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Saturday, July 19, 2008

N.H. will accept free oil from Chavez after all

Republicans are such hypocrites.  If it weren't for them not being reelected because of people dying of the cold, they'd never allow this program.  Viva la Chavez!

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Two years ago, New Hampshire refused to accept heating oil from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the pro-Castro U.S. critic who once called President Bush "the devil." But with fuel prices rising, well, free oil is free oil.

With the state's blessing, New Hampshire residents will be receiving some of the fuel this winter.

New Hampshire becomes the last state in the Northeast to embrace the offer.

"A lot of people have said, `We need help and we value any help we can get,'" said Amy Ignatius, director of New Hampshire's office of energy and planning.

The oil giveaway will be managed by Citizens Energy, a nonprofit organization set up by former Massachusetts Rep. Joseph Kennedy to help the poor stay warm. But the state energy office plans to help Citizens publicize the aid and sign up fuel-oil dealers.

It is just the latest example of how rising oil prices have brought about an attitude adjustment in the U.S. Over the past few weeks, pressure has been growing in Washington and around the country to lift the federal ban on offshore drilling.

Back in 2006, when Chavez began offering free oil to Americans from Venezuela's government-controlled Citgo, New Hampshire's energy office contacted the Venezuelan Embassy about working out a deal.

But the idea galled some New Hampshire Republicans, including Sen. John Sununu, who called the it a "disgrace" and an attempt at grandstanding by Chavez, and Democratic Gov. John Lynch squelched the effort.

This year, though, "the state's role is to make sure people are aware of the program," Lynch spokesman Colin Manning said.

A lot has changed over the past two years. Back then, heating oil sold for about $2.50 per gallon in the Northeast. Last month, the average price was $4.61, with predictions of $5 per gallon oil by winter.

"The average tank is 250 to 275 gallons," Citizens spokeswoman Ashley Durmer said. "Filling it once is over $1,500. That is unfathomable that anyone can pay that price. If you have to fill the tank four times, it's going to be a devastating winter for a lot of people."

On Thursday, Sununu again criticized Chavez but said he has no problem with people or businesses accepting help from an independent nonprofit such as Citizens.

N.H. will accept free oil from Chavez after all

Think Progress » McCain camp reacts to Maliki’s call for withdrawal: Voters don’t care what Iraqi leaders say.

Republicans are full of shit.  But then we knew that didn't we.

In response to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s clear statement in support of a 16-month redeployment from Iraq, a senior McCain official tells Marc Ambinder “[V]oters care about [the] military, not about Iraqi leaders.” A “prominent Republican strategist” who occasionally provides advice to the McCain campaign said more candidly, “We’re fucked.” Recall, this is what McCain said in 2004:

QUESTION: Let me give you a hypothetical, senator. What would or should we do if, in the post-June 30th period, a so-called sovereign Iraqi government asks us to leave, even if we are unhappy about the security situation there? I understand it’s a hypothetical, but it’s at least possible.

McCAIN: Well, if that scenario evolves, then I think it’s obvious that we would have to leave because — if it was an elected government of Iraq — and we’ve been asked to leave other places in the world. If it were an extremist government, then I think we would have other challenges, but I don’t see how we could stay when our whole emphasis and policy has been based on turning the Iraqi government over to the Iraqi people.

Think Progress » McCain camp reacts to Maliki’s call for withdrawal: Voters don’t care what Iraqi leaders say.

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t r u t h o u t | Karzai Opposes US Use of Afghan Soil Against Iran

Can't launch war with Iran from Iraq?  Try the other side of Iran.  Oh, they don't want us using their country as a launching pad for war with Iran either. 

   Kabul - Afghanistan opposes U.S. use of its territory for launching a possible attack against neighbouring Iran, President Hamid Karzai said in an interview broadcast on Monday.

    Iran has threatened to target Israel and U.S. interests in the region in the event of an attack against the Islamic Republic which is locked in a dispute with the West over its nuclear programme.

    Karzai said his government, which came to power after U.S.-led and Afghan forces overthrew the Taliban in 2001, had always tried to "keep the balance between the powers".

    "We are attentive to the dangers," Karzai told Radio Liberty when asked about the possible repercussions of a conflict between Iran and the United States.

    "Afghanistan should not become the battleground of differences of any country," he said in a wide-ranging interview. "Afghanistan does not want its soil to be used against any country and Afghanistan wants to be a friend of Iran as a neighbour which shares the same language and religion."

t r u t h o u t | Karzai Opposes US Use of Afghan Soil Against Iran

t r u t h o u t | American Inequality Highlighted by 30-Year Gap in Life Expectancy

  Washington - The United States of America is becoming less united by the day. A 30-year gap now exists in the average life expectancy between Mississippi, in the Deep South, and Connecticut, in prosperous New England. Huge disparities have also opened up in income, health and education depending on where people live in the US, according to a report published yesterday.

    The American Human Development Index has applied to the US an aid agency approach to measuring well-being - more familiar to observers of the Third World - with shocking results. The US finds itself ranked 42nd in global life expectancy and 34th in survival of infants to age. Suicide and murder are among the top 15 causes of death and although the US is home to just 5 per cent of the global population it accounts for 24 per cent of the world's prisoners.

    Despite an almost cult-like devotion to the belief that unfettered free enterprise is the best way to lift Americans out of poverty, the report points to a rigged system that does little to lessen inequalities.

    "The report shows that although America is one of the richest nations in the world, it is woefully behind when it comes to providing opportunity and choices to all Americans to build a better life," the authors said.

    Some of its more shocking findings reveal that, in parts of Texas, the percentage of adults who pass through high school has not improved since the 1970s.

    Asian-American males have the best quality of life and black Americans the lowest, with a staggering 50-year life expectancy gap between the two groups.

    Despite the fact that the US spends roughly $5.2bn (£2.6bn) every day on health care, more per capita than any other nation in the world, Americans live shorter lives than citizens of every western European and Nordic country, bar Denmark.

    Using official government statistics, the study points out that because American schools are funded primarily from local property taxes, rich districts get the best state education. The US has no federally mandated sick pay, paternity leave or annual paid vacation.

    "Some Americans are living anywhere from 30 to 50 years behind others when it comes to issues we all care about: health, education and standard of living," said Sarah Burd-Sharps co-author of the report.

    Although the US is one of the most powerful and rich nations in the world, the study concludes it is "woefully behind when it comes to providing opportunity and choices to all Americans to build a better life".

    According to a United Nations human development report, the US is in 12th place in a league table of wealthy developed nations. Britain is ranked 16th.

t r u t h o u t | American Inequality Highlighted by 30-Year Gap in Life Expectancy

t r u t h o u t | The Dark Side of the Toyota Prius

  The National Labor Committee (NLC), a New York-based human rights group, has been investigating working conditions at Toyota Motor Corp., and the labor used to produce its best-selling Prius hybrid cars.

    In its 65-page report released in June, NLC includes first-hand testimony of factory conditions in "Toyota City," outside of Nagoya, Japan - less than 200 miles southwest of Tokyo - where the largest auto company in the world employs some 70,000 people.

    The report alleges that Toyota exploits guest workers, mostly shipped in from China and Vietnam. According to the NLC, these workers are "stripped of their passports and often forced to work - including at subcontract plants supplying Toyota - 16 hours a day, seven days a week, while being paid less than half the legal minimum wage." Workers are forced to live in company dormitories and deported for complaining about poor treatment, the report finds.

    Low-wage temporary workers make up one-third of Toyota's Prius assembly-line workers, mostly in the auto-parts supply chain. They are signed to contracts for periods as short as four months, and are paid only 60 percent of a full-time employee's wage.

    Parts plants run by subcontractors advertise standard, nine-hour, five-day-a-week jobs. But according to the NLC, "the typical shift was 15 to 16.5 hours a day, from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. or 1:00 a.m."

    In 2002, Kenichi Uchino, 30, died while working at the "green" Tsutsumi plant that assembles the Prius. During the 13th hour of a routine 14-hour day, Uchino collapsed on the shop floor of the internationally lauded "sustainable" factory, which uses sulfur-oxide-eating paint and boasts 5 percent emissions reductions. A Japanese court ruled that Uchino's death was caused by exhaustion from overwork.

t r u t h o u t | The Dark Side of the Toyota Prius

Truthdig - Cartoons - Israel Puts Its Foot Down

Truthdig - Cartoons - Israel Puts Its Foot Down

Truthdig - Cartoons - Case Closed

Truthdig - Cartoons - Case Closed

Truthdig - Cartoons - BFFs

Truthdig - Cartoons - BFFs

The right’s misguided frenzy over the American Physical Society - The Carpetbagger Report

Right wingers go nuts...over false story.

Daily Tech had an item yesterday afternoon that caused a bit of a stir in conservative circles.

The American Physical Society, an organization representing nearly 50,000 physicists, has reversed its stance on climate change and is now proclaiming that many of its members disbelieve in human-induced global warming. The APS is also sponsoring public debate on the validity of global warming science. The leadership of the society had previously called the evidence for global warming “incontrovertible.”

This, coming the same day as Al Gore’s speech, was apparently quite exciting to those on the right who prefer to deny global warming and/or its causes.

One said, “The Association of Physical Scientists has reversed its position on anthropogenic global warming. Where it once considered its position ‘incontrovertable’ [sic] it is now sponsoring open debate on the matter… This is a big deal. The APS represents some 50,000 physicists worldwide.”

Another argued, “[Physicists] bailing on Gore…. The rats are leaving the ship. Global warming alarmists are frauds.”

Jonah Goldberg initially said, “The same day that Al Gore does his man-to-the-moon spiel on global warming, the American Physical Society — the second largest professional association of physicists — rescinds its total support for the global warming. I await the usual chorus to sing us a tune about how the APS is ‘anti-science.’”

Red State told readers, “The headline at The Drudge Report website, ‘Group Repping 50,000 Physicists Opens Global Warming Debate…’ [linked to dailytech.com] says it all.”

Except, in this case, it didn’t say it all.

Here’s what the APS explained:

The American Physical Society reaffirms the following position on climate change, adopted by its governing body, the APS Council, on November 18, 2007:

“Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth’s climate.”

An article at odds with this statement recently appeared in an online newsletter of the APS Forum on Physics and Society, one of 39 units of APS. The header of this newsletter carries the statement that “Opinions expressed are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the APS or of the Forum.” This newsletter is not a journal of the APS and it is not peer reviewed.

So, what happened here? Climate Progress explains the story very well, but it appears that one sloppy editor relied on one frequently-debunked British Lord — and conservatives reflexively pounced on a development that was far from what it appeared to be.

Kevin summarized this nicely: “Lord Monckton, who triggered the original article in DailyTech, may be a lord, but he’s also a longtime global warming skeptic. There’s nothing new here, and, as you might expect, scientists continue to believe that climate change is largely driven by human activity. Nice try, though.”

The right’s misguided frenzy over the American Physical Society - The Carpetbagger Report

The BRAD BLOG : Poll: Obama Leads McCain by 24 Points in California

If it weren't so expensive to live there, Cali is just so intelligent compared to other states.  :)  no I'm not biased because that's where I'm from!  lol (I'm a Mississippian now and for the foreseeable future and i really love it here.  i doubt there is any place on earth that can surpass the natural beauty of my new home.  But boy are there some retarded people down here.)

The latest statewide poll, conducted by the Field organization, shows Democrat Barack Obama extending his lead in the state and now trouncing Republican John McCain by 24 points, 54 percent to 30 percent. In May, Obama’s lead was a smaller 17 points, and in January, an even slighter 7 points.

The Field poll, conducted July 8-14, also demonstrated an enthusiasm gap in California: 51 percent of Obama’s supporters said they were very enthusiastic about him, whereas only 17 percent of McCain’s made the same claim...

[Among] the nonpartisan voters highly coveted by candidates, Obama led 64 percent to 18 percent.

The BRAD BLOG : Poll: Obama Leads McCain by 24 Points in California

The BRAD BLOG : Ohio Attorney Files to Lift Stay on '04 Election Case, Cites Allegations, Evidence of Massive Fraud by a Number of GOP Operatives

"This entire system (electronic voting machines and those who control them) is being programmed in secret by programmers who have no oversight by anybody," the expert charged, as Arnebeck detailed allegations of complicity by a number of powerful GOP operatives and companies who had unique access both to the election results as reported in 2004, as well as to U.S. House and Senate computer networks even today...

...One of the more delightful and interesting quotes comes from Arnebeck, concerning what he expects to discover as the stay is lifted: "[W]e anticipate Mr. Rove will be identified as having engaged in a corrupt, ongoing pattern of corrupt activities specifically affecting the situation here in Ohio."...

...Hold letters have been sent to the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, asking them to hold documents relating to their activities to use corporate money to influence the Ohio Supreme Court elections. Another hold letter was sent to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey asking that he advise the federal government to hold emails from Karl Rove.
Arnebeck said "We think [Rove] is an individual who has been at the center of both the use of corporate money to attack state Attorneys General and their elections and candidates for the Supreme Court and their elections in the states, and also in the manipulation of the election process.
The BRAD BLOG : Ohio Attorney Files to Lift Stay on '04 Election Case, Cites Allegations, Evidence of Massive Fraud by a Number of GOP Operatives

The BRAD BLOG : Poll: Homophobia Lobby's Anti-Marriage Amendment Lags in California

Let the puritan mindset of the 12th century die and let the new generation rise up and live life to it's fullest and in love with who ever they choose to love.

A new Field Poll shows that 42 percent of California voters say they will vote for Proposition 8, the ballot initiative sponsored by the national anti-gay lobby that would amend the California Constitution to revoke the right of gay people to marry, while 51 percent say they plan to vote against it, according to a report in the Mercury News:

The BRAD BLOG : Poll: Homophobia Lobby's Anti-Marriage Amendment Lags in California

Think Progress » Gramm to continue as McCain adviser and surrogate.

The author of todays devastated economy, Phil Gramm is back on the McCain team.

Last week, Phil Gramm, Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) “econ brain,” said that America is a “nation of whiners” suffering from a “mental recession.” In response, McCain said that Gramm “does not speak for me,” and McCain policy adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin asserted that Gramm would no longer be giving McCain advice. Today, however, Robert Novak reports that “Gramm will continue as an adviser and surrogate“:

After Sen. John McCain publicly repudiated his close friend and adviser Phil Gramm’s comments about a “nation of whiners” and a “mental recession,” the two old political comrades patched up their relationship.

Gramm apologized to McCain for his remarks that gave Democrats an opening against the Republican presidential candidate and provided several days of ammunition for blogs, cable television and radio talk shows. McCain told Gramm not to worry about the expected pitfalls of a campaign surrogate. Gramm will continue as an adviser and surrogate.

Think Progress » Gramm to continue as McCain adviser and surrogate.

Media Matters - ABC News/ Wash. Post withheld results of poll favorable to Obama

In disclosing the results of their poll, conducted July 10-13, ABC News and The Washington Post issued staggered releases, withholding from their first release on July 14 poll results favorable to Sen. Barack Obama, including the finding that 50 percent of registered voters would vote for Obama "[i]f the 2008 presidential election were being held today" versus 42 percent who favored Sen. John McCain. A partial release of the results, "embargoed for release after 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 14, 2008," was titled "McCain Stays Competitive on Iraq; It's About More than Withdrawal" and disclosed the results of only 10 questions relating to foreign policy. Among the results, the release noted: 72 percent of respondents think McCain would be "a good commander-in-chief," compared with 48 percent for Obama; "50 percent of Americans prefer Obama's plan to withdraw most U.S. forces within 16 months of taking office," compared with 49 percent who side with McCain's position; 47 percent of respondents said they trust McCain more on Iraq, while 45 percent prefer Obama; and 51 percent of Americans "now say the U.S. campaign against the Taliban and al Qaeda there [in Afghanistan] has been unsuccessful." Following the July 14 release, ABCNews.com posted an analysis of only the foreign policy poll results under the headline "McCain Tops Obama in Commander-in-Chief Test; Stays Competitive on Iraq." Similarly, Time magazine senior political analyst Mark Halperin linked to the ABCNews.com analysis using the headline: "Poll: McCain Wins More Confidence as Commander in Chief." In a July 15 article headlined "Poll Finds Voters Split on Candidates' Iraq-Pullout Positions," the Post reported only the poll results disclosed in the first release. The article did not mention Obama's 8-point lead over McCain among registered voters on who they would vote for "[i]f the 2008 presidential election were being held today."

On July 15, the day after the initial release, ABC News and the Post issued a second release disclosing the results of 18 questions "embargoed for release after 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 15, 2008." Included in the release was the result that overall, Obama leads McCain by 8 percentage points among registered voters. Additionally, the release stated: "Obama continues to hold most of the advantages in the presidential race, in enthusiasm, levels of partisanship, personal qualities and trust on top domestic issues, notably No. 1, the economy; and he's improved in the past month among swing voter groups." The release noted that Obama leads McCain by 19 percentage points on the question of which candidate respondents "trust more to handle the economy."

Media Matters - ABC News/ Wash. Post withheld results of poll favorable to Obama

Media Matters - Wash. Post headline -- "Offshore drilling backed as remedy for oil prices" -- undermined by article itself

In a July 17 article (subscription required) citing a newly released Field Poll survey, The Wall Street Journal reported that "43% of Californians support the idea of drilling for oil or natural gas along the state's coast, compared with 51% who oppose it." But the Journal did not point out that the poll question included the false suggestion that "drill[ing] more oil and gas wells in state tidelands" would in fact "deal with the rising cost of energy" in the near future. As Media Matters for America previously documented, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) considered in its Annual Energy Outlook 2007 report the likely effects of allowing the congressional and executive moratoriums on certain offshore drilling to expire in 2012 and stated that "access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030. Leasing would begin no sooner than 2012, and production would not be expected to start before 2017."
Media Matters - Wash. Post headline -- "Offshore drilling backed as remedy for oil prices" -- undermined by article itself

Media Matters - Hannity falsely suggested no oil in areas already available to oil companies for drilling

Summary: Sean Hannity falsely suggested that federal areas legally available for leasing by oil companies contain no oil. In fact, federal agencies have estimated that more oil exists on the tens of millions of acres of federal areas currently legally available for drilling than there is in the areas currently off limits to drilling.

Media Matters - Hannity falsely suggested no oil in areas already available to oil companies for drilling

Media Matters - CNN's Situation Room aired McCain's ad attacking Obama, but ignored McCain's own record on issues highlighted in ad

During the 4 p.m. ET hour of the July 18 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, congressional correspondent Dana Bash uncritically aired an ad by Sen. John McCain that states that Sen. Barack Obama "never held a single Senate hearing on Afghanistan. He hasn't been to Iraq in years. He voted against funding our troops -- positions that helped him win his nomination." However, neither Bash nor host Wolf Blitzer noted, as Media Matters for America has documented, that McCain himself "voted against funding our troops" when he voted against legislation that would have provided funds for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and directed more than $1 billion to the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as other legislation funding care for veterans. That legislation included a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq except for a "limited number" of troops "essential" for "[p]rotecting United States and coalition personnel and infrastructure," "[t]raining and equipping Iraqi forces," and "[c]onducting targeted counter-terrorism operations." Further, neither Bash nor Blitzer noted that McCain is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, but has reportedly not attended a single Armed Services Committee hearing related to Afghanistan.
Media Matters - CNN's Situation Room aired McCain's ad attacking Obama, but ignored McCain's own record on issues highlighted in ad

How Long Will Your Doctor Continue Accepting Private Insurance? | Health and Wellness | AlterNet

More and more doctors are fed up with private insurers. It's not just a question of how stingy they are, but how difficult it is to get reimbursed. Paperwork, phone calls, insurers who play games by deliberately making reimbursement forms difficult to interpret ...

Some physicians have just said "no" to insurers.

What does this mean for patients? Business models vary. Some doctors charge by the minute. I recently read about a physician who punches a time clock when the appointment begins. She has calculated that her time is worth $2 per minute. Fifty-nine minutes = $118. Will you be paying cash, or by charge today? Somehow, I think the meter would make me nervous. I suspect I might begin talking very quickly. But this is only one model.

Rather than charging by the minute, some doctors make fee-for-service charges. In those cases, many physicians mark up their fees well beyond what an insurer would pay. But, they point out, they also spend more time with their patients. No one feels rushed.

A story in a New Jersey newspaper describes how physicians in Northern Jersey have begun following in the footsteps of "elite Manhattan doctors and are withdrawing from all insurance plans." The article compares fees with and without insurance. On the right, the fees that insurers typically pay for these services; on the left, the fees that Jersey doctors who don't take insurance charge:

  • Mastectomy: $5,000 / $900
  • Ruptured abdominal aneurysm: $8,000 / $1,800
  • Routine screening mammogram: $350 / $100
  • Initial neurological consultation: $400 / $100

Some Doctors Share Savings with Patients

Other physicians find that if they don't take insurance, they can cut their overhead and actually charge patients less.

Over at Revolution Health, "Dr. Val and the Voice of Reason" tells how Dr. Alan Dappen has set up his practice:

"He is available to his patients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by phone, e-mail and in person. Visits may be scheduled on the same day if needed, prescriptions may be refilled any time without an office visit, he makes house calls, and all records are kept private and digital on a hard drive in his office.

"How much do you think this costs? Would you believe only about $300/year?"

Dappen has streamlined his practice. It's not just that he doesn't need an assistant to keep up with stacks of insurance paperwork. In general, he keeps his overhead low, offers full price transparency, has "physician extenders" who work with him, and "charges people for his time, not for a complex menu of tests and procedures."

The key is that Dappen practices very conservative medicine.

"I believe in doing what is necessary and not doing what is not necessary," he says. "The health care system is broken because it has perverse incentives, complicated reimbursement strategies, and cuts the patient out of the billing process. When patients don't care what something costs, and believe that everything should be free, doctors will charge as much as they can. Third-party payers use medical records to deny coverage to patients, collectively bargain for lower reimbursement, and set arbitrary fees that reward tests and procedures. This creates a bizarre positive feedback loop that results in a feeding frenzy of billing and unnecessary charges, tests and procedures. Unlike any other sector, more competition actually drives up costs."

Dappen has it right about competition in the health care marketplace. Studies show that in areas where there are more hospitals competing with each other, hospital bills are higher. This is in part because hospitals jousting for market share all invest the same cutting-edge equipment. The only way to pay for it is to use it. So they do more tests and more procedures, driving hospital bills higher.

Dappen, who practices in Fairfax, Va., told Dr. Val Jones that "after building a successful traditional family medicine practice he felt morally compelled to cease accepting insurance so that he could be free to practice good medicine without having to figure out how to get paid for it. He noticed that at least 50 percent of office visits were not necessary -- and issues could be handled by phone in those cases. Phone interviews, of course, were not reimbursable by insurance."

Dappen also casts a skeptical eye on the pricey annual physical: "The physical exam is a straw man for reimbursement. Doctors require people to appear in person at their offices so that they can bill for the time spent caring for them. But for long-standing adult patients, the physical exam rarely changes medical management of their condition. It simply allows physicians to be reimbursed for their time."

Again, Dappen is spot on.

"Cutting the middleman (health insurance) out of the equation allows me to give patients what they need without wasting their time in unnecessary in-person visits," Dappen explains. "This also frees up my schedule so that I can spend more time with those who really do need an in-person visit."

complete article:
How Long Will Your Doctor Continue Accepting Private Insurance? | Health and Wellness | AlterNet

VA Ban on Voter Registration Drives for Injured Vets Becomes National Fight | Democracy and Elections | AlterNet

The Department of Veterans Affairs, which oversees medical care for injured veterans, is locked in a growing dispute with 19 secretaries of state -- Democrats and Republicans -- who are urging the federal agency to allow voter registration drives for former soldiers living at its facilities.

In a letter this week to Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, ...
VA Ban on Voter Registration Drives for Injured Vets Becomes National Fight | Democracy and Elections | AlterNet

Senator McCain Has a Serious "Knowledge Gap": It's an Issue | AlterNet

Senator John McCain's latest gaffe on Social Security is somewhat breathtaking, and ought to be a campaign issue. It indicates that he is not any better informed on major domestic policy issues than he is on foreign policy (which is supposedly his "strength").

Readers whose memory extends beyond the 48-hour news cycle may recall that on March 18, at a press conference in Amman, Jordan, McCain stated that "al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran, that's well known. And it's unfortunate."

Senator Joe Lieberman, who was standing next to him, whispered in his ear, causing McCain to immediately issue a correction. The McCain campaign stated that it was just a slip of the tongue, and the Sunday talk shows gave the candidate a pass. But McCain had said the same thing twice before during the same week. It was no slip of the tongue.

How serious of a confusion was this? As is "well-known," the Iranian government is run by Shiites, and Al-Qaeda is Sunni - in fact the Al-Qaeda types tend not to even recognize the Shiites as believers. So this repeated false statement indicates that McCain is missing some very basic knowledge of the region.

Now back to the home front. John McCain said on Monday: "Americans have got to understand that we are paying present-day retirees with the taxes paid by young workers in America today. And that's a disgrace. It's an absolute disgrace, and it's got to be fixed."

But this is how Social Security has always been funded, and was set up to do exactly that. The Social Security payroll tax comes out of our paychecks, and pays for people who are retired. When we who are presently working retire, we will get Social Security from the taxes of people who are working. It's not clear where the disgrace is. The system has worked well for the past 70 years, helping to reduce the poverty rate among the elderly from 35.2 percent in 1959 to 9.4 percent in 2006. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, it will continue paying all promised benefits for the next 38 years without any changes. Only minor changes -less than those implemented in each one of the decades of the 1950s, 60s, 70s, or 80s - will be necessary over the next 75 years to keep it paying all promised benefits indefinitely.

Then there is energy policy, where McCain claims that offshore drilling in environmentally sensitive areas will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and lower gasoline prices. But according to the Energy Information Agency, McCain's proposed drilling would produce too little oil (less then two tenths of one percent of world oil supply) to have a significant effect on oil prices (PDF). Not to mention that it would be ten years before we would see any oil at all.

Of course the Obama campaign would want to be careful and polite about criticizing Mc
Senator McCain Has a Serious "Knowledge Gap": It's an Issue | AlterNet

Crooks and Liars » Maybe McCain should have ‘adopted’ a consistent position

Over the weekend, John McCain told the New York Times that he opposes gay adoption, even if the alternative is leaving a child in an orphanage. A few days later, McCain’s campaign reversed course and said the senator doesn’t actually believe what he said — “caring parental figures,” even if they’re gay, are “better for the child than the alternative.”
Crooks and Liars » Maybe McCain should have ‘adopted’ a consistent position

Crooks and Liars » Condoleezza Rice: We aren’t flip-flopping on Iran

So when Obama says we should start negotiations with Iran or the Irag Study group says the same thing—they are traitors to America, but when Condi and Bush do the same thing it’s really not the same thing. Oh, boy. They just lie, lie, lie. I can’t wait to never see her on the world stage again. Condi, why are you a Nazi appeaser also?

During a speech in Jerusalem, President Bush jumped head first into the 2008 presidential campaign by taking a shot at Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, by comparing his willingness to hold diplomatic talks with Iran to the appeasement of Nazis in the 1930’s.

See video here.


In a surprising development in the tense American-Iranian relationship, the US announced this week that it would send a high-level State Department official to attend talks with Iranian nuclear negotiators in Switzerland over the weekend. This unexpected policy turn comes after a tense, saber rattling summer during which the US, Israel, and Iran have traded threats, staged war games, and tested weapons. But observers suggest that the shift in the US’s longstanding tactic of isolating Tehran may be motivated by a desire to ensure that other countries such as China and Russia do not make too many concessions to Iran during the negotiations.

Crooks and Liars » Condoleezza Rice: We aren’t flip-flopping on Iran

On-board missile-defense system makes first cross-country flight | Top Stories | Star-Telegram.com

The EPA just reduced the price of a human life by 1million dollars.  that is, if it costs polluters more than a human life is worth, it is cost effective and legal to kill that many people.  if it costs less than a human life is worth, then it is illegal to pollute. "When drawing up regulations, government agencies put a value on human life and then weigh the costs versus the lifesaving benefits of a proposed rule. The less a life is worth to the government, the less the need for a regulation, such as tighter restrictions on pollution." if you're going to pollute it's best to do it in mid sized towns or cities.  But if you are a military contractor, apparently the value of a human life runs in the billions because here is a pork program that is so not cost effective when it comes to the value that the EPA has put on a single life.

An on-board laser-based defense system tested for commercial aircraft at Fort Worth Alliance Airport in 2005 has made its first cross-country flight.
An American Airlines 767-200s equipped with the JETEYE system flew from New York John F. Kennedy Airport to Los Angeles Airport on Wednesday.
BAE Systems, which developed JETEYE, announced the completion of the first flight.
In all, three American Airlines 767-200s equipped with the JETEYE system will fly between New York and Los Angeles and New York and San Francisco, American officials said.
The other two aircraft will be ready to start testing later this summer and early fall. The tests run through March 2009.
Integrated into the planes' bellies are electronic sensors that watch for missiles being fired from below. A dime-sized laser emitter mounted on a small turret can then rotate to a target and, if necessary, send out an invisible, infrared burst to disorient a missile's guidance system.
The system was a post-9/11 attempt to shift U.S. military technology into the commercial sector and address concerns that terrorists could use shoulder-fired missiles, also called MANPADS (Man-Portable Air Defense System), to bring down jetliners.
"We have now entered the third phase of the testing of the counter-MANPADs system on a commercial aircraft," American spokesman John Hotard said. "This is all part of a Department of Homeland Security project to determine the feasibility of equipping commercial aircraft with such a system."
This phase of testing is to determine the maintenance reliability of the system as well as whether the system is "suitable" for revenue service. An early concern was whether or not the system would be subsidized in some way by the federal government, and, if not, whether the airlines could afford the system out of pocket.
Hotard emphasized that there would not be any live testing or simulations during the phase.

On-board missile-defense system makes first cross-country flight | Top Stories | Star-Telegram.com

07/18/2008 Wind-energy dreams gain altitude

That breeze you’re feeling may be the sudden gust of news about wind energy, until now almost a boutique producer of power in America.Oilman T. Boone Pickens began flooding the media this month with a $58 million campaign to sell a plan to build thousands of wind turbines. He wants wind to grow from supplying 1 percent of the nation’s electricity to 20 percent in a decade.
This week, global-warming guru Al Gore announced a plan to spend at least a trillion dollars in the next 10 years on renewable energy, including wind, to break the nation’s fossil-fuel addiction cold turkey.
And we’re smack in the middle of those plans.Kansas has the third-best wind of any state, and Missouri’s tiny Rock Port is winning national attention as the first town in America to operate solely on wind power.
Pickens’ plan could be wind-spun gold for the wind-tunnel corridor, stretching from central Texas to the Canadian border, as many thousands of jobs are created to build turbines, erect wind farms and string transmission lines to the East and the West Coasts...
Pickens has said that to implement his plan within 10 years, both Congress and the White House must treat the current energy situation as “a national emergency and take immediate action.”
That goes beyond what either presidential candidate has said, but both expressed support this week.
“Pickens’ proposal to break our addiction to foreign oil and significantly ramp up our investments in renewable energy is precisely in line with what Obama has proposed in his comprehensive energy plan,” said Debbie Mesloh, communications director for Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign in Missouri.
In a statement Thursday, Obama said he strongly agreed with Gore that “we cannot drill our way to energy independence, but must fast-track investments in renewable sources of energy. … It’s a strategy that will create millions of new jobs that pay well and cannot be outsourced.”
www.kansascity.com | 07/18/2008 | Wind-energy dreams gain altitude

Friday, July 18, 2008

Court Backs Bush on Military Detentions

American residents, citizens or legal immigrants can be held without a trial.  All the judges voting for this blatant disregard for our constitution were appointed by Republican administrations.  And they try to tell us they are the constitutional party.  Gimme a break.  They are the follow the leader into the dark hole of the ancient past, way beyond the Magna Carta to barbarism.

President Bush has the legal power to order the indefinite military detentions of civilians captured in the United States, the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., ruled on Tuesday in a fractured 5-to-4 decision.

“This decision means the president can pick up any person in the country — citizen or legal resident — and lock them up for years without the most basic safeguard in the Constitution, the right to a criminal trial,” Mr. Hafetz said.

Court Backs Bush on Military Detentions - NYTimes.com

Daily Kos: Open Thread for Night Owls & Early Birds

I read yesterday that there are protests about naming a useful plant after someone who is so useless.  haha!

The trustees of Southern Methodist University have been given the the go-ahead to lease campus land for the George W. Bush Presidential Library, where thousands of copies of The Pet Goat and transcripts from warrantless wiretaps will be housed.

IIf a majority of San Francisco voters give an "aye" in November to a
ballot measure certified Thursday, however, a rather different kind of
public building will be named after the current occupant of the White
House. It's now called the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant. If
voters approve, it will become the George W. Bush Sewage Plant.

Backers of the measure,
who for several months circulated a petition to place [it] on the
ballot, turned in more than 12,000 signatures on July 7, said organizer
Brian McConnell. The Department of Elections today informed those
supporters, the self-proclaimed Presidential Memorial Commission,
that they had enough valid signatures - a minimum of 7,168 registered
San Francisco voters - to qualify for the November ballot, he said.

McConnell, who came up with the idea over beers with friends, often

donned an Uncle Sam outfit to drum up support for the petition. Other
signature gatherers - all volunteers - often carried around an American
flag and blasted patriotic music from a boom box to attract attention.
He said today that the campaign to pass the measure will be an equally
grassroots effort.

San Francisco Republicans say the plan stinks and they plan to oppose it, according to the Associated Press.
McConnell says the name-change makes perfect sense to memorialize an
administration that has dragged our nation (and a few others) through
the muck on a daily basis, leaving behind a mess that will take a
decade or two to clean up.  
How disrespectful. How juvenile. How delightful.

But surely Richard Bruce Cheney should also be honored with his own
appropriately labeled memorial. Whenever the brown has flowed during
the past seven-and-a-half years, the gray eminence of this
administration has been in it up to his eyebrows.

Daily Kos: Open Thread for Night Owls & Early Birds