and the House, support the public option in healthcare reform:

"I fully support the public option. The public option will be in the bill that passes the House," Pelosi (D-Calif.) said purposefully.

Here's Sherrod Brown:

SNYDERMAN: ...If we really talk about Medicare expansion as being that "public option," can you find enough votes to say, you know, bipartisanship doesn't matter as much as reform does, and push this through?

BROWN: Absolutely.... We have an overwhelming majority of Democratic Senators, as we have an overwhelming majority of House members who support the public option, and more importantly, as you know Dr. Nancy, a recent survey showed that 70 percent of physicians in this country support a public option, and a comparable percent of the public supports a public option. So it's the right way to go. It's simply a choice that will make the insurance companies more honest and help us, because of competition, bring prices down.

Here's Anthony Weiner:

What we're saying to the United States Senate, to the Gang of Six, is "thanks, but no thanks." Any health care proposal that does not have the competition and cost containment that can only be achieved via the public option will be considered dead on arrival....

What we're finding is that after months of talk, the Senate plan came out and actually took several steps backwards in important things, made it less affordable for the middle class and actually provided less competition for insurance companies.

The Baucus debacle might just end up being the kick start the Democrats needed to reinvigorate them for the fight for a public option. If that's the case, it'll be the only real good to come out of the thing.

Why did it take the Baucus Report to stir this response? The Republicans have been consistently against any meaningful change to health insurance and health care reform.

Now, I am waiting to hear President Obama say that he supports a Public Option in the Insurance Reform Package, 100%.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Quotation of the Day

This quote is from the right side-bar at the bottom of this page. I thought it was apropos to bring to the top.

Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)

Pre-Existing Condition!

Former President Jimmy Carter drew widespread criticism Wednesday for saying that Rep. Joe Wilson's "You lie!" outburst last week was "based on racism" and that an "overwhelming portion" of similar demonstrations against President Obama are rooted in bigotry.

During a town hall meeting in Atlanta, he said that "I think people are guilty of that kind of personal attack against Obama, have been influenced to a major degree by a belief that he should not be president because he happened to be African American. I think it's based on racism."

Tom Toles wants to know, "Was it a pre-existing condition?"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fear, Misinformation and the Collapse of Journalistic Standards

The following articles are grouped under the heading of Journalism and Beyond from Free Press.
Can You Smell the Fear? Timothy Karr, Huffington Post

Switch on cable news or tune in to talk radio and fear comes wafting in. It's a fear that's laced with paranoia, stoked by misinformation and prejudice and fed to millions of people via powerful media. But most of all, it's a fear of the changes that an overwhelming majority of Americans called for when they stepped into voting booths last November.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Examples of a Broken Health Insurance System

CIGNA's Edward Hanway spends his holidays in a $13 million beach house in New Jersey. Meanwhile, regular Americans are routinely denied coverage for the care they need when they need it most.

Welcome to the American health insurance industry. Instead of helping policyholders attain the health security they need for their families, big insurance companies get rich by denying coverage to patients. Now they're sending lobbyists to Washington, DC to twist the arms of lawmakers to oppose reform of the status quo. Why? Because the status quo pays.

Learn more at about the glamorous lives of billionaire health insurance executives and tell us your story of being victimized by their greed.

Forward this video to your friends and watch all the videos at

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Then and Now

Acting Like Jerks

It isn't just one Congressman. It is the majority of the GOP party who are acting like sore losers, ill mannered school children and just plain disrespectful.

What kind of example are they displaying for their children, for their constituents and for their country?

President Obama succinctly noted that when "we can no longer even engage in a civil conversation with each other over the things that truly matter we don't merely lose our capacity to solve big challenges. We lose something essential about ourselves."

Dana Milbank from the Washington Post has put together numerous examples of this onerous GOP behavior as President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night.
Of course the "most flagrant" was the comment shouted out at 8:40 pm, just after the president vowed to lawmakers that his health-care reform proposals would not provide benefits to illegal immigrants was from home, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) who shouted at the president from his fifth-row seat: "You lie!"
There was booing from House Republicans when the president caricatured a conservative argument by saying they would "leave individuals to buy health insurance on their own." They hissed when he protested their "scare tactics." They grumbled as they do in Britain's House of Commons when Obama spoke of the "blizzard of charges and countercharges."

When he asserted that "nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have," there was scoffing and outright laughter on the GOP side. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (Tex.) shook his head in disbelief. Several Republicans shouted "What plan?" and Rep. Louis Gohmert (Tex.) waved at Obama a handwritten poster he made on a letter-size piece of paper: "WHAT PLAN?" Gohmert then took that down and replaced it with another handmade poster that said "WHAT BILL?"

There was derisive laughter on Republican side of the chamber when Obama noted that "there remain some significant details to be ironed out." They applauded as he spoke of "all the misinformation that's been spread over the past few months." They laughed again when he said that "many Americans have grown nervous about reform."

When Obama addressed the charge that he plans "panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens," someone on the GOP side shouted out "shame!" The president went on: "Such a charge would be laughable if it weren't so cynical." "Read the bill!" someone shouted back. Obama mentioned those who accuse him of a government takeover of health care. "It's true," someone shouted back.

Even as Obama delivered a tribute to the late senator Ted Kennedy, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga), a leader of House conservatives, perused his BlackBerry. Shortly before the speech ended, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) walked out to beat the rush.
And Milbank correctly indicates that "there was something appalling about the display on the House floor for what was supposed to be a sacred ritual of American democracy: the nation watching while Cabinet members, lawmakers from both chambers and the diplomatic corps assembled."

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The President's Plan in a Nutshell

The Obama Plan: Stability & Security for all

If You Have Health Insurance

More Stability and Security

• Ends discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions. Over the last three years, 12 million people were denied coverage directly or indirectly through high premiums due to a pre-existing condition. Under the President’s plan, it will be against the law for insurance companies to deny coverage for health reasons or risks.

• Limits premium discrimination based on gender and age. The President’s plan will end insurers’ practice of charging different premiums or denying coverage based on gender, and will limit premium variation based on age.

• Prevents insurance companies from dropping coverage when people are sick and need it most. The President’s plan prohibits insurance companies from rescinding coverage that has already been purchased except in cases of fraud. In most states, insurance companies can cancel a policy if any medical condition was not listed on the application – even one not related to a current illness or one the patient didn’t even know about. A recent Congressional investigation found that over five years, three large insurance companies cancelled coverage for 20,000 people, saving them from paying $300 million in medical claims - $300 million that became either an obligation for the patient’s family or bad debt for doctors and hospitals.

• Caps out-of pocket expenses so people don’t go broke when they get sick. The President’s plan will cap out-of-pocket expenses and will prohibit insurance companies from imposing annual or lifetime caps on benefit payments. A middle class family purchasing health insurance directly from the individual insurance market today could spend up to 50 percent of household income on health care costs because there is no limit on out-of-pocket expenses.

• Eliminates extra charges for preventive care like mammograms, flu shots and diabetes tests to improve health and save money. The President’s plan ensures that all Americans have access to free preventive services under their health insurance plans. Too many Americans forgo needed preventive care, in part because of the cost of check-ups and screenings that can identify health problems early when they can be most effectively treated. For example, 24 percent of women age 40 and over have not received a mammogram in the past two years, and 38 percent of adults age 50 and over have never had a colon cancer screening.

• Protects Medicare for seniors. The President’s plan will extend new protections for Medicare beneficiaries that improve quality, coordinate care and reduce beneficiary and program costs. These protections will extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund to pay for care for future generations.

• Eliminates the "donut-hole" gap in coverage for prescription drugs. The President’s plan begins immediately to close the Medicare "donut hole" - a current gap in its drug benefit - by providing a 50 percent discount on brand-name prescription drugs for seniors who fall into it. In 2007, over 8 million seniors hit this coverage gap in the standard Medicare drug benefit. By 2019, the President’s plan will completely close the "donut hole". The average out-of-pocket spending for such beneficiaries who lack another source of insurance is $4,080.

If You Don't Have Insurance

Quality, Affordable Choices for All Americans

• Creates a new insurance marketplace – the Exchange –that allows people without insurance and small businesses to compare plans and buy insurance at competitive prices. The President’s plan allows Americans who have health insurance and like it to keep it. But for those who lose their jobs, change jobs or move, new high quality, affordable options will be available in the exchange. Beginning in 2013, the Exchange will give Americans without access to affordable insurance on the job, and small businesses one-stop shopping for insurance where they can easily compare options based on price, benefits, and quality.

• Provides new tax credits to help people buy insurance. The President’s plan will provide new tax credits on a sliding scale to individuals and families that will limit how much of their income can be spent on premiums. There will also be greater protection for cost-sharing for out-of-pocket expenses.

• Provides small businesses tax credits and affordable options for covering employees. The President’s plan will also provide small businesses with tax credits to offset costs of providing coverage for their workers. Small businesses who for too long have faced higher prices than larger businesses, will now be eligible to enter the exchange so that they have lower costs and more choices for covering their workers.

• Offers a public health insurance option to provide the uninsured and those who can’t find affordable coverage with a real choice. The President believes this option will promote competition, hold insurance companies accountable and assure affordable choices. It is completely voluntary. The President believes the public option must operate like any private insurance company – it must be self sufficient and rely on the premiums it collects.

• Immediately offers new, low-cost coverage through a national "high risk" pool to protect people with preexisting conditions from financial ruin until the new Exchange is created. For those Americans who cannot get insurance coverage today because of a pre-existing condition, the President’s plan will immediately make available coverage without a mark-up due to their health condition. This policy will offer protection against financial ruin until a wider array of choices become available in the new exchange in 2013.

For All Americans

Reins In the Cost of Health Care for Our Families, Our Businesses, and
Our Government

• Won’t add a dime to the deficit and is paid for upfront. The President’s plan will not add one dime to the deficit today or in the future and is paid for in a fiscally responsible way. It begins the process of reforming the health care system so that we can further curb health care cost growth over the long term, and invests in quality improvements, consumer protections, prevention, and premium assistance. The plan fully pays for this investment through health system savings and new revenue including a fee on insurance companies that sell very expensive plans.

• Requires additional cuts if savings are not realized. Under the plan, if the savings promised at the time of enactment don’t materialize, the President will be required to put forth additional savings to ensure that the plan does not add to the deficit.

• Implements a number of delivery system reforms that begin to rein in health care costs and align incentives for hospitals, physicians, and others to improve quality. The President’s plan includes proposals that will improve the way care is delivered to emphasize quality over quantity, including: incentives for hospitals to prevent avoidable readmissions, pilots for new "bundled" payments in Medicare, and support for new models of delivering care through medical homes and accountable care organizations that focus on a coordinated approach to care and outcomes.

• Creates an independent commission of doctors and medical experts to identify waste, fraud and abuse in the health care system. The President’s plan will create an independent Commission, made up of doctors and medical experts, to make recommendations to Congress each year on how to promote greater efficiency and higher quality in Medicare. The Commission will not be authorized to propose or implement Medicare changes that ration care or affect benefits, eligibility or beneficiary access to care. It will ensure that your tax dollars go directly to caring for seniors.

• Orders immediate medical malpractice reform projects that could help doctors focus on putting their patients first, not on practicing defensive medicine. The President’s plan instructs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to move forward on awarding medical malpractice demonstration grants to states funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality as soon as possible.

• Requires large employers to cover their employees and individuals who can afford it to buy insurance so everyone shares in the responsibility of reform. Under the President’s plan, large businesses – those with more than 50 workers – will be required to offer their workers coverage or pay a fee to help cover the cost of making coverage affordable in the exchange. This will ensure that workers in firms not offering coverage will have affordable coverage options for themselves and their families. Individuals who can afford it will have a responsibility to purchase coverage – but there will be a "hardship exemption" for those who cannot.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Who's Appalled at Those Appalled

I am appalled that the mainstream media has treated these paranoid aberrations as anything but paranoid aberrations.

President Obama gave a speech to school age children. Before he even gave the speech, the religious right, the ultra-conservative, the wingnuts of the world, mostly Republicans were appalled.

The President's address to kids actually was a pep talk.
The president charged students to find what they're good at and stick with it. He also encouraged every student to understand that they each have something to offer their nation. The president also said that support from parents and teachers won't matter if the kids don't take responsibility for their own success.

The speech didn't include any references to controversial issues, such as health care reform, although one student did ask the president why we don't have universal health care.

All the controversy over the address initially stemmed from a line where President Obama encouraged the students to "help the president." The White House revised that line before he spoke.

So why were Republicans appalled?

Did any Republican remember that Republican Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and George H.W. Bush both addressed school kids during their terms in office.

On April 15, 1907, Republican president Theodore Roosevelt issued a strong "Message to School Children" addressing the need for conservation and the importance of our environment. At the end of his message, President Roosevelt asked the youngest citizens to go out and help the president - by planting trees. Here's an excerpt:
We of an older generation can get along with what we have, though with growing hardship; but in your full manhood and womanhood you will want what nature once so bountifully supplied and man so thoughtlessly destroyed; and because of that want you will reproach us, not for what we have used, but for what we have wasted... Source: New York Times Archives - Roosevelt to Children
On October 1, 1991, on the eve of the 1992 campaign, President George HW Bush gave a speech at Alice Deal junior high school in DC. Bush specifically asked the students to "Let me know how you're doing. Write me a letter. I'm serious about this one. Write me a letter about ways you can help us achieve our goals." You can watch an excerpt by clicking here. And most famously, President George W. Bush was sitting in an elementary school classroom when he learned of the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Maybe they forgot that on November 14, 1988, President Ronald Reagan addressed the nation's schoolkids.
His address, including a 'Q & A', was pumped live, via CSPAN, into classrooms all around the country. Reagan grabbed this opportunity to push tax reform. Here's an excerpt:
Q. My name is Cameron Fitzhugh, and I'm from St. Agnes School in Alexandria, Virginia. I was wondering if you think that it's possible to decrease the national debt without raising the taxes of the public?

The President. I do. That's a big argument that's going on in government. And I definitely believe it is because one of the principal reasons that we were able to get the economy back on track and create those new jobs and all was we cut the taxes. We reduced them because, you see, the taxes can be such a penalty on people that there's no incentive for them to prosper and earn more and so forth because they have to give so much to the Government. And what we have found is that at the lower rates the Government gets more revenue. There are more people paying taxes because there are more people with jobs. And there are more people willing to earn more money because they get to keep a bigger share of it. Source: Reagan gave Obama-like speech to school children in 1988, Below the Beltway


And the Republican parents forcing truancy on their children that day? Probably none.

Can you imagine what the right's reaction would be if President Obama said something even remotely similar?
But what is even more appalling is that all the major networks and mainstream media treating these over-the-top ridiculous reactions to the President speaking as "news". I am appalled that the mainstream media has treated these paranoid aberrations as anything but paranoid aberrations.

The fear in the air is being elevated by the mainstream news as real instead of unsubstantiated right-wing rantings.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Our Built In Public Option: Medicare

Bill Moyers has a suggestion for President Obama. Here's an excerpt:

So here we are, wallowing in our dysfunction. Governed — if you listen to the rabble rousers — by a black nationalist from Kenya smuggled into the United States to kill Sarah Palin's baby. And yes, I could almost buy their belief that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, only I think he shipped them to Washington, where they've been recycled as lobbyists and trained in the alchemy of money laundering, which turns an old-fashioned bribe into a First Amendment right. ...

Come on, Mr. President. Show us America is more than a circus or a market. Remind us of our greatness as a democracy. When you speak to Congress next week, just come out and say it. ...

Here's a suggestion, Mr. President: ask Josh Marshall to draft your speech. Josh is the founder of the website He's a journalist and historian, not a politician. He doesn't split things down the middle and call it a victory for the masses. He's offered the simplest and most accurate description yet of a public insurance plan — one that essentially asks people: would you like the option — the voluntary option — of buying into Medicare before you're 65? Check it out, Mr. President.

Watch Bill Moyers or read the transcript here.

Moyers refers to Josh Marhall's idea of being able to buy into Medicare before the age of 65. Well, that's what Rep Andrew Weiner has also been saying. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) has emerged as a leader for a Medicare-for-all single-payer health care option.

Here's another article tight on point,
We already have a public option: It’s called Medicare.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Public Option is "Change We Can Believe In"

PETITION TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: "We worked so hard for real change. President Obama, please demand a strong public health insurance option in your speech to Congress. Letting the insurance companies win would not be change we can believe in."

"We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics. It will only grow louder. We’ve been asked to pause for a reality check. We’ve been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story of America, there’s never been anything false about hope." -- Barack Obama

HERE to Sign Petition ƒor the Public Option

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The 'GOP' has become the 'WP'

If you don't believe that the 'Grand Old Party' has become the 'Wingnut Party,' just consider the messages of three prominent Republicans.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)
Bachmann has claimed that health care reform is unconstitutional.

It is not within our power as members of Congress, it’s not within the enumerated powers of the Constitution, for us to design and create a national takeover of health care. Nor is it within our ability to be able to delegate that responsibility to the executive.

Of course she is dead wrong.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC)
DeMint claimed that health reform violates the Tenth Amendment and urged state legislators and governors to "champion individual freedom" by resisting the bill.

DeMint said he would love to see states go to court to invoke the Tenth Amendment: "If we had some states come together and say the only way to save this country is to push back."
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R)
Perry has endorsed "state sovereignty resolutions" that demand the federal government "cease and desist" enforcing many laws with which conservatives disagree.

Perry — who suggested in April at one of the right-wing “tea parties” that Texas may have to secede from the union — even went so far as threatening to invoke the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to resist health care reform and suggested other states would do the same.
Ian Millhiser in an article titled, Rally 'Round the "True Constitution" defines "tentherism."
Tentherism, in a nutshell, proclaims that New Deal-era reformers led an unlawful coup against the "True Constitution," exploiting Depression-born desperation to expand the federal government's powers beyond recognition. Under the tenther constitution, Barack Obama's health-care reform is forbidden, as is Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The federal minimum wage is a crime against state sovereignty; the federal ban on workplace discrimination and whites-only lunch counters is an unlawful encroachment on local businesses.
The Progress Report lends some historical perspective to this issue.
Indeed, while "birther" conspiracy theorists make increasingly outlandish attempts to dismantle President Obama's legitimacy, "tenther" constitutionalists like Bachmann, DeMint, and Perry hope to dismantle an entire century's worth of progressive legislation.

Tenthers derive their narrow vision of the Constitution from a strained reading of the Tenth Amendment, which provides that the Constitution contains an itemized list of federal powers and anything not contained in that list is beyond Congress' authority. In the tenthers' eyes, Congress' powers must all be read too narrowly to allow most federal statutes to exist. However, the tenther constitution bears little resemblance to the words of the document itself.

Contrary to tenther claims that federal spending programs like Medicare or Social Security are unconstitutional, Article I of the Constitution empowers Congress to "lay and collect taxes" and to "provide for...the general welfare of the United States," which unambiguously authorizes it to spend money in ways that benefit the nation.

Similarly, Congress' broad authority to enact regulatory schemes that "substantially affect interstate commerce" easily encompasses laws like the federal minimum wage and the requirement that businesses do not discriminate on the basis of race. As Roosevelt chided tenther-like conservatives from his era, "The Constitution of 1787 did not make our democracy impotent."
Where do other Republican politicians stand on the issue of radicalism in the Republican Party?
US House Representative Wally Herger, of California’s 2nd congressional district, expressed “enthusiastic approval” of a town-hall attendee who described himself as a “proud right-wing terrorist,”

Recently, Rex Rammell — a Republican candidate for governor in Idaho — joked to an audience that he’d like to hunt President Obama.
Even some Republicans have recently commented on this trend toward radicalism.

In April, 2009, Sen. Arlen Specter announced that he was switching parties to become a Democrat. In a statement released to the press, Specter explained that the GOP has left moderates behind and “has moved far to the right.”

Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right.
In May, 2009 on "Meet the Press," MSNBC's Joe Scarborough took issue with this popular yet obviously debatable theme:

[W]hen I hear Democrats like Arlen Specter and read editorialists like E.J. Dionne saying how liberal--or, or how conservative the Republican Party's become, they've got it backwards. We have not been conservative as a party, we've been radical.

UPDATE: The following article by Adele M. Stan, The Wing-Nut Code: What Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin Are Really Saying to Their Followers, states:

You thought they were just unhinged. But here's what they're really saying to the armed and dangerous.

The point is that when Beck throws up a graphic of a segmented snake as his project's mascot, or Palin speaks of her native land as the "sovereign" state of Alaska, they're blowing a kind of dog-whistle for the armed and paranoid who make up the right-wing, neo-militia "Patriot" movement and the broader "Tea Party" coalition.

The 10th Amendment movement is tied in with the Tea Party and patriot movements: On the Web site of the Tenth Amendment Center, one finds yet another version of the "Don't Tread On Me" flag, and links to 35 state groups identified as part of the patriot movement -- a number of them state chapters of Glenn Beck's 9-12 Project.

Flaws in Healthcare

In order to read Matt Taibbi's article in the Rolling Stone magazine, Sick and Wrong, you need to buy the magazine. But by clicking below you can see 3 videos.

In the first video, Taibbi explains the high administration costs of the present health care system. The second video talks about how the Democrats got on the defense on the issue of health care. The third video speaks to the issue of the "individual mandate" where insurance coverage is mandatory.

What this article also shows is that the healthcare bill that Congress is now considering is not the change that the American people need. The losers are the American people and the winners are the insurance companies, Big Pharma and the corporations with big money.
America’s disastrous health care system is responsible for incalculable amounts of illness, death, lost productivity and federal deficit — not to mention anxiety, anger and disgrace. And it’s not going to get fixed, writes Matt Taibbi in the new issue of Rolling Stone, because it’s encased in another failed system: the U.S. government. Rather than attempt to remedy the problem this summer, our government sat down and demonstrated its dizzying ineptitude. “We might look back on this summer someday and think of it as the moment when our government lost us for good,” writes Taibbi. “It was that bad.”

Taibbi breaks down the five steps Congress took to be sure no bill would pass — aiming low, gutting the public option, packing it with loopholes, providing no leadership and blowing the math — in his story, which is available on stands now. In a series of video interviews for, Taibbi explores one of our system’s most severe flaws, explains how the government wedged itself into an awkwardly damning position, and looks at how the proposed bill would change the ordinary American’s life.

Perhaps the biggest flaw in the American health care system is that 31 percent of costs are associated with administration and paperwork. Here Taibbi examines the easiest way to eliminate the red tape:

Taibbi on how the Democrats wound up on the defensive — and theories that the government struck a sideline deal with the pharmaceutical industry:

Inside the “individual mandate” that would require people to buy insurance and how the bill might make conditions worse than before:

Is anyone angry yet? You should be. Once again the American people are getting the shaft on healthcare while insurance companies will make more money than ever. Just thinking about it is enough to get you sick!

Rebuking Cheney's Torture Propoganda

Jeremy Scahill rebukes Dick Cheney's torture propaganda in seven points.

First of all, Dick Cheney has all sorts of nerve purporting to speak in defense of the CIA. His administration outed a senior CIA operative, Valerie Plame, in retaliation for her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, exercising his freedom of speech (because he exercised it to criticize the Bush administration’s lie-filled, one-way propaganda train to the Iraq war).

Second, CIA interrogators themselves have said that they believed that Cheney’s torture policy put individual CIA personnel in legal jeopardy.

Third, Dick Cheney showed utter contempt for the CIA when he went not once, not twice, but more than a dozen times to Langley to pressure analysts to fit intelligence to his political agenda. He and his top aide Scooter Libby were “attempting to pressure analysts on the subject of weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, according to Vincent Cannistraro, a former counterterrorism chief at the CIA. So when Cheney talks about being “offended as hell,” let’s remember how much faith Cheney had in the CIA in the lead up to the Iraq invasion.

Fourth, the tactics Cheney apparently loves were a violation of US law, international law and conventions that the US has ratified—including the Convention Against Torture ratified under the militant leftist regime of Ronald Reagan.

Fifth, there is no evidence—none—to suggest any of this torture produced any actionable intelligence. “I know specifically of reports that I read, that I saw, that lay out what we learned through the interrogation process and what the consequences were for the country,” Cheney told Sean Hannity back in April on Fox News. “I’ve now formally asked the CIA to take steps to declassify those memos so we can lay them out there and the American people have a chance to see what we obtained and what we learned and how good the intelligence was.”

Well, those documents were released last week.

One of the few people that had actually seen the documents to which Cheney was referring before they were released and had the courage to speak up was Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold. In May, he said: “I am a member of the Intelligence Committee, and I can tell you that nothing I have seen, including the two documents to which [Cheney] has repeatedly referred, indicates that the torture techniques authorized by the last administration were necessary or that they were the best way to get information out of detainees.” Now that the public has had access to these documents, it is clear, as Feingold said months ago, that Cheney was “misleading the American people.”

Sixth, at the end of the day, as Glenn Greenwald has pointed out, the debate about whether torture actually worked is not the central point here:

The debate over whether torture extracted valuable information is, in my view, a total sideshow, both because (a) it inherently begs the question of whether legal interrogation means would have extracted the same information as efficiently if not more so (exactly the same way that claims that warrantless eavesdropping uncovered valuable intelligence begs the question of whether legal eavesdropping would have done so); and (b) torture is a felony and a war crime, and we don’t actually have a country (at least we’re not supposed to) where political leaders are free to commit serious crimes and then claim afterwards that it produced good outcomes.

If we want to be a country that uses torture, then we should repeal our laws which criminalize it, withdraw from treaties which ban it, and announce to the world (not that they don’t already know) that, as a country, we believe torture is justifiable and just. Let’s at least be honest about what we are. Let’s explicitly repudiate Ronald Reagan’s affirmation that ”[n]o exceptional circumstances whatsoever … may be invoked as a justification of torture” and that “[e]ach State Party is required [] to prosecute torturers.”

Seventh, one last point about Dick Cheney and his little toadie Chris Wallace when they talk about how there hasn’t been another attack since 9-11. Remember toadie’s sarcastic words: “I just want to point out to the audience that it is purely coincidental that this country has not been attacked since 9/11.” How about the more than 4,300 US troops that have been killed in Iraq as a result of the Bush-Cheney lie factory? That is more American dead than perished on 9/11. Those young men and women would not have died in Iraq had it not been for the policies of Bush and Cheney.

Lobbying and Lies

Paul Krugman's Op Ed piece in the New York Times is about Missing Richard Nixon. But what it really hits on is how the Republican Party has veered so far to the right that even Richard Nixon's ideology, in retrospect, seems responsible compared to the GOP of today.

So what happened to the days when a Republican president could sound so nonideological, and offer such a reasonable proposal?

Part of the answer is that the right-wing fringe, which has always been around — as an article by the historian Rick Perlstein puts it, “crazy is a pre-existing condition” — has now, in effect, taken over one of our two major parties. Moderate Republicans, the sort of people with whom one might have been able to negotiate a health care deal, have either been driven out of the party or intimidated into silence. Whom are Democrats supposed to reach out to, when Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who was supposed to be the linchpin of any deal, helped feed the “death panel” lies?

But there’s another reason health care reform is much harder now than it would have been under Nixon: the vast expansion of corporate influence.

Given the combination of G.O.P. extremism and corporate power, it’s now doubtful whether health reform, even if we get it — which is by no means certain — will be anywhere near as good as Nixon’sproposal, even though Democrats control the White House and have a large Congressional majority.

And what about other challenges? Every desperately needed reform I can think of, from controlling greenhouse gases to restoring fiscal balance, will have to run the same gantlet of lobbying and lies.

The Patient is the Grass

...Getting Trampled On

How do you deliver care in a profit driven system? That is the real question!!!!

From Bill Moyers Journal: MONEY DRIVEN MEDICINE

August 28, 2009

The film MONEY-DRIVEN MEDICINE reveals how a profit-hungry "medical-industrial complex" has turned health care into a system where millions are squandered on unnecessary tests, unproven and sometimes unwanted procedures and overpriced prescription drugs.

In this broadcast we will share with you a film based on Maggie Mahar's work. The book and the film couldn't be more timely as our country wrestles with what to do about money-driven medicine.

MAGGIE MAHAR: It's interesting how hospitals advertise. Who would make a decision about where to have their baby or where to be treated for cancer based on an ad they saw on TV?

Hospitals are not advertising to the patient. Hospitals are advertising to doctors. Hospitals don't have patients, doctors have patients. And hospitals want doctors to bring their well-healed, well-insured patients to that hospital.

Hospitals have engaged in, what many call, a "medical arms race".

Typically, 4 or 5 hospitals within a 5 mile, 10 mile, 15 mile radius will all buy the same technology because they're competing with each other.

One time Dr. Donald Berwick called a hospital in Texas and said, "We've heard you have a very good procedure for treating a particular disease. We'd like to learn more about your protocol so other hospitals can use it." And the hospital said, "We can't tell you that. It's a competitive advantage in our market that we're better at treating this disease and it is very lucrative. So this is proprietary information."

The patient isn't the center of a collaboration. The patient is the victim of a competition. There's a saying in Swahili, "When the elephants fight the grass is trampled." The patient is essentially the grass.

A physician takes an oath to put his patient's interests ahead of his own. A corporation is legally bound to put its shareholders' interests first. And this is part of the inherent conflict between health care as a business, part of our economy, and health care as a public good and part of our society. Health care has become a growth industry. That means higher health care bills. That means more and more middle class people cannot afford health care in this country

BILL MOYERS: MONEY-DRIVEN MEDICINE, a film produced by Alex Gibney, Peter Bull and Chris Matonti; directed by Andy Fredericks; and based on Maggie Mahar's book of the same name.

Take a look at this recent cover of BUSINESS WEEK. Reporters Chad Terhune and Keith Epstein write that the CEO's of the giant insurance companies should be smiling - their lobbyists have already won. Quote: "no matter what specifics emerge in the voluminous bill Congress may send to President Obama this fall, the insurance industry will emerge more profitable."

And remember that television ad Barack Obama made as a candidate for president?

BARACK OBAMA: The pharmaceutical industry wrote into the prescription drug plan that Medicare could not negotiate with drug companies. And you know what, the chairman of the committee who pushed the law through went to work for the pharmaceutical industry making $2 million a year. Imagine that. That's an example of the same old game-playing in Washington. I don't want to learn how to play the game better. I want to put an end to the game-playing.
BILL MOYERS: Now look at this recent story in the LOS ANGELES TIMES. Lo and behold, since the election, the pharmaceutical industry's $2 million dollars a year superstar lobbyist Billy Tauzin has morphed into President Obama's pal. Tauzin says the President has promised not to pressure the drug companies to negotiate with the government for lower drug prices and has agreed not to allow cheaper drugs to be imported from Canada or Europe - contrary to the position taken by candidate Obama…

Each of these stories illuminates the scarlet thread that runs through Maggie Mahar's book - the story of how today's market-driven medical system gives Wall Street investors life and death control over our health care, turning medicine into a profit machine instead of a social service to meet human need. That's the conflict at the heart of next month's showdown in Washington.

I'm Bill Moyers. See you next time.
Money-Driven Medicine
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