Monday, August 31, 2009
September 1, 2009, Greencastle, Ind. — The first-ever debate between Karl Rove and Howard Dean on a college campus -- set for September 11 at DePauw University -- will be viewable anywhere in the world via the Internet. Mssrs. Dean and Rove have agreed to let the University present a webcast of their Timothy and Sharon Ubben Lecture at DePauw. Video and audio of the program, which begins at 7:30 p.m., will be available via this link and will remain archived for two weeks following the event.
It's become apparent that interest in this event may likely exceed the capacity of Kresge Auditorium (appoximately 1,400) so we've made provisions to ensure that if anyone can't get in the venue or even can't get to Greencastle, they can still enjoy the proceedings," says Ken Owen '82, executive director of media relations at DePauw and coordinator of the Ubben Lecture Series. "On behalf of our alumni and friends around the world, we thank Karl Rove and Howard Dean for allowing us to webcast their debate." (at right: the crowd for Ambassador Paul Bremer's Ubben Lecture; September 16, 2004).......................
McCaughey returns to CNBC with another false health care attack
On CNBC, serial misinformer Betsy McCaughey again advanced a falsehood about health care reform, claiming that the "legislation that's now in Congress will force everyone under age 65 to buy the same one-size-fits-all government plan" and that "Page 16" of the House bill "says you must be enrolled in a qualified plan." In fact, McCaughey's claims are false; the provision she referred to does not require anyone to give up their private individual health insurance plan. Read More
Wash. Post claim that KSM "cooperated after waterboarding" undermined by reporting from same article
An August 29 Washington Post article charged that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed "cooperated" with the CIA "after waterboarding" and that this occurred "to an extraordinary extent, only when his spirit was broken in the month after his capture March 1, 2003, as the [CIA] inspector general's report and other documents released this week indicate." However, these claims are undermined by reporting elsewhere in the article, which notes that Mohammed gave false information during waterboarding and that the CIA inspector general who investigated the CIA's interrogation programs could not "reach definitive conclusions about the effectiveness of particular interrogation methods." Read More
Following Wash. Post article, conservative media advance falsehood that CIA documents prove interrogation techniques worked
Citing a misleading Washington Post article that stated that alleged 9-11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed became cooperative after being subjected to waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and other interrogation techniques, conservative media have advanced the falsehood that three recently released 2004 CIA documents prove that these enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) were necessary to gain valuable intelligence. In fact, two CIA memos on the value of intelligence obtained from detainees do not discuss interrogation techniques, and a CIA inspector general's (IG) report of the CIA's interrogation program stated that "[t]he effectiveness of particular interrogation techniques in eliciting information that might not otherwise have been obtained cannot be easily measured." Read More
ABC News Exclusive: National Security Adviser Says President Obama Is Having Greater Success Taking Terrorists Out of Commission Than Bush Did
Responding to criticism from former Vice President Cheney that President Obama is making the nation more vulnerable to terrorism, the president’s National Security Adviser, Gen. Jim Jones (Ret.), told ABC News in an exclusive interview that actually the reverse is true: President Obama’s greater success with international relations has meant more terrorists put out of commission.
“This type of radical fundamentalism or terrorism is a threat not only to the United States but to the global community,” Jones said. “The world is coming together on this matter now that President Obama has taken the leadership on it and is approaching it in a slightly different way – actually a radically different way – to discuss things with other rulers to enhance the working relationships with law enforcement agencies – both national and international."
Jones said that “we are seeing results that indicate more captures, more deaths of radical leaders and a kind of a global coming-together by the fact that this is a threat to not only the United States but to the world at-large and the world is moving toward doing something about it.”
The former Marine General didn't provide any specific numbers to back up his claim, but he said “there is an increasing trend and I think we seen that in different parts of the world over the last few months for sure.” He added that he was not “making a tally sheet saying we are killing more people, capturing more people than they did -- that is not the issue.”..........
Asked about pastor Steven Anderson and gun-toter Chris Broughton's repeated wishes for President Barack Obama to die, Special Agent Darrin Blackford of the Secret Service sends along this statement:
"We are aware of the situation and appropriate follow up will be conducted."
Broughton is the member of Anderson's Faithful Word Baptist Church who brought an AR-15 rifle and a hand gun to an Obama event in Phoenix earlier this month. Anderson later confirmed to TPMmuckraker that just 24 hours before that show of arms-bearing, Broughton attended the pastor's fiery sermon in which he prayed for "Obama to melt like a snail tonight" for being a "socialist devil, murderer, infanticide."
And yesterday, Broughton and Anderson took their statements even further, with the pastor saying he'd like Obama to die of brain cancer like Ted Kennedy, and Broughton for the first time publicly saying that he, too, would like the president to be dead.
No word on what form the Secret Service's follow up will take. And the agency would not comment on a CNN report that it interviewed Anderson.
Radical Arizona preacher hopes ‘God strikes Obama with brain cancer so he can die like Ted Kennedy.’
Arizona Pastor Steven Anderson has received national attention for dedicating an entire sermon to “Why I hate Barack Obama,” and for having a parishioner who brought an AR-15 to a protest outside a speech delivered by President Obama. Calling Obama a “socialist devil” and a “murderer,” Anderson declared, “I’m not gonna pray for his good. I’m going to pray that he dies and goes to hell.” A CNN analyst said last week Secret Service agents had likely visited Anderson because of the content of his sermons. In the face of all the controversy, Anderson decided not to apologize or retract his remarks, but rather, he escalated his rhetoric yesterday:
I hope that God strikes Obama with brain cancer so he can die like Ted Kennedy. You know, and I hope it happens today.
On Friday, ThinkProgress reported that “tenthers” in Texas were set to hold a pro-secession rally in Austin this weekend. According to the Texas Observer, upwards of 200 people attended the rally, where one speaker declared, “We hate the United States!”
The organizer of the event, Daniel Miller, a leader of the Texas Nationalist Movement who has appeared on Glenn Beck’s Fox News show, said that he and his fellow secessionists were disappointed that Texas Gov. Rick Perry didn’t attend the rally because they were heartened by his pro-secession comments earlier this year:
Daniel Miller, the leader of the Texas Nationalist Movement and the only speaker who had the slightest ability to make secession sound like anything other than just complete lunacy, recounted the April 15 tea party rally in Austin and what it meant to the secessionist movement.
“When [Perry] was giving a speech and the crowd began to shout what? – Secede! Secede! Secede! – that’s what they chanted. So they asked him afterward, What do you think? He said, Well we reserve that right; if things get so bad we reserve the right to leave. And I gotta tell you it’s the first solid thing he’s done in his administration that I can agree with in many, many years.”
Watch a video of the rally from the Texas Observer:
One speaker at the event, gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina, explained that the people at the rally were aware of the consequences of pushing for secession. “We are aware that stepping off into secession may in fact be a bloody war,” said Medina. “We are aware that the tree of freedom is occasionally watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots.” When some secessionist began arguing with pro-health care reform activists, another speaker, Larry Kilgore, was heard telling them, “Go back to the U.S. where you belong.”
Leave it to the crazy Liberal Christians to try and help the poor. Those Christians don't understand that the USA was founded on good old fashioned slavery and sexist principles and values.
Whatever happened to the good old days when poor people just worked until they dropped dead and we white folks enjoyed lavish lifestyles of wealth and privilege? I want my 1950's style white America back!
Join us in our ignoble cause, email us at:
Sunday, August 30, 2009
From Crooks and Liars
In a segment complaining about how his remarks were taken out of context by Jon Stewart, Bill O'Reilly managed to take Ann Kornblut's comments about him...out of context. Jon Stewart pointed out how O'Reilly's views on protesters had changed since right wing protesters had begun appearing at health care town halls. O'Reilly is known for referring to liberal protesters as "loons" but now openly defends the right wing protesters causing distractions at town hall events. O'Reilly complained that Stewart had taken his comments out of context.
CNN's Howard Kurtz points out that O'Reilly is also guilty of the same "unfair editing" that he accused Stewart of doing. O'Reilly used a clip of Ann Kornblut explaining Stewart's criticism of O'Reilly to suggest that she agreed with Jon Stewart. Kornblut had actually provided a mild criticism of Stewart. O'Reilly had selectively edited the Kornblut clip to fit his agenda.
Hatoyama said in a victory speech late Sunday that he would focus on making a quick and smooth transition, and said his priority was choosing the nation's next finance minister.
Official results were still being counted, but exit polls by all major media said Hatoyama's Democratic Party of Japan had won more than 300 of the 480 seats in the lower house of parliament. That would easily be enough to ensure that he is installed as prime minister in a special session of parliament that is expected to be held in mid-September.,,,,,,,,,,,,,
Wallace's "fact check" ignores his prior "death book" falsehoods, advances new one
Purporting to "fact check" an interview with assistant secretary of Veterans Affairs Tammy Duckworth from the previous week's edition of Fox News Sunday about an end-of-life educational booklet used by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Chris Wallace falsely claimed, "The VHA handbook specifically mentions only one document, 'Your Life, Your Choices,' " which he noted "critics call the death book." Wallace's "fact check" segment in no way addressed several distortions and falsehoods he and former Bush administration aide Jim Towey advanced during an interview on the booklet that also aired during the August 23 broadcast. Read More
John King provides a forum for Hatch's public option misinformation
On State of the Union, CNN's John King allowed Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to baselessly claim that "the vast majority of people" don't support the creation of a public health insurance option, and that the public option would cost "four to five hundred billion dollars" which would be taken "out of Medicare." In fact, most recent polls indicate that a plurality or majority of respondents support a public option, and the Congressional Budget Office has found that the public option proposed in health reform legislation by the Senate health committee -- on which Hatch sits -- would "not have a substantial effect on the cost" of the bill. Read More
In NY Times op-ed, Finder finds contradiction in consistent statements to assert Holder flip-flopped
The New York Times published an op-ed by Joseph Finder, who contrasted statements Attorney General Eric Holder made in 2002 and in 2008 to suggest that after originally stating that the United States government should not extend rights consistent with the Geneva Convention to detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Holder subsequently flip-flopped. But Holder's comments are completely consistent; Finder suggests otherwise by reporting Holder's 2002 statement that detainees were "not, in fact, people entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention," but ignoring his statement later in the same interview that they are nonetheless "entitled to be treated in a very humane way and almost consistent with all of the dictates of the Geneva Convention." Read More
Steele made the charge two days ago (August 25th) on FOX News. Steele's egregious comments are an outrageous slander against VA designed to create an atmosphere of mistrust and fear among the millions of our veterans who rely on the VA for medical care. Veterans demand an apology from Steele and FOX News.
"Let me be absolutely clear, Steele lied. There is no VA manual encouraging veterans to commit suicide," said Paul Sullivan, the executive director of VCS, a non-profit based in Washington, DC providing advocacy for veterans, especially veterans with mental health conditions.
Here is the full text of Steele's comments:
"If you want an example of bad public policy, let's look at this situation with our veterans where you have a manual out there, telling our veterans stuff like, ‘Are you really a value to your community?' and, you know, encouraging them to commit suicide. This is crazy coming from the government, and this is exactly what concerns people, what puts them in fear of what government controlled health care, of health care, will look like."
Source: Fox News, August 25, 2009:
In 2007, VCS worked closely with CBS Evening News investigators and uncovered the rising suicide epidemic among veterans, especially younger Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans. VCS encourages veterans who need mental health counseling to contact VA. VCS also supports VA's new suicide prevention hotline established in 2007. In less than two years of operation, the hotline answered 150,000 calls from distraught veterans. The existence of the suicide prevention hotline contradicts Steele's claims that VA promotes suicide. Source: CBS News, November 13, 2007.
The unconscionable comments by Steele on FOX News followed an attempt last Sunday by FOX News to selectively edit government documents in an effort to attack VA. According to Media Matters:
"On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace repeatedly cropped quotes from a Veterans Health Administration (VHA) document to falsely suggest that the Obama administration is pressuring veterans to end their lives prematurely and to accuse Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs Tammy Duckworth of lying about it. In fact, contrary to Wallace's false assertions, the document he referred to does not require doctors to direct veterans to what conservatives have labeled the 'Death Book for Veterans.'" Source: Media Matters, August 23, 2009.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Suspected murderer Scott Roeder is apparently now enlisting the aid of a fanatical anti-abortion lawyer who plans to argue that it’s OK to gun down doctors like George Tiller: Justifiable homicide defense eyed in Roeder’s case.
Attorney Michael Hirsh is known for trying to use this same insane in the case of double murderer Paul Hill. Does he care that he may be inciting more violence? In his own words:
“It has been open season on unborn children for over 30 years. I think on abortionists there will be a bag limit.”
Friday, August 28, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Conservative media invoke Wellstone memorial smear in predicting politicization of Kennedy's death
Following Sen. Ted Kennedy's death, conservative media figures have returned to the smear that the memorial service for Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN) became "a political rally" to suggest that progressives will excessively politicize Kennedy's death. But as now-Sen. Al Franken documented at length, the claim that Wellstone's memorial was politicized is a myth based on distortions propagated by the conservative media. Read More
Print media transcribe GOP excuse -- Kennedy's absence -- for obstruction on health reform
The Associated Press and The Washington Post repeated the Republican claim that Sen. Ted Kennedy's absence from the health care debate prevented lawmakers from reaching a bipartisan compromise and that had Kennedy been present, agreement on health care reform would have been more likely. Several progressive commentators have identified this talking point as GOP spin intended to disguise Republicans' obstructionism, with Salon.com's Joan Walsh, for example, stating that "absolutely no evidence supports that point of view," and washingtonpost.com blogger Ezra Klein noting that Kennedy's committee has already reported out a bill. Read More
Radio hosts use Kennedy's death to fearmonger on health care rationing
Conservative radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Tom Marr have used Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's death to attack health care reform, baselessly suggesting that if reform passes, elderly cancer patients -- like Kennedy was -- will be "denied" treatments or their treatments will be "rationed." Limbaugh claimed that Kennedy "chose to exercise as many options as were available to him to prolong his life" and asserted that "to put his name on a health care bill that denies that to other people" is "hypocrisy." Read More
Hannity falsely claims health bill doesn't have "any restrictions" on undocumented immigrants
Purporting to quote from a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, Sean Hannity falsely claimed that the health care reform bill "does not contain any restrictions on non-citizens whether legally or illegally present" and that there is "proof that illegal immigrants could very well be covered by the Democrats' health care plan." In fact, Hannity distorted the CRS quote; and the bills under consideration do prohibit undocumented immigrants from receiving subsidies to purchase health insurance. Read More
Another McCaughey backtrack: How many more before media discredit her?
Serial misinformer Betsy McCaughey again backtracked on a false claim she made about health care reform, now writing in The Wall Street Journal that White House adviser Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel believes reform must include "redefining" the Hippocratic Oath; in May, Media Matters for America noted McCaughey had falsely claimed Emanuel wanted to "eliminate" the oath. McCaughey's claim is the latest in a series of instances in which she was caught making an outright false claim about health care reform and backtracked, but nonetheless continued to attack and distort progressives' policies without acknowledging her backtrack from her prior falsehood. Read More
WSJ ignores administration's plan to close "tax gap" in knock on Obama's handling of deficit
Arguing that President Obama "needs a believable business plan" for the deficit, Wall Street Journal economics editor David Wessel falsely claimed that the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB) "has been told to move the tax burden around, not to raise more money." In fact, in announcing the board's Task Force on Tax Reform, Peter Orszag emphasized that the task force would be charged with finding "ways of being even more aggressive on reducing the tax gap" -- the difference between the amount of taxes that are owed and the amount that are voluntarily paid on time -- which Orszag said could potentially increase revenue by $300 billion a year or more. Read More
Karl's evidence that Kennedy's death hasn't "inspired newfound unity on health care reform" predates it
ABC's Jonathan Karl claimed that if "last night's town hall meeting in Phoenix is any indication" of whether Sen. Ted Kennedy's death will "inspire newfound unity on health care reform," "the answer seems to be no." But the video Karl aired to support his claim was from an August 25 event that occurred before Kennedy's death, not from "last night." Read More
Conservative media attack Dems for playing "death card" while using Kennedy's death to attack health care
Following Sen. Ted Kennedy's death, several conservative media figures -- including Rush Limbaugh -- have attacked Democrats for purportedly attempting to use his passing to stifle debate and enact health care reform legislation. But conservative media figures -- also including Limbaugh -- have used Kennedy's death to attack health care reform, baselessly suggesting that if reform passes, elderly cancer patients -- as Kennedy was -- will be "denied" treatments or that their treatments will be "rationed." Read More
The Argentinian Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to punish people for smoking marijuana as long as they harm no one else.
Combined with Mexico's enactment of laws decriminalizing possession of small quantities of some drugs and Brazil's 2006 decriminalization of consumption, this has the NY Times talking about what it all means:
The new laws and court decisions in the region reflect an urgent desire to reject decades of American prescriptions for distinctly Latin American challenges. Countries in the region are seeking to counteract prison overcrowding, a rise in organized crime and rampant drug violence affecting all levels of society, but in particular the poor and the young.
In February, a commission led by three former Latin American presidents issued a scathing report that condemned Washington’s “war on drugs” as a failure and urged the region to adopt drug policies found in some European countries that focus more on treatment than punishment.
“The global consensus on drug policy is cracking, and an increasing number of countries are agreeing that over-reliance on criminal justice as the ‘solution’ to the drug problem is not helpful at best, and is often harmful,” said Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch, director of the Open Society Institute's Global Drug Policy Program, based in Warsaw, who advocates for treatment for users rather than prison time.
Will ABC Still Have Stossel Cover Health Care After He Pushed Claim That Their Network Said Was ‘Untrue?’
For years now, libertarian journalist John Stossel has used his position at ABC News to attack the idea of a government role in providing health care for all Americans. For instance, in a 20/20 segment earlier this year, Stossel framed his report on congressional health care reform by saying, “some in Congress say they’re moving closer to a plan that will make health care cheaper and better. Sounds great, but when government takes charge it can also mean innovation stops.” Watch it:
Stossel, a self-described libertarian, said Obama’s reform proposals would “make things much worse” and actually increase costs and reduce consumer choice.
He also called Medicare a Ponzi scheme gone broke that if left unfixed would lead to limits on care.
“There will be death panels if we do nothing,” Stossel said of Medicare, using the phrase that former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin made famous in relation to the health-reform bill, which does not directly affect Medicare.
Stossel’s invocation of “death panels” is surprising considering that his employer, ABC News, ran a “reality check” on the claim and found that it was an “untrue” “myth.” “Two dozen physicians were interviewed by ABC News’ medical unit, and each said these kinds of consultations help families and they are happening already. This provision, they say, would only make them more widespread.”
Given his disregard for his own news agency’s reporting, will ABC continue to give Stossel valuable air time to launch false attacks on health care reform?
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
A new survey commissioned by the AARP asks respondents to what degree they support or oppose "Starting a new federal health insurance plan that individuals could purchase if they can't afford private plans offered to them" -- a public option, in other words. The results are interesting, though not necessarily surprising to those who have been closely following the debate.
All: 79 percent favor/18 percent oppose
Democrats: 89 percent favor/8 percent oppose
Republicans: 61 percent favor/33 percent oppose
Independents: 80 percent favor/16 percent oppose
Not only does a public option enjoy strong support (AARP finds 37 percent strongly supporting such a choice), it enjoys broad support -- a finding based not only in this new survey but also in SurveyUSA polling released last week. Indeed, a supermajority of even Republicans supports a federal program to provide individuals with a choice for their health insurance coverage, with just a third of the party membership opposing such a plan.............
Mitchell puts words in Cheney's mouth, overstates his remarks on CIA interrogation memos
On NBC's Nightly News, Andrea Mitchell falsely suggested that Dick Cheney said one of two recently released CIA memos on detainee interrogation proved that enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) "saved lives and prevented terrorist attacks." In fact, Cheney did not go that far, saying only that the documents show that "the individuals subjected to Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" provided intelligence that "saved lives and prevented terrorist attacks"; moreover, the memos do not address the effectiveness of any specific interrogation techniques. Read More
NPR's Cornish ignored CBO's much lower estimate of health care bill's cost
On August 25, NPR's Audie Cornish reported that the House Democrats' health care reform proposal "is estimated to cost a trillion dollars over the next 10 years," without noting that the Congressional Budget Office has concluded that this cost would be largely offset by the savings and revenue increases in the bill. Taking these provisions into account, CBO estimated that the House bill would increase the deficit by $239 billion over 10 years, less than a quarter of the cost Cornish reported. Read More
Luntz falsely suggests health reform legislation reduces physician payments
GOP pollster Frank Luntz claimed on Fox News' Hannity that Democratic health reform proposals would "cut Medicare reimbursement," which would lead to "denial of coverage" because "[i]f you don't give doctors the money, they won't do the procedures." However, the House tri-committee health reform bill actually increases projected physician reimbursements by $245 billion compared to current law. Read More
Beck calls Senate-confirmed Orszag a "czar"
In the "Know Your Czars" segment of his August 26 radio show, Glenn Beck singled out Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag as his latest example of an Obama administration "czar" -- officials he has previously complained are "advising our president" but "don't go through a confirmation process" and "don't answer to the legislative branch." However, Orszag, whom Beck called "our budget czar," "the proud Enron of czars" and said is "handy with a calculator," was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in January. Read More
Politico forwards spin that GOP would support health reform if Kennedy had been active in Senate
In an obituary for Sen. Edward Kennedy, the Politico repeated the Republican claim that Kennedy's absence from the health care debate prevented lawmakers from reaching a bipartisan compromise, reporting that "Republicans complained that without Kennedy, Democrats were less willing to make the concessions needed for true compromise." Several progressive commentators have identified this talking point as GOP spin intended to disguise Republicans' obstructionism, with Salon.com's Joan Walsh, for example, stating that "absolutely no evidence supports that point of view," and washingtonpost.com blogger Ezra Klein noting that Kennedy's committee has already reported out a bill. Read More
NY Times' Seelye falsely suggests Medicare payments to doctors would be lower under House bill than current law*
In a post on The New York Times' Prescriptions blog, Katharine Seelye wrote that the House tri-committee health care reform bill "would cut a combined $500 billion from Medicare and Medicaid over 10 years by limiting increases in payments to doctors and hospitals." However, Seelye's suggestion that the bill finds these savings in doctors' payments is refuted by CBO's conclusion that spending for doctors services would increase by about $245 billion over 10 years compared to what would occur under current law. Read More
CNN's Sylvester advances McCain's claim that reconciliation "would be a drastic change in the way" the Senate "does business"
On Lou Dobbs Tonight, guest host Lisa Sylvester advanced the claim that reconciliation is an "obscure Senate rule" that would be, in Sen. John McCain's words, "a drastic change in the way that the United States Senate does business." In fact, Congress has repeatedly used the budget reconciliation process to enact changes to the nation's health care policy, and Senate Republicans have used or attempted to use reconciliation to pass President Bush's tax cuts, an increase in the Medicare eligibility age, and welfare reform. Read More
On Monday, the CIA released two memos from 2004 and 2005, which Vice President Cheney said would “show specifically what we gained” from the Bush administration’s enhanced interrogation program. As people like Spencer Ackerman noted, those documents didn’t end up showing that at all, however:
Strikingly, they provide little evidence for Cheney’s claims that the “enhanced interrogation” program run by the CIA provided valuable information. In fact, throughout both documents, many passages — though several are incomplete and circumstantial, actually suggest the opposite of Cheney’s contention: that non-abusive techniques actually helped elicit some of the most important information the documents cite in defending the value of the CIA’s interrogations.
Despite the fact that they devoted heavy coverage to Cheney’s initial claims, major media outlets have largely buried these new facts. But as Greg Sargent notes, last night on CNN, even former Bush homeland security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend had to admit that Cheney still hasn’t been vindicated:
It’s very difficult to draw a cause and effect, because it’s not clear when techniques were applied vs. when that information was received. It’s implicit. It seems, when you read the report, that we got the — the — the most critical information after techniques had been applied. But the report doesn’t say that.
Cheney, of course, refuses to back down from his initial claims. Earlier this week he put out a statement saying that “individuals subjected to Enhanced Interrogation Techniques provided the bulk of intelligence we gained about al Qaeda.” However, there is still no evidence that the torture techniques were responsible and necessary for producing the intelligence.
In KY, McConnell Brags About Stimulus Projects, Requests More Money; In DC, McConnell Says Stimulus Should End
Yesterday, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) demanded a halt to stimulus spending, saying money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act should be diverted to paying down the deficit. McConnell, who lead the opposition to the stimulus in the Senate, has been an ongoing critic. “You do have to wonder, though, whether the stimulus has had any impact at all,” mused McConnell earlier this month on Fox News. A McConnell spokesman recently summed up the senator’s sentiment, noting, “By any measurable index, the stimulus package has been a failure.”
But despite McConnell’s steady stream of criticisms and demands that money stop flowing to projects, he has been a vocal champion of the stimulus in his home state.
Yesterday — the same day he asked for Recovery Act money to be diverted — McConnell and Rep. Ben Chandler (D-KY) toured a construction site at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Madison County, Kentucky. The facility, which is used to contain and destroy chemical weapons compiled during the Cold War, is in desperate need of repair and has leaked Sarin gas as recently as last year. McConnell quickly took credit for the new construction, noting that he and Chandler had inserted an additional $5 million into the 2010 budget. McConnell bragged:
“This is going to be a source of significant employment. At the peak, we could have up to 600 people working on this, and we believe the substantial majority of those workers will be Kentuckians.”
However, McConnell conveniently forgot to mention that even more additional funds for facility construction were awarded through the stimulus. A Defense Department report states that $5,876,000 has been allocated from the Recovery Act to the Blue Grass facility for repairs. Chandler voted for the stimulus.
It’s not the first time McConnell has championed projects funded by the “failed” stimulus to his constituents. When Kentucky put forth a request for advanced battery technology funds from the stimulus, McConnell lauded the effort to ask for more money as “a major victory for the commonwealth of Kentucky” that would “allow the citizens of Kentucky to play a key role in accelerating America’s independence on foreign sources of oil.” At a town hall meeting last week in London, KY, slammed President Obama and his economic policies. But he then sheepishly added, “I hope London will get some of” the stimulus money.
Economic hypocrisy may be one of the lasting legacies of McConnell. Though he is claiming to oppose many of Obama’s reforms because of a principled sense of fiscal conservatism, as the New York Times has noted, McConnell won reelection last year on a platform boasting of his ability to bring back “old-fashioned pork” to his state.
From the August 25 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
SEAN HANNITY (host): It used to be health care reform. Now it's health insurance reform. They keep saying choice and competition. So you can see that they're applying this -- as this has failed, they're using the new terminology, right?
LUNTZ: Oh, it's fascinating to watch. But you notice he said cost control. What he should have said was ending waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.
Now, here's the problem when you get to the details. Medicare is a great example. Barack Obama never said that he's going to cut Medicare benefits for seniors. But what he did say is that he's going to cut Medicare reimbursement. And this is something I challenged the organization Media Matters, because they simply got it wrong. It's like they've got high school interns doing their research.
There's a difference between Medicare benefits and reimbursement. But I say to everyone over age 65, do you understand what cutting Medicare reimbursement means?
LUNTZ: Less doctors will want to take Medicare recipients; less hospitals will welcome them. It's going to mean denial of coverage. That's exactly what a reimbursement does. If you don't give doctors the money, they won't do the procedures.
Luntz: "cutting Medicare reimbursement" means not "giv[ing] doctors the money"
Luntz suggested proposed Medicare reimbursement cuts would reduce doctor payments. During the August 25 edition of Hannity, Luntz asserted: "[D]o you understand what cutting Medicare reimbursement means? Less doctors will want to take Medicare recipients; less hospitals will welcome them. It's going to mean denial of coverage. That's exactly what a reimbursement does. If you don't give doctors the money, they won't do the procedures."
House bill cancels scheduled 21 percent physician payment cut
House tri-committee bill replaces scheduled reduction in physician payment with "inflation-based update." The House bill changes the formula for reimbursing physicians, which is currently based on the sustainable growth rate formula and, absent congressional action, would require a 21 percent cut in January 2010. According to the Congressional Budget Office's July 17 score of the House bill as introduced, "the net cost of the changes in physicians' payment rates would total $245 billion." From the CBO:
The provisions that would result in the largest savings include:
- Permanent reductions in the annual updates to Medicare's payment rates for most services in the fee-for-service sector (other than physicians' services), yielding budgetary savings of $196 billion over 10 years (excluding interactions-namely, the effects of those changes on payments to Medicare Advantage plans and collections of Part B premiums);
The provision that would result in the largest increase in Medicare spending would change payment rates for physicians' services to replace the 21 percent reduction in payment rates scheduled for January 2010, under the existing "sustainable growth rate" formula, with an inflation-based update. In subsequent years, rates would reflect separate updates for "evaluation and management" services and for all other services. CBO estimates that those changes would cost $228 billion over the 2010- 2019 period (before taking into account interactions). Including those interactions, the net cost of the changes in physicians' payment rates would total $245 billion. [CBO, 7/17/09]
FactCheck.org: House bill provides "increase in spending for doctors." From FactCheck.org:
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the House bill would result in "savings" of $219 billion after all increases and decreases are netted out. [...] But it also proposes what CBO estimates is a $245 billion increase in spending for doctors, by canceling a scheduled 21 percent cut in physician payments. None of the "savings" or "cuts" (whichever you prefer) come from reducing current or future benefit levels for seniors. [FactCheck.org, 8/18/09]
House bill's Medicare provisions include other benefits for doctors. According to a summary of the bill's key Medicare provisions by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the bill also provides a 5 percent payment bonus for primary care services and for certain services provided to areas receiving less care. The bill also increases the payment rate for psychiatric services and extends payments to physicians for quality reporting of data on the care they provide.
Doctors' groups praise House bill's reimbursement change
AMA endorsed House bill's change to the SGR formula. In a July 16 letter to Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel endorsing the legislation his committee had helped promulgate, the American Medical Association specifically praised the bill's changes to physician reimbursement. From the letter:
In particular, we are pleased that the bill:
- Recognizes that fundamental Medicare reforms, including repeal of the sustainable growth rate formula, are essential to the success of broader health system reforms[.]
AAFP endorsed House bill's doctor payment reform. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians' website, AAFP, which represents "more than 94,600 family physicians," has "endorsed the bill's elimination of accumulated Medicare payment cuts called for by the sustainable growth rate, or SGR, formula -- a move that would pave the way for a permanent SGR fix. The bill would provide a new framework for future payment updates that would allow spending on physician services to increase at a rate higher than the gross domestic product and create a higher spending baseline target for evaluation and management and preventive services." [AAFP.org, 7/22/09]
During the health care fight this summer, the GOP has been warning seniors, in ominous tones, of the danger that Democrats might cut Medicare--conveniently forgetting that this has been the Republican party's official position for more than a generation.
Thankfully, their words have been immortalized.
The below clip comes from a 1961 American Medical Association recording of then-actor Ronald Reagan warning that "one of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine."
Four years later, Congress would enact Medicare. At the time a Congressman named Bob Dole would vote against it. Thirty years later, as Senate Majority Leader, he bragged "I was there, fighting the fight, voting against Medicare . . . because we knew it wouldn't work."
That same year the Republicans, led by House Speaker Newt Gingrich, would shut down the government when President Bill Clinton refused to sign a Balanced Budget Bill that called for cuts to Medicare.
Then in 2006, rising Republican star Michael Steele would advocate cutting Medicare:
In 2007, Gingrich would double down:
In 2008, Republican presidential candidate John McCain campaigned on a platform of cutting $1.3 trillion from Medicare and Medicaid over 10 years.
Last month, leading Republican Roy Blunt said "government should have never have gotten in the health care business":
Yesterday, though, RNC chairman Michael Steele rose to defend America's flagship single-payer system from any cuts--without a trace of irony--insisting "we need to protect Medicare and not cut it in the name of 'health-insurance reform."
But perhaps Steele and other Republicans are beginning to realize how out of step his defense was with over 40 years of Republican dogma. Because today he said "this single-payer program known as Medicare is a very good example of what we should not have happen with all of our health care."
Good to know.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Sen. Ted Kennedy died shortly before midnight Tuesday at his home in Hyannis Port, Mass., at age 77. The man known as the "liberal lion of the Senate" had fought a more than year-long battle with brain cancer, and according to his son had lived longer with the disease than his doctors expected him to.
"We've lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever," the Kennedy family said in a statement. "He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it."
Sen. Edward Moore Kennedy, the youngest Kennedy brother who was left to head the family's political dynasty after his brothers President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated.
Kennedy championed health care reform, working wages and equal rights in his storied career. In August, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- the nation's highest civilian honor -- by President Obama. His daughter, Kara Kennedy, accepted the award on his behalf.
Barack Obama is close to brokering an Israeli-Palestinian deal that will allow him to announce a resumption of the long-stalled Middle East peace talks before the end of next month, according to US, Israeli, Palestinian and European officials.
Key to bringing Israel on board is a promise by the US to adopt a much tougher line with Iran over its alleged nuclear weapons programme. The US, along with Britain and France, is planning to push the United Nations security council to expand sanctions to include Iran's oil and gas industry, a move that could cripple its economy.
In return, the Israeli government will be expected to agree to a partial freeze on the construction of settlements in the Middle East. In the words of one official close to the negotiations: "The message is: Iran is an existential threat to Israel; settlements are not."
Details of the breakthrough deal will be hammered out tomorrow in London, where the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, is due to hold talks with the US special envoy, George Mitchell. Netanyahu met Gordon Brown today in Downing Street, where the two discussed both settlements and the Iranian nuclear programme.
Although the negotiations are being held in private, they have reached such an advanced stage that both France and Russia have approached the US offering to host a peace conference.
Obama has pencilled in the announcement of his breakthrough for either a meeting of world leaders at the UN general assembly in New York in the week beginning 23 September or the G20 summit in Pittsburgh on 24-25 September.........
Media: Angry right-wingers are important; angry libs are annoying
I guess Howard Dean was just ahead of his time. Read More
Special Report packs in health care falsehoods
In a report on how, in the words of Fox News host Bret Baier, "Republicans are trying to position themselves as the party looking out for seniors' well-being," Fox News correspondent James Rosen advanced the conservative talking point that Democrats plan to cut Medicare benefits for seniors and presented the widely debunked "death panel" falsehood as a he said/she said. He also advanced the smear that Veterans Health Administration officials are referring veterans to a booklet that encourages them to end their lives prematurely. Read More
WSJ to Fox to CNN: Malveaux legitimizes "death book" distortions
Echoing distortions advanced by former Bush administration aide Jim Towey and Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux introduced a report by correspondent Brian Todd by stating, "Are [military veterans] forced to face a variation of the so-called 'death panels,' as administration critics have called them?" In fact, as Todd's report indicated, the end-of-life educational booklet used by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), which Towey has called a "Death Book," does not encourage veterans to end their lives. Read More
O'Reilly, Garrett misstate Obama's criticism of Fox
Fox News' Major Garrett falsely claimed that during a CNBC interview in June, President Obama "specifically labeled" Fox News "a network that wasn't adequately favorable to him," while Bill O'Reilly asserted that "no network should be favorable to President Obama. It's our job to be skeptical of the powerful." In fact, in his interview with CNBC's John Harwood, Obama did not criticize Fox News for not being "adequately favorable to him"; he stated that the network was "entirely devoted to attacking [his] administration." Read More
AP again advances falsehood that health reform "will mean cuts in Medicare benefits"
In an August 24 article, the Associated Press uncritically reported that "[s]eniors worry that paying for the $1 trillion-plus, 10-year [health care] overhaul will mean cuts in Medicare benefits" without noting that, in the words of FactCheck.org, "[t]he claim that Obama and Congress are cutting seniors' Medicare benefits to pay for the health care overhaul is outright false." Additionally, AARP has also rebutted the notion that health reform will reduce Medicare benefits. Read More
Fox hosted Specter to attack booklet for veterans, despite Wash. Post report that he hadn't read it
On August 25, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly hosted Sen. Arlen Specter to discuss his call for hearings regarding a Veterans Health Administration booklet about end-of-life decisions -- a booklet Specter characterized during the segment as "tough on veterans" and not "appropriate counseling." However, Kelly did not note that The Washington Post reported that day in its print edition that Specter "said in an interview yesterday that he had not read the booklet but was disturbed by what he had gleaned thus far." Read More
During Bush administration, Fox ignored what it now smears as "death panels," "death books"
In the past few days, Fox News has repeatedly forwarded the smear that an end-of-life planning booklet used by the Veterans Health Administration is a "death book," echoing Fox's previous promotion of false claims that an end-of-life planning provision included in Democratic health care reform legislation would institute "death panels." But Fox's prime-time shows did not cover legislation proposed in 2005 that is similar to the House bill's provisions, or any of the Bush administration's actions from 2001 to 2008 regarding the now-controversial parts of the Veterans Affairs Department's policy. Read More
Rove falsely claimed Obama admin. pushing vets toward "assisted suicide"
Continuing Fox News' pattern of falsely suggesting that the Obama administration is pressuring veterans to end their lives prematurely, Karl Rove claimed that the Veterans Health Administration is directing veterans to an end-of-life educational booklet, "Your Life, Your Choices," that includes contact information for "a group that believes in assisted suicide," and thus "the kind of guidance we're giving returning veterans" is "you ought to go to an assisted suicide group." In fact, that group is not referenced in the current version of the document, a fact that Jim Towey -- who originated the smear of the booklet as a "death book" -- acknowledged in interview on Fox News Sunday. Read More
Troops challenging the legitimacy of President Barack Obama as commander-in-chief -- including at least one who is fighting deployment -- should take heed: Gunnery Sgt. Hartman wants to know your "major malfunction."
R. Lee Ermey, the Marine-turned-actor whose role as drill instructor Gunny Hartman in the late Stanley Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket" has all but placed the Vietnam veteran in the pantheon of Marine heroes alongside "Chesty" Puller, Smedley Butler and Dan Daly, isn't buying anyone's political objector status.
"I haven't heard about those guys," Ermey told Military.com during an Aug. 21 interview. "If I do run across them though, trust me, I'll square them away."
Two GIs deployed to Iraq have insisted that Obama isn't a legal citizen while another Soldier, Maj. Stefan Cook, has been waging a court fight – first in Georgia, then Florida – to force the president to produce a birth certificate that will satisfy his objections.
The cases are the first known instances of some troops joining what has become known as the "birther" movement, referring to Americans who doubt whether Obama is technically qualified to be president based on the absence of a "long form" birth certificate that documents where he was born.
Cook initially volunteered for deployment, but later refused the orders on grounds that Obama cannot deploy him because he is not legally president.
The 64-year-old Ermey, longtime host of the History Channel's "Mail Call," in which he answered letter-writer's questions about the military, operations and weapons, just launched a new show on the network in July. "Lock 'N Load with R. Lee Ermey" will give viewers a more in-depth look at military weaponry.
With Ermey's unabashed support and praise of American troops and his military-related screen career, it might be easy to mistake him for a zealous right-winger.
But Ermey rejects party affiliation or any extreme political leanings, as he explained in an interview with writer/blogger Paul McCormack a few years ago.
"I'm an Independent. I'm not a Republican, I'm not a Democrat," he said at the time. "I'm a middle-of-the-road guy, and I call on logic and common sense, okay?"
Ermey told McCormack that while he voted for George Bush in 2004, he would be just as supportive of John Kerry had he won the presidency, "and I wish more people would be like that."
Of Obama, Ermey said he was "a little wary at first" on how he would handle the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not now, though.
"I think our president is doing a commendable job," he said. "He picked up where George Bush left off. … We're continuing to take care of the terrorist situation."
Ermey said the terrorists have won a small victory since he has to "be strip-searched" every time he goes through an airport, and "you can't let them win any more than they already have."
Ermey found fame after playing Gunny Hartman in Kubrick's 1987 "Full Metal Jacket." Though brought onto the set as a technical advisor, he impressed director Kubrick with his steel-tough portrayal of Hartman, highlighted by a machine-gun like delivery of obscenity-laced lines that was as realistic as it was surreal.
But Ermey told Military.com that there is no truth to the story that he barked an order at Kubrick and so took him by surprise that the director complied before realizing what he had done.
"No," he laughed. "Stanley and I got along very good, very well."
The Colorado Democratic Party's headquarters in Denver has been attacked by vandals, with 11 windows getting smashed by rocks. The windows in question had posters of President Obama and the Democratic positions on health care.
A 24-year old suspect, Maurice Schwenkler, has been arrested, and another man remains at large. Schwenkler and the other suspect allegedly both disguised themselves by wearing shirts over their faces, plus hooded sweatshirts, and fled the scene on bicycles. The crime occurred at about 2:20 a.m. local time, and was spotted by an officer on patrol.
State party chairwoman Pat Waak blamed the vandalism on animosity against President Obama's health care plan, though the police have thus far not commented on a motive.
"We ought to be having a serious, conscientious debate about what's best for the country," Waak told the Denver Post. "Clearly there's been an effort on the other side to stir up hate. I think this is the consequence of it."
If we're going to have a discussion about torture and the CIA memos -- and it's not at all clear that we are -- it's worth reporting the positions of the interlocutors accurately.
Unfortunately, Politico today fell into a semantic trap set by Dick Cheney in his response to the declassification of the memos, which Cheney himself had sought.
Here's what Cheney said in a statement:
"The documents released Monday clearly demonstrate that the individuals subjected to Enhanced Interrogation Techniques provided the bulk of intelligence we gained about al Qaeda."
The key here is Cheney's failure to connect the use of the so-called EITs to the extraction of the "bulk of intelligence." The distinction amounts to a walk back of Cheney's position all along -- that interrogators culled valuable intel using the techniques. That the detainees in question provided intelligence is not in dispute.
But the third paragraph of Mike Allen's story today elides the semantic game Cheney is playing:
Cheney maintains that records released this week show that waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques "provided the bulk of intelligence we gained about Al Qaeda" after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Curiously, the story later quotes Cheney's statement in full. And curiouser still, it relies on a "Democratic official" to dispute Cheney's (non)claim that the docs show the EITs were effective -- rather than simply looking at the docs, and seeing that they do not.
Allen didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
Late Update: Greg Sargent catches CNN falling into the very same trap.
Late Late Update: Ben Smith of Politico quotes a "person close to Cheney" saying the distinction in the former veep's statement was not intended. But Cheney doesn't seem like the type to put out a carelessly crafted statement. We'll be interested to hear if he has anything else to say on the matter.
Late 3:30 p.m. Update: The Politico piece has now been changed to accurately reflect Cheney's statement. This note is appended:
[The third paragraph has been updated to include a longer excerpt of the full quote in the fifth paragraph (added "the individuals subjected to"), after some readers said the excerpt misconstrued the original. A Cheney source told Ben Smith that no distinction was intended.]
Clearly, the editors agreed with "some readers."
The False Meme Spreads Update: Here's a clip of Tamron Hall on MSNBC this afternoon.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney says the release of a CIA report on enhanced interrogation techniques used during the Bush era proves his point that those tactics work.
Again, look at Cheney's statement above. He's simply not saying the docs prove that the tactics in question work.
Late Cheney Camp Declines To Comment Update: Interesting CNN segment just now, which unfortunately ran with the incorrect chyron: "Cheney: I told you so / Says CIA files show harsh interrogation worked" (he did not say that). But kudos to reporter Brian Todd, who noted that Cheney is not claiming that the "enhanced techniques" extracted intelligence from detainees.
And, Todd reports, a "Cheney aide was not able to comment further on the statement." So a "person close to Cheney" tells Ben Smith the crucial distinction in Cheney's statement was not intended, but a Cheney aide won't tell CNN the same. What's going on here?
Watch the CNN segment: