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Homophobic Leader of Christo-Fascist Zombie Brigade, Robertson, Says Gays Want to "Destroy Marriage"

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

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Dems Aim To Strip Insurance Industry Of Anti-Trust Exemption

By David Espo
Associated Press via Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — Democrats launched a drive at both ends of the Capitol on Wednesday to strip the insurance industry of its decades-old exemption from federal antitrust laws, part of an increasingly bare-knuckled struggle over landmark health care legislation sought by President Barack Obama.

If enacted, the change would put an end to "price-fixing, bid-rigging and market allocation in the health and medical malpractice" insurance areas, said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Leahy said he would seek a vote on the plan when the Senate debates health care legislation in the next few weeks.

Leahy made his comments at the same time the House Judiciary Committee voted 20-9 to end an industry exemption that dates to 1945. Three Republicans supported the move.

Senior Democratic officials said the leadership was inclined to incorporate the measure into the broader health care bill expected to be brought to the floor for a vote within a few weeks. No final decision has been made, they added.

Taken together, the actions reflect the fury Democrats have shown in response to recent insurance industry attempts to influence the shape of legislation. The events occurred less than a week after the insurers' trade association issued a report saying a measure that cleared the Senate Finance Committee would produce sharp increases in premiums for millions who currently have insurance.

Democrats and the White House reacted angrily, attacking the study as flawed and politically motivated....(Remainder.)

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Judith Miller Lectures the Pentagon: 'Maybe we Should Just Believe Everything They Put Out'

By David Neiwert
Crooks and Liars

Fox's Catherine Herridge has been reporting for a couple of weeks about the White House's change of policy regarding reporters' access to detainees at Guantanamo Bay, which while problematic from a journalist's perspective has all the earmarks of a classic bureaucratic conflict with reporters.


Herridge ran an update yesterday on Fox's Live Desk with Marsha MacCallum, including a clip of a Pentagon spokesman being short with Herridge, evidently, over her persistent questions on the issue. It looks like a tempest in a teapot, but Herridge is a serious reporter and her beef has some legitimacy, especially when it comes to transparency for this White House.

The interesting part of this report, though, came immediately after Herridge's report, when MacCallum hosted our old friend Judith Miller, the woman who helped bring you that six-years-and-running disaster on wheels known as the Iraq War. Miller decided that this Pentagon spokesman was in need of upbraiding:
MacCallum: What did you think of the Pentagon response there to Catherine's question?


Miller: You know, I thought, it's very combative. Excuse me, Mr. Pentagon Spokesman, for Fox doing our job. We're supposed to be there, we're supposed to be reporting on what the Pentagon is doing to and for these prisoners, or detainees, as they prefer to be called. And if he doesn't like our going back and back to look in on those people, well, maybe we should just believe everything they put out.


I found it completely combative, unnecessarily so.

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Gretchen Carlson’s Patriotic Knickers In A Twist – Again!


By Priscilla
News Hounds

Having seemingly run out of persecuted Christians, Fox&Friends is now the go to place for persecuted patriots. Last week, they gave face time to a student from the University of New Hampshire who was told to take down a flag hanging from his dorm room. This morning, they provided air time to a situation involving a fire fighter from Chester PA who was suspended without pay because he refused to remove a flag decal from his locker. Two of his union brothers were interviewed by the lil pals. While the job action does seem unfair, there was a back story which the firefighters touched on and which really wasn’t supported by the chyrons used during the segment. As Marshall McLuhan noted, “the medium is the message.” As with the Fox Nation headlines, the Fox chyrons tell you all you need to know and in this case, the chyrons represented a message that wasn’t totally true. But what else is new with Fox&Friends!

Update: Teabaggers flew the American flag upside down which, according to flag etiquette, is done only as a distress signal. Nothing is mentioned about it being used for protesting. Funny, I don't recall Gretchen and the gang being outraged about that which, if done by Code Pink and other anti Bush protesters, would have produced howls of indignation. Photo of one such example on the next page.
H/T Escape Goat Nation.


Gretchen Carlson, who in a fit of pique directed towards Lanny Davis claimed that she is “fair and balanced, never plays it close to the vest when it comes to her opinion which (quelle surprise) matches the “right” side of the political spectrum. And if she sees an affront to “Old Glory,” she’s right there to defend the red, white, and blue. When the taxpayer funded US Air Force was prevented from doing a flyover of a “patriotic” festival, Gretchen found it “hard to believe” that this was happening. During the unfair and unbalanced segment on the Mojave Desert Cross she whined, in reference to the “patriotic” cross controversy "that a lot of people believe this is emblematic of where this society is headed. Our children will no longer see these symbols that mean so much to the fate of our country.” She articulated the same sentiment during this morning’s interview with Stacy Landrum President of the Chester PA Firefighters Union and his union vice-president, Captain John Barbato, in a segment that was classic Fox&Friends....(Remainder.)

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Make It Clear, No Vote For Public Option, Face A Primary

By Something The Dog Said
Square State

It is coming down to the wire on Health Care Reform, but that is not news for anyone. Last week Keith Olbermann spent an hour laying out the rational and emotional case for the need, requirement really, for a robust public option insurance plan, or better yet Medicaid for all. It is in this spirit the Dog writes this morning. We have seen the problems with trying to get reform from a Senate and House who have far too many members who are out of touch with the reality of health care in the United States today or are too impressed with the money the Phrama and Insurance lobbies have donated to them over the years.

45,000 Americans will die this year because they do not have health insurance. That is a number so big as to nearly be incomparable. For the killing of less than 3,000 Americans we went to war in Afghanistan and used the same reason, though there was and is no connection as the reason to go to war in Iraq. For the deaths of 3,000 Americans we have already spent, as of today, $918,000,000,000. This is more than enough money to cover the cost of giving all citizens' access to Medicaid.

For spurious reasons we went to war in Iraq. We were told it was about weapons of mass destruction, we were told it was about 9/11 and how the deaths of those 3,000 Americans made it vital that we spend nearly a trillion dollars, so far. Yet in the 9 years since we invaded Afghanistan and then Iraq 405,000 Americans have died from being unable to get or afford health insurance. 135 times the number we felt was justification for two wars, and yet we are in danger of doing almost nothing against the companies who kill at a level and regularity Al Qaeda could only wish for in their wildest dreams!

The time to stand up to the Insurance cartel is now. We know this, we are getting further than we have ever before, but we can not let a single avenue of attack go by, since it is sure the Insurance lobby will not. They have six lobbyists for every member of Congress. Even without the money they have spent in anticipation of this very fight that amount of talk would have the effect of swaying those who are out of touch with the reality of what health care and its costs are like in America today....(Remainder.)

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Heather Graham Becomes Public Option Pitch Woman In New MoveOn.Org Ad

By Sam Stein
The Huffington Post

In a new frontier of the public option debate, progressives are getting a hand from movie star Heather Graham to pitch the much-discussed health care reform provision.

The actress is starring in a new television ad put out by the progressive advocacy organization, MoveOn.org, in what the group is calling a broader, week-long effort to target insurance companies.

Obtained exclusively by the Huffington Post, the spot casts Graham as a "public option" sprinter in race against "bloated" private insurers from CIGNA, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, United Health and Humana....(Remainder.)



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Coburn Reaches Out to Those He Loathes

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly

How desperate is Tom Coburn to derail health care reform? He's willing to reach out to the LGBT community.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) penned an op-ed for the online version of the LGBT magazine The Advocate, which was posted Monday and co-authored by Christopher Barron, the chairman of GOProud, an organization for gay conservatives. [...] Coburn, who is a physician, and Barron referenced the example of rationing of certain critical AIDS treatments funded by the government as an example of why the public (or "government-run") option currently contained in House and Senate health proposals would be detrimental.


"These bureaucratic inefficiencies and mismanagement have literally cost lives," they wrote.
Now, Suzy Khimm notes the substantive flaws behind Coburn's argument: "Coburn doesn't explain, of course, how the private market or his own reforms will succeed in making expensive AIDS drugs more affordable than the current Ryan White programs, other than repeating the line that insurers shouldn't be able to discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions."

But I'm having a hard time getting over the fact that Coburn feels comfortable presenting an argument in The Advocate in the first place. Coburn isn't just right-wing on social issues; he's arguably the single most anti-LGBT lawmaker in Congress.

During his Senate campaign, for example, Coburn told voters, "The gay community has infiltrated the very centers of power in every area across this country, and they wield extreme power.... That agenda is the greatest threat to our freedom that we face today. Why do you think we see the rationalization for abortion and multiple sexual partners? That's a gay agenda."...(Remainder.)

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Glenn Beck Attacks Volunteerism As Un-American

By Ellen
News Hounds

It takes a special man to attack volunteerism and community service as somehow un-American but Glenn Beck was more than up to the job yesterday (10/19/09). You might say he even relished the task as he mugged before the camera with his latest conspiracy theory – which looked a lot like his other conspiracy theories – that a television industry effort to promote volunteerism and service is somehow part of a communist plot by the Obama administration to stamp out capitalism and The American Way Of Life. With video.


“When you’re watching TV this week, you might notice a common theme on some of your favorite TV shows: service and volunteerism,” Beck sneered at the opening of the segment. He was referring to the same Entertainment Industry Foundation initiative that The O’Reilly Factor attacked last week in which more than 60 television shows will somehow showcase the benefits of volunteerism. “Not just public service announcements, but service and volunteerism will be worked into the plots...Your favorite character might volunteer at the dog shelter or at the park.”

“That’s great,” Beck added with disgust. “I just have one pesky question." Then he proceeded to ask a series of questions. "Are we running out of volunteers in this country?... Are we trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist? Are we creating a problem that doesn’t exist? To have an emergency that doesn’t yet exist?” Then, in his “rodeo clown” voice, Beck said, “or is it just a coincidence that all of this falls into line with President Obama’s Corporation for National and Community Service.”

Beck didn’t seem to care enough to answer his own questions but I did, at least the last one. As it turns out, the Corporation for National and Community Service was created in 1993. By my math, that’s about 15 years before Obama was elected president.

Furthermore, Beck forgot to mention that, according to USA Today, the EIF program, called “I Participate” morphed out of a bi-partisan call to action by then-candidates Barack Obama and John McCain....(Remainder.)


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Losing America, Left versus Right

By Charles Lemos
MyDD

It's hard to take an article posted on the World Net Daily seriously but the fact that its author is Pat Buchanan lends it a measure of importance. After all, Pat Buchanan is a two-time Presidential candidate and now the self-appointed spokesman for the increasingly besieged white American. I won't dispute the fact that many white Americans feel their lifestyle under siege. They do feel that way and it is, but not for the reasons the right would have us believe nor is it limited to white Americans as Pat would have us believe.

Here's the crux of Pat's complaint:
In their lifetimes, they have seen their Christian faith purged from schools their taxes paid for, and mocked in movies and on TV. They have seen their factories shuttered in the thousands and their jobs outsourced in the millions to Mexico and China. They have seen trillions of tax dollars go for Great Society programs, but have seen no Great Society, only rising crime, illegitimacy, drug use and dropout rates.

They watch on cable TV as illegal aliens walk into their country, are rewarded with free educations and health care and take jobs at lower pay than American families can live on - then carry Mexican flags in American cities and demand U.S. citizenship.


They see Wall Street banks bailed out as they sweat their next paycheck, then read that bank profits are soaring, and the big bonuses for the brilliant bankers are back. Neither they nor their kids ever benefited from affirmative action, unlike Barack and Michelle Obama.


They see a government in Washington that cannot balance its books, win our wars or protect our borders. The government shovels out trillions to Fortune 500 corporations and banks to rescue the country from a crisis created by the government and Fortune 500 corporations and banks.


America was once their country. They sense they are losing it. And they are right.
The Christian faith purged charge is disingenuous because Pat knows that there is separation of Church and State in this country. What he is objecting to is the teaching of evolution, or the fact that we won't allow creationism disguised as science to be taught in public schools, and that apparently threatens their world. But most of Pat's complaints are economic in nature, though he does so effortlessly descend into a noxious xenophobia. He complains about "factories shuttered," "jobs outsourced," "bank bailouts," "unbalanced books" and "trillions to Fortune 500 companies."...(Remainder.)

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The Eagle and the Bear

By Gary Hart
Matters of Principle


A post-Cold War mystery prevails.  Why, almost twenty years after the end of the Cold War, are there still so many members of the U.S. foreign policy community (often called foreign policy elites) who seem instinctively to dislike the Russians?

Reasons can be found: Russia is not yet a democratic society; it is far from having a genuine free press; political dissent is discouraged; power and wealth are concentrated; too many Russians lean toward authoritarianism; and so forth.

All these are plausible arguments, except they overlook one thing: there are a number of areas where less antagonistic relations with Russia would help the U.S.  These include: preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power; containing the threat posed by North Korea; preventing al Qaeda from making inroads into Muslim republics on Russia’s southern border; controlling the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; continuing to help us resupply our forces in Afghanistan; and a wide variety of other common interests.

Instead, we periodically find a way to poke the Bear in the eye.  We quickly took the side of the Georgians in their conflict with Russia, though later facts demonstrated Georgian provocation.  We continue to consider placing missile defenses near the Russian border.  Until recently we pursued NATO membership for the Ukraine and Georgia, even though a majority of Ukrainians oppose it and few Europeans want to go to war with Russia on behalf of the Georgians.  And two decades after the end of the Cold War we still maintain trade restrictions (called the Jackson-Vanik amendment) against the Russians for no good reason.

Following the adage that we don’t have permanent friends, we have permanent interests, we have many more common interests with the Russians than we have matters in opposition.  We do not have to compromise our principles in order to pursue those common interests.  Nothing requires us to soften criticisms for undemocratic behavior.  Nothing requires us to lower our standards....(Remainder.)

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Public Option in Danger

By Sen. Mark Udall, Sen. Michael Bennet, and Gov. Bill Ritter
The Huffington Post

The public option will provide much-needed competition and choice for health care. And with the majority of Senators, Representatives, and the American people supporting a public option, its passage would seem inevitable.

But in fact, the public option is in real danger.

That's because the quiet threat of a filibuster effectively holds the public option hostage. Through the filibuster, Senators can delay debate on the public option indefinitely, preventing the Senate from ever holding a democratic, up-or-down vote on the issue.

On behalf of the people of Colorado, we've written an open letter to all United States Senators asking them to stand up for people and not the profits of the insurance industry. If you agree that the public option deserves an up-or-down vote in the Senate, then please take a moment to sign our letter below calling on members of the Senate to refrain from filibustering.

In a speech before Congress on the issue of health care reform just over a month ago, President Obama asserted that "I am not the first president to take up this cause -- but I am determined to be the last."

There is no doubt that we have an historic opportunity to reform our health care system, once and for all. We believe the public option is a crucial part of any real reform of the health care system.

But with powerful special interests determined to halt reform, the specter of the filibuster is set to derail our efforts....(Remainder.)

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The Dollar Will Not Crash

By Mike Whitney
CounterPunch


he dollar is not going to crash. There may be grumblings in foreign capitals and "secret meetings" between finance ministers but, for now, the dollar appears to be safe.  
 
Foreign countries don't trade in dollars because they like America. They do it because they have no choice. If they want oil, they need dollars; it's as simple as that.   

It's great to talk about a "basket of currencies" replacing the dollar, but that's still a work-in-progress. It might happen, or it might not; no one really knows.  What's clear, is that we still live in dollar-centric world where paper claims on wealth are arbitrarily increased at will by a handful of unelected officials at the Federal Reserve. It's a process which relies more on Gutenberg than moral authority.  

There's no sign that the dollar is about to lose its position as the world's reserve currency. For that to happen, central banks would have to start unloading US Treasuries, which they are not. Despite record government spending and mushrooming deficits, there is still a strong appetite for US debt. Treasury data show that foreigners purchased $28.6 billion more in US assets in August than they did in June. The flows are not enough to offset downward pressure on the dollar, but that could change in the months ahead. As capital flows increase, dangerous imbalances will reemerge, and the prospect of another financial calamity will become more likely. The Fed is rebuilding the system that just blew up using the same blueprint as before.

World leaders and central bankers mutter about Fed policies, but do nothing. There's been no resistance to the secrecy, the bailouts or the money printing.  The bottom line is that the people in power really don't want change. They just want to make speeches and blame America. It's all just empty posturing....(Remainder.)

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Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) PWNS Hudson Institute Dilettante Over Health Care Bankruptcies

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Seymour Hersh: Military Waging War With White House

By Neil Offen
The Herald-Sun

DURHAM — The U.S. military is not just fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, America’s most renowned investigative journalist says.

The army is also “in a war against the White House — and they feel they have [President] Obama boxed in,” Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Seymour Hersh told several hundred people in Duke University’s Page Auditorium on Tuesday night. “They think he’s weak and the wrong color. Yes, there’s racism in the Pentagon. We may not like to think that, but it’s true and we all know it.”

In a speech on Obama’s foreign policy, Hersh, who uncovered the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War and torture at Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraqi war, said many military leaders want Obama to fail.

“A lot of people in the Pentagon would like to see him get into trouble,” he said. By leaking information that the commanding officer in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, says the war would be lost without an additional 40,000 American troops, top brass have put Obama in a no-win situation, Hersh contended.

“If he gives them the extra troops they’re asking for, he loses politically,” Hersh said. “And if he doesn’t give them the troops, he also loses politically.”

The journalist criticized the president for “letting the military do that,” and suggested the only way out was for Obama to stand up to them.

“He’s either going to let the Pentagon run him or he has to run the Pentagon,” Hersh said. If he doesn’t, “this stuff is going to be the ruin of his presidency.”

Hersh called the “Af-Pak” situation — the spreading conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan — Obama’s main challenge....(Remainder.)

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Tea Baggers and Birchers?

By Jayne Lyn Stahl
CounterPunch


By now, word has gotten out that FreedomWorks, the right wing organization chaired by Dick Armey, that advocates for lower taxes, and smaller government, is the same group behind tea baggers who opposed Obama's stimulus plan. Protests against the $787 billion congressional bailouts have been widely linked to Rep. Armey, and the Washington, D.C. nonprofit. But, it doesn't stop there.
 
If you take a look at at who is behind the so-called Tea Parties, co-founders and major funders of FreedomWorks Charles and David Koch, it is plain as day that the same forces that declared another young, progressive president, John F. Kennedy, to be a traitor are behind the effort to take down the Obama presidency.

Who are Charles and David Koch? They are the sons of Fred Koch, of Koch Industries, a company whose name has come to be synonymous with big oil in America. Charles and David Koch may be found, too, on Forbes list of twenty wealthiest people in the world,. The Koch brothers are heirs not just to Fred Koch's vast fortune, but to his pet project the far right wing John Birch Society. Back then, as reported by Exiled Online, Los Angeles was regarded by many as the "heartland" of the Birch Society.

So, it should come as no surprise then that it was at the Hollywood Paladium, back in 1961, that JFK warned against those "fringes of our society who have sought to escape their own responsibility by finding a simple solution, an appealing slogan or a convenient scapegoat...They equate the Democratic Party with the welfare state, the welfare state with socialism, and socialism with communism. They objet quite rightly to politics intruding on the military--but they are anxious for the military to engage in politics." Sound familiar? How about this: "Rightists Picket Kennedy Speech--3,000 Parade in Los Angeles in Orderly Demonstration," some carrying signs reading "Disarmament is suicide," and "Veto Tito." (NYT, November, 1961)...(Remainder.)

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Why the White House Is 100% Right to Challenge Fox News

By Cenk Uygur
The Huffington Post

There are three categories of news media:

1. Opinion Outlets
• Keith Olbermann
• Bill O'Reilly
• The Young Turks
Wall Street Journal Editorial Side

2. Partisan Press (Ideologically Driven Press)

The Nation
• Fox News Channel
National Review
•Mother Jones
• Drudge Report

3. Straight News

• CNN
• ABC News
• MSNBC News Programs
New York Times
Wall Street Journal (Non-Editorial)

There's absolutely nothing wrong with being in any of these categories. As you can see, I put our show in the "Opinion Outlet" category. I have no problem with that. We tell you our take on the news of the day. All of the categories are based on the news; but they do range based on how much original news reporting or editorializing they do. And that is an important distinction.

The Obama White House has taken on Fox News channel in an effort to point out they are not a legitimate news network. This is very important because out of all the outlets mentioned above, they are the only ones being dishonest about what category they are in. This is where the confusion lies....(Remainder.)

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Keith Olbermann: The Right Wing Eating Their Own

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Joe Biden in Poland & Czech Republic



US Vice President Seeks to Smooth Feathers in 'New Europe'


By Gregor Peter Schmitz
Spiegel


US Vice President Joe Biden heads to Eastern Europe on Tuesday, the first such trip by a high-ranking Washington official since President Barack Obama scaled back the missile shield program in September. Many are concerned that the US is turning its back on the region.

It's good to be the US vice president these days. Joe Biden gets to fill his days with such pleasant duties as speaking to Democratic campaigners in New Jersey, addressing a group of supporters in Pennsylvania and attending banquets with party allies. It seems that wherever he goes, President Barack Obama's deputy is greeted with applause.

But this week is likely to be different. On Tuesday, Biden begins a four day visit to Eastern Europe, stopping at Poland, the Czech Republic and Romania, where he is not very popular. Poland and Czech Republic are particularly unimpressed by the Obama administration because the US president recently put the missile shield -- that had been promoted by his predecessor George W. Bush as a defence against Iranian midrange and long-range missiles -- on ice. Instead of the complex system involving long-range rockets envisioned by Bush, Obama wants a system that uses more conventional SM-3 rockets based on ships or in Turkey, the Balkans and perhaps also in Eastern Europe.

It wasn't just the decision itself that angered the Poles and the Czechs as much as the way it was communicated. Obama first called his Eastern European counterparts in September via a phone call at around midnight European time -- after the first reports had appeared in the US media. The reaction in Poland was harsh. The Polish tabloid Fakt wrote "the US has sold us out to the Russians." Former Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek complained that Obama's decision demonstrated that the US "was no longer interested" in the region....(Remainder.)

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Sen. Cornyn Says First Installment of Democrats' Health Reform Plan Would Raise Deficit $250 Billion

By Robert Farley
PolitiFact


If you heard Sen. John Cornyn's comments on CBS's Face the Nation on Oct. 18, 2009, you may have thought the Democrats' big health care reform plan was coming to the Senate floor this week and that it would explode the federal deficit.

"In fact, this week, Majority Leader Harry Reid has scheduled to vote on the first installment of health care reform, which will violate the president’s promise not to raise the deficit by one dime," Cornyn said. "In fact, it will raise the deficit by $250 billion."

The very same day, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said on CNN's State of the Union that the president's health care plan is "more than deficit neutral."

So what gives?

Emanuel is correct that the Congressional Budget Office looked at the version of the health care bill authored by Sen. Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat who chairs the Finance Committee, and concluded that the bill would cost $829 billion over 10 years, but that offsetting funding for it would actually reduce the federal deficit by $81 billion.

But Cornyn's not talking about that plan. He's talking about an issue that has been largely absent from the health care debate: a proposal to fundamentally change the way doctors are paid by Medicare.

Here's the backstory. For more than a decade, Medicare payments to physicians have been limited by a cost-containment formula called the Sustainable Growth Rate, which is tied to the growth rate of the economy (but not to health care costs, which have been growing faster). The problem is, it would require such deep cuts to doctors' pay that Congress has stepped in to make temporary fixes....(Remainder.)

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British Army ‘Hijacked by Racist, Far Right Extremists’

By Agence France-Presse
The Raw Story


LONDON — The good name of the Armed Forces is in danger of being tarnished by far right extremists, former generals warned in a letter on Tuesday.

The letter -- signed by four military heavyweights including General Sir Mike Jackson and General Sir Richard Richard Dannatt -- is aimed at the British National Party, which has used military symbols and pictures of Winston Churchill in recent election campaigns.

The letter states: "We call on all those who seek to hijack the good name of Britain's military for their own advantage to cease and desist.

"The values of these extremists -- many of whom are essentially racist -- are fundamentally at odds with the values of the modern British military, such as tolerance and fairness."

The BNP hit back, questioning why the signatories of the letter were silent on the matter of MP's expenses.

A BNP spokesman said: "It is rather strange that they said nothing when MPs were embezzling millions of pounds on furnishing their homes whilst our boys were being blown to smithereens because of a lack of funding for equipment."

General Jackson, speaking to the Times, mentioned the BNP by name when asked about the letter....(Remainder.)

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Bush Appointee: GOP Lawmakers Siding with ‘Professional Bigots’

By David Edwards and Daniel Tencer
The Raw Story

A former Bush administration appointee says claims that Muslim intern "spies" are infiltrating Congress are the product of "professional bigots" who are exploiting post-9/11 fears to make money.

Suhail Khan, who worked as a press secretary for a Republican congressman before joining the Department of Transportation under President George W. Bush, told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that the four Republican members of Congress who are pushing for an investigation into Muslim "infiltration" of Congress were "duped" by the authors of a new book claiming to expose a hidden agenda in the Muslim lobby in Washington.

"These same professional bigots, as I call them, have gone after other Muslim-Americans serving their government in past years, in the Bush administration when I was serving," Khan said on The Rachel Maddow Show. "And now they're going after Muslim staffers, starting with interns. I guess if you know how to make coffee and answer the phone, next thing you do, you'll be taking over the world."

Last week, four House Republicans -- Paul Broun (R-GA), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Sue Myrick (R-NC) and John Shadegg (R-AZ) -- announced they would be asking the House sergeant-at-arms to investigate claims in a new book that the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim lobby group in DC, is trying to plant Muslim spies as interns on the Hill.

CAIR met those allegations with outrage and ridicule, saying that the evidence the authors mustered amounts to little more than records of typical lobbying activities....(Remainder.)




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Europe Concerned as Dollar Decline Continues



A number of European countries have embarked on a slow recovery following the economic collapse late last year. But with the euro now at a 14-month high against the dollar, euro zone officials worry exports could suffer.


By Spiegel
Photo: Reuters

The signs of a recovering global economy are everywhere. Global stocks are up 75 percent from the deep lows seen in the darkest days of the financial crisis, many banks and other financial institutions are reporting a return to profits and a number of countries have emerged from recession.

But one development has some in Europe concerned that the path to recovery in Europe's single currency zone could be riddled with obstacles: The dollar continues to weaken against the euro. The result is that European exports -- one of the primary engines behind Europe's fragile recovery -- are becoming more expensive in the United States and in a number of Asian countries that have pegged their currency to the dollar.

On Tuesday, a euro was going for $1.4976, just off its 14-month high of $1.4994 seen on Monday. Many, though, expect the dollar to continue its fall against the euro with a return to the $1.60 rate seen in the summer of 2008 a possibility.

'Excessive Volatility'

Finance ministers from countries belonging to the 16-member euro zone addressed the issue at a Monday meeting in Luxembourg. "It is a problem that we are working on," Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg's finance minister and chairman of the euro group, told reporters. "We spent quite a long time discussing exchange rates."

Jean-Claude Trichet, head of the European Central Bank, said that Europe has "a vested interest in a solid and stable currency system" adding that "excessive volatility and disorderly movements on exchange markets are bad for economic and financial stability."...(Remainder.)

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A Pox on You

My son has cancer. He can't go into day care because of unvaccinated children.

By Stephanie Tatel
Slate


Current public opinion about childhood vaccinations sometimes seems to be influenced less by science and more by Jenny McCarthy. But here's something that rarely gets discussed: the threat posed by nonvaccinated on children who are immunosuppressed. Last year, while searching for child care for our 2-and-a-half-year-old son, my husband and I thought we had we found the perfect arrangement: an experienced home day care provider whose house was an inviting den of toddler industriousness. Under her magical hand, children drifted calmly and happily from the bubble station to the fairy garden to the bunnies and the trucks, an orchestrated preschool utopia. But when I asked: "Are any of the children here unvaccinated?" the hope of my son's perfect day care experience burnt to a little crisp. As it turned out, one child had a philosophical or religious exemption—a convenient, cover-all exemption that many doctors grant, no questions asked, when a parent requests one. (I still do not understand how the state can allow one to attribute his or her fear of vaccines and their unproven dangers to religion or philosophy. But that's a question for another day.)

Ordinarily I wouldn't question others' parenting choices. But the problem is literally one of live or don't live. While that parent chose not to vaccinate her child for what she likely considers well-founded reasons, she is putting other children at risk. In this instance, the child at risk was my son. He has leukemia.

What does any of this have to do with vaccinations? While the purpose of chemotherapy is to kill the cancer, it also kills the good cells—most notably the infection-fighting white blood cells. That means my son has limited ability to fight off anything. A single unimmunized child in an ordinary child care setting is the equivalent of a toddler time bomb to him....(Remainder.)

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Taliban Trying to Turn US Troops into Heroine Addicts

By David Edwards and Daniel Tencer
The Raw Story

Insurgents in Afghanistan are using heroin as a tactical weapon against US forces, hoping to emulate the drug problems that plagued US troops in Vietnam and Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s, says a new investigative report.

In a report at the Daily Beast, author Gerald Posner cites "an internal US intelligence report" that "concluded [insurgents] are targeting American troops in an effort to undermine their effectiveness, while raising cash to pay for new recruits and weaponry."

The report brings up inevitable comparisons to the Vietnam War of the 1960s and 1970s and the Soviet war in Afghanistan that ended two decades ago. It also raises the possibility that the conflict in Afghanistan will spill over into the streets of America as returning troops bring their addictions home with them.

Posner told MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan on Tuesday that drug addiction played a major role in the military failure of those two wars.

"In Vietnam we ended up with a nearly 20 percent addiction rate to China White," Posner said. (A 1971 report on drug addiction among US soldiers in Vietnam pegged the number closer to 15 percent.)...(Remainder.)



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Gun-Rights Group Says Health Care Bill Could Harm Gun Owners

By Louis Jacobson
PolitiFact


The Gun Owners of America has recently taken aim at an unlikely subject: health care reform.

In the last few weeks, GOA has sent out several action alerts to members criticizing the health care reform bill that passed the Senate Finance Committee last week. The bill, authored by Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., was supported by all of the committee's Democrats, as well as Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine. It will now be merged with another Senate health care bill and go to the full Senate.

On Oct. 9, 2009, the day before the Finance Committee began voting on amendments to the Baucus bill, GOA sent an alert to members titled, "ObamaCare Could be Used to Ban Guns in Home Self-Defense." The conservative group speculated about the impact of the health care bill on gun owners, hypothesizing that, in a bid to control spiraling health care costs, the administration will target people who have "excessively dangerous" behaviors that officials believe raise the cost of health care. The group warned that gun ownership — particularly keeping "a loaded firearm for self-defense" — is likely to be high on that list.

The memo accuses Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius — who would have significant influence over any new health care policy — of having a "well-established antipathy to the Second Amendment" because she vetoed concealed-carry gun legislation when she was governor of Kansas.

The Obama administration is so antigun, the group contends, that "it is even possible that the Obama-prescribed policy could preclude reimbursement of any kind in a household which keeps a loaded firearm for self-defense."

In this item, we'll scrutinize the claim that the Baucus bill "could be used to ban guns in home self-defense." To start, we turn to the committee-passed version of the legislation itself....(Remainder.)

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Salazar Calls for Investigation of Bush Oil Shale Rules

By David O. Williams
The Colorado Independent


U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Tuesday called on his department’s inspector general to investigate so-called midnight oil shale leasing regulations issued in the waning days of the Bush administration.

Issued as amendments to six existing research and development leases on public lands (five in Colorado and one in Utah), the 11th-hour Bush regulations set the ground rules for moving forward with commercial oil shale production if and when oil and gas companies arrive at viable technologies capable of affordably squeezing kerogen from shale rock and sand in western Colorado, eastern Utah and southwestern Wyoming.

Some estimates place oil shale reserves in the region’s Green River Formation at up to 1 trillion barrels of oil that could then be refined into petroleum. Kerogen is the organic material trapped in the shale that can be extracted at extremely high temperatures.

But the process remains highly speculative, and environmentalists who have legally challenged the Bush rules say the current technology requires far too much water for arid western lands to support, too much electricity that would further exacerbate global warming and that the process degrades sensitive Rocky Mountain landscapes with adverse impacts on wildlife and tourism.

“We want to avoid the booms and busts of the past,” said Salazar, a former U.S. senator from Colorado, referring to a devastating oil shale bust on the Western Slope in the 1980s. “We want to ensure the potential development is done in a way that is environmentally appropriate, and we want to assure that the American taxpayers get a fair return for the potential development of America’s public lands.”...(Remainder.)

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Our Flag is Not a Prop

The US flag should not be used as a point of argument but as a symbol of the solidarity that binds the diversity of our nation.

By Amy Hardin Turosak
Christian Science Monitor


I never imagined this could happen. While on Facebook the other day, I spied a profile picture that featured the stars and stripes of our revered flag and a hard feeling hit me in the gut. "Ugh," I thought, "another person calling President Obama a communist."

It turns out it was a close friend honoring the 9/11 tragedy.

It was startling, this new association evoked from seeing a photo of our nation's flag. It was a terrible, disturbing association.

I then realized why.

In recent months, I've seen many people on Facebook tucking our flag in their profile pictures to denounce our president or his policy by spouting a series of ugly, crude adjectives. No facts. No trusted references. Just adjectives.

For years I've rolled my eyes over the constant rounds of urban legends that remain stuck in a loop on the e-mail circuit. We've all at one point had some myth land on our screen, whether it be about asbestos in tampons or the Neiman Marcus chocolate chip cookie recipe....(Remainder.)

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Malcolm X Was Bisexual. Get Over It.

Black History Month should help break down homophobia by celebrating the sexuality of black heroes such as Malcolm X

By Peter Tatchell
The Guardian


October is Black History Month in Britain – a wonderful celebration of the huge, important and valuable contribution that black people have made to humanity and to popular culture.

It is also worth celebrating that many leading black icons have been lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), most notably the US black liberation hero Malcolm X. Other prominent black LGBTs include jazz singer Billie Holiday, author and civil rights activist James Baldwin, soul singer-songwriter Luther Vandross, blues singer Bessie Smith, poet and short story writer Langston Hughes, singer Johnny Mathis, novelist Alice Walker, civil rights activist and organiser of the 1963 March on Washington Bayard Rustin, blues singer Ma Rainey, dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey, actress, singer and dancer Josephine Baker, Olympic diving gold medallist Greg Louganis, singer and songwriter Little Richard, political activist and philosopher Angela Davis, singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman and drag performer and singer RuPaul.

Few of these prominent black LGBT achievers are listed on the most comprehensive UK Black History Month website, which hosts biographies of notable black men and women. In the section on people, only Davis is mentioned and her lesbianism is not acknowledged. The website fails to identify the vast majority of black public and historical figures who are LGBT. The Official Guide to Black History Month UK is equally remiss. Why these omissions? Black people are not one homogenous heterosexual mass. Where is the recognition of sexual diversity within the black communities and black history?...(Remainder.)

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Beck Compares Media To Tiny, Shivering, Dog

By Glynnis MacNicol
Mediaite

Still wondering whether the White House’s decision to publicly attack Fox News was a bad idea? You need look no further than Glenn Beck and his “Mao Hotline.” Beck is so clearly thrilled to be White House Public Enemy Number One he appears to be having problems fitting everything he wants to say on the subject into one hour. Which is fine since this will probably be the focus of his show for the foreseeable future.

In the clip below from today’s opener, Beck focuses on the press, the supposed “watchdogs of our republic, being brutally and viciously abused,” by the White House and thanks Jake Tapper for being the only reporter (dog?) willing to call the White House out on their decision to single out Fox (we reported on this earlier). The rest of the press it would seem, is the equivalent of the tiny, shivering Chihuahua in the pink collar Beck holds on his lap during his monologue. Also, apparently we’ll have to wait till tomorrow to find out what’s behind the blue curtain....(Remainder.)


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Foods that Might Make You Sick

By Chris Korbey
Good


Until recently, food-borne illness was most often associated with contaminated meat. But after last year’s tomato scare, illness from more innocous-seeming foods has become more acknowledged. With the exception of meat, which falls under the purview of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, most of America’s food sources are overseen by the Food and Drug Administration. Some argue that the FDA isn’t empowered to do enough to enforce food-safety regulations, and legislation is currently before Congress to give it more power. Right now, these are the FDA-regulated foods that have made the most people sick since 1990....(Original.)


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Judge Rules FBI Can Continue to Gag Recipient of National Security Letter

By Raw Story

A federal judge ruled late Tuesday that the government can continue to gag an internet servicer provider who received a National Security Letter from the FBI -- five years ago.


Under the Patriot Act, the FBI can use such letters to demand personal records about customers from internet providers, financial institutions and credit card companies without a warrant, and then keep the companies from disclosing even that they'd received such a letter.

The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the ISP. The government maintains that revealing information about the letter could compromise ongoing investigations, even though the letter itself was sent five years ago and has been the subject of press accounts.

"We're deeply disappointed that the court ruled that the FBI can continue to gag our John Doe client, who has been silenced for more than five years," Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project, said in a release. "This gag – which we continue to believe is unnecessary and unconstitutional – has prohibited Doe from participating in the public debate about the Patriot Act and has been used to suppress key information about the FBI's misuse of NSLs. The FBI's overuse of the NSL gag power has allowed the FBI to manipulate the surveillance debate and to deprive Congress and the public of crucial information that would inform the ongoing congressional debate about this intrusive surveillance power."

The court also ruled that the FBI can continue to suppress an "attachment" to the NSL Doe received, the ACLU said. The ACLU "argued that the attachment, if disclosed, would show that the FBI tried to obtain records that it was not entitled to obtain under the NSL statute."...(Remainder.)

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British Climate-Change Skeptic Says Copenhagen Treaty Threatens "Democracy," "Freedom"

By Louis Jacobson
PolitiFact


Christopher Monckton -- a British hereditary peer and high-profile skeptic of both global warming and international agreements -- caused a stir on Oct. 14, 2009, with a forceful denunciation of the upcoming international talks on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark, scheduled for Dec. 7-18, 2009.

In a speech in St. Paul, Minn., Monckton called the pending agreement a "dreadful treaty" and said, among other things, that the parties "are about to impose a communist world government on the world. You have a president who has very strong sympathies with that point of view. He's going to sign. He'll sign anything."

Monckton continued, "So, thank you, America. You were the beacon of freedom to the world. It is a privilege merely to stand on this soil of freedom while it is still free. But in the next few weeks, unless you stop it, your president will sign your freedom, your democracy, and your prosperity away forever -- and neither you nor any subsequent government you may elect would have any power whatsoever to take it back again. That is how serious it is."

For this item, we'll put aside the debate on whether it is wise to institute policies, such as emissions cuts, to curb climate change -- the "prosperity" portion of Monckton's comment. Instead, we'll stick to analyzing Monckton's claim that an agreement coming out of the Copenhagen talks would, one, sign away American sovereignty and, two, be irreversible.

Let's start with some background. The Copenhagen meeting, which President Barack Obama is expected to attend, is part of an ongoing process sponsored by a United Nations body called the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. Its goal is to secure international cooperation to curb the emission of gases that scientists blame for raising global temperatures, a development that could harm the environment....(Remainder.)

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Documentary Exposes Mormon Financial Contributions to Prop 8



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YouTube Yanked Maine Anti-Gay Ad for Copyright Violation

By Joe Sudbay
AMERICAblog

Yesterday, we learned that the leader of the anti-gay campaign admitted to misleading the people of Maine. This morning, I woke up to find that the latest anti-gay ad has been pulled from YouTube "due to a copyright claim by National Public Radio, Inc." You can see it on the Stand for Marriage Maine website here. Or if you'd rather not visit a homophobic website, I took a screen capture (click for larger image):


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Obama Death Threats Escalating


By Neal Broverman
Advocate.com
Photo:  ABC News


The White House has registered a 400% uptick in threats on President Obama's life versus threats on President George W. Bush's, straining the Secret Service and making some question whether the agency is equipped to protect the president.

The reports of increased threats against Obama come from an internal congressional report uncovered by The Boston Globe.

Besides being charged with regularly protecting 32 people, including first lady Michelle Obama and former president Bill Clinton, the Secret Service arranges security for high-profile events and probes financial crimes. According to the Globe, some government officials want the Secret Service to abandon its financial investigations so it can focus on keeping the nation's leaders safe.

The Southern Poverty Law Center reported in August that the number of white supremacist militia groups, which typically despise African-Americans and gays alike, has grown by 35% since 2000....(Original.)

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