August 17th, 2009

i want joe biden i need joe biden

Tom DeLay Contestant On "Dancing With The Stars" Season Nine

AP -- Former Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay will join 15 celebrities from the worlds of entertainment and sports in kicking up their heels on the new season of "Dancing With the Stars."

The show's largest cast ever, announced Monday, features singers Mya, Macy Gray and Aaron Carter; actors Ashley Hamilton, Melissa Joan Hart and Debi Mazar (MAY'-zahr); and models Joanna Krupa and Kathy Ireland.

Contestants also include reality stars Mark Dacascos and Kelly Osbourne; entertainer Donny Osmond; mixed martial artist Chuck Liddell (lih-DEL'); professional snowboarder Louie Vito; Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin (KAWG'-lin); former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin and the former congressman from Texas.

The ninth season of the hit ABC show premieres Sept. 21.


Rightwing Israelies to Rahm: Not a Real Jew and must be Sekret Arab and Anti-Semite

Israelis sour on Rahm Emanuel

As the Obama administration presses Israel to cease settlement expansion as part of a renewed push for a Middle East peace deal—a course of action that many Israelis have interpreted as evidence of the president’s favoritism towards Palestinians—Israelis have increasingly focused their disappointment not on Obama, but rather on his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.

An observant Jew with deep ties to Israel, Emanuel is viewed as something of a native son, his rise through the ranks of American politics celebrated by Israelis who reveled in details such as his childhood summers spent in Israel and his volunteer stint during the first Gulf War in an Israeli military program for civilians.

When Emanuel was tapped to be Obama’s chief of staff, a headline in the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz kvelled “Obama's first pick: Israeli Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff,” while the Jewish news service JTA went with “Rahm Emanuel: attack dog, policy wonk, committed Jew.”

But in a dramatic emotional shift, Israelis have become increasingly disenchanted with Emanuel, and the disappointment is especially intense on the Israeli right, which supports Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his opposition to Obama’s call for ceasing settlement activity.
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Howard Dean On Public Option: "You Can't Really Do Health Reform Without It"

Howard Dean On Public Option: "You Can't Really Do Health Reform Without It"

Former Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean, a leading figure in the liberal wing of his party, said Monday he doubts there can be meaningful health care reform without a direct government role.

Dean urged the Obama administration to stand by statements made early on in the debate in which it steadfastly insisted that such a public option was indispensable to genuine change, saying that Medicare and the Veterans Administration are "two very good programs that have been around for a long time."

Dean appeared on morning news shows Monday amid increasing indications the Obama White House is retreating from the public option in the face of vocal opposition from Republicans and some vocal participants at a town-hall-style meetings around the country.

The former Vermont governor was asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" about President Barack Obama's statement over the weekend that the public option for insurance coverage was "just a sliver" of the overall proposal. Obama's health and human services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, advanced that line, telling CNN Sunday that a direct government role in a system intended to provide virtually universal coverage was "not the essential element."

Dean, a physician, argued that a public option is fair and said there must be such a choice in any genuine shake up of the existing system.

"You can't really do health reform without it," he said. Dean maintained that the health insurance industry has "put enormous pressure on patients and doctors" in recent years.

He called a direct government role "the entirety of health care reform. It isn't the entirety of insurance reform ... We shouldn't spend $60 billion a year subsidizing the insurance industry."

Dean also said he doesn't foresee any Republican support for a public option.
"I don't think the Republicans are interested and in order to have a bipartisan bill, you've got to have both sides interested," he said.
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(no subject)

Hundreds of gay men have been tortured and killed in Iraq in recent months, some by the nation's security forces, Human Rights Watch said Monday.

Interviews with doctors indicate hundreds of men had been killed, but the exact number was unclear because of the stigma associated with homosexuality in Iraq, the New York-based watchdog group said in its report.

"Iraq's leaders are supposed to defend all Iraqis, not abandon them to armed agents of hate," said Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. "Turning a blind eye to torture and murder threatens the rights and life of every Iraqi."

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Source. Couldn't find any official groups about this issue, but here's one on it's way.

"No one in America should go broke because they got sick."

White House Finally Discovers New Health Care Reform Argument

Matt Yglesias says that the "White House speechwriting team delivers in the latest radio address with a helpful brief phrase that sums up the goals of health insurance reform: "No one in America should go broke because they got sick." And, heck! That's a really great line! Know what would have been even greater -- potentially the greatest? If the vaunted White House speechwriting team had come up with that six months ago!

The most compelling aspect of the health care dilemma faced by millions of Americans -- insured and uninsured alike -- is the prospect of having to trade health and survival for crippling household debt. This issue is central to the peril in which the uninsured find themselves. It's also at the root of fears over preexisting conditions. If you're like me, hereditarily inclined to treatable forms of cancer, the life-killing cost of treatment is far more terrifying than the disease itself.

Of course, if the nation was, the midst of a massive economic crisis, with high unemployment, maybe it would have occurred to the White House to pursue this line of persuasion a lot earlier!
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Thatcher - Ugly Poisonous Creature

Healthcare Is Now Topic De Jour On Both Sides Of The Atlantic!

Key Tory MPs backed call to dismantle NHS

David Cameron was facing a battle to restore party unity behind his health policy last night after it emerged that several of his key shadow cabinet members put their names to a manifesto criticising the NHS and calling for it in effect to be dismantled.

The Observer can reveal that leading Tory MPs – who include Cameron's close ally Michael Gove – are listed alongside controversial MEP Daniel Hannan as co-authors of a book, Direct Democracy, which says the NHS "fails to meet public expectations" and is "no longer relevant in the 21st century".

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Barack Obama's stepmother joined in the debate last night, saying that she owed her life to the NHS. Kezia Obama, 66, who now lives in Bracknell, Berkshire, suffered chronic kidney failure on a visit to the UK seven years ago.

She told the News of the World: "I was very down at the time but luckily I was here in Britain, in what was then a foreign country to me, where the doctors, nurses and surgeons cared for me like I was their own child. It's very simple. I owe my life to the NHS. If it wasn't for the NHS I wouldn't have been alive to see our family's greatest moment – when Barack became president and was sworn into the White House."

Gordon Brown last night broke off from his holiday to issue a statement declaring he would place the future of the NHS at the heart of the next election. "I will not stand by and see the NHS and its brilliant staff denigrated and undermined, whether that's by the right wing in the United States or by their friends in the British Conservative party," he said.

In an article in today's Observer, the home secretary, Alan Johnson, accuses the Tories of widening their claims about "Broken Britain" to assaults on the health service. "This nauseous nonsense now extends to senior Conservatives helping rightwing Republican opponents of Obama's US health reforms by denigrating our NHS, calling it a 60-year mistake," he writes.


Awwww, here it goes! Does anyone see an international incident on the cards? If any Americans wanted evidence that being opposed to the NHS in the UK is political suicide, this rapid back-tracking should suffice. Also, where's Canada in all this? I've heard plenty of anti-NHS stuff, but Canada also has universal healthcare and I'm yet to hear GOP/Fox et al start in on Canada.

Strictly from a British perspective, here's hoping that these kind of incidents lead people to realise what a Tory government probably entails and shrink the majority they're likely to obtain next year. That said, I'm not too sure a Conservative government would need a huge majority. Unlike Labour, they seem to have a much smaller range of ideologies and so aren't as susceptible to backbench rebellions. Damn it.

(no subject)

There is no mistaking that this dusty, gravel-strewn camp northeast of Baghdad is anything other than a combat outpost in a still-hostile land. And there is no mistaking that women in uniform have had a transformative effect on it.

They have their own quarters, boxy trailers called CHUs (the military’s acronym for containerized housing units, pronounced “chews”).

There are women’s bathrooms and showers, alongside the men’s. Married couples live together. The base’s clinic treats gynecological problems and has, alongside the equipment needed to treat the trauma of modern warfare, an ultrasound machine.

Opponents of integrating women in combat zones long feared that sex would mean the end of American military prowess. But now birth control is available — the PX at Warhorse even sold out of condoms one day recently — reflecting a widely accepted reality that soldiers have sex at outposts across Iraq.

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House GOP Leader Vows To Stop Spreading Health Care Falsehood After Local Paper Busts Him

GOP Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri has promised to stop spreading a health care falsehood that’s been widely bandied about on the right after his local paper fact-checked his claim and called him out for fibbing.

Blunt claimed to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he wouldn’t be able to get his hip replaced in countries with socialized medicine, prompting the paper to respond aggressively in an editorial:

Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Springfield, knows a thing or two about health care. But some of what he knows just isn’t true.

“I’m 59,” Mr. Blunt said last week during a meeting with Post-Dispatch reporters and editors. “In either Canada or Great Britain, if I broke my hip, I couldn’t get it replaced.”

We fact-checked that. At least 63 percent of hip replacements performed in Canada last year and two-thirds of those done in England were on patients age 65 or older. More than 1,200 in Canada were done on people older than 85.

In a subsequent conversation with the paper, Blunt claimed: “I’m glad you pointed that out to me. I won’t use that example any more.”

The kicker: Blunt, as it happens, is the head of the House GOP Health Care Solutions Group, something Dems are likely to seize on in the context of his new admission of, er, error.


Let's hope more local papers will start digging to refute the lies from the right.

I get what he's saying, I'm just not entirely comfortable with it...

August 17, 2009
Op-Ed Contributor
Health Care’s Generation Gap

IN the 1980s, I worked as a respiratory therapist in intensive-care units in the Midwest, taking care of elderly, dying patients on ventilators. I remember marveling, along with the young doctors and nurses I worked with, over how many millions of dollars were spent performing insanely expensive procedures, scans and tests on patients who would never regain consciousness or leave the hospital.

When the insurance ran out, or Medicare stopped paying, patients and their families gave the hospital liens on their homes to pay for this care. Families spent their entire savings so Grandma could make yet another trip to the surgical suite on the slim-to-none chance that bypass surgery, a thoracotomy, an endoscopy or kidney dialysis might get her off the ventilator and out of the hospital in time for her 88th birthday.

That was back in the mid-’80s, when the nation was spending around 8 percent of its gross domestic product on health care. I and other health care workers solemnly agreed that the spending spree could not continue. Taxpayers and insurance companies would eventually revolt and refuse to pay for such end-of-life care. Somebody would surely expose the ruse for what it was: an enormous transfer of wealth based on the pretense that getting old and dying is a medical emergency requiring high-tech intensive-care intervention and armies of specialists, which could cost $10,000 or more per day. (Europeans have so far resisted this delusion, one reason they spend much less than we do on health care, with far better results.)

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Wall Street Celebrates Death of Public Option... Co-ops Not a Great Threat to the Free Market

HMO stocks up on signs public health plan fading

The dwindling prospect of a government-run health insurance plan lifted the shares of managed care companies on Monday and relieved investors who feared the companies could not compete with such a plan.

The S&P Managed Health Care index .GSPHMO of large U.S. health insurers was up 3.8 percent, soundly outperforming a 2.5 percent decline for the broader S&P 500 index .SPX, following comments from the Obama administration that creating a public plan was not essential to a healthcare overhaul.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on Sunday that nonprofit cooperatives could also fulfill the White House goal of creating more competition on insurance. Analysts viewed the co-ops as far less threatening to managed care companies, even as details on them remain unclear.

"This is the best-case scenario," said David Heupel, a portfolio manager with Thrivent Investment Management. It "takes off the table anything really, really onerous for the group, and that's a huge positive."

UnitedHealth Group Inc (UNH.N) shares rose 3.6 percent at mid-afternoon, WellPoint Inc (WLP.N) climbed 3.3 percent, Aetna Inc (AET.N) increased 5.2 percent, and Coventry Health Care (CVH.N) jumped 5.2 percent.

The stocks rallied even as billionaire Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) late on Friday reported lower stakes in UnitedHealth and WellPoint, the industry's two biggest companies.

"Investors believe that risk of competition from a government-run plan has declined significantly, and that the co-op option being floated by Democrat legislators will be relatively benign to the HMO industry," analysts at Jefferies & Co said in a research note.

The S&P Managed Health Care index has risen 18 percent so far this year, with strong gains since July as analysts said investors came to think a public plan was unlikely.
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Chuck Grassley Blames "The Far Left" For "Death Panel" Fearmongering

Chuck Grassley Blames "The Far Left" For "Death Panel" Fearmongering

The Obama administration has been attempting to win the favor of Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley in its quest to garner his support for health care reform. This is perplexing! Having previously mused about how well versed President Barack Obama seems to be in counter-insurgency strategy, it seems weird to me that the White House would work so hard to court a non-persuadable dead-ender. Because that's precisely what Grassley is -- and a lying one at that! Let's recall that Grassley, whose vote Obama seems to think is critical, said this to his constituents:
"There is some fear because in the House bill, there is counseling for end-of-life," Grassley said. "And from that standpoint, you have every right to fear. You shouldn't have counseling at the end of life. You ought to have counseling 20 years before you're going to die. You ought to plan these things out. And I don't have any problem with things like living wills. But they ought to be done within the family. We should not have a government program that determines if you're going to pull the plug on grandma."
Of course, he's absolutely right that "we should not have a government program that determines if you're going to pull the plug on grandma." And that's why nothing of any kind has been proposed, except by people like Grassley, who just make this stuff up.
Still, the White House wants Grassley, so Grassley remains part of the media's health care conversation. The thing is, with every media appearance, he only makes it clearer and clearer that winning his favor is an exercise in futility. Here's how he explained himself on Dylan Ratigan's Morning Meeting, today:

RATIGAN: Senator Grassley, welcome to the program. On the phone as it may be. What's going on between you and the President, if anything, as it pertains to these death panels?

GRASSLEY: Well, listen. I see that as nothing more than a distortion from the far left bringing up these end-of-life concerns, which are not the issues we ought to be talking about. We ought to be talking about government takeover of the health care system. We ought to be talking about the exploding deficits. We ought to be talking about the failure to get on top of high health care costs, and all of these things are in the Pelosi health care bill. And it seems to me they don't want to talk about the real issues.

What Grassley is doing is called "denying his own agency." Yes. We probably should be talking about a host of "real issues." But "death panels" is most definitely a fictional issue, and it's not the "far left" telling people that "grandma" has "every right to fear." It's Charles Grassley who is explicitly telling his constituents these lies and who is making it very hard to believe that he will, at any time in the future, be voting for health care reform, ever.

Exclusive: New Poll Finds Majority Of Republicans Either Believes Or Isn’t Sure About “Death Panel” Claim

Wow. A forthcoming poll by the nonpartisan Research 2000 for DailyKos finds that a majority of Republicans either believes, or isn’t sure about, the claim that the Dem health care proposal will create “death panels” to determine whether the sick or injured get health care depending on their “productivity in society.”

I’ve gotten an advance look at the relevant question from the poll, which will be released tomorrow, and here’s how it asks the question:
Do you think the health care reform plan being considered by President Obama and Congress creates “death panels” which have the authority to subjectively determine whether or not a gravely ill or injured person should receive health care based on their “level of productivity in society”?
Here are the numbers on how Republicans answered that question:

Yes: 26
No: 43
Not sure: 31

So a startling majority of 57% of Republicans either believes or is uncertain about the veracity of the “death panel” claim, versus only 43% of GOPers who don’t beliveve it.

The key here is that the question was specifically worded to mirror Palin’s assertion that Obama’s death panel will evaluate a person’s right to medical care based on whether they’re productive in society. More than a quarter of Republicans believe this, and nearly a third are not sure.

And lest anyone be tempted to dismiss this poll because it was commissioned by DailyKos, keep in mind that Research 2000 is nonpartisan. Just astonishing.


Prosecutor reported over rape comments in Sweden

Swedish district prosecutor Rolf Hillegren has been reported to the justice ombudsman for published comments in which he classified some categories of rape as mere misdemeanours.

Hillegren made his comments in an interview with the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper discussing a landmark ruling by the Swedish Supreme Court (Högsta Domstolen) that set new guidelines for rape cases.

The court ruled that testimony alone should not be sufficient to secure a conviction. Hillegren expressed satisfaction that the law and order aspect was to be underlined.

"There should be a high demand on evidence in criminal cases, even sex cases," he said to the newspaper.

"When one says rape one thinks mostly of really nasty rapes. But take a man and a woman who know each other and the woman says she doesn't feel like it today, but the man just goes ahead anyway. Sure, it is not very nice, but maybe not worth two years in prison. It is more like a misdemeanour," he said.

Hillegren's comments have prompted a storm of reactions from angry readers; among them Peter Sunde, one of the founders of The Pirate Bay, who has reported the lawyer to the Ombudsman of Justice (JO).

"At first I presumed that he had been misquoted by SvD, but then I realized that they are usually very thorough. I therefore reported him to JO and I encourage all the readers of my blog to the same thing," Sunde wrote on his blog.

Reactions from colleagues have also been critical of Hillegren's comments.

"I don't think that they are at all representative of prosecutors in general," said Prosecutor-General Anders Perklev, to SvD.

Perklev argued that Hillegren's comments are to be considered of a private nature and while his position demands that he follows current legislation, he currently has no grounds for suspecting that Hillegren does not do so.


I'm so disgusted about this, and furthermore disgusted that people in message boards AGREE with this man. I thought Sweden would be ahead of Finland in terms of equality, and then something like this crashes all hopes. A misdemeanour!

Dear Glenn Beck.......Even WalMart says you suck

Big news today. We've confirmed that eight more major advertisers have pulled their support from Glenn Beck's show -- Wal-Mart, Best Buy, CVS, Travelocity, Allergan (maker of Restasis), Ally Bank, Broadview Security, and Re-Bath.

Overall, twenty advertisers have now ended their support of Beck. We're going to keep the pressure on Beck's remaining advertisers this week, and we'll let you know how you can help.
From the press release we're sending right now:
Eight more Glenn Beck advertisers, including Wal-Mart -- the world's largest retailer -- have confirmed to that they pulled their ads from the controversial Fox News Channel broadcaster's eponymous show. Allergan (maker of Restasis), Ally Bank (a unit of GMAC Financial Services), Best Buy, Broadview Security, CVS, Re-Bath, Travelocity and Wal-Mart join the dozen other companies who previously distanced themselves from Beck.

Twenty companies have pulled their ads from Beck's show in just the last two weeks. The moves come after the Fox News host called President Obama a "racist" who "has a deep-seated hatred for white people" during an appearance on Fox & Friends. Previous companies who pulled their ads include ConAgra, GEICO,, Men's Wearhouse, Procter & Gamble, Progressive Insurance, RadioShack, Roche, SC Johnson, Sanofi-Aventis, Sargento, and State Farm Insurance.

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As the list of advertisers who don't want themselves associated with Beck continues to grow, our campaign is also getting major media attention, which helps send a strong message to Fox and to Beck's remaining advertisers. Last week, our campaign was mentioned in several media and advertising industry publications, on MSNBC, in the New York Times, and by Stephen Colbert.

Thanks to everyone who has stepped up and joined this campaign (there are more than 145,000 of you now) -- this wouldn't be possible without your voice. What we've achieved so far is incredible -- it's rare for a campaign directed at a TV show's advertisers to be this successful.

But we won't stop here. We're going to continue reaching out to Beck's remaining advertisers, and we'll keep you informed on how you can help us escalate the pressure.

I have to say, this really just warms the cockles of my heart.  Possibly the sub-cockles.
you could cut ties with all the lies

'Schizo' - The Movie Launched To Counter Negative Stereotypes

'Schizo' - The Movie Launched To Counter Negative Stereotypes

Time to Change [1], the mental health anti-stigma campaign, launches two provocative films aimed at challenging the stigma surrounding mental health head on.

Both films are launched as an exclusive YouGov poll [2] reveals that more than a third of the public believe people diagnosed with schizophrenia are likely to be violent. The reality is that people are as likely to be struck by lightning as to be harm by a stranger with a mental illness [3]. Research also shows that support from friends and family helps people with mental illness get better, faster and for longer. [4] People going through it say that the stigma and shame can be worse than the illness itself. [5]

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Compromise Co-Op Proposal Won't Lower Costs, Government Study Showed

The health care reform compromise that centrist Democrats and several Republicans have indicated they'd support has shown an inability to effectively lower premiums for consumers, a newly resurfaced government study shows.

In recent days, a slew of lawmakers, notably Sens. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), have begun a renewed push to establish health care insurance cooperatives as an alternative to a publicly run insurance plan.

But there's a study at hand that undercuts the argument that co-ops would drastically alter the health insurance market.

The U.S. General Accounting Office
produced a report on cooperatives in March 2000 that was mostly sour on the idea. Using five different co-ops as examples, the study concluded that on the key function -- lowering the cost of insurance -- these non-profit insurance pools came up well short.

"The cooperatives' potential to reduce overall premiums is limited because (1) they lack sufficient leverage as a result of their limited market share; (2) the cooperatives have not been able to produce administrative cost savings for insurers; or (3) their state laws and regulations already restrict to differing degrees the amount insurers can vary the premiums charged different groups purchasing the same health plan."

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(no subject)

Texas Public Schools Begin Bible Classes


A law requiring the offering of Bible education in Texas public schools is about to go into effect.
Books are a common sight in classrooms around the nation, but the Bible is one book that is not. Come this fall, a Texas law says all public schools must offer information relating to the Bible in their curriculum. "By the end of the year, what they begin to realize is that it is pervasive. You can't get away from it. The kids came back and were like 'It's everywhere,'" said John Keeling, the social studies chair at Whitehouse High School. Whitehouse already offers a Bible elective. "The purpose of a course like this isn't even really to get kids to believe it per say. It is just to appreciate the profound impact that it has had on our history and on our government," said Keeling. The law actually passed in 2007, but this will be the first school year it is enforced because the bill says, "The provisions of this act pertaining to a school district do not take effect until the 2009-2010 school year."

Educators say the wording of the law is
confusing, but that the Biblical courses will only be offered as an elective for now.


I don't see a problem with it being taught in a historical/cultural context.  But then...what about the other religions?

bg-fieldtrip yeah.

"A Dozen People" With Guns -- Including Two With Semi-Automatic Assault Rifles -- Gather Outside Obama Event

A man was spotted Monday afternoon carrying a semi-automatic assault rifle and a pistol at a pro-health care reform rally next to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Arizona where President Obama was speaking.

The local paper The Arizona Republic reported:

A man, who decided not to give his name, was walking around the pro-health care reform rally at 3rd and Washington streets, with a pistol on his hip, and an AR-15 (a semi-automatic assault rifle) on a strap over his shoulder.

"Because I can do it," he said when asked why he was armed. "In Arizona, I still have some freedoms."

Two police officers were staying very close to the man.


CNN has video from the scene, and according to their reporter at the event, Ed Henry, there was another man, also carrying an assault rifle at the event.



This is the third report in a week of someone bringing a gun to an event where the President was speaking. Last Tuesday a man was arrested before Obama's New Hampshire health care town hall for carrying an unlicensed loaded gun. Also outside the New Hampshire town hall, a man was seen with a (legal) handgun strapped to his leg, holding a sign referencing the famous Jefferson quote: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

UPDATE: The Associated Press is now reporting that there were actually about a dozen armed people among the protesters in Phoenix:

About a dozen people carrying guns, including one with an AR-15 assault rifle, milled among protesters outside an event where President Barack Obama was giving a speech Monday in Phoenix.

It's the latest incident of gun-rights advocates visibly displaying firearms near the president.

Phoenix police say the people with guns, including a man carrying the assault rifle, didn't need permits. No crimes were committed, and no one was arrested.

The man carrying the assault rifle declined to be identified, but told The Arizona Republic that he was carrying the weapon because he could, adding that he still has some freedoms.

Last week, during Obama's town hall meeting in Portsmouth, N.H., a man stood outside with a gun strapped to his leg.

Just curious, but I do wonder what the critical mass of armed civilians outside of this event is before the Secret Service starts to put the smack down on this.
Christian Bale


Obama's MySpace page: I'm 52 years old, not 48
Would place president's birth during time Hawaii was a territory

If President Obama were indeed born in Hawaii, was it while the islands were a territory of the United States?

A new wrinkle in the dispute over his birth – and whether he is eligible to be president under the U.S. Constitution's requirement that the president be a "natural born" citizen – appeared today when Obama's official MySpace page declared his age is 52, thus placing his birth year at 1957 instead of 1961 as has been claimed.

That would mean he would have been born during the archipelago's time as a territory of the U.S., the islands' status from about 1900 until statehood in 1959.

The birth year also conflicts with campaign and other White House information that have discussed his 48th birthday this month.
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Where Is Kent Conrad Getting His Whip Count?

There are 60 members of the Senate's Democratic caucus -- so why is Sen. Kent Conrad insisting that that there aren't enough votes to pass a public health insurance option as part of comprehensive reform bill?

"The fact of the matter is there are not the votes in the United States Senate for the public option, there never have been, so to continue to chase that rabbit is just a wasted effort," Conrad said on Fox News Sunday.

Conrad, a Democrat from North Dakota (pop. 641,481), is presumably assuming that a bill containing a public option would need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. But even if that is the case, not a single member of the Democratic caucus -- including Conrad himself -- has actually announced that he or she would support such a filibuster. And a few Republicans -- Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine -- might not support it either.

"Senator Conrad should leave the vote counting to the leadership," a peeved Democratic leadership aide told the Huffington Post.

Conrad, the Budget Committee chairman, is also a key Finance Committee member, and is one of the bipartisan "Gang of Six" that has taken on the role of lead health care negotiators.

One thing to keep in mind is that there may not be a separate vote on the public option; it could simply come down to an up or down vote on the entire bill, with the public option included. For instance, even if the Finance Committee bill doesn't include a public option, the Democratic leadership, when it combines the bill with the health committee version, could include it. Another outside possibility is that senators could be faced with a bill coming out of conference committee that includes the public option, even if their chamber didn't vote for it initially.

Conrad, somewhat morbidly, appears to be assuming in his whip count that two members of the caucus, Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Bob Byrd (D-W.Va.), will be too ill to vote. Conrad has previously noted to reporters that both may not be able to vote because of health concerns.

Byrd, however, made it to several votes just before recess. And health care reform is the defining policy and political goal of Kennedy's life. If both showed up, someone from the Democratic caucus would have to break ranks to kill the public option. Who would do it?

Even Conrad himself is not a definite no. His spokesman said he has yet to take a personal position on the public option.


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Six health insurance / health care lobbyists per politician in DC

Six Lobbyists Per Lawmaker Work on Health Overhaul (Update2)

By Jonathan D. Salant and Lizzie O’Leary

Aug. 14 (Bloomberg) -- If there is any doubt that President Barack Obama’s plan to overhaul U.S. health care is the hottest topic in Congress, just ask the 3,300 lobbyists who have lined up to work on the issue.

That’s six lobbyists for each of the 535 members of the House and Senate, according to Senate records, and three times the number of people registered to lobby on defense.

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Source @ Bloomberg
Christian Bale

We Now Know Barack Obama’s Favorite Word

Obama's words downplay wars

He may be presiding over two wars and facing a terror threat at home and abroad, but you'd hardly know it from listening to President Barack Obama speak.

Obama has uttered more than a half-million words in public since taking office Jan. 20 — and a POLITICO analysis of nearly every word in this vast public record shows that domestic topics dominate, so much so that Obama sounds more like a peacetime president than a commander in chief with more than 100,000 troops in the field.

He has spoken the words "health" and "economy" each more often than the words “Iraq,” “Iran,” “Afghanistan” and “terrorism” combined, the analysis shows.

"Jobs" are mentioned twice as often as “security” and four times more than“war.”

“America” and its cousin “American” — feel-good favorites for speechwriters — combine to top the list of major nouns, with 2,929 mentions.

And equally telling are the words all but banished from the Obama lexicon. The president has come under fire from progressive groups for failing to advance a gay-rights agenda. Indeed, he has said the word “gay” only 13 times while in office, according to the POLITICO analysis.

“Abortion” received just 15 mentions, and “immigration” came in at 39.

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quite desperation

hamas makes money out of Gaza's state of siege

Hamas profits from Israel's Gaza blockade

The group, which taxes goods smuggled through tunnels, is supplanting Gaza's business leaders and could strengthen its political position as well.

Gaza City, Gaza - A few months ago, Gaza City's beachfront Commodore Hotel plastered a large Koranic message atop its new glass front door. The hotel lobby, once dusty and aging, got a complete makeover in green, the color of Islam.

What happened? The decades-old establishment on a prime piece of Gaza coastline was recently purchased by Abdul Aziz al-Khaldi, an ardent supporter of the Islamist movement Hamas, which has ruled this coastal strip since winning a brief war for control of the area with rival Fatah in June 2007.

Mr. Khaldi is part of a coterie of local businessmen close to Hamas who appear to have emerged as the big financial winners from the Israeli-imposed economic blockade of this tiny enclave.

The two-year-old blockade has strangled Gaza's economy and put the majority of Gazans out of business. Israel's logic has been that a collapsing economy will convince Gaza's people to push Hamas from power. But instead, Hamas – which rose to prominence as a "clean" alternative to the famously corrupt Fatah – has benefited handsomely. Now, the movement and its friends appear to be supplanting Gaza's traditional business leaders, which could entrench its political position as well.

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  • ahtefeh

Bachmann Election Challenger: Sarah Palin Was Alaska's Michele Bachmann

The Democratic challenger to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has ample material with which to mount a campaign -- from Bachmann's call for an investigation into anti-Americanism in Congress to her bizarre insistence that the Obama White House wants to put America on an international currency.

But in an interview with the Huffington Post, Minnesota State Sen. Tarryl Clark had a pithier message: Michelle Bachmann was Sarah Palin before Sarah Palin was Sarah Palin.

"For many in Minnesota, when Sarah Palin came on the scene it seemed like she was Alaska's Michelle Bachmann," Clark told the Huffington Post. "They seem to share some similarities."

Bachmann, for her part, seems to like the analogy. The Minnesota Republican sent out a fundraising email just last week in which she seemed to be stepping into the void left by the former Alaska Governor.

"With Gov. Palin taking a well-deserved step out of the spotlight, it appears that I may be absorbing even more of the liberals' scorn," Bachmann said, who went on to warn that the media would "Palinize" her.

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  • dwer

There's that Compassionate Conservatism again.

Almost two decades ago, Troy Anthony Davis was convicted of murder and sentenced to die. Since then, seven of the witnesses against him have recanted their testimony, and some have even implicated Sylvester “Redd” Coles, a witness who testified that Davis was the shooter. In light of the very real evidence that Davis could be innocent of the crime that placed him on death row, the Supreme Court today invoked a rarely used procedure giving Davis an opportunity to challenge his conviction. Joined by Justice Clarence Thomas in dissent, however, Justice Antonin Scalia criticized his colleagues for thinking that mere innocence is grounds to overturn a conviction:

This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is “actually” innocent. Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged “actual innocence” is constitutionally cognizable.

Source doesn't care about your proof.

GOP to Drug Makers: "Stop Aiding and Comforting the Mooslim you Traitors!"

Boehner To Drug Makers: Stop Appeasing Obama

House Republican Leader John Boehner launched an unusually harsh broadside at an estranged GOP ally Monday, ripping the drug industry for siding with President Obama's health care reform proposal.

PhRMA has agreed to trim $80 billion in costs over ten years and support the president in exchange for assurances the White House is not making public.

Republicans on Capitol Hill have been grumbling about the defection of the powerful lobby, which is running vague ads in support of reform. The letter is by leaps the most public stab at the group, which is run by a former top Republican congressman, Billy Tauzin.

"Dear Billy," begins the diatribe. "Appeasement rarely works as a conflict resolution strategy" - an interesting choice of words given the media focus on Nazi symbols at raucous townhall gathering.

Boehner goes on to compare the White House to a schoolyard bully in sympathizing with PhRMA's predicament. "When a bully asks for your lunch money, you may have no choice but to fork it over. But cutting a deal with the bully is a different story, particularly if the 'deal' means helping him steal others' money as the price of protecting your own."

The letter is perversely well timed for PhRMA; the deal with Obama has been the target of sharp criticism from progressives, who accuse the White House of getting snookered by PhRMA and doing so in secret. The attack from the right gives the PhRMA deal a measure of political cover.

But for Boehner, it's the drug makers who got scammed. "Now that the deal is publicly known and would be messy for you to reverse, Big Government is changing the terms. . .because it can," he laments.

Aides to Tauzin, Obama, and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who was a party to the deal, didn't immediately return requests for comment.
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Democrats are still supporting Public Option

Public Option Called Essential

Several leading Democrats voiced concern Monday about an apparent White House shift on health-care reform, objecting to signals from senior administration officials that they would abandon the idea of a government-run insurance plan if it lacked the backing to pass Congress.

In the Senate, where negotiations are now focused, John D. Rockefeller IV (W.Va.) said that a public option, as the plan has become known, is "a must." Sen. Russell Feingold (Wis.) said that "without a public option, I don't see how we will bring real change to a system that has made good health care a privilege for those who can afford it."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said that the plan will be included in whatever bill is voted on in the House. "There is strong support in the House for a public option," she said, though she did not demand that the administration express support for the idea.

One Democrat predicted that without the provision, the bill could lose as many as 100 votes in the chamber.

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