••can ye pass the acid test?••

ye who enter here be afraid, but do what ye must -- to defeat your fear ye must defy it.

& defeat it ye must, for only then can we begin to realize liberty & justice for all.

time bomb tick tock? nervous tic talk? war on war?

or just a blog crying in the wilderness, trying to make sense of it all, terror-fried by hate radio and FOX, the number of whose name is 666??? (coincidence?)

Friday, August 28, 2009

KABUL – An American service member died Friday when his vehicle struck a bomb in eastern Afghanistan, making August the deadliest month for U.S. forces in the nearly eight-year war.

The grim milestone comes as the top U.S. commander prepares to submit his assessment of the conflict — a report expected to trigger intense debate on the Obama administration's strategy in an increasingly unpopular war.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Doctors are reporting a severe form of swine flu that goes straight to the lungs, causing severe illness in otherwise healthy young people and requiring expensive hospital treatment, the World Health Organization said on Friday.

Some countries are reporting that as many as 15 percent of patients infected with the new H1N1 pandemic virus need hospital care, further straining already overburdened healthcare systems, WHO said in an update on the pandemic.

"During the winter season in the southern hemisphere, several countries have viewed the need for intensive care as the greatest burden on health services," it said.

"Preparedness measures need to anticipate this increased demand on intensive care units, which could be overwhelmed by a sudden surge in the number of severe cases."
WASHINGTON – Household income in the United States is essentially stagnant, raising doubts about whether consumers already hurt by job losses can sustain an economic recovery.

The now-ended Cash for Clunkers program helped lift consumer spending last month and is expected to deliver a bigger boost in August. But any economic rebound likely would falter if shoppers lack the income to spend more in the long run.

Especially in the U.S., consumer spending is essential: It drives about 70 percent of economic activity — more than for most European nations and well above the rates in developing countries such as China.

U.S. retailers already are paying the price for flat income growth and weak consumer spending. A survey of big retail chains showed that shoppers remained tightfisted in July. That raised fears not just about back-to-school sales but also about the make-or-break holiday shopping season.

"Consumers just don't have the financial firepower to go out and spend more," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com. "Unless businesses curtail their job cuts, the recovery could very well peter out."

Americans' purchasing power has been battered by the 6.7 million jobs that have vanished since the recession began in December 2007. Companies also have cut costs by forcing workers to take unpaid days off or to work only part time.

And some consumers have pared their spending because their pay hasn't kept pace with their expenses or because they're using more money to save or reduce debt. Personal incomes were unchanged in July, the Commerce Department said Friday. It was the eighth month out of the past 10 in which incomes have either fallen or failed to grow.
LOS ANGELES (AP) – A tawny stuffed puppy bobs in cold sea water, his four stiff legs tangled in the green net of some nameless fisherman.

It's one of the bigger pieces of trash in a sprawling mass of garbage-littered water, known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where most of the plastic looks like snowy confetti against the deep blue of the north Pacific Ocean.

Most of the trash has broken into bite-sized plastic bits, and scientists want to know whether it's sickening or killing the small fish, plankton and birds that ingest it.

During their August fact-finding expedition, a group of University of California scientists found much more debris than they expected. The team announced their observations at a San Diego press conference Thursday.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

OTTAWA, Kan. – A freshman Kansas congresswoman said Thursday that her remark about fellow Republicans seeking a "great white hope" was not a reference to someone who could challenge President Barack Obama or his political agenda.

Rep. Lynn Jenkins said she was instead making a comment about GOP leaders in the House and was trying to reassure Republicans that the party has bright leaders there. She used the phrase during an Aug. 19 forum in Hiawatha and someone in the crowd recorded it and gave the video to the Kansas Democratic Party.
The phrase "great white hope" often is associated with pre-civil rights-era racism and is widely believed to have entered usage in the U.S. when boxer Jack Johnson, who was black, captured the heavyweight title in the early 20th century. Many whites reacted to Johnson's achievement by trying to find white fighters — or a "great white hope" — who could beat him. The boxer's story inspired a play, then a movie, with that title, both starring James Earl Jones.
Jenkins said she wasn't aware that the phrase had a negative connotation. She noted that she used it when answering a question from an audience member who began by noting the GOP's success in taking control of Congress in 1994 after drafting a "Contract with America."

"I got a question one day from someone regarding the future House leadership. I made a reference to him not giving up hope, that we had some great bright leaders in our future," she said. "I apologize if anyone misunderstood my intent."

At the Hiawatha event, Jenkins mentioned three House colleagues as future party leaders: Eric Cantor of Virginia, Kevin McCarthy of California and Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. All are white, as is Jenkins; Obama is the nation's first black president.

"Republicans are struggling right now to find the great white hope," Jenkins said last week. "I suggest to any of you who are concerned about that, who are Republican, there are some great young Republican minds in Washington."

2007/2008 Human Development Report

United States

The Human Development Index - going beyond income

Each year since 1990 the Human Development Report has published the human development index (HDI) which looks beyond GDP to a broader definition of well-being. The HDI provides a composite measure of three dimensions of human development: living a long and healthy life (measured by life expectancy), being educated (measured by adult literacy and enrolment at the primary, secondary and tertiary level) and having a decent standard of living (measured by purchasing power parity, PPP, income). The index is not in any sense a comprehensive measure of human development. It does not, for example, include important indicators such as gender or income inequality and more difficult to measure indicators like respect for human rights and political freedoms. What it does provide is a broadened prism for viewing human progress and the complex relationship between income and well-being.

The HDI for United States is 0.951, which gives the country a rank of 12th out of 177 countries with data (Table 1).

Table 1: United States’s human development index 2005
HDI value Life expectancy at birth
Combined primary, secondary and tertiary gross enrolment ratio
GDP per capita
1. Iceland (0.968) 1. Japan (82.3) 1. Australia (113.0) 1. Luxembourg (60,228)
10. France (0.952) 29. Korea (Republic of) (77.9) 17. Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (94.1) 2. United States (41,890)
11. Finland (0.952) 30. Denmark (77.9) 18. Kazakhstan (93.8) 3. Norway (41,420)
12. United States (0.951) 31. United States (77.9) 19. United States (93.3) 4. Ireland (38,505)
13. Spain (0.949) 32. Cuba (77.7) 20. United Kingdom (93.0) 5. Iceland (36,510)
14. Denmark (0.949) 33. Portugal (77.7) 21. Estonia (92.4) 6. Switzerland (35,633)
177. Sierra Leone (0.336) 177. Zambia (40.5) 172. Niger (22.7) 174. Malawi (667)

Figure 1:
The human development index gives a more complete picture than income

This year’s HDI, which refers to 2005, highlights the very large gaps in well-being and life chances that continue to divide our increasingly interconnected world. By looking at some of the most fundamental aspects of people’s lives and opportunities it provides a much more complete picture of a country's development than other indicators, such as GDP per capita. Figure 2 illustrates that countries on the same level of HDI as United States can have very different levels of income.

Of the components of the HDI, only income and gross enrolment are somewhat responsive to short term policy changes. For that reason, it is important to examine changes in the human development index over time.

The human development index trends tell an important story in that aspect. Since the mid-1970s almost all regions have been progressively increasing their HDI score (Figure 2). East Asia and South Asia have accelerated progress since 1990. Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), following a catastrophic decline in the first half of the 1990s, has also recovered to the level before the reversal. The major exception is sub-Saharan Africa. Since 1990 it has stagnated, partly because of economic reversal but principally because of the catastrophic effect of HIV/AIDS on life expectancy.

Figure 2: HDI Trends

Building the capabilities of women

The HDI measures average achievements in a country, but it does not incorporate the degree of gender imbalance in these achievements. The gender-related development index (GDI), introduced in Human Development Report 1995, measures achievements in the same dimensions using the same indicators as the HDI but captures inequalities in achievement between women and men. It is simply the HDI adjusted downward for gender inequality. The greater the gender disparity in basic human development, the lower is a country's GDI relative to its HDI.

United States's GDI value, 0.937 should be compared to its HDI value of 0.951. Its GDI value is 98.5% of its HDI value. Out of the 156 countries with both HDI and GDI values, 106 countries have a better ratio than United States's.

Table 2 shows how United States’s ratio of GDI to HDI compares to other countries, and also shows its values for selected underlying values in the calculation of the GDI.

Table 2: The GDI compared to the HDI – a measure of gender disparity
GDI as % of HDI Life expectancy at birth
Combined primary, secondary and tertiary gross enrolment ratio

Female as % male Female as % male
1. Maldives (100.4%) 1. Russian Federation (123.1%) 1. United Arab Emirates (126.0%)
105. Lesotho (98.6%) 85. Turkey (107.0%) 20. Cuba (110.2%)
106. United Arab Emirates (98.5%) 86. Comoros (107.0%) 21. Russian Federation (110.2%)
107. United States (98.5%) 87. United States (107.0%) 22. United States (109.9%)
108. Bangladesh (98.5%) 88. Bolivia (106.8%) 23. Bahrain (109.5%)
109. Zimbabwe (98.5%) 89. Macedonia (TFYR) (106.8%) 24. Panama (109.5%)
156. Yemen (92.7%) 194. Niger (96.9%) 194. Afghanistan (55.3%)

The gender empowerment measure (GEM) reveals whether women take an active part in economic and political life. It tracks the share of seats in parliament held by women; of female legislators, senior officials and managers; and of female professional and technical workers- and the gender disparity in earned income, reflecting economic independence. Differing from the GDI, the GEM exposes inequality in opportunities in selected areas.

United States ranks 15th out of 93 countries in the GEM, with a value of 0.762.

Fighting climate change

As a result of past emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs), the world is now on course for future climate change. This year’s Human Development Report identifies 2ºC as the threshold above which irreversible and dangerous climate change will become unavoidable. It also explains why we have less than a decade to change course and start living within a sustainable global carbon budget identified at 14.5 gigatonnes of CO2 (Gt CO2) per annum for the remainder of the 21st Century. Currently, emissions are running at twice this level. If these trends continue, the carbon budget will be set for expiry during the 2030's, setting in motion processes that can lead to temperature increases of 5ºC or above by the end of this century---roughly similar to temperature changes since the last ice age 10,000 years ago.

With 4.6% of the world's population, United States accounts for 20.9% of global emissions - an average of 20.6 tonnes of CO2 per person. These emission levels are above those of High-income OECD (table 3). If all countries in the world were to emit CO2 at levels similar to United States's, we would exceed our sustainable carbon budget by approximately 826%.

High-income OECD countries meanwhile lead the league of "CO2 transgressors". With just 15% of the world’s population, they account for almost half of all emissions. If the entire world emitted like High-income OECD countries -an average of 13.2 tonnes of CO2 per person, we would be emitting 6 times our sustainable carbon budget.

United States has signed but not ratified the Kyoto Protocol.

Table 3: Carbon dioxide emissions

Total emissions
CO2 emissions annual change
CO2 emissions share of world total
Population share
CO2 emissions per capita
CO2 emitters 1990 2004 1990-2004 1990 2004 2004 1990 2004
United States 4,818.3 6,045.8 1.8 21.2 20.9 4.6 19.3 20.6
China 2,398.9 5,007.1 7.8 10.6 17.3 20.2 2.1 3.8
Russian Federation 1,984.1 1,524.1 -1.9 8.8 5.3 2.2 13.4 10.6
Japan 1,070.7 1,257.2 1.2 4.7 4.3 2.0 8.7 9.9
Portugal 42.3 58.9 2.8 0.2 0.2 0.2 4.3 5.6
Switzerland 42.7 40.4 -0.4 0.2 0.1 0.1 6.2 5.4
Luxembourg 9.9 11.3 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 25.9 25.0
Global aggregates
High-income OECD 10,055.4 12,137.5 1.5 44.3 41.9 14.3 12.0 13.2
Low human development 77.6 161.7 7.7 0.3 0.6 7.8 0.3 0.3
World 22,702.5 28,982.7 2.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 4.3 4.5

sorry, these tables are too wide for my page. try this link to the original.

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) - At first, fans politely applauded the Roma performers sharing a stage with Madonna. Then the pop star condemned widespread discrimination against Roma, or Gypsies — and the cheers gave way to jeers.

The sharp mood change that swept the crowd of 60,000, who had packed a park for Wednesday night's concert, underscores how prejudice against Gypsies remains deeply entrenched across Eastern Europe.

Despite long-standing efforts to stamp out rampant bias, human rights advocates say Roma probably suffer more humiliation and endure more discrimination than any other people group on the continent.

Sometimes, it can be deadly: In neighboring Hungary, six Roma have been killed and several wounded in a recent series of apparently racially motivated attacks targeting small countryside villages predominantly settled by Gypsies.

"There is generally widespread resentment against Gypsies in Eastern Europe. They have historically been the underdog," Radu Motoc, an official with the Soros Foundation Romania, said Thursday.
Until the 19th century, Romanian Gypsies were slaves, and they've gotten a mixed response ever since: While discrimination is widespread, many East Europeans are enthusiastic about Gypsy music and dance, which they embrace as part of the region's cultural heritage.

That explains why the Roma musicians and a dancer who had briefly joined Madonna onstage got enthusiastic applause. And it also may explain why some in the crowd turned on Madonna when she paused during the two-hour show — a stop on her worldwide "Sticky and Sweet" tour — to touch on their plight.

"It has been brought to my attention ... that there is a lot of discrimination against Romanies and Gypsies in general in Eastern Europe," she said. "It made me feel very sad."

Thousands booed and jeered her.

A few cheered when she added: "We don't believe in discrimination ... we believe in freedom and equal rights for everyone." But she got more boos when she mentioned discrimination against homosexuals and others.

"I jeered her because it seemed false what she was telling us. What business does she have telling us these things?" said Ionut Dinu, 23.
Madonna's outrage touched a nerve in Romania, but it seems doubtful it will change anything, said the Soros Foundation's Motoc.

"Madonna is a pop star. She is not an expert on interethnic relations," he said.
gee, i guess performers who work with members of minority groups should shut up and leave problems to "experts."
The ‘expert’ is the man who stays put.
—Marshall McLuhan, The Medium Is The Massage, 1967

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Heat waves out West are getting worse as the climate changes, a new study finds.

One example: From mid July to early August 2006, a heat wave swept through the southwestern United States. Temperature records were broken at many locations and unusually high humidity levels were recorded.

you've heard
the plaudits and accolades.

you've heard the haters regurgitate the dirt one more (not last) time.

you've heard the excerpts, like "the dream shall never die."

you've heard him called "lion" and been told he compromised to get laws passed.

you've heard he served in the senate from before reagan made his first political speech till after the gipper's vice president's son finished two terms in the white house.

you've heard the irony that he called universal health care the cause of his life yet at the end was too sick to fight for it.

and you've heard it still might not pass.


unless we go back to before the imitation gipper played that part of a student who died too young and invoke the ghost of his legendary coach and paraphrase knut rockne one last time and get one for kennedy.

get 1
4 ted!
'Problem by problem,' Kennedy transformed himself
A decade ago, at the memorial service for John F. Kennedy Jr., yet another family member struck down at an early age, Edward M. Kennedy mourned his nephew by noting that he would not live “to comb gray hairs.”

It is the defining fact of this Kennedy’s legacy—both his standing within the Kennedy dynasty and his larger impact on American society —that he enjoyed a long and eventful life.

The youngest member of his generation did not have the cool grace of John F. Kennedy, the dazzling wit, or the easy command of language. He did not have Robert F. Kennedy’s lean, ascetic features or electric sense of purpose. He spent decades in Washington as a contemporary and sometimes painfully mortal figure, rather than one shrouded in history and myth. At the end, his death did not come in a horrible jolt of violence—the only one of patriarch Joseph P. Kennedy’s four sons of which this can be said.


Kennedy's absence leaves Senate void of vital dealmaker
WASHINGTON – In an era of bitter political division, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's death silenced a singular voice of bipartisanship at a time when colleagues are struggling with angry constituents and each other over an elusive plan to overhaul the nation's health care system.

Some lawmakers said Tuesday the current stalemate is the result of Kennedy's absence for the past few, crucial months. Some hope to rescue the embattled legislation as his legacy.

Health care industry contributes heavily to Blue Dog Dems
WASHINGTON — During the first half of the year, as the Obama administration and moderate and liberal factions within the Democratic Party wrangled over the timing, shape and cost of health care reform efforts, the party's fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition pulled in $1.1 million in campaign contributions, according to watchdog organizations.

More than half the amount came from the pharmaceutical, health care provider and insurance industries — and successfully delayed voting on overhaul proposals until the fall.

Friday, August 21, 2009

apologists for what's going on at the town halls often say those rowdy folk are expressing "real feelings" and therefore it's all spontaneous and not organized.

well, the feelings are real, of course, and the organizing wasn't done the conventional way, but it's still organized, because those feelings were stirred up by scare tactics used by the gop noise machine, including fox(666)news and right-wing talk radio (aka hate radio).

if you want a mini-primer on how it works, here's mine.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

how will dems snatch defeat from jaws of victory this time around?

Analysis: Liberals tired of health care compromise

WASHINGTON – Frustrated liberals have a question for President Barack Obama and Democratic lawmakers: Isn't it time the other guys gave a little ground on health care? What's the point of a bipartisan bill, they ask, if we're making all the concessions?

A case in point:

Sen. Charles Grassley, a key Republican negotiator on health care, was on a winning streak as Congress recessed for August, having wrung important concessions from Democrats, including an agreement not to tax employer-provided health insurance and a limit to demands on drug companies.

How did Grassley reciprocate? With an attack that struck Democrats as stunning and baseless. Grassley told an Iowa crowd he would not support a plan that "determines when you're going to pull the plug on Grandma." The remark echoed conservative activists who wrongly claim a House health care bill would require Medicare recipients to discuss their end-of-life plans with doctors.

For liberals supporting far-reaching changes to the nation's health care system, it was another sign that months of negotiations have been a one-way street. It's time to move on without Republicans, they say.

On Tuesday, liberals were fuming over Obama's recent remarks suggesting he might also yield on the federally run insurance option he's been promoting. Many saw it as a huge concession that could leave them with nothing more than watered-down insurance cooperatives.

But the Senate's second-ranking Republican, Jon Kyl of Arizona, dismissed even such co-ops as a "Trojan horse" leading to government control of health care.

Many liberals are fed up.

"It is clear that Republicans have decided 'no health care' is a victory for them," Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, said in an interview. "There is a point at which bipartisanship reaches a limit, and I would say it's reaching that limit."
we wanted single payer, but we let you give it away because you said it was too hard to get right now but you'd get the public option.

grassley's acting just like bob dole did in '94, and you're acting like hillary, compromising but getting nothing for it.

we voted you in to get this?

how 'bout a little spine for a change?

don't back down!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Online gun dealer Eric Thompson should change the name of his business to merchantofdeath.com. Or maybe Rampages R Us.

Call it truth in advertising.

Thompson's two odious Web sites have helped arm three mass murderers in as many years - most recently, woman-hating psycho George Sodini, who shot up an aerobics class near Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

He also shipped a handgun to the Virginia Tech shooter in 2007 and two 33-round magazines to the Northern Illinois University gunman in '08.

Thompson's sites are candy stores for the trigger-happy. Featured merchandise includes assault weapons and accessories designed to snuff the largest number of human beings in the shortest amount of time.

A sane country would ban these killing machines and look at shutting down the burgeoning online gun business, which is much too accessible to would-be killers. Any decent businessman associated with a trifecta of massacres would search his soul to discover whether he could have prevented the carnage.

But no. Thompson used the Pittsburgh murders to try to sell more guns: "Protect yourself, your family and your loved ones by learning how to defend yourself and teaching others how to do the same."

Where were the innocent victims in Pittsburgh supposed to conceal weapons? In their exercise outfits?

it might be worth reading the comments on this NY daily news editorial of august 10. a couple of the writers obviously think they're very clever to have thought up analogies between guns and cars.

false analogies, that is. guns are intentionally used for homicides and suicides several times a day and are involved in only a handful of accidental deaths. the exact opposite is true of cars, yet i had to pass both a written test and a driving test to get a license to drive (which i must pay to renew every few years), my car has to pass a state inspection every year in order to qualify for registration (which i pay to renew every 12 months), and i have to fork over hundreds of dollars to an insurance company annually, even tho no car i've driven ever killed or injured anyone.

name me a state where handguns are so heavily regulated.
WASHINGTON – Bowing to Republican pressure, President Barack Obama's administration signaled on Sunday it is ready to abandon the idea of giving Americans the option of government-run insurance as part of a new health care system.

what're you? nuts!!!!?

without a public option this whole exercise has just been pissing into the wind!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

As jobless claims fall, layoffs could slow further
by Christopher S. Rugaber, Ap Economics Writer

WASHINGTON – In a positive sign for the economy, companies are laying off fewer workers as they prepare to ramp up production to replenish their depleted stockpiles of goods.

Many analysts pointed to Thursday's drop in jobless claims as evidence of a trend signaling fewer job losses in coming months, particularly compared with the flood of layoffs earlier this year.

Still, job openings remain scarce. And most economists expect the unemployment rate to keep rising to 10 percent or higher by the end of this year. On Friday, the government will report the July unemployment rate.

First-time claims for jobless benefits dropped to a seasonally adjusted 550,000 last week, down from 588,000 in the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average of claims, which smooths out fluctuations, dropped to 555,250, its lowest point since late January.

"The lower claims figures are an important economic development and confirmation that the economy is turning the corner," Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank, wrote in a note to clients.

Fewer layoffs could help boost consumer sentiment. That's because those who are spending less now for fear of losing their jobs could grow more confident. If they start borrowing and spending more, it would help invigorate the economy.

Many economists say an improved job market could be evident in the unemployment report to be issued Friday. LaVorgna, for example, has cut his projection of job losses for July to 150,000 from 325,000. That would be the fewest since last July.

Overall, analysts expect the report will show the unemployment rate rose to a 26-year high of 9.6 percent last month, up from 9.5 percent in June, according to survey by Thomson Reuters. Employers are forecast to have cut 320,000 jobs in July, the survey found, down from 467,000 in June and from an average of 645,000 in the six months from November to April.

But many economists think the July job losses will be smaller. Dean Maki, chief U.S. economist at Barclays Capital, expects Friday's report to show a 275,000 drop in payrolls.
The Republican Party seems to be gaining some traction in attacking President Obama's agenda and pulling him down a peg or two in public esteem. [See Photos of the Obamas Behind the Scenes]

This contrasts with the GOP's often ineffective and flailing performance during the first phase of Obama's administration. The lack of a unified message created a sense of conservative drift and confusion. And it didn't help that the party appeared too closely tethered to voices from the past, such as former Vice President Dick Cheney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and to the abrasive, hard-line ideologues of today, such as radio host Rush Limbaugh. [Read About Obama's Toughest Opponents]

But now it looks as if the GOP has gotten its act together, at least in terms of public relations,...
WASHINGTON – Conservative activists are vowing to keep up their fight against President Barack Obama's health care plans, even as the Democratic Party pushes back hard, accusing Republicans of organizing angry mobs.

Democrats and the White House are claiming that the sometimes rowdy protests that have disrupted Democratic lawmakers' meetings and health care events around the country are largely orchestrated from afar by insurers, lobbyists, Republican Party activists and others.

"This mob activity is straight from the playbook of high-level Republican political operatives," the Democratic National Committee says in a new Web video. "They have no plan for moving our country forward, so they've called out the mob."

Some of the activists who've shown up at town hall meetings held recently by Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Wis., and others are affiliated with loosely connected right-leaning groups, including Conservatives for Patients' Rights and Americans for Prosperity, according to officials at those groups. Some of the activists say they came together during the "Tea Party" anti-big-government protests that happened earlier this year, and they've formed small groups and stayed in touch over e-mail, Facebook and in other ways.

But they insist they're part of a ground-level movement that represents real frustration with government spending and growth.

"There isn't any group that's backing me, who's influenced me, who's pushing me to do this," said Robert A. Mitchell, a small business owner from Doylestown, Pa., who questioned Specter at a weekend town hall event about lawmakers failing to read legislation.

The exchange was captured on YouTube and has spread, along with other videos. One showing protesters mobbing Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, includes footage of someone holding a sign showing Doggett with devil's horns; another shows Kagen shouted down at a meeting at a library.

At a forum in Little Rock on Wednesday, Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., sat with his head in his hands at one point while the crowd heckled him and Rep. Vic Snyder, accusing them of supporting government-backed care that would eliminate choice.

Mitchell said he was angered by push-back from the White House and it would motivate him to further activism, a view echoed by others.

"These are town hall meetings, and the federal government is trying to intimidate people," Mitchell said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele defended the activism, even as he denied the party was organizing it.

"We are not inciting anyone to go out and destruct anything," Steele told reporters on a conference call. "We're encouraging people to go and visit their congressman or their senator."

"To sit back and say that this is some Republican cabal is a bunch of baloney," Steele said.
There's been a lot of media coverage about organized mobs intimidating lawmakers, disrupting town halls, and silencing real discussion about the need for real health insurance reform.

The truth is, it's a sham. These "grassroots protests" are being organized and largely paid for by Washington special interests and insurance companies who are desperate to block reform. They're trying to use lies and fear to break the President and his agenda for change.

Health insurance reform is about our lives, our jobs, and our families -- we can't let distortions and intimidation get in the way. We need to expose these outrageous tactics, and we're counting on you to help. Can you read these "5 facts about the anti-reform mobs," then pass them along to your friends and family?

5 facts about the anti-reform mobs

1. These disruptions are being funded and organized by out-of-district special-interest groups and insurance companies who fear that health insurance reform could help Americans, but hurt their bottom line. A group run by the same folks who made the "Swiftboat" ads against John Kerry is compiling a list of congressional events in August to disrupt. An insurance company coalition has stationed employees in 30 states to track where local lawmakers hold town-hall meetings.

2. People are scared because they are being fed frightening lies. These crowds are being riled up by anti-reform lies being spread by industry front groups that invent smears to tarnish the President's plan and scare voters. But as the President has repeatedly said, health insurance reform will create more health care choices for the American people, not reduce them. If you like your insurance or your doctor, you can keep them, and there is no "government takeover" in any part of any plan supported by the President or Congress.

3. Their actions are getting more extreme. Texas protesters brought signs displaying a tombstone for Rep. Lloyd Doggett and using the "SS" symbol to compare President Obama's policies to Nazism. Maryland Rep. Frank Kratovil was hanged in effigy outside his district office. Rep. Tim Bishop of New York had to be escorted to his car by police after an angry few disrupted his town hall meeting -- and more examples like this come in every day. And they have gone beyond just trying to derail the President's health insurance reform plans, they are trying to "break" the President himself and ruin his Presidency.

4. Their goal is to disrupt and shut down legitimate conversation. Protesters have routinely shouted down representatives trying to engage in constructive dialogue with voters, and done everything they can to intimidate and silence regular people who just want more information. One attack group has even published a manual instructing protesters to "stand up and shout" and try to "rattle" lawmakers to prevent them from talking peacefully with their constituents.

5. Republican leadership is irresponsibly cheering on the thuggish crowds. Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner issued a statement applauding and promoting a video of the disruptions and looking forward to "a long, hot August for Democrats in Congress."

It's time to expose this charade, before it gets more dangerous. Please send these facts to everyone you know. You can also post them on your website, blog, or Facebook page.

Now, more than ever, we need to stand strong together and defend the truth.



Jen O'Malley Dillon
Executive Director
Democratic National Committee

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The American economy’s long decline leveled off significantly from April through June, the government reported on Friday, crystallizing expectations of a turnaround in the second half of the year.

The nation’s output shrank at an annual pace of 1 percent in the second quarter, after contracting at a rate of 6.4 percent earlier this year. Government spending, helped by the first payments from the administration’s $787 billion stimulus package, propped up activity in the latest quarter and accounted for 20 percent of the country’s output.

But consumer spending, which makes up about 70 percent of overall economic activity, has continued to fall as fearful Americans save more. Many economists express concern about what will happen once government spending lets up if consumers remain worried about losing their jobs and their weakened household finances.
NEW YORK (AP) – The central terminal at New York's LaGuardia Airport was evacuated Saturday morning after a man entered the building with a fake bomb in a bag, police said.

The scare was over in a few hours, but it disrupted travel plans for thousands of people as flights were postponed and vehicle traffic to the airport was briefly halted. Delays also rippled across the country as airlines adjusted their schedules.
DC (AP) - The 31-28 vote in the House Energy and Commerce Committee late Friday was weeks later than either the White House or Democratic leaders had hoped. Nonetheless, it was a triumph for them.

Appealing for passage, Obama said in a statement Saturday that in the coming weeks "we must build upon the historic consensus that has been forged and do the hard work necessary to seize this unprecedented opportunity for the future of our economy and the health of our families."

The vote came after weeks of negotiations finally satisfied concerns raised by fiscally conservative Democrats — only to produce a compromise that riled liberals.

The liberal opposition was quieted with a last-minute series of changes agreed to early Friday that included limiting how much insurers can raise premiums, and giving the federal government authority to negotiate directly with drug companies for lower prices under Medicare.

"We passed a bill out that shows that we can bring together conservative, moderate and progressive Democrats," Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman, D-CA, said after the vote. "We're going to need that coalition on the House floor, and I feel confident that we'll pass a health care reform bill in the House when we come back in September."

Five Democrats and all committee Republicans opposed the bill.

Democrats said a deadline of Sept. 15 had been imposed on marathon talks aimed at producing a bipartisan compromise in the Senate Finance Committee.

In the GOP's weekly radio and Internet address, Sen. John Thune, R-SD, contended that the Democrats' current proposals do not improve health care because it would force millions of Americans in employer-based coverage into a government-run system.
you'd rather keep the wall-street-run system we have now, right, thune?!

Without a bipartisan bill, Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-MT, would presumably have to produce a measure tailored to Democratic specifications, a step he has said repeatedly he would rather avoid.
aw! poor boycus! he might have to give back some of his lobbyist "donations"!