Dick Cheney’s Soviet Sense of Humor

Cheney’s tortured logic

Cheney Endorses CIA Interrogators Going ‘Beyond The Specific Legal Authorization’

WALLACE: Do you think what they did, now that you’ve heard about it, do you think what they did was wrong?

CHENEY: Chris, my sort of overwhelming view is that the enhanced interrogation techniques were absolutely essential in saving thousands of American lives, in preventing further attacks against the United States, in giving us the intelligence we needed to go find al Qaeda, to find their camps, to find out how they were being financed. … It was good policy. It was properly carried out. it worked very, very well.

WALLACE: So even these cases where they went beyond the specific legal authorization, you’re okay with it.


In the recently released 2004 CIA Inspector General’s report made frequent mention that OLC lawyers ( Bush appointees at the DOJ) and that legal counsel as justification for disregarding Geneva Conventions when interrogating prisoners. As far fetched as those opinions were, Cheney seems to think even those opinions which tried to define acceptable torture did not matter. Torture, given even the glossiest spin is about two things. One is getting information. Since we know that torture does work in the sense those being tortured will say anything to get the torture to stop, the quality of the information is questionable. The other reason that people and governments torture is because they like to. Cheney has embraced both views. Let’s not be shocked that Chris Wallace lobbed some whiffle balls at Cheney, that’s what Chris does. He has always been a partisan hack. A marginally professional journalist would have reminded Cheney that when Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was tortured he confessed to among many other plots plans to attack Heathrow Airport, Canary Wharf, the Panama Canal and Big Ben in London and to assassinate former presidents Carter and Clinton. One can understand the paranoid weenies on the Right believing every word, but to those of us in the reality based community it all sounds like a load of BS meant either to impress his captors or to stop the pain. CNN or the Conservative News Network has also been glad to catapult the Cheney bull, CNN Gets Snookered By Cheney’s Masterful Obfuscation

The wanton desire to torture people for no reason that has ever been justified, other then right-wing comic book scenarios about ticking time bombs, might be some kind of genetic disorder, Liz Cheney says “Waterboarding isn’t torture,” but John McCain called it “a very exquisite torture”

McCain on waterboarding: “I believe that it is torture, very exquisite torture”

Shep Smith: “Pol Pot was a big fan of this waterboarding action. Now we get some lawyers around the table and want to pretend like it’s not torture.”

Hannity misrepresented bipartisan Washington Monthly essay collection, which included these statements:

* Former Rep.Bob Barr (R-GA): “Waterboarding is, in essence, a torturer’s best friend-easy, quick, and nonevidentiary. It had always been considered torture by civilized governments such as ours-until, of course, this administration.”
* Former Dep. Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Reagan White House chief of staff Ken Duberstein: “Let there be no mistake: waterboarding is torture-and it should never be used by the United States. No less a hero than John McCain will attest to this.”
* Then-Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE): During World War II, U.S. interrogators “acquired” valuable “information without resorting to abusive techniques, such as waterboarding, that are considered to be torture.”

The U.S. prosecuted the Japanese nationalists of WW II for using waterboarding. Top Bush Terrorism Adviser Admits CIA Docs Didn’t Prove Torture Worked

The Method of Cheney’s Madness

My views of Dick Cheney are hopefully clear by now.  So I’m not getting into the immorality of his torture stance.

But I don’t think that “winning” the torture debate is his actual goal.  To me, the goal of his recent charm offensive is simply to kick up enough dirt to force a “draw.”  That is, he wants to politicize the torture debate as much as possible — to transform a profound debate about our country’s values into just another everyday Republican/Democratic partisan squabble that makes people throw up their hands and despair of knowing “the truth.”

If you’ve noticed, Cheney tends to pop up in the aftermath of damning evidence.  We just (re)learned, for instance, that our CIA agents murdered detainees, choked them, and threatened to rape their wives.  Normally, you would think these revelations would give pause to even the most ardent Cheney supporters.

But then Cheney comes along, and tries to reframe the whole story.  His intended audience isn’t the nation as a whole, but conservatives.  He wants to make sure that they view these stories through partisan-tinted lenses.

Sure Cheney’s media parades are about tossing some red meat to the modern Romans with their thirst for a good bloody show, but its also about shifting the debate i.e. even if torture is illegal, immoral and counter productive it works or at least shows them we’re tough. Their evil makes our evil  as all-American as mom and apple pie.

Not all of course, but some Conservatives in Texas have been taking one too many hits off the Tea Bong, Right-Wing Extremists Protest Health Care Reform: “We Hate the United States!”. As you watch the video you can hear one of the ever so rational and patriotic protesters call for a “bloody war”.


The National Review and Wall Street Journal Continue to Lie About Bush Era Torture

Blue Skies White Lighthouse wallpaper

Either Peter Kirsanow and the National Review did not read the CIA’s inspector General 2004 report about torture or simply wrote a column trying to shift attention yet once again to what Speaker Pelosi was or was not briefed on, without bothering to read the report at all. Pelosi vs. the CIA : Who Lied?

(Pelosi went on to say that the CIA lies to Congress “all the time”). According to the IG report, the agency briefed the Congressional Intelligence Oversight Committees — that includes Speaker Pelosi — in the fall of 2002, as well as in February and March of 2003, and continued to do so thereafter.

The IG report states that none of the congressional participants — that includes Speaker Pelosi — expressed any concerns about the EITs or the program itself.

There is nothing, nada, zero in the IG report that says the CIA told what would then have been Congresswoman Pelosi that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times. One cannot help but ask about the obvious omission from the National Review of the passage where it says that Pelosi knew about that episode. Why didn’t Kirsanow produce a quote or scene shot of the pdf that proves once and for all that Pelosi knew the details about hanging detainees by their arms or locking them in small boxes or murdering them. Here Kirsanow has the opportunity to lay out the smoking gun evidnce, but instead simply points to an editorial with a longer and rambling version of the national Reviews unsupported claims at the WSJ, The Real CIA News

“In the fall of 2002, the Agency briefed the leadership of the Congressional Intelligence Oversight Committees on the use of both standard techniques and EITs. . . . Representatives . . . continued to brief the leadership of the Intelligence Oversight Committees on the use of EITs and detentions in February and March 2003. The [CIA] General Counsel says that none of the participants expressed any concern about the techniques or the Program . . .” Ditto in September 2003.

Of course the CIA claims in this report they informed Congress, only current CIA director Leon Penatta has made it crystal clear that the CIA misled Congress, Panetta Admits CIA Misled Congress on “Significant Actions”

CIA Director Leon Panetta told the House Intelligence Committee that the agency had misled and “concealed significant actions from all members of Congress” dating back to 2001 and continuing until late June (2009), according to a letter from seven Democrats on the panel.

The letter was dated June 26, two days after Panetta appeared before a closed door session with the committee and it asked that the CIA chief “correct” his statement from May 15 that “it is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress.”

“Recently you testified that you have determined that top CIA officials have concealed significant actions from all members of Congress, and misled members for a number of years from 2001 to this week,” states the letter to Panetta from Anna G. Eshoo of California, Alcee L. Hastings of Florida, Rush D. Holt of New Jersey, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Adam Smith of Washington, Mike Thompson of California and John F. Tierney of Massachusetts.

Kirsanow uses some scare quotes in, Pelosi went on to say that the CIA lies to Congress “all the time”. How we’re all supposed to be shocked that a member of Congress or anyone would say the CIA lies, but just as when Pelosi made that remark back in May of 2009 we all know that for years Conservatives frequently asserted the CIA lied all the time. In fact the National Review wrote,

The reasons for Porter Goss’s abrupt departure as CIA director are shrouded in mystery. But its effect is not. It gives the impression that there has been a coup by the CIA insiders who have waged a covert policy war against the Bush administration for five years. The White House must act quickly to correct the impression that the renegades have won.

[ ]..During the Bush presidency, however, the agency has not been content with subtly pushing its own agenda while underperforming its nominal mission. It has run amok. In fact, it worked assiduously—though unsuccessfully—to depose the administration in the 2004 election, and since then has continued brazenly undermining Bush’s foreign policy.

Conservatives were not just accusing the CIA of being a bunch of liars they were accusing the entire organization of being a treasonous fifth column. As usual when the fringe Right condemns someone or some organization they are absolutely correct, except a few months later they do a 180, they’re also correct once again. Its a very malleable kind of truth that seems to apply ever so conveniently to whatever they feel it should mean depending on which way the political winds are blowing. More on conservatives calling the CIA a bunch of liars here. The CIA IG Report’s “Other” Contents

This is not to say that the interrogation program has worked perfectly. According to the IG Report, the CIA, at least initially, could not always distinguish detainees who had information but were successfully resisting interrogation from those who did not actually have the information. See IG report at 83-85. On at least one occasion, this may have resulted in what might be deemed in retrospect to have been the unnecessary use of enhanced techniques. On that occasion, although the on-scene interrogation team judged Zubaydah to be compliant, elements with CIA Headquarters still believed he was withholding information. [Redaction of more than one full line] See id, at 84. At the direction of CIA Headquarters interrogators, therefore used the waterboard one more time on Zubaydah. [Redaction of ~3/4 of a line] See id, at 84-85.

This example, however, does not show CIA “conduct [that is] intended to injure in some way unjustifiable by any government interest,” or “deliberate indifference” to the possibility of such unjustifiable injure. Lewis, 523 U.S. at 849. As long as the CIA reasonably believed that Zubaydah continued to withhold sufficiently important information, use of the waterboard was supported by the Government’s interest in protecting the Nation from subsequent terrorist attacks. The existence of a reasonable, good faith belief is not negated because the factual predicates for that belief are subsequently determined to be false. Moreover, in the Zubaydah example, CIA Headquarters dispatched officials to observe the last waterboard session. These officials reported that enhanced techniques were no longer needed. See IG Report at 85. Thus the CIA did not simply rely on what appeared to be credible intelligence but rather ceased using enhanced techniques despite this intelligence.

If the CIA was conflicted on what was done, when and how effective torture was then how could they have given one member of the Intel Committee the truth. Conservatives tried this slight of hand four months ago with the grotesque assertion that it was not important that Bush and Cheney broke laws forbidding torture. Nor was it important that John Yoo and David Addington gave the Bush administration outlandish legal arguments to cover then respective asses. No what’s important is whether one Democratic member of a committee chaired by Conservatives is what is important. While its true that an old dog can learn new tricks, the same cannot be said of Republicans.

Black and White Wood Snag Monument Valley wallpaper

Black and White Wood Snag Monument Valley wallpaper

When George W. Bush once said, “See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda,” he was not being facetious, he might as well have been reciting from the Conservative playbook. Its kind of unfortunate that many Conservatives are not simply lying. Lies can be countered with facts. Fighting the phenomenon where Conservatives have embraced those lies as deeply held convictions is an issue that ranges outside the range of normal discourse. Karl Rove is simply a tiresome liar, while anti-health  advocate Betsy McCaughey. The anti-health adjective is not a typo. McCaughey is a staunch advocate of social darwinism. Your health and that of your family should be inexorably tied to your income which should be tied to large corporate insurers. Your life should fellow its course, cruel or good, for better or worse. If you lose your job, lose your health-care, tough luck. Cannot afford care or the insurance companies denies benefits, tough luck. There will be none of this citizens joining together to help each other with, besides food, one of the most essential ingredients in the quality of your life, health-care. Karl and Betsy plead that you not look at Medicare or health-care for the military ( if they do its to focus on the occasional screw-up. If humans are involved those are going to happen). The media, and the Wall Street Journal is certainly the media serves up a double dose of health-care bull fromthe career fabricators, Karl and Betsy, The Wall Street Journal today serves up two conservative attacks on President Obama’s health care effort.

What Mr. Rove doesn’t say is that a reason the Obama adiministration “hates” Medicare Advantage is that it costs the federal government a lot more money than plain-old Medicare. Private insurers receive federal subsidies to offer Medicare Advantage as an alternative to regular government-run Medicare. Studies have shown that Medicare Advantage costs the government about 13 percent more per patient than providing Medicare benefits directly to the public.

The administration does not hate the gold plated Medicare Advantage. Those people will simply get regular Medicare and the Advantage program, which has turned into a form of corporate welfare( the kind that pigs at the trough Republicans such as Rove love) will end as we know it. No one will be dropped and those that want gold plated coverage will be able to buy it.

Among the evidence Ms. McCaughey offers in her piece is a 1996 article Dr. Emanuel published in a bioethics journal, in which he wrote that as society considers which medical procedures it can afford to provide, it may need to set limits. “An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia,” Dr. Emanuel wrote, in what has become a favorite gotcha quote for those in the McCaughey camp.

Another perspective on Dr. Emanuel’s viewpoints was presented in this profile in The New York Times on Monday, in which he addressed that infamous quote, saying he meant to describe a consensus held by others — not his personal view:

“Maybe if I had been a smarter, more careful thinker about how people could interpret it, I would have qualified it and condemned it more robustly,” he said. “In my 1.2, 1.3 million written words, you can’t find another sentence that even comes close to advocating that in my voice. When I advocate, I’m not shy.”

Dr. Emanuel is in addition to being a doctor, an ethicist. Ethicists discuss ethics and he discusses them in the context of his profession. There is nothing in any Congressional draft containing language that would allow the government to end someone’s life because it would be too expensive to continue treatment. Insurance companies and hospitals sentence people to death. That’s a fact. Its inconvenient for Betsy and Sarah Palin among others to admit because they would have to admit they either do not understand the issue or they’re serial liars or just plain bonkers. Those hoping for an honest health-care debate can uncross their fingers, conservatives have been constitutionally incapable of honest debate since the fringe right took over the Republican party in the early sixties.

Its funny how the guy in the picture below is treated as a reasonable protester by the media for asserting some thing is clearly untrue, to normal earthlings anyway, but those that were a little upset that Bush lied over 4000 Americans to their death were considered the fringe,

Conservative tea smoker
Conservative tea smoker

Media: Angry right-wingers are important; angry libs are annoying

I guess Howard Dean was just ahead of his time.

When the liberal anti-war candidate ran for the White House in 2003 and 2004, the Beltway press was uniformly clear that Dean had an “anger” issue. When Dean launched his campaign and gave voice to the hundreds of thousands of activists who had marched and protested against the Iraq war, the media elites did not approve.

[  ]…But oh my, how times have changed! Suddenly this summer, as right-wing mini-mobs turn health care forums into free-for-alls, as unhinged political rage flows in the streets, and as the Nazi and Hitler rhetoric flies, anger is in. Suddenly anger is good. It’s authentic. It’s newsworthy. Reading and watching the mini-mob news coverage, the media message seems clear: Angry speaks to the masses.

Instead of being turned off by the displays of passion the way they had been when liberal protesters took to the streets prior to the Iraq war, media elites have been touting the mini-mob trend as a “phenomenon” (USA Today) staffed by a “citizen army” (Bloomberg News).

The media cannot look back and acknowledge that Dr. Howard Dean was right or that Cindy Sheehan and 100,000 anti-Iraq war protesters were right because they would then be acknowledging that many in the press were duplicitous in catapulting those Bush lies or simply didn’t care enough to make an issue of them.

CIA Documents Fail To Support Cheney’s Claim

Spencer Ackerman has former VP Cheney’s statement about torture and the claim ( made in 2005) that certain CIA documents would reveal that torture saved the U.S. from further terror attacks,

“I haven’t talked about it, but I know specifically of reports that I read, that I saw, that lay out what we learned through the interrogation process and what the consequences were for the country,” Cheney said. “I’ve now formally asked the CIA to take steps to declassify those memos so we can lay them out there and the American people have a chance to see what we obtained and what we learned and how good the intelligence was.”

The “interrogation process” referred has been known for decades as torture. There is no doubt that questioning suspects yielded information. If anyone argued against questioning suspects it was someone made of pure straw. The issue, as Cheney well knows, is whether torture was required to get good and actionable intel. The documents recently released by the CIA in no way give credence to Cheney’s claim that torture saved us all. Five Important Revelations From The CIA Inspector General Report

4. The CIA IG concluded that while high-value detainees did produce valuable intelligence, the measurement of the effectiveness of harsh interrogation techniques “is a more subjective process and not without some concern.” The CIA lists four reasons for this muddled view. First, “the Agency cannot determine with any certainty the totality of the intelligence the detainee actually possesses.” Second, “each detainee has different fears of and tolereace for” harsh techniques. Third, “the application of the same” harsh technique “by different interrogators may have different results.” The fourth reason that the effectiveness of harsh techniques could not be known objectively remains classified, and was redacted from the released document.

Let’s entertain for a moment the possibility that some actionable intel was obtained by torture and is buried under the redact. There is no proof that Dick Cheney seems able to supply that will support his claims and those of his kowtowing apologists that torture, a clear violation of established law, was the one and only  way to get suspects to talk. What every American should be made to learn about the IG Torture Report

(2) As I wrote rather clearly, numerous detainees died in U.S. custody, often as a direct result of our “interrogation methods.”  Those who doubt that can read the details here and here.  Those claiming there was no physical harm are simply lying — death qualifies as “physical harm” — and those who oppose prosecutions are advocating that the people responsible literally be allowed to get away with murder.

Dick Cheney gets up every morning and uses a fire before putting on his pants. That’s a given that no doublespeak from from the Weakly Standard or conservative pundits can bury. All the conservative faux outrage and sniveling is probably unnecessary. As much as Dick and George should be sharing a cell with Bernie Madoff ( an amateur conman compared to Dick and George) it looks as though the DOJ investigation will be limited to low level operatives, The Center for Constitutional Rights has issued a statement blasting the AG

Responsibility for the torture program cannot be laid at the feet of a few low-level operatives. Some agents in the field may have gone further than the limits so ghoulishly laid out by the lawyers who twisted the law to create legal cover for the program, but it is the lawyers and the officials who oversaw and approved the program who must be investigated.

The Attorney General must appoint an independent special prosecutor with a full mandate to investigate those responsible for torture and war crimes, especially the high ranking officials who designed, justified and orchestrated the torture program. We call on the Obama administration not to tie a prosecutor’s hands but to let the investigation go as far up the chain of command as the facts lead. We must send a clear message to the rest of the world, to future officials, and to the victims of torture that justice will be served and that the rule of law has been restored.

Cheney is on record as having approved of the use of EITs. Cheney Told CIA To Hide Program From Congress

Former Vice President Dick Cheney directed the CIA eight years ago not to inform Congress about a nascent counterterrorism program that CIA Director Leon Panetta terminated in June, officials with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday.

[   ]…Cheney played a central role in overseeing the Bush administration’s surveillance program that was the subject of an inspectors general report this past week. That report noted that Cheney’s chief of staff, David Addington, personally decided who in Bush’s inner circle could even know about the secret program.

I wonder if Cheney and apologists will be playing another round of let’s blame Speaker Pelosi. These are the very same people that think America should trust them when they talk about health-care.

In the Reality Based Community Health-Care Reform is Constitutional

Once in a while I over estimate conservatives. Even in the official party of hate for science and reason Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) represents such a low point, especially for a citizen over the age of 10 and a Congressional Representative, that I didn’t think her bizarre claim that health-care reform with the public option would be unconstitutional would get much traction. Then we had Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) make the same claim. If it was required that Congress representative-elects take a quiz on the Constitution before they’re allowed to take office  Michele and Virginia would be out of work ( work that happens to provide the highly subsidized health-care they claim is unconstitutional). Article I

Section 8. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes..

Now we have some some conservative legal minds echoing Michele and Virginia only they’re marginally more clever,

The otherwise uninsured would be required to buy coverage, not because they were even tangentially engaged in the “production, distribution or consumption of commodities,” but for no other reason than that people without health insurance exist. The federal government does not have the power to regulate Americans simply because they are there.

Balkinization notes,

This sounds to me like a claim that the number of people who buy health insurance affects the ability of private insurance companies to sell health insurance at a profit. So again, why is it that failure to purchase health insurance does not affect interstate commerce?

Hey, David, Lee, let’s debate this one. In public. It would be fun. Really, it would. I’d love to defend the proposition that the New Deal is constitutional with you.

Rivkin and Casey are going to have to undue a lot of case law which has held up under numerous challenges to New Deal legislation  such as Social Security, and the building and regulation of interstate highways ( Rivkin and Casey rest much of their argument on case law from 1918 and 1919). At the Foxx link Thinkprogress notes that given the chance to kill Medicare, conservative voted against it. Conservatism is a barely breathing corpse thriving on the hopped up BS of corporate fueled astroturf and Timothy McVeigh-lites. One easy way for Conservatives to pull the plug on what remains of their party is to advance legal arguments that would do away with medical care for the elderly and disabled. Tommothy Noah deserves credit for being ahead of the curve. He wrote on August 4, An inquiry into health reform’s constitutionality

Urbanowicz and Smith next reach for that perennial conservative favorite, the Fifth Amendment’s takings clause, which says the government may not take property from a citizen without just compensation. “Requiring a citizen to devote a percent of his or her income for a purpose for which he or she otherwise might not choose based on individual circumstances,” Urbanowicz and Smith write, “could be considered an arbitrary and capricious ‘taking.’ …”

But according to Akhil Reed Amar, who teaches constitutional law at Yale, the case law does not support Urbanowicz and Smith. “A taking is paradigmatically singling out an individual,” Amar explains. The individual mandate (despite its name) applies to everybody. Also, “takings are paradigmatically about real property. They’re about things.” The individual mandate requires citizens to fork over not their houses or their automobiles but their money. Finally, Amar points out, the individual mandate does not result in the state taking something without providing compensation. The health insurance that citizens must purchase is compensation.

Many conservatives have used this argument against Social Security for years. Social Security is not a retirement investment plan, its a form of insurance. We’re required to pay the taxes, but they’re returned to us as retirement or death benefits – merchants also benefit from spending of those benefits. The additional people insured by health-care reform would not be the only ones to receive benefits. Speaking of the commerce clause; doctors, hospitals, nurses, medical supply and pharmaceutical companies would also benefit.

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Vivid Autumn Leaves wallpaper

Vivid Autumn Leaves wallpaper

Mike Madden at Salon recently wrote one of the best knock downs of conservative falsehoods about health-care reform – Five right-wing myths about health-care reform, and the facts. He’s back with The “death panels” are already here, Sorry, Sarah Palin — rationing of care? Private companies are already doing it, with sometimes fatal results

Reilling thinks she knows the reason for the cutoff, though — she was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2008. That kicked off a year-long battle with Anthem. First the company refused to pay for an MRI to locate the tumors, saying her family medical history didn’t indicate she was likely to have cancer. Eventually, it approved the MRI, but only after she’d undergone an additional, painful biopsy. Her doctor removed both of her breasts in April 2008. In December, she went in for reconstructive plastic surgery — and contracted a case of MRSA, an invasive infection. In January of this year, Reilling underwent two more surgeries to deal with the MRSA infection, and she’s likely to require another operation to help fix all the damage. The monthly bill for her prescription medicines — which she says are mostly generics — is $2,000; the doctors treating her for the MRSA infection want $280 for each appointment, now that she’s lost her insurance coverage. When she appealed the decision to cancel her policy, asking if she could keep paying the premium and continue coverage until her current course of treatment ends, the insurers wrote back with yet another denial. But they did say they hoped her health improved.

If we leave out the specifics everyone across the political spectrum has issues with “the government”. Yet we just had eight years in which conservatives acted like genuflecting stooges for everything the government did, see here and here. If anyone suggested that Bush’s surveillance program might have gone a little too far, besides violating the 4th Amendment and FISA, you were a terrorist. For all the incompetence, corruption, lies and abuse of power during those years, in which it seemed that government could not do anything right, two liberal government programs just kept on going as well as ever, Social Security and Medicare. We had an out of control presidency, a Congress that acted like a rubber stamp for any disastrous policy or criminal activity that Bush/Cheney engaged in. People still got their checks from Medicare. History has proved that good programs enacted for the common good do work, even with a cadre of incompetents and arrogant elitists in charge . Those social programs are not the slippery slope to fascism or socialism. One consistent aspect of American life, regardless of the party in power has been the greed and corruption of America’s corporate culture. Cigna executive whistle-blower spills the beans

In June 2007, Wendell Potter was head of corporate communications at Cigna, one of the largest health insurance companies in America, when he attended the U.S. premier of Michael Moore’s Sicko. Potter was part of the team charged with discrediting Moore’s film, which advance word said was highly critical of the health insurance industry. Potter “sat quietly in the back and took notes,” but soon realized he had a problem. “When I saw the movie, I’ll be honest: I thought it was a real good documentary. I knew from my own studies of other healthcare systems that it was an accurate portrayal of those systems and how they are able to provide universal coverage.” Yet he was being paid by Cigna to tell people the opposite, that the film was full of lies.

[  ]…Guernica: So in other words, corporate bureaucrats have a profit incentive to deny care to people who are enrolled in their plans.

Wendell Potter: Absolutely. It doesn’t have to be stated directly to them that you will be paid a particular bonus if you deny X number of claims; it’s known, and it’s part of the culture.

The Hysteria Over Health-Care Reform Continues

Snow Dusted Winter Tree wallpaper

Amazing how little the distortions and hysterics have changed in 75 years, Conservative media push 75-year-old “socialized medicine” smear against health care reform

Progressive reform is not socialized medicine. The Urban Institute wrote in an April 2008 analysis that “socialized medicine involves government financing and direct provision of health care services,” and explained that recent progressive health care reform proposals do not “fit this description.” The analysis also noted, “Similar rhetoric was used to defeat national health care reform proposals in the 1990s and, with less success, to argue against the creation of Medicare in the 1960s.”

Obama has not proposed socialized medicine, single payer, or nationalized health care. As PolitiFact.com noted in a March 5 post, “Obama’s plan leaves in place the private health care system, but seeks to expand it to the uninsured,” and “the plan is very different from some European-style health systems where the government owns health clinics and employs doctors.”

At least part of President Obama and Democrats poll problems are not about health-care, but the thick cloud of smog emitted by conservative blowhards. The comparisons to Nazis and socialists by opponents of progress were, as always tiresome, so congradulations to Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) for being a little inventive, Sen. Jim DeMint says America ‘headed’ to becoming like Iran.

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

Its strange that DeMint is worried that the U.S. would become an authoritarian theocracy like Iran. DeMint is associated with C-Street and The Fellowship. They dance around the language, but their goal is to establish a theocratic authoritarian government for the U.S. DeMint is a U.S. senator, not a right-wing conservative gadfly and he’s calling President Obama a Nazi. Coming from Demint that might be a backhanded compliment since The Fellowship admired Hitler,

Sometimes referring to themselves in jest as the “Christian Mafia,” Sharlet says, Fellowship members didn’t seem to understand why he was concerned that Coe referenced such historical figures as Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Lenin and Chairman Mao in his teachings.

“Hitler’s genocide wasn’t really an issue for them,” says Sharlet. “It was the strength that he emulated.”

DeMint has also has extraordinary powers of denial. Germany is thought to have one of the best public health-care systems in the world and they’re our allies. Our Canadian neighbors have a single-payer plan and are hardly on the verge of becoming the new Reich.

In 1935 from the American Medical Association,

* The New York Times reported in a February 16, 1935, article (purchase required), “Doctors Meet on ‘Peril’ in Security Plans; Illness Insurance Moves Stir Profession,” that the AMA called a “special meeting” of its house of delegates due to “what some medical men have pronounced the most critical situation in the history of American medicine, brought about by President Roosevelt’s social security program, and particularly by proposals of his advisers for compulsory insurance against the costs of sickness.” The Times reported that the AMA asserted that “sickness-insurance plans … are a step toward socialized medicine.”

Many conservatives still consider Social Security evil.

Conservatives, the Hysterical Style and Health-care

In between hysterical accusations aimed at our deeply centrist president, one of the right’s newest hobbies is trying to scare America’s seniors to death. CBS News decided to help out with this hacktacular piece of  garbage, Thousands Quit AARP Over Health Reform

Letters were filled with cut-up AARP cards.

“I think that probably the seniors are most upset with cuts in Medicare,” said ASA President Stuart Barton.

The American Seniors Association is flat-out against President Obama’s plan, which calls for $313 billion dollars in Medicare cuts over ten years. The AARP is widely viewed as supporting the President.

Last week, Obama told a town meeting in Portsmouth, NH, “We have the AARP on board because they know this is a good deal for our seniors.”

The AARP called the President’s statements “inaccurate,” saying it hasn’t endorsed any plan or bill.

Some were left with the feeling that AARP was waffling.

“I feel they’re supporting it through the backdoor, and telling members that they’re not through the front door,” said Guardiani.

“AARP has not endorsed any plan at this point,” said Cheryl Matheis, AARP VP for Social Impact.

AARP’s monthly membership rolls will compensate for for a few thousand people that have bought into the scare stories over cutting Medicare. American Seniors Association is yet another piece of conservative astroturf. CBS News Slams AARP, Promotes Right-Wing ASA Instead

A little digging into Stuart Barton’s 60,000 member American Seniors Association would have made that clear. Founded in 2005 by Barton’s father Jerry as the National Association for Senior Concerns (NASCON), the group targeted the “radical agenda” of the AARP. Topping its program is Social Security privatization, hard-line opposition to immigration reform, and an overhaul of Medicare, which Barton deemed “the most abused and wasteful of all federal programs that could be bankrupt even before Social Security.”

Nothing like telling cruel and stupid lies to get people to panic. If the ASA revealed its real agenda of undoing every social safety net that Democrats have created for seniors, children and the disabled it seems unlikely they’d have more then a few radical zealots for members. Perrspectives mentions that quite a few seniors were and still are upset at AARP for supporting the drug benefit deal Bush worked out for the pharmaceutical industry. Obama’s plans for Medicare, public insurance options or co-opts aside, will put Medicare on better financial footing. Something that will benefit all seniors. AARP has not officially endorsed any plan, but they have been among the most gracious and fair minded in listening to the facts. Listening to the facts on health-care reform is enough to get any organization on the Conservative rage machine’s hit list. Media Matters also notes that ASA has connections to the birthers. ASA has pushed the deathers meme so that makes since. Birthers and deathers tend to be the same crowd, News broadcast, or infomercial?

And is the Elaine Guardiani who is “extremely disappointed in the AARP” the same Elaine Guardiani who wrote this about Barack Obama last in March of 2008? –

I think the church DOES represent Obama’s views. He was raised as a moslem then a perported christian ( although do not believe this). this church represents radical racial and hateful views and emulates moslem thinking. He could not be a member for 20 years without knowing about these inflammatory views and by his presence, he condones those views and espouses to them. As President of the United States, he cannot simply care about black people but must care about all people. Too many blacks think of themselves as a separate America. Do we want such views in the white house?
I think not!

Guardiani’s view is in lock step with the view of many conservatives. Ironic in that many Democrats are beginning to think that President Obama’s major fault is that he is too nice and tries too hard to be bipartisan. Analysis: Liberals tired of health care compromise

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?

Why try to please Conservative Senators that are not that much more rational then ASA. In the last few days there has been some buzz about dropping or not dropping the public option. We didn’t see Republicans cheer, we just saw more determination to stop any and all health-care reform that is initiated by Democrats in the House or President Obama. If it is true that Obama is afraid of alienating Republicans, someone needs to tell him that ship has sailed.

Its really unfair to say that Conservatives do not stand up for freedom. Sure no lie is obscene enough, no insult coarse and no tactic sleazy enough to prevent average working Americans from joining together to get most Americans some kind of decent insurance. They also obviously enjoy the freedom of scaring the elderly and disabled. Most of all they also enjoy the freedom to be hateful and crazy, AZ Gun-Toters Tied to Violent 90s Era Militia, Woman Shouts “Heil Hitler!” At Jewish Man Praising Israel’s National Health System (VIDEO) and Barney Frank Confronts Woman At Town Hall Comparing Obama To Hitler.

It will cause a lot of unnecessary suffering to millions of Americans, but if conservatives are successful in stopping health-care reform then its still a win for Democrats, for liberals in particular. Health-care costs are not going to stop growing at twice the rate of inflation. Millions of Americans are not suddenly going to find great insurance plans and preventative health-care. The spiral will continue downward. Who stood in the way of innovation, progress and the moral imperative of health-care for the working Americans that make so much of this nation’s wealth possible? Conservatives, health-care corporate lobbyists, astroturf like Freedomworks and ASA. Just as liberals can look back and say we told you so about that $3 trillion dollar debacle in Iraq, those tax cuts that went mostly to the top ten percent income bracket and regulating Wall St, liberals will just have another we told you so moment. Its 2009, yet in most ways its just like 1964. There are enough people addicted to the crazy and paranoid that no matter now far or often they push America into the ditch, they’ll keep doing it because that’s what addicts do. They repeat the same destructive behavior over and over, The Paranoid Style in American Politics, By Richard Hofstadter, Harper’s Magazine, November 1964, pp. 77-86.

American politics has often been an arena for angry minds. In recent years we have seen angry minds at work mainly among extreme right-wingers, who have now demonstrated in the Goldwater movement how much political leverage can be got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority. But behind this I believe there is a style of mind that is far from new and that is not necessarily right-wind. I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind. In using the expression “paranoid style” I am not speaking in a clinical sense, but borrowing a clinical term for other purposes. I have neither the competence nor the desire to classify any figures of the past or present as certifiable lunatics., In fact, the idea of the paranoid style as a force in politics would have little contemporary relevance or historical value if it were applied only to men with profoundly disturbed minds. It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomenon significant.

Of course this term is pejorative, and it is meant to be; the paranoid style has a greater affinity for bad causes than good. But nothing really prevents a sound program or demand from being advocated in the paranoid style. Style has more to do with the way in which ideas are believed than with the truth or falsity of their content. I am interested here in getting at our political psychology through our political rhetoric. The paranoid style is an old and recurrent phenomenon in our public life which has been frequently linked with movements of suspicious discontent.

Color Black and White watch wallpaper

Color Black and White watch wallpaper

Froma couple days ago, but has some insights into how lazy the media in general is being about the proposed health-care reform, Governor Palin’s Crazed Health Care Rant Blame the Washington Post

Using Governor Palin’s story, there may be mothers who are less wealthy than her who will be able to care for a baby with Down Syndrome or other serious affliction as a result of President Obama’s plan. These mothers might not otherwise have this option because they could not afford the health care. It is easy to see how President Obama’s plan can lead to life compared with the current situation. It’s virtually impossible to see how it leads to death.

The media have allowed the politicians to turn life into death and night into day when it comes to the health care debate because they decided that anything said against President Obama’s plan should be treated with respect, no matter how absurd it might be.

The line about rationing isn’t the only place where the media have fallen down on the job in the health care debate. Instead of telling us that the cost of the plan was “huge,” as the have often done, the media could have put the cost in a context that would make it understandable to people who are not policy wonks. They could have told us that the projected $1 trillion cost over the next decade is equal to about 0.5 percent of GDP, less than half of the cost of Iraq-Afghanistan wars at their peak.

There either is a death panel or there is not. There is either rationing health-care or there is not. Not all, but for the most part the media wants to write up every story about health-care reform as a he said she said piece. He said the moon revolves around the earth while she said the earth revolves around the moon. We’re not talking about a difference of opinion in any of these situations, there were not any death panels any draft of the legislation, there is no health-care rationing ( though health-care is currently rationed in a couple ways) and the moon revolves around the earth.

Yet another lists of Republican myths about health-care here. The myths are like some kind of mold that spread when you turn out the lights. Astroturfing or whatever it is, it is amazing how the tea smokers at the townhalls parrot these talking points.

Those allegded “death panels” were a great idea and Republicans supported them when they were in the majority and Bush was their infallible king, Oh, Those Death Panels

You would think that if Republicans wanted to totally mischaracterize a health care provision and demagogue it like nobody’s business, they would at least pick something that the vast majority of them hadn’t already voted for just a few years earlier. Because that’s not just shameless, it’s stupid.

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

Let’s go to the bill text, shall we? “The covered services are: evaluating the beneficiary’s need for pain and symptom management, including the individual’s need for hospice care; counseling the beneficiary with respect to end-of-life issues and care options, and advising the beneficiary regarding advanced care planning.” The only difference between the 2003 provision and the infamous Section 1233 that threatens the very future and moral sanctity of the Republic is that the first applied only to terminally ill patients. Section 1233 would expand funding so that people could voluntarily receive counseling before they become terminally ill.

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

Republicans have lied for years about everything from socialists plots to WMD. If they had decided to have an honest debate about health-care reform a few liberals would have probably keeled over from heart attacks. Which would have made right-wing nut Micheal Reagan happy.

Glenn Beck thought America had an awful health-care system which he was going to expose when he was ill, A Tale of Two American Health Care Systems, by Glenn Beck

But a year and a half ago, after a routine surgery in the anal region, Mr. Beck experienced what he then described as a “personal voyage through the nightmare that is our health care system.”

Another gem from the post-op Beck: “Getting well in this country (again, he’s referring to the U.S.) could actually almost kill you.”

The poor victim of America’s health-care system is on video here. Those that have an allergy to rich right-wing pundits whining might want to skip it.

All Republicans are kind thoughtful people that feed the doves that land on their already heavily burdened shoulders, except for the ones that are not, New Jersey Man Was Arrested After Writing That 3 Judges ‘Deserve to Be Killed’

Internet radio host Hal Turner disliked how three federal judges rejected the National Rifle Association’s attempt to overturn a pair of handgun bans.

“Let me be the first to say this plainly: These Judges deserve to be killed,” Turner wrote on his blog on June 2, according to the FBI. “Their blood will replenish the tree of liberty. A small price to pay to assure freedom for millions.”

The next day, Turner posted photographs of the appellate judges and a map showing the Chicago courthouse where they work, noting the placement of “anti-truck bomb barriers.” When an FBI agent appeared at the door of his New Jersey home, Turner said he meant no harm.

That tree of liberty crap was also on Timothy McVeigh’s t-shirt when he planted the bomb in the Oklahoma City bombing.

Day with a typical tea smoker