Saturday, March 6, 2010

Must Reads

Veritas Nihilum Vincet: Meet The Palins

Paul Krugman: Senator Bunning's Universe

Glenn Greenwald: The Full-Scale Collapse: From Murrow to Blitzer

Rep. Anthony Weiner: Let's Put the Public Option to a Vote

Steve Benen: Cheney Faces Blowback Over Cheap DOJ Smear

driftglass: What?

Michael Moore: An Open Letter: President Obama: Replace Rahm with Me

President Obama's Weekly Address - March 6, 2010

What Health Reform Will Deliver – This Year

Friday, March 5, 2010

Republican Hypocrisy: The Judd Gregg Edition

Senator Judd Gregg: "If reconciliation is used, it will be a clear signal to Americans that the administration and the Democratic majority are willing to trample the spirit of the Senate in order to pass a highly partisan policy, regardless of the damage it does to the concept of representative government."

Hypocrite says what?

Fear May Win Again

The terrorists have already won. Even if any planned terrorist attack is thwarted, just the thought of another possible attack inside the US has so freaked out some of the public and elected officials that they are willing to drop Constitutional rights at the snap of a finger as is being demonstrated with the 9/11 trial location.

In a potential reversal, White House advisers are close to recommending that President Barack Obama opt for military tribunals for self-professed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed...
In addition to local opposition to a trial [in New York City due to costs, security and logistical concerns], the administration faces pressure on its goal of closing Guantanamo on another front. Republicans in Congress have proposed barring prosecutions of terrorism defendants in federal courts or in reformed military commissions located in the United States.
...The Obama administration views civilian trials for terrorists as an important demonstration of the U.S. commitment to rule of law. Officials also have cited the numerous terrorism trials already held successfully in U.S. criminal courts.
..."If this stunning reversal comes to pass, President Obama will deal a death blow to his own Justice Department, not to mention American values," said American Civil Liberties Union Anthony D. Romero. "Even with recent improvements, the military commissions system is incapable of handling complicated terrorism cases and achieving reliable results. President Obama must not cave in to political pressure and fear-mongering. He should hold firm and keep these prosecutions in federal court, where they belong."
Agreed. If there is no way to be able to hold this trial in a civilian court because of logistics, then they should at least attempt to have some kind of civilian trial at a military base as an end around to costs and security.

Using the Federal Court System the right thing to do and it's also successful and has been used in over 300 terrorism trials by the previous administration, which has been conveniently forgotten by the opposition party. Not only would this be a political loss for the Obama administration but more importantly, a tragic loss for the rule of law.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Stupak is Back and Getting Media Coverage

My friend, who shall be known as JHW22, wrote a piece on Stupak and his lying ways on abortion funding yesterday on her DailyKos diary. Seems she was ahead of the curve since the story's been picking up speed today. Here it is in its entirety.


Last night on Hardball with Tweety, Bart Stupak made two dramatic statements that he has made before and will continue making as long as he is given a platform (Tweety loves this topic so one action we can take is tallying the number of times Tweety mentions the Stupak language between now and the final vote). We need to understand the language in this section of the bill thoroughly and then bombard the office with calls and show up at any meetings and raise hands to challenge him in a civil, yet factually correct manner.
Here’s what Tweety and Stupak discussed:
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at Blair House last week. Let`s listen. See if you agree.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Leader Boehner, the law of the land is there is no public funding of abortion, and there is no public funding of abortion in these bills. And I don`t want our listeners or viewers to get the wrong impression from what you said.
MATTHEWS: Is the Speaker correct?
MATTHEWS: Explain.
STUPAK: The Speaker is incorrect. In the Senate bill -- in the Senate bill, and that`s what they`re telling us the vehicle we`re using. In the Senate bill, it says you must offer insurance policies that will be paid for by the federal government that covers abortion. You must do so. Also in that same language, if you come in the Senate version, in the OPM, Office of Personnel Management, policies they`ll be putting forth, you must pay -- every enrollee must pay one dollar per month into a fund to help fund abortions.
It`s very clear. I direct the Speaker`s attention to pages 33 to page 44 of the Senate bill as written in the Senate and passed on Christmas Eve.
This is not true. Aside from the fact that the "Senate bill as written in the Senate and passed on Christmas Eve" discusses abortion MUCH later than pages 33-44, the Senate bill says that states can choose whether companies in the exchange cover abortion or not.
(1) IN GENERAL.—A State may elect to prohibit abortion coverage in qualified health plans offered through an Exchange in such State if such State enacts a law to provide for such prohibition.
HR 3590 EAS/PP
(2) TERMINATION OF OPT OUT.—A State may repeal a law described in paragraph (1) and provide for the offering of such services through the Exchange.
The bill also states
(i) nothing in this title (or any amendment made by this title), shall be construed to require a qualified health plan to provide coverage of services described in subparagraph (B)(i) or (B)(ii) as part of its essential health benefits for any plan year; and
(ii) subject to subsection (a), the issuer of a qualified health plan shall determine whether or not the plan provides coverage of services described in subparagraph(B)(i) or (B)(ii) as part of such benefits for the plan year.
As for federal funding, the language abides by current law – currently that is the Hyde Amendment – but the language is written to accommodate any future changes to the existing law. It repeatedly refers to section (1)B(i) which clarifies what is prohibited from federal funding.
But Stupak stated that each policy holder would have to pay $1 into an abortion fund – yep, he said each policy holder would pay for abortions. But that is not what the heading (1) VOLUNTARY CHOICE OF COVERAGE OF ABORTION SERVICES says to me.
Stupak interprets the language to be:
If one buys any health plan through Company A, one pays into an abortion fund.
I interpret the language to be:
If one buys Plan Q with an abortion Rider through Company A, then one pays a separate rider premium. If one buys Plan R without an abortion Rider through Company A, then one DOES NOT pay a separate premium.
Now, this diary isn’t about whether the existing language is something we like or hate. This diary is about a Democrat distorting language in order to make an already difficult process passing this bill even more difficult and frankly, he’s manipulating voters by misrepresenting the language.
For the most part, the language in the bill is more about the logistical segregation of premiums that would pay for abortion services coverage from the premiums that would not. And more specifically it’s primarily about keeping premiums that would go toward non-Hyde Amendment abortion allowances segregated from other premiums. The whole gist of the language is about FEDERAL FUNDS NOT TOUCHING abortion coverage as required by existing law. But Stupak wants people to think that anyone who pays a premium funds abortions. He says all of this while saying he is fine with the Hyde Amendment language.
Where the $1 line comes in is during the actuarial part. If you have the abortion coverage Rider, all kinds of calculations have to be done to decide the premium value based on what’s covered under the Hyde Amendment and what isn’t. If it’s not covered under the Hyde Amendment, then that coverage value is determined and you have to pay a separate abortion Rider premium so as not to touch abortion coverage premiums with regular premiums. These premiums are kept in separate accounts by the insurance companies.
The bulk of the section in the bill that discusses this is found on pages 2069 through 2078 in the FINAL Senate Bill.
I have summarized the language but since the main issue here is all about "interpretation" I ask you to please print it out, read it, mark it up and learn it inside and out (if you don't already). Then call Representative Stupak’s office and leave messages telling them that you understand the language and that you’d be happy to explain it to him.
They will be quite prickly over at his DC office, I know because one of the staffers threatened to turn me over to the Capitol Hill Police if I didn’t stop calling today when I was trying to figure out why Stupak told Tweety that this language was on pages 33-44. A staffer later returned my call with the correct page numbers.
When they know you’re right and feel smug, they will ask you where you’re from because they don’t want to hear from anyone in any other district, despite the fact that this is a NATIONAL health care bill he’s willing to stop. And they do have caller ID so they will know if you’re calling from out of state, or from a cell phone that was bought out of state even if you’ve moved to his district. If you know anyone in the district, ask them to call.
Finally, if you feel that you have been brushed aside, call Speaker Pelosi. Her staffer was pleased to hear from me. Ask that Speaker Pelosi speak to Stupak to "educate" him on the language and ask that she make a public statement if he continues his appearances on national TV misrepresenting the language.
If you live in his district, get to a meeting.
Catskill Julie provided the following useful information in the comments of a Daily Kos diary:
Call (202) 225 4735
Fax (202) 225 4744
in District call Toll Free: 800-950-7371 
Alpena, (989)356 0690 Fax(989)356 0923
Escanaba, (906)786 4504 Fax(906)786 4534
Marquette,(906) 228 3700 Fax(906) 228 2305 
GO to meetin' Tawas City, March 8 
For Immediate Release
March 3, 2010 Contact: Michelle Begnoche
(202) 225-4735
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) will host a town hall meeting in Tawas City on Monday, March 8 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. (EST) at the Tawas Area High School cafeteria. The meeting is open to the public and will provide an opportunity for constituents to ask Stupak questions on a range of issues. Stupak will also provide an update on health care reform, job creation, the economy and other issues pending before Congress. 
Tawas Area High School is located at 255 W. M-55, Tawas City, Mich.
"This town hall meeting in Tawas City is a chance to meet with constituents, address their concerns and answer questions about the work I am doing in Congress to strengthen our economy, create jobs and provide Americans with access to affordable health care," Stupak said. "I enjoy the opportunity to receive feedback on these critical issues and hope my town hall meetings spur additional dialogue in communities across northern Michigan." 
Out of respect for all those wishing to attend the town hall meeting, only credentialed media will be permitted to record the event. 
The Tawas City town hall meeting is a continuation of Stupak’s travels around the First Congressional District, which has included town hall meetings in Negaunee, Petoskey, Cheboygan, Escanaba, Standish, Ironwood, Ontonagon and Houghton. Last month Stupak held a telephone town hall meeting reaching 3,390 constituents in all 31 counties in the First Congressional District. 
Residents of Michigan’s First Congressional District can sign up to receive email notice of Stupak’s town hall meetings and to be included in the next telephone town hall meeting by visiting and selecting "E-mail and Telephone Town Hall Sign-Up" or by calling Stupak’s office at 1-800-950-7371.

UPDATE SINCE ORIGINALLY POSTED AT THE DAILY KOS: As I said he would be, Stupak is everywhere spewing this incorrect information. HOWEVER, after my calls to his office yesterday telling them he was citing the wrong pages and how could anyone check him if he didn't provide the correct pages, he is now CITING THE CORRECT PAGES. Now I need help getting him to properly represent what those pages actually say.

Music Break! Jamie Cullum

My sister was able to score and extra ticket to Jamie Cullum playing at Joe's Pub last night (a show that sold out in about a minute and crashed their website) and what a great show it was! Usually, I'm pretty low key at these things with regards to recording, but when Cullum climbed off the stage with his bassist to roam around the small room and sing I Get a Kick Out of You (without a mic), I had to pull my BlackBerry out and record it.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Cartoon of the Day

Pretty Cool

"The latest images of the Earth are the most true-colour images of the entire world released to date, according to Nasa scientists."

Mitt Romney Thinks ER Care is Free

Mitt Romney graced the Morning Joke™ team with his presence this morning and basically lied for about ten minutes. It was a sight to see.  Not only did he participate in the obligatory GOP bashing of President Obama for his "apology tour," which he also pushes in his new book (Scarborough is all to eager to jump in), but claims that Bush kept us safe, that the health care reform proposal is going to cut $500 billion from Medicare Part D, and that Sarah Palin is qualified to be President.

The thing that really got to me is that Mitt Romney believes that hospital care in an emergency room is free and the patient bares no responsibility having to pay the bill.

Mike Barnicle: "...Do you believe in universal coverage?"
Romney: "Oh, sure.  Look, it doesn't make a lot of sense for us to have millions and millions of people who have no health insurance, and yet who can go to the emergency room and get entirely free care for which they have no responsibility, particularly if they are people who have sufficient means to pay their own way."
Clueless.  Obviously, Mitt Romney has never been to an emergency room.  And no one even called him to task because they're all inside the beltway members who have absolutely no sense of the real world.

Why I Don't Watch Jay Leno

Well, Sarah Palin made an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (at least it's Leno this week). And not only did she continue her contradiction of supporting the Tea Party's "uprising against the government" while simultaneously announcing she would campaign for an establishment party hack like John McCain, she had the audacity to insult probably every comedian on the planet by doing a little stand up routine of her own. (I say every comedian because Dennis Miller stopped being funny a long time ago.)

Jay posed a couple of reasonable questions and Palin was quick on the answers which makes one hardly wonder whether those questions were pre-screened. Palin was surprisingly self depricating for a second when speaking about the "poor man's teleprompter" on the palm of her hand, but basically justified it.

And this is the main reason I don't watch Jay Leno. His interviews pretty much suck. I know he's not a journalist, but if you're going to have pre-selected questions ready for each and every interview on your little blue cards, wouldn't you want to actually listen to the answers and maybe have a follow up ready? Palin explained she had written three things down on her hand. She always takes notes and will now continue to do so on her hand just to "wee-wee up" the Democrats. (Yes, she used the phrase "wee-wee up" again.) But maybe a Leno follow up could have been, "But Sarah, in all due respect, 'Energy' and 'Tax Cuts' are the staple of the Republican Party. Did you really feel the need to write those specific notes down?" But not Jay. He'll just barrel on to the next question and instead prefers to make little, cutesy comments.

The really sad part of the whole event was the reaction of some in the crowd. In my opinion the David Letterman audience is a little hipper, more in tune and can put things in perspective, while Jay Leno's audience seem to be mostly older, conservative Republicans, and apparently judging by the reaction of some in the crowd, sprinkled with some Teabaggers.

Watch if you dare.

Quote of the Day

"The Rahm Emanuel that Obama hired is the poster child for the timid, pseudo-pragmatism that is inimical to the idealistic Obama agenda so many excited voters responded to last November. And it's a pragmatism that is absolutely killing the Democratic Party in the long run, because American voters have an intrinsic distrust of politicians they see as tacking with the polls or shying away from a fight."
~Dan Froomkin on the latest Obama administration sabotage and the recent Washington Post love affair with Rahm Emanuel.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Completely Out of Touch

If there is a prime example of politicians, namely Republicans, that have absolutely no idea of how the real world works and whose mindset is completely out of touch with reality, it has to be Senator Jon Kyl's (R-Az) asinine comment on unemployment benefits.

Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Republican whip, argued that unemployment benefits dissuade people from job-hunting "because people are being paid even though they're not working."
Unemployment insurance "doesn't create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work," Kyl said during debate over whether unemployment insurance and other benefits that expired amid GOP objections Sunday should be extended.
"I'm sure most of them would like work and probably have tried to seek it, but you can't argue that it's a job enhancer. If anything, as I said, it's a disincentive. And the same thing with the COBRA extension and the other extensions here," said Kyl.
I'm going to go out on a limb and take a wild guess in assuming Senator Jon Kyl has never been on unemployment. I'm sure he's pulled himself up by his own bootstraps considering his family didn't have enough money to afford the 'H' in his name. But it's examples like these that show how members mostly if not definitively in the Republican Party have no clue what is goes on in the real world.

It's not about job creation, you fucking moron.  It's about bridging the gap between employment opportunities for citizens who have most likely paid into unemployment insurance their entire working lives until the next job so they don't lose their house, their health care and can feed their families in the meantime. And in nearly all cases, the payments you receive are a fraction of what your actual salary actually was when you got the boot.

To Kyl, anyone who has lost their job, and therefore are in danger of or have already lost their health care benefits are nothing but welfare queens who are sucking on the government teat. How dare they collect on the unemployment insurance that they are legally entitled to and that they've paid into over the years? You goddamn lazy fuckers should be out pounding the pavement looking for a job if you've lost yours despite the fact that there are no jobs to be had. I suppose the current 9.8% unemployment rate is just voluntary. These people could find work if they really wanted to work, right, Jo-n?

Compound this idiocy with Senator Jim Bunning's filibuster of a $10 billion bill extending unemployment benefits and standing in the way of transportation projects that will put 2,000 more out of work because... well, who the hell knows why Bunning does what he does, and this is a microcosm of the GOP perspective.

Adding... Chris Matthews doesn't help his cause in his tacit support of Bunning not for any other reason than he's a Hall of Fame pitcher who played for his beloved Phillies in the 60's. Way to go, Tweety.