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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Howard Dean Hosts Maddow, Interviews Spitzer: Stop Multimillion $ Payouts for Failed Bankers

And here is the rest of it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Why is Obama Championing Bush's Financial Wrecking Crew?

By William K. Black, Assoc. Professor, Univ. of Missouri, Kansas City; Sr. regulator during S&L debacle
Huffington Post
November 23, 2009 10:43

Tom Frank's book, The Wrecking Crew explains how the Bush administration destroyed effective government and damaged our social fabric and our economy. The Obama administration has chosen to reward two of the worst leaders of Bush's crew -- Geithner and Bernanke -- with promotion and reappointment. Embracing the Wrecking Crew's most destructive members has further damaged the economy and caused increasing political and moral injury to the administration.

Last week was a bad one for Geithner and Bernanke. Senator Dodd said that Bernanke's confirmation was no longer a done deal. The House Financial Services Committee revolted against the administration, the Fed, and Chairman Barney Frank. It voted for a strong bill to audit the Fed. Senate Banking Chairman Schumer went to a conference at Columbia University -- where a generation of students salivated at the prospects of Wall Street wealth -- and was overwhelmed by an audience denouncing the continuing stranglehold of the finance industry over successive administrations and the Congress. Neither Barney's blarney nor Schumer's schmooze was any avail before an outraged public.

Click here for the rest of the story.
William K. Black is the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One. Two circulating copies are available on loan from Tucson libraries. Bill Moyers interviewed William K. Black on April 3, 2009 about "liars loans" and the gutting of the loan verification process. According to Black, nobody was looking during the Bush years. And when nobody looks, fraud escalates.
Click on the picture to watch Video:

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Moyers Message to Obama: Study History or Repeat its Mistakes

by Danny Schechter
November 21, 2009

How LBJ Was Sucked Into Escalation In Vietnam And Why Its Happening Again

Elders are considered wisdom keepers in most of the world's cultures, perhaps just not our own. They are repositories of important lessons, keepers of the collective memory, and as such, usually revered. In our own midst, in our own time, one man deserves all praises due for the role he's chosen to play as the sage of the electronic stage, as our educator in chief, as the voice of the national conscience, as the best journalist on television.

His name is Bill Moyers and he proved again on Friday night why he is such a giant and national treasure.

On the very day that the world's media honored one of their richest and most powerful TV brands, Queen Oprah, who announced "the show was my life" but that she was stepping down two years hence, Bill Moyers delivered one of the most important programs of his career in an effort to call our young President to account, to prevent another similar tragedy in the making. As she reveled in the headlines as a a celebrity goddess, he went back to work.

Alas, like Oprah, Moyers will also be stepping down next year, not in 2011. Who got all the media attention? Ms. O, not Mr. M!

He aired this report on this weekend of the anniversary of the Kennedy Assassination to remind us what happened to the leader who replaced that generation's young prince. I am talking about Lyndon Baines Johnson, the master of the Senate, who succeeded John F Kennedy on that terrible day in Dallas.

LBJ came to office with many heavy burdens, including a war raging in South East Asia. His Presidency would be defined by how he handled it, or failed to handle it. As fate would have it, a 30 year old Bill Moyers was one of Johnson's aides and an eyewitness to the tragedy that followed that original sin.

On his Journal, Moyers went back to the historical record, to selected but revealing tapes of Johnson's own phone calls with his colleagues and appointees-yes he wiretapped himself the way Nixon did years later-and those calls showed how he agonized over whether to escalate the war, a course of action he knew could not succeed.
The parallels with the present day, and the upcoming decision by President Obama to escalate the war in Afghanistan are unmistakable and undeniable.

Read on to finish the story.

Click on picture to watch this program online at PBS.

Bill Moyers Journal airs tomorrow, Sunday November 22 KUAT 12 noon

Thursday, November 19, 2009

HHS Task Force Mammogram Recs Slammed

By Michael Collins
OpED News
November 19, 2009

HHS Head Sibelius Says, Ignore Panel, Get Checked

"The (task force) recommends against routine screening mammography in women aged 40 to 49 years." U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, Nov. 17, 2009

"My message to women is simple. Mammograms have always been an important life-saving tool in the fight against breast cancer and they still are today. Keep doing what you have been doing for years - talk to your doctor about your individual history, ask questions, and make the decision that is right for you." Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services Secretary, Nov. 18.

Talk about a short news cycle. A Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) appointed "best practices" task force dismissed the value of "routine" mammograms as a cancer prevention technique for women 40 to 49 years on Tuesday, November 17.

A day later, Wednesday, Nov. 18, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a statement dismissing the committee recommendations.

'The U.S. Preventive Task Force is an outside independent panel of doctors and scientists who make recommendations.

"They do not set federal policy and they don't determine what services are covered by the federal government." Kathleen Sebelius, Nov. 18.

The committee is made up of independent practitioners but operates under the sponsorship of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, HHS. The agency states that their task force "recommendations have formed the basis of the clinical standards for many professional societies, health organizations, and medical quality review groups."

Sebelius didn't care. Amidst Republican outcries that this was the way Democratic sponsored health reform would operate, she issued her terse statement dismissing the dismissal of mammography for women 40 to 49.

The DC flap started when Diane Rehm had task force member Dr. Diane Pettiti, MD (ASU professor) on her show yesterday, Nov. 18. (Listen to the November 18 Diane Rehm show at this link.) She asked the doctor for the name of one cancer specialist on the task force. Petitti was unable to answer (video 1:53). The doctor also told Rehm that "Cost effectiveness was not a part of the discussion. Cost was not uttered in the room."

Dr. Rebecca Zurrbier, MD, Chief of Breast Imaging at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, DC was listening to the Rehm show and became incensed. She pointed out that no one on the committee had either a clinical specialty or indicated any direct experience in treating cancer in a WUSA, Channel 9 special news feature (video). Zurrbier's WUSA critique was a devastating counterpoint to Rehm's skilful questioning on her radio show earlier in the day.

The HHS sponsored task force had 16 members. These members issued a statement on cancer treatment. There is not one oncologist on the panel nor is there a radiologist. The specialties of task force physicians consist of: Family Medcine (4 members); Pediatrics (2); Obstetrics and Gynecology (2); Internal Medicine (2); Geriatrics (1); Epidemiology (1); Primary Care (1). The non MD's had these specialties: Nurse Practitioner - Psychiatry (1); Nurse Practitioner - Family Medicine (1); and, PhD researcher (1).

If you were seeking treatment for cancer or consultation on current treatment, would you consult anyone with the specialties listed? Not if you're concerned about your health. Cancer is not what these doctors treat. Dr. Zurrbier's point was so obvious, she seemed amazed that this kind of finding could even occur. So should we.

WUSA's did an on-the-spot review of task force member affiliations. They came up with three members tied to HMO's or health insurance companies. Dr. George Isham, MD is the Chief Health Officer for a major health care provider, Health Partners. Dr. David Grossman, MD, is an investigator a research division of the Group Health Cooperative health care network in the Seattle area. Dr. J. Sanford Schwartz, MD, is the past executive director of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania. He's also on the Blue Shield Medical Advisory Panel.

There are three other affiliations that deserve note.

Task force Chairman, Bruce Nedrow Calonge, MD, is a Colorado physician who is the Chairman of the Colorado Foundation for Medical Care, a major advisor on "quality improvement" in care for the state and other health care organizations. Dr. Pettiti, who said the recommendations would have no influence on insurance coverage, is a health policy and medical advisor for Kaiser Permanente of Southern California. Joy Melnikow, MD is the associate medical advisers for Healthwise, a medical knowledgebase company serving health providers, insurance companies, and government entities. The firm also provides software for patient information.

Thanks to the incisive questioning of NPR syndicated radio host Diane Rehm and the quick and clear response of cancer specialist, Dr. Zurrbier on WUSA, the issue hit the public airwaves and was quickly resolved with the rapid response of HHS Secretary Sebelius.

Now it's time to find out how this HHS research organization could impanel a group of experts to recommend cancer treatment protocols when none of the physicians on the panel were oncologists and none had any identified clinical experience treating cancer. It's also a good time for those on the task force to examine why they chose to issue this guideline without cancer researchers and clinicians on the committee?

Why were the deficiencies in this process, so obvious to us, too difficult for the HHS administrators to grasp?

This article may be reproduced in whole or in part with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.

Author's Bio: Michael Collins is a writer in the DC area who researches and comments on the corruptions of the new millennium. His articles focus on the financial manipulations of The Money Party, the abuse of power by government, and features on elections and election fraud. His articles can be found there. His website is called The Money Party.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

GOP senators block effort to freeze credit card interest rates

By Daniel Tencer
Wednesday, November 18th, 2009 -- 7:15 pm

Republican senators on Wednesday blocked an effort to debate a bill that would prevent credit card companies from raising interest rates ahead of new regulations coming into force next year.

The move angered congressional Democrats who were pushing for an emergency freeze on credit card rates.

"I’m extremely disappointed that the financial health of millions of American taxpayers has been completely brushed aside by a handful of Wall Street banking interests in the US Senate," Rep. Betsy Markey (D-CO) said, as quoted in the Coloradan.

Click here for the rest of the story.

Sebelius on Mammograms: Don’t Change What You’re Doing

New York Times
November 18, 2009, 3:12 PM

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday afternoon issued a strong statement intended to put distance between federal policy and an influential panel’s recommendations that most women should start regular breast cancer screening at age 50, not 40.

The panel’s new recommendations represent a significant departure from existing guidelines, and have caused widespread concern since they were announced on Monday. The backlash has been growing among doctors, patients and even members of Congress. (A group of Republican female lawmakers used the anger over the guidelines today as a way of denouncing the Democrats’ broader health care bills, while Democrats noted that the panel is independent and its recommendations are contradicted by the American Cancer Society.)

Continue reading here.

Editorial Note: Check out Tucson doc: 'Office full of women under 50 with breast cancer'
By Stephanie Innes
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 11.18.2009

Two of the 16 members of the independent panel United States Preventive Services Task Force are ASU professors:

Diana B. Petitti, M.D., M.P.H. (Vice Chair)
Professor of Biomedical Informatics
Fulton School of Engineering
Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

Bernadette Melnyk, Ph.D., R.N., C.P.N.P./N.P.P.
Dean and Distinguished Foundation Professor in Nursing
College of Nursing & Healthcare Innovation
Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ

Growing Consensus in Dem Caucus: Economic Team Must Go

Fire Geithner and Summers, prominent Democrat says

by Peter Tencel
November 18, 2009

'We may have to sacrifice just two more jobs to get millions back for Americans'

President Barack Obama "is being failed by his economic team" and should replace Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and White House economic policy director Larry Summers, says US House Rep. Peter DeFazio.

The prominent member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus told MSNBC's The Ed Show that he and other House members are growing increasingly frustrated by a White House economic policy that focuses on maintaining the financial stability of Wall Street firms while largely overlooking Main Street concerns.

Continue reading here.


Biden on Jon Stewart: "Socialism for the Rich" "Capitalism for the Poor"


The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Joe Biden Pt. 1
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Joe Biden Pt. 2
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sixteen workers die each day in the United States: Employer Negligence/Lax Enforcement

Visit 16 DeathsPerDay.com....

According to Brave New Foundation, sixteen workers are killed each day in the United States "because of reckless negligence on the part of their employers. Under existing laws, these employers get a slap on the wrist, or walk away scot-free. Meanwhile, workers who blow the whistle face threats and retaliation at the workplace."

Watch the Video

Will Credit Raters Dodge Change...Again?

Will Washington really demand change and hold the raters accountable?

The RealNews

Although the nations largest credit rating companies are blamed for underestimating much of the risk that led to the financial crisis, so far they have dodged any significant consequences. Investors lost billions of dollars on bonds awarded top ratings by Moodys, Standard & Poors and Fitch, and now Congress wants answers. But will Washington really demand change and hold the raters accountable?

The Ugly Truth About Jobs

By Robert Parry
Consortium News
November 17, 2009

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke has given Americans a glimpse of the ugly truth about their future job prospects. Simply put, companies have found that they can shed workers and rely on technological advances and overseas factories to operate with a lot fewer U.S. employees

Bernanke told the Economic Club of New York on Monday that some U.S. companies might begin to add workers to meet rising demand, but he added that “other firms, facing difficult financial conditions and intense pressure to cut costs, seem to have found longer-lasting, efficiency-enhancing changes that allowed them to reduce their workforces. …

“To the extent that firms are able to find further cost-cutting measures as output expands, they may delay hiring.”

In other words, Americans – from blue-collar manufacturing workers to white-collar office employees – won’t be needed as much in the future by companies that are squeezing more productivity out of the workers that remain and are shifting more jobs overseas.
That means U.S. unemployment can be expected to stay high and wages low, Bernanke said.

Click here for the rest of the story.

The 15 Biggest Congressional Recipients Of Wall Street Campaign Cash

Huffington Post

Reforming Wall Street is a hot topic on Capitol Hill these days. Congress is currently weighing two financial reform bills that would, to varying degrees, reshape the way the financial system is regulated.

Still, Wall Street's influence in Washington appears to be as strong as ever. After all, it was just last spring that Senator Dick Durbin, frustrated by pushback on bankruptcy reform, denounced the financial sector's influence on the Senate: the banks, he said, "they frankly own the place." The Center for Responsive Politics, a research group that tracks money in politics, reports that financial industries -- the finance, insurance and real estate sectors, specifically -- have been one of the biggest benefactors to Congress over the past two decades:

"The finance, insurance and real estate sector has given $2.3 billion to candidates, leadership PACs and party committees since 1989, which eclipses every other sector. Nineteen percent of total contributions from the employees and political action committees across all sectors came from the financial sector.

Click here for the rest of the article and a slide show featuring Wall's Street's Top 15.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Conservative Bias in Public Media

Paid Lying: What Passes For Major Media Journalism

Posted at SteveLendmanBlog
November 9, 2009

Stephen Lendman, a progressive radio commentator (Republicbroadcasting.org) is a retired marketing analyst who worked at several large U.S. Corporations summarizes in this must-read article how corporate media distorts the truth and manipulates public opinion. He writes:

Today's major media journalism is biased, irresponsible, sensationalist reporting that distorts, exaggerates or misstates the truth. It's misinformation or agitprop disinformation masquerading as fact to boost circulation, readership, viewers, or listeners, and on vital issues lie about or suppress uncomfortable truths to provide unqualified support for state and/or corporate interests - to the detriment of the greater good that's always sacrificed for profits and imperial aims.

According to Lendman, the corporate point of view is broadcast regularly on public media, NPR and PBS. He draws from a 2004 study published by by FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) article How Public Is Public Radio? published in FAIR, Extra! May/June 2004 by Steve Rendall and Daniel Butterworth determined that NewsHour is even more ideologically right than NPR that tilts far in that direction itself.

FAIR found that on four of NPR's news shows in 2003 All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition Saturday and Sunday, "NPR relies on the same dominant sources as the major media that include government officials, professional experts, and corporate representatives nearly two-thirds of the time." FAIR concluded that the NewsHour and NPR consistently tilt the bias in favor of those in power rather than the public interest.

A November 2009 article at FAIR.org discusses the effects on democracy of the deterioration of mainstream journalism. Public Media and the Decommodification of News
News behind pay walls is no help to democracy

While other countries fund public interest broadcasting, in the U.S. public broadcasting has not lived up to its potential as an independent source of information.

According to FAIR:

In practice, of course, governments often look out for their own interests, and those of their most powerful supporters. This has been the problem with so-called public broadcasting in the United States, whose promise has gone largely unrealized. Not only is the government funding for PBS and NPR pitifully small in comparison to the support other countries give their public systems (see chart), but the U.S. “public” broadcasters are by design dependent on massive corporate subsidies; with only 40 percent of public broadcasting revenue coming from federal, state or local government (CPB report, 9/09), it’s almost impossible to get a show on “noncommercial” television in the United States unless a wealthy for-profit company is willing to buy expensive “underwriting announcements” to air before and after it. (PBS’s primary news show, the NewsHour With Jim Lehrer, is mostly owned by the for-profit conglomerate Liberty Media.) And the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which in theory is supposed to serve as a “heat shield” to protect programmers from political pressures, has in practice been turned into a vehicle for conservatives in Congress to police funding recipients for signs of dangerous ideological independence (Extra! Update, 6/05).

Thom Hartmann: UNEQUAL Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights

Read Buzzflash review of this book

"In a nutshell, a book that reveals what you won't see on televsision [sic television] or read in the paper because the corporate owners of the media don't want you to know that they've grabbed up rights that belong to the American people."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

'Republicans Are Shocked The Public Is Mad At Them For Voting Against Franken’s Anti-Rape Amendment

By Amanda Terkel
November 13, 2009

Last month, 30 Republican senators [Both Arizona Senators Kyl and McCain voted NO] voted against Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) amendment that would punish defense contractors “if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.” His amendment was inspired by Jamie Leigh Jones, who was gang-raped by her co-workers while working for Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad in 2005, and then had to fight her employer for justice.

The GOP senators who sided with defense contractors at the expense of women — such as John Thune (SD) — have been facing an intense backlash. David Vitter (LA) refused to give a rape victim a straight answer when she confronted him about his vote, claiming that he is “absolutely supportive of any [rape] case like that being prosecuted criminally to the full extent of the law.”

Click here for the rest of the story.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Anatomy of Casino Capitalism

The RealNews
Nov. 11, 2009

Jane D'Arista unravels the web of banking confidence schemes

Jane D'Arista is an economist with the Financial Markets Center in Philomont, VA. She is a Research Associate with the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) and author of the masterful study of U.S. financial regulation, The Evolution of U.S. Finance. For more than thirty years, Jane D'Arista has been one of the country's most insightful analysts of financial markets and regulation.

Too Big to Block? Why Obama Must Stop the Comcast-NBC Merger

By Josh Silver, Executive Director, Free Press
Huffington Post
Posted: November 13, 2009 11:04 AM

By next week, cable giant Comcast is expected to announce a deal to buy NBC-Universal, the biggest proposed media merger in recent memory. Comcast, the largest cable company and the No. 1 Internet service provider in the nation, would take over the NBC empire: a television network, Universal Studios, MSNBC, CNBC, USA Network, Telemundo, the Weather Channel, Hulu.com, 27 television stations and a host of other properties. The merger could be announced as early as Sunday.

This train wreck of a deal will hurt all over. It will mean increased costs for cable television service; currently free online NBC content locked behind a pay wall; less opportunity for the distribution of independent media; even fewer choices and less programming diversity. On average, nearly one quarter of all channels offered to cable subscribers will be owned by the bloated Comcast.

Click here for the rest of an important story that details the disastrous effects of such a merger on diversity and access to information and what we can do to stop it.

Still-murky copyright treaty could change web as we use it

Published by The Toronto Star
Sun. Nov. 8, 2009

The future of the Internet in Canada may have been decided in Seoul, Korea, this past week.

But it's hard to be sure, since the latest negotiations for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement were held in secret, as they have been in the past, and the only details came to the public through leaks, says Michael Geist, a law professor and Star columnist, who himself posted a leaked chapter on the agreement's Internet Policy on his personal website.

"We're dealing with intellectual property agreements that are being treated as akin to nuclear secrets and that just doesn't make any sense at all," Geist says. "That's the transparency side of this. Then, of course, there's the content side of it... this week, they crossed the line into the realm of affecting individuals very, very directly."

If it's any measure of the public's interest, Geist's site got 100,000 unique hits in a 24-hour span after he posted the document.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is an attempt to update international law to deal with online intellectual-property violations. The negotiations concluded on Friday and the next round are scheduled for Mexico in January.

The member states, which include the U.S., Canada, the European Union, and other states including Morocco and Mexico, hope to finish off the discussion and make it law later that year. For the average Internet user in Canada, then, 2010 could shape up to be a drastically different year than 2009, with much more scrutiny given to everything you do on your computer and mobile device – every download, upload, viewing, phone unlocking, burning, backing up, etc.

One of the proposals, according to leaks, involve a three-strikes system: three infringements and your Internet service provider (ISP) has to yank the cord from the IP address, not just the lone user. A few illegal downloads, iPhone hackings or movie uploads and an entire family could be without Internet for 12 months.

Click here for the rest of the story about how this treaty if ratified will impact the use of the Internet in the United States.

Check out these articles: Copyright Overreach Takes a World Tour
Knock it off: Global treaty against media piracy won't work in Asia

Sunday, November 8, 2009

True US unemployment rate stands at 17.5%

By Stephen C. Webster
Saturday, November 7th, 2009 -- 1:06 pm

According to figures released by the Department of Labor, the real marker of American unemployment stands at 17.5 percent -- a figure which takes into account under-employed workers and those who have not sought work in the last four weeks, according to a published report.

"If statistics went back so far, the measure would almost certainly be at its highest level since the Great Depression," reporter David Leonhardt wrote in Friday's edition of The New York Times.

The report continued: "In all, more than one out of every six workers — 17.5 percent — were unemployed or underemployed in October. The previous recorded high was 17.1 percent, in December 1982."

While official unemployment statistics were not available during the Great Depression, Department of Labor economists working with the Times estimated that some 30 percent of the U.S. workforce was put out during that period, the report added.

President Barack Obama called the figures "sobering," responding to widespread media accounts that placed the figure just over 10 percent, noting the department's calculation of workers who are actively searching for jobs.

Click here for rest of the story.

Nader: "Only the Rich Can Save Us"

Jason Leopold interviews Ralph Nader about his new book, "Only the Super Rich Can Save Us." The book is a utopian fictional account that raises expectations about the power of real-life wealthy public progressive leaders including Warren Buffet, Ted Turner, Yoko Ono and Phil Donahue, jump-start a progressive revolution using their enormous wealth.

Is the House Health Care Bill Better than Nothing

By Marcia Angell, M.D.
Physician, Author, Senior Lecturer, Harvard Medical School
Huffington Post
November 8, 2009

Well, the House health reform bill -- known to Republicans as the Government Takeover -- finally passed after one of Congress's longer, less enlightening debates. Two stalwarts of the single-payer movement split their votes; John Conyers voted for it; Dennis Kucinich against. Kucinich was right.

Conservative rhetoric notwithstanding, the House bill is not a "government takeover." I wish it were. Instead, it enshrines and subsidizes the "takeover" by the investor-owned insurance industry that occurred after the failure of the Clinton reform effort in 1994.
To be sure, the bill has a few good provisions (expansion of Medicaid, for example), but they are marginal. It also provides for some regulation of the industry (no denial of coverage because of pre-existing conditions, for example), but since it doesn't regulate premiums, the industry can respond to any regulation that threatens its profits by simply raising its rates.

The bill also does very little to curb the perverse incentives that lead doctors to over-treat the well-insured. And quite apart from its content, the bill is so complicated and convoluted that it would take a staggering apparatus to administer it and try to enforce its regulations.

What does the insurance industry get out of it? Tens of millions of new customers, courtesy of the mandate and taxpayer subsidies. And not just any kind of customer, but the youngest, healthiest customers -- those least likely to use their insurance. The bill permits insurers to charge twice as much for older people as for younger ones. So older under-65's will be more likely to go without insurance, even if they have to pay fines. That's OK with the industry, since these would be among their sickest customers. (Shouldn't age be considered a pre-existing condition?)

Click here for the rest of the story with Dr. Angell's recommendations.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

U.S. Supreme Court to Decide Whether to Upend McCain Feingold

Corporate Money In Elections -- What To Expect

By Dave Johnson
Campaign for America's Future
November 2, 2009 - 10:50am ET

The Supreme Court may decide as soon as tomorrow on the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case involving a corporate-funded anti-Hillary smear ad. It is likely the conservative-dominated activist court will overturn precedent and rule in favor of removing restrictions on corporate spending in elections, with terrible consequences. The 5-4 ruling will say that large companies injecting vast sums to sway election results is “free speech.” Imagine, vocal cords on a Cayman Islands post office box!

Common Cause has a report out, titled, Corporate Democracy: Potential fallout from a Supreme Court decision on Citizens United. "Lifting the ban on corporate political spending could unleash a flood of money into the political system and further diminish the public’s voice," the report says.

Really, imagine regular people trying to run for office while competing with the massive aggregated financial power of the biggest corporations. And imagine what will happen to anyone who dares to try to go up against their interests when they are able to openly spend any amount needed to get their way. I have come up with some examples of what to expect:

Click here for the rest of the story.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Progressive Values Dominant-- But Need to Rebuild Trust in Effectiveness of Government Action

Progressive States Network
Stateside Dispatch

We'll no doubt hear too much commentary reading too much into a few elections tomorrow in a handful of states, so it's worth stepping back to recognize the deep support for progressive policies and ideas that are increasingly dominant across our nation. Obama's election as President is one indicator of that shift, but progressive gains are reflected in the underlying support for progressive policies in poll after poll, whether in demands for greater corporate accountability, health care reform, environmental sustainability or a host of other issues.

If progressives face a challenge, it's not on allegiance to our values such as rewarding work or greater justice, it's a skepticism by many independents of the effectiveness of government in accomplishing the goals shared by most of the public.

However, if we understand the public support for progressive goals, it can inform our political messaging which should embrace a clear progressive agenda, even as we recognize that trust in government needs to be rebuilt after decades of right-wing attacks on its functioning. And we should also act with confidence, knowing that younger voters are even more progressive than their parents and grandparents, so our ability to move policy forward will only grow with each election cycle as these new progressives become a larger and larger share of the electorate.

This Dispatch will outline these trends in public opinion, with special emphasis on the results of two wide-ranging surveys this year, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press report, Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes: 1987-2009 (hereafter "Pew"), and the Center for American Progress report, State of American Political Ideology, 2009: A National Study of Values and Beliefs (hereafter "CAP-beliefs"). Other reports will be touched on as well, but the core results are similar across all major surveys on these points.

The Progressive States Network Stateside Dispatch is published monthly. For the series of articles on building trust in the effectivesness in government click on this link.

Progressive Values Dominant-- But Need to Rebuild Trust in Effectiveness of Government Action
- Support for Progressive Values and Policy
- Addressing Fears on the Effectiveness of Government Action
- The Increasingly Isolated Right-Wing
- The Future Will Only Be More Progressive
- Conclusion

Un-Censored: An Award For The BRAD BLOG and a New Premium Offer for BRAD BLOG Readers!

By Brad Friedman
The Bradblog

For various reasons, now seems a good moment to mention that The BRAD BLOG was honored this year with a prestigious Project Censored 2010 award for our coverage of the mysterious death of the GOP's IT guru Mike Connell. Connell, for those unfamiliar with the story (see background links at bottom of this article) was in the process of testifying about his rumored role in helping the GOP carry out fraud in Ohio's '04 Presidential Election when he was then reportedly threatened by Karl Rove. Weeks later he suddenly plunged to his death in a single-engine plane crash just before Christmas last year as he was preparing to land in Columbus while coming home from one of his frequent trips to D.C..

My colleagues Mark Crispin Miller and Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane were also honored by PC for their own coverage of the story.

Project Censored, based out of Sonoma State University, has been highlighting overlooked stories each year since 1976, and was recognized by Walter Cronkite as "one of the organizations that we should listen to, to be assured our newspaper and our broadcasting outlets are practicing thorough and ethical journalism."

In addition to our "Excellence in Investigative Journalism" award from PC this year, as highlighted in their annual "Top 25 Censored Stories for 2010", I was also asked to write a chapter on problems faced by voters in Election 2008 for this year's book, Censored 2010: The Top 25 Censored Stories of 2008-09.
For the rest of the story click here.

The Incredible Shrinking Public Option

By Robert Parry
Consortium News
November 2, 2009

When the U.S. health care debate began last spring, the insurance industry and its congressional defenders fretted over the prospect that 119 million Americans might defect from private insurance to a public option, thus devastating the business model of wealthy insurance companies.

Since then, however, the industry has won so many concessions that the threat from the surviving public option has shrunk to about five percent of its feared effect. In assessing the House leadership’s health reform bill, the Congressional Budget Office projects that only six million Americans could or would sign up for the bill’s version of the public option.

And, to make the picture even prettier for the insurance industry, many of those six million would be the chronically ill, customers that the private insurers don’t want anyway.

Because of unified Republican resistance to any health-care overhaul and the objections of conservative and rural Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi scrapped her goal of a “robust” public option, one whose payments would be linked to Medicare rates and thus could have saved substantial money for the insured and the government, about $110 billion over the next 10 years, the CBO estimated.

Instead, Pelosi accepted a version of the public option which would require the government to negotiate rates with health providers just as private insurers do. That means the pressure to hold down medical costs would be much less and the potential savings would largely disappear.

Indeed, the CBO projects that the public option would have to charge premiums higher than private insurers because people with illnesses would turn to the public option as a more reliable way to get their medical treatment than what they could expect from profit-making companies, which would still look for ways of minimizing payouts

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Here are two related articles. Public Option Plan Will Cover Few Americans, New Statistic Reveals and The Two Percent Robustness.