Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Al Franken Declared Winner by the Minnesota Surpreme Court

by Dee Newman

The Minnesota Supreme Court ordered today that Al Franken be certified as the winner of the state's long contested Senate race. The court rejected unanimously the incumbent Republican Norm Coleman's legal challenge. His appeal rested almost entirely on whether thousands of absentee votes had been unfairly rejected by local election officials around the state.

Coleman conceded the race at a news conference just after 4 p.m. ET.

The ruling will give Senate Democrats a majority large enough to pass legislation without any Republican support, that is, if Democrats and the two Senate independents remain united.

Since the Senate is out of session for the July 4th holiday, the earliest Franken could be seated will not be until sometime next week.

Senate Democrats are urging Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty to certify Franken's election as soon as possible.

Update: Gov. Pawlenty will sign the certification today.

Monday, June 29, 2009

For Ed: Out Boarding House Back Windows

by Dee Newman

I reconnected with an old friend today who I have not seen or talked with in nearly forty years.

I have, off and on, over the years tried to locate him, but was unsuccessful.

Several days ago, I ran across an old poem I had written for Ed back when we were both attending the University of Tennessee. So, I tried again. This time, I simply Googled his name and clicked on “images” and there he was with his wife Lorie. His hair was white and he had a small goatee, but I recognized him immediately.

The following is the poem I wrote for Ed back in January of 1969:

For Ed: Out Boarding House Back Windows

Out boarding house back windows,
Across rusty-railing-case,
Far above the silky shadows
That dance beneath her lace.

Down narrow twisted lanes,
Along cobblestones stained rusty-red,
Passed stagnant liquid-mirrored-drains,
O’er the tin cups of the living dead.

I kicked the can.
I kicked the old blind man’s can.
And then, I ran,
Yelling catch me, if you can!

The stench of the sewer crawls along the road
Like a dull green serpent of old,
Stinging the nostrils of the toads
That squat and wait above the wormholes.

While in the Tombs the men sleep three
With the rats, the roaches, the lice and me.

You know, somethings in this country seem to never change.

A Matter of Diet

If you ever eat another animal again after watching this entire video – may your so-called God have mercy on your so-called soul.

Bill Maher: Democrats Are the New Republicans

Reviewed on The Young Turks

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tribe of Heart News Update

From James LaVeck and Jenny Stein Co-founders of Tribe of Heart and Producers of PEACEABLE KINGDOM: THE JOURNEY HOME and THE WITNESS

Click on HeartBeat: Summer 2009

Shared via AddThis

A Review of Two Great 100% Cruelty Free Vegan Blogs!

Whether you are a vegan or not, the recipes on these two sites are absolutely delicious!

On COZY INSIDE, Ms Newman (no relation) says she posts almost everything she makes! On Just the Food she posts recipes she makes when testing for her upcoming book "Just the Burgers: 101 Homemade Veggie Burgers" and she post many, many other recipes! She also has a lengthy list of other Vegan blogs for you to check out.

Take a look-see. I know you will find both of these Blogs well worth the visit.

Click here to read about Ms Newman's books.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Review of "Food Inc."

by Dee Newman

If you care about your health and the health of this planet, then you should go see the remarkable new documentary “Food Inc.” It is one of those rare films that have the potential to change your life. You will certainly never walk through a supermarket in the same way again.

I read that the director, Robert Kenner, spent six years putting the film together. The narrators of the documentary are the writers Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma) and Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation).

Though the film does not focus on the brutal, violent, and gory images of slaughterhouses and the inhumane and filthy conditions of feedlots, the limited images that it does show are often difficult to view.

The main narrative of the film reveals how the vast American animal agricultural food industry has been consolidated into the hands of a few powerful corporations and how those corporations have been able to successfully restrict our understanding of where our food comes from, exactly what is in it and just how safe it really is.

But, what really makes this film so powerful and captivating are the stories of the ordinary folks in the film who have bravely gotten in the way of these powerful corporate giants and what they have had to suffer and endure in their efforts to try and protect us all.

There is the story of Barbara Kowalcyk, who became a relentless and determined food-safety advocate after her 2 1/2-year-old son, Kevin, died from eating an E-coli-contaminated hamburger.

There are the farmers who appear on screen with their faces blacked out in fear of lawsuits from Monsanto and the undocumented workers at processing plants who are recruited from Mexico and other countries and illegally brought to the United States to work dangerous jobs for extremely low wages.

Yes, it is the ordinary folks in this film who truly provide the knowledge and understanding of how and why these issues are so critical to the health and well being of us all.

So, if you care about your health and the health of this planet and you haven’t, as yet, seen “Food, Inc.” do not put it off. Go see it, today.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rachael Maddow Show: Gov. Mark Sanford

Interview with Gina Smith of The State newspaper who broke the story of Gov. Sanford's affair and who released the emails to his mistress.

The Daily Show: Gov. Mark Sanford

"Mark Sanford holds a press conference to admit he's just another politician with a conservative mind and a liberal penis."

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Governor Mark Sanford's Affair
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJason Jones in Iran

NPR News: Putting A Financial Spin On Global Warming

by Richard Harris

Michael Shellenberger (left) and Ted Nordhaus of The Breakthrough Institute made a recent trip to Capitol Hill to push Congress to spend more money on clean energy technologies. © 2009

Morning Edition, June 24, 2009 ·
Climate change is a potential environmental disaster — but it's also potentially an economic opportunity. President Obama spoke of it in economic terms Tuesday when he urged the House of Representatives to pass legislation that would address global warming.

"The nation that leads in the creation of a clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy," he said. "That is what this legislation seeks to achieve. It is a bill that will open the door to a better future for this nation. And that is why I urge members of Congress to come together and pass it."

Promoting responses to global warming as an economic opportunity — rather than as a pollution problem that needs to be solved through regulation — has long been championed by a tiny think tank in Oakland, Calif.

The Breakthrough Institute

The Breakthrough Institute doesn't look like much — just a few offices in a shared suite in downtown Oakland.

There are only five people on staff. On a recent day, they were outnumbered by an incoming crop of seven freshly minted college graduates, who showed up for their summer internships.

Michael Shellenberger, 37, and Ted Nordhaus, 43, founded the Breakthrough Institute in 2002.

Shellenberger tells the interns that environmental groups — like the ones he used to work for — are going about it all wrong. By urging Congress to cast carbon dioxide as a pollutant that needs to be controlled, he says, they will constantly swim against the tide of public opinion.

"We're stuck in this kind of poor paradigm for dealing with climate change, this pollution paradigm," he says, "not because environmentalists are failures, but actually because they were so successful. The Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the cap and trade on acid rain — these things worked really well."

Pushing Innovation, Not Regulation

But reducing carbon dioxide is a different story. It's not just a nuisance byproduct, like the sulfur in coal that contributes to acid rain. Carbon dioxide is unavoidable when we burn coal, oil and natural gas. So getting rid of it means either capturing it at great expense, or regulating fossil fuels into oblivion.

In theory, regulation will force companies to develop cleaner alternatives as the price of carbon pollution grows. But Shellenberger says that'll never work.

"When was the last time human beings modernized our energy sources by making older power sources more expensive?" he asks the interns. "And, of course, by now you probably know that the answer is never."

Personal computers didn't take off because there was a tax on typewriters, he says. And the Internet didn't sprout up because the government made telegraphs more expensive.

"So is there a better way to do this? Well, we think that there is. It's very simple: It's that we need to make clean energy cheap worldwide."

China will never stop burning its massive reserves of coal unless there's something cheap to replace them, he argues. And the United States isn't likely to stop burning coal, either, he says.

Shellenberger and Nordhaus argue that the best way to develop those clean technologies is to increase federal energy research tenfold, and to create a project akin to the Apollo mission to the moon. But a massive increase in federal energy research spending is not a popular idea at the moment.

"There's this idea that the government shouldn't be involved in technology, the government shouldn't be picking winners and losers," Shellenberger says. "Which is sort of a funny thing to say. It's kind of like, well, why not? And when hasn't the United States government been involved in picking technology winners and losers?"

He points to the computer industry as just one example of something that came into being because of deliberate federal investments.

Tapping Into Americans' Love Of Invention

Nordhaus and Shellenberger weren't always technology advocates. They met as young adults, trying to save redwood trees on the California coast. Working as pollsters and strategists, they spent a lot of time figuring out what motivates people. That led them to rethink how to frame global warming as an issue.

"The things that will drive or not drive action have nothing to do with how well you understand how fast the polar ice caps are melting," Nordhaus says.

A sense of doom or shame only motivates a small segment of the public — and puts off the rest, he says. Instead, their research shows that people are motivated when the issue is presented as an opportunity to revolutionize energy technology.

"In fact, not only is it popular, but voters get excited about it," Shellenberger says. "If you go and talk to folks in the Rust Belt, in Ohio, or you talk to people in Silicon Valley, you talk to people in New York, Americans love that. And they love that, I think, for reasons that are really specific to the national character, which is: That's what Americans do; we invent stuff. That is so much part of who we are. It just seems crazy that we wouldn't put that at the center of our policy agenda."

Critics Say There Isn't Time

The downside of this is that global warming is a looming crisis, and critics say their solution offers no timetable for action and no assurances that technologies will be ready before the world tips into a dangerous new state. So they often hear that their approach is a distraction.

"Well, I say, look in the mirror here," Nordhaus says. He says the pollution paradigm isn't succeeding either. Most countries aren't keeping the lofty promises they made in international climate talks. And the 1,200 page climate legislation now before Congress is so full of escape clauses and giveaways, it's not clear what exactly it will achieve. One thing it won't do is substantially increase federal research dollars.

Nordhaus and Shellenberger rail against the bill in the blogosphere. And they're trying to get attention on Capitol Hill.

Taking Their Agenda To The Capitol

A few days after our interview, we meet up again in front of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

They came to town with a simple plea: The government needs to spend more money — not less — to develop radical new energy technologies, and to help bring those to market.

On this day, they're accompanied by Peter Teague from the left-leaning Nathan Cummings Foundation — the Breakthrough Institute's main funder. Teague is pleased with what Shellenberger and Nordhaus have achieved to date.

"The president has adopted their language, their message, the story they helped to develop," Teague says. "The next stage in the development of all of this is for the actual reality of the policy to reflect the glowing, wonderful, positive, visionary rhetoric."

Turning Obama's rhetoric on energy opportunity into a fundamentally new approach to climate change will require a massive political shift. And that's the breakthrough that the Breakthrough Institute is hoping to achieve.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Forty International Aid Agencies Slam Gaza Blockade

by Mel Frykberg | 06.20.2009 | IPS News

RAMALLAH Jun 20 (IPS) - Forty international aid agencies and NGOs have released a joint statement condemning Israels blockade of Gaza to mark the second anniversary of the coastal territory being hermetically sealed off from the outside world.

Click here to read entire article.

Gaza: Bombs, Missiles, Tanks And Bulldozers

By Jimmy Carter

20 June, 2009 | Countercurrents.org

Transcript of former US President Jimmy Carter's Address to the United Nations Relief Works Agency's Human Rights Graduation in Gaza, June 16, 2009.

Director of UNRWA operations John Ging, thank you for inviting me to Gaza. Distinguished guests, children of Gaza, I am grateful for your warm reception.

I first visited Gaza 36 years ago and returned during the 1980s and later for the very successful Palestinian elections. Although under occupation, this community was relatively peaceful and prosperous. Now, the aftermath of bombs, missiles, tanks, bulldozers and the continuing economic siege have brought death, destruction, pain, and suffering to the people here. Tragically, the international community largely ignores the cries for help, while the citizens of Gaza are being treated more like animals than human beings.

Last week, a group of Israelis and Americans tried to cross into Gaza through Erez, bringing toys and children's playground equipment – slides, swings, kites, and magic castles for your children. They were stopped at the gate and prevented from coming. I understand even paper and crayons are treated as "security hazards" and not permitted to enter Gaza. I sought an explanation for this policy in Israel, but did not receive a satisfactory answer – because there is none.

The responsibility for this terrible human rights crime lies in Jerusalem, Cairo, Washington, and throughout the international community. This abuse must cease; the crimes must be investigated; the walls must be brought down, and the basic right of freedom must come to you.

Almost one-half of Gaza's 1.5 million people are children, whose lives are being shaped by poverty, hunger, violence, and despair. More than 50,000 families had their homes destroyed or damaged in January, and parents are in mourning for the 313 innocent children who were killed.

The situation in Gaza is grim, but all hope is not lost. Amidst adversity, you continue to possess both dignity and determination to work towards a brighter tomorrow. That is why educating children is so important.

I have come to Gaza to help the world know what important work you are doing. UNRWA is here to ensure that the 200,000 children in its schools can develop their talent, express their dynamism, and help create the path to a better future.

The human rights curriculum is teaching children about their rights and also about their responsibilities. UNRWA is teaching about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the struggle for these rights all over the world, Gaza's children are learning that as you seek justice for yourselves, you must be sure that your behavior provides justice for others.

They are learning that it is wrong to fire rockets that may kill Israeli children. They are learning that arbitrary detention and the summary execution of political opponents is not acceptable. They are learning that the rule of law must be honored here in Gaza.

I would like to congratulate both UNRWA and the children who have completed the human rights curriculum with distinction. They are tomorrow's leaders.

In addition to the tragedy of occupation, the lack of unity among Palestinians is causing a deteriorating atmosphere here in Gaza, in Ramallah, and throughout the West Bank.

Palestinians want more than just to survive. They hope to lead the Arab world, to be a bridge between modern political life and traditions that date back to the Biblical era. The nation you will create must be pluralistic and democratic – the new Palestine that your intellectuals have dreamt about. Palestine must combine the best of the East and the West. The Palestinian state, like the land, must be blessed for all people. Jerusalem must be shared with everyone who loves it – Christians, Jews, and Muslims.

With our new leaders in Washington, my country will move into the forefront of this birth of a new Palestine. We were all reminded of this renewed hope and commitment by President Obama's recent speech in Cairo.

President Obama's resolve to resume the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process based on the principle of two states for two peoples must be welcomed. This vision of two sovereign nations living as neighbors is not a mere convenient phrase. It is the basis for a lasting peace for this entire region, including Syria and Lebanon.

We all know that a necessary step is the ending of the siege of Gaza – the starving of 1 ½ million people of the necessities of life. Never before in history has a large community been savaged by bombs and missiles and then deprived of the means to repair itself. The issue of who controls Gaza is not an obstacle. As the World Bank has pointed out, funds can be channeled through a number of independent mechanisms and effective implementing agencies.

Although funds are available, not a sack of cement nor a piece of lumber has been permitted to enter the closed gates from Israel and Egypt. I have seen with my own eyes that progress is negligible.

My country and our friends in Europe must do all that is necessary to persuade Israel and Egypt to allow basic materials into Gaza. At the same time, there must be no more rockets and mortar shells falling on Israeli citizens.

I met this week with the parents of Corporal Gilad Shalit, and have with me a letter that I hope can be delivered to their son. I have also met with many Palestinians who plead for the freedom of their 11,700 loved ones imprisoned by the Israelis, including 400 women and children. Many of them have been imprisoned for many years, held without trial, with no access to their families or to legal counsel. Rational negotiations and a comprehensive peace can end this suffering on both sides.

I know it is difficult now, surrounded by terrible destruction, to see a future of independence and dignity in a Palestinian state, but this goal can and must be achieved. I know too that it is hard for you to accept Israel and live in peace with those who have caused your suffering. However, Palestinian statehood cannot come at the expense of Israel's security, just as Israel's security can not come at the expense of Palestinian statehood.

In his speech in Cairo, President Obama said that Hamas has support among Palestinians, but they also have responsibilities. To play a full role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, accept existing peace agreements, and recognize Israel's right to exist.

I have urged Hamas leaders to accept these conditions, and they have made statements and taken actions that suggest they are ready to join the peace process and move toward the creation of an independent and just Palestinian state.

Khaled Mashaal has assured me that Hamas will accept a final status agreement negotiated by the Palestinian Authority and Israel if the Palestinian people approve it in a referendum. Hamas has offered a reciprocal ceasefire with Israel throughout the West Bank and Gaza. Unfortunately, neither the Israeli leaders nor Hamas accept the terms of the Oslo Agreement of 1993, but the Arab Peace Initiative is being considered now by all sides.

I have personally witnessed free and fair elections in Palestine when Yasir Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas were elected president and when legislative members were chosen for your parliament. I hope to return next January for a similar event that will unite all Palestinians as you seek a proud and peaceful future.

Ladies and gentlemen, children of Gaza, thank you for inviting me and for sharing this happy occasion with me. Congratulations for your achievements.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Racheal Maddow: John Hodgman on Jocks Vs. Geeks

President Obama Addresses the radio/TV Dinner

New York Times: Health Care Showdown

Op-Ed Columnist
By PAUL KRUGMAN | Published: June 22, 2009

America’s political scene has changed immensely since the last time a Democratic president tried to reform health care. So has the health care picture: with costs soaring and insurance dwindling, nobody can now say with a straight face that the U.S. health care system is O.K. And if surveys like the New York Times/CBS News poll released last weekend are any indication, voters are ready for major change.

The question now is whether we will nonetheless fail to get that change, because a handful of Democratic senators are still determined to party like it’s 1993.

And yes, I mean Democratic senators. The Republicans, with a few possible exceptions, have decided to do all they can to make the Obama administration a failure. Their role in the health care debate is purely that of spoilers who keep shouting the old slogans — Government-run health care! Socialism! Europe! — hoping that someone still cares.

The polls suggest that hardly anyone does. Voters, it seems, strongly favor a universal guarantee of coverage, and they mostly accept the idea that higher taxes may be needed to achieve that guarantee. What’s more, they overwhelmingly favor precisely the feature of Democratic plans that Republicans denounce most fiercely as “socialized medicine” — the creation of a public health insurance option that competes with private insurers.

Or to put it another way, in effect voters support the health care plan jointly released by three House committees last week, which relies on a combination of subsidies and regulation to achieve universal coverage, and introduces a public plan to compete with insurers and hold down costs.

Yet it remains all too possible that health care reform will fail, as it has so many times before.

I’m not that worried about the issue of costs. Yes, the Congressional Budget Office’s preliminary cost estimates for Senate plans were higher than expected, and caused considerable consternation last week. But the fundamental fact is that we can afford universal health insurance — even those high estimates were less than the $1.8 trillion cost of the Bush tax cuts. Furthermore, Democratic leaders know that they have to pass a health care bill for the sake of their own survival. One way or another, the numbers will be brought in line.

The real risk is that health care reform will be undermined by “centrist” Democratic senators who either prevent the passage of a bill or insist on watering down key elements of reform. I use scare quotes around “centrist,” by the way, because if the center means the position held by most Americans, the self-proclaimed centrists are in fact way out in right field.

What the balking Democrats seem most determined to do is to kill the public option, either by eliminating it or by carrying out a bait-and-switch, replacing a true public option with something meaningless. For the record, neither regional health cooperatives nor state-level public plans, both of which have been proposed as alternatives, would have the financial stability and bargaining power needed to bring down health care costs.

Whatever may be motivating these Democrats, they don’t seem able to explain their reasons in public.

Thus Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska initially declared that the public option — which, remember, has overwhelming popular support — was a “deal-breaker.” Why? Because he didn’t think private insurers could compete: “At the end of the day, the public plan wins the day.” Um, isn’t the purpose of health care reform to protect American citizens, not insurance companies?

Mr. Nelson softened his stand after reform advocates began a public campaign targeting him for his position on the public option.

And Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota offers a perfectly circular argument: we can’t have the public option, because if we do, health care reform won’t get the votes of senators like him. “In a 60-vote environment,” he says (implicitly rejecting the idea, embraced by President Obama, of bypassing the filibuster if necessary), “you’ve got to attract some Republicans as well as holding virtually all the Democrats together, and that, I don’t believe, is possible with a pure public option.”

Honestly, I don’t know what these Democrats are trying to achieve. Yes, some of the balking senators receive large campaign contributions from the medical-industrial complex — but who in politics doesn’t? If I had to guess, I’d say that what’s really going on is that relatively conservative Democrats still cling to the old dream of becoming kingmakers, of recreating the bipartisan center that used to run America.

But this fantasy can’t be allowed to stand in the way of giving America the health care reform it needs. This time, the alleged center must not hold.

Friday, June 19, 2009

FRONTLINE: Sick Around America

As the worsening economy leads to massive job losses—potentially forcing millions more Americans to go without health insurance—FRONTLINE travels the country examining the nation's broken health care system and explores the need for a fundamental overhaul. Veteran FRONTLINE producer Jon Palfreman dissects the private insurance system, a system that not only fails to cover 46 million Americans but also leaves millions more underinsured and at risk of bankruptcy.(more »)

Click here to watch the enitire documentary.

Racheal Maddow: Iran on the Brink

Israeli Apartheid on Trial: Pan-Canadian Tour

E-Mail Surveillance Renews Concerns in Congress

June 17,2009

WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency is facing renewed scrutiny over the extent of its domestic surveillance program, with critics in Congress saying its recent intercepts of the private telephone calls and e-mail messages of Americans are broader than previously acknowledged, current and former officials said.

The agency’s monitoring of domestic e-mail messages, in particular, has posed longstanding legal and logistical difficulties, the officials said.

Since April, when it was disclosed that the intercepts of some private communications of Americans went beyond legal limits in late 2008 and early 2009, several Congressional committees have been investigating. Those inquiries have led to concerns in Congress about the agency’s ability to collect and read domestic e-mail messages of Americans on a widespread basis, officials said. Supporting that conclusion is the account of a former N.S.A. analyst who, in a series of interviews, described being trained in 2005 for a program in which the agency routinely examined large volumes of Americans’ e-mail messages without court warrants. Two intelligence officials confirmed that the program was still in operation.

Both the former analyst’s account and the rising concern among some members of Congress about the N.S.A.’s recent operation are raising fresh questions about the spy agency.

Representative Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey and chairman of the House Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, has been investigating the incidents and said he had become increasingly troubled by the agency’s handling of domestic communications.

To read the entire article click here.

The Only Option Is Single-Payer

by Dee Newman

It is immoral to profit off of the misfortunes of others and that is exactly what the private for-profit insurance industry is designed to do.

We cannot solve any of the problems of the United States health care system by leaving any portion of the payment system for medical care in the hands of the immoral private for-profit insurance industry.

The whole paradigm of the private for-profit insurance industry is to maximize the industry's profit by keeping high-risk people out of the insurance pool, and by keeping reimbursements and coverage as low as possible.

A so-called "public option" that competes with the private insurance industry will not solve either the cost of or the access to health care in the United States.

The "public option" will become a dumping ground for all the high-cost, high-risk people that the private sector insurance industry doesn't want.

The cost of a "public option" will then become a huge financial burden on the taxpayers who will most assuredly demand cuts in benefits, coverage and reimbursement.

The "public option" will become like the private options, cutting benefits and rejecting applicants and claims, which leaves us where we started.

The only option is a single-payer, universal health care system.

Any health care plan that falls short of a single-payer, universal system will never work. In fact, it will only increase the inefficiency and administrative costs of the abominable system we already have and make it worse.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

President Obama and the Fly

by Dee Newman

During an interview for CNBC at the White House on Tuesday, a pesky and persistent little fly kept interrupting President Obama's conversation with correspondent John Harwood.

"Get out of here," the president calmly told the annoying little creature. Unfortunately, for the little fly, it continued its irritating maneuvers. When it didn't leave as told, the President waited for the fly to settle, raised his right hand and then smacked it dead.

"Now, where were we?" the President asked Harwood, adding. "That was pretty impressive, wasn't it? I got the sucker."

I hear that PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is sending President Obama a humane bug catcher that will allow him to capture future annoying houseflies and then release them outside.

Like PETA I “support compassion even for the most curious, smallest and least sympathetic animals."

Back in the mid-eighties I almost died from Rocky-Mountain-spotted-fever that I got from a tic bite. And still, to this day, I do not kill tics. In fact, I pulled three of them off of me yesterday.

Like PETA I am very pleased with President Obama's past voting record in the Senate on behalf of animals. He has been an outspoken critic of those who abuse animals.

But, swatting a fly on national television did not demonstrate or reflect his compassion for all life.

None of us are perfect.

We all have unthinkingly released our frustrations in ways that do not portray us in an admirable light.

From the Mailbag of Daily Kos

Dear Constituent,

I regret having the affair, taking the bribe, lying to the committee, sitting on the report, raiding your trust fund, hiding the evidence, fudging the numbers, cooking the books, blocking the investigation, leaving the filthy voice mail message, spilling the beans, fabricating the facts, sending the inappropriate email, granting the crony special favors, dodging the question, violating the ethics code, missing the deadline, blowing off the meeting, circumventing the proper procedures, throwing the tantrum, leaking the classified information, covering up the money trail, accepting the unlawful gifts, destroying my opponent's reputation, playing the race card, egging on the crazies, making the crude analogy, deleting the files, cutting off the funding, violating the protocol, starting the bar fight, speeding through the red light, shouting obscenities during the commencement speech, and kicking the cat.
I assure you it was all just a simple misunderstanding.


[Name Withheld]
United States Congress
Washington, D.C.

P.S. Please donate to my re-election campaign. Together, we can make a difference.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Shocking Video from NY Daily Intel: Letterman Protesters

On Monday David Letterman apologized for his tasteless joke about Gov. Palin's daughter and the Governor accepted his apology. But, a dozen or so protesters turned up outside the Ed Sullivan Theater last night fort a “Fire David Letterman” rally.

Jonah Green videoed
and talked to a few of the protesters and learned that they hate socialism, think that Letterman "rapes children with his mouth," that they watch Fox News, and they really like Jay Leno because "he would never say anything like that."

But, as we all now know – He Did! And, so did Conan.

Racheal Maddow: Nico Pitney – Live-blogging the Revolution

Iran's Revolution Twittered, Blogged and YouTubed

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More GOP Hypocrisy

Senator John Ensign, Republican of Nevada, today admitted that he had an extramarital affair with a member of his campaign staff.

It has been reported that the consensual affair took place sometime between December 2007 and August 2008.

Ensign has refused to idenify the woman, but an aid for the Senator has said she worked for both Senator Ensign’s campaign operation and a conservative political action committee (the Battleborn PAC) from December 2006 to May 2008. Senator Ensign is the honorary chairman of the PAC.

Unlike his call for Bill Clinton to resign when Clinton had an extramarital affair with Monica Lewinsky, Senator Ensign has said he will remain in office.

GOP Hypocrisy!

by Dee Newman

For eight long years Republicans accused Democracts who voted against any war supplemental spending bill of voting against the troops, of putting the lives of our troops in danger.

Today, as a critical vote nears, House Republicans are unified against the $106 billion war supplemental bill.

According to their logic – they will be voting against the troops.

Though reasonable people (in years past as now) may differ on certain aspects of a hundred billion dollar war supplemental spending bill (as I did and still do), the hypocrisy by the Republican Party on this issue is stunningly two-faced, even for them.

When House Republican leader, John Boehner, was asked if he was concerned about being portrayed as anti-troop for his refusal to support the bill, his responds was, “There’s nobody that’s going to doubt that I support our troops.”

A reasonable expectancy that he and other Republicans refused to extend to their Democratic colleagues in years past.

Though they may be sufficient to keep you in line

by Dee Newman

Though they may be sufficient to keep you in line,
Reward and punishment are never divine.
For there's nothing more deceitful or insincere
Than honor or favor based upon profit or fear.

So, if you adhere to a straight and narrow path
Simply because you fear the fate of pharaoh's wrath,
Or worship a deity so that you might live in
Some celestial city for the freely forgiven,

You might as well sell the devil your soul
For all his apparel, his revel and gold.
For if fear's your motive or gain's your aim,
However you so live, the verdict's the same.

For in truth, the only truth there is to live by,
Isn't a tooth for a tooth or an eye for an eye.
It's never let your fear, your desire, or your greed
Ever interfere with another's dire need.

Although actions, for sure, speak louder than words,
If your motives aren't pure nothing else will be heard.
So, whatever your fate, your reward, or your plight,
Choose love over hate, never wrong over right.

Challenging Ahmadinejad's "Win"

Tuesday 16 June 2009
by: Maya Schenwar, t r u t h o u t | Report

After Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was proclaimed the winner of a presidential election widely believed to be rigged, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei deemed the results a "divine assessment." However, after 48 hours of intensive protests throughout Iran, Khamenei backtracked, calling for an investigation into election complaints. The probe is to be conducted by the Guardian Council, a 12-member body of clerics and Islamic law experts. As demonstrations blaze on across the country, do reform-minded Iranians actually have a shot at a revote?

It is unclear what evidence would be used in a voting probe. According to leaked election results, purportedly disclosed by disaffected government officials, Ahmadinejad came in third in the election, after reformist candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi. However, a poll of Iranian public opinion taken three weeks ago by the nonprofit Terror Free Tomorrow showed Ahmadinejad winning nationwide by a more than 2 to 1 margin.

Mousavi and another defeated candidate have filed complaints with the Guardian Council, and Council spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodayi told Iran's state-funded news agency that the election probe's results would be disclosed in ten days.

On the surface, the probe may seem an impartial investigation by an outside body. However, half of the Council is chosen by Khamenei, while the other half is elected by the legislature from among a group of jurists vetted by an appointee of Khamenei.

"The Council is selected directly and indirectly by the leader," Rasool Nafisi, a Middle Eastern studies professor at Strayer University and author of "The Rise Of Pasdaran," told Truthout. "It is the Council that has the power of vetting the candidates, and its chief, Ayatollah Jannati, sided openly with Ahmadinejad before the elections."

Mousavi himself seems doubtful that the probe will turn the tables on Ahmadinejad's alleged win.

"I have appealed to the Guardian Council but I'm not very optimistic about their judgment," he said on his web site, according to a translation printed by Reuters. "Many of its members during the election were not impartial and supported the government candidate [Ahmadinejad]."

As protests raged Monday night and state brutality abounded - including the death of one man when pro-government gunmen opened fire on a crowd of protesters - many foreign journalists were threatened, arrested or asked to leave Iran. An election probe by the Guardian Council would likely not be subject to direct international oversight.

Still, the groundswell of public expression that this election has sparked is proof that anything can happen, according to Jason Rezaian, a correspondent covering the Iranian election for Tehran Bureau.

"More than anything, people want their voices heard," Rezaian told Truthout. "A recount or revote seems really unlikely, but the last couple of weeks have seen many unlikely events here and I think it's shaken the entire nation. The people for the first time feel like they have a say, and that it's trying to be silenced."

Yet, with Khamenei still in place as supreme leader, the protests don't stand a good chance of affecting concrete official action, according to Juan Cole, president of the Global Americana Institute.

"The reformists will likely just be crushed," Cole told Truthout. "Khamenei cannot be challenged in that system, and there is no recourse. It would take a coup or revolution."

It is possible, however, that quiet sort of coup may be fomenting among Iran's Assembly of Experts, the scholarly body responsible for supervising the supreme leader. The chairman of the Assembly, former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, supports Mousavi and favors the reformist agenda, including a diplomatic relationship with the US and Europe. Rumor has it that Rafsanjani has been rallying support among the Assembly to vote Khamenei out of his post, according to an op-ed in The Guardian by Simon Tisdall.

In a blog entry on ForeignPolicy.com, National Iranian American Council President Trita Parsi observes that Mousavi has already challenged Khamenei's authority. To protest the election results, Mousavi wrote a letter to powerful clergy in the city of Qom, instead of to the supreme leader.

Already, a loud affirmation of Mousavi's complaint has come from Qom: Grand Ayatollah Sanei, who had previously termed vote-rigging a "mortal sin," is calling the Ahmadinejad presidency "illegitimate."

Moreover, last week, after being accused of corruption by Ahmadinejad, Rafsanjani released an angry letter, which took the bold step of remonstrating the supreme leader for allowing public slander, and demanded that Khamenei ensure the elections were fair.

Despite the public outcry from influential Iranian voices, the reformists' calls may well fizzle and die eventually, especially if the voting probe comes back "clean." A revolution - even a quiet one - is a lot to ask for. Nafisi worries about that another four years of Ahmadinejad might dash the incipient optimism of the reformist movement.

"If this election is not challenged seriously and effectively, it would put a damper on the youths' aspirations for change and improvement," Nafisi said.

Their hopes aren't dampened quite yet, though. Rezaian noted that, regardless of state-imposed obstacles, the reformists are rallying on.

"Tonight tens of thousands of people all over Tehran went to their rooftop to shout 'God is Great,' 'Death to the Dictator' and simply 'Mousavi,'" he said last night. "With text messaging cut, social networking blocked, they are doing whatever they can to keep the voice of dissent alive. I'm not sure if anyone knows what they're hoping to get out of it. They're just hoping."

Keith Olbermann: Bill Maher Says Obama Needs More Audacity

Health Care Reform

Monday, June 15, 2009

Obama, Like Clinton Before Him, is Blowing the Chance for Real Health Care Reform

Barack Obama | Healthcare Policy
by Dave Lindorff | June 15, 2009 | From The Smirking Chimp

If you want to fix the disaster that is called the American healthcare system, the first thing to do is to clearly point out what its major failings are, and there are two of these.

The first is cost. America is the most or one of the most expensive places in the world to get sick or injured. The corollary of that is that it is one of the best places to make a killing if you are in the medical business, whether as a doctor, a hospital company, a pharmaceutical firm or a nursing home owner.

The second is access. One in six Americans--a total of 50 million people at latest count--have no way to pay for that care. Too young for Medicare, too "well off" for Medicaid, but too poor to buy private health insurance or too sick to be admitted into a plan, or employed by a company that doesn't provide health benefits, these people get no medical care until they get so sick that they are brought into a hospital emergency room where they get treated (often too late) at public expense, or at the hospital's expense, with the cost shifted onto taxpayers or onto insured patients' premiums.

Any reform of this atrocious "system" must address these two major failings or it is no reform at all.

And that's where all the various versions of Obamacare fall flat.

Simply put, you cannot solve either of these problems by leaving the payment system for medical care in the hands of the private insurance industry, since the whole paradigm of insurance is to make money by keeping high-risk people out of the insured pool, and by keeping reimbursements and coverage for premium payers as low as possible.

Having a so-called "public option" plan working in competition with private insurance plans will not solve this problem. Either the public option will become like the private options--trimming benefits and rejecting some applicants--or it will become a dumping ground for all the high-cost, high-risk people that the private sector insurance industry doesn't want. At that point, the public plan will become a huge-cost burden on the taxpayer, who will begin demanding that it cut back in the benefits it provides, taking us right back to where we started.

The fact that the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress are both raising the issue of the high cost of health care "reform," and are talking about ways to raise revenues to pay for it tells us all we need to know about the alleged "reform" schemes they are contemplating. They are doomed and, even if implemented, will not work.

Real reform of the American health care system would not cost money. It would save money.

There is a level of dishonesty in what passes for the debate over health care "reform" in both Congress and the media that is stunning in its brazenness and/or venality. Of course real reform would cost more in government spending. But that is because real reform would remove the cost of medical care from both employers and from workers (who over the last 20 years have been shouldering an increasing share of their own medical care). And that shift would mean more profits for US companies, which would free up more money for wages, and it would mean less money deducted from paychecks, meaning higher incomes for workers.

If President Obama had any political courage at all, he'd simply get on TV and say this: I will create a plan that will cover everyone, lift the burden of paying for healthcare from individuals and employers, and have the government pay for it all. You the taxpayer will pay for this plan with higher taxes, but you will no longer have any significant medical bills, you will no longer have health insurance premiums deducted from your paycheck, your employer will no longer be paying for employee medical coverage, and you will never have to worry about losing health benefits again, even if you are laid off. (Incidentally, eliminating employer-funded health insurance would go a long way towards allowing workers to fight to have unions, and to strike for contracts, by ending the threat that they would lose their benefits.)

Of course, to do that the president would have to be talking about what is variously known as national health care or a single-payer plan, in which the government is the insurer of health care for all.

This option isn't even being discussed in this so-called debate. As I've written earlier, even though there is an excellent single-payer system in place that has been running for a third of a century just to the north in Canada--a system where patients have absolute freedom to choose their doctor, get instant access to a hospital and to expert specialist care in emergencies, and have a healthier society by every statistical measure--all at a fraction of the staggering cost of health care in the US, not one Canadian expert working in that system has been invited down to discuss its workings with the White House or with members of Congress.

There has been a lot of negative propaganda spread about Canada's single-payer system, by right wing, business-funded "no-think" tanks, and by medical industry lobbies from the American Medical Assn. to the pharmaceutical industry, but no government committee or agency has bothered, or dared, to bring in Canadian experts to respond to and debunk that propaganda. The corporate liars talk about waiting lists and lack of access to CAT-scan or MRI machines. But all we really need to know about the Canadian, and other similar single-payer systems, is that nowhere that they have been instituted have they been later terminated, even when, as in Canada, right-wing governments have been elected to power. The public, whether in Canada, or France, or England, or Taiwan or elsewhere, loves their public health insurance system, whatever flaws or problems with underfunding those systems may have at certain times. Trying ot eliminate such systems would be political suicide for a conservative government, as even arch-free-marketer British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who never met a government activity that she didn't want to privatize, learned.

Right now, with half of all Americans reportedly fearing that they could lose their jobs, and with one in five Americans reportedly either unemployed, or involuntarily working part-time, we have a situation where a majority of Americans either have no health insurance, have lost their health insurance, or are in danger of losing their employer-funded health insurance. It is a unique moment when a bold president and Congress could act to end private health insurance and establish a public single-payer insurance plan to insure and provide access to affordable medical care to all Americans.

Instead of this, we are being offered half measures or no measures at all by leaders who are shamelessly in hock to the health care industry or who are afraid of its power.

17 years ago, the Clintons had a similar opportunity to grab the health care industry by the neck, strangle it, and produce a single-payer alternative. They blew that chance by trying to keep the health care greed-heads happy. Now, almost a generation later, we have another shot at it, and Obama and his Democratic Congress are doing the same thing again. There is a strong likelihood that they will fail, like the Clintons before them. If they succeed in coming up with some kind of hybrid public-private Frankenstein of a system that includes a public insurance option, it will simply delay the inevitable disaster, as medical costs, already 20 percent of GDP--the highest share of any economy in the world--continue to soar, and as the cost of the public plan, which will inevitably become a dumping ground for high-cost patients, becomes politically untenable. In the end, we will have even more expensive and inaccessible healthcare than we have today.

It doesn't have to be this way, but only if Americans rip their eyes away from their crisp new digital-image TV screens and start demanding real health care reform will we get honest reform. A good place to begin would be to start writing and phoning your local media outlets to ask why they are not reporting on single-payer, and in particular on the single-payer bill sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), which is being silently blocked and killed by his colleagues in the Democratic congressional leadership and by the White House. A good place to begin would also be to start calling your elected representatives to demand that they support Rep. Conyers' single-payer bill.

Alleged Holocaust Museum Shooter Had Given Up Hate Site, Planned Other Attacks

Southern Poverty Law Center
by Larry Keller on June 11, 2009

Only days before he allegedly shot and killed a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, James von Brunn transferred the domain name of his racist website to a man in Michigan. Records show that von Brunn, 88, created holywesternempire.org in October 2000, and that Steve Reimink of West Olive, Mich., acquired the domain name around June 1 of this year. The website was designated a hate website by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2003.

Reimink’s E-mail address, “steveo1488@hotmail.com” includes the symbolic number 1488. In white supremacist circles, 14 refers to the very popular 14-word slogan coined by the late neo-Nazi David Lane: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” The letter H is the eighth letter in the alphabet, and 88 often stands for “Heil Hitler.” Reimink’s cell phone was not accepting messages, and he did not respond to an E-mail request for comment.

Relinquishing the domain name may have signaled von Brunn’s intent to soon “go out with his boots on,” as he once told his former wife. He was about to give away his computer and was living hand to mouth, The Washington Post reported.

To read the entire article click here.

Shepard Smith: More Frightening Emails From Fox News Watchers

Andrew Sullivan: The Real Results?

From The Daily Dish | 14 Jun 2009 11:08 am

This is hearsay - but under conditions of a police state coup, we are best advised to glean what information we can, hold it provisionally, and test it as time passes. Here's what Kos Diarist Electronic Maji is hearing from Iranian journalist friends under lockdown:
Unofficial news - reports leaked results from Interior Ministry:
Eligible voters: 49,322,412
Votes cast: 42,026,078
Spoilt votes: 38,716
Mir Hossein Mousavi: 19,075,623
Mehdi Karoubi: 13,387,104
Mahmoud Ahmadi-nejad (incumbent): 5,698,417
Mohsen Rezaei (conservative candidate): 3,754,218

If this is true, it would explain the comically lop-sided total in reverse - a lovely gesture from the regime taken direct from Machiavelli - and the panicked reaction by Khamenei.

BBC: More Video of Protest Against Iran Election Results

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Single-Payer Now Or Never

by Dee Newman

Despite the fact that the United States has the most expensive (spending more on health care per person, per year than any other nation in the world) and the most advanced medical technology in the world, in comparative study after study, the statistics show that the United States ranks at or near the bottom of all the major industrialized nations in the delivery of health care to its citizens.

Opponents of single-payer, universal health care fear and believe that the system will be too expensive and deprive them of needed services. They believe this in spite of the fact that the United States now spends at least 40 percent more per capita on health care than any other industrialized nation that provides universal health care to its citizens. They believe it even though the U.S. system still leaves 48 million Americans without health care coverage and millions more inadequately insured.

Contrary to what opponents fear and believe, single payer, universal health care is not socialized medicine. It is a health care payment system. It is not a health care delivery system and is no more socialized medicine than the public funding of the defense department is socialized defense.

Unlike the current managed care system here in the U.S. which mandates pre-approval of the insurer for services and which takes health care decisions away from the doctor and patient, a single payer, universal health care system would not.

Financing a single-payer system would be done by eliminating private insurers and recapturing their administrative waste.

A small increase in taxes would replace premiums and out-of-pocket payments currently paid by individuals and business.

Costs would be controlled through negotiated fees, mass purchasing, and universal budgeting.

Health care spending in the U.S. totals more than $2 trillion, or 16 percent of GDP. And, it is increasing every year. It is projected by the year 2017 health care spending will reach 19.5 percent of GDP.

The reason we spend more and get less for our buck than other nations is because we have a hodgepodge of government and private for-profit payers. We waste billions of health dollars on things that have nothing to do with care: underwriting, billing, sales and marketing, as well as, huge profits and exorbitant executive pay. Doctors and hospitals must maintain costly administrative staffs to deal with both bureaucracies. The overhead is excessive.

Single-payer financing is the only way to recapture this wasted money. The potential savings is more than $350 billion per year and certainly is more than enough to provide comprehensive coverage to everyone without paying any more than we already do.

Under a single-payer system, all Americans would be covered for all medically necessary services, including: doctor, hospital, long-term care, mental health, dental, vision, prescription drug and medical supply costs. Patients would regain free choice of doctor and hospital, and doctors would regain autonomy over patient care.

A government single-payer, universal health care system that is open to everyone and does not waste money on marketing, high paid executives, and dividends for shareholders, would be far more efficient than the mix-bag of government and private for-profit plans we now have in this country.

A universal government plan would also have the power to force the pharmaceutical industry and the medical supply industry to take sharp discounts compared with the prices they currently charge patients today.

Any health care plan that falls short of a single-payer, universal system will never work. In fact it will only increase the inefficiency and administrative costs of the system we already have and make it worse.

If you believe that the payment system we now have run by large insurance companies who believe that it is morally acceptable to make a profit off the misfortune of others is cost effective and provides you with good health care coverage, then by all means call your congressional representative and tell them.

But, if you believe as I do that the system we now have is abominable and morally corrupt, that all of us have a moral responsibility to help out one another and that the best way to do that is to pool our resources and work together, then tell everyone you know to call Congress. Bombard your senators and representatives with emails and phone calls. Organize and take to the streets if necessary. And, let the White House know how strongly you feel.

This is one of those battles where the silent majority must become vocal.

The Healthcare War is Now Official

Thursday 11 June 2009
by: Robert Reich | From Robert Reich's Blog

Yesterday the American Medical Association came out against a public option for health care. And yesterday the President reaffirmed his support for it. The next weeks will show what Obama is made of - whether he's willing and able to take on the most formidable lobbying coalition he has faced so far on an issue that will define his presidency.

And make no mistake: A public option large enough to have bargaining leverage to drive down drug prices and private-insurance premiums is the defining issue of universal health care. It's the only way to make health care affordable. It's the only way to prevent Medicare and Medicaid from eating up future federal budgets. An ersatz public option - whether Kent Conrad's non-profit cooperatives, Olympia Snowe's "trigger," or regulated state-run plans - won't do squat.

The last president to successfully take on the giant health care lobbies was LBJ. He got Medicare and Medicaid enacted because he weighed into the details, twisted congressional arms, threatened and cajoled, drew lines in the sand, and went to war against the AMA and the other giant lobbyists standing in the way. The question now is how much LBJ is in Barack Obama.

The big guns are out and they're firing. All major lobbying firms in Washington - many of them brimming with ex-members of Congress - are now crawling all over the Hill. Lots of money is on the table. AMA's political action committee has contributed $9.8 million to congressional candidates since 2000, and its lobbying arm is one of the most formidable on the Hill. Meanwhile, Big Insurance and Big Pharma are increasing their firepower. The five largest private insurers and their trade group America's Health Insurance Plans spent a total of $6.4 million on lobbying in the first quarter of this year, up more than $1 million from the first quarter last year, and are spending even more now. United Health Group spent $1.5 million in the first quarter, up 34 percent from the $1.1 million it spent in the first quarter last year. Aetna spent $809,793 between January and the end of March, up 41 percent from last year. Pfizer, the world's biggest drugmaker, spent more than $6.1 million on lobbying between January and March, more than double what it spent last year. It also spent nearly $3.3 million lobbying in the fourth quarter of 2008. Every one of them is upping their spending.

Some congressional Democrats are willing and able to stand up to this barrage. Many are not. They need cover from the White House.

The President can't do this alone. You must weigh in and get everyone you know to weigh in, too. Bombard your senators and representatives. Organize and mobilize others. And let the White House know how strongly you feel. This is one of those battles that define a presidency. But more importantly, it's one of those battles that define the state of American democracy.

Serious Protests Over the Iranian Election Continue

by Dee Newman

During a press conference (his first since the government announced that he was re-elected to a second term in a landslide victory) Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the press that his re-election “was a real and free one.” He went on to say, "The margin between my votes and the others is too much and no one can question it."

But, it seems, a serious protest (if not a possible civil war) to his declared victory has erupted in the streets of the capitol and throughout Iran.

If these violent protest continue, the question arises, how far will Admadinejad and the Guardian Council go to try and quell the demonstrations and dissent.

The Obama administration's reaction thus far to the Iranian election has been restrained – signaling support for no candidate.

Given the history of Iran and the United States, any overt support for any candidate would only have helped to serve the interests of their opponents. In short, interjecting the U.S. into their election process in any way whatsoever would not have helped at all and would have most certainly harmed greatly those Iranians seeking more freedom.

The U.S. should continue their restraint and allow Iran's indigenous human rights movement to evolve and advance on its own, without any obvious involvement from the United States – no matter how well intentioned.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Weekly Address: President Barack Obama

Full Transcript: Goals for Health Care Reform

Saturday 06 June 2009

by: President Barack Obama

Over the past few days, I've been traveling through the Middle East and Europe working to renew our alliances, enhance our common security, and propose a new partnership between the United States and the Muslim world.

But even as I'm abroad, I'm firmly focused on the other pressing challenges we face - including the urgent need to reform our health care system. Even as we speak, Congress is preparing to introduce and debate health reform legislation that is the product of many months of effort and deliberation. And if you're like any of the Americans I've met across this country who know all too well that the soaring costs of health care make our current course unsustainable, I imagine you'll be watching their progress closely.

I'm talking about the families I've met whose spiraling premiums and out-of-pocket expenses are pushing them into bankruptcy or forcing them to go without the check-ups or prescriptions they need. Business owners who fear they'll be forced to choose between keeping their doors open or covering their workers. Americans who rightly worry that the ballooning costs of Medicare and Medicaid could lead to fiscal catastrophe down the road.

Simply put, the status quo is broken. We cannot continue this way. If we do nothing, everyone's health care will be put in jeopardy. Within a decade, we'll spend one dollar out of every five we earn on health care - and we'll keep getting less for our money.

That's why fixing what's wrong with our health care system is no longer a luxury we hope to achieve - it's a necessity we cannot postpone any longer.

The growing consensus around that reality has led an unprecedented coalition to come together for change. Unlike past attempts at reforming our health care system, everyone is at the table - patient's advocates and health insurers; business and labor; Democrats and Republicans alike.

A few weeks ago, some of these improbable allies committed to cut national health care spending by two trillion dollars over the next decade. What makes this so remarkable is that it probably wouldn't have happened just a few short years ago. But today, at this historic juncture, even old adversaries are united around the same goal: quality, affordable health care for all Americans.

Now, I know that when you bring together disparate groups with differing views, there will be lively debate. And that's a debate I welcome. But what we can't welcome is reform that just invests more money in the status quo - reform that throws good money after bad habits.

We must attack the root causes of skyrocketing health care costs. Some of these costs are the result of unwarranted profiteering that has no place in our health care system, and in too many communities, folks are paying higher costs without receiving better care in return. And yet we know, for example, that there are places like the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, and other institutions that offer some of the highest quality of care in the nation at some of the lowest costs in the nation. We should learn from their successes and promote the best practices, not the most expensive ones. That's how we'll achieve reform that fixes what doesn't work, and builds on what does.

This week, I conveyed to Congress my belief that any health care reform must be built around fundamental reforms that lower costs, improve quality and coverage, and also protect consumer choice. That means if you like the plan you have, you can keep it. If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too. The only change you'll see are falling costs as our reforms take hold.

I also made it very clear to Congress that we must develop a plan that doesn't add to our budget deficit. My budget included an historic down payment on reform, and we'll work with Congress to fully cover the costs through rigorous spending reductions and appropriate additional revenues. We'll eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in our health care system, but we'll also take on key causes of rising costs - saving billions while providing better care to the American people.

All across America, our families are making hard choices when it comes to health care. Now, it's time for Washington to make the right ones. It's time to deliver. And I am absolutely convinced that if we keep working together and living up to our mutual responsibilities; if we place the American people's interests above the special interests; we will seize this historic opportunity to finally fix what ails our broken health care system, and strengthen our economy and our country now and for decades to come.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bill Moyers: Celebrating Thomas Paine

by Bill Moyers
June 12, 2009

Decades ago Ronald Reagan borrowed a phrase from a founding father often overlooked. He rallied his party at the Republican National Convention with these patriotic words: "We have it in our power to begin the world over again."

Calling for a revolution, Reagan chose those words from the writings of America's first great radical, and its first best-selling writer. His name was Thomas Paine. More than two centuries ago, Paine's most famous book, COMMON SENSE, sold 500,000 copies. Farmers in the fields stopped to read it.

Other influential works followed including THE AMERICAN CRISIS which proclaimed, "These are times that try men's souls." George Washington took those words to heart when he ordered his troops to read Paine's passionate call for liberty as they went into battle.

Paine's extraordinary life was both glorious and tragic. He was not revered as some of our other founding fathers — and during his lifetime he was often feared and lampooned — and under threat of prison and even death. Harvey J. Kaye, who recently told his story in THOMAS PAINE AND THE PROMISE OF AMERICA, notes that Paine has again become currency in political debate because of a revolutionary idea that spread from the colonies to France and around the globe:
That the common people...that Americans could be citizens and not merely subjects. That people had it within themselves not only to listen to their superiors, but literally to speak to each other and deliberate and govern themselves.

On the 200th anniversary of Thomas Paine's death, Bill Moyers sits down with Harvey J. Kaye and NATIONAL REVIEW senior editor Richard Brookhiser, author of WHAT WOULD THE FOUNDERS DO?

Tackling Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine had a profound influence on the founding fathers and founding doctrines of the United States. A simple search at the Library of Congress brings up a wealth of personal correspondence between Paine and Jefferson, Washington and others. In his immensely successful pamphlet COMMON SENSE, published in 1776, Paine argued in print that colonies had outgrown any need for English domination and should be given independence. This and Paine's subsequent essays called THE CRISIS PAPERS are seminal documents of the American Revolution.

                                                                                                         Lampoon of Paine by Thomas Gilroy

Raised a Quaker in England, Paine was well used to conflicts with the religions and political powers of the day. His thinking on the matter of religion and politics evolved further during a return to England when he wrote THE RIGHTS OF MAN, defending the French Revolution, and later THE AGE OF REASON, both of which earned him the enmity of the British government. His notion that there are certain "natural rights" common to all men was greatly influenced by and in turn influenced the Enlightenment philosophy known as "deism." Deists held that nature itself sufficiently demonstrated the existence of God, making formal, established religion unnecessary. Deists also scorned claims of supernatural revelation. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington were all greatly influenced by deism.
I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life. I believe the equality of man, and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy. But, lest it should be supposed that I believe many other things in addition to these, I shall, in the progress of this work, declare the things I do not believe, and my reasons for not believing them. — Thomas Paine, THE AGE OF REASON

Harvey J. Kaye

Harvey J. Kaye is the Ben and Joyce Rosenberg professor of social change and development and director of the Center for History and Social Change at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.


Richard Brookhiser

Richard Brookhiser is the author of RIGHT TIME, RIGHT PLACE: COMING OF AGE WITH WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY JR. AND THE CONSERVATIVE MOVEMENT and of seven books on revolutionary America: FOUNDING FATHER, REDISCOVERING GEORGE WASHINGTON; RULES OF CIVILITY-THE 110 PRECEPTS THAT GUIDED OUR FIRST PRESIDENT IN WAR AND PEACE; ALEXANDER HAMILTON, AMERICAN; AMERICA'S FIRST DYNASTY: THE ADAMSES 1735-1918; GENTLEMAN REVOLUTIONARY: GOUVERNEUR MORRIS, THE RAKE WHO WROTE THE CONSTITUTION; WHAT WOULD THE FOUNDERS DO? OUR QUESTIONS, THEIR ANSWERS; AND GEORGE WASHINGTON ON LEADERSHIP. He was author and host of REDISCOVERING GEORGE WASHINGTON, a film by Michael Pack, which aired on PBS July 4, 2002; he and Pack are currently working on REDISCOVERING ALEXANDER HAMILTON. He was the historian curator of "Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America," an 2004 exhibition at the New-York Historical Society. In 2008 he was awarded the National Humanities Medal. Brookhiser is a senior editor of NATIONAL REVIEW.

To see the interview click here.

Guest photos by Robin Holland