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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Conservative media invoke Wellstone memorial smear in predicting politicization of Kennedy's death

Conservative media invoke Wellstone smear in anticipation of Kennedy's service

Hannity on Kennedy's death: "a lot of this was the politicizing of -- remember Paul Wellstone's death?" Discussing Kennedy's death during his radio program, Sean Hannity asserted, "We've got The Wall Street Journal reporting -- and by the way, a lot of this was the politicizing of -- remember Paul Wellstone's death? You know, 'Let's do everything for Paul.' And we're now being implored to get behind Obamacare because it's what Ted Kennedy would have wanted." [The Sean Hannity Show, 8/26/09]

Savage fill-in Markowski on possible naming of health care bill after Kennedy: "It's political theater" like the "Wellstone memorial." Chris Markowski, filling in for Michael Savage on his radio program, took a caller who said that "if Ted Kennedy had wanted his name on this health care bill, I think that he would -- I would want to see where he said that in writing before he died. He had plenty of time." Markowski responded, in part, by asserting: "I don't think he's requested -- you got to understand, it's a show. OK? It's political theater. Like the Democrats thought that whole Wellstone memorial was going to -- it was going to force them to -- it was going to allow them to win the Senate race in Minnesota. This is political theater. It's a show." [The Savage Nation, 8/26/09]

Lopez on Kennedy's death: Wellstone service "turned into a political rally." The National Review Online's Kathyrn Jean Lopez wrote in an August 26 post to the blog The Corner titled "Re: The Politics of Ted Kennedy's Passing": "All politicos need to remember the Wellstone funeral when a well-known politician dies. Instead of memorializing his life, his service turned into a political rally. Some of the MSNBC coverage today I'm catching looks like a [sic] Obamacare convocation. Human life is about more than poltics. And politics isn't American Idol. Or, even, The Lion of the Senate."

Allahpundit "sure" Kennedy "eulogies won't be politicized at all." Hot Air blogger Allahpundit wrote in an August 26 tweet: "Looking forward to the Democratic line-up at TK's memorial service. I'm sure the eulogies won't be politicized at all."

Instapundit: "A Wellstone Memorial on steroids?" An August 26 post on Instapundit.com linked to a post by JammieWearingFool with the headline "A Wellstone Memorial on steroids? And how did that work out?" JammieWearingFool asserted in the post, written the same day, "While we have no doubt the Democrats will do all they can to exploit his death and will probably have a Wellstone memorial on steroids, we'll stay above that." The link on the words "Wellstone memorial" were to an October 30, 2002, Slate.com article describing Wellstone's memorial services as a "pep rally."

Noting "conservative talking point," Politico's Smith says "[i]t would seem odd to bar politics" from Kennedy's funeral. In an August 26 post, Politico's Ben Smith referred to the comments by Allahpundit and Instapundit as "a conservative talking point [that] is emerging to counter the the hope on the left that Kennedy's death will advance his cause of health care reform," and commented:

It would seem odd to bar politics from the funeral of an intensely political figure who took his causes so personally, but the Kennedy family, the White House, and Senate Democrats -- as well as their foes -- will be navigating complicated, and political, terrain in the days ahead, with real advantage to be won and lost on one of Kennedy's signature causes.

Franken debunked Wellstone smear in 2003 book

Al Franken: " 'This Was Not a Memorial to Paul Wellstone': A Case Study in Right-Wing Lies." In his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them (Dutton, 2003), Franken wrote:

Paul died on October 25, 2002, when his plane went down in Northern Minnesota. Sheila; their daughter, Marcia; his driver, Will McLaughlin; two other close aides, Tom Lapic and Mary McEvoy; and two pilots died with him. Four days later, C-SPAN, along with almost every Minnesota TV and radio station, carried a hastily-put-together memorial service for Paul, Sheila, Marcia, Will, Tom, and Mary. I was there. It was a beautiful memorial, sometimes incredibly sad, sometimes funny, sometimes rowdy, and sometimes political. Some people watching on television were offended. Some people were moved. But the right saw an opening. They took moments out of context, lied about the rest, and used it as a political club to attack the Democrats. It won them the Senate election in Minnesota and probably in Missouri, which means it gave Republicans control of the Senate.

This chapter is a case study of how the right lies and viciously distorts. It is the story of how the right-wing media repeats its fabrications until they echo into the mainstream press. It is a story of pure cynicism in pursuit of power. It is the story of how the lying liars took the death of my friends and invented a myth that changed the 2002 elections. [Pages 178-179]

"[T]en-second clips" created partisan picture. Franken explained that a eulogy delivered by "Wellstone's best friend Rick Kahn," "[o]ne of the eight eulogies that night," included calling on the audience to "win this election for Paul Wellstone." Franken noted that to those who "only saw the ten-second clips that were later repeated and repeated on TV, it looked like Kahn and the crowd were just being foot-stompingly partisan -- that Wellstone's death was being used for political gain." Franken continued:

But Kahn's speech was also full of phrases like "[our] hearts are now shattered" and "tonight we are filled to overflowing with overwhelming grief and sorrow." This speech was coming from someone who was crushed by the deaths of his best friend, his best friend's wife, his best friend's daughter, and three other very close friends. Yeah, it had some inappropriate moments. But I assumed that people would understand, and cut the man a little slack. [Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, Pages 183-185]

Speeches not vetted by memorial organizers. Franken included the following statement from Ann Mulholland, who helped plan the memorial:

We asked each family to choose someone to do the eulogy. At no point did it ever cross anyone's mind to read the speeches. The day before, the people from the hearing impaired group asked, "Do you have any of the speeches?" I just laughed. They wanted to type the speeches in for the closed captioning, but we just didn't have anything.

On Monday night, our press guy said to me, "Oh my gosh -- this is going to be on TV. Should we be thinking about something?" By then, it was just kind of too late. [Page 192]

"Political" smear started by GOP operatives including former Rep. Weber, who later admitted "there was some very nice stuff" at the service. Franken wrote:

The morning after the memorial, I picked up the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and turned to the special section devoted to the event. It was titled "One Last Rally: Victims Remembered with Cheers and Tears," with a heartbreaking picture of Paul and Sheila's granddaughter, Cari, crying. There were two stories on the front page. One was about the event itself: "Overflow Crowd Pays Tribute to Wellstone." The other was about GOP spin: "Republicans Decry Service as Political." With the stories side by side, it was as if two different events had taken place. The real one, and the lie one.

Vin Weber was framing the Republican story line. "This was NOT a memorial to Paul Wellstone. This was a political event." Weber said that the event was a "complete, total, absolute sham" and accused the Democrats of "exploit[ing] Wellstone's memory totally, completely and shamelessly for political gain."

[...]

When I called Vin Weber to research this chapter, I asked him whether he had watched the whole event and whether he had seen any of the eulogies. He said, "Yeah, there was some very nice stuff." This candid Vin was a refreshing break from the lying Vin who talked to the Star Tribune in 2002. But Lying Vin had planted the story line: The memorial was a total sham, a political charade. [Pages 186-187]

Franken traces spin of memorial as "political event" through media. Franken documented the evolution in the media of the smear that Wellstone's memorial service was politicized. He traced the Republican spin of the memorial service as a "political event" from the Minneapolis Star Tribune to C-SPAN's Washington Journal to Rush Limbaugh and eventually to "the mainstream" with Tucker Carlson, who claimed on CNN's Crossfire that "a memorial service for the late Senator Paul Wellstone was hijacked by partisan zealots and turned into a political rally. Republican friends of Senator Wellstone were booed and shouted down as they tried to speak." But Franken undercut those claims in an interview with Carlson documented in the book. Under Franken's questioning, Carlson admitted he had not yet seen the tape of the memorial when he made those claims and was under the incorrect assumption that Kahn was not in fact Wellstone's best friend. Moreover, there were no "Republican friends of Wellstone" who spoke or attempted to speak at the funeral, a fact Carlson acknowledged in his conversations with Franken. Nonetheless, the myth that the memorial was a political event continued to spread throughout the media. [Pages 193-195]

Media similarly accused liberals of politicizing King's funeral, but ignored politicization of Reagan's

Media highlighted purportedly "partisan" funeral of Coretta Scott King. As Media Matters for America documented, the claims that King's funeral was "partisan" stemmed primarily from a tribute delivered by civil rights activist Rev. Joseph Lowery, which included a reference to prewar intelligence failures in Iraq, and one by former President Jimmy Carter, who made what many interpreted as a reference to President Bush's warrantless domestic surveillance program.

But media ignored political elements of Reagan's funeral. President Ronald Reagan's funeral did not provoke similar scrutiny, despite clear political overtones. For example, the media largely ignored the fact that no Democrats were invited to speak at either the funeral at the National Cathedral or at a ceremony held on Capitol Hill two days earlier.

Transcripts

From the August 26 broadcast of ABC Radio Networks' and Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:

HANNITY: And it is the degree to which the mainstream media has tried to, you know, not talk about his family, not talk about how he battled brain cancer, not talk about -- oh, well, some people did bring up the more controversial aspects of his life. But to the extent that it has been used by so many on the left to promote Obamacare, it is, you know -- that somehow, his death is added reason now to make its passage.

Now, I just -- we have Senator Byrd, according to the Politico, wants Democrats to rename the Obamacare bill after Ted Kennedy. I don't know if they want to call it "Kennedycare," and I'm not sure what the name is here, but -- "Ailing Senator Robert Byrd, one of only two to have served longer than Kennedy, suggests, in an emotional statement, renaming the pending health care legislation for the late Massachusetts senator. 'In his honor and as a tribute to his commitment to the ideals, let us stop the shouting and name-calling and have a civilized debate on health care reform, which, I hope, when legislation has been signed into law, will bear his name for his commitment to insuring the health of every American.' "

We've got The Wall Street Journal reporting -- and by the way, a lot of this was the politicizing of -- remember Paul Wellstone's death? You know, "Let's do everything for Paul." And we're now being implored to get behind Obamacare because it's what Ted Kennedy would have wanted.

From the August 26 broadcast of Talk Radio Network's The Savage Nation:

MARKOWSKI: We got Mike on the phone from Portland, Oregon. Mike, Welcome to The Savage Nation.

CALLER: Yeah, hello. My comment was that if Ted Kennedy had wanted his name on this health care bill, I think that he would -- I would want to see where he said that in writing before he died. He had plenty of time to say, "Hey" --

MARKOWSKI: I don't think he's requested -- you got to understand, it's a show. OK? It's political theater. Like the Democrats thought that whole Wellstone memorial was going to -- it was going to force them to -- it was going to allow them to win the Senate race in Minnesota. This is political theater. It's a show.

M.L.C. comment: I'll keep this short, funny when Saint Ronnie of Reagan died the right wing begged Dems, lefties and people that didn't believe in the Reagan myth to give them time to mourned and people gave them that. And when the Republicans and their allies in the right wing media used those two weeks as political ads and milk sympathy for the Republican party they bulk when people accused them of playing politics. With all that said the right wing can't grant the same for the Kennedy family, Dems and liberals, no one is asking them to like or love Ted Kennedy but if they want people to honor the memory of the second worst president ever to serve for two weeks. Give people that love and honor Teddy Kennedy the same respect.

Idaho GOP Gov. hopeful jokes about buying ‘tags’ to hunt Obama

By Associated Press An Idaho Republican gubernatorial hopeful insists he was only joking when he said he'd buy a license to hunt President Barack Obama.

Rex Rammell, a former elk rancher slated to run against incumbent C.L. "Butch" Otter in the May 2010 GOP primary, made the comment at a Republican rally Tuesday in Twin Falls where talk turned to the state's planned wolf hunt, for which hunters must purchase an $11.50 wolf tag.

When an audience member shouted a question about "Obama tags," Rammell responded, "The Obama tags? We'd buy some of those."

Rammell told The Associated Press Thursday he was just being sarcastic and sees no reason to apologize for the comment.

M.C.L comment:

It's becoming clear it's not just the hacks that make up conservative/right wing media that's inciting their followers to violence it's actual members of the Republican Party that's enabling this behavior. Again I have no issues with people that have legit differences with the way the president is handling things, but when you listen to these people scream and yell their beef with President Obama has nothing to do with his policies and more to do with him as a person. Is it racism that's driving the mob? Hell yeah, but you got to add in the fear that the right wing media specialized in. Hate and fear makes a average right winger a dangerous person.

‘Tenther’ Activists Add The Federal Highway System To List Of Programs To Kill

By Ian Millhiser In a recent radio interview, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) made the seemingly-innocuous statement that the federal highway system, as well as federal laws ensuring safe drugs and safe airplanes, are constitutional. Nevertheless, Shea-Porter is now under attack by “tenther” activists who believe that virtually everything the federal government does is unconstitutional:

Author and historian David Barton, the president of WallBbuilders, [sic] says Shea-Porter’s comments reflect her view that Washington government should run everything. He notes that both the Ninth and Tenth Amendments say anything that is not explicitly covered in the Constitution belongs to the states and to the people.

“All of those issues belong to the states and the people. Healthcare is not a federal issue. It is a state and people issue — the same with transportation. The Constitution does say that the federal government can take care of what are called the post roads — those on which the mail travels — but outside of that, states are responsible for their own highways, their own roads, their own county, local, state roads,” he notes. “And her comment about, ‘Well, the Constitution doesn’t cover drug use and drug abuse’ — yes it does, and that is under the criminal justice issues that belong to the

As ThinkProgress previously reported, conservatives are increasingly enraptured with tentherism, which claims that landmark federal programs such as Medicare, Social Security, the VA health system and the G.I. Bill are violations of the 10th Amendment — and many leading conservative officials are determined to impose the tentherism on the country. Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) is a tenther, as are Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas embraces tenther claims that the federal minimum wage and the federal ban on whites-only lunch counters, among other things, are unconstitutional.

Indeed, even federal highways opponent Barton is no small figure in conservative politics; Barton is one of six “experts” tasked with rewriting Texas’ public school textbooks to teach a right-wing alternative history to Texan children. Apparently, Barton and his fellow tenthers also want to rewrite the Constitution.

M.C.L. Comment:

This is what I don't get about right wingers they hate the government yet the want to run the government, cons believe that everything should be for profit that's why they don't want the federal government to be around. They believe private corporations should be allow to make much money off the average person no matter how little the service they provide.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Breaking late night news:U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy dies

By Scott Malone

BOSTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy, a towering figure in the Democratic Party who took the helm of one of America's most fabled political families after two older brothers were assassinated, has died, his family said. He was 77.

"Edward M. Kennedy, the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply, died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port (Massachusetts)," the Kennedy family said in a statement.

One of the most influential and longest-serving senators in U.S. history -- a liberal standard-bearer who was also known as a consummate congressional dealmaker -- Kennedy had been battling brain cancer, which was diagnosed in May 2008.

"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 family statement said.

"He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it. He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it's hard to imagine any of them without him," the family added.

His death marked the twilight of a political dynasty and dealt a blow to Democrats as they seek to answer President Barack Obama's call for an overhaul of the healthcare system. Kennedy had made healthcare reform his signature cause.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said in a statement the Kennedy family and Senate "have together lost our patriarch."

"As we mourn his loss, we rededicate ourselves to the causes for which he so dutifully dedicated his life."

Known as "Teddy," he was the brother of President John Kennedy, assassinated in 1963, Senator Robert Kennedy, fatally shot while campaigning for the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination, and Joe Kennedy, a pilot killed in World War Two.

When he first took the Senate seat previously held by John Kennedy in 1962, he was seen as something of a political lightweight who owed his ascent to his famous name.

Yet during his nearly half century in the chamber, Kennedy became known as one of Washington's most effective senators, crafting legislation by working with lawmakers and presidents of both parties, and finding unlikely allies.

At the same time, he held fast to liberal causes deemed anachronistic by the centrist "New Democrats," and was a lightning rod for conservative ire.

He helped enact measures to protect civil and labor rights, expand healthcare, upgrade schools, increase student aid and contain the spread of nuclear weapons.

"There's a lot to do," Kennedy told Reuters in 2006. "I think most of all it's the injustice that I continue to see and the opportunity to have some impact on it."

After Robert Kennedy's death, Edward was expected to waste little time in vying for the presidency. But in 1969, a young woman drowned after a car Kennedy was driving plunged off a bridge on the Massachusetts resort island of Chappaquiddick after a night of partying.

Kennedy's image took a major hit after it emerged he had failed to report the accident to authorities. He pleaded guilty to leaving the scene and received a suspended sentence.

Kennedy eventually ran for his party's presidential nomination in 1980 but lost to then-President Jimmy Carter.

His presidential ambitions thwarted, Kennedy devoted himself to his Senate career.

A 2009 survey by The Hill, a Capitol Hill publication, found that Senate Republicans believed Kennedy was the chamber's easiest Democrat to work with and most bipartisan.

Republican Senator John McCain called Kennedy "the single most effective member of the Senate if you want to get results."

In January 2008, Kennedy endorsed Obama, who was serving his first term as a senator, for the Democratic presidential nomination. Many saw the endorsement -- Obama went on to win the nomination and the White House -- as the passing of the political torch to a new generation.

'LION' BATTLED ON

Kennedy had been largely sidelined in Congress since becoming ill. The "Lion of the Senate" began to use a cane and often looked tired and drained as he mixed work with treatment.

Yet colleagues and staff said he remained determined to fulfill what he called "the cause of my life," providing health insurance to all Americans. He helped draft legislation to overhaul the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare system.

Kennedy's interest in healthcare dated from his son's bout with cancer in the 1970s. More recently, he cited his own illness as he made a case for reform.

"I've benefited from the best of medicine, but I've also witnessed the frustration and outrage of patients and doctors alike as they face the challenges of a system that shortchanges millions of Americans," he wrote in a May 28, 2009, issue of the Boston Globe.

His charisma as "the last of the Kennedy brothers" was such that draft-Teddy drives were a feature of U.S. presidential election years from 1968 through the 1980s.

But he never fully escaped the cloud of the Chappaquiddick accident. A decades-long argument arose about whether he tried to cover up his involvement by leaving the scene while Mary Jo Kopechne's body remained submerged and whether police helped sweep such questions under the rug. All involved denied any cover-up.

Later crises involving younger Kennedys, notably the 1991 Palm Beach rape trial of his nephew, William Kennedy Smith, caught a bloated and weary-looking Uncle Ted in a media glare. Reports of heavy drinking and womanizing led to a public apology for "the faults in the conduct of my private life."

Kennedy was remarried soon after that to Victoria Reggie, a 38-year-old lawyer with two young children from her first marriage. He poured renewed energy into the Senate, where he would become the third-longest serving senator in history.

Even his Republican foes recognized Kennedy's dedication as he worked to protect civil rights, give federal help to the poor, contain the spread of nuclear weapons, raise the minimum wage, expand health coverage and improve America's schools.

FAMILY STANDARDS

Born on February 22, 1932, Edward Moore Kennedy was the last of four sons and five daughters born to millionaire businessman Joseph Kennedy, who would later be ambassador to Britain, and his wife Rose.

The Boston Irish family combined the competitive spirit of nouveau riche immigrants with acquired polish and natural charm. The sons were expected to mature into presidential timber and were groomed for that starting with the oldest, Joseph Jr., a bomber pilot who died in World War Two.

"I think about my brothers every day," Kennedy told Reuters. "They set high standards. Sometimes you measure up, sometimes you don't."

Like his brothers, Kennedy was known for his oratory, delivered in a booming voice at rallies, congressional hearings and in the Senate.

He drew praise from liberals, labor and civil rights groups and scorn from conservatives, big business and anti-abortion and pro-gun activists. His image was often used by Republicans in ads as a money-raising tool.

Tragedies dogged Kennedy throughout his life. They included a 1964 plane crash that damaged his spine and left him with persistent pain; bone cancer that cost son Teddy a leg; first wife Joan's battles with alcoholism that contributed to their divorce, and drug problems involving nephews, one of whom died of an overdose. His nephew, John Kennedy Jr., died in July 1999 when his small plane crashed into the ocean near Cape Cod.

In May 2008, Edward Kennedy collapsed at his Cape Cod home and was flown to hospital in Boston, where he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Brain cancer kills half its victims within a year.

Kennedy's illness kept him from attending the funeral of his sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a leading advocate of the mentally disabled, who died on August 11 at the age of 88.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Video reveals GOP Senator brushed off Obama assassination threat

By Stephen C. Webster A little-noticed YouTube video of a recent town hall meeting with Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley reveals the Senator gave a strikingly anemic reply to a man who compared Barack Obama to genocidal Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and made an implied threat against the president.

“The President of the United States,” said Tom Eisenhower, who claimed to be a World War II veteran. “That’s who you should be concerned about today … Because he’s acting like a little Hitler.”

He added that he would “take a gun to Washington if enough of you would go with me,” according to a report in the Pocahontas, Iowa newspaper The Messenger.

By his words, he seemed to be advocating something much stronger than a protest. Some in the audience applauded. One man booed.

The video below distorts the audio in portions of the man’s statement, but he apparently made reference to the “death panel” myth, suggesting he would be told to die after he “hit 80.”

Sen. Grassley, a member of the Senate Finance Committee and one of the most important Republicans in the health insurance reform debate — who recently told AIG executives to “resign, or go commit suicide” — did not call out the man’s brazenly false analogy or object to his threat.

Instead, his response trailed and lacked any specificity. Although Grassley noted that former President George W. Bush initiated the massive bailouts and “started us on down that road,” he overtly sympathized with the elderly man’s angry sentiments toward President Obama.

“Well, you didn’t ask for a comment, but I think I want to make it clear that President Obama, I agree with him on a lot of things,” Grassley said. “I think he’s doing what he thinks he was elected to do and I did disagree with a good part of it … Uh, but I don’t, uh … Ascribe any ulterior motives to him in the process.”

He continued: “But I do think that you’re right from the standpoint that there is a lot of holes that he has put in place, like General Motors, the nationalization of banks — although, I gotta be … Bush, uh, Bush started us on down that road in October before he left office. And, uh, also, uh, this deficit spending that we have. It’s … It’s, uh, something we’ve got to worry about. And we want a country like we inherited for our grandchildren.

“And, I think most of you came to talk about health care, but I think health care is a, in other words, why people are coming to town meetings … But I think health care is the straw that broke the camel’s back, in the sense that they were looking at General Motors, looking at the stimulus package not working, looking at the Federal Reserve shoveling money out of an airplane, looking at [inaudible] percent increases in the budget and a $4 trillion budget that was about to, uh, adopted in March, and they don’t see anything good comin’ from it and they’re fearful of the government taking everything over.”

The Senator has in the past endorsed the “death panel” myth and told his constituents, “you have every right to fear” it.

However, when pressed by Bob Schieffer on a recent episode of Face the Nation, Grassley recanted his implication that such a thing exists in the health insurance reform legislation.

“I think most of us believe we have the best health care system in the world, but I think we all know there’s some things we need to change,” Grassley said at the town hall meeting, according to The Messenger. “We need to fix what’s broken and leave alone what’s working well.”

This video is from YouTube, uploaded Aug. 24, 2009.

Angry right boos John McCain for stating that Obama ‘respects the Constitution of the United States.’

By Faiz Shakir

Today in a town hall forum in Arizona, an elderly woman asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) whether President Obama knows “that we still live under a Constitution.” To his credit, McCain distanced himself from the questioner’s claim, saying “I’m sure that he does.” He then added that Obama “respects the Constitution of the United States,” at which point the crowd broke out in loud boos. But McCain stood firm, explaining that there’s just a “fundamental difference in philosophy and about the role of government.” “I am convinced the president is absolutely sincere in his beliefs,” he said, again eliciting boos and jeers from the crowd. Watch it:

“He is the president of the United States and let’s be respectful,” McCain said in closing. That statement was met with light applause from the crowd.

M.C.L comment:

This what ticks me off about the right wing they spent eight years supporting and defending a president that said the constitution was just a piece of goddamn paper while at the same time that president and his puppet master Dick Cheney were taking white out to the same document they all of the sudden found support for.

Lobbyists Attack Reform Without Disclosing Work For Health Insurance Companies

By Lee Fang In an op-ed today in the Washington Times, Frank Donatelli smeared efforts to pass portions of health reform through reconciliation as an “arcane backroom procedure,” while referring to the legislation with the pejorative label “Obamacare.” Donatelli, who is a regular opinion writer for the Times, is also a frequent political pundit on CNN. In giving a Donatelli a free platform to attack health reform, neither media outlet has disclosed that Donatelli is the director of public affairs for McGuireWoods Consulting (an affiliate of the law firm McGuireWoods LLP), a major lobbying firm that is currently representing Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Donatelli, whose firm has already received three separate payments of $54,000 from Blue Cross Blue Shield to lobby Congress and the administration, is also associated with various right-wing groups organizing to defeat reform:

– Donatelli is a member of Citizens for the Republic, a group organizing tea party protests against health reform.

– Donatelli’s McGuireWoods is a client of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, an infamous GOP public relations firm with a history of working for health insurers like CIGNA and Aetna. Shirley & Banister is currently managing Let Freedom Right, a right-wing group preparing to run anti-health reform videos.

– Donatelli is the chairman of the Republican recruitment group GOPAC. At a GOPAC conference earlier this month, Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) declared that President Obama’s health reform plans should “be put out of business.” Other speakers lined up to similarly malign reform.

But Donatelli is not the only opponent of reform mobilizing opposition without disclosing ties to the health insurance industry.

The American Conservative Union is a right-wing “grassroots” organization that is currently mobilizing anti-reform activities around Congressional town halls. The group boasts that attendees at Democratic town halls were reading questions from “talking points off a guide produced by the American Conservative Union,” and recently the group distributed a letter that said health reform would “pull the plug on grandma.” ACU’s chairman David Keene is a lobbyist for the Carmen Group, a firm that represents various health care interests, including the New York health insurer HealthFirst.

In Florida, Richard Willich attempted to organize a “leaded tea party” where opponents of reform could gather for speeches while firing guns at a shooting range. Willich, the new state chairman for Americans for Prosperity — a group run by a former associate of Jack Abramoff — is also the president of MDI Holdings, a company with several health care subsidiaries which work closely with insurers. Similarly, Corey Lewandowski — the New Hampshire state director of Americans for Prosperity who organized the protest outside of President Obama’s health reform town hall a few weeks ago — is a chief lobbyist for Schwartz Communications, a firm representing pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Fox News aired several interviews of Lewandowski without once noting his role representing corporate health care interests.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Frank Rich fears right-wing ‘political rage’ will lead to violence

By David Edwards and Muriel Kane As violent rhetoric directed against the Obama administration has been ratcheted up over the summer, New York Times columnist Frank Rich has become increasingly concerned about similarities between the “political rage” he sees today and that which preceded the assassination of John Kennedy in 1963.

“I’ve been worried for some time, even before the events surrounding these health care town halls,” Rich told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday. “It began during the campaign, where people were shouting ‘treason’ and worse about Obama at Palin rallies — and, essentially, no one in the Republican Party would condemn it. … It’s just been stepping up ever since then.”

Calls for violent revolution at some town halls have recently been made even more threatening by the open display of guns outside these events. A gun-toting online radio host who interviewed a friend carrying an assault rifle at an Obama event in Arizona a few days ago has been revealed as a vocal supporter of members of a militia group who were convicted in 1996 of plotting to blow up federal buildings.

“I think we have a problem,” Rich stated. “This has been going on for too many months. It always seems to happen when there’s a new liberal group taking over. It’s not coincidence that the militias started up again in the 1990s when Clinton came in — or, when Kennedy came in, the right-wing stuff in the early 60s.”

Rich suggested that although President Obama is hopefully well-protected, he sees a potential for something like the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building in 1995. “I think we have to worry about right-wing political violence … that doesn’t necessarily manifest itself in a presidential assassination,” he told Maddow.

“It’s shocking to me that very few Republican leaders have really condemned this kind of activity,” Rich stated sharply. “In fact, they’ve sort of encouraged it.”

This video is from MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Aug. 19, 2009.

Ridge says Bush Administration pushed to raise terror alert for re-election

by John Byrne (with AFP)

A remarkable detail to be published in former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge's soon-to-be-released book asserts that the Bush Administration attempted to wield the color-coded terror alert system for political gain -- a charge often leveled by Democrats but not previously confirmed by a high-ranking Bush Administration official.

Ridge's publisher is pushing details from his book in advance of its release. Notable among them:

Tom Ridge, the first head of the 9/11-inspired Department of Homeland Security, wasn't keen on writing a tell-all. But in The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege...and How We Can Be Safe Again, out September 1, Ridge says he wants to shake "public complacency" over security.

And to do that, well, he needs to tell all. Especially about the infighting he saw that frustrated his attempts to build a smooth-running department. Among the headlines promoted by publisher Thomas Dunne Books: Ridge was never invited to sit in on National Security Council meetings; was "blindsided" by the FBI in morning Oval Office meetings because the agency withheld critical information from him; found his urgings to block Michael Brown from being named head of the emergency agency blamed for the Hurricane Katrina disaster ignored; and was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush's re-election, something he saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over.

Liberal columnist and blogger Josh Marshall noted the striking timing of Bush terror alerts in 2006.

"The 18 months prior to the 2004 presidential election witnessed a barrage of those ridiculous color-coded terror alerts, quashed-plot headlines and breathless press conferences from Administration officials," Marshall wrote. "Warnings of terror attacks over the Christmas 2003 holidays, warnings over summer terror attacks at the 2004 political conventions, then a whole slew of warnings of terror attacks to disrupt the election itself. Even the timing of the alerts seemed to fall with odd regularity right on the heels of major political events. One of Department of Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge's terror warnings came two days after John Kerry picked John Edwards as his running mate; another came three days after the end of the Democratic convention."

A tape released by Osama bin Laden days before the 2004 election may have been the reasoning for the intended terror alert, but none was issued after August in 2004.

Ridge has broken with the Bush Administration before. In a May interview with CNN's "State of the Union," Ridge said he could not support the former Vice President Dick Cheney's charge that Obama had undermined US national security.

Asked if he believed the country was now less safe as a result of Obama's policies, Ridge said: "I do not."

The Republican said the discussion had become too politically charged with Cheney making a televised speech on Thursday immediately after an address by the sitting president.

Ridge also said he was disappointed with both Cheney and Obama, saying he regretted the bitter partisan tone about such an important issue.

"I disagree with Dick Cheney. But I also disagree with the approach both men are taking," said Ridge, in excerpts of an interview due to be broadcast in full on Sunday.

States With Most Uninsured Most Likely To Believe Euthanasia, Govt. Takeover Myths

By Sam Stein

The states that have been most skeptical of President Barack Obama's agenda for health care reform also have some of the highest levels of uninsured people in the nation.

A new study by Gallup shows that large swaths of populations in the South and West -- anywhere from one-in-five to one-in-four individuals -- are currently lacking health insurance coverage.

These same regions also have the largest percentage of populations who believe widely perpetuated mistruths about the Obama agenda, including allegations that the president will set up "death panels" and wants a complete government takeover of the health care system.

According to Gallup, of the 25 states with the greatest percentage of the uninsured, all but three are based in the South or the Midwest.

LIST OF STATES WITH MOST UNINSURED

Texas - 27 percent of the population is uninsured New Mexico --- 25.6 percent Mississippi - 24 percent Louisiana - 22.4 percent Nevada - 22.2 percent Oklahoma - 22.2 percent (considered a Midwest state) California - 21 percent Wyoming - 20.7 percent Florida - 20.7 percent Georgia - 20.7 percent South Carolina - 20.4 percent Montana - 20.3 percent Alaska -- 20.2 percent Arkansas - 20.1 percent Colorado - 20 percent Oregon - 19.4 percent West Virginia - 19.3 percent (considered a Northeast state) North Carolina - 19.3 percent Idaho - 18.8 percent Utah - 18.1 percent Kentucky - 17.9 percent Tennessee - 17.8 percent Nebraska - 17.7 percent Alabama - 17.2 percent Missouri - 17.1 percent (considered a Midwest state)

STATES IN SOUTH AND WEST ARE AS FOLLOWS

South: FL, NC, SC, AL, MS, GA, VA, TN, KY, LA, AR, TX

West: NM, CA, OR, WA, AK, HI, MT, ID, UT, NV, AZ, WY, CO

Compare these findings to those pulled from a recent Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll, which showed that more people in the South and Midwest are prone to believe myths about Obama's health care plan than in other regions of the country.

In the South, 26 percent of the public said they believed the health care reform plan being considered by President Obama and Congress requires elderly patients to meet with government officials to discuss "end of life" options, including euthanasia. Twenty percent of Westerners said the same thing. In the Northeast and Midwest those numbers were 11 percent and 17 percent respectively.

Meanwhile, 45 percent of Southerners said they thought Obama's health care reform included a government takeover of the entire health care system. Twenty-three percent of Westerners agreed. In the Northeast and Midwest those numbers were 10 percent and 20 percent respectively.

That populations most in need of comprehensive insurance reform are most likely to buy into false criticisms of the president's plan is a fascinating window into the current state of the health care debate. Theoretically, the president should be receiving more support in his efforts to expand coverage from those who currently lack it. The opposite, however, seems to hold true.

Sen. Jim DeMint says America ‘headed’ to becoming like Iran.

By Lee Fang Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) appeared on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show today to continue his near daily rants against President Obama. DeMint, who has repeatedly boasted that he will “break” Obama by defeating health care reform, has made a habit of comparing government under Obama to fascism. This time, DeMint told Hewitt that immigrants from Iran tell him that America is going “down the road” to the type of government they had fled from:

DEMINT: And we’ve seen a lot of countries over the years collapse when they’ve gone down the road that we’re going down. Probably the most heart-wrenching experiences I’ve had over the last several days is when naturalized American citizens who have immigrated here from Germany, Iran and other countries, they come up to me and they say why are we doing what so many have fled from? Why don’t Americans see what we’re doing? And I’ve realized that these people who’ve lived under socialist type economies, and totalitarianism, they know where we’re headed if we don’t turn things around.

Listen here:

Rather than making his usual Nazi references, DeMint appeared to slam contemporary Germany as a country lacking freedom and suffering under “totalitarianism.” However, according to research by the Pew Charitable Trusts, Germany actually ranks far above the United States in upward economic mobility.

New poll finds that 77 percent of Americans still support the public option.

By Zaid Jilani

In recent weeks, the fate of the public option in new health care legislation has been uncertain. Yet, while the issue continues to be hotly debated in the halls of Congress, a new poll by Survey USA finds that the idea is as popular as ever amongst the American public:

More than three out of every four Americans feel it is important to have a “choice” between a government-run health care insurance option and private coverage, according to a public opinion poll released on Thursday.

A new study by SurveyUSA puts support for a public option at a robust 77 percent, one percentage point higher than where it stood in June.

The SurveyUSA poll finds similar results to several other polls that also show that the public option is very popular, a fact that some members of Congress consider to be a detriment.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Health care mobs = Swift Boat Vets. And the press plays dumb, again

by Eric Boehlert

Here we go again.

During August's summer daze, right-wing mini-mobs (egged on by corporate interests) have run wild at town hall meetings, propagating all kinds of smears and misinformation in an effort to derail an important Democratic campaign. Yet the mini-mob members have been treated as deeply important newsmakers by the press during a slow summer news month.

Sound familiar? Recall August 2004, when the right-wing Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (egged on by corporate interests) stole a month's worth of campaign headlines by propagating all kinds of smears and misinformation in an attempt to derail an important Democratic campaign. Yet they were treated as deeply important newsmakers by the press during a slow summer news month.

Honestly, the only thing missing this time around is a crackpot, best-selling book. In 2004, the Swifties used the release of Unfit for Command to launch their media-based smear campaign. This summer, it could have been something like ObamaScare: How Liberal Health Care Will Destroy America. (The Swifties' right-wing publisher must be kicking itself over the missed marketing opportunity.)

But what has been perfectly consistent is the way the press has, again, fallen for a right-wing smear campaign and dressed it up as news. Just as with the Swifties, the press has turned over its summer coverage to a band of agitators spreading misinformation. Five summers ago, the Swift Boat Vets helped hijack the election. They lied about documents, they lied about eyewitness, and they lied about their partisan affiliations and connections. For several crucial weeks during the campaign, journalists turned away from the pile-up of Swift Boat falsehoods and contradictions, rarely daring to call the Swift Boat attack out for what it really was -- a hoax. Too spooked by the GOP Noise Machine and its charge of liberal media bias, the press propped up the Vets as serious men and showered them with attention.

This year, the press has handed over untold hours of free airtime to mini-mob members whose sole purpose seems to be to spread as much fear as possible. (The ones who show up toting guns and Nazi posters make that point rather emphatically.)

Fringe players on the right are making wild accusations that cannot be backed up by fact. The mainstream media response? We must cover the phenomenon daily, even hourly!

So, day after August day, these vacuous health care "debates" are aired on cable television, just as news consumers suffered through night after night of vacuous Swift Boat "debates" five summers ago. In both cases, the press for the most part handed in its referee's whistle and focused its attention on simply reporting the fact-free claims and then getting the Democratic response. (i.e. he said/she said.) It turns out journalists are petrified of calling out right-wing activists as liars, and the other side knows it.

What's amazing is that even a conservative Republican congressman has conceded that the mini-mobs (this summer's news superstars) appear to be completely detached from reality. "You cannot build a movement on something that is not credible,'' Rep. Bob Inglis of South Carolina told the Los Angeles Times after being confronted by belligerent, fact-free protesters who were convinced that as part of health care reform, children would soon be forced to receive swine flu vaccinations. "At town meetings, the hostility went straight through to hysteria,'' said Inglis.

The "town hells" are really just mob rule masquerading as a health care debate, masquerading as direct democracy. Sadly, the news media are hyping both phony story lines. The press is taking the fringe players seriously, even the ones who spend their free time drawing up Obama-is-Hitler posters.

The Wall Street Journal, describing a New Hampshire protester:

[She] held a sign with Mr. Obama's face superimposed on a Nazi storm trooper, a sign, she said, that was made by her chronically ill mother.

[...]

"Adolf Hitler was for exterminating the weak, not just the Jews and stuff, and socialism -- that's what's going to happen."

I'm sorry, but since when are these types of crackpot protesters taken seriously by the American media? I guess I must have missed all the prewar coverage in 2003 when reporters from elite newspapers such as the Journal patiently interviewed radical protesters who showed up outside presidential events with posters featuring Bush's face superimposed over a Nazi storm trooper. I must have missed it when the Journal quoted people at length about how Bush wanted to start killing -- "exterminating" -- Americans.

In 2003, those fringe players (understandably) couldn't get arrested by the press. But the mini-mobs today have been ushered onto the national stage and urged to express their hatred incessantly and preferably in front of television cameras. It's just like when the press showered the lying Swifties with all kinds of attention despite the fact that they could barely keep track of their own laundry list of lies.

Today, the press, for the most part, won't call out the mini-mob supporters as liars or point out that, at times, they are blindingly ignorant about the facts in play. (OK, let's stipulate that many media outlets did debunk Sarah Palin's loony "death panel" claim. But does the press really deserve a pat on the back for completing that obvious task? Isn't that like congratulating your 12-year-old for not wetting the bed at night?) Apparently, journalists feel most comfortable reporting on what the mini-mobs are saying and how they're making life politically uncomfortable for Democrats.

And so now extremists are the news. And no, it doesn't really matter if what they're yelling about bears little resemblance to reality. For instance, here is a random collection of recent mini-mob quotes. I'm pretty sure every journalist covering the issue of health care understands the claims are obviously false. But good luck finding examples of fact-checking context:

And remember the man at Sen. Arlen Specter's televised town hall meeting last week who ignored the forum's protocol (the first 30 people admitted were allowed to ask questions) and screamed that Specter was "trampling on our Constitution" as the crowd erupted. After security guards moved in, the man kept shouting and yelling about how Specter's office had lied about being allowed to ask a question at the forum. "One day, God is going to stand before you and he's going to judge you!" the main announced before storming out of the room.

That confrontation was looped endlessly on television.

But seriously, what kind of voter gets in the face of a 79-year-old U.S. senator and starts pointing his finger and screaming about Judgment Day because the guy's upset about the Q&A format at a town hall meeting? How did any part of the man's pointless tirade qualify as news?

Simple. He yelled! Just look at The New York Times' headline on its blog post about the same Specter town hall forum: "Eruptions at Sen. Specter's Town-Hall Meeting."

There were eruptions, and "questioners did not hide their anger," which meant -- of course -- it was news. (And naturally the man should be invited to rant more on TV.) More important, there were conservative eruptions. Because as a general rule for Beltway newsrooms, when conservatives get angry about public policy, it's news. When liberals get angry (think anti-war), it's annoying. (The Times, by the way, never reported whether any of the town hall claims that day were accurate or not. The paper simply repeated the claims as news.)

Like the Swifties and their fictitious allegations, the fact-free claims of the mini-mobs have been instantly embraced as significant and game-changing events. But what exactly were those "eruptions" about? At the highlighted Specter event, it turns out the "eruptions" and "anger" had very little to do with health care reform.

Here were some crowd highlights:

Reading those, I wonder if Democratic consultant James Carville was too polite when he told Good Morning America that the mini-mob members "don't even know what they're talking about."

But that didn't matter, because The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza announced that the Specter town hall event where the televised mini-mob fireworks exploded had become the iconic moment of the summer:

The back-and-forth between Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter and several attendees of a town hall meeting in Lebanon, Pa., this week may become the lasting political symbol of the summer of 2009: a politician and his constituents standing inches away from one another, angrily debating the merits (or lack thereof) of President Obama's health-care reform plan.

Debating the merits? Really? Because if somebody could point out to me in the transcript where any sustained, informed debate actually took place that day, I'd sure like to see it. To me, the event seemed more like a right-wing radio gabfest, with citizens spouting a collection of repetitive talking points.

It was just a tea party held indoors.

Did anything the Specter mini-mob said that day make sense? Was any of it connected to reality? The Post didn't care. It made great theater. It was news.

And like the 2004 Swift Boat offensive, the mini-mobs are just another right-wing hoax that's managed to fool the press.

Democrats may pass health reform without GOP

By Raw Story

The White House and congressional Democrats, fed up with a failed effort to woo Republican support, may proceed without the opposition party in passing comprehensive healthcare reform, reports signaled Wednesday.

Speaking to the New York Times, White House powerbroker and chief of staff Rahm Emanuel declared that the Republican party was standing in the way of progress. His remarks seem to mark a shift from more conciliatory language previously being used by the White House.

“The Republican leadership,” Emanuel quipped, “has made a strategic decision that defeating President Obama’s health care proposal is more important for their political goals than solving the health insurance problems that Americans face every day.”

Democrats can pass healthcare reform without Republicans using a rule that allows them to pass a measure with a simple majority, or 50 votes. This method was used to pass President George W. Bush’s tax cuts.

The White House floated a trial balloon this weekend through comments made by President Barack Obama, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, all of whom said a public option was not a dealbreaker for a healthcare reform bill. But those comments didn’t spark any Republican enthusiasm, and only caused an uproar within the liberal wing of the Democratic party.

“The White House has also interpreted critical comments by Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican negotiator in a crucial Finance Committee effort to reach a bipartisan compromise, as a sign that there is little hope of reaching a deal politically acceptable to both parties,” the New York Times’ Carl Hulse and Jeff Zeleny wrote Wednesday.

Observers note that Grassley didn’t seek to distance himself from comments made by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who declared that the Democratic bill included death panels — a charge that factual analyses have found spurious.

“Citing a packed schedule, Mr. Grassley has also put off plans for the bipartisan group of Finance Committee negotiators to meet in either Iowa or Maine, the home of another Republican member of the group, Senator Olympia J. Snowe, before Congress resumes,” Hulse and Zeleny added.

Grassley says he’ll still negotiate.

“It may be more difficult than it was before,” he told the paper. “I am intent on talking. I am intent on seeing what we can do.”

This video is from CNN’s AC 360, broadcast Aug. 18, 2009.

Woman yells ‘Heil Hitler’ to Jewish man praising Israel’s national health care system.

By Amanda Terkel

Conservatives have strenuously denied that there is any anti-Semitism on display by anti-health reform protesters at town hall meetings nationwide — despite all the evidence to the contrary. Last week, Las Vegas radio station KDWN AM720 sponsored a “contentious” town hall, emceed by conservative morning show host Heidi Harris. At the event, local news stations were interviewing an Israeli man who was praising the “fantastic” “national health care” in Israel. During his remarks, a woman yelled out, “Heil Hitler!” The man stopped, became visibly upset, and exclaimed, “Did you hear this? She say to a Jew, ‘Heil Hitler’! Hear? I’m a Jew! You’re telling me, ‘Heil Hitler’? Shame of you!” After he angrily confronts her, the woman mocks him by making a crying sound to imply he is a whining baby. Watch it:

(HT: TP reader Adam)

Fox News viewers overwhelmingly misinformed about health care reform proposals.

By Matt Corley Last night, NBC News and the Wall Street Journal released a poll showing that “all the misinformation out there” about health care reform proposals in Congress is taking root with many Americans. For instance, 45 percent believe the false claim that legislation includes “death panels” while 55 percent believe the false claim that coverage will be extended to illegal immigrants. MSNBC’s First Read notes that self-identified viewers of Fox News are disproportionately misinformed:

Here’s another way to look at the misinformation: In our poll, 72% of self-identified FOX News viewers believe the health-care plan will give coverage to illegal immigrants, 79% of them say it will lead to a government takeover, 69% think that it will use taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions, and 75% believe that it will allow the government to make decisions about when to stop providing care for the elderly. But it would be incorrect to suggest that this is ONLY coming from conservative viewers who tune in to FOX. In fact, 41% of CNN/MSNBC viewers believe the misinformation about illegal immigrants, 39% believe the government takeover stuff, 40% believe the abortion misperception, and 30% believe the stuff about pulling the plug on grandma. What’s more, a good chunk of folks who get their news from broadcast TV (NBC, ABC, CBS) believe these things, too. This is about credible messengers using the media to get some of this misinformation out there, not as much about the filter itself. These numbers should worry Democratic operatives, as well as the news media that have been covering this story.

As ThinkProgress has pointed out, Fox News regularly distorts the truth about health care reform. Last week, Media Matters found that over a two day period opponents of health care reform outnumbered supporters by a 6-to-1 margin on Fox.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Two Minutes Hate: August 13, 2009

Wasn't these the same people that made sure Bush critics were kept quite? Savage is nothing more then a two dollar punk with a audience made up of KKK members and Timmy McVeighs. Rush and Beck need to shut the hell up, Rush and Beck won't have to worry about a unseen medical crisis that's going to force them in bankruptcy because their corporate pimps pay them millions of dollars to lie.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Specter protestor Katy Abram advocates the repeal of Medicare and Social Security.

By Matt Corley

At Sen. Arlen Spector’s (D-PA) raucous town hall yesterday, one of the “most prolonged rounds of applause” was drawn by Katy Abram, a stay-at-home mother from Lebanon, who told Specter, “We don’t want this country to turn into Russia.” On MSNBC’s Hardball today, guest-host Lawrence O’Donnell aggressively questioned Abram about her views on government, asking if she would like to see Medicare and Social Security repealed. After struggling to give a complete answer, Abram conceded, “yeah, there are programs in place, you know, the founders did not want to have here.” Watch it:

On Fox News yesterday, Abram said that she was worried about a future where toilet paper was rationed, saying, “I know that years down the road, I don’t want my children coming to me and asking me, ‘Mom, why didn’t you do anything? Why do we have to wait in line for, I don’t know, toilet paper or anything?’

Grassley Voted For So-Called "Death Panel" In 2003

The Huffington Post | Rachel Weiner

Time Magazine's Amy Sullivan pointed out last night that, for all of his ardent demagoguery on the so-called "death panels," Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) voted for just such a provision in 2003.

Remember the 2003 Medicare prescription drug bill, the one that passed with the votes of 204 GOP House members and 42 GOP Senators? Anyone want to guess what it provided funding for? Did you say counseling for end-of-life issues and care? Ding ding ding!!

So either Republicans were for death panels in 2003 before turning against them now--or they're lying about end-of-life counseling in order to frighten the bejeezus out of their fellow citizens and defeat health reform by any means necessary. Which is it, Mr. Grassley ("Yea," 2003)?

Reps. John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.), who both claimed end-of-life consultations could result in "government encouraged euthanasia," also voted for similar policy in 2003.

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) tried to call Grassley on Friday and tell him he was wrong about health care reform. He got the senator's voicemail.

Report: Obama's life at risk in health care battle

By Daniel Tencer White House officials are "privately admitting concern" for President Barack Obama's safety as incidents of attempted or threatened violence against the president skyrocket in the midst of the country's heated health care debate.

That's the word from an ABC News report that says racist groups are thriving on the backlash in some corners of the United States to a black president who is working overtime to overhaul the country's social safety system.

"Experts say a sharp growth in so-called militia groups that helped spawn a wave of domestic terrorism in the 1990s—and are now using YouTube, rock music and the Internet to recruit members and spread hate and fear—shouldn't be ignored," the report says.

Brad Garrett, a former FBI agent who now consults for ABC News, told the network that the Secret Service "cannot afford to pass on anyone" because "they really do fear that something could happen to [Obama].

"It's certainly a scary time," he said.

From ABC News:

Garrett said statements like one recently made by controversial radio host Rush Limbaugh comparing a logo for the White House plan to a Nazi symbol "legitimizes people who are on the edge to go do something or say something."

"And if you go and take a look at this, you will find that the Obama health care logo is damn close to a Nazi swastika logo," Limbaugh said.

Limbaugh's comments are part of a growing trend of influential figures stirring up hatred—or even implicitly pressing for violence—against the president.

A California city councilman is under pressure to resign after sending emails joking about assassinating the president. And yet another talk show host is under investigation after advising a caller not to waste ammunition on target practice, and "save it for the administration."

ABC reports:

The Secret Service is investigating a Maryland man who held a sign reading "Death to Obama" and "Death to Michelle and her two stupid kids" outside a town hall meeting this week. And in New Hampshire, another man stood across the street from a Presidential town hall with his gun on full display.

Los Angeles police officers apprehended a man Thursday after a standoff with him inside a red Volkswagen Bug car in Westwood, CA—the latest disturbing case even though officials said the man had mental problems.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is reporting a dramatic rise in the number of hate groups across the US, while federal authorities are launching a "Lone Wolf Initiative" to track down individuals who may be looking to commit political violence.

"White House officials privately admit deep concern and have told the Secret Service to keep security tight, even if Obama objects," ABC reported.

M.C.L. Comment: I'm glad to see that the right wing have rediscovered there's something called freedom of speech when they tired to restrict it under the George W.Bush presidency. Since Barack Obama went from Senator Obama to President Obama the right wing media have been inciting violence. From Glenn Beck's fake concerns for the country well being to Rush wishing for failure the right wing have been beating the drum for their unhinge followers to do something to take their country back.

We see and hear what happen when these nuts take their overlords in the right wing media seriously cops being shot because someone (cough Glenn Beck) told them that President Obama is going to take away their guns, Dr.George Tiller was shot and killed in church by a pro-life zealot because people like Bill O'Reilly play up to those folks and you see with these town halls people. There was guy that showed up to a town hall where President Obama was speaking with a gun strapped to his leg and holding up a sign and I'm paraphrasing it"The tree of liberty from time to time need to be water" but surprise he left out the other part and the other part goes with the blood of patriots and tyrants. And now these clowns are carrying signs wanting death for the president, these are the same ass clowns that told liberals and Democrats to shut up because we're hurting the country with our criticisms of President Bush.

If one of these nuts go the extra mile and does something to the president these right wing talk show host should not only lose their broadcasting licence some of them should be facing some jail time.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Watch: At forum, white man destroys black woman's Rosa Parks sign, woman is escored out

By Stephen C. Webster

As if the health care debate were not out-of-control already ... This one's sure to get your blood boiling.

At Sen. Claire McCaskill's health care forum on Wednesday, reports surfaced of an angry, black woman being removed from the meeting. Video showed a woman being escorted out of the town hall by a number of white police officers, drawing a wave of cheers from the crowd.

But, this is a case when initial reports simply did not cover What Really Happened.

This video was pieced together by Democratic strategist Peter Glickert, who posts on the Hating Not Debating blog. Watch:

The woman's poster was of civil rights icon Rosa Parks. As you can see in the video, it was rolled up and placed in a chair in front of her. When she reached for it, that was just too much for one wingnut. He stole the sign from her, then apparently tore and and crumpled it up.

And the audience cheers her removal.

One of the purported attendees, a blogger by the handle "Angry Black Bitch," sheds some light on the mood of McCaskill's audience that day:

A lot of people in attendance weren’t Obama or McCaskill supporters before healthcare reform. This wasn’t about McCaskill losing support…it was about people who did not support her, do not support her and will not support her telling her why they did not support her, do not support her and will not support her.

A lot of the folks in attendance were confused. President Obama was portrayed on signs and pamphlets as some sort of Nazi, socialist, foreign born, communist, Muslim, euthanasia enthusiast, fascist who wants to tyrannically impose new environmental standards to perpetuate the dangerous myth of global warming all the while teaching the wee little babies about birth control in pre-school and plotting to knock off Grandma.

These people seem to be scared shitless by the Obama presidency.

Many of them are on Medicare…like Medicare…don’t want to see Medicare go away, but are opposed to government healthcare coverage options.

Blink.

Blink, indeed.

Right-wing bloggers at annual conference admit to being ‘outgunned’ by progressives.

By Amanda Terkel ThinkProgress and nearly 2,000 other progressive bloggers and activists are currently in Pittsburgh for the annual Netroots Nation conference. Speakers at the event include White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, Gov. Howard Dean, and President Bill Clinton. But also going on in Pittsburgh is the RightOnline conference for conservative bloggers: The RightOnline conference starting tomorrow morning at the Sheraton Station Square will have about a quarter of the 2,000 attendees at the liberal conference in the convention center, and only about 20 speakers to the 400 at Netroots. … Right-wing activists know very well they are being out-gunned by the left online, which is precisely why they are holding the conference. They held the first RightOnline convention in Austin, Texas, to coincide with last year’s Netroots Nation meeting there, too. Erick Erickson from RedState said that on the right, the focus has been “on punditry as opposed to activism.” “It has been focused on bloggers trying to be the next Rush Limbaugh or the next columnist, not on urging readers to call members of Congress or go to tea parties,” he added.