Remember John Hagee? The gonzo Christian pastor from Texas who champions absolute support of Israeli right with claims the Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon? He and his group, Christians United for Israel rolled into DC this week and we were[...]
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Time Magazine reports today on the “final and painful piece of business” President Bush and Vice President Cheney debated in the waning days of the Bush administration: whether or not Bush would pardon Cheney’s top aide Scooter Libby, who had lied to prosecutors in the Valerie Plame CIA leak case. For over a month, Cheney “had been pleading, cajoling, even pestering Bush” to pardon Libby. Aides said Cheney “seemed prepared to push his nine-year-old relationship with Bush to the breaking point — and perhaps past it — over the fate” of Libby. In the end, he wasn’t pleased with the result:
Cheney’s persistence became nearly as big an issue as the pardon itself. “Cheney really got in the President’s face,” says a longtime Bush-family source. “He just wouldn’t give it up.” [...]
Bush would decide alone. In private, he was bothered by Libby’s lack of repentance. … A few days later, about a week before they would become private citizens, Bush pulled Cheney aside after a morning meeting and told him there would be no pardon. Cheney looked stricken. Most officials respond to a presidential rebuff with a polite thanks for considering the request in the first place. But Cheney, an observer says, “expressed his disappointment and disagreement with the decision … He didn’t take it well.”
Some Bush aides suspected there was “darker possibility” for his motives than simply wanting to save an old friend. As a former Bush senior aide explained, “I’m sure the President and [chief of staff] Josh [Bolten] and Fred had a concern that somewhere, deep in there, there was a cover-up.”
After Bush informed Cheney of his decision, Libby then asked to plead his case to Bush himself, but was directed to White House Counsel Fred Fielding. Three days before Bush’s presidency was to expire, Libby met with Fielding, who “kept listening for signs of remorse. But none came.” Bush finally met with his personal lawyer and trusted adviser Jim Sharp:
If the presidential staff were polled, the result would be 100 to 1 against a pardon, Bush joked. Then he turned to Sharp. “What’s the bottom line here? Did this guy lie or not?”
The lawyer, who had followed the case very closely, replied affirmatively. Bush indicated that he had already come to that conclusion too. “O.K., that’s it,” Bush said.
With just one day left in the Bush administration, Bush again informed Cheney that Libby would get no pardon. In an interview with the Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes shortly after leaving office, Cheney expressed his dismay at the decision. “[Libby] was the victim of a serious miscarriage of justice,” Cheney complained, “and I strongly believe that he deserved a presidential pardon. Obviously, I disagree with President Bush?s decision.”
There's growing interest in seeing the Congress forgo its scheduled August recess, if necessary, to continue work on health care reform legislation. Mcjoan's been talking about it. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC-06) has been talking about it. Now it's your turn to talk about it.
And in fact, many of you already are, thanks to efforts here like those from slinkerwink, who's been pointing you to a petition drive at Firedoglake asking for exactly that: for Congress to stay in session and get this job done.
Now, I'm not a big petition fan, myself. And there's a pretty good chance that Congress will ultimately decline to deliver on the specifics demanded by this petition, as they do with so many others. And we can debate all day, any day, about just how beholden they should be to the thousands of petitions of varying degrees of merit directed their way every day. We can even debate whether or not "recess" is really as much of a "vacation" as people like to make it out to be when they're getting hot and bothered about it.
But when there's even the slightest foot in the door, where members are saying, "Make me do it," and the legislation is this important...
And when industry opponents of meaningful reform are poised to spend millions bombarding members and the public with attack ads during the recess...
And when industry lobbyists are poised to spend millions more in campaign contributions meant to steer members' votes toward sympathy with the business side of health care, necessarily to the detriment of the people side of health care...
And when every day of delay means more momentum lost...
And when three weeks of delay means:
...then it's worth taking a shot. Don't you think?
And no, this petition doesn't have to result in the immediate abandonment of the recess and the sudden passage of everyone's dream bill overnight. It doesn't even have to "work" to work. Congress may very well go home for August without having finished the job. But that just means they'll be back home... where you are.
And if you've asked them to stay and do this work, and instead they leave it on the table but come back to where you can reach them, and where you can visit their offices, and where you can see them at county fairs, town hall meetings, fire station openings, and all the things they've come back home to do...
And if, when you see them, your demand that they stay in DC to finish this work is top-of-mind, well then, you're in a position to let them know it.
This petition may not force anyone to stay in DC. But signing on means members can expect many thousands more citizens to actively be ready and waiting for their arrival home, to give them a piece of their minds.
So why not sign on, make yourself ready, and let your representatives in Congress know it?
You'll be glad you did. And if you're lucky, so will your members of Congress. If you're not so lucky, well, why not take a minute to make your members of Congress sorry you did? Everyone involved deseres to see your name on this petition.
Watch as Cheney refuses to condemn the lunatics and, instead, attempts to blame Barack Obama for the mind bending stupidity of the right wing.
You'll have to see it to believe it, and the video isn't up yet (Update: Now it is, and it's at the bottom of this post). But Tuesday night on CNN's "Larry King Live," rising GOP shill/star Liz Cheney refused to denounce the "Birthers" -- the right-wing fringe movement devoted to denying (for a changing array of reasons) that Obama is eligible to be president. Instead, Cheney defended the Birthers by blaming Obama for their rage.
I wasn't planning to blog so I took notes in real-time, and I can't promise Cheney's quote is verbatim. But she said the same thing twice, so I'm confident I caught her drift. After King showed video of the crazy birther who disrupted a meeting with poor GOP Rep. Mike Castle, demanding he acknowledge Obama was born in Kenya (that's one birther claim); and after Carville denounced them as a "poor, pathetic" fringe group, King gave Cheney a chance to distance herself from them. But Cheney demurred, telling King the Birther movement exists because "People are uncomfortable with a president who is reluctant to defend the nation overseas."
The rarely shocked Carville seemed briefly speechless, and even King, not known to be the most combative interviewer, tried a second time to get an honest reaction from Cheney -- which I read as expecting her to separate herself from the crazies. But Cheney repeated her talking point about Obama inadequately defending the nation overseas. Unbelievable. Carville called her on it, accurately: "She refuses to say, 'This is ludicrous,' because she actually wants to encourage these people to believe this."
Increasingly people are asking about our country's plan for restoring and reinventing the economy.[...]
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Even as the media highlighted a few governors concerns about health reform, hundreds of state legislators from across the nation were gathered in Philadelphia this week and today collectively endorsed federal health reform including a public health insurance option and other key reforms to expand coverage, rein in costs and expand choice for consumers.
By a vote of thirty-eight states to eleven (with a few abstaining), the National Conference of State Legislatures endorsed the proposed resolution (see http://progressivestates.org/ncsl09/healthpolicyrecommendations.pdf for details). It was a hotly debated issue throughout the week as committees met multiple times with a long debate, but in the end the vote was overwhelming in support for moving forward on real health care reform.
The vote followed months of organizing by progressive state legislators, unions, community groups and others in mobilizing state by state. Progressive States Network had worked with allies to get over 800 state legislators to endorse many of the principles endorsed by NCSL in today's vote.
State legislators are the ones dealing day-to-day with the budget shortfalls and crushing costs of health care for their budgets, so having them collectively endorse health care reform as critical for the nation and the states emphasizes how reform, including reforms like a public option, is being demanded by those outside the partisan gridlock of Washington, D.C.
So a pretty large victory for progressives today on the road to getting federal health care reform this year.
Rudy needs a little more work on his be afraid, be very afraid shtick when it comes to health care reform. He obviously hasn't had quite enough time to recite Frank Luntz's talking points memo since he stumbled and stuttered through the interview. Blitzer actually tries calling him out for some of the talking points, but of course like a good little Villager, relents in the end and doesn't really challenge him.
BLITZER: Let's talk about health care reform, a critical issue right now for the country.
Republican Senator Jim DeMint from South Carolina, he made news this week when he said this: "If we're able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him."
He's not backing away from that either.
Do you agree with Senator DeMint?
GIULIANI: Well, I think it's a critical measure for a different reason. I don't see the politics of it as much as I do a tremendous impact that I think could have a destructive impact on the American system as we know it. I doubt that...
BLITZER: Because right now, 40 million or 45 million Americans don't have any health insurance.
GIULIANI: They don't, but about half of them could afford it if it was just more affordable. And what you don't want to do is ruin the system for the whatever million, 90 million, 100 million, 118 million.
BLITZER: Because President Obama keeps saying if you like what you have with the private insurance, if you like your doctor, you can keep exactly that. Nothing is going to change.
GIULIANI: Well, then what are all these commissioners that he's appointing that are going to determine health care outcomes? And the fact that you add 30 million, 40 million people to a government program that's already very large means the government will be the major player in health care. It already is pretty close...
BLITZER: He says that he wants one government option to compete with the private insurance companies.
GIULIANI: But that government option will be so big, it will just overwhelm all private insurance companies. If it's 40 million people, that conceivably could be part of it.
BLITZER: But that doesn't necessarily mean all 40 million would opt for that government option.
GIULIANI: No. What it does mean, it means that a lot of people who presently have private insurance will opt for it because it will be cheaper. In fact, they believe -- the estimates believe that at least half the people that join that government program will be people who presently have private insurance.
BLITZER: Their argument is if there's a cheaper government option, that will put pressure on the private insurers like Blue Cross/Blue Shield, UnitedHealthcare, whatever, to lower their premiums.
GIULIANI: Well, it also will mean they may lower their service. And they may -- you read this bill carefully, which is one of the reasons...
BLITZER: Which bill are you talking about?
GIULIANI: I'm talking about the House bill. If you read the bill carefully, it has things in it like a government official determining whether you can have stents after you're 59 years old.
BLITZER: Well, right now, a private insurance company bureaucrat is making that kind of decision.
GIULIANI: Yes, but you can walk out on that if you want.
BLITZER: But if you don't have any -- if you might not have any options, you might not leave that insurance company.
GIULIANI: And you can -- and you have different insurance companies that have different programs. And your employer or you can shop between different programs. When the government makes that decision for 40 million, 50 million people, that's a very frightening...
BLITZER: Because the argument is, you know, do you trust a Blue Cross/Blue Shield bureaucrat or a UnitedHealthcare bureaucrat any more than you would trust a U.S. government bureaucrat?
GIULIANI: I trust lots of different companies being available, competing with each other. I really believe there should be a lot more competition and a lot more of it should be turned over to private enterprise. I trust my doctor to be able to deal with four or five different private companies rather than a big, massive government that frightens the heck out of you running this.
BLITZER: So you don't believe these private insurance companies would be able to survive if there were this government insurer?
GIULIANI: I think that private insurance will be overwhelmed. Right now, Medicaid has a big impact on the pricing of private insurance. If you all of a sudden double, in essence, the size of Medicaid, it will overwhelm -- private insurance companies will be gone.
And this whole argument over whether we're nationalizing health care or not, I think part of the problem is the administration is having is they're not being honest. Yes, they want to nationalize health care. That is precisely what they're doing when they build these big government...
BLITZER: They deny that.
GIULIANI: Well, what's the big government insurance companies?
BLITZER: It's going to be one option available to individuals. If you like what you got now, they say keep it.
GIULIANI: But if you don't, then you join the 40 million or 50 million who are part of the nationalized health care. That's bigger than socialized medicine in England.
There aren't that many people in the socialized medicine program in England. And if these models worked in England and Canada and elsewhere, it would be great. But what the heck do we want to become England and Canada for? They're coming here for treatment. Nobody goes there for treatment.
Blitzer...okay we'll change the subject now thank you. Mr. Loser Giuliani, just what do you think of how the President is doing so far? Oh, he's a super scary socialist who pals around with terrorists? That's just what I thought you'd say. Thanks for coming in.
Okay, he didn't actually say that, but it was close. Really Wolf, you couldn't get John McCain and Fred Thompson for some follow ups as well?
They promised to stop in the mid-90s, and then last fall Jewish groups caught them still doing it. According to researcher Helen Radkey, the baptisms continued into 2009 as well.
Lou Dobbs should be fired for perpetuating this ridiculous "birther" story. It was debunked (as if it NEEDED to be, as if it hadn't already been scores of times already) by the woman subbing for him on his own SHOW, with verified documentation... and then he returned the very next night and proceeded to spout, nonsensically, claims that the story hadn't been satisfactorily answered.
The man has proved himself, repeatedly, an unworthy employee of a news network. He is a racist, he is certainly NOT a journalist and he has not a SHRED of integrity. CNN should be embarrassed to have kept him on the air this long, and to CONTINUE to employ him is to proclaim to the world that CNN agrees with Lou Dobbs's views. You are cosigning this man's grotesque behaviour with every minute he continues to sit on the air.
Los Angeles, CA
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BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White
Living in the home city of President Barack Obama, it's easy to forget that that it's still tough to be a Democrat in some places of this country. Even in states where Obama won last November, there are pockets of very hostile territory for DNC members to negotiate.
One of those places is in Lynchburg, VA on the campus of Jerry Falwell Jr.'s Liberty University. Founded by Falwell's father in 1971, LU literally refers to itself as a "fundamentalist Baptist university" and holds tight reigns on its students' behavior via the "Liberty Way," a mandatory pledge to eschew dances, "hair and clothing styles related to counterculture" and "participation in an unauthorized petition or demonstration." Religious ideology permeates the classroom as well, where Bible studies are part of mandatory class work (as is, reportedly, creationism).
Considering such an atmosphere, one would think creating a campus-recognized group for college Democrats would be an anathema. But Liberty University College Democrats (LUCD) were a recognized group on campus -- for around seven months.
In May of this year, the group's leadership received an e-mail from Liberty's vice president of student affairs, Mark Hine, that said in part, "We are unable to lend support to a club whose parent organization stands against the moral principles held by Liberty University" adding that the "Democratic Party platform is contrary to the mission of LU and Christian doctrine" mentioning abortion, the Defense of Marriage Act, hate crimes and even "socialism."
I'm assuming that Liberty's young Republicans group did not receive similar notice about how their support for the death penalty, war and unjust tax structures are antithetical to Jesus' teachings.