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President Obama Health Care Rally in Minneapolis

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

By White House

During Wednesday's address to Congress, the President rose above the chatter, misinformation, and petty politics that opponents of health insurance reform have taken to new heights. In laying out the specifics of his plan, he spoke clearly on how it will benefit those who already have insurance -- ending discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, making sure you can't be dropped just because you get sick, capping out-of-pocket expenses, and eliminating extra charges for preventive care and tests that help you avoid getting sick in the first place. He explained how for the tens of millions of Americans without insurance, a new Insurance Exchange, a public option, and tax credits will open up a new range of afforable choices. And he explained how all Americans can feel safe that reform will include provisions guaranteeing it will not add to the deficit and take significant steps to bring down costs for families, businesses, and the government.


Norton, Set to Announce Bid for U.S. Senate, Questioned About Lobbyist Past

By John Tomasic
The Colorado Independent

Jane Norton, executive director of the Denver Police Foundation, former lieutenant governor and soon-to-be official Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, is another among the ranks of U.S. politicians that has shuttled between influential positions in the government and the health-care industry.

Was Jane Norton a health-industry lobbyist? If so, what did she lobby for, exactly?

From 1994 to 1999, Norton headed the lobbying department of Englewood-based Medical Group Management Association, “the principle voice for the medical practice association.” Norton was the executive director of the Office of State Government Relations and the Office of Strategic Relationships. Directly after her tenure at MGMA, Norton was appointed by Gov. Bill Owens to head the state’s Department of Public Health and Environment, a position in which she oversaw multiple state “planning groups” that engineered health coverage across Colorado, this time being paid by tax payers to work as the “principle voice” for health-care consumers.

Calls to MGMA confirm she headed the association’s lobbying department.

“Yes, this is the lobbying arm of the organization,” a spokesperson at the Department of Government Affairs confirmed. Human Resources staffer Jenny Morales said that the group Norton headed used to be called the Office of Strategic Relationships and is now simply called the Department of Government Affairs.

“In speaking with some of our tenured employees,” Morales wrote in an email, “Ms. Norton held a number of positions at MGMA. One of which was Director of Government Policy in 1994. When she left the Association, her job title was Executive Director Strategic Relations.”...(Remainder.)


A World of Hurt

By Bob Herbert
The New York Times

President Obama took a bit of a victory lap on Wall Street on Monday, declaring that the economy had been brought back from the abyss and “the storms of the past two years are beginning to break.”

The president and his economic team (and the Federal Reserve) deserve credit for moving quickly to prevent a full-blown collapse. A year ago, amid the panic that accompanied the implosion of Lehman Brothers, there were serious fears that the U.S. was headed toward another Great Depression.

Now, with the financial sector stabilized and economists predicting that the Great Recession is nearing an end, the sighs of relief coming out of Washington and Lower Manhattan are understandable. But this is no time to lose sight of the wreckage all around us. This recession, a full-blown economic horror, has left a gaping hole in the heart of working America that is unlikely to heal for years, if not decades.

Fifteen million Americans are locked in the nightmare of unemployment, nearly 10 percent of the work force. A third have been jobless for more than six months. Thirteen percent of Latinos and 15 percent of blacks are out of work. (Those are some of the official statistics. The reality is much worse.)...(Remainder.)


Glenn Beck says Cass Sunstein wants to give animals the right to sue humans. Really?

By Christopher Beam

In 1510, the respected French lawyer Bartholomew Chassenée made his name by serving as legal counsel for a horde of rats. The rats stood accused of eating through the province's barley crop. But the trial was tainted, Chassenée argued, for two reasons: First, the court failed to properly notify the rodents of the trial date. And second, the defendants could not possibly appear in court when getting there entailed risking a run-in with a cat.

This scene may have taken place in Medieval Europe. But, if you believe Fox News host Glenn Beck, it could happen here too.

Beck has been monitoring the threat for quite some time. "The day may not be far off, animal lawyers say, when animals are not only present in the court room but participating in the proceedings," Beck warned on his radio program in March 2008. He reiterated his concern last Wednesday on Fox. When he was eight years old, he said, he loved "Ben," Michael Jackson's 1972 tune about a pet rat. "But do you really want a police officer telling Ben, who's just shown up in your home, Ben, you have a right to remain silent … If you can't afford an attorney, Ben, one will be provided for you? The world is upside down!"

And it's Cass Sunstein's fault. A constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago, Sunstein was confirmed Thursday as the director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, or "regulatory czar." Now, according to Beck, the possibility of being dragged to animal court is even higher....(Remainder.)


Glenn Beck's Ad Dollars Crate in Wake of Boycott

By John Cook

Now we know why Glenn Beck hates Van Jones so much: Fox News' ad revenue from Beck's show has been cut in half since Color of Change launched an advertiser boycott against the show.

Color of Change, the advocacy organization co-founded by Glenn Beck's archnemesis Jones, began calling on advertisers to pull their ads from Beck's show in early August, shortly after Beck accused Obama of having a "deep-seated hatred for white people." Since then, 62 advertisers—from Geico to Proctor & Gamble to Men's Wearhouse—have pulled their ads from his show even as his ratings surged.

Fox's stock response to the boycott has been that, while some advertisers may have moved their spots to other shows on the network, no one was pulling ads from Fox outright, so the whole hubbub wasn't affecting the network's revenues. But today, citing "data analyzed from industry sources," Color of Change announced in a release that Beck's weekly ad revenue dropped from $1,060,000 in the first week of August, when the boycott began, to $492,000 in the first week of September. The chart above shows the drop....(Remainder.)


Antitrust Concerns Swirl Around Sale of Diebold Voting Machines

By Kim Zetter
Threat Level @

Sen. Charles Schumer asked the Justice Department’s antitrust division on Monday to investigate the recent sale of Diebold’s voting machines division to a competitor, saying the deal raises anti-competitiveness concerns and has “adverse implications on how our country votes.”

The letter comes just days after another voting machine company filed an anti-trust lawsuit in federal court in Delaware against Diebold and Election Systems & Software.

Earlier this month, Diebold announced the sale of its voting machine division, Premier Election Solutions, to top competitor ES&S for about $5 million.

The sale gives ES&S, already the largest voting machine maker in the country, a near monopoly on the voting machine industry. According to the company’s website, its systems, used in 43 states, counted “approximately 50 percent of the votes in the last four major U.S. elections.”

Hart InterCivic, a voting machine firm based in Texas, filed an antitrust suit (.pdf) on Friday, seeking a temporary and permanent injunction against the sale. According to the suit, the sale “poses a significant and imminent threat of irreparable antitrust injury to plaintiffs.”

The sale also threatens harm to election districts that purchase voting equipment in that it will likely increase the costs of equipment and result in a decrease in the quality of products, the suit alleges. It will also, ultimately, cause “harm to the voters of the United States, in the form of loss of confidence in the integrity and security of the means by which elections are performed.”...(Remainder.)


Religion in America in Decline

By Jeffrey Weiss
Politics Daily

Religion in America is on the decline and has been dropping since the turn of the century. That's not an atheist's happy dream. It's the conclusion of researchers at Faith Communities Today (FACT), the multi-year study of American religion quarterbacked by the Hartford Seminary's Hartford Institute for Religion Research.

The group released a preliminary look this week at results from a major survey done last year. For the bottom line, I really can't improve on their wording:
"The clear and consistent short-term direction is negative -- including worship attendance growth, spiritual vitality and sense of mission and purpose. And as suggested by the eight-year decline in financial health. . . . it is likely that the broader erosion of vitality dates to at least 2000. What makes this even more sobering is the fact that this pattern of decline, here shown for American congregations as a whole, also holds within each of FACT's four primary faith families -- old-line Protestantism, Evangelical Protestantism, Catholic and Orthodox, and Other World Religions with few exceptions."
You want numbers?

In 2005, 58 percent of the congregations surveyed said that worship attendance had gone up by at least 2 percent in the past five years. In 2008 that had dropped to 48 percent.

In 2005, 42 percent of congregations strongly agreed that they were spiritually vital and alive. In 2008 that was down to 35 percent....(Remainder.)


FAIR Embraces Racist Founder

By Heidi Beirich
Hatewatch at SPLC

Despite John Tanton’s long, documented history of racism, Dan Stein, the president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), called the founder of his organization a “Renaissance man” of wide-ranging “intellect” in a Washington Post article published today.

It’s hard, of course, for Stein to distance himself from Tanton. After all, Tanton started the organization in 1979 and is still a member of the group’s board of directors. But since the full extent of Tanton’s racist views have been exposed in recent years, Stein hasn’t talked about the founder’s ideas much. But now he is.

Stein told the Post that attacks on Tanton “are out of context and ‘simply do not reflect the true character of the man.” But it’s hard to understand how.

Over the decades, Tanton has repeatedly described contemporary immigrants as inferior. He has questioned the “educability” of Latinos and written that “for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.” In a letter to Roy Beck, head of NumbersUSA, Tanton wondered “whether the minorities who are going to inherit California … can run an advanced society?”...(Remainder.)


Teabaggers Can't Handle a Little Dissent: Public Option Hero!


Crooks & Liars Exclusive Video of Ted Kennedy From His New Autobiography: True Compass

By John Amato
Crooks and Liars

I've received some exclusive video of the late, great Sen. Ted Kennedy right before his passing, discussing his family, life and career in politics. This interview was recorded in conjunction with the release of his new book: "True Compass".

Via email:
Click here to read an excerpt from True Compass that details the months leading up to Senator Kennedy's speech to the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
As usual, he is impressive. He says he's never shied away from being called a liberal because that's what he was. Now that's an example to follow....(Original.)


Droopy McDumbass Thinks Obama Doesn't Believe in Free Trade...Only Unions. Something Wrong With That Assface?


Bloggers Claim Photo Shows Millions at “Tea Party” Protest

By Catharine Richert

Bloggers said this photo showed a gargantuan crowd at Saturday's "tea party" protest. But this photo was taken years earlier, at a different event.
Over the weekend, conservatives enthusiastically passed around a photo they said showed a huge crowd protesting President Barack Obama's policies during the "tea party" protest on Sept. 12, 2009.
With headlines that said the rally organized by the conservative group FreedomWorks drew as many as 2 million people, the photo showed a sea of protesters that stretched more than a mile from the Capitol to the Washington Monument. Conservative blog postings and Facebook updates said the media was unfairly reporting much smaller numbers.
The meme went viral on Twitter and pictures of huge crowds were posted widely on conservative blogs.
"I have no doubt that Washington Democrats are well aware of how many people turned out, even as their media outlets try to downplay the event," said Power Line, a conservative blog that linked to the photograph from Say Anything, another conservative Web site.
"'Media' estimates range from 60,000 to 500,000 to around 2 million (yes, 2,000,000)," wrote John G. Winder for the conservative blog Cypress Times. "Those estimates, the language employed, and the visuals chosen for use in reporting the rally and representing the people gathered, vary greatly based solely on bias."
In the mainstream media, crowd estimates varied.
The New York Times reported that "thousands" of protesters "filled the west lawn of the Capitol and spilled onto the National Mall," while Fox News wrote that "tens of thousands" marched on Washington.
And from CNN: "The march leading to the Capitol stretched for blocks on the final day of the Tea Party Express' cross-country bus tour, which began August 28 in Sacramento, Calif. En route, the group hosted rallies in about 30 cities. An official crowd estimate was not available, but reporters at the scene described the massive crowd as reaching the tens of thousands."...(Remainder.)



By Adam Zyglis
The Buffalo News


How Islamist Gangs Use Internet to Track, Torture and Kill Iraqi Gays

Iraqi militias infiltrate internet gay chatrooms to hunt their quarry – and hundreds are feared to be victims

By Afif Sarhan and Jason Burke
The Observer

Sitting on the floor, wearing traditional Islamic clothes and holding an old notebook, Abu Hamizi, 22, spends at least six hours a day searching internet chatrooms linked to gay websites. He is not looking for new friends, but for victims.

"It is the easiest way to find those people who are destroying Islam and who want to dirty the reputation we took centuries to build up," he said. When he finds them, Hamizi arranges for them to be attacked and sometimes killed.

Hamizi, a computer science graduate, is at the cutting edge of a new wave of violence against gay men in Iraq. Made up of hardline extremists, Hamizi's group and others like it are believed to be responsible for the deaths of more than 130 gay Iraqi men since the beginning of the year alone.

The deputy leader of the group, which is based in Baghdad, explained its campaign using a stream of homophobic invective. "Animals deserve more pity than the dirty people who practise such sexual depraved acts," he told the Observer. "We make sure they know why they are being held and give them the chance to ask God's forgiveness before they are killed."

The violence against Iraqi gays is a key test of the government's ability to protect vulnerable minority groups after the Americans have gone....(Remainder.)



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