Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Democrats Digging In On Healthcare; Will Be United At The Finish Line.

Democrats Digging In On Healthcare; Will Be United At The Finish Line.

(The Backrooms of Washington are humming and the gloves are coming off!)

You can pretty much forget the news and pundits at this point, but I can tell you that from dinner tonight that the fight back and bringing the party in line has begun. There will be no turning back and no more delays! Stay tuned!

Kennedy Gets Wish, Senate Seat To Be Filled Soon
Christian Science Monitor
The Massachusetts Senate voted Tuesday to let the governor appoint an interim replacement for the late
Ted Kennedy. Former Gov. ...See all stories on this topic

Right Wing Round-Up


Submitted by Kyle on September 21, 2009 - 4:38pm

  • Sarah Posner files this report from the Values Voter Summit.
  • And David Weigel files a report of his own.
  • While Talking Points Memo provides this photo gallery from the event.
  • Bill O'Reilly kept the media out of his address where he received the “Media Courage Award,” but couldn't stop the coverage of it.
  • Things are not going well for Orly Taitz as of late.
  • Finally, Michael Schwartz, the chief of staff for Sen. Tom Coburn, participated in a panel on "The New Masculinity" at the Summit where he declared that "all pornography is homosexual pornography."

Fending Off Failure In Afghanistan

By The Editors

Afghanistan On July 2, 2009.

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top military commander in Afghanistan, in a confidential assessment submitted to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, warns in grim and urgent language that he needs additional troops — from 10,000 up to 45,000 more in the next year — or the conflict “will likely result in failure.”

The assessment, made public by The Washington Post, says that success “will not be attained simply by trying harder or doubling down on the previous strategy.” We asked some experts on Afghanistan strategy how should additional troops be deployed? What types of specialized personnel are needed now?

· Gretchen Peters, author, “Seeds of Terror”

· James Morin, Truman National Security Project

· Frederick W. Kagan and Kimberly Kagan, American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for the Study of War

· Vanda Felbab-Brown, Brookings Institution

· Kori Schake, Hoover Institution

· Arthur Keller, former C.I.A. officer

t r u t h o u t | The Politics of Lying and the Culture of Deceit ...
Witness Dick Cheney, who once referred to torture as "enhanced interrogation" so as to sugarcoat its brutality, and then appeared on national television in 2009 only to defend torture by arguing that if such practices work, ...
Truthout - All Articles - http://www.truthout.org/articles/feed

Allvoices.com - 7 former CIA directors try to hide the truth as...
By allvoices / contributed news
7 CIA Directors agree with
Cheney. I as you most likely agree have to assume they have been guilty at one time or the other of indiscretion. I have to ask! If Cheney can decide whether or not he will cooperate and you know he will not ...
allvoices - Contributed news... - http://www.allvoices.com/Kenya

GOP Hopes Elections Will Stall Healthcare
U.S. News & World Report
By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers Some Republicans are working to delay votes on President Obama's healthcare reform until after November's off-year ...
See all stories on this topic

Dodd Proposal Shakes Up Debate Over Financial Regulations

Senate Banking Chairman Christopher J. Dodd 's unexpected plan to consolidate federal banking regulators into a single "super regulator" has set a new tone in the overhaul debate and caught lawmakers and lobbyists alike off-guard. [Read More]

FiveThirtyEight: Politics Done Right: Health Care Is Hazardous to ...
By Nate Silver
One of the things about the so-called Gang of Six -- the group of Senators to which Max Baucus issued an exclusive invitation to participate in
health care negotiations -- is that each one started out the year in a place of seeming ...
FiveThirtyEight: Politics Done Right - http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/


Media Conservatives Denounce Glenn Beck's "Hatred"


On September 22, conservative MSNBC host Joe Scarborough announced an "honor roll" for conservatives who are willing to denounce Glenn Beck's "hatred," making specific reference to Beck's statement that President Obama is "a racist" with a "deep-seated hatred for white people." Several media conservatives in addition to Scarborough have denounced Beck's rhetoric as "harmful" and "race-baiting."

Scarborough announces "honor roll" for conservatives who "call out" Beck's "hatred"

From the September 22 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:

SCARBOROUGH: You cannot say that the president of the United States, Mike Barnicle, hates all white people. You cannot call the president of the United States a racist. You cannot wallow in conspiracy theories as he did for about a month, suggesting that FEMA might be setting up concentration camps and going on Fox & Friends and saying, "I can't disprove it," and then wait a month. You can't stir up that type of hatred -- calling the president a racist.


SCARBOROUGH: And then say, "I'm just a rodeo clown." Can I -- can I -- I've got an honor roll. We're gonna have a conservatives honor roll on this show.

BARNICLE: All right.

SCARBOROUGH: And trust me, you want to be on this honor roll. I know how these stories end. I always know how they end -- and I'm talking to you Mitt Romney, and I'm talking to anybody who wants to be president in 2012. You need to call out this type of hatred, because it always blows up in your face.

But yesterday, Pete Wehner, Karl Rove's political guy inside the White House -- brilliant guy, writes for Commentary. And we disagree on a lot, Pete and I do, but Pete came out yesterday and said Glenn Beck is bad for the conservative movement. We need more people doing that. You cannot preach hatred. You cannot say the president's a racist. You cannot stir up things that could have very deadly consequences. I was in Congress in 1995. I know where this can end. You can't do it, and then say, "I'm a rodeo clown."

Scarborough not the only conservative to denounce Beck's actions

Former Bush speechwriter Peter Wehner: "[T]he role Glenn Beck is playing is harmful in its totality." In a post for Commentary magazine's Contentions blog, Peter Wehner, a regular contributor to the blog, stated, "Only recently have I watched portions of [Beck's] television program, as well as interviews with him, and heard parts of his radio program. And what I've seen should worry the conservative movement." He later added, "Some of Beck's statements -- for example, that President Obama has a 'deep-seated hatred for white people' -- are quite unfair and not good for the country." Wehner also stated, "And certainly some of the things Beck has done on his program are fine and appropriate. But the role Glenn Beck is playing is harmful in its totality." [commentarymagazine.com, 9/21/09]

Mark Levin: Beck "mindless," "incoherent," "pandering," and "pathetic." On September 21, conservative radio host Mark Levin attacked Beck for saying in an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric that "John McCain would have been worse for the country than Barack Obama." According to Levin, "To say [McCain] would be worse is mindless, incoherent, as a matter of fact." Levin later added: "I think there's enormous confusion and positioning and pandering. It may be entertaining, but from my perspective, it's not. It's pathetic." [Think Progress, 9/22/09]

David Frum: "GOP Surrenders to Beck's Mob Rule." In a September 11 blog post titled "GOP Surrenders to Beck's Mob Rule," former Bush speechwriter David Frum stated: "When Glenn Beck made his Fox debut, some shrewd conservatives responded with a wink. Maybe the show was paranoid and hysterical. Maybe Beck was none too scrupulous about facts and truth. But why be squeamish? The other side did as bad, or nearly. And see how usefully he mobilized the base! Those shrewd conservatives assumed Beck was working for them. Big mistake. Beck is working for himself -- and he chooses his targets according to his own scheme of priorities." In the blog post, Frum discussed Beck's smears against Obama administration official Cass Sunstein and stated: "Glenn Beck is not the first to make a pleasant living for himself by reckless defamation. We have seen his kind before in American journalism and American politics, and the good news is that their careers never last long. But the bad news is that while their careers do last, such people do terrible damage."

Parker: Beck and Rush Limbaugh are "empower[ing] racists." On the NBC-syndicated Chris Matthews Show, after host Chris Matthews played clips of Beck calling Obama a racist and Rush Limbaugh claiming that "in Obama's America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering," Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker stated: "What Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh did in those two clips is to empower racists and to legitimize them. And so that's -- that's the shame and horror of what they're doing." [9/20/09]

Brooks: Beck and Limbaugh are "race-baiting." Also on The Chris Matthews Show, conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks said, "What Rush and Glenn Beck are doing, that's just race-baiting -- 100 percent, that's race-baiting." [9/20/09]

Hasselbeck slams Beck: "[D]anger in what he said," and he is not "able to back it up."On ABC's The View, co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck said of Beck's "racist" comment: "There's danger in what he said, too. ... That was a bit sensationalist to go and say something like this. And I think whenever you throw that word out at somebody, you better be able to back it up. And he's not able to." [7/30/09]

Little Green Footballs' Johnson: "Wehner agrees with me: Glenn Beck: Harmful to the Conservative Movement." Conservative blogger Charles Johnson said on his blog, Little Green Footballs, "TIME Magazine's David Von Drehle asks: Is Glenn Beck Bad for America? I don't know why anyone would think a far right populist demagogue who rants and weeps in front of millions of people and spreads conspiracy theories straight out of the canon of the John Birch Society would be a bad thing." In a subsequent post, Johnson said of Wehner's "Glenn Beck harms the conservative movement" blog post: "Commentary's Peter Wehner agrees with me."

In addition to media conservatives, GOP Rep. Inglis told town hall attendees to turn off Beck's show. At an August town hall event, Republican Rep. Bob Inglis (SC) said to attendees who watch Glenn Beck: "Turn that television off."

Glenn Beck-Glenn Beck

Joe Scarborough-joe@msnbc.com

Fox News Channel-FOX News Channel
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036

Elisabeth Hasselbeck-E-mail: E-mail form

David Brooks-dabrooks@nytimes.com

Right-Wing Hatemongering Fueled by Christianity?

By Frank Schaeffer, AlterNet.

The ugly side of Evangelical Christianity is very much to blame for the anti-Obama hyperventilating.

Former president Jimmy Carter went on the record to point out that he believes that racism is at the heart of the great deal of the extreme animosity being leveled at President Obama (NBC News September 15). Carter identified himself as a Southerner with an insider's understanding. There's something he didn't mention however: the special culpability of his own religion -- Evangelical Christianity -- for the anti-Obama hyperventilating and furious reaction to our first black president. And that reaction has less to do with race and more to do with the ugliest side of religion.

The fact is that if you're going to blame one group above all others for the willful ignorance and continuing ugliness of the response to President Obama the best candidate would be the evangelical/fundamentalist community. The angry part of the South Carter spoke of is racist because it's dominated by a certain type of "Christian" culture.

Since Carter is also an evangelical Christian (as well as a Southerner) he would have done well to use his evangelical insider status to point to not just racism but to scream bloody murder about a bigger problem today: the hijacking of Christianity as the source of the hate and anger directed against all things "other" by a vocal (and health care lobby-organized and funded) angry minority of voters who are poisoning the American body.

American Christianity Is At The Heart Of Our Worst Problems

Are the New Atheists leading us to enlightenment? The problem with the recent New Atheist attacks on Christianity is that they mirror the hostility of the evangelical/fundamentalist subculture toward the secular society that it so disdains. The real answer to the question; "Can Christianity be saved from the Christians?" is not going to be found coming from people like Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris et al. Instead that answer may be found in the life and work of Christians such as former president Jimmy Carter, President Obama, the late writer John Updike, and other public figures from Desmond Tutu to Nelson Mandela who's faith can be taken seriously because of the moral authority given them by their achievements outside the realm of theology.

The people running around calling Obama is "Hitler", the so-called "birthers" and all the rest can't be understood outside of the context of the hermetically sealed world-hating gated community known as Evangelical Christianity. As a former Evangelical and son of an Evangelical Religious Right leader, let me share a little of the insider perspective that I wish Carter had brought to the subject.

What Defines American Evangelicals These Days?

The key to understanding the Evangelicals is to understand the popularity of the
Left Behind series of books about the "return of Christ" (and the whole host of other End Times "ministries" from the ever weirder Jack-the-Rapture-is-coming!-Van-Impe to the smoother but no less bizarre pages of Christianity Today magazine). This isn't some new or sudden interest in prophecy, but evidence of the deepening inferiority complex suffered by the evangelical/fundamentalist community.

Left Behind

The words "left behind" are ironically what the books are about, but not in the way their authors intended. The evangelical/fundamentalists, from their crudest egocentric celebrities to their "intellectuals" touring college campuses trying to make evangelicalism respectable, have indeed been left behind by modernity. They won't change their literalistic anti-science, anti-education, anti-everything superstitions, so now they nurse a deep grievance against "the world."

This has led to a profound fear of the "other." Jenkins and LaHaye (the
Left Behind authors) provide the ultimate revenge fantasy for the culturally left behind against the "elite." The Left Behind franchise holds out hope for the self-disenfranchised that at last soon everyone will know "we" were right and "they" were wrong. They'll know because Spaceship Jesus will come back and whisk "us" away, leaving everyone else to ponder just how very lost they are because they refused to say the words, "I accept Jesus as my personal savior" and join our side while there was still time!

The bestselling status of the
Left Behind novels proves that, not unlike Islamist terrorists who behead their enemies, many evangelical/ fundamentalist readers relish the prospect of God doing lots of messy killing for them as they watch in comfort from on high. They want revenge on all people not like them--forever.

Generations Of Indoctrination

We are several generations into the progeny of leaders such as James Dobson and his radio show Focus On The Family. These offspring extol the virtues of corporal punishment, patriarchy, applying biblical law to public governance and so forth. Millions of evangelicals have been raised in homes where they've been isolated from the wider culture, home schooled and/or sent to "Christian schools" where they have been indoctrinated to believe that the Federal Government is the enemy of all true believers, that the "End" is near, that secular society is their enemy as is art, learning and culture.

They now form a Fifth Column of the deliberately intellectually disenfranchised. They know they are out of the loop and hate the rest of us for their own self-imposed isolation. I'm afraid they will soon turn to violence.

Here Are The Alternatives To Change the Theologically-Induced Hate Landscape:

A) all sane Americans must become atheists or agnostics,


B) those of us who are Christians
must rescue Christianity from the willfully ignorant evangelicals and fundamentalists.

I favor the second alternative. First, having been raised in an evangelical/fundamentalist home I've long since moved beyond my background when it comes to my politics and my theology. That proves something; people can change their minds! I did.

But I believe more strongly than ever that we human beings are spiritual beings with or without the permission of those who take a purely rationalist approach to human existence. The better -- and I think only realistic option -- is to regard religion as an evolving process of human consciousness and work to reform rather than eliminate it

In my soon-to-be published book
Patience With God: Faith For People Who Don't Like Religion (Or Atheism) I have very deliberately started a radical conversation through which I hope many of us can carve out a position that embraces religion while absolutely rejecting the type of insanity that has become synonymous with the word "Christian" in contemporary America.

Two "Threads" In Religion

As I argue in my new book the choice between the absolutist secular fundamentalism of the New Atheism and the authoritarianism of James Dobson's-type of "Christianity" is no choice at all. The better alternative is to understand that there are two main threads running all through almost all religions including Christianity:

1) an open, inclusive and questioning thread


2) a closed and exclusionary thread.

The more open thread is not some modern phenomenon developed by "liberal thinking." As I explain in Patience With God this "thread" can be found in the earliest Christianity and Judaism.

If you look around and see good results from Christianity, say from the invention of modern hospitals, which have their roots in religious groups or the music of JS Bach, you're looking at the fruits of the best of the open tradition and thread. When you see a group of scared racist white people like Joe Wilson in Washington DC screaming "liar" or "Obama is a socialist" or "Obama wasn't born in America" you're seeing the madness of the other thread: fundamentalism that wants absolute certainty about everything, and forces its followers to live in a narrower and narrower field of existence.


Christianity is worth saving from the Christians for two reasons. First, because as moral and spiritual beings religion should feed our souls rather then strip out our humanity. Second, because whether we like it or not, religion is here to stay. Better to shape it rather than to simply denounce it.

I may be an idealist but I believe that if others will step forward and add to what I have tried to begin with my new book together we can give good answers to both the extremes of the New Atheists and to the hate of the Evangelical fundamentalists. Join me to build a better vision. We might actually be able to change the conversation in America about religion.

Is that important? Yes, like it or not religion will not go away. It motivates the worst in the American psyche and some of the best too. It is Joe Wilson's religion of hate but it also motivated Martin Luther King Jr.

Perhaps a generation from now the image of a typical Christian won't be a hate-monger like James Dobson but rather a lover of peace such as Bishop Desmond Tutu, or a literary giant like John Updike, and yes, a President Obama.

The only real answer to the hijacking of Christianity by the Religious Right, the longevity of religion-based racism, and the backward and inward looking movement we now call "American Christianity" is not to talk everyone out a having faith but rather to fight for the humane and ancient thread found within the Christian tradition. Blaming everything on race is too easy.

If you get the chance to read Patience With God please let me know what you think of it. I'm asking one big question in the book: Can Christianity be rescued from the Christians? You tell me.

See more stories tagged with: evangelicals, obama, conservatives,christianity

Comparing Healthcare Around the Globe


Here's a look at how other developed countries provide and pay for healthcare compared with the U.S. system, based on the most recent information available.

United States

The U.S. health care system operates through a combination of public and private insurers. Two of the largest government-run insurance programs are Medicaid and Medicare, which are available to low-income citizens and the elderly and are largely publicly funded. Those not enrolled in government programs must find coverage through the private market, from their employer or go uninsured. Care is largely provided by private doctors at private facilities.


Germany requires people making less than about $70,000 a year to have health insurance, which is operated by more than 200 competing, non-profit insurance companies. Those making more than $70,000 a year have the option to be under the mandatory healthcare or they can buy private insurance or go uninsured. The system is funded through an income tax. Care is provided by private doctors and a mix of private and public hospitals.


Sweden provides universal healthcare coverage. The program is funded through central and local taxes and co-payments on services. The national government regulates the system, but local governments organize the care facilities. Doctors can be government employees or private practitioners because the local governments can decide what system is best for their community. In most cases, hospitals are owned and operated by the local government.


Canada provides universal healthcare; however, many Canadians purchase insurance to supplement the government program. The program is funded through general taxation, and any supplemental insurance is paid out-of-pocket. The majority of doctors are not employed by the government. Hospitals can be either public or private, but their budgets are negotiated with the government.


Italy offers healthcare to all residents. Funding for the healthcare system comes from a mix of income taxes, local taxes and co-payments. Care is delivered through private doctors. Most hospitals are government-run. There are some private and for-profit hospitals.


Spain provides universal healthcare coverage; however, a small portion of the population purchases supplemental health insurance. The funding comes from taxes and out-of-pocket payments. The national government decides the direction of the system, while local governments determine how the care is delivered. Doctors are private practitioners, and the majority of hospital beds are government-owned.


Australia provides healthcare to citizens, permanent legal residents and visitors from certain countries. The care is funded by an income tax and rebates to a supplemental insurance program. Care is provided by private doctors. Public hospitals provide free care, while private hospitals tend to cater to people with private insurance.


Everyone living or working in the Netherlands is required to purchase health insurance. Insurers are required to offer a government-mandated standard package and provide coverage to all. The government gives subsidies to companies that take on high-risk clients with chronic illnesses and severe disabilities. Minors, the unemployed, the elderly and people who are not able to pay for insurance are covered through a government fund, which is paid for through income taxes. Care is provided through private doctors and care facilities.

United Kingdom

The U.K. offers healthcare to all people "ordinarily resident" in the country. Most services are free or available with a small co-payment. The main source of funding is general taxation. Doctors usually receive a salary from the government and additional payments based on the services provided. Hospitals are generally owned and operated by the government.


France provides healthcare for all living in the country - legally and illegally. The main sources of funding are payroll and income taxes; however, the government implements some cost-sharing techniques, including co-payments and extra billing. Care is provided by private doctors, even though the majority of hospitals are owned by the government.

Sources: McKinsey; The Commonwealth Fund; Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; Central Intelligence Agency; The Harris Poll; Spanish Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs

USA Today

Kennedy Fill-In Might Be Chosen as Early as Tomorrow

Bloomberg - Tom Moroney - 49 minutes ago

Sept. 22 (Bloomberg) -- The Massachusetts Senate approved legislation to let Democratic Governor Deval Patrick choose an interim successor to ...

MA Governor to Appoint an Interim Senator - And That's Okay

Newsweek - Katie Connolly - 1 hour ago

The Massachusetts legislature today passed a bill that would allow Governor Deval Patrick to appoint an interim Senator to the late Ted Kennedy's vacant ...

Dems Likely Back To 60 Senate Votes By Week's End

Kansas City Star - 1 hour ago

The Massachusetts legislature has approved a bill allowing the governor to appoint a replacement for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. It should be signed by the ...

Harkin Sees Passage Of Kennedy-Backed Health Plan

By Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The veteran liberal lawmaker who succeeded Edward Kennedy as chairman of the Senate health committee says he's confident Congress will pass healthcare reform with a government-run public insurance option by the end of the year.

Although the measure faces stiff opposition, Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa said he expected his fellow Democrats would join with President Barack Obama to pass the kind of comprehensive healthcare reform that Kennedy described as "the cause of my life."

Kennedy, the long-serving Massachusetts senator and patriarch of the Kennedy political family, died last month of cancer. He had thrown himself behind Obama's campaign for healthcare reform in the last year of his life.

"I'm convinced we're going to have a healthcare reform bill on the president's desk before we go home for Christmas," Harkin told Reuters in an interview.

"And there will be some form of a public option," a government plan offering coverage cheaper than that provided by private insurers as part of comprehensive reform, Harkin said.

"There's a lot of support for it," he said.

Obama is pushing for the creation of an insurance marketplace where those who do not have health insurance through their employers can buy coverage. He wants the exchange to include private insurers and a public insurance option to ensure competition to drive down prices.

Many Republicans and conservative Democrats oppose the public option, arguing it would have an unfair competitive advantage and could offer lower prices, ultimately driving private insurers out of the market.

The Senate Finance Committee, which is chaired by Democrat Max Baucus, began considering its healthcare bill on Tuesday, the last of five panels in Congress to deal with healthcare reform.


Unlike the legislation approved by the Senate health committee and three committees in the House of Representatives, the Baucus bill contains no public option. Instead it offers a network of not-for-profit healthcare cooperatives to ensure competition against private insurers.

Harkin questioned if the cooperatives would work and noted that most Democrats favor a public option. He also cited a recent survey that found that upward of 60 percent of doctors support a public option.

Once the Senate Finance Committee reports out its bill, it will be folded into one approved earlier by the Senate health committee and then sent to the full Senate for consideration.

Harkin predicted Democrats, even those who oppose a public option, would stand together to clear a promised Republican procedural hurdle and permit the Senate to at least begin debate on such a bill.

"There comes a time that you have to decide if you are in our (Democratic) caucus or not," Harkin said.

He noted pending legislation would prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, allow free screening for cancer and other illnesses, permit children up to age 26 to remain in a family plan and provide new options to small businesses.

"They are going to vote against all that because of the public option? I don't think so," Harkin said.

Democrats would need 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to clear a Republican roadblock. But they are also prepared to turn to arcane budget rules, if needed, to pass most of the legislation on a simple majority vote.

"We're not going to accept defeat," Harkin said.

"Here is the way I see it," Harkin said. "The people of this country last November pretty decisively voted for Barack Obama to lead this country and propose changes."

"They also overwhelmingly kept Democrats in control of the House and Senate. You don't elect someone if you don't want them to lead," Harkin said.

Harkin, 69, is a pro-labor liberal like Kennedy and served with the Massachusetts Democrat in Congress for more than two decades.

A former presidential contender, Harkin is a widely respected. But he admits he is no Kennedy, seen as one of the most powerful lawmakers in history and a master deal-maker.

Harkin said in taking over the chairmanship of Kennedy's old committee, he told staffers: "I'm not replacing Ted Kennedy, I'm succeeding him. No one can replace Ted Kennedy."

(Editing by David Alexander and Cynthia Osterman)

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