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Textbooks as Weapons in Texas' 'Education War'

Saturday, July 25, 2009

By Gabriel Voiles
FAIR

The United Farm Workers have a new action alert (7/24/09) about "an education war going on in Texas" they note has "major national implications as Texas is such a major purchaser of textbooks and their state’s required curriculum drives the content of textbooks produced nationwide."

Specifically, "the Texas State Board of Education is currently preparing to adopt new social studies curriculum standards" informed by certain "experts" who:
Are arguing that the state’s social studies and history textbooks are giving "too much attention" to some of the most prominent civil rights leaders in U.S. History, namely Cesar Chávez and Thurgood Marshall.

David Barton, one of these "experts," claimed Cesar Chávez "lacks the stature, impact and overall contributions of so many others." Another of these "experts" evangelical minister Peter Marshall said, "To have Cesar Chávez listed next to Ben Franklin"--as in the current standards--"is ludicrous." He went on to say Chávez is not a role model who "ought to be held up to our children as someone worthy of emulation."

The same "expert" wants to eliminate Thurgood Marshall, a prominent civil rights leader who argued the landmark case that resulted in school desegregation and was the first African-American U.S. Supreme Court justice. He wrote that the late justice is "not a strong enough example" of an important historical figure to be presented to Texas students.

To the UFW, complaints of an "over-representation of minorities" are particularly "ironic in light of the changing demographics of our country"--where, "sadly, Latino and African-American children have the highest drop-out rates in the country."...(Remainder.)

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Cult Evangelist Tony Alamo Convicted on Sex Charges

By Larry Keller
Hatewatch at SPLC


Anti-Catholic, pro-polygamy evangelist Tony Alamo will likely be preaching from behind prison walls for the rest of his life, and perhaps nobody is happier than his stepdaughter, Christiaon Coie.

“I started crying and screaming,” Coie told Hatewatch, upon hearing that Alamo was convicted today by a federal court jury in Texarkana, Ark., on all 10 counts of transporting underage girls across state lines for sex. Alamo, 74, faces up to 175 years in prison, plus fines that could total $2.5 million.

Coie says she was raped by Alamo when she was younger. “I’ve been in this fight, trying to stop him, for nearly 40 years.”

Alamo was charged last year with transporting girls to other states over a period of 14 years for sexual purposes. His lawyers argued that Alamo took the girls places on church business, not for sex. Alamo did not testify at his trial but did fall asleep a few times during closing arguments. “I’m just one of the prophets that went to jail for the Gospel,” he shouted to reporters as he was led out of the courthouse. He will be sentenced in six to eight weeks.

“I believe he will spend the rest of his natural life in prison,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyra Jenner, who prosecuted Alamo, told Hatewatch.

Alamo’s birth name is Bernie LaZar Hoffman. He met Coie’s mother, Susan, when Coie was in her teens. The couple began Tony Alamo Christian Ministries in 1969 in California. Followers say they were disciplined with beatings and food deprivation, and threatened with losing their spouses and children. His dogma included blaming the Catholic church for everything from communism and Nazism to the Jonestown massacre. He compared the Vatican to a prostitute. He also ranted about gays and the government....(Remainder.)

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Wingnut Rep. Virginia Foxx: ‘There Are No Americans Who Don't Have Health Care’

By Matt Corley
Think Progress

Earlier today, several female Republican House members held a press conference today to attack President Obama's push for health insurance reform. "The Democrat way is not reforming healthcare, it's destroying it," announced Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN).

Perhaps the most attention-grabbing moment occurred when Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) announced that "there are no Americans who don't have healthcare:"
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) disputes President Obama's claim that 47 million Americans lack healthcare. "There are no Americans who don't have healthcare. Everybody in this country has access to healthcare," she says. "We do have about 7.5 million Americans who want to purchase health insurance who can not afford it," she says, urging Congress to adopt a new plan for healthcare reform that wouldn't "destroy what is good about healthcare in this country" and "give the government control of our lives."
Listen here:




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Rep. Jack “Totally Insane” Kingston (R-GA) Delivers Loony Conspiracy Theory Rant About Health Care Reform

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DNC Ad Takes on Jim DeMint's “Waterloo” Comment in SC

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A Note to Blue Dog Democrats on Health Care & Pascal's Wager

By Nate Silver
FiveThirtyEight


Michael Barone tends to be either very right or very wrong. Today, I think he's wrong:
Obama and congressional Democratic leaders are blaming Republicans for their problem. Obama noted that Republican Sen. Jim DeMint and Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol want to "kill" the Democratic bills. But the Blue Dogs' and Polis' letters showed that the mortal threat comes from elected Democrats. Twenty-nine of the 57 letter signers defeated or replaced Republicans in 2006 or 2008. Thirty-three of them represent districts carried by John McCain in 2008.

What we're seeing is the people speaking through their politicians. Obama and many Democrats assumed that the financial crisis would predispose most Americans to favor a larger and much more expensive government than we ever have had before.
Contra Barone's assertion, there's not really any evidence that health care reform is unpopular in the Blue Dog districts. Although there are exceptions, most of the Blue Dog districts are fairly poor. A Quinnipiac poll released earlier this month suggested that while 53 percent of voters overall think "think it's the government's responsibility to make sure that everyone in the United States has adequate health care", 61 percent of voters making under $50,000 do. Also, while Quinnipaic did not break out the results for moderate and conservative Democrats, which are plentiful in these Districts, one can reasonably infer them. In this poll, 79 percent of liberals agreed with the statement as did 77 percent of Democrats -- not a very big difference. Since almost all liberals are Democrats and about half of all Democrats are liberals, that suggests that support for health care reform among non-liberal Democrats is something like 75 percent....(Remainder.)

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Glenn Beck Wets His Diaper Over Health Care “Millionaire Tax”

By Alex
News Hounds


On Monday night, in yet another display of histrionics over the fact that Fox's America bears no resemblance to the real America, Glenn Beck threw his toys out of the playpen after Nancy Pelosi suggested that he might have to share them. His tantrum was over the so-called "Millionaire's tax" under consideration as a source of funding for national health care. Needless to say, multi-millionaire Beck presented only one point of view on a complex issue – his own – and even that was poorly done, long on sarcasm and self-pity and short on facts. Video of the spoiled brat in action, along with a few points for discussion by the grownups, after the jump.

Beck tried to scare the entire nursery into crying along with him right from the start : Obama's making America a whole lot crappier! A wannabe European socialist wonderland! Taxing the rich! Pelosi the witch! Wahhhhhhhh! No transcript can do justice to the eye-rolling, desk-lolling, hand-waving and grimacing that accompanied Beck's child star turn at playing Drama Queen. Hold your nose and watch the video.

The grownups understand that there is still much to discuss and understand about the health care bill. Some people may have genuine concerns about the speed with which Obama is trying to get this bill through the House, and yes, funding a national health care plan while enacting a radical overhaul of insurance and service delivery is fraught with risk, including the "unknown unknowns" that lurk below the surface in any new venture. But according to babbling Beck, there's nothing to discuss. The United States will be "screwed" if the bill passes, because Obama/Pelosi's real agenda is about "convincing you to give the shaft to someone else" (translation: "Ohhhhh, poor me! Poor me!") for the power and control of SOCIALISM. What's to discuss? Taxing the rich will kill their incentive to get richer, and cost Americans their jobs! Cry, babies, cry!!!!...(Remainder.)


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Family of Hate

What kind of parents take kids on vacation to picket Walter Cronkite’s funeral, telling mourners yesterday he will burn in hell? John Avlon tags along with the sick clan behind the Westboro Church.

By John Avlon
The Daily Beast


What are you doing for your family’s summer vacation? Shirley Phelps-Roper decided to take her two daughters to New York City from Topeka, Kansas. To protest outside Walter Cronkite’s funeral yesterday. They even had a fancy sign made up that said “Cronkite in Hell.”

“He’s in hell right now,” eagerly explains 23-year-old Megan, as mourners entered St. Bartholomew’s Church across Park Avenue. Her mom told me that Cronkite “had a platform to influence people in the right direction and he failed to do that. He chose to worship the flag and not God.” Also, he was a “fag-lover.” It says it right there on their press release: “We protest all this holy Cronkite worship. He was no hero to God. On his Cronkite Watch, America was surrendered to the fag-agenda. Ergo, Cronkite is now in Hell. And that’s the way it is. God hates Cronkite.”

The Phelps-Ropers are the founding family behind the Westboro Baptist Church. You might have heard of their practice of protesting at soldier’s funerals, where signs range from “God Hates Fags” to “God Hates America”—apparently because we don’t hate quite enough for Westboro’s tastes. Not surprisingly, their clique is designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and other organizations. But they see themselves as something of a tough-love organization. They’re on a family trip to spread the word of a vengeful God. “Our only message is love God and he’ll bless you,” says Shirley. “Disobey God and he’ll destroy you.”...(Remainder.)

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Barack Obama Is A "Fox," Not a "Hedgehog," and Thus More Likely To Get It Right

By John W. Dean
FindLaw


Watching President Obama"s prime-time press conference on health care with a copy of Philip Tetlock's Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? in my lap made me realize that we truly do have a "fox" in the Oval Office, and that he replaced a "hedgehog." Based on Professor Tetlock"s decades of non-partisan and apolitical testing and analysis, he found that "foxes," in fact, have better political judgment than "hedgehogs" -- a crucial distinction as having such judgment has never been more important for a president. Let me explain.

Expanding The Fox and Hedgehog Metaphor


Sir Isaiah Berlin, political philosopher and historian of ideas, observed in his classic essay "The Fox and the Hedgehog" that a fundamental difference that may divide human thinking is that some people think like foxes, those cunning creatures who know many things, while others think like headstrong hedgehogs, those persistent critters who know one big thing.

Berlin illuminated his metaphor by explaining that hedgehogs "relate everything to a single, universal, organizing principle in terms of which alone all that they are and say has significance." Foxes, on the other hand, "pursue many ends, often unrelated and even contradictory, … their thought is scattered or diffused, moving on many levels, seizing upon the essence of a vast variety of experiences and objects."

"Without too much fear of contradiction," Berlin added, the group of renowned hedgehogs could include Dante, Plato, Lucretius, Pascal, Hegel, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Ibsen and Proust; while foxes might include Shakespeare, Herodotus, Aristotle, Montaigne, Erasmus, Moliere, Goethe, Pushkin, Balzac and Joyce.

With no fear of contradiction, Barack Obama can be described as a fox and George W. Bush as clearly a hedgehog. It is more difficult than I thought to describe all modern American presidents as either foxes or hedgehogs, but labeling FDR, JFK, and Clinton as foxes and LBJ and Reagan as hedgehogs is not likely to be contested. Less clear is how to categorize Truman, Nixon, Carter and Bush I. But Obama and Bush II are prototypical of these labels....(Remainder.)

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Jon Steward: GOP's Anti-Health Reform Plan ‘a Dildo Rolled in Glitter’

By David Edwards and Stephen Webster
The Raw Story
Video: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Comedy Central©

Attempting to make sense of what he called "scary-looking, disingenuous healthcare reform pop-art" on Thursday night, Daily Show host Jon Stewart zeroed in on perhaps the best analogy so far for the Republicans' latest anti-health reform strategy: A dildo rolled in glitter.

Stewart was speaking specifically about the nonsensical, intentionally confusing "flowchart" created by the GOP which they say illustrates the complexity of President Obama's proposals.

"[And it] somehow found its way to Fox News, where it's treated as intellectually-honest gospel," jibed Stewart.

"I call it candy-land," said one Fox host standing before the chart which loomed large on a massive screen behind him. "I don't know what that means. You have this thing and that thing," he said as he drew large, red circles on the chart for no apparent reason. "And what's that? Well, that's a lot of circles!"

It went on, next with a mysterious, meaningless blue marker: "Let's see if we can get through candy-land through the gumdrop mountains to your doctor! You gotta go over here, gotta do that, gotta do this, go over here, over here, now I'm lost, don't know where I am and then, woah!"

"The Republicans' ideas say," continued the Fox Host, "what if you just started with the doctors and went straight to the consumers? And what would you have? Well, you would have straight-forward healthcare."

However, the host failed to mention that the GOP has apparently decided against proposing any ideas for reform, according to the leader of the Republicans' "Health Care Solutions Group," who argued that two competing plans would confuse the American people....(Remainder.)



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LGBT Civil Rights Movement: Part Four: What Now?

By David Mixner
DavidMixner.com


Where is the right place to put your energies on behalf of the LGBT civil rights movement? The only right place is where you feel in your heart and mind affords the best use of your talents. The only wrong place is to do absolutely nothing and sit on the sidelines while history is being made by LGBT community. That indeed would be a tragedy for us and for you.

There are so many options an individual, straight or gay, can put their time and resources toward. Some might chose the political path, others the grassroots and others work within the legal system. They all are needed and appropriate places for one's time. However we choose to participate we should always have foremost in our minds - "Is this good for the community or am I doing this to please others?" or "How has this worked in the past and can I learn from history?" and finally, "Will the gift of my talent be used effectively and wisely?"

Please don't waste your time telling others what they have to do. If you disagree with their approach, move on and find the correct place for yourself. If you can't find anything that you believe is effective, then create and innovate something new. Don't wait for others to lead exactly as you want them to lead. Step to the front on your own and see how others respond. If they are attracted to your leadership then grow wisely and if they aren't, take another look at how you are proceeding. It is really that simple.

There are places where all of us are needed and if you are comfortable with them, join in and help make them successful. Let me share just a few and please feel free to add any other in the comments section at the end....(Remainder.)

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Cheney Pressured Bush to Authorize Use of Military On U.S. Soil

By Jason Leopold
The Public Record


Former Vice President Dick Cheney Cheney pressured George W. Bush and other top administration officials to deploy U.S. soldiers to a Buffalo NY suburb to arrest suspected terrorists, according to a report.

Using American soldiers for domestic law enforcement purposes would have been unprecedented. The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 generally prohibits the armed forces from acting in a law enforcement capacity.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”

“Some of the advisers to President George W. Bush, including Vice President Dick Cheney, argued that a president had the power to use the military on domestic soil to sweep up the terrorism suspects, who came to be known as the Lackawanna Six, and declare them enemy combatants,” says a report published Friday evening in the New York Times.

Bush ultimately opposed the idea.

But Cheney, according to the Times said a 37-page Oct. 23, 2001 legal opinion prepared by John Yoo, the former deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), authorized the president to use the military for domestic matters. Yoo’s legal opinion–“Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the United States”–was declassified and released along with other OLC memos in April....(Remainder.)

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President Obama Weekly Address: Health Insurance Reform, Small Business and Your Questions

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Two-Year Delay for Joint Strike Fighter



By David Axe
Danger Room @ Wired.com


The Obama administration’s apparently successful campaign to end production of the F-22 stealth fighter hinged on at least one very big assumption: that the newer F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (pictured) would more than make up for a curtailed Raptor fleet. “It [the F-35] is a versatile aircraft, less than half the total cost of the F-22, and can be produced in quantity with all the advantages produced by economies of scale — some 500 will be bought over the next five years, more than 2,400 over the life of the program,” Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said in a speech in Chicago on July 16.

Problem is, Gates’ assertions might be wrong, if one recent internal Pentagon report holds true. The Joint Estimate Team “determined that the fighter won’t be able to move out of the development phase and into full production until 2016,” CQ’s Josh Rogin noted. The F-35 program office has promised full production in 2014, ramping up to around a jet per day. The delay is due to slower-than-expected progress in flight testing. The test flight goal for the current fiscal year is 317 sorties, Bill Sweetman revealed. “The total so far … is more like 30 flights, with a little more than two months to go.”

The Air Force’s plans for the F-35 don’t allow for much wiggle room. Many F-15s, F-16s and A-10s fly under restrictions due to age-related structural problems. Gates tapped 250 of the oldest jets for retirement, this year — for the first time dropping the Air Force below its requirement for 2,250 fighters. “Every day without a solution, this situation becomes more and more urgent,” Air Guard Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt told Congress....(Remainder.)

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The Big Lie of Afghanistan

Inquiries into the 954 deaths in police custody since 1990 have all proved fruitless – and then this historic case comes along

By Malalai Joya
The Guardian


In 2005, I was the youngest person elected to the new Afghan parliament. Women like me, running for office, were held up as an example of how the war in Afghanistan had liberated women. But this democracy was a facade, and the so-called liberation a big lie.

On behalf of the long-suffering people of my country, I offer my heartfelt condolences to all in the UK who have lost their loved ones on the soil of Afghanistan. We share the grief of the mothers, fathers, wives, sons and daughters of the fallen. It is my view that these British casualties, like the many thousands of Afghan civilian dead, are victims of the unjust policies that the Nato countries have pursued under the leadership of the US government.

Almost eight years after the Taliban regime was toppled, our hopes for a truly democratic and independent Afghanistan have been betrayed by the continued domination of fundamentalists and by a brutal occupation that ultimately serves only American strategic interests in the region.

You must understand that the government headed by Hamid Karzai is full of warlords and extremists who are brothers in creed of the Taliban. Many of these men committed terrible crimes against the Afghan people during the civil war of the 1990s.

For expressing my views I have been expelled from my seat in parliament, and I have survived numerous assassination attempts. The fact that I was kicked out of office while brutal warlords enjoyed immunity from prosecution for their crimes should tell you all you need to know about the "democracy" backed by Nato troops....(Remainder.)

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The First Lady Celebrates the National Design Awards


By The White House

The First Lady celebrated the 10th anniversary of the National Design Awards at the White House today. The awards are part of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, and recognize design excellence, innovation and public impact. The awards were launched at the White House in 2000 as an official project of the White House Millennium Council.  Earlier in the day, the Cooper-Hewitt celebrated the awards with free public programs exploring design.  The programs were moderated by White House officials, and were held at museums around the Mall....(Remainder.)

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McCain Campaign Investigated & Dismissed Obama Citizenship Rumors

Frivolous 'birther' lawsuits persist, fueling conspiracy theories

By David Weigel
The Colorado Independent


In the final months of the 2008 presidential race, Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) campaign learned of a lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania that asked the state to strip Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) of the Democratic nomination on suspicion that he was not an American citizen. The complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief was filed by Phil Berg, a former deputy state attorney general who left government in 1990 for a series of gadfly political campaigns. His last round of notoriety had come when he filed RICO complaints against George W. Bush, Saddam Hussein and multiple members of the Bush administration for “accountability” for the 9/11 attacks. Still, Berg’s complaint had gotten glancing local media attention, and the Democratic National Committee’s counsel had filed a motion to dismiss it. One lawyer who was doing some work for the campaign was tasked with reading Berg’s lawsuit and gauging its chances of success.

“The conversation was along the lines of ‘this is idiotic, but explain to me why,’” said the lawyer, who spoke under condition of anonymity to TWI. “I looked at whether the lawsuit was going to be dismissed. I said yes.”

Berg’s main problem was the one that has bedeviled the the small, but growing, number of lawyers and amateur attorneys who have filed frivolous lawsuits against President Obama on the “question” of his American citizenship. He and they have run up against the doctrine of standing, which requires plaintiffs to prove that they have been or will be harmed by the law that they’re challenging. Like the people who challenged McCain’s citizenship in 2008 and 2000, or the people who challenged Dick Cheney’s right to run for vice president because he, like George W. Bush, resided in Texas, “birther” plaintiffs have failed again and again to get their cases heard because they lack standing....(Remainder.)

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Rumors Surrounding Barack Obama's Citizenship Status

One by one, they tumble into line

By Michael Tomasky
The Guardian


Here's the New Republic linking to Taegan Goddard linking to Dave Wiegel (who's the one who's actually doing the legwork) on how the McCain campaign looked into but dismissed the allegations that Obama was not a citizen. The man being quoted here is McCain campaign lawyer Trevor Potter:
We saw rumors, but nothing that could be sourced to evidence. There were no statements and no documents that suggested he was born somewhere else. On the other side, there was proof that he was born in Hawaii. There was a certificate issued by the state's Department of Health, and the responsible official in the state saying that he had personally seen the original certificate. There was a birth announcement in the Honolulu Advertiser, which would be very difficult to invent or plant 47 years in advance.
Sigh. It appears Potter has been drinking the Kool Aid too. He fails to understand dialectics, the long view of history those on the hard left are capable of taking, the patience they can show once they know they've hatched the perfect plot. To that cohort, 47 years is the mere blink of an eye.

Consider this.

In 1961, Bill Ayers was already 17, already a radical. He has never, despite being given ample opportunity to do so, disproven speculation that he celebrated his 17th birthday in Honolulu with his family. And conveniently, the Advertiser "no longer maintains" records about who placed birth announcements in 1961. To this day, I'm told that if you throw down a queen of diamonds on a table in front of Ayers, a blank look overtakes his face and he immediately begins making travel preparations for Hawaii. I trust you're now beginning to see reason....(Remainder.)

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Conyers Wants Criminal Probe of Bush 'Abuses'

By Ken Thomas
Associated Press via Google News


WASHINGTON — The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee on Friday urged Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special counsel to examine potential abuses by former President George W. Bush's administration.

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., said in a speech to the National Press Club that Holder "must appoint a special counsel to review the Bush administration abuses of power and misconduct. A criminal probe — he's got to do that."

Conyers' committee has sought an investigation of Bush administration moves criticized by Democrats, including its methods of interrogating foreign detainees, use of warrantless wiretaps, alleged retribution against critics, and allegations that officials intentionally misused intelligence.

He said the criminal probe should be accompanied by a "9/11-type panel" to gather facts and make recommendations on preventing the misuse of power....(Remainder.)

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You're Appointing Who? Please Obama, Say It's Not So!

By Jeffrey Smith
The Huffington Post


The person who may be responsible for more food-related illness and death than anyone in history has just been made the US food safety czar. This is no joke.

Here's the back story.

When FDA scientists were asked to weigh in on what was to become the most radical and potentially dangerous change in our food supply -- the introduction of genetically modified (GM) foods -- secret documents now reveal that the experts were very concerned. Memo after memo described toxins, new diseases, nutritional deficiencies, and hard-to-detect allergens. They were adamant that the technology carried "serious health hazards," and required careful, long-term research, including human studies, before any genetically modified organisms (GMOs) could be safely released into the food supply.

But the biotech industry had rigged the game so that neither science nor scientists would stand in their way. They had placed their own man in charge of FDA policy and he wasn't going to be swayed by feeble arguments related to food safety. No, he was going to do what corporations had done for decades to get past these types of pesky concerns. He was going to lie.

Dangerous Food Safety Lies

When the FDA was constructing their GMO policy in 1991-2, their scientists were clear that gene-sliced foods were significantly different and could lead to "different risks" than conventional foods. But official policy declared the opposite, claiming that the FDA knew nothing of significant differences, and declared GMOs substantially equivalent....(Remainder.)

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Why the Blue Dog Democrats Will Lose Too if Obama Loses on Health Care



Centrist Democrats think that going slow on health care is good politics—but if Obama loses, they lose, too.


By Michael Tomasky
New York Magazine
Illustration: Thomas Fuchs


If you want to know why the Democrats can’t seem to get their act together and pass health-care legislation, I invite you to look at things as they do, through numbers—their own and the president’s. If you do, you can see why some of them are nervous. Walt Minnick, for example, has every right to be jumpy. He’s a Democratic member of Congress from the First District of Idaho. A first-termer, he won his district—represented by Republicans since 1994—with 50.61 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, John McCain beat Barack Obama in the district by a whopping 62 to 36 percent.

Bobby Bright, down in Alabama—slightly shakier still. He won his seat with 50.23 percent, while Obama lost the district by about the same margin as Minnick’s. So several are legitimately scared.

But if you really study this question, you begin to notice something. For every narrow win by a Democrat in a district that McCain carried, there were roughly four landslides. Exactly 49 Democrats won seats in House districts where McCain outpolled Obama. More than four-fifths won their races by more than ten points—and the clear majority of those were on the happy side of out-and-out massacres.

Collin Peterson, the rural Minnesotan who was so pleased with himself for weakening the cap-and-trade bill? He won in 2008 with 72 percent of the vote. Mike Ross of Arkansas, who has led the Blue Dogs’ demand to put the brakes on health-care legislation? No Republican even challenged him in the election.

But ye gods! He got only 86 percent of the vote. No doubt the 14 percent who held out on him are daily plotting his demise....(Remainder.)

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Antibiotic-Resistant Salmonella Burgers, with a Side of Flame Retardants

By Tom Philpott
Grist.org


Sometimes I think I write a little too much about the meat industry. But the news it generates is so consistently grave, and so generally underreported, that I can’t resist. Moreover, outbreaks of  E. coli and MRSA  are really ecological markers—feedback that our way of producing meat is deeply unsustainable and really quite dangerous. We ignore these news flashes from our ecoystem at our peril. So I scribble on.

Here’s the latest: In Colorado, 14 people have fallen ill from hamburger meat tainted with antibiotic-resistent salmonella, the Boulder newspaper Daily Camera reports. (Note that antibiotic-resistent salmonella is distinct from MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant staph infection, increasingly associated with industrial meat production, that kills 20,000 Americans each year—more than AIDS.)

The bad burger came from a Denver-based supermarket chain called King Soopers, which has now recalled 466,236 pounds of it.

It’s Meat Wagon tradition to convert such abstract-seeming figures into what we like to call Quarter Pounder Equivalents. According to our proprietary computer models, King Soopers has officially released enough suspect beef for McDonald’s to crank out approximately 1.86 million Quarter Pounders.

In addition to Colorado, the tainted meat has been distributed to retail outlets in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. That’s our food system—concentrating pathogens and sending them far and wide....(Remainder.)

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Congressional Lawmakers Reject Bill to Strip Planned Parenthood Funding

Can I just say that I absolutely LOVE the fact that the failure of this bill is driving Marilyn Musgrave further over the edge?  Maybe, just maybe, if the Dems in Congress keep doing what's right, then this raving lunatic will have an epic Thelma & Louise moment and take herself out in a blaze of wingnut glory.

Pro-life activist groups make lurid accusations in campaign to pass bill

By John Tomasic
The Colorado Independent
Photo: Creative Commons-Jacked01 via Flickr

The U.S. House voted down an amendment to the Labor, Health, and Human Services bill on Friday that sought to ban all public funding for Planned Parenthood. Authored by pro-life Indiana Republican Rep. Mike Pence, the amendment was rejected 247 votes to 183.

The Pence amendment received the strong support of pro-life activist groups, including the members of the Susan B. Anthony List, which this week has sent out repeated “urgent action” dispatches that hinge on lurid allegations that Planned Parenthood is under “multiple investigations in several states” for “allowing sexual abuse of children to go unreported, as well as encouraging young girls to lie about their age in order to obtain an abortion.”

But the “investigations” are not police investigations and don’t involve legal authorities. Instead, they have been conducted by Lila Rose, who poses as an underage woman and visits Planned Parenthood clinics with a hidden camera. Her tapes of alleged wrongdoing have spurred no investigation by law enforcement, which discount them essentially as entrapment.

Former U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave of Colorado’s 4th Congressional District joined the Susan B. Anthony List in March to run its pro-life voter education effort. The hard-line social conservative lost her seat last year to Democrat Betsy Markey in a hard-fought campaign. In June, Musgrave made news by donating $50,000 left over from her failed election bid to the organization.

Markey voted against the amendment. Her spokesman, Ben Marter, said in a statement: “These are community health centers that provide preventative and primary care — in most cases to lower-income communities — like disease prevention, education and cancer screenings. Given the massive economic hardships Americans face right now, it’s not the time to be focusing on divisive issues like this.”...(Remainder.)

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The Great Tax Con Job

By Thom Hartmann
OpEd News


Republicans are using the T-word - taxes - to attack the Obama healthcare program. It's a strategy based in a lie.

A very small niche of America's uber-wealthy have pulled off what may well be the biggest con job in the history of our republic, and they did it in a startlingly brief 30 or so years. True, they spent over three billion dollars to make it happen, but the reward to them was in the hundreds of billions - and will continue to be.

As my friend and colleague Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks pointed out in a Daily Kos blog recently, billionaire Rupert Murdoch loses $50 million a year on the NY Post, billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife loses $2 to $3 million a year on the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, billionaire Philip Anschutz loses around $5 million a year on The Weekly Standard, and billionaire Sun Myung Moon has lost $2 to $3 billion on The Washington Times.

Why are these guys willing to lose so much money funding "conservative" media? Why do they bulk-buy every right-wing book that comes out to throw it to the top of the NY Times Bestseller list and then give away the copies to "subscribers" to their websites and publications? Why do they fund to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year money-hole "think tanks" like Heritage and Cato?

The answer is pretty straightforward. They do it because it buys them respectability, and gets their con job out there. Even though William Kristol's publication is a money-losing joke (with only 85,000 subscribers!), his association with the Standard was enough to get him on TV talk shows whenever he wants, and a column with The New York Times. The Washington Times catapulted Tony Blankley to stardom....(Remainder.)

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After the Breakup, What About the Lake House?



By Julie Scelfo
The New York Times
Photo:  Phil Mansfield (NYT)


STANFORDVILLE, N.Y. - IT was a perfect party — vodka lemonade on a dock overlooking a lake, dozens of close friends, a cool misty night in the country a couple of hours north of New York.

Inside, the house spoke of a passionate interest in style, and of a committed relationship. Silhouettes of the couple who owned the house hung on a wall in the master bedroom; the couple’s nickname — Benford — was spelled out in large letters leaning against a wall in the kitchen.

But the couple, Benjamin Dixon, 31, and Bradford Shellhammer, 33, who had planned the evening as a commitment ceremony, had broken up three months earlier. Still, with airplane tickets purchased by some of the guests, a catering deposit paid and a house they haven’t been able to sell, they figured it made sense to go ahead and have a party anyway.

Their tale of lost love has a familiar arc — love sparks, then blooms; lives intertwine; moments are lost and misunderstandings creep in; eventually the two begin to live as strangers — and an epilogue that has become increasingly familiar as well, as unwanted houses become prisons rather than cocoons....(Remainder.)

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T-T-T-Tennessee: The State is Bleeding Red with Right Wing Nut Jobs

Well at least we know where Crazytown is now.  Wow!




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Anti-Gay Hate Group Challenges Wisconsin DP Law

By Stacy Forster
Journal Sentinel


Madison — Supporters of Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions Thursday asked the state Supreme Court to declare a system of recognizing domestic partnerships unconstitutional.

Under a provision that was part of the budget Gov. Jim Doyle signed in June, couples will be able to apply for a declaration of domestic partnership with their county of residence starting next month.

The lawsuit filed against the state says that allowing such domestic partnerships establishes a legal status that resembles marriage - which the suit calls a violation of the state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and any identical or substantially similar legal status.

"Elected officials should never pass laws that violate the will of Wisconsin voters who legitimately amended the state constitution in a fair election," Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action and lead petitioner in the lawsuit, said in a statement. "This new domestic partnership scheme is a sneaky assault on marriage from those who are determined to redefine marriage in Wisconsin."

Doyle spokesman Lee Sensenbrenner said the domestic partnerships were about providing legal protections to same-sex couples, not marriage.

"This is simply a set of basic protections to ensure that people can get some simple, straightforward rules that help them," Sensenbrenner said. "No one ever set this up to be marriage."

Wisconsin will become the first state with a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions to put in place domestic partnerships for same-sex couples. It is also the first Midwestern state to legislatively extend legal protections to same-sex couples.

The registrations are expected to begin Aug. 3....(Remainder.)

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San Francisco Wants a Say in Prop 8 Lawsuit

By Bob Egelko
San Francisco Chronicle


SAN FRANCISCO -- The city of San Francisco asked a judge Thursday for permission to intervene in the federal lawsuit challenging California's ban on same-sex marriage, a request that may intensify the battle for control of the high-stakes litigation.
The leader of an organization that filed the suit against Proposition 8 has already accused established gay-rights groups of trying to undermine the case and promised to oppose their attempt to intervene. San Francisco raised the stakes Thursday by filing a similar motion with Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who has scheduled a hearing for Aug. 19.

The city would add "a unique local government perspective" to the case, along with its extensive legal experience in defending gay and lesbian rights, if allowed to intervene, City Attorney Dennis Herrera's office said in court papers.

The city and leading gay-rights groups have been allowed to file written arguments supporting the challenge to Prop. 8. But only the plaintiffs -two couples and an organization represented by attorneys Theodore Olson and David Boies, adversaries in the 2000 Bush vs. Gore presidential election case - have the right to direct the case, negotiate with defenders of Prop. 8 and file appeals.

The state Supreme Court upheld Prop. 8 in May as a state constitutional amendment overturning the court's year-old ruling that recognized same-sex marriage in California. Several days before the latest ruling, Olson and Boies filed their federal suit, arguing that Prop. 8 violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection of the law....(Remainder.)

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Fox News is Killing the Republican Party

By KingOneEye
Daily Kos


The case was made long ago that Fox News is a blight on the media map. It is bad for journalism. It is bad for Democracy. It is bad for America. A so-called "news" network that repeatedly misinforms, even deliberately disinforms, its audience is failing any test of public service embodied by an ethical press.

I, personally, have made the case for an embargo of Fox News by Democrats and progressives (see Starve the Beast: Part I, Part II, Part III), documenting via studied analysis that there is no affirmative value to appearing on Fox News - a network that has established itself as overtly hostile to the Democratic message and its messengers.

However, there is another side to this that has not been addressed previously...

Republicans might be well advised to avoid Fox News as well. There is a case to be made that Fox News is demonstrably harmful to the Republican Party. In fact, it may be the worst thing to happen to Republicans in decades. That may seem counter-intuitive when discussing Fox News, the acknowledged public relations division of the Republican Party. Fox has populated its air with right-wing mouthpieces and brazenly partisan advocates for a conservative Republican agenda. They read GOP press releases on the air verbatim as if they were the product of original research. They provide a forum where Republican politicians and pundits can peddle their views unchallenged. So how is this harmful to Republicans?

If all we were witnessing was the emergence of a mainstream conservative network that aspired to advance Republican themes and policies, there would not be much of note here. Most of the conventional media was already center-right before there was a Fox News. But Fox has corralled a stable of the most disreputable, unqualified, extremist, lunatics ever assembled, and is presenting them as experts, analysts, and leaders. These third-rate icons of idiocy are marketed by Fox like any other gag gift (i.e. pet rocks, plastic vomit, Sarah Palin, etc.). So while most Americans have never heard of actual Republican party bosses like House Majority Leader John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, posers like Joe the Plumber and Carrie Prejean have become household names....(Remainder.)

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Obama Claims 14,000 Lose Health Insurance Every Day

By PolitiFact
St. Petersburg Times


In his nationally televised press conference on July 22, 2009, President Barack Obama cited a dramatic statistic to emphasize the need for health care reform. He said, “If we don't act, 14,000 Americans will continue to lose their health insurance every single day.”
 
The White House told us the number came from a report published by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, and authored by researchers James Kvaal and Ben Furnas. A chart in the report was headlined, “14,000 People Became Uninsured Every Day in December and January.”
 
We wondered about the methodology and whether the December and January numbers were out of date. We couldn't reach the authors of the study (one has since joined the White House staff). But we tracked down Urban Institute health care scholar John Holahan, whose work was cited in the Center for American Progress study.
 
Holahan was the co-author, with A. Bowen Garrett, of the January 2009 study, “Rising Unemployment, Medicaid and the Uninsured,” published by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. That study provided the underpinning for the Center for American Progress report by estimating how many people can expect to lose their insurance when the national unemployment rate goes up.
 
Holahan and his co-author, using a baseline of 4.6 percent unemployment in 2007, calculated that 2.6 million people would lose coverage if the unemployment rate climbed to 7 percent; 3.7 million if it went to to 8 percent; 4.8 million at 9 percent; and 5.8 million at 10 percent.  The estimates took into account people who lost their jobs but then switched to a spouse’s plan or extended their coverage through COBRA, the federal law that guarantees people who lose their job can still get continued health coverage....(Remainder.)

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Racist Prick, Beck Claims Office of Minority Health Would Allow Doritos to Be Sued

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After Having Ass Handed to Him, Liddy Runs Into Loving Arms of Crazytown Resident Jerome Corsi

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Suicide Failure, Beck Says Obama Purposefully Tanking Economy to "Drive Teens" Into ACORN

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Even American Spectator's Bob Tyrrell Dismisses the Birthers

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MSNBC President Calls Birtherism "Racist"

By Media Matters

From a July 24 post on The New York Times' Media Decoder blog:
The conspiracy theorists who have claimed for more than a year that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen have found receptive ears among some mainstream media figures in recent weeks.

Despite ample evidence to the contrary, the country's most popular talk radio host, Rush Limbaugh, told his listeners Tuesday that Mr. Obama "has yet to have to prove that he's a citizen." Lou Dobbs of CNN said that Mr. Obama should do more to dispel the claims. Larry King, also of CNN, asked guests about it, and other media types, including the MSNBC hosts Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow, merrily mocked the controversy. NBC News even did a segment on the subject.

    [...]

"This smear was thoroughly debunked during the election," said Eric Burns, the president of Media Matters for America, a liberal media monitoring organization.

Remarkably, there is even a reference to Mr. Obama's birth in the "Births, Marriages, Deaths" column of the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper on Aug. 13, 1961. Still, the claims about Mr. Obama's citizenship persist among a small but vocal group, essentially portraying Mr. Obama as a foreigner who has managed to conceal his origins for nearly five decades.

"It's racist," said Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC. "It's racist. Just call it for what it is."
(Original.)

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Lou Completely Effin' Insane Dobbs Continues His Wingnut Lovefest

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CNN President Emails Dobbs Pronouncing Birther Story "Dead." Dobbs Won't Let it Go.

By Media Matters

After CNN President Jon Klein reportedly emailed information to the staff of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight that Klein said shows the "story" about President Obama's birth certificate "is dead," host Lou Dobbs noted that evidence -- which was a statement by the Hawaii Health Department that in 2001, paper records were replaced by electronic records -- on air as Klein instructed, but then asked CNN contributor Roland Martin: "When this could be dispelled so quickly, and -- and simply by producing [the birth certificate], why not do it?"

In the July 23 email to the Lou Dobbs Tonight staff, obtained by Mediabistro's TVNewser, Klein pointed to evidence debunking birther conspiracy theories that Dobbs "should be sure to cite" during that evening's broadcast. Specifically, Klein included in his email information from CNN's "political researchers" that stated "the state of Hawaii Health Department went paperless" in 2001, that the "[p]aper documents were discarded," and that "[t]he official record of Obama's birth is now an official ELECTRONIC record" [emphasis in original]. But while Dobbs did mention during his July 23 CNN show that "the state of Hawaii says it can't release a paper copy of the president's original birth certificate because they say the state government discarded the original document when the health department records went electronic," he nonetheless continued to question the version of Obama's birth certificate available online and argue that Obama should "produce" a valid birth certificate....(Remainder.)

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Captain Lou and the Birther Brigade

By Karl Frisch
Media Matters


Leave it to Lou Dobbs: If there's a right-wing conspiracy theory out there floating around on the Internets, he'll latch onto it like a pit bull. He may be past his prime, but he just won't let go. It must be tough for CNN to look on while Dobbs discredits "the most trusted name in news," one wild claim at a time. If there's a hook to the conspiracy even tacitly involving the immigration issue, well, you've just made Dobbs' day.

How can we forget his preoccupation with conspiracy theories about purported government plans for a "North American Union" between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada? Or his promotion of the nutty conspiracy that Mexicans plan to reconquer the American Southwest?

Over the past two weeks, however, Dobbs took things even further, pushing one of the most ludicrous conspiracy theories of the right-wing fringe: the notion that the authenticity of President Obama's birth certificate is in doubt.

Kicking things off on the July 15 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Dobbs aligned himself with the far-right birther movement, devoting substantial airtime to the issue of Obama's birth certificate, asserting repeatedly that Obama needs to "produce" it. Dobbs said that the birth certificate posted online by FactCheck.org "purporting to validate the president" has "some issues. ... I mean, it's peculiar." He also stated that he wants to see a "long form" birth certificate, which he called "the real deal." That same day on his CNN program, Dobbs brought up the issue again. Referring to the document that FactCheck.org posted, he said, "It is, in fact, the so-called short form, not the original document. It is really a document saying that the state of Hawaii has the real document in its possession."...(Remainder.)

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Rachel Maddow Mocks the Pig-Man for "Obama Has a Chip on His Shoulder" Comment

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Complete Out of Touch With Reality: Cramer & Scarborough Bitch About Taxing Wealthy for Health Care

By Media Matters

On the July 23 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough and CNBC host Jim Cramer both claimed that because Americans aspire to being rich themselves, they would not support proposals to finance health care reform by raising the taxes of upper-income people. In fact, several recent polls indicate that such a provision is supported by a majority of respondents.

The House Tri-Committee legislation, America's Affordable Health Choices Act, would establish a 1 percent tax on taxpayers filing joint returns with income exceeding $350,000 but not exceeding $500,000 per year, a 1.5 percent tax on income exceeding $500,000 but not exceeding $1 million per year, and a 5.4 percent tax on income exceeding $1 million per year, with married individual filings and other filings subject to a surtax of 50 percent and 80 percent of those amounts, respectively.

During the segment, Cramer claimed that President Obama is "short the votes" on health care because "[e]verybody in this country" wants "to be a millionaire" and doesn't "want to hear when I get there I'm gonna be taxed heavily." He added: "You can't go out with the millionaire's tax." Scarborough agreed, stating in part: "That's what a lot of people don't get about why the class warfare game doesn't work. Because -- who wants to be a millionaire? Who wants to be successful? Who believes they can do it? Just about everybody." Cramer concluded: "I am telling you that the American people who are not millionaires are the people who are gonna defeat this, because they really believe in what Joe just described."...(Remainder.)

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Ohio Repiglickin Re-Introduces Bill Making Abortion Illegal Without Permission from a Man

By Logan Murphy
Crooks and Liars

Ohio Republican John Adams has re-introduced a bill that would make it illegal for a woman to get an abortion without the written consent of the biological father:
An Ohio lawmaker has re-introduced legislation that would include a father's rights in the abortion decision-making process. Under Roe v. Wade, fathers are left out of the equation when a woman considers whether or not to have an abortion that would end the life of their child.

Rep. John Adams, a Republican from Sidney, wants to change that and the legislation he introduced today, House Bill 252, would require the biological father's consent before an abortion can be done.

Adams told the Daily Reporter newspaper that abortion centers would "need to get consent from the biological father" before the abortion can proceed and he called the measure a "father's right bill" to protect the interest of fathers who are given no say in the abortion process.

He also said the bill provides for criminal penalties for women seeking abortions who do not obtain consent properly.
Ladies, don't even think about trying to find a stand-in daddy, that will land you in the slammer, and if you don't know who the father is, you're just s*it out of luck:
"Providing a false biological father would be a first-degree misdemeanor the first time, which means not more than six months and jail, and a maximum $1,000 fine," Adams said. "And on the second occasion, providing false information would be considered a fifth-degree felony."

Adams told the newspaper that, in cases when the mother does not know the identity of the father, the abortion would be prohibited. Read on...
(Remainder.)

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Dr. David McKalip—Mr. Tea Party—Forwards Racist Obama Pic

By John Amato
Crooks and Liars


And the racism keeps on coming.
The election of our first black president has brought with it a strange proliferation of online racism among conservatives.

And we've got the latest example.

On Sunday night, Dr. David McKalip forwarded to fellow members of a Google listserv affiliated with the Tea Party movement the image below. Above it, he wrote: "Funny stuff."

Now, Tea Party activists trafficking in racist imagery are pretty much dog bites man. But McKalip isn't just some random winger. He's a Florida neurosurgeon, who serves as a member of the American Medical Association's House of Delegates.

He's also an energetic conservative opponent of health-care reform. McKalip founded the anti-reform group Doctors For Patient Freedom, as well as what seems to be a now defunct group called Cut Taxes Now. Last month he joined GOP congressmen Tom Price and Phil Gingrey, among others, for a virtual town hall to warn about the coming "government takeover of medicine." And in a recent anti-reform op-ed published in the
St. Petersburg Times, McKalip wrote that "Congress wants to create larger, government-funded programs for health care and more bureaucracy that ration care and impose cookbook medicine."
I wonder how his African American patients have recovered after he treats them?...(Original.)

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Elizabeth Edwards Shows How to Tell a Liar on Healthcare

By bluegal
Crooks and Liars


In an interview with Rachel Maddow, Elizabeth Edwards dropped this enormously helpful key on when to tell if an opponent to healthcare reform is lying:
Let me say to the American public: if you hear somebody saying, we can't afford healthcare reform, because...if they use any of these words: "socialization," or "government control of your healthcare decisions," or if they mention "England," "France," or "Canada," you can be assured that they are not telling you the truth. They are trying to scare you away from a plan that can make a real difference, not just in American families, but in the American economy as a whole.
Our friends at Sadly, No! take a look at the actual outcomes between the US and Canada. I don't think it will surprise you to see that the U.S. system doesn't measure up so well:

Circulatory disease deaths per 100,000:
  • Canada: 219
  • United States: 265
Child maltreatment deaths per 100,000:
  • Canada: 0.7
  • United States: 2.2
Digestive disease deaths per 100,000:
  • Canada: 17.4
  • United States: 20.5
Infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births
  • Canada: 5.08
  • United States: 6.3
Intestinal diseases death rate
  • Canada: 0.3%
  • United States: 7.3%
Proability of not reaching age 60:
  • Canada: 9.5%
  • United States: 12.8%
Read more at Sadly, No!...(Original.)

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Morning Joe: Rep Tom Price Cites "Non-Partisan" Study Group Funded By Health Insurance Company Panning Health Care Reform

By Nicole Belle
Crooks and Liars

This incident is a perfect illustration of how the right's noise machine is fooling the American people all over again, using easily debunked lies and misinformation, and how this very kind of irresponsible broadcasting—which they so often pretend is "journalism"—is empowering them to do it.
We came this close from having an honest discussion of health care reform this morning on Morning Joe. Not surprisingly, the "journalists" at the table dropped the ball, instead allowing two Republican congresspeople free airtime to lie to the American people once again. Hey GOP, where's your alternative plan again?

Republican Representatives Tom Price (MD--he's a doctor, you should listen to him!) and Dave Camp--having no constructive things to do to address Americans' health care concerns--appear on the Morning Joe show to field concern trolling, er...questions from no less than four "journalists" on health care. And Mike Barnicle gets the closest to actually digging for the truth when Rep. Price drops the name of The Lewin Group and Barnicle asks who funds The Lewin Group. Price deflects it with a mealy-mouthed answer about their foundation, but since he's a Republican and he's moving his lips, you gotta know he's a big fat liar:
The political battle over health-care reform is waged largely with numbers, and few number-crunchers have shaped the debate as much as the Lewin Group, a consulting firm whose research has been widely cited by opponents of a public insurance option.

To Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House Republican whip, it is "the nonpartisan Lewin Group." To Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee, it is an "independent research firm." To Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the second-ranking Republican on the pivotal Finance Committee, it is "well known as one of the most nonpartisan groups in the country."

Generally left unsaid amid all the citations is that the Lewin Group is wholly owned by UnitedHealth Group, one of the nation's largest insurers.

(Remainder.)

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