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Health Care and the Free Market

Health Care and the Free Market
By David Kendall | ThePeoplesVoice

"With millions unemployed, and health care costs rising through the roof, and the only answer ever given to unemployment is 'go back to school', why are there still so few medical schools that 1/3 of our doctors are imported and Americans who want to be doctors frequently have to resort to joining the military in order to be trained? We should have a doctor on every corner, competing with each other." [1]

The above quotation is an excerpt from a recent article regarding the economics of health care reform. My aim here is not to dispute those views but to expand upon them. The article cited above makes some key points regarding what economists call "perfect competition", specifically "many buyers and sellers" and "freedom of entry and exit". In addition to all the screaming and yelling about moral and ethical issues, if the American people would approach the health care debate from a truly "free-market" economic perspective, there probably wouldn't be anything left to "debate". According to the Office of Health Economics in London:

"An efficient free market requires producers to be operating under conditions of perfect competition. This requires a stringent set of conditions - perfect information, many buyers and sellers, a uniform product and freedom of entry and exit - which ensure that firms are price takers, producing for the lowest possible cost in the long run and only earning normal profits." [2]

In health care, not only is the number of sellers deliberately and artificially restricted (manipulated), but the number of buyers is uncontrolled and virtually infinite. Moreover, the ever-increasing number of buyers have no "freedom of exit" from health care, as everyone is forced to engage at some point in their lives: "You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave", (Hotel California, The Eagles). These factors along with extreme asymmetry of information, the monopoly power of hospitals, and the inherently non-uniform (customized, personalized) nature of health care are clear violations of the "perfect competition" requirements of any "free market". Read more.

Obama Swiftboats Van Jones

By Linda Milazzo

I was out last evening. I tried to escape, just for a while, back to the days of (Taking) Woodstock when we who worked to end the Vietnam war did so as a united, free-spirited force. I readily admit that in today's times of racism disguised as patriotism, religious perversion, rampant ignorance, unhinged media menaces, and growing hostility amongst Americans, I yearn for that long ago era of 'peace and love.'

Enroute home after my wistful evening, I glanced at my phone and saw a Washington Post alert saying Obama's Green Jobs appointee, Van Jones, had resigned. I was shocked. I knew Jones was being assaulted by the right, but I didn't think he'd resign, and I didn't think the Obama administration would so readily sacrifice this brilliant advocate for the environment and the poor. After all, Jones is a person in the Obama administration who personifies the term "public servant." For progressives, Van Jones' appointment was, and is, Obama's tour de force gift to America of a high level appointee free of corporate entanglements who cannot and will not be bought. Jones is a man for the people in an administration where for the corporation is the norm.

Health Care - WWJD?

Mr. Zelaya Goes To Washington

The resistance to the military coup in Honduras has entered its 71st straight day of direct action in the streets of that country. Meanwhile, the United States Department of State still has yet to officially declare the events a 'military coup', an identification that would require, under US law, the cutting of all financial aid and diplomatic ties. For this reason and others, Manuel Zelaya came back to Washington to get additional commitments from Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. While Clinton did make some commitments on suspending more visas and not recognizing the upcoming elections in Honduras, the story of the US involvement in resolving the coup is still dominated by the support the US provides to the de facto regime. This was further deepened by the revelation that the International Monetary Fund, itself largely controlled by the US Treasury Department, has allocated $150 million to the coup government. Zelaya spoke to George Washington University about his view of Honduran democracy and why that led to his forced expulsion from his country.

AP Photo of Deadly Attack in Afghanistan That Is Causing Controversy

AP Photo of Deadly Attack in Afghanistan That Is Causing Controversy

The Associated Press is distributing a photo of a Marine fatally wounded in battle, choosing after a period of reflection to make public an image that conveys the grimness of war and the sacrifice of young men and women fighting it. Read more.

US: Gates Sells Afghan Strategy Amid Growing Unease

US: Gates Sells Afghan Strategy Amid Growing Unease
By Stephen Morris | IPS News

U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Michael Mullen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) remained tight-lipped about the contents of a confidential report on the future of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan in a wide-ranging Pentagon briefing on Thursday.

The report, authored by U.S. Afghanistan commander General Stanley McChrystal, is expected to lay the groundwork for a recommendation that President Barack Obama authorise an increase in combat troop numbers to help stabilise the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. McChrystal has previously called the situation on the ground "serious" yet salvageable.

The report is due to be discussed with the president some time next week as a matter of urgency resulting from the growing public dissatisfaction with the conduct and progress of the war.

The press conference, however, offered little illumination on the potential surge in troops, rumoured to be as many as 25,000, as Gates and Mullen evaded reporters' questions probing the actual contents of McChrystal's report.

Gates denied that control of the war was slipping through the administration's fingers while acknowledging indications that U.S. public opinion is fading fast.

Mullen said that the situation necessitated a sense of urgency and that there was "a limited time for us to show this [new] approach is working."

According to a CBS poll this week, 41 percent are now calling for a reduction in troop levels – an eight point rise since April. The number who believe that the U.S. should commit additional troops has correspondingly declined 14 points, leaving only 25 percent who believe a higher commitment is necessary. Read more.

Supreme Court Of Canada To Hear Khadr case

Supreme Court to hear Khadr case
Decision to expedite appeal raises possibility of a hearing during an election campaign
By Tonda MacCharles | The Star

The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear the Conservative government's appeal of orders to seek the return from a Guantanamo prison of 22-year-old Omar Khadr.

In addition, the high court agreed to a federal request to weigh the matter on an expedited basis, setting a date of Nov. 13 and raising the prospect of the court hearing the high-stakes case during a threatened federal election. The Liberals have already raised Khadr's treatment as a reason to reject the Conservative government.

"We feel very strongly that a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian, said Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff in Vancouver. He said the government never should have resisted a "range of court decisions" compelling it to act.

"We find it extraordinary that the Conservative government would take this right up to the Surpeme Court when we're talking about a Canadian citizen," Ignatieff said.

"Canadians have different views about Mr. Khadr's conduct, but that's not the issue. This man is a Canadian citizen. Guantanamo needs to be closed. Canadians believe we should do our part in closing Guantanamo. And why is the Conservative government resisting something that's clearly in Mr. Khadr's interest, and in the interest of global peace and security? Guantanamo's not exactly been a bright star in global human rights." Read more.

Kucinich Condemns NATO Strike in Afghanistan

Kucinich Condemns NATO Strike in Afghanistan | Press Release
Says Command should be Held Responsible

Washington D.C. (September 4, 2009) -- Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), a leading Congressional voice calling for an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq, today released the following statement after media reports that a U.S. airstrike on two stolen fuel transport vehicles left as many as 90 dead, including 40 civilians and a ten-year old child:

“News reports covering today’s attack by the U.S. command southwest of Kunduz province show that the good intentions of NATO forces in Afghanistan are not sufficient. If we want to avoid killing innocent civilians, we must end the war,” said Kucinich

After two fuel tankers were reportedly stolen by Taliban insurgents, a U.S. airstrike was carried out that took the lives of an unknown number of innocent Afghans.

The innocent appear to have been in harm’s way because the Taliban encouraged them to siphon off the fuel in the trucks which were immobilized in mud. The free fuel would be a natural draw to the citizens, given the level of poverty in the area. Corruption plaguing Afghanistan has ensured very little aid gets to Afghans in need.

“The NATO command claims to have checked for civilian presence before authorizing the air strike. When deadly force is used at high altitudes at high speeds, there is an even greater moral responsibility to be absolutely certain that no civilians will become casualties of military action.

"There is little hope for a truly independent investigation because the Karzai Government is compromised and NATO forces are digging in for the long term based on the Administration's policy. The war in Afghanistan is quickly developing into a tragedy of monumental proportions. It is time for the U.S. to end this war and bring our troops home.”

American Monetary Institute 2009 Conference: “We Shall Prevail”

American Monetary Institute 2009 Conference: “We Shall Prevail”
by Richard C. Cook

The world’s most important gathering of monetary reformers takes place each year in Chicago at the American Monetary Institute’s annual conference. This year’s event takes place September 24-27 at Roosevelt University. Chairing the conference is Stephen Zarlenga, AMI director and author of the landmark book “The Lost Science of Money.” For information and the list of speakers, including monetary economist Michael Hudson, see the AMI website. While personal matters will prevent me from appearing on-site, I have sent the following remarks. Segments of my six-part DVD, “Credit as a Public Utility,” will also be shown.

It is not difficult to come up with methods to solve today’s economic crisis through monetary reform. Many of us are doing it. The key, as I have been writing for the past several years, is to treat credit as a public utility, not the private property of the world’s financial elite.

If we truly adhered to this concept, we would be able to see that a debt-based monetary system, where money only comes into existence through bank lending, can succeed only in isolated circumstances when a growth bubble outpaces the ability of the public to pay interest charges for the privilege of having money to spend and thereby to survive.

Grijalva: "Without a Public Option, the Bill Is Not Real Reform"

Grijalva: "Without a Public Option, the Bill Is Not Real Reform"
September 2, 2009, Tucson, AZ

Congressman Raùl M. Grijalva released the following statement today, concerning the Obama Administration making reported calls, to advocacy organizations, stating that they will cease supporting the public option portion of the upcoming health care reform legislation:

“I have grave concerns about calls reportedly being made from the Administration to health care reform advocacy organizations supporting the choice of a public option insurance plan.

“I truly expect the President to live up to the promises he has made to America about real change and that he truly stands for uninsured Americans and working families that need and are demanding a choice of a competitive public option when he addresses Wednesday's joint session of Congress.

“Without a public option, this bill is not real reform. Real reform would lower and contain health care costs, precisely what inclusion of a public option would achieve. Without a robust public option, reform will enrich pharmaceutical and insurance companies because it will lack any significant competition and incentives to drive down health care costs for consumers."

Congressman Grijalva is the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a PDA advisory board member.

###

Under fire, President Obama shifts strategy
By Mike Allen & Jim Vandehei | Politico.com

Aides to President Barack Obama are putting the final touches on a new strategy to help Democrats recover from a brutal August recess by specifying what Obama wants to see in a compromise health care deal and directly confronting other trouble spots, West Wing officials tell POLITICO.

Obama will address a joint session of Congress on health care reform in prime time on Wednesday, Sept. 9, a senior official tells POLITICO, and the president plans to give lawmakers a more specific prescription for health care legislation than he has in the past, aides said.

And although House leaders have said their members will demand the inclusion of a public insurance option, Obama has no plans to insist on it himself, the officials said. Read more.

Erasing Katrina

Erasing Katrina | Fairness in Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)
Four years on, media mostly neglect an ongoing disaster

August 29 marked the fourth anniversary of the day Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. The devastation wrought by both the hurricane itself and the government's inept response prompted remarkably critical corporate media coverage that promised to fight for Katrina survivors and change the way we talk about poverty and race (FAIR Media Advisory, 9/9/05).

As NBC's Brian Williams told the St. Petersburg Times (3/1/06), "If this does not spark a national discussion on class, race, the environment, oil, Iraq, infrastructure and urban planning, I think we've failed." But four years later, corporate media outlets seem to have largely forgotten about Katrina and its survivors, let alone the conversations about race and poverty that were supposed to accompany it.

The Institute for Southern Studies issued a report (8-9/09) in which more than 50 Gulf Coast community leaders graded officials on their response to the ongoing disaster; the Obama administration received a D+, while Congress received a D. (George W. Bush received a D- in an earlier survey.) One million people are still displaced, rebuilding continues at a glacial pace, and the levees being rebuilt have been judged insufficient to protect New Orleans from another Katrina-level flood. Read more.

Portland & Seattle Kickoff Rallies Tuesday 9/8 For Mad As Hell Doctors National Care-A-Van; WH Says Stop Single Payer Letters

Mad As Hell Doctors Tour Starts Tuesday, Sept. 8; White House Requests Single-Payer Letters to Obama To Stop

  • Join us on September 8 in Portland Oregon for a huge rally and kickoff.
    10am in Downtown Portland at Pioneer Courthouse Square Map
    Live music and special guest speakers
  • Join us in Seattle later that day.
    Join the caravan as we ride into Seattle to our big event:
    We'll arrive at St. Francis Hospital between 2:30 and 3pm, and then lead the Care-A-Van into Seattle at 3pm.
    34515 9th Ave S, Federal Way, WA 97205 Map
  • We'll be heading to our event that evening:
    5pm at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center
    104 17th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98114 Map.

See our complete route to Washington, DC.

Our Sequim, Washington event was attended by 700 people! At one point in the evening all 700 stood up and shouted “We’re as Mad As Hell and We’re Not Going to Take This Anymore!” Click here to see footage of the people speaking during the Mad As Hell Minute.

Our National Creative Director Adam Klugman received a call from The White House recently. A staffer asked him to take down the letter of support for our meeting request with the President. Apparently, so many of you have written to the White House that it is clogging up their system. We have their attention, they know what we want, they just haven’t realized how important single payer health care is to the American people. And we won’t settle till we have an appointment with President Obama. If you haven’t sent one, do it today, go here and click on "Letter to Obama" to send one.

Daschle Doesn't Really Give a Damn About Majority Rule

Former senator Daschle argues in the WSJ that the senate should use reconciliation to get a healthcare bill past a filibuster, and should talk about (as opposed to caring about) "majority rule." If Daschle gave a damn about majority rule he would support gathering up 51 senators and ending the filibuster rule. But no, he'd LIKE for representatives of 12 percent of Americans to be able to block some bills in the future, especially if a different party is in charge. And this is a key reason why a different party is likely to be in charge sooner rather than later. Can anybody me one honest reason for keeping the filibuster rule in place but squeezing this one bill past it.

Obama Administration Argues Against Releasing Bush-Era Detainee Information

Obama Administration Argues Against Releasing Bush-Era Detainee Information
By Jake Tapper | ABCNews.com

The Obama administration told a judge late Monday that it will continue to withhold information regarding past detainee policies for national security reasons, a decision assailed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which had been seeking Bush-era documents “including a presidential directive authorizing CIA ‘black sites,’” CIA inspector general records, Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel documents about the CIA's use of "enhanced interrogation techniques.”

In the ACLU’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuits, U.S. District Court Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York had ordered the Obama administration to either turn over various documents pertaining to detainee policies by August 31 or provide justification for withholding them. Read more.

Berkeley Demonstration Against War Criminal Yoo Tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009, Noon-1 PM at Sproul Plaza

More Protest at UC Berkeley: Demonstrators Call Law Professor a War Criminal | Press Release

Event: “Information in Action" (Speak Out Against Torture – Fire John Yoo!)

Where: UC Berkeley, Sproul Plaza

When: Noon to 1 PM, Thursday September 3, 2009

BERKELEY– As debate flares over the newly-released CIA Inspector General’s report from Dick Cheney and the halls of Congress to the radio talk shows, World Can’t Wait has announced another protest at the UC Berkeley campus on Thursday, September 3 to challenge UC’s employment of former Bush administration lawyer John Yoo. World Can’t Wait will be joined by other protesters from religious and progressive organizations; they will again call for Yoo to be fired, disbarred, and prosecuted for war crimes as “the legal architect of the Bush-Cheney torture state.”

The “information in action” event on Sproul Plaza will begin at noon.

In August on the first day of classes at UC Berkeley Law, a press conference and protest drew over 60 people to the steps of Boalt Hall, where Yoo currently teaches Civil Procedures. At that press conference, prominent lawyers and psychologists representing four generations of alumni of UC and its law schools denounced the presence of John Yoo on the UC faculty. [Audio of statements by attorneys Dan Siegel, Anne Weills, Sharon Adams, Ann Fagan Ginger, Marc-Tizon Gonzalez, and psychologist Ruth Fallenbaum can be found here.

David Swanson's DAYBREAK Is Chart-Topping Inspiration

By Linda Milazzo

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It's a GREAT DAY in America when heralds of hate, specifically Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin, are booted from their Amazon best seller slots on DAY ONE of the publication of progressive leader David Swanson's breakthrough tome, DAYBREAK - now at Number One on Amazon's non-fiction best seller list.  From this terrific response to Swanson's new book arises my sincere hope that DAYBREAK attracts a good many of Beck and Malkin's readers, so they, too, will have the opportunity to absorb the depth of information and dedication to solutions that David Swanson offers.

Washington Times EXCLUSIVE: Gonzales Defends Holder's Decision On CIA

Washington Times EXCLUSIVE: Gonzales Defends Holder's Decision On CIA

Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales on Tuesday defended the decision of his current successor, Eric H. Holder Jr., to investigate alleged prisoner abuse by CIA interrogators over President Obama's desire to look forward.

"As chief prosecutor of the United States, he should make the decision on his own, based on the facts, then inform the White House," said Mr. Gonzales, who was appointed to the post by President George W. Bush in 2005 and resigned in 2007.

Mr. Gonzales also said Bush administration lawyers clearly defined what interrogation techniques were legal and the few who went beyond the rules should be investigated, despite the so-called chilling effect it might have on future intelligence-gathering. Read more, hear audio clip.

Government Withholds Key Torture Documents In ACLU Lawsuit

Government Withholds Key Torture Documents In ACLU Lawsuit
CIA Defends Interrogations Tactics And Secrecy
| Press Release | September 1, 2009

NEW YORK – The government has said it will continue to withhold dozens of documents related to the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody overseas. The Justice Department was facing an August 31 deadline to release the documents, including a presidential directive authorizing CIA "black sites" as well as CIA inspector general (IG) records and documents from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) regarding the CIA's use of "enhanced interrogation techniques," in response to two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

U.S. District Court Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York ordered the government to turn over the documents by August 31 or else provide justification for continuing to withhold them. In a filing late Monday, the CIA said it will not release the documents, claiming that disclosing details about the enhanced interrogation program would harm national security.

"The CIA's justification for withholding the documents is entirely incompatible with the Obama administration's stated commitment to ending torture and restoring governmental transparency. On the one hand, President Obama has publicly recognized that torture undermines the rule of law and America's standing in the world, but on the other, the CIA continues to argue in court that it cannot disclose information about its torture techniques because it would jeopardize the CIA's interrogation program," said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project. "The CIA's arguments are utterly disconnected from the Obama administration's stated positions. The agency seems to be disregarding altogether the important policy changes that President Obama announced immediately after he took office."

Iranian Students March Toward Democracy, Freedom and Equality and Neither the Mullahs Nor Ahmadinejad Can Stop Them

IRANIAN STUDENTS MARCH TOWARD DEMOCRACY, FREEDOM AND EQUALITY AND NEITHER THE MULLAH'S NOR AHMADINEJAD CAN STOP THEM
By Dana Jill Simpson

On Saturday, August 29, 2009, the Emory University School of Law and a group of Iranian students in Georgia hosted an event called "Iran 2009 Election Seminar, Precursors, Observations and Consequences." The event started with Abdullah Ahmed Al-Na'im, who is a professor at the university, introducing Shirin Ebadi. All there were told Ms. Ebadi is an Iranian lawyer, human rights activist and founder of the Society for Protecting the Rights of Children and the Defenders of the Human Right Center in Iran. She was also the first female judge in the history of Iran but was removed after the 1979 revolution. In 2003, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts regarding democracy and human rights with a focus on women's, children's and refugee rights. She was the first Iranian to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize. She is known to the students of Iran as Professor Ebadi as she is a law professor at the University of Tehran. As a professor and as a lawyer she is well respected throughout Iran for having spoken out and represented political dissidents, women who are about to be stoned and children who are being executed under current laws in Iran. She is probably the most beloved leader in Iran because she has daringly taken on the government and won on many occasions.

After being introduced, Shirin Ebadi stepped up to the podium. She was small in stature but what caught my eye about her first was she was not wearing a veil, as she would have to do in Iran but instead had her beautiful reddish brown hair coiffed into a beautiful hairstyle. She was wearing a bright yellow suit and she radiated the warmth of a woman who fully knew where she was headed. She softly spoke to the crowd at first and she informed the audience that she was not here to pick a political party but was here for basic human rights. She said, "I hope one day we will all live in a world that has regards for human rights."

PHR Analysis: CIA Health Professionals’ Role in Torture Worse Than Previously Known

PHR Analysis: CIA Health Professionals’ Role in Torture Worse Than Previously Known | Press Release

The extent to which American physicians and psychologists violated human rights and betrayed the ethical standards of their professions by designing, implementing, and legitimizing a worldwide torture program is greater than previously known, according to a report by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR).

A team of PHR doctors authored the new white paper, Aiding Torture: Health Professionals' Ethics and Human Rights Violations Demonstrated in the May 2004 Inspector General's Report. The report details how the CIA relied on medical expertise to rationalize and carry out abusive and unlawful interrogations. It also refers to aggregate collection of data on detainees' reaction to interrogation methods. PHR is concerned that this data collection and analysis may amount to human experimentation and calls for more investigation on this point. If confirmed, the development of a research protocol to assess and refine the use of the waterboard or other techniques would likely constitute a new, previously unknown category of ethical violations committed by CIA physicians and psychologists.

"Medical doctors and psychologists colluded with the CIA to keep observational records about waterboarding, which approaches unethical and unlawful human experimentation," says PHR Medical Advisor and lead report author Scott Allen, MD. For example, "Interrogators would place a cloth over a detainee's face to block breathing and induce feelings of fear, helplessness, and a loss of control. A doctor would stand by to monitor and calibrate this physically and psychologically harmful act, which amounts to torture. It is profoundly unsettling to learn of the central role of health professionals in laying a foundation for US government lawyers to rationalize the CIA's illegal torture program."

"The Dream" Remains a Vision

"The Dream" Remains a Vision
By Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III | Truthout

On August 28, 1963, during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and delivered one of the most famous speeches in world history, "I Have A Dream." What has troubled me over the years is how Dr. King, the visionary, prophet, and revolutionary's vision, action, and ultimate sacrifice have been hijacked, compromised, and relegated to being those of just a dreamer.

Dreamers are safe. People are comfortable with dreamers. Why? To be a dreamer you must be in a restful state, usually asleep. Dreamers are comfortable in that sleep state. Dreamers are docile, easy to manipulate, and non-threatening. To cast Dr. King in the light of a dreamer allows people to be convinced that action resulting from clear vision is not necessary. It allows the oppressed to be fooled into being patient and non-revolutionary; yours will come by-and-by.

We hear those powerful words "I Have a Dream ..." What many fail to realize is that Dr. King was no dreamer. He was a visionary, not some abstract thinker or philosopher. He was a prophet and a true revolutionary. Read more.

Resisting Homophobia in the Military

Resisting Homophobia in the Military
By Dahr Jamail | Truthout

Homophobia arguably manifests itself in the worst form of discrimination in the military, surpassing even racism. Instead of enabling recruits to vanquish their prejudices and strengthening the individual and the collective spirit, all military training seems to be geared toward invoking the darkest elements in human nature - fear, hatred, pettiness, insecurity and similar aberrations. Under normal conditions, such an orientation legitimizes unacceptable behavior; under harsh and hostile conditions, it makes beasts of men. It is immaterial whether one is at the perpetrating end or the receiving end of unjust behavior. Of greater significance is the general air of violence and inequality that gets normalized in the process.

As the occupation of Afghanistan increasingly leads the military to search for more boots on the ground, homosexual soldiers who are beginning to resist the treatment they are receiving in the military are slowly becoming yet another hurdle the overstretched military faces.

As the Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) policy instituted under President Bill Clinton continues, more soldiers are beginning to resist this repressive and discriminatory practice. Many, like New York Army National Guard member Jennifer Hogg, have found it a reason to begin questioning their involvement in the military.

"Being a lesbian on 9/11 is what initially led me to begin to question my involvement in the military and the military's involvement in the world," Hogg explained to Truthout, "If on 9/11, I did not have the freedom to hug my girlfriend goodbye before we left as a unit for NYC, then what freedom was I protecting? What freedom could we offer to the world if we treat it so restrictively based on who a person falls in love with?" Read more.

Who's Paying to Kill Health Care Reform?

If you can't see the whole thing, see it larger online here.

Bad Advice: Bush’s Lawyers in the War on Terror

Bad Advice: Bush’s Lawyers in the War on Terror
by Harold H. Bruff | Reviewed by Stephen F. Rohde | Los Angeles Lawyer September 2009

In William Shakespeare’s historical drama, King Henry V asks his trusted advisers, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, whether “with right and conscience” he may make a claim to the crown of France. In their response, the king receives the advice he wants, instead of the advice he needs, and his ensuing invasion of France leads at first to victory but in the end to great tragedy.

Harold Bruff, author of a new and engrossing book Bad Advice: Bush’s Lawyers in the War on Terror, uses
the test of “right and conscience” to judge the wisdom and ethics of the lawyers who advised President George W. Bush. Did John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, David Addington, Jay Bybee, and others at the Justice Department and in the White House meet the fundamental standard of the American Bar Association to “exercise independent professional judgment and render candid advice”? Based on his sober and comprehensive study, Bruff convincingly concludes that to a man, “[i]gnoring the need for detachment
and lacking a willingness to consider constitutional claims of the other branches, President Bush’s lawyers manipulated the law for political ends.”

After tracing the history of the relationship between presidents and their lawyers from George Washington to the present, with particular emphasis on critical episodes when national security was at stake, Bruff, who himself served as a senior attorney-adviser to the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the Justice Department from 1979 to 1981, focuses on key decisions made by the Bush administration since September 11, 2001.

Billionaires for Wealth Care at Susan Davis Town Hall in Spring Valley, CA - Updated! New Pics!

SPRING VALLEY, CA -- A dozen ultra-rich protesters pulled up in their stretch limo and stole the show at a Town Hall Meeting hosted by Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA) in Spring Valley, California on Saturday, August 29, 2009.

The group, which reportedly consisted of individuals made incredibly rich on US health care industry profits, seemed to delight in engaging with other protesters in the Free Expression Zone. And the super-rich protesters were a hit from the moment they entered the meeting, as cheers and a steadily rising applause indicated strong support from many of the meeting's hundreds of attendees.

The well-off protesters waved signs and urged everyone to consider the importance of continuing to spend wastefully on health care. "We also wanted to thank all of the average folks who put our profits ahead of their own interests by opposing health care reform," said Bitsy Hart Faruthers, a member of the group. "Thank you. And please, for my sake, keep it up!"

Bitsy said her group opposes health care reform. Instead, the group encourages Congress and the public to continue putting a priority on protecting the interests of health care industry profiteers.

For more information on the Billionaire's heavily-funded campaign, visit BillionairesForWealthCare.com

Updated with new pics below the fold!

Obama's Narrowing Window of Opportunity

By Dave Lindorff

The way I see it, President Obama has a couple of months to turn his failing administration around.

The war in Afghanistan is going south, and within a couple of weeks, his General William Westmoreland, Gen. Stanley McCrystal, will be coming to him asking for more troops. Things are getting hairier in Iraq too.

His signature health care initiative is foundering, with Republicans working in lockstep to see to it that it fails.

Pressure is mounting for an honest probe into the criminality of the prior administration in its authorization and promotion of torture against captives--most of them innocent--in the Bush/Cheney "war" on terror.

The stock market, which by climbing back 50% from its collapse and the bottom it hit on March 9, gave the president a breather, is showing signs of exhaustion, and is likely to start sinking again, as investors realize that there is no end in sight for the recession in the real economy.

America's Tortured Past

America's Tortured Past
By Stephen Lendman

On August 24, an ACLU press release stated:

In response to two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits, "The government today handed over to the American Civil Liberties Union (one of dozens of documents comprising an unprecedented 130,000 previously secret pages, including) a detailed official description of the CIA's interrogation program."

Referring to a heavily redacted December 2004 report (originally commissioned by CIA director George Tenet) detailing torture of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, it "describes the use of abusive interrogation techniques including forced nudity, sleep deprivation, dietary manipulation and stress positions." Far worse ones were understated or redacted entirely.

According to Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project:

Ridge, Cheney Assail Holder's Decision to Investigate CIA Officials

Ridge, Cheney Assail Holder's Decision to Investigate CIA Officials
Bush-Era Officials Such as Cheney Say Justice Department's Investigation into Interrogation Techniques is Wrong
By Jake Tapper | ABCNews.com

Ridge backed Cheney this morning on "Good Morning America," saying, "I think he's right, pure and simple. It's wrong, it's chilling, and it's inappropriate."

Even though Ridge said he believed waterboarding was wrong and "wasn't the appropriate way for America to be conducting itself," the former Pennsylvania governor said that "to suggest four or five years later what they [CIA officers] did was criminal -- I think that's criminal."

Officials from the Bush administration this week entered the debate over national security, although President Barack Obama's administration was not the only one criticized.

While former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge's new book, "The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege ... And How We Can Be Safe Again," raised questions about whether some national security decisions by various Bush administration officials were based on political, and not counterterrorism, concerns, former Vice President Dick Cheney took to the airwaves to assail Obama's commitment to making the nation safe.

Cheney Sunday told his preferred venue, Fox News, that Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to allow a preliminary review into whether any CIA officers crossed the line in its interrogations of detainees was "outrageous." Read more.

Cheney vs. Obama: CIA Abuse Probe 'Political'; Kerry: Cheney Disrespects Constitution...Rule of Law

Cheney vs. Obama: CIA Abuse Probe 'Political'
Former VP Says CIA Investigation Will Hurt National Security
By John Cochran | ABCNews.com

"Dick Cheney has shown through the years, frankly, a disrespect for the Constitution, for sharing of information with Congress, respect for the law, and I'm not surprised that he is upset about this," Kerry said.

Also speaking on "This Week," Liz Cheney, the former vice president's daughter, told Stephanopoulos that the Bush administration looked into the way terror suspects were treated and found no reason to prosecute CIA officials.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney, who has been a fierce critic of the Obama administration, today attacked Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to investigate whether the CIA abused terror suspects during the Bush years.

"I think it's an outrageous political act that will do great damage long-term to our capacity to be able to have people take on difficult jobs, make difficult decisions without having to worry about what the next administration's going to say about it," Cheney said on Fox News.

On ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., retorted that Cheney couldn't be expected to support an investigation of the treatment of terror suspects. Read more.

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