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Messing With Texas' Textbooks

Saturday, August 22, 2009

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly

When we last checked in with the Texas Board of Education, conservatives were working on downplaying the contributions of civil rights leaders in social studies curricula. In particular, an evangelical minister tapped as an "expert" for state officials, questioned whether former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall should be presented to Texas students as an important historical figure.

Officials did, however, want to add instruction on the "motivational role the Bible and the Christian faith played in the settling of the original colonies."

By way of Lee Fang, it seems the board is still hard at work, and moving in the wrong direction.
Texas high school students would learn about such significant individuals and milestones of conservative politics as Newt Gingrich and the rise of the Moral Majority -- but nothing about liberals -- under the first draft of new standards for public school history textbooks. [...]

The first draft for proposed standards in United States History Studies Since Reconstruction says students should be expected "to identify significant conservative advocacy organizations and individuals, such as Newt Gingrich, Phyllis Schlafly and the Moral Majority."
A Democratic state lawmaker said, as it stands, Texas students would get "one-sided, right wing ideology." He added, "We ought to be focusing on historical significance and historical figures. It's important that whatever course they take, that it portray a complete view of our history and not a jaded view to suit one's partisan agenda or one's partisan philosophy."

That certainly sounds reasonable, but this is the Texas Board of Education we're talking about....(Original.)


Remember the Last Time McCaughey Lied?

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly

I've been thinking a lot this week about a dust-up from February. It's been largely forgotten, but that, in and of itself, is kind of important.

On Monday, February 9, Bloomberg News ran a piece from Betsy McCaughey, which attacked President Obama's stimulus plan. Specifically, McCaughey insisted that the policy would create a "new bureaucracy" called the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, which will "monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective." McCaughey said the federal government would then "'guide' your doctor's decisions," adding, "Keeping doctors informed of the newest medical findings is important, but enforcing uniformity goes too far."

Was any of this true? Not even a little. The National Coordinator for Health Information Technology wasn't "new"; it was created by George W. Bush five years ago. More importantly, the measure dealt with medical records, not limiting physicians' treatments. McCaughey threw a fit about comparative effectiveness research, but there was nothing to the attacks.

More important than the lie, however, is the path the lie traveled -- and what policymakers did about it.
Step One: Rush Limbaugh told his minions audience on [Feb. 9] about McCaughey's piece, insisting that a "national coordinator of health information technology will monitor treatments that your doctor gives you to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost-effective."

Step Two: By late Monday, Drudge was trumpeting McCaughey's mistake with this headline: "'National Coordinator of Health Information Technology' Slipped in to Stimulus..."


A Little More Heat Please: On Health Care, Democrats Lack Passion

By Eugene Robinson
The Washington Post

Here's the least surprising news of the week: Americans are souring on the Democratic Party. The wonder is that it's taken so long for public opinion to curdle. There's nothing agreeable about watching a determined attempt to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

A poll released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center reports that just 49 percent of respondents have a favorable view of the Democrats, compared with 62 percent in January and 59 percent in April. This doesn't mean, though, that Americans look any more kindly upon the Republican Party -- favorability for the GOP has been steady at 40 percent throughout the year, according to Pew.

What it does mean, however, is that Republican efforts to obstruct, delay, confuse, stall, distort and otherwise impede the reform agenda that Americans voted for last November have had measurable success. And it means that Democrats, having been given a mandate -- one as comprehensive as either party is likely to enjoy in this era of red-vs.-blue polarization -- don't really know how to use it.

That the Democratic Party is no paragon of organization and discipline is almost axiomatic. That's not the problem. The Pew poll suggests that the Democrats' weakness is neither strategic nor tactical but emotional. To quote the poet William Butler Yeats: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."...(Remainder.)


Time to Nuke the Republican Party

Republicans don't want to pass real healthcare reform – so Democrats should push the button on the 'nuclear option'

By Steven Guess
The Guardian

Barack Obama's opponents view defeating healthcare reform as their ticket to recapturing power, with one Republican Senator infamously declaring that it would be the president's "Waterloo". Efforts by Republicans to feign interest in real reform by seeking to slow the progress of the bill or start over are nothing more than thinly veiled efforts to undermine the scope of reform and preserve the status quo. As a result of this increasingly polarised political landscape, Democrats are now signalling that they may pass part of the healthcare bill without Republican support by splitting the bill into two more manageable pieces.

The first part would include insurance reform and could be passed with broader approval. The second, more controversial bill would involve substantive reform and may include a government-run "public option" or nonprofit cooperative that would compete with private insurers. Passing the more contentious part of reform would require using a budget device called "reconciliation" that would enable the bill to pass by simple majority rather than the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.

Talk of using reconciliation has Republicans crying foul, calling it the "nuclear option", as well as an "end run" around the democratic process. It's difficult to take seriously protests that are so clearly hypocritical in the face of years of strong-arm Republican legislative tactics that used this same same tool on at least four occasions involving tax cuts and oil drilling. Moreover, George Bush's Senate allies once denounced the filibuster as the "formula for tyranny by the minority" and downplayed reconciliation as simply the "constitutional option"....(Remainder.)


Arizona Pastor's Sermons Call for Execution of Barney Frank and the President

By Pam Spaulding

Pastor Steven Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona is a bible-quoting hellfire and damnation sort of guy. He calls for the execution of gays in numerous sermons that you can listen to here.
“The same God who instituted the death penalty for murders is the same god who instituted the death penalty for rapists and for homosexuals, sodomites and queers”
Jeremy at Good As You has some choice ones so you don’t have to give that hateful cuss any hits.

Anderson, while he’s memorized The Good Book, he is woefully underinformed about a few legal matters—he apparently wants Barney Frank to sue his pious *ss off.
The sodomites are recruiters and you know who they are after? Your children. They are being recruited by the sodomites. They are being molested by the sodomites. They recruit through rape, they recruit through molestation, they recruit through violation

“Our country is run by faggots. You know who was the man who was the architect of the bailout? His name is Barney Frank, he is a pedophile…”

“That’s who just sold our country into fascism. That’s who just sold our corporations to the government. That’s who sold out our country, a faggot!”

Among other sin-filled people Anderson calls to be executed is the POTUS, for his stand on reproductive freedom....(Remainder.)


Try Things the LBJ Way

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly

Matt Yglesias shares a story today about Sen. James Eastland of Mississippi, a far-right Democrat back in the Dixiecrat era, that I hadn't heard in a while. It's has quite a bit of relevance to current events.
Eastland's chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee obviously made passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 impossible. Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield and President Lyndon Johnson dealt with this by just . . . not letting the bill get bottled up in committee and bringing it to the floor instead. The sky didn't fall! Leading politicians decided that justice was more important that the dead hand of Senate procedure and they brought the bill to the floor where it was voted on.
Imagine that. Four-and-a-half decades later, this procedural detail is a tidbit of trivia. I suspect, at the time, Eastland and his allies characterized this as an outrageous power-grab. Had the phrase existed, "nuclear option" probably would have been thrown around casually. If Fox News were around, Mansfield and LBJ would have been labeled authoritarian dictators, ramming controversial legislation down the throat of lawmakers.

Indeed, in a contemporary context, Mansfield and LBJ would be expected to wait patiently, while Eastland tried to negotiate a "compromise" with opponents of the Civil Rights Act that could win support from the left and right. There'd be demands that lawmakers "take their time" to "get it right," eschewing "arbitrary deadlines." The David Broders would say landmark bills like these demand broad consensus. Lawmakers confronted with angry cries from conservative activists would be seen as proof that Mansfield and LBJ should "slow down" and temper their ambitions, while Eastland waters down the bill.

Instead, Mansfield and LBJ decided to skip the committee and pass the bill anyway. There was talk from the far-right about "nullification," but in time, the hysterical found something new to focus their attention on. Now, no one even remembers the process, but everyone remembers the policy....(Remainder.)


Right-Wing Whore and Whack-Job, Rep. Foxx Says Congress Has No Business Reforming Health Care

By Amanda Terkel
Think Progress

Yesterday in a “telephone town hall,” Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) not only repeated her opposition to Democratic proposals for health care reform, but characterized all federal government incursions into health care as unconstitutional. In fact, she said that attempting reform was nothing more than a “distraction” from more important issues:
FOXX: The Constitution doesn’t grant a right to health care, and most of us are living as much by the Constitution as we can. It also doesn’t give the federal government the authority to deal with health care. As you may know, the 10th amendment, it says if it isn’t mentioned in the Constitution to be done by the federal government, it’s left to the states or the people. [...]

I think one of the problems we have in this country right now is the fact that the federal government is trying to do too much. We need to leave things to the states and the localities. … And unfortunately, we are distracting ourselves from looking after the defense of this nation because we are dealing with issues that should, by right, be the state and individual’s.
Foxx, of course, also thinks the current health care system in America is so “good” that it couldn’t really get much better. “There are no Americans who don’t have healthcare,” Foxx said last month. “Everybody in this country has access to healthcare.” (She’s wrong.)...(Remainder.)


Blackwater Accused of Creating 'Killing Program'

By Spiegel

A memo obtained by SPIEGEL indicates that cooperation between the CIA and private security firm Blackwater was deeper than previously known. SPIEGEL has uncovered further details about a plan to set up squads for targeted killings of suspected al-Qaida leadership in Afghanistan.

On Wednesday, the CIA disclosed that it had hired private security contractor Blackwater to kill senior al-Qaida members. The assassination-program has since drawn strong criticism in Washington. However, SPIEGEL has learned that the level of cooperation between the CIA and the paid mercenaries at Blackwater was even deeper than previously known.

In a memo obtained by SPIEGEL, two former employees describe details of cooperation between the firm and the intelligence agency that then-Vice President Dick Cheney asked the CIA not to disclose to the United States Congress. Even today, members of Congress do not have a complete image of the activities Blackwater undertook on behalf of the government.

The intelligence service commissioned Blackwater and its subsidiaries to transport terror suspects from Guantanamo to interrogations at secret prison camps in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. The paper identifies aircraft movements and unveils how the flights were disguised. The memo says: "The CIA hired Blackwater to conduct extraordinary renditions". And: "Blackwater flew the rendition targets from Fort Perry and Cuba to Kandahar, Afghanistan."

Blackwater also supported the CIA with other controversial activities during the Bush years, the memo states. "The CIA hired Blackwater to conduct targeted killings in Afghanistan," it reads. In July, the new CIA chief appointed by President Barack Obama, Leon Panetta first discussed an "assassination program" with members of Congress in a classified meeting.

The aim of the program was to recruit special commandos who could be trained to conduct assassinations of al-Qaida leadership. Over the years though, CIA officials told members of Senate, the program never really managed to get out of the planning stage....(Remainder.)


Since When Did the Meaning of 'Nuclear Option' Change to Include Standard Senate Procedure?

By David Neiwert
Crooks and Liars

On three separate Fox News programs yesterday -- on Neil Cavuto's show, on Sean Hannity, and on Greta Van Susteren -- the hosts specifically referred to the Democrats' decision to go through "reconciliation" sessions to settle on the final form of the health-care legislation as "the nuclear option."


Now just a gol-darned minute. The "nuclear option" always referred to the possibility of permanently changing Senate rules regarding filibusters so that the minority could not use it so readily to frustrate majority-approved legislation -- and it was an invention of Republicans who were considering bringing it against Democrats.

No such steps are being considered here.

Instead, we're seeing the health-care legislation go through the "reconciliation" process, which assures that it will only need 51 votes to pass. This is a long-established Senate procedure, and was indeed used frequently by Republicans when they controlled the Senate from 2001-2006....(Remainder.)


Fox Resident Pseudo-Legal Specialist, Van Susteren, Claims Dems Might Use "Nuclear Option"


Fox Turns on Formerly "Very Influential" AMA After it Backs Dem Health Plan

By Media Matters

On August 21, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly said, "President Obama likes to point out that the American Medical Association, or AMA, supports the Democrats' health care reform bill ... it turns out that this group only represents about 20 percent of practicing doctors." Yet when the AMA was critical of Democratic support for the public option in early June, Fox News anchors -- including Kelly -- characterized the AMA as "very influential," called it "the nation's largest doctors' group" and claimed that it "represents most of the doctors in this country."...(Remainder.)


Olbermann Discusses Politicization of Terror by Bush Crime Family with John Dean

By Heather
Crooks and Liars

It looks like Tom Ridge's lastest revelations in his book have given Keith a chance to say he was correct when he did his series on the Nexus of Politics and Terror. John Dean weighs in on the criminality of what Ridge has admitted to in his book. He thinks Ridge gave himself some wiggle room since he said he only believed the terrorist threat level was being manipulated for political reasons, and did not say he knew it to be a fact.

It's so nice to see all the dirty f@%#king hippies were right about this, huh? It will be interesting to watch the Villagers try to explain why they didn't report on something as plain as the noses on their faces back when this was going on. Other than Keith, I don't recall any of them speaking out about it other than to repeat the government propaganda. I'd also like someone to ask Tom Ridge why he didn't resign when he first knew this was happening....(Original.)


Ted "I Wanna Fellate Glenn Beck" Baker Calls Ted Kennedy a "Big Fat Bloated Jackball"


Über-Racist and KKK Douche Ted Baker Says La Raza is a Bigoted, Racist Organization


President Obama's Weekly Address: Myths and Morality in Health Insurance Reform

By The White House

President Obama debunks the myths around health insurance reform, and discusses the public option proposal in which many of them are rooted -- but he focuses his address on the stark moral and historical turning point at which we find ourselves: "This is our chance to march forward. I cannot promise you that the reforms we seek will be perfect or make a difference overnight. But I can promise you this: if we pass health insurance reform, we will look back many years from now and say, this was the moment we summoned what’s best in each of us to make life better for all of us. This was the moment we built a health care system worthy of the nation and the people we love. This was the moment we earned our place alongside the greatest generations. And that is what our generation of Americans is called to do right now."...(Original.)


Jon Voight: President Obama is Trying to Start a Civil War in America

By Logan Murphy
Crooks and Liars

Jon Voight is the right's Hollywood darling, and as always, everything that comes out of his mouth is a lie:
A Hollywood conservative has headed East. It's "Freedom Concert" time for Jon Voight. The Academy Award winner will join Sean Hannity in Cincinnati and Atlanta this weekend to honor fallen soldiers and present college scholarships to surviving children. Mr. Voight -- a warrior himself in many ways -- has been cogitating about the state of America, meanwhile.

"There's a real question at stake now. Is President Obama creating a civil war in our own country?" Mr. Voight tells Inside the Beltway.

"The real truth is that the Obama administration is professional at bullying, as we have witnessed with ACORN at work during the presidential campaign. It seems to me they are sending down their bullies to create fist fights among average American citizens who don't want a government-run health care plan forced upon them," Mr. Voight says. "So I ask again. Is President Obama creating a civil war in our own country?" Read on... (warning, link goes to Washington Times)
The only people trying to start a civil war are the extreme, right wing fringe elements of our society who are beginning to take over the Republican Party. How many Obama supporters have been showing up to town hall meetings with loaded weapons, shouting uncontrollably? How many Obama supporters are wanting to secede from the United States?...(Original.)


Press Should Take Finger Off Button in "Nuclear Option" Health Care Coverage

By Karl Frisch
Media Matters

Media conservatives aren't content to merely misinform regarding the content of progressive health insurance reform legislation. They want to misinform about the legislative process used to pass that legislation, too. Just think of it: Death panels passed using a nuclear option. What American could support that?

In recent days, talk of Senate Democrats using the budget reconciliation process to pass health care reform legislation has grown. According to Senate rules, bills advanced through the process can't be filibustered, and so the 60-vote threshold that must be met to defeat a filibuster would not apply. Republicans used reconciliation in exactly this way during the Bush years to pass tax cuts in 2001, 2003, and 2005. Senate Republicans also used the reconciliation process to pass a bill permitting oil drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (The final version of that bill signed by Bush did not contain the provision on drilling.) So long as the legislation in question impacts the budget, doing so is within regular Senate order.

Conservatives in the media, however, have now chosen to portray such a course of action as the dreaded "nuclear option." As usual, a little history reveals a lot of hypocrisy. The phrase was actually coined by former Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) in 2003 during the Democratic filibuster of U.S. Court of Appeals nominee Miguel Estrada. At the time, Republican aides discussed changing the rules of the Senate to make filibusters of judicial nominees out of order. Lott, reflecting the drastic nature of such a change, called it a "nuclear option." Starting in 2005, Republicans noted that the term polled badly. They began referring to such a rules change as the "constitutional option," and claimed that only Democrats called it a "nuclear option." The media quickly fell in line, repeating the falsehood....(Remainder.)


How the Media Made This Summer's Political Insanity Inevitable

By Jamison Foser
Media Matters

The most striking aspect of this summer's political insanity isn't the frothing at the mouth of a loud minority of Republicans that President Obama is a secret Kenyan bent on subjecting an unwitting American public to government death panels, or the mass confusion among the rest of the public about health care reform.

It's that any reporter who has been paying the slightest bit of attention is surprised by any of this. It is, after all, the inevitable result of the way the media do their jobs.

Let's start with the 'round-the-bend howling about Obama's place of birth, which reached a fever pitch a few weeks ago. There was no basis for it -- Obama was born in Hawaii, as government documents, the state of Hawaii (including its Republican governor), and contemporaneous newspaper accounts confirm. Because there is no basis for it, many reporters are shocked that right-wing activists, with the help of some in the media, promoted the nutty and false claim that Obama was secretly born in Kenya, and that many Americans fell for the phony conspiracy theory.

Why on earth would anyone be surprised by this? The last time America had a Democratic president, right-wing activists, with the help of some in the media, said he was responsible for the murder of his close friend and aide, Vince Foster -- and dozens of other murders, too. Why would anyone think that people who are willing to baselessly and falsely accuse one president of murder, drug smuggling, and an assortment of other crimes be unwilling to claim that the current president was born in Kenya?...(Remainder.)


The Friday Rush: Limbaugh, LaRouche and Laffer

By Simon Maloy
Media Matters

Do you remember how last week Rush was all about comparing President Obama to Adolf Hitler, denying that anyone was comparing Obama to Hitler, and repeatedly lying about health care reform? Well, get ready for déjà vu all over again ...

"I never said Obama hates white people. He's got a chip on his shoulder about the unjust and immoral past of this country. I never called him Hitler." That was how Rush got things rolling on Monday, and while it might be literally true that he's never said the words "Obama hates white people," he did call the president "the greatest living example of a reverse racist." If Rush wants to argue that there's a distinction between the two, best of luck to him. But let's talk about Hitler, since he seems to be on everyone's mind these days. First off, Rush's blanket assertion that he "never called [Obama] Hitler" is a bit different from what he was saying last week, when he acknowledged that he compared Obama to Hitler, but nonsensically made the case that he was not comparing Obama to "the genocidal Hitler." To further confuse things, Rush later returned to this absurd subdivision of Hitler, telling the Ditto-head faithful: "I mean, when you're dealing with a guy like Obama and the Democrat Party, who are going to impose Nazi-like socialism policies on this country, you've got to say it. And the same time you say it, you have to go out and point we're not talking about the genocide -- that's at the tail end of Hitler."

Speaking of Obama's Nazi-like socialist policies, on Wednesday, Rush offered a uniquely schizophrenic take on just that topic. Leading off the show, he aired the audio of the now-famous confrontation between Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and a town hall questioner who compared the president and his policies to Hitler and Nazism, during which Frank said to the woman: "On what planet do you spend most of your time?" After making the requisite "Uranus" joke (lame and homophobic ... a twofer!), Rush called the woman's question "fabulous" and launched into his aforementioned diatribe about how Obama's policies are very much like those of the pre-genocide Nazis. He essentially agreed with everything the woman at Frank's town hall meeting said....(Remainder.)


Sen. Kyl (R-Cigna): "I Don't Think A Single Republican" Will Support Health Insurance Reform


Same-Sex Unions Accepted by Evangelical Lutherans

By Christopher Quinn
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America delegates meeting in Minneapolis voted 559-441 Friday to allow churches to hire gay pastors in relationships.

The nation’s largest Lutheran denomination previously allowed pastors to be gay, but only if celibate.

Delegates also approved a resolution which will allow but not require pastors to bless same-sex unions.

The moves were welcomed by advocates of full gay inclusion, but traditionalists were dismayed. Many traditionalists speaking at the Churchwide Assembly predicted it would split the denomination, much as more conservative Episcopal congregations have left that denomination after the installation of a gay bishop.

The Rev. Bradley Schmeling of St. John’s Lutheran in Druid Hills and Bob Gibeling of Atlanta have lobbied for the changes.

Schmeling is gay, has been in a relationship and the denomination removed him from the list of approved pastors in 2007. However, the church kept him as pastor and the denomination took no action against St. John’s....(Remainder.)


Financial Executives See Growth of 2010

By Stephen Bernard
Associated Press via Google News

NEW YORK — Financial services executives believe business conditions will bottom in 2009 before a recovery in the sector and broader economy occurs next year, according to a new study from KPMG LLP.

About 70 percent of the 130 executives polled believe revenue and profitability in the financial services sector will improve in 2010, according to the business climate survey conducted by the audit, tax and advisory firm. However, respondents were split about whether a recovery among financial firms will lead or lag a rebound in the broader U.S. economy.

The financial services sector has been among the hardest hit by the credit crisis and ongoing recession that began in late 2007. Major financial firms such as American International Group Inc., Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. have received billions of dollars in government aid amid the market downturn.

Financial firms have been struggling with mounting losses across nearly all types of consumer and commercial loans as more customers fall behind on repaying debt. Companies have also been forced to sharply cut the value of certain investments as demand has waned for products such as securities backed by pools of risky mortgages.

More than half of the executives surveyed said the downturn made it more difficult to raise capital or receive financing to operate businesses.

Late last year at the peak of the credit crisis, the government stepped in to support financial firms by launching the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, which provided money to banks and other financial firms that had seen funding sources dry up after the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. The government also launched other programs to help reduce funding costs for financial firms in an effort to restart the credit markets....(Remainder.)


Sheriff Arpaio Slapped with Another Civil Rights Lawsuit Over Arrests

By William Fisher
The Public Record

The man who boasts he is “America’s Toughest Sheriff” — and who is being investigated by the Department of Justice for civil rights violations — this week added another lawsuit to thousands already pending against him.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Arizona are suing Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, and several of his deputies for the illegal arrest and detention of a U.S. citizen and a legal resident.

The ACLU suit contends that Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) deputies racially profiled the father and son, Julian and Julio Mora, as they drove their pickup truck on a busy public road and illegally arrested and detained them, violating the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law and prohibition on unreasonable seizures.

Harini Raghupathi, an attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, told us,  “The unlawful arrest and detention that Julian and Julio Mora suffered highlights MCSO’s pattern of blatant disregard for the fundamental protections of the Fourth Amendment” of the U.S. Constitution. That provision bars unlawful searches and seizures without probable cause and a warrant.

“This country was founded on the freedom of individuals to go about their business without fear of being unlawfully stopped, picked up, or interrogated by the government. Here, we see the Moras were denied this most essential freedom,” she said....(Remainder.)


Chucking Grassley

Long live the death of bipartisanship!

By The Editors
The New Republic

"We should not have a government plan that will pull the plug on grandma." That's not Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin talking. That's Charles Grassley, the supposedly respectable Republican senator from Iowa, speaking before a town hall in August. Grassley knows better, of course. As the ranking minority member of the Senate Finance Committee, he's been immersed in the issue for months. And there's nothing in the bills moving through Congress that would encourage, let alone force, people to end life-sustaining treatment for their loved ones or themselves.

Maybe Grassley was just responding to pressure from his party leadership, which has declared all-out war on the Democrats' plans for health care reform. Or maybe he's just channeling his own anxieties over what he and his colleagues on the committee have been debating during the last few months. Whatever. Grassley was supposed to be one of a handful of reasonable Republicans, the type that would sign on to reform only if it contained enough compromises from the left. But his statement about killing grandma--along with other comments he's made--is a pretty clear signal that Grassley wants no part of a Democratic health care bill. Bipartisan reform seems to be dead.

To which we say: Thank goodness. In the last few months, few political spectacles have been more unnerving than the sight of President Obama and his allies lowering their ambitions, bit by bit, in a painfully futile effort to win support from Republicans.The pattern was on perfect display this week. One of the biggest flash points in the reform debate concerns whether to create a public insurance plan--a government-run program, like Medicare, that would compete with private insurers for business. Liberals (including those at this magazine) love the idea, because they think a government plan will be more reliable, not to mention cheaper. Conservatives hate the idea, because they fear a government-run program will run private insurers out of business. As an effort to forge a consensus, some Democrats have suggested ditching the public plan and, instead, creating a set of consumer-run, nonprofit health care cooperatives. The hope was that these co-ops would be more acceptable to the GOP, since they wouldn't be government-run. But the hope turned out to be baseless. As the idea started to gain momentum, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl held a conference call to denounce the co-ops as government-run insurance by another name. He and his colleagues weren't budging....(Remainder.)


Conseratwat McCaughey Loses Board Seat

By Ben Smith

Dick Armey was forced out of his lobbying shop, and now opposition to health care reform has taken a professional toll on another critic: A New Jersey medical device company, Cantel, just announced that Betsy McCaughey — the day after sparring with Jon Stewart — is "resigning to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest during the national debate over healthcare reform."

Full release after the jump.
» Continue reading McCaughey loses board seat

LITTLE FALLS, N.J., Aug. 21 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — CANTEL MEDICAL CORP. (NYSE: CMN) announced that on August 20, 2009 it received a letter of resignation from Ms. Elizabeth McCaughey as a director of the Company. Ms. McCaughey, who had served as a director since 2005, stated that she was resigning to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest during the national debate over healthcare reform. About Cantel Medical Corp. Cantel Medical Corp. (NYSE: CMN) is a leading provider of infection prevention and control products in the healthcare market. Our products include specialized medical device reprocessing systems for renal dialysis and endoscopy, dialysate concentrates and other dialysis supplies, disposable infection prevention and control products primarily for the dental industry, water purification equipment, sterilants, disinfectants and cleaners, hollow fiber membrane filtration and separation products for medical and non-medical applications, and specialty packaging for infectious and biological specimens. We also provide technical maintenance for our products and offer compliance training services for the transport of infectious and biological specimens. For more information please visit


Rachel Maddow & Lawrence Wilkerson On Tom Ridge Terror Alert Admission


Oily Taint's Alleged Obama Birth Certificate from Kenya is a Hoax

By Robert Farley

With the all this health care debate dominating our time for the last few weeks, can we please get back to the issues that matter? Like, what's up with Obama's Kenyan birth certificate?

Birthers, the folks who question whether Obama was born in Hawaii and is eligible to serve as president, experienced a bit of a second wind there for a little while in late July as cable TV and radio programs were abuzz over a group of Republican legislators who endorsed a bill that would require future presidential candidates to submit birth certificates to prove their citizenship.

Then the health care debate began in earnest, and the birthers were again relegated to the backburner. Right before the media light dimmed on birthers, however, birther attorney Orly Taitz made a bit of a splash - at least in the birther community - when she posted a birth certificate purported to be for Obama from the Republic of Kenya and filed a motion in federal court to determine its authenticity.

The conservative, which has long beaten the birther drum, quickly ran a story under the headline, "Is this really smoking gun of Obama's Kenyan birth?"

But even WorldNetDaily founder Joseph Farah later ran a column saying he doubted it was real.

Still, some PolitiFact readers asked about it, and so we decided to check it out.

We e-mailed the purported Kenyan birth certificate to Salim Lone, spokesman for Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, to see what he thought.

Here was his three-sentence reply: "It's a forgery. Kenya only became a Republic in December, 1964. Other arguments could also be marshaled, but they are not needed."...(Remainder.)


Former Dick Armey Aide Indicted for Helping Jack Abramoff

By Murial Kane
The Raw Story

A one-time aide to former Congressman Dick Armey has been indicted on five felony counts related to charges that he defrauded the government in exchange for favors from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

According to Politico, “The indictment alleges that Cooper took from Abramoff and his associates more than $5,000 in tickets to sporting events and concerts between 1998 and 2001 while working for Armey.”

As early as 1996, Cooper and two other top aides to Armey had been among the first Congressional staffers to travel to the Marianas Islands on Abramoff’s dime, along with an adviser to then-Rep. Tom DeLay and the then-chief of staff to Rep. John Boehner.

Abramoff subsequently arranged for Armey and DeLay themselves to go on Marianas junkets, where, according to Salon, “they played golf, snorkled and made whirlwind visits to factories especially spiffed up for the occasion.”

Following their tour, “In 1998 DeLay co-authored a letter with House Majority Leader Dick Army (R-TX). The two men, writing to the islands’ governor, expressed how ‘impressed’ they were with the Marianas’ ‘commitment to advancing the principles of free markets, enterprise, tax reform and other innovative approaches to governance.’”...(Remainder.)


Report Reveals CIA Conducted Mock Executions

A long-awaited report on post-9/11 interrogation tactics will reveal harrowing new details about treatment of suspected terrorists.

By Mark Hosenball and Michale Isikoff

A long-suppressed report by the Central Intelligence Agency's inspector general to be released next week reveals that CIA interrogators staged mock executions as part of the agency's post-9/11 program to detain and question terror suspects, NEWSWEEK has learned.

According to two sources—one who has read a draft of the paper and one who was briefed on it—the report describes how one detainee, suspected USS Cole bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was threatened with a gun and a power drill during the course of CIA interrogation. According to the sources, who like others quoted in this article asked not to be named while discussing sensitive information, Nashiri's interrogators brandished the gun in an effort to convince him that he was going to be shot. Interrogators also turned on a power drill and held it near him. "The purpose was to scare him into giving [information] up," said one of the sources. A federal law banning the use of torture expressly forbids threatening a detainee with "imminent death."

The report also says, according to the sources, that a mock execution was staged in a room next to a detainee, during which a gunshot was fired in an effort to make the suspect believe that another prisoner had been killed. The inspector general's report alludes to more than one mock execution.

Before leaving office, Bush administration officials confirmed that Nashiri was one of three CIA detainees subjected to waterboarding. They also acknowledged that Nashiri was one of two Al Qaeda detainees whose detentions and interrogations were documented at length in CIA videotapes. But senior officials of the agency's undercover operations branch, the National Clandestine Service, ordered that the tapes be destroyed, an action that has been under investigation for more than a year by a federal prosecutor....(Remainder.)


The Reich-Wing's Next Pathetically False Talking Point? Immigrants Will Get Benefits! Agggh!!!!

By David Neiwert
Crooks and Liars

Great Van Susteren last night on Fox News ran a segment exploring whether or not illegal immigrants were going to be dragged into the health-care debate by conservatives eager to find anything to latch onto to drag the legislation down.

Most notably, Sen. Jon Kyl has been giving them aid and comfort:
Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday defended critics of Democratic health care reform plans who claim the proposals would provide subsidized health care to illegal immigrants. Kyl said Democrats have long sought to block curbs on public services for people illegally in the country.

“It’s a logical question for people to ask,” Kyl said during a conference call with reporters, maintaining that during last year’s State Children’s Health Insurance Program debate and other legislative fights, Democrats blocked efforts by Republicans to include curbs on health care for illegal immigrants.

“In the last couple of bills … there were efforts to ensure that only eligible people would get the benefits … those efforts were defeated by Democrats,” Kyl argued, pointing out that hospitals currently are required to provide illegal aliens — as well as anyone else — with health care if they are in need.

“That illegal immigrants get care ... it’s a big burden on hospitals,” Kyl said.

Well, just like the "death panels" and "euthanasia" and "socialized medicine" claims, this one is wholly false, with no basis in reality whatsoever....(Remainder.)


UnitedHealth Group Encouraging Employees to Lobby Politicians, Attend Tea Parties

By Logan Murphy
Crooks and Liars

The health insurance cartel has shown that it is willing to shell out tens of millions of dollars and fight to the death to stop meaningful health care reform. One giant of the industry, United Health Group, is going so far as to actually encourage their own employees to educate themselves in anti-reform talking points, and attend tea parties held by a religious extremist. From TPM:
Last week, UnitedHealth Group--the second largest health insurance company in the country--sent out a letter to its employees urging them to call UHG's United for Health Reform Advocacy Hotline to speak with an advocacy specialist about health care reform. The advocacy specialist, according to the letter, is there to help UHG employees write personalized messages to elected officials, and to arm them with talking points to use at local events in order to better oppose the public health insurance option.

However, a source who's insured by UHG--and who also obtained the letter--called the hotline on Tuesday and says the company directed him to an events list hosted by the right wing America's Independent Party, and suggested he attend an anti-health care reform tea party sponsored by religious fundamentalist Dave Daubenmire, scheduled for today outside the office of Blue Dog Rep. Zack Space (D-OH). Read on...
United claims to be a partner in health care reform, but as d-day puts it they're in it to win it:
Giant insurers like United Health Group see value in enabling right-wing shriek-fests. They’ll either derail reform, and keep a status quo that earned the CEO $124.8 million in 2005, or get a workable, sham “reform” without a public option that would essentially funnel government subsidies to their company. They have a good racket going, and they want to keep it. Read on...


Tom Ridge Says Politics Influenced 'Terror Alerts'

By Oliver Knox
Agence France-Presse via Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Former US homeland security chief Tom Ridge charges in a new book that top aides to then-president George W. Bush pressured him to raise the "terror alert" level to sway the November 2004 US election.

Then defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and attorney general John Ashcroft pushed him to elevate the color-coded threat level, but Ridge refused, according to a summary from his publisher, Thomas Dunne Books.

"After that episode, I knew I had to follow through with my plans to leave the federal government for the private sector," Ridge is quoting as writing in "The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege ... And How We Can Be Safe Again."

Some of Bush's critics had repeatedly questioned whether the administration was using warnings of a possible attack to blunt the political damage from the unpopular Iraq war by shifting the debate to the broader "war on terrorism," which had wide popular appeal.

Ridge, a former governor of Pennsylvania, was the first secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security that the US Congress created in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist strikes.

He also says that Bush's homeland security adviser at the White House, Fran Townsend, called his department ahead of an August 1, 2004 speech to ask Ridge to include a reference to "defensive measures ... away from home" -- language that he read as being a reference to the Iraq war....(Remainder.)


Matthews Gets Gun Owners of America Head to Say Everyone Should Pack Heat at Presidential Events

By David Neiwert
Crooks and Liars

Yesterday on Hardball, Chris Matthews had on John Velleco, who's listed as the "Director of Federal Affairs" for the Gun Owners of America, a gun-rights group that makes the NRA look relatively sane in comparison. (That's probably the reason for their existence.)

And Velleco, of course, does not disappoint. Matthews hammers him for about four minutes, trying to get him to answer a simple question: If you were a Secret Service officer, would you let everyone carry a gun into a presidential event? It seems like an absurd question, but Velleco actually answers it affirmatively.

But then, that shouldn't be terribly surprising. As hate-group expert Brian Levin, the second guest, tries to explain, the GOA has a long history of right-wing extremism, dating back to the days in the 1980s when it was part of Willis Carto's white-nationalist operation. The main figure in all this was GOA's longtime and current leader, Larry Pratt....(Remainder.)


Debunked Economist, Laffer, Tells "Water Buffalo Lookin' " Cavuto Obama Worst on Economics


The Pig-Man Tells Caller if they Couldn't Afford $6,000 They Shouldn't Have Broken Their Wrist


The Oxy-Moron Thinks Some People Are "Misconscrewing" His Homophobic Uranus Comment



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