Sunday, December 13, 2009

How Cong. Weiner helped bring public option back; challenging another way that Obama disappoints us

President Barack Obama is a colossal disappointment to progressives. Pick your issue. The Nobel Peace Prize winner is escalating the war in Afghanistan; Obama's Education Secretary Arne Duncan is short-sightedly pursuing a program to speed up the closure of "troubled schools" as a panacea to all ills in American education; he has restricted government generosity to bailing out the financial industry (OK, the federal bailout/ buy-out of General Motors, excepted), failing to address how the recovery is a jobless recovery. Now, he is settling for a terrible health care plan that rewards medical insurance companies and forces uninsured individuals to pick up their own health care costs.
To worsen matters on the last point, President Obama is dozens of potential allies on health reform. Meet Brooklyn/Queens (New York City) Congressman Anthony Weiner. And note well, how Obama responded to Weiner's hewing closer to principles with "I hope you are enjoying your last trip on Air Force One."
John Heilemann, "Back From the Death Panel: How the public option, helped by a congressman looking for an issue and a shrewdly silent White House, returned from the brink" "New York Magazine," October 11, 2009

On the night last week when much of Washington was joyously weeping over the seal of approval bestowed on the Baucus health-care bill by the Congressional Budget Office, Anthony Weiner was in his quarters in the Rayburn Building, merrily pissing all over the legislation instead. “It’s just too weak,” he told me. “It doesn’t do enough. It doesn’t achieve real cost savings. There’s no real competition. It’s pretty much a wish list for the insurance companies.” And those were merely Weiner’s substantive criticisms of the bill. His political assessment was even harsher: “It’s effectively dead,” he said.

Not a droplet of Weiner’s dismissal of the Baucus plan came as any sort of shock; he’s been trashing the Senate Finance Committee’s efforts for weeks. What’s surprising is that anyone gives a fig what Weiner has to say about the topic in the first place. Until six months ago, after all, the congressman was known more for his yearning to acquire the keys to Gracie Mansion than his mastery of the arcana of Medicare reimbursement rates. In fact, as Weiner would be the first to admit, his interest in, knowledge of, and record on health-care reform were perilously close to nonexistent.

And yet, since May, when he concluded that taking on Mike Bloomberg was a challenge that went beyond the Sisyphean into the realm of the just plain silly, Weiner has emerged as one of the few real stars in the marathon health-care debate: the clearest and savviest (and, as always, loudest and noodgiest) voice in favor of the public option. And though it’s plain that whatever bill eventually lands on Barack Obama’s desk—and, yes, I think the odds are now close to overwhelming that a big pile of health-care paper will wind up there—won’t be anything close to Weiner’s single-payer dream, his role in framing the terms of the discussion has been more than salutary. In some non-obvious ways, you could argue that it’s been essential.

I should confess at the outset that I have a long-standing soft spot for Weiner, whom I first met more than twenty years ago, when he was a budding Chuck Schumer protégé and we played on the same Capitol Hill softball team. Weiner then was strikingly similar to Weiner now: amped-up, ambitious, wicked smart, forever gauging all the angles, unafraid of being (actually, proud of being) a royal pain in the tuchis. All the qualities, in other words, that have served him so well in the wrangle over health care.

Weiner describes his efflorescence on the subject as a matter of opportunism, in the best sense of the word. “This was one of those unusual issues where we really didn’t have a mother ship that was directing the message, and that created an entrepreneurial environment,” he says. “You didn’t have the president out there speaking clearly about what he wanted. And among my colleagues, there weren’t people that jumped out who either had a comfort with the material or weren’t intimidated by the blowback.” Weiner laughs. “Frankly, I like the blowback. After my thirteenth town-hall meeting, someone on my staff said, ‘I can’t tell if you’re a sadist or a masochist.’ ”

Weiner is right about the nature of the vacuum that he smartly stepped in to fill, but there are at least two other proximate causes for it that should be added to his list: the illness and death of Ted Kennedy and the migration of Hillary Clinton out of the Senate and into Foggy Bottom, which deprived the debate of what would have been its two dominant liberal protagonists. For Weiner, Clinton’s absence and its implications carry a personal twist; he is engaged to Huma Abedin, Hillary’s longtime personal aide. “It’s a weird irony that I’m kind of part of the family now and this has become my issue,” Weiner says. “If Hillary had stayed in the Senate, I would never have had this opening.”

Weiner allows that he’s discussed the health-care battle with Clinton; what she’s told him he will not say. But one imagines she approves of the cleverness and chutzpa he’s displayed—especially in drawing an explicit analogy between the public option and Medicare, an equation that not only increases support for the proposal among voters but flushes out the phoniness of the Republican howls against a “government takeover” of health care. And one similarly imagines Madame Secretary’s chagrin at watching the Obama White House pursue a dance-of-the-seven-veils strategy explicitly designed to be the antithesis of the one she employed back in 1993 and 1994.

Weiner’s view of the administration’s approach hasn’t exactly been approving—a point he’s made abundantly and consistently clear over the past months. On the eve of Obama’s September speech before a joint session of Congress, Weiner cracked that “up to now, the messaging from the White House has been done by Sybil … They seem to have a different perspective on this every couple of hours.” And he’s apparently had no change of heart. “The president has been a miserable messenger on this by and large,” he tells me.

Read more: How Anthony Weiner Helped the Public Option Return From the Brink -- New York Magazine

Back From the Death Panel

Such criticisms haven’t gone unnoticed at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, in no small part because Weiner—in a testament to his consistency, lunacy, inability to shut up, or all three—hasn’t shied away from making them directly. Indeed, on a recent flight back to Washington from New York on Air Force One, I’m told by one congressman who witnessed the scene, Weiner got into a testy exchange with Obama over the former’s ideas about how the latter might better prosecute the case for reform. When I ask Weiner about the incident, he refuses to divulge details, but notes that when it was over, the president said to him drily, “I hope you’re enjoying your last trip on Air Force One.” “He was kidding—I think,” adds Weiner.

In truth, Weiner has been on the receiving end of zero complaints from the White House for his potshots. “I see Rahm [Emanuel] at the House gym every morning, and he’s never beefed to me about this once,” Weiner says. “I think he needs this pressure from the left—it serves them. They needed someone to generate the heat of their base to give them the space to be the moderate voice. I’m convinced that if it weren’t me, they’d have to create me.”

Weiner’s theory is self-serving, but it makes a kind of sense. Over the summer, Weiner, by threatening to bottle up a vote on the main House health-care bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee, forced House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to grant him a floor vote this fall on a single-payer plan. Weiner believes in single-payer as a matter of policy—but he also sees the political advantage of putting forward a proposal that will at once satisfy certain elements of the base and create the appearance that the public option is itself a compromise toward the center. And his adamant advocacy of a robust public option itself generates breathing room for the sort of modified version that might win approval in both the House and Senate.

What Weiner has no doubt about now is that the final legislation will include just such a provision—because without it, there simply aren’t the votes in the House to pass a bill. “I think President Obama will put his finger on the scale at some point,” he says. In the end, it’s going to be simpler to corral one or two senators to accept a public option with some modifications than it’s going to be to get a hundred House members off their rebellious screed.

From what Weiner can divine from Emanuel and others in the White House, this kind of brass-tacks calculation—not the policy merits, not even the long-range political ramifications—is all that matters now. Obama’s bizarro, out-of-nowhere acquisition of the Nobel Peace Prize at the end of last week notwithstanding, the president has had a rough few months and badly needs to put a win on the board. And no one is looking to make that any harder than it’s been already.

To illustrate why that means the public option will prevail, Weiner colorfully sketches out his vision of the endgame: “Obama goes to Nancy and says, ‘I’ve decided I’m giving up the public option.’ And she says, ‘Well, dude, I can’t get this done then.’ So then he goes to Harry Reid and says, ‘We’re going with the public option. What do we have to do in Nebraska to get Ben Nelson onboard?’ That’s a much easier conversation.”

Read more: How Anthony Weiner Helped the Public Option Return From the Brink -- New York Magazine

Prevention Magazine: the Seven deadliest foods experts won't eat

I caught this earlier this week in yahoo's portal. These warnings generally steer people in the direction of more expensive choices. The sad truth is that people will often opt for many of these foods.
The real credit goes to:] Liz Vaccariello, Editor-in-Chief, PREVENTION, November 24, 2009, "The 7 foods experts won't eat"
How healthy (or not) certain foods are—for us, for the environment—is a hotly debated topic among experts and consumers alike, and there are no easy answers. But when Prevention talked to the people at the forefront of food safety and asked them one simple question—“What foods do you avoid?”—we got some pretty interesting answers. Although these foods don’t necessarily make up a "banned” list, as you head into the holidays—and all the grocery shopping that comes with it—their answers are, well, food for thought:

20 ways to feed your family for $100 a week.

1. Canned Tomatoes

The expert: Fredrick vom Saal, PhD, an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A

The problem: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Unfortunately, acidity (a prominent characteristic of tomatoes) causes BPA to leach into your food. Studies show that the BPA in most people's body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. "You can get 50 mcg of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that's a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young," says vom Saal. "I won't go near canned tomatoes."

The solution: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Bionaturae and Coluccio. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes, like Trader Joe's and Pomi.

14 worst health mistakes even smart women make.

2. Corn-Fed Beef

The expert: Joel Salatin, co-owner of Polyface Farms and author of half a dozen books on sustainable farming

The problem: Cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten up the animals faster for slaughter. More money for cattle farmers (and lower prices at the grocery store) means a lot less nutrition for us. A recent comprehensive study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s; and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease. "We need to respect the fact that cows are herbivores, and that does not mean feeding them corn and chicken manure," says Salatin.

The solution: Buy grass-fed beef, which can be found at specialty grocers, farmers' markets, and nationally at Whole Foods. It's usually labeled because it demands a premium, but if you don't see it, ask your butcher.

25 ridiculously healthy foods you should be eating now.

3. Microwave Popcorn

The expert: Olga Naidenko, PhD, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group,

The problem: Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize—and migrate into your popcorn. "They stay in your body for years and accumulate there," says Naidenko, which is why researchers worry that levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in laboratory animals. DuPont and other manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan, but millions of bags of popcorn will be sold between now and then.

The solution: Pop natural kernels the old-fashioned way: in a skillet. For flavorings, you can add real butter or dried seasonings, such as dillweed, vegetable flakes, or soup mix.

Your nutritional guide to grocery shopping.

4. Nonorganic Potatoes

The expert: Jeffrey Moyer, chair of the National Organic Standards Board

The problem: Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoes—the nation's most popular vegetable—they're treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they're dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. "Try this experiment: Buy a conventional potato in a store, and try to get it to sprout. It won't," says Moyer, who is also farm director of the Rodale Institute (also owned by Rodale Inc., the publisher of Prevention). "I've talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals."

The solution: Buy organic potatoes. Washing isn't good enough if you're trying to remove chemicals that have been absorbed into the flesh.

14 ways to make veggies less boring.

5. Farmed Salmon

The expert: David Carpenter, MD, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany and publisher of a major study in the journal Science on contamination in fish.

The problem: Nature didn't intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. As a result, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT. According to Carpenter, the most contaminated fish come from Northern Europe, which can be found on American menus. "You can only safely eat one of these salmon dinners every 5 months without increasing your risk of cancer," says Carpenter, whose 2004 fish contamination study got broad media attention. "It's that bad." Preliminary science has also linked DDT to diabetes and obesity, but some nutritionists believe the benefits of omega-3s outweigh the risks. There is also concern about the high level of antibiotics and pesticides used to treat these fish. When you eat farmed salmon, you get dosed with the same drugs and chemicals.

The solution: Switch to wild-caught Alaska salmon. If the package says fresh Atlantic, it's farmed. There are no commercial fisheries left for wild Atlantic salmon.
Delicious and easy fish recipes

6. Milk Produced with Artificial Hormones

The expert: Rick North, project director of the Campaign for Safe Food at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and former CEO of the Oregon division of the American Cancer Society

The problem: Milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST, as it is also known) to boost milk production. But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers. "When the government approved rBGH, it was thought that IGF-1 from milk would be broken down in the human digestive tract," says North. As it turns out, the casein in milk protects most of it, according to several independent studies. "There's not 100% proof that this is increasing cancer in humans," admits North. "However, it's banned in most industrialized countries."

The solution: Check labels for rBGH-free, rBST-free, produced without artificial hormones, or organic milk. These phrases indicate rBGH-free products.
Don’t be fooled by these 11 health food imposters.

7. Conventional Apples

The expert: Mark Kastel, former executive for agribusiness and codirector of the Cornucopia Institute, a farm-policy research group that supports organic foods

The problem: If fall fruits held a "most doused in pesticides contest," apples would win. Why? They are individually grafted (descended from a single tree) so that each variety maintains its distinctive flavor. As such, apples don't develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. The industry maintains that these residues are not harmful. But Kastel counters that it's just common sense to minimize exposure by avoiding the most doused produce, like apples. "Farm workers have higher rates of many cancers," he says. And increasing numbers of studies are starting to link a higher body burden of pesticides (from all sources) with Parkinson's disease.

The solution: Buy organic apples. If you can't afford organic, be sure to wash and peel them first.
How to pay less for organic.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Windows 7 Complaints Begin: installation and program migration can be buggy

Windows 7 Complaints Begin
by David Goldman
Wednesday, December 9, 2009 provided

Users of the new operating system say the upgrading process is buggy. But once the kinks are worked out, customers are liking Windows 7 a lot more than Vista

Microsoft launched Windows 7 in late October to much fanfare. But, just like with previous Windows upgrades, complaints about bugs have already started rolling in.

A whopping 31% of clients have reported problems with upgrading to Windows 7, according to a recent survey of more than 100,000 customers conducted by consumer helpdesk firm iYogi.

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"Most of the problems that customers have with Windows 7 have to do with installation, or application and data migration," said Vishal Dhar, co-founder of iYogi. "These are all fixable problems, but they're annoyances and they're time consuming."

One common gripe, experienced by 9% of installers, is that the half-hour to an hour-long upgrade process gets to the "62% completed" point and then freezes. It's a problem that Microsoft is aware of, and can be fixed by rebooting the computer, going into advanced settings, and typing in a code that instructs the computer to ignore plug-ins.

However, issues didn't stop with the upgrade process. Many users still experienced glitches even after successfully installing Windows 7 on their machines.

Most common among those complaints was that basic "applet" programs, like Mail, Movie Maker and Photo Gallery, were missing. That's because Windows 7 deletes those programs and makes users download them from the Windows Live Essential Web site. IYogi said 26% of their customers were confused about that extra step.

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Others had problems getting their computers to work properly: Eight percent said their DVD drives couldn't be found and 2% couldn't sync their iPhones with Windows 7.

One in seven users also complained that the sleek new "Aero" theme doesn't work. The Aero theme enables users to see through a window to view the desktop or other programs that are open behind it. According to iYogi, most of the 14% of users that have problems with Aero don't have the graphics capabilities on their PCs to handle the program.

Other common complaints included an inability to view file extensions, too many "mini-dumps" (memory images saved on the computer when it crashes), problems with the "Aero snap" feature, changes to custom icons and problems with the new taskbar.

Microsoft (MSFT), which debuted Windows 7 on Oct. 22, did not return requests for comment.

Smoother sailing once it's debugged. Once the bugs from upgrading have been worked out, users have had a relatively hassle-free experience. And those who bought a new computer with Windows 7 preloaded have seen the fewest issues.

"Customers who finally get it up and running love Windows 7," said Dhar. "We haven't had a lot of people calling for usability issues, because it's a much more intuitive interface than Windows XP."

That's not to say that Windows 7 is perfect.

According to Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at Yankee Group, one of the biggest annoyances with the new operating system is that the "ribbon menus" at the top of programs have been redesigned and must be relearned. In previous Windows versions, the menus remained very consistent (File, Edit, View, Insert, etc.), but in Windows 7, they can be wildly different from application to application.

"It took me a long while to figure out how to print," said Kerravala. "Microsoft tried to improve the user interface, but there's a learning curve because it's inconsistent."

Microsoft also did away with many favorite applications like Windows Movie Maker, which is particularly surprising given the propensity of cell phone videos and Flip video camera movies.

But all of the gripes about Windows 7 pale in comparison to the angry complaints about Microsoft's previous Windows iteration, Windows Vista. That version was an outright disaster after it was released in 2007. Vista was plagued by bugs, software incompatibilities, sluggishness and annoying security alerts. The episode nearly destroyed the tech giant's reputation with consumers.

"While there are a few bugs, I haven't seen or heard of any show-stoppers," said Laura DiDio, principal analyst at ITIC. "In fact, just the opposite. Some Vista users can't wait to upgrade. So far, this has been a home run for Microsoft."
Copyrighted, CNNMoney. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Finding software reviews, comparisons, free software

A poster requested where to find the program XRumer 5.0 Palladium. He or she claims that the program is the best choice for putting advertising on the Internet.

I cannot comment one way or the other on that claim. I can suggest these sites for finding comparative reviews --or sole product reviews-- of software. So much software is available in a free format these days. I used one of these sites for finding reviews of free PDF editor programs. My favorite sites among the choices are CNET's site and the "TopTenREVIEWS" site.

Friday, November 27, 2009

When fired food began to be considered tasty

Harvard primatologist Richard Wrangham on the key role cooking played in human evolution.
In "Scientific American.
Evolving Bigger Brains through Cooking: A Q&A with Richard Wrangham
Our intelligence has enabled us to conquer the world. The secret for the big brains, says biological anthropologist Richard Wrangham, is cooking, which made digestion easier and liberated more calories.

A New York Times conversation:
A Conversation With Richard Wrangham
From Studying Chimps, a Theory on Cooking

Published: April 20, 2009

Richard Wrangham, a primatologist and anthropologist, has spent four decades observing wild chimpanzees in Africa to see what their behavior might tell us about prehistoric humans. Dr. Wrangham, 60, was born in Britain and since 1989 has been at Harvard, where he is a professor of biological anthropology. His book, “Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human,” will be published in late May. He was interviewed over a vegetarian lunch at last winter’s American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago and again later by telephone. An edited version of the two conversations follows.
{Click the above hyperlink for the interview.}

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ditch your running shoe!: Lehrer talks with McDougall

WNYC -New York public radio, 11/26/09:
Heel to Toe

Running is more popular than ever. Christopher McDougall, contributing editor for Men’s Health, and author of Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, talks about the science of “extreme” running and the rise of running culture.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

EWG study: top most attractive cellphones and 10 worst phones in radiation emissions

Bravo to the Environmental Working Group for posting its ranking of the best and the worst of cell phones (or mobile phones), measured by the factor of lowest or highest radiation emissions.


Here is the link to the full Environmental Working Group (EWG) study on DOZENS of phones.

AND ANOTHER AUTHOR ASKED, Was Senator Ted Kennedy's brain cancer death the result of frequent cell phone use?
Follow this link at

Yet, the EWG ratings rate the SAR levels. As one writer notes, this is insufficient and possibly misleading.
Why is the SAR value not an accurate measure of safety?

The SAR value is only comparing the heating effect of different phones and does not give an indication that a cell phone is ‘safe.’
The power, or heating effect, of the phone is only one of many possible factors impacting cell phone ‘safety.’ Exposures to the radiation from the cell phone at non-heating levels have been linked to many serious biological effects, and the SAR value is not capturing anything about these harmful non-thermal exposures.
SAR values are reported to the FCC by the manufacturer and have been known to vary from the reported number by a factor of two across models of the same phone.
The SAR value varies with the source of exposure and the person using the phone. For example, if you are in a rural area or in an elevator or a car, where the cell phone uses more power, your brain will get a greater exposure from the higher power required in these instances.
Holding the phone in a slightly different way can actually render the worst SAR value phone better than the best SAR value phone.
SAR values have been created based on simulations of exposure in a plexiglass head filled with fluid, not a human head, and many scientists consider them to be inaccurate and irrelevant at determining actual biological effects. As Rees points out, and I wholeheartedly agree:
“Physical distance of the phone from your brain, and less usage of the cell phone overall, more so than simply choosing a phone with a lower SAR value, is probably a far better insurance policy.”

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Gmail, google groups need to become more user friendy!!

Can google get it more user-friendly???

Could they maybe talk with yahoo or amazon or airline companies to see how they make it more possible for people to recover accounts?

Very very difficult. I thought that I put in the right email when they asked for originating email for the gmail. It seemed so, the system remembered me. I got into my old version of this blog --with but one post.

Anyway, it still allowed no access for my gmail accounts.

This makes for problems beyond gmail.
It is impossible to join google groups.
Again, why can't they make friends among the competition over at yahoo, who make it a LOT MORE EASIER to access their yahoo group counterparts to google groups.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Why does Verizon make online payment impossible?

Verizon will NOT make payment possible online.
And their phone service is not helpful toward this end.

I attempted to make a payment online.
Now they have an added charge: you used to be able to do this online.
Actually, in the Nynex days you could pay in person at customer service centers.

However, now you encounter a message at their site saying that you must pay $3.50 at an outside vendor.
What is the other option? You must register if you want to bypass that.
What does registration involve? you must wait for a PIN.

OK, what if you want to pay at an authorized payment center.
But the official Verizon payment center locations directory says that there are no authorized payment centers for zip codes for the vicinity of zip codes for lower Manhattan, mid-town Manhattan, downtown Brooklyn, western, central queens.
OK, so if you want to go to checkfreepay centers. They do not take checks
they want cash.

As I have been typing this, I have been on hold for 55 minutes on bothn my landline to 1-888-669-9901, and my cellphone to Verizon's standard local number for service/ payment matters, 1-718-890-1550.
Hello, Verizon! This blogpost should be a wake up call that you have to reform your ways, or people will search out your competitor phone companies.

Another route that we should take is to rally to have a consumer's bill of rights, just as Congressman Barney Frank and President Barack Obama have been pushing to roll back the most egregious abuses of the credit card companies.

You know, in the not so far distant past, like ten years ago, you could go to centers, staffed by real humans (as I noted earlier). The elimination of these centers has meant the elimination of jobs. And furthermore, it is apparent that many of your service assistance calls are not being handled by employees in the United States but by people in India. In a time of declining domestic (i.e., American) employment, it is critical to do what little one can to support live human beings that are working in the United States. Off-sourcing and modern technology are sending jobs abroad.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rob Miller, Democratic challenger to Joe "You Lie" Wilson reaps cash rewards

South Carolina Democratic Iraq War veteran Rob Miller has cashed in, in the fallout over Joe Wilson's "you lie" retort, disrupting President Barack Obama's speech.

... and he boost his opponent's fund-raising, on the order of $500,000 in one day.
See this story from Congressional Quarterly Politics at
"'You Lie' Fallout: Foe Hauls in Quick Half-Million":

Rob Miller, Wilson's Democratic challenger for the 2010 contest for Wilson's seat, reaped half a million dollars in the 24 hours following the Congressman's disruptive yell.
By 48 hours, Miller garnered $1,000,000 in donations, the "Washington Post" reported.
Miller has apparently surpassed Wilson's fundraising.

Click here to reach two-Iraq tour Iraq vet, Rob Miller's website.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Teabagger South Carolinian Congressman heckles President, spikes searches, bad press for GOP

South Carolina Republican tea-party-type Congressman Joe Wilson heckles President Obama with "you lie"

... and he boost his opponent's fund-raising, on the order of $500,000 in one day.
See this story from Congressional Quarterly Politics at
"'You Lie' Fallout: Foe Hauls in Quick Half-Million":

Rob Miller, Wilson's Democratic challenger for the 2010 contest for Wilson's seat, reaped half a million dollars in the 24 hours following the Congressman's disruptive yell.
Some observers believe that this incident could garner critical donations that would help Miller in 2010.

If this is the case, we would wish for more such incidents!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

How has anti-Semitic filth evaded's filters?

Read through the reviews of Bernard Malamud's Pulitzer Prize winning "The Fixer" at, and you'll see a lead to a sickening review title, "A brief and painful history of why Christians were annoyed by Jews and what they did about it," February 24, 2008
HOW DISGUSTING AND SHAMEFUL!!! You want to know about Christians' treatment of Jews? Begins with medieval era expulsions from towns or nations, and it caps with genocide, The Holocaust, in World War II.
Doesn't anyone vet the reviews?!?! How did this post last in the system for a year and a half??
Report this to By the way, I'm of Christian background.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Health benefits of weekend trips, vacation, unions

On the fly today, but let me add:

1) This blog quote brings to mind: taking breaks, as weekend trips or longer vacations, have health benefits.
2) France has a better policy than the US has. More people get more vacation --FIVE weeks at minimum-- in France than people do in the US.
3) The French have their strong union movement to thank for these accomplishments.
Now why can't those tea-bag party Joe the Plumber / Glenn Beck following yahoos absorb that message?

The Health Benefits of a Weekend Getaway
Weekly advice from our herbs and alternatives expert

By Sara Altshul
My first cousin Laura asked me and another cousin, Liz, to join her on a weekend mini-vacation. I knew it would be good for me, but now a new study backs me up!
Laura and I share a July birthday, which we’ve never celebrated together. And though Laura, Liz, and I love seeing each other at family events, we’ve never hung out, just the three of us. So we unanimously decided to make some new family history.
Laura was due for some fun: Her mother recently passed away after a 10-year battle with a blood cancer, and Laura dropped everything to tend her while working a demanding job in television sports. Liz, too: She’s a top retail executive and the mother of three boys. Her workday starts at 5:30 a.m. and ends at 8 p.m.
Compared to the lives of Laura and Liz, my whole life is a vacation; I don’t commute and I don’t answer to a boss. Still, the stresses of being family breadwinner and a freelance writer are real enough. Plus, I haven’t taken a vacation in years.
So off we went to a lovely resort just outside of Atlantic City, N.J. I admit, I worried a little at first about how relaxing it would be to share a room for two nights (and a bathroom) with two women relatives that I haven’t spent much time with.
I absolutely needn’t have. I was stunned to discover how utterly relaxed I became in the short time between Friday afternoon and Sunday. I’m sure the heavenly massage, facial, and spa manicure I enjoyed, to say nothing of the strolling, shopping, pool-lounging, and divine food, and our brief stint in the resort’s fitness room, and the howling fun we had staying up late on Friday playing pool and air hockey, helped me unwind so quickly. I swear I could literally feel the stress hormones leaving my body.

Study says: Have fun!
Turns out, that’s exactly what was happening to me. According to a study published Thursday in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine,

Blogger's comment: that journal title, I admit, doesn't give me a lot of confidence.
engaging in enjoyable leisure activities can lower stress hormones and blood pressure, make you feel better all over, and reduce your waist circumference and body mass index (although I’m pretty sure the Friday night gala all-you-could-eat seafood buffet probably canceled out those last two benefits).
In the study, 1,400 people reported how often they participated in activities like vacationing, going to clubs, playing sports, or plain old loafing around. Folks who spent the most time doing many different fun activities reaped the most health benefits. Though the study may sound like “duh” research (what I call studies whose results seem painfully obvious), the scientist at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine who conducted it makes a good point.
“When you’re under stress, the usual thing is to cut back on enjoyable activities because you’re feeling uncomfortable and you need more time to deal with the stress. But these data suggest that’s the wrong thing to do, and that continuing enjoyable activities can be helpful,” says study coauthor Karen Matthews, PhD, a professor of psychiatry, epidemiology, and psychology.
That’s all I needed to hear. I’m planning to take a real vacation with my husband, Frank, at the end of August. Not sure where yet, but it will absolutely be someplace that has lots and lots of fun things to do. Suggestions are welcome!

And a wonderful comment from a reader named Sally:
I’m amazed that someone had to study this issue. Of course time off is good for you. Just like breathing is good for you.
In America, the 10 days most people get are spread out over the year, to make for long weekends. It’s a rare treat to actually take a whole week off of work. In France, 5 weeks vacation per year is the minimum. Going away for 2-3 weeks at a time is normal. All that is courtesy of their unions. Why do Americans hate unions?

Monday, August 31, 2009

UK-US study: cell phones AND cordless phones users risk brain tumors

"Cellphones Cause Brain Tumors, Says New Report By International EMF Collaborative"
August 26, 2009, from

*Cell phones do pose dangers to users
*Children and young adults are at greater risk from use of these phones
*Telecom industry-funded studies paint too sanguine a picture of the health risks

A new report, "Cellphones and Brain Tumors: 15 Reasons for Concern, Science, Spin and the Truth Behind Interphone," was released today by a collaborative of international EMF activists. Groups affiliated with the report include Powerwatch and the Radiation Research Trust in the U.K., and in the U.S., EMR Policy Institute, and The Peoples Initiative Foundation. Download the report.

The exposé discusses research on cellphones and brain tumors and concludes:

- There is a risk of brain tumors from cellphone use;
- Telecom funded studies underestimate the risk of brain tumors, and;
- Children have larger risks than adults for brain tumors.

This report, sent to government leaders and media today, details eleven design flaws of the 13-country, Telecom-funded Interphone study. The Interphone study, begun in 1999, was intended to determine the risks of brain tumors, but its full publication has been held up for years. Components of this study published to date reveal what the authors call a 'systemic-skew', greatly underestimating brain tumor risk.

The design flaws include categorizing subjects who used portable phones (which emit the same microwave radiation as cellphones,) as 'unexposed'; exclusion of many types of brain tumors; exclusion of people who had died, or were too ill to be interviewed, as a consequence of their brain tumor; and exclusion of children and young adults, who are more vulnerable.

Lloyd Morgan, lead author and member of the Bioelectromagnetics Society says, "Exposure to cellphone radiation is the largest human health experiment ever undertaken, without informed consent, and has some 4 billion participants enrolled. Science has shown increased risk of brain tumors from use of cellphones, as well as increased risk of eye cancer, salivary gland tumors, testicular cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and leukemia. The public must be informed."

International scientists endorsing "Cellphones and Brain Tumors: 15 Reasons for Concern" include Ronald B. Herberman, MD, Director Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute; David Carpenter, MD, Director, Institute for Health and the Environment, University at Albany; Martin Blank, PhD, Associate Professor of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, Columbia University; Professor Yury Grigoriev, Chairman of Russian National Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, and many others.

Radiation Research Trust

Now, did cell phone use contribute to Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy's brain cancer?

Don't give the facts, ma'am; health care rallies are about distrusting government

It's crazy: people from the lower half of society, often lacking health care or enduring financial abuse from insurance companies, are overcome with anger about Congress' proposals (plural, as the House and Senate variations need reconciliation) to reform health care. These tea-bagging yahoos, inspired by lies from FoxNews, are disrupting the public aspect of American republicanism, town meetings.

Michael McAuliff did a great job of doing undercover reporting at the rallies, interviewing the hot-head right-wingers. Important also in his "New York Daily News" report (Sunday, August 30, 2009) was the analysis by academic Carol Weisser (University of Florida).
APALACHICOLA, Fla. - In government, they do not trust.

And there's no way they'll let Uncle Sam run their health care - even if they have none. Even if they already have government-run care, like Medicare, and wouldn't give it up.

"I believe this bill is literally a death bill," said Pam Olsen, a mother of four who has no insurance.

And it doesn't seem to matter what officials say to the contrary.

To find out why, the Daily News made under-the-radar visits last week to contentious town hall meetings in the Florida panhandle district of conservative Democratic Rep. Allen Boyd.

The answer was opponents trust more what they're learning on their own from Internet activist sites, e-mails sent around by folks they know and talk show hosts like Glenn Beck.

Some of the fervor can be blamed on the "Astroturfing" of opponents who seed talking points in grass-roots networks.

But town hall attendees - unaware they were talking to a reporter - said they came to their opinions on their own and were happy to point to sources like Beck, the Web-based 9/12 Project and ResistNet, plus their own research. Some said they maintained their own e-mail networks to spread the truth as they see it.

It all produced a powerful and uniform set of gripes in three standing-room only, hours-long forums attended by The News.

In the minds of many folks packing the sessions, federal intervention in health care will only hurt, and could even doom, the nation.

Signs outside Tallahassee's City Hall were especially extreme. "Obama is not a Nazi - he's worse," declared one. "Das Kapital," proclaimed another, renaming the nation's Capitol after a Karl Marx tome.

Inside, people were more polite, but no less afraid.

"I am a single uninsured mother of an uninsured child, and yet still do not want the government involved in my health care," declared a woman who identified herself as "Jane Doe" because she wanted to protect herself and her daughter from "attacks."

"Our country is going down the wrong path right now. It's going down the path to socialism," said Olsen.

"We the people are afraid that we're being taken over," said another woman to loud applause.

Plenty of Floridians back health care reform, and many turned out in Tallahassee.

But outside the state's capital city, few believed anything good could come from health reform. Even when Boyd, their congressman, said their fears were baseless, it didn't make a difference.

Asked in the Gulf Coast town of Port St. Joe if he'd back provisions to help illegal immigrants, Boyd emphatically denied they were covered.

"There is no - zero, zippity-doo-dah, none - coverage for illegal immigrants," Boyd said, drawing boos and disbelief.

Mike Horan, a Medicare and Veteran's Administration health care recipient with a doctorate in education and a master's degree in social work, wasn't buying what he heard from Boyd in Apalachicola.

"If you think that the federal government can do anything better than private enterprise, show me the agency," he said.

Janice Williamson, who has built her own e-mail list, was so unhappy with Boyd's answers she vowed to "do everything" she could to fight his reelection.

The open disbelief, said Florida State University politics Prof. Carol Weisser, marks a new and disturbing trend.

"We know that trust in government is low," she said. "But there's always been this split where people still like their own congressman."

Suddenly, constituents prefer the flood of scary information from TV and the Internet.

"The communications are what's different, and somehow people are believing them, even though they've got someone they voted for and like telling them otherwise," Weisser said.

University of Missouri Prof. Peverill Squire says the fear isn't just about health care.

"People are desperately trying to hold on to what they may have, and they're fearful that whatever comes out of this debate is going to leave them worse off," he said.

"They fear they're going to get screwed."

Read more:

Beware of these cancerous chemicals in your work or home-lives

We know not to smoke or chew tobacco.

But we must further beware of other items that can cause the development of cancer.

These environment substances can be contributory to the development of cancers:
polyvinyl chloride (PVC) (uses:
vinyl siding for houses --incidentally, such siding is banned by local authorities in some countries, such as Germany and the Netherlands [source: polyvinyl chloride article, wikipedia]
sex toys have high concentrations of PVCs [source: polyvinyl chloride article, wikipedia]
car interiors {that "new car smell"}, outgassing" {open those windows!} is recommended for new cars. Japanese car makers, Nissan, Honda and Toyota eliminated PVC use in cars in 2007.

vinyl flooring is considered toxic to children, according to a Swedish-Danish study, but a European study found no risk.

Bisphenol A ("BPA") is a substance found in plastic bottles. It has been found to interfere with reproductive function in animals and has been associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes in humans., May 21, 2009. A Harvard School of Public Health monitored BPA levels in urine of drinkers from plastic bottles.

REMINDER OF BOTTLES TO AVOID --from, a site project of National Geographic:
What To Buy:

#2 HDPE, #4 LDPE and #5 PP: These three types of plastic are your best choices. They transmit no known chemicals into your food and they're generally recyclable; #2 is very commonly accepted by municipal recycling programs, but you may have a more difficult time finding someone to recycle your #4 and #5 containers.

#1 PET: Fine for single use and widely accepted by municipal recyclers; avoid reusing #1 water and soda bottles, as they're hard to clean, and because plastic is porous, these bottles absorb flavors and bacteria that you can't get rid of.

PLA: plastics made from renewable resources such as corn, potatoes and sugar cane and anything else with a high starch content; although you can't recycle these plant-based plastics, you can compost them in a municipal composter or in your backyard compost heap.

Plastics to Avoid:

#3 PVC: Used frequently in cling wraps for meat, PVC contains softeners called phthalates that interfere with hormonal development, and its manufacture and incineration release dioxin, a potent carcinogen and hormone disruptor.

#6 PS: Polystyrene-foam cups and clear plastic take-out containers can leach styrene, a possible human carcinogen, into food.

#7 PC: The only plastic made with bisphenol A, polycarbonate is used in baby bottles, 5-gallon water-cooler bottles and the epoxy linings of tin food cans. Bisphenol A has been linked to a wide variety of problems such as heart disease and obesity.

nitrates, nitrites, fatty foods, high caloric diet, >>> negative diet substances
(Yet, a commenter at a reports that s/he has found nitrate/free bacon at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.) On the other hand, WebMD reports that nitrites and nitrates in "leafy vegetables and meats" "may cut heart damage."

fruits and vegetables, high fiber food (inc whole grain cereals and cruciferous vegetables)
cruciferous vegetables
(cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, kale, bok choy, turnips, turnip greens)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hear stories of how European health care compares with American health care, from Americans living abroad

The commercial media, particularly FoxNews and poorly informed reporters, pump us with stories of the horrors of European public medical care.
Yet, Public Radio International (PRI)'s "The Takeaway" aired this morning (August 28, 2009) interviews with Americans living abroad, to hear how European health care compared with health care in the United States.

Read also the background on the medical systems of Germany and the United Kingdom. They have better rankings in terms of infant mortality rates and life expectancy than the United States has.

Interviews are by John Hockenberry and Femi Oke. Interviewed guests, living abroad, in Bavaria, Northern Ireland and Russia are Cynthia Geyer, Amanda Graham and Lynne Udoalov.
Click here for this and other The Takeaway segments this month on healthcare, or Healthcareroundtablesinternational.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Columnist writes of United Healthcare's existing Death Panels, that denied cancer care to her husband

I return from southern Europe (France and Italy), with some of the best World Health Organization-rated national health insurance systems,
to the madness of America, with the same histrionic lies that were in FoxNews when I left two weeks ago.
There is a terrific column, of a tragically tight-fisted insurance policy that denied care to a columnist's ailing husband. Nationally syndicated columnist Froma Harrop (based at the "Providence Journal" in Rhode Island) wrote of the already existing rationing of care, of death panels that we have with the private system.
Read this column, "Here's the real `death panel' for you," posted August 20, 2009, linked from the "Miami Herald:"
''Death panels''? I'll tell you about death panels.

My husband faced one some years ago, and it didn't involve any government bureaucrat. It was run by our private insurer, the sort of corporate entity that foes of healthcare reform say will give you anything you want.

My husband was diagnosed with liver cancer. We were ``insured'' by United Healthcare. The deal was as follows: You had to use doctors on its list, but if you needed specialized care outside the network, United's health-maintenance organization would pay for it. Fair enough.

A liver expert within the network said point blank that for my husband's case, there was but one place to go, a specialized chemotherapy program at Deaconess Hospital in Boston. Fortunately, it was only 50 minutes away.

But United Healthcare refused to pay for it. Instead, it directed us to a small, local hospital unequipped to deal with this kind of cancer. Our liver specialist warned, ``Don't waste your time.''

We naively tried to go through United Healthcare's appeals process. We would call the number and speak to a handler who said our case would be reconsidered. Days later, a one-sentence letter would arrive by slow mail saying that we were being denied, but call this number to challenge the verdict.

Around and around we went. We could never speak to anyone making the decisions. No one would even talk to our doctor, who at one point whispered to us, ``Mortgage the house.''

I became convinced that the insurance company was trying to run out the clock on my husband's life. Had it issued an outright No, we would have gone to Deaconess, paid for the care ourselves and fought the insurer later. But it always pretended that a possible Yes could be around the corner.

Having already lost precious time confronting this cancer, we simply rushed to Deaconess. On hearing the story, the head of the chemo program told us: ``HMOs don't care whether you live or die. They just want to save money.''

My husband underwent the arduous chemo. Meanwhile, powerful people were pulling strings for us with the insurer. Upon learning we had ``connections,'' United Healthcare finally said it would pay.

The cancer came back. This treatment was never a sure thing, but I often wonder how much the delay affected the outcome. An ex-Marine, my husband was a tough customer. Toward the end, he said to me, ``You know, fighting the insurance company was worse than fighting the cancer.''

A year after my husband died, I was still receiving medical bills for some of the treatment that United Healthcare had agreed to cover. Oh, they eventually paid. The game is to break you down.

An economic note: In 2006, William ``Dollar Bill'' McGuire, CEO of parent-company UnitedHealth Group, walked off with a $1.1 billion golden parachute (on top of the $500 million he had already raked in) -- though he had to return some of it in an options backdating scandal.

What we wouldn't have done to have traded Dollar Bill's minions for a government bureaucrat. The bureaucrat would have given a simple Yes or No based on official guidelines. He or she would have had no personal stake in denying you care.

By the way, a government-run program doesn't tell you what treatments you may or may not have. It tells you what the taxpayers will subsidize. You are free to go out with your own money and buy whatever you want. We would have been prepared to do that. Instead, we got tied up in a private insurer's web of tricks.

Believe me, ``death panels'' already exist, and they have nothing to do with the government.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Blue Dog Democrats praise health care lobbyists; GOP turncoat analyzes new thuggish strategy of Armey and Republican operatives

*Right-wing Tampa, Florida town hall mob gets violent at town hall forum, nearly turning it into riot
*Tampa Tribune pulls story references to Obama as "The Joker;" conservative witness reports witnessing Joker signs

On Thursday, August 6, 2009, State Rep Betty Reed (Dem.-Tampa) and the Service Employees International Union were met by a town hall tea-bagger-type mob of hundreds. The mob had been spurred to attend the forum by the conservative activist group, the 9-12 Project, promoted by conservative broadcast host (Fox News) Glenn Beck. The Hillsborough County Republican Party urged e-mail recipients to attend the town hall meeting.
From Huffington Post, August 6, with August 7 updates:
Many of the hundreds of protesters said that they had been inspired by a conservative activist group promoted by Fox News host Glenn Beck and some received emails from the county Republican party, according to the St. Petersburg Times:

Instead, hundreds of vocal critics turned out, many of them saying they had been spurred on through the Tampa 912 activist group promoted by conservative radio and television personality Glenn Beck. Others had received e-mails from the Hillsborough Republican party that urged people to speak out against the plan and offered talking points to challenge supporters.

The Times added:

The spectacle at the Children's Board in Ybor City sounded more like a wrestling cage match than a panel discussion on national policy, and it was just the latest example of a health care meeting disrupted by livid protesters.

The Tampa Tribune reports that some protesters carried racist caricatures of President Obama and added details of more fights and scuffles:

Several of the protesters' signs bore an image of Obama with his face painted as the Joker, an image that drew protests of racism locally when it appeared on a Web site thought to be associated with the Pinellas Republican party.

There were at least two scuffles between protesters trying to enter and organizers manning the doors.

One of those involved in a scuffle, Randy Arthur, of Oldsmar said he was injured by those manning the doors and said he would file a police report... Randy Arthur, who owns an air conditioning service company, later talked to police officers, his knit shirt ripped and a few scratches visible on his chest. "They slammed him into the wall,'' Kathy Arthur said.

*Health insurers confident that they are winning the health care debate, as Blue Dog / Blue Cross Democrats praise the lobbyists
From "Business Week," August 6, 2009, "The Health Insurers Have Already Won
How UnitedHealth and rival carriers, maneuvering behind the scenes in Washington, shaped health-care reform for their own benefit"
As the health reform fight shifts this month from a vacationing Washington to congressional districts and local airwaves around the country, much more of the battle than most people realize is already over. The likely victors are insurance giants such as UnitedHealth Group (UNH), Aetna (AET), and WellPoint (WLP). The carriers have succeeded in redefining the terms of the reform debate to such a degree that no matter what specifics emerge in the voluminous bill Congress may send to President Obama this fall . . . .

Blue Dog / Blue Cross Democrats have nice words for lobbyists:
" . . . UnitedHealth parked a shiny 18-wheeler outfitted with high-tech medical gear near the Capitol and invited members of Congress aboard. Inside the mobile diagnostic center, which enables doctors to examine distant patients via satellite television, Representative Jim Matheson didn't disguise his wonderment. "Fascinating, fascinating," said the Democrat from Utah. "Amazing." "
. . . .
UnitedHealth has distinguished itself by more deftly and aggressively feeding sophisticated pricing and actuarial data to information-starved congressional staff members. With its rivals, the carrier has also achieved a secondary aim of constraining the new benefits that will become available to tens of millions of people who are currently uninsured. That will make the new customers more lucrative to the industry.

Matheson, whose Blue Dogs command 52 votes in the House, can't offer enough praise for UnitedHealth, the largest company of its kind. "The tried and true message of their advocacy," he says, "is making sure the information they provide is accurate and considered."

Representative Mike Ross, an Arkansas Democrat who leads the Blue Dogs' negotiations on health reform, also welcomes input from UnitedHealth. "If United has something to offer on cutting costs, we should consider it," says Ross, a former small-town pharmacy owner. "We need more examples that work, and everything should be on the table."

The Raw Story summarizing Maddow's report:
who are behind these groups?

“The executive director of American Majority’s Minnesota office — ko’inky dink — regional field director for Bush-Cheney ‘04,” began Maddow. “Executive director of their Kansas office would be a former Republican state legislator; executive director of their Oklahoma office, a former Washington, D.C. conservative lobbyist — you know, just your average middle-class Americans.”

Another ‘Recess Rally’ sponsor is The Sam Adams Society, run by “the former executive director of the Illinois State Republican Party,” said Maddow. “Sam Adams Alliance is also led by a former Dow Chemicals engineer who’s also president of the nation’s largest conservative state-level policy think tank…”

Finally, and what Maddow called “the most illustrative of all,” is Americans for Prosperity, run by Art Pope.

“Art Pope. Art Pope,” she said. “Why does that name sound familiar? Oh, right! That’s the headquarters of the North Carolina Republican Party. That building is named after Art Pope because Art Pope is a multi-millionaire far-right activist who’s given the Republican Party in North Carolina so much money over the years that they could think of no grander gesture than to name their headquarters building after him.”

Francis Schaeffer wrote on the corporate connections to the right-wing mobs and their tactics.
Schaeffer on corporate sponsorship
Having failed at the ballot box, having watched their Fox News-organized "tea parties" fizzle the intimidation tactics which the Republicans have embraced are being used in a well-financed, top-down orchestrated fake grass roots campaign by corporate interests to try and protect the profits of the insurance business. Armey's FreedomWorks is organizing against health care reform. Armey's lobbying firm represents pharmaceutical companies including Bristol-Myers Squibb. Armey's lobbying firm also represents the trade group for the life insurance industry. FreedomWorks is supporting the status quo at all costs. (They are also fans of fossil fuels. Armey's lobbying firm represents Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the UAE, on energy related issues.)

Last year, the Wall Street Journal exposed FreedomWorks for building "amateur-looking" websites to promote far right interests of Armey. FreedomWorks represents a top-down, corporate-friendly approach that's been the norm for conservative organizations for years.

He described how he used to organize crowds to harass Congressmen and abortion providers, foreshadowing the harrassment we're seeing this month.
Last year, the Wall Street Journal exposed FreedomWorks for building "amateur-looking" websites to promote far right interests of Armey [Former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey]. FreedomWorks represents a top-down, corporate-friendly approach that's been the norm for conservative organizations for years. How do I know this is the norm? Because I used to have strategy meetings with the late Jack Kemp and Dick Army and the rest of the Republican gang about using their business ties to help finance the pro-life movement to defeat Democrats. I know this script. I helped write it.

Democratic members of Congress are being harassed by angry, sign-carrying mobs and disruptive behavior at local town halls. It's the tactic we used to follow abortion providers around their neighborhoods. "Protesters" surrounded Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) and forced police officers to have to escort him to his car for safety. We used to do the same to Dr. Tiller... until someone killed him.

Schaeffer explains why Armey and other activist Republicans took an ugly turn.
Armey was once a decent guy, whatever his political views. How could he stoop so low as to be organizing what amounts to America's Brown Shirts today?

I think I know what happened to him, Gingrich and the rest: They can't compute that their white man-led conservative revolution is dead. They can't reconcile their idea of themselves with the fact that white men like them don't run the country any more -- and never will again. To them the black president is leading a column of the "other" into their promised land. Gays, immigrants, blacks, progressives, even a female Hispanic appointed to the Supreme Court... for them this is the Apocalypse.

Reminds us of Dick Armey's leaked memo, on how to confront while avoiding intelligent, civil debate
- Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: "Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half. The objective is to put the Rep on the defensive with your questions and follow-up. The Rep should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington."

- Be Disruptive Early And Often: "You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep's presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep's statements early."

- Try To "Rattle Him," Not Have An Intelligent Debate: "The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions."

Armey's organizing formula:
Here's the emerging American version of the fascist's formula: combine millions of dollars of lobbyists' money with embittered troublemakers who have a small army of not terribly bright white angry people (collected over decades through pro-life mass mailing networks) at their beck and call, ever ready to believe any myth or lie circulated by the semi literate and completely and routinely misinformed right wing -- Evangelical religious underground. Then put his little mob together with the insurance companies' big bucks. That's how it works -- American Brown Shirts at the ready.

What's the results of the fascist formula for the rest of us? Well, think how this "method" worked against Dr. Tiller's abortion clinic and how that story ended. In this case a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save our economy from going bankrupt because of spiraling health care costs may be lost, not because of a better argument, but because of lies backed up by anti-democratic embittered thuggery.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Orly Taitz's restricted legal bar status

Dr. Orly Taitz, the so-called Birther Queen, has gained prominence with her lawsuit on behalf of birthers challenging President Barack Obama's US birth. However, she has shaky ground on which to practice law.
Her law degree is from a correspondence school, the William Howard Taft Law School. California is an exceptional state, in that it allows her to practice, even though she is not a graduate of an American Bar Association-accredited law school. So, she is restricted to California, for the question of where can she bring this suit..

And finally, we must note that her so-called Kenyan birth certificate is a farce. It has the city of Mombassa on it. Yet, Mombassa is in Tanzania. Furthermore, the certificate carries the governmental name, the Republic of Kenya, yet Kenya was a British colony at the time that the alleged certificate is dated.
A blogsite, acandidworld, has laid out the damning details, with crisp tautness, in such plain language, refreshing to those who have read legal briefs. They provided the key background on these issues. A key excerpt from the article appears below.
Although Taitz is a member of the California Bar, she’s not listed as a member of the American Bar Association (check for yourself). Nor is her “law school” (William Howard Taft University) accredited by the ABA. Because Taft is a distance-learning school only, Taitz’s degree entitles her, at most, to practice in California, as her school candidly admits.

Rules of attorney discipline forbid the practice of law without a license – i.e., without sitting for and passing the bar exam, after graduating from an ABA-accredited school. Her correspondence degree is a limited exception, only useful in California. So, any action in which she appeared as counsel of record outside the state would constitute practicing law without a license, in violation of California disciplinary rules. Has “Dr.” Taitz violated this rule? Does her appearance before the Supreme Court, in filing documents for the frivolous, since-dismissed case Lightfoot v. Bowen, therefore subject her to discipline?

Maybe. Under the rules of the Supreme Court, an attorney must be admitted to the Supreme Court Bar to make an appearance before the court (i.e., make arguments, or file a motion).* Her limited admission in California appears to entitle her to admission to the Supreme Court Bar, provided she checked all the boxes and paid her $200 fee,* or sought temporary (pro hac vice) admission.* The question is whether “Dr.” Taitz managed to get herself admitted – which Taitz has never suggested. (UPDATE: She did, and she posted it. However, using the burden of proof Taitz expects of Obama, I still don’t believe it.)

Even if Taitz legitimately filed her grade-school level motions before the Supreme Court, she may have violated a series of other disciplinary rules in the course of her conduct. The California Rules of Professional Conduct provide,

A member shall not seek, accept, or continue employment if the member knows or should know that the objective of such employment is:

(A) To bring an action, conduct a defense, assert a position in litigation, or take an appeal, without probable cause and for the purpose of harassing or maliciously injuring any person; or

(B) To present a claim or defense in litigation that is not warranted under existing law, unless it can be supported by a good faith argument for an extension, modification, or reversal of such existing law.*

The exception for “good faith argument[s] for an extension, modification, or reversal of such existing law” is large as a matter of policy, and allows attorneys to creatively address real problems in the current state of the law . But at least one judge thinks that the Obama citizenship cases are more than creative – in his words, they’re the “frivolous” actions of “agents provacateurs,” constituting harassment, and potentially subjecting at least one Berg-led attorney to discipline. There’s no reason Taitz shouldn’t be similarly disciplined upon her next filing, under California’s mirror rule.

Further, Taitz’s “consent form,” posted on her site to solicit & induce ill-advised members of our military into suing the President, may constitute an unethical attorney solicitation. Under the California rules, attorney “communications” may not contain dramatization, or “confuse, deceive, or mislead the public.”* Tricking enlisted men & women into frivolously suing the commander in chief at least flirts with that line. Smart lawyers don’t cut the disciplinary rules this close.

Now, I’m not a lawyer. Yet. So the above is amateur opinion, not professional theory. I know my limits. Taitz doesn’t. That’s just one of a few things that separates us.


1. Sup. Ct. Rule 9.1.
2. Sup. Ct. Rule 6.
3. Sup. Ct. Rule 5.1.
4. California RPC 3-200.
5. California RPC 1-400.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

How to peacefully thwart town hall thuggish, disruptive mobs

A diary posted at,
how to peacefully, successfully counter the anti-democratic, thuggish FreedomWorks tea-bag mobs:
The Democratic Alliance of Northwest Indiana (DANI ) hosted a meeting with Rep. Pete Visclosky (D, IN-01), on Monday, Aug. 3, 6:30 PM. We invited the public and their written questions. It seems good to share with the Daily Kos readership some lessons we learned.

Bottom line:
• We had an orderly and productive meeting.
• No one stood up, shouted out and sat down.
• At no point was our Congressman or audience rattled.
• DANI accomplished its objective. We provided the public an opportunity to question our Congressman about Health Care and Clean Energy.
• Tea Baggers came out in force, but they failed to disrupt the meeting.
• Local reporters attended.

Lessons learned follow below the fold.

Don Briggs's diary :: :: 1.We sent out Public Service Announcements to the local media a week in advance, and then followed up with phone calls to each outlet the Thursday before the weekend. The event got good exposure.
2.The topic of Health Care Reform draws the Tea Baggers, no problem. But oddly, it proved somewhat difficult to rouse enough Progressives to attend. We recommend a strong, multifaceted approach. We posted the event with MoveOn and Organizing for America. But, we also blasted e-mail to lists scoured from the 2006 election. In this effort, we succeeded, but barely. The attendance inside was split roughly evenly between Progressives and Tea Baggers. The meeting room filled to its capacity of 110 well before our start time. About 40 Tea Baggers and 20 Progressives remained outside. Both sides had their signs.
3.Physical separation proved very important. We were lucky to have a foyer between the meeting room and the Tea Baggers outside. The Tea Baggers chanted for the duration, but only occasionally did their noise perturb the meeting. Rep. Visclosky was able to address the audience without resort to a microphone, and only a few times did he find it necessary to raise his voice. Without the foyer, the meeting might have been far less successful.
4.Don't call them Tea Baggers to their faces in a public setting. Yes, we all know—they self-identified as Tea Baggers early on. But, in a public meeting, it gives them a pretext to take umbrage. Don't go there.
5.People entered single file, signed in, and filled out a name tag. This simple measure helped set an orderly tone to the meeting.
6.The local police were present inside and out, in force. The Congressman didn't call them, nor did DANI. Our meeting was at a library. The Library staff got wind of the Tea Baggers and called the police well in advance. DANI officers were loath to go heavy. But, the police presence proved crucial to success. DANI just got lucky. Don't leave this element to chance.
7.DANI members and friends gained early entrance and sat in front. Make sure your Progressives know to get to your event early.
8.The DANI executive board consulted closely with Visclosky's office to draft the Public Service Announcement and to set up ground rules for the meeting. So, we opened the meeting by laying down the ground rules.
9.Written questions went directly to Visclosky's staffer, not to DANI members or officers. Do not stand between the people and their representative.
10.And then in opening remarks, I blew the Tea Baggers' cover. Roughly, it went like this:
Meetings like this one continue a democratic tradition more than 2500 years old, that of the ancient Greek "Ecclesia." The term means "those called out"—called out to discuss and decide civic matters, and to defend their ancient Greek city-states, to defend their democracy. And you all were called out by notices in the local papers, radio stations, by e-mail and internet, to discuss Health Care Reform and Clean Energy with our Representative tonight.

So know this: efforts to disrupt and thwart public discourse on civic matters are profoundly anti-democratic. But, that's an obstacle we face tonight. It's public knowledge that groups known as Tea Baggers intend to disrupt and thwart the public discourse on Health Care Reform in meetings like this during this month's Congressional Recess. They want Democracy to fail. So, let's face this obstacle together.

The Tea Baggers' instructions are also public knowledge. If some people stand up, shout out and sit down; if some try to rattle us and the Congressman; if some pretend numeric superiority; if some try to stifle intelligent debate; then we can compare that behavior to the Tea Baggers' instructions and draw our own conclusions.

That was my "appeal to first principles" of Democracy. Karen Kroczek followed by laying down the law: unruly behavior would not be permitted. Period. Violators would be escorted out of the meeting. End of story. The police presence inside lent credibility.

11.As it turned out, Rep. Visclosky took one look at the stack of about 100 index cards with questions, and decided to make some opening remarks, and then simply invite verbal questions from the floor, one-at-a-time. His approach worked very well.
12.At one point, Rep. Visclosky said he agreed that government has a natural role and responsibility in health care. The Tea Baggers booed him roundly. It was the only serious breach of decorum. One Tea Bagger even challenged the constitutionality of a governmental role in health care. So, at these meetings, we should raise the point that the Preamble to the Constitution includes the phrase "promote the general welfare" as one of its key organizing principles.
13.Rep. Visclosky responded that MediCare is 44 years old and has not been challenged on constitutional grounds. He went on to note that MediCare was enacted in 1965, just after the last time Indiana turned Blue, in the 1964 election. He drew a round of applause from the Progressives. It was a delicious moment, and I think it was ad lib.
14.As a side effect of this meeting's success, DANI will grow stronger. Many of the local Progressives attending did not know about DANI before this meeting, but now intend to join up. And the Tea Baggers will shrivel.

Fox News is endorsing Town Hall un-civil mob thuggery

Media Matters, the monitors of mainstream media performance, has spotted FoxNews' endorsement of Town Hall mobs:
Just as it promoted the April 15 "tea party" protests, Fox News is now promoting the disruptions of Democratic town hall events by protesters opposed to health care reform, protests that are being touted by Republican leaders and supported by conservative groups. Following the August 2 disruption of a town hall event hosted by Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Fox News personalities have repeatedly lauded such protesters and urged viewers to take similar action.

CBS ignores corporate connection to town hall mobs via Dick Armey

Jason Linkins in Huffington Post, August 4, 2009 detailed how there are corporate connections --via Dick Armey (former GOP House Majority Leader)-- with Adam Brandon's FreedomWorks.
From Linkins' "CBS Reports On Town Hall Mobs, Ignores Corporate Sponsors:"
Republican ex-Congressman Dick Armey, a beneficiary of drug companies, is behind this thuggish movement
the leader of FreedomWorks, Dick Armey, who is ranked as one of DC's top "hired guns," is a corporate lobbyist with a history of directing FreedomWorks to support the goals of his lobbying clients. For example:

--Armey's FreedomWorks is actively organizing against health care reform. Indeed, Armey's lobbying firm represents pharmaceutical companies, such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, that oppose comparative effectiveness research in the health reform plan because such a program may cut into revenue for branded drugs.

--Armey's lobbying firm represents the trade group for the life insurance industry. Indeed, FreedomWorks mobilizes its members for deregulated life insurance reform.

We cannot sit pat and laugh off and ignore the town hall mobs and birther nuts. That's what non-fascists said about Hitler and the Nazis in Germany before 1933.

CBS and other corporate media need to not just report on the thuggish mobs, they need to report that a clear majority of Americans support the public option.
As the Washington Monthly reported, July 1, 2009:
A new Quinnipiac poll reinforces what we've seen in other recent surveys: despite the rhetoric from insurance companies, Republicans, and "centrist" Democrats, a public option as part of health care reform enjoys broad support nationwide.

Although 69 percent of voters nationwide say Americans should have the option of government-run health insurance, only 28 percent would choose to be covered by it, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

Specifically, the question read, "Do you support or oppose giving people the option of being covered by a government health insurance plan that would compete with private plans?" Overall, 69% support the public option, but just as important, even 50% of Republicans support it. Indeed, looking through the poll results, the public option enjoyed strong support across the board, including every income level, every ideology, every age group, every faith tradition, etc.

As for President Barack Obama, he needs to speak up and strenuously promote public option. When Lyndon Johnson wanted Great Society reforms, he spoke up and ambitiously prodded congress, and so did Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush during their own presidencies. Obama must do the same, and show serious gusto. Obama speaks fervently in the Middle East and Europe. Fine. He needs to show some life, spine, and principals and more enthusiastically promote public option.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Time for responsible Republicans to denounce brown-shirt-type mobs disrupting town hall meetings

No one wants a government in which the public officials never speak to the public. But this is the situation that the Freedom Works crowds are creating. The are harassing public officials across the country, impeding the ability for public officials to have rational, civil discussions of health care. They are not only harassing Congressmen, they are also harassing Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sibelius. July 28, 2009, mobs disrupted, booed and interrupted Secretary Sebelius. They essentially prevented the proceedings from moving forward.
Alas, she persevered, and a few days later she sounded as though some discussion proceeded.
We knew something was up when the introducer was booed. But we had a good exchange, lots of people eager to talk about how we need health reform.

Back on the trail for the public option, at Philadelphia, Secretary Sebelius experienced trouble, August 2, as documented by Denise Dennis at Huffington Post.
Philadelphia, PA -- August 2: This afternoon, at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, I saw the face of ignorance and hate--and it wasn't pretty.

When Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius and Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) came to the National Constitution Center to answer questions about health care reform, they were greeted by an overflow crowd of approximately 400 people, the majority of whom were supporters with legitimate questions.

Unfortunately, though, a well-organized, belligerent and loud group of right-wingers stood in the aisles and across the back and disrupted the town meeting throughout. They yelled, shouted and jeered, and it was clear that they were not there to participate, but instead to try to disrupt the meeting and make it difficult as possible for anyone else to ask questions. They jeered from the moment the director of the Constitution Center stood to welcome everyone. For a few days leading up to the town meeting, e-mails circulated around Philadelphia warning that the "tea-baggers" were planning to protest the meeting and, although there were fewer of them than there were supporters--they made more noise shouting about "socialism," "abortion," and "assisted suicide."

Generally, things are getting worse at a number events with Congressmen, with the need for police to escort them, safely, away from the angry mobs.

These far right extremists cannot continue to disrupt public discourse. Responsible Republicans must denounce these anti-(small d) democratic tactics. Senators Lugar, Snowe, Voinovich must make clear that it is OK to express conservative opinions in opposition to Democratic Congressmen and Cabinet Secretaries; but it is not alright to aggressively shut down public discussion. It is time for them to draw a line in the sand between civility and mob rule.

These mobs are no different from the far-left (American) Spartacists. "Sparts," as they are known to normal, civil leftists stand up in meetings, scream at speakers, attempt to take over meetings. In sum, they are aggressively against any democratic principal of civility. The Freedom Works mobs are the right-wing incarnate of the Sparts.
Again, we can have a clean, vibrant, verbal political arguments with Republicans, but mob aggression against public officials is profoundly anti-democratic.

Meet Orlz Taitz, as wikipedia struck down a bio

Meet Orly Taitz, the lawyer for the birther movement, as wikipedia scrubbed an attempt at a bio of her. Actually, her intrusion into in the American constitutional process raises a paradox. She lectures us over the issue of President Barack Obama's native US birth, yet she was actually born abroad (in the Soviet Union, in a section that later broke away from the Ukraine as Moldova). I sense some projection, in the psychological sense of the word. She operates as a lawyer, yet she got her law degree from a correspondence institution, Taft. The way she screeches, I'd be uncomfortable with her working near my mouth, in her other profession, dentist.
Joseph A. Palermo at Huffington Post wrote (today, August 4, 2009)a funny and spot-on piece about her.

As he said, Taitz has crowded into Ann Coulter's turf as Tourette's-like right-wing spouter of crazy ideas. The difference between Coulter and Taitz is that Coulter is just pushing our buttons; the astute suspect that she's being theatrical for effect. Taitz, no doubt, is completely convinced of her delusional interpretation of reality.
She doesn't have the best legal scruples: she submitted a forged Kenyan certificate to a US court (the document reads "Republic of Kenya," yet it was dated months before Kenya became a republic.) See TPM, "Why is Orly Taitz in Israel Two Days After Submitting a Forged Obama Birth Certificate to a US Federal Court?," August 3, 2009.
She's an ugly spirited bigot, for as TPM reports,
"she is on record saying that Israel's Arab enemies should be "exterminated" rather than merely defeated, and appears to have refused a ride to MSNBC's affiliate in Tel Aviv because she believed the driver to be a Muslim. Like right-wing settlers (see video), Taitz is also fond of calling her critics "nazis" or "brownshirts," as she did with David Schuster in her interview from Tel Aviv."

As to Taitz, she's racheting up the insinuations. In her implosion on MSNBC, see vieo at right, she goes beyond her false claim that Obama was not born in the US; she claims that he is invalid as a president since one of his parents was not a US citizen. We've got news, you supposed lawyer, only the candidate needs to be a citizen by birth; the parents don't enter the equation.

Attractive, well coiffed, she'll be around for a while --I can bet you this, as this is the country where seven of ten Republicans support ex-Governor Sarah Palin.

Town Hall mobs suggest "It can happen here" / Leaked memo discloses aggressive anti-intellectual strategy for disruption

Mobs have converged on Congressmen in different states this summer. Of course these mobs are not members of a fascist party bent on engaging in pogroms. Yet, they have eerie parallels to fascist mobs. They are aggressive, they oppose intellectual debate, they follow a strategy that seeks to squash civic discussion and dialogue on public health reform, specifically, the Democrats' "public option" plan. They make demogogic arguments based on lies, distortions, and not even half-truths.

The buzz word that brings up these mobs in web searches and on the radio is "Town Hall".
This is not a spontaneous popular group. As Rachel Maddow indicates in the video at the right of this page, corporate lobbyists are behind these disruption campaigns.

And in leaked memos indicate, right-wing agitation groups set out a deliberate anti-dmocratic strategy, aimed at squashing honest discussion. I quote at length from the origin site at
The story in the Austin American-Statesman:

Back in Central Texas while Congress is on a month-long recess, Congressman Lloyd Doggett faced an angry reception at a town hall meeting at an Austin Randalls store yesterday.

Doggett, D-Austin, spoke at the Randalls at Brodie and Slaughter lanes on Saturday. A video of the event on YouTube shows many in the crowd showed up with signs denouncing President Obama's proposed health care plan.

Witnesses say that when Doggett was asked if he would support the plan even if he found his constituents opposed it, Doggett said he would still support the plan. From there, the crowd began chanting "Just Say No," and overwhelmed the congressman as he moved through the crowd and into the parking lot.

"The folks there thought their voices weren't being heard," said Kathy Acosta, a Bastrop resident who attended the meeting at Randalls and another one later that day in her hometown. "They were angry, but they were respectful. There wasn't any violence."

Doggett, D-Austin, spoke at the Randalls at Brodie and Slaughter lanes on Saturday. A video of the event on YouTube shows many in the crowd showed up with signs denouncing President Obama's proposed health care plan.

Witnesses say that when Doggett was asked if he would support the plan even if he found his constituents opposed it, Doggett said he would still support the plan. From there, the crowd began chanting "Just Say No," and overwhelmed the congressman as he moved through the crowd and into the parking lot.

"The folks there thought their voices weren't being heard," said Kathy Acosta, a Bastrop resident who attended the meeting at Randalls and another one later that day in her hometown. "They were angry, but they were respectful. There wasn't any violence."

No violence? Well, isn't that a relief? Conservatives sure do have an odd definition of what constitutes respectful behaviour. Nor is the above an isolated incident. In a town hall held back in June in his Long Island district, Politico reported that right-wing protesters surrounded Congressman Tim Bishop, Democrat of New York exhibiting such foul-mouth, abusive and threatening behaviour that police officers had to escort the beleaguered Congressman to his car for safety.

After that June 22 event held in Setauket, New York, in which protesters dominated the meeting by shouting criticisms at the Democratic Congressman for his positions on energy policy, health care and the bailout of the auto industry, Congressman has chosen to temporarily suspend holding town hall meetings even though he has held over a hundred since first being elected to Congress in 2002.

"I had felt they would be pointless," said Congressman Bishop adding that "there is no point in meeting with my constituents and [to] listen to them and have them listen to you if what is basically an unruly mob prevents you from having an intelligent conversation."

More from the Politico story:

At a health care town hall event in Syracuse, N.Y., earlier this month, police were called in to restore order, and at least one heckler was taken away by local police. Close to 100 sign-carrying protesters greeted Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) at a late June community college small-business development forum in Panama City, Fla. Last week, Danville, Va., anti-tax tea party activists claimed they were "refused an opportunity" to ask Rep. Thomas Perriello (D-Va.) a question at a town hall event and instructed by a plainclothes police officer to leave the property after they attempted to hold up protest signs.

The targets in most cases are House Democrats, who over the past few months have tackled controversial legislation including a $787 billion economic stimulus package, a landmark energy proposal and an overhaul of the nation's health care system.

Democrats, acknowledging the increasing unruliness of the town-hall-style events, say the hot-button issues they are taking on have a lot to do with it.

"I think it's just the fact that we are dealing with some of the most important public policy issues in a generation," said Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), who was confronted by a protester angry about his position on health care reform at a town hall event several weeks ago.

"I think in general what is going on is we are tackling issues that have been ignored for a long time, and I think that is disruptive to a lot of people," said Bishop, a four-term congressman. "We are trying, one by one, to deal with a set of issues that can't be ignored, and I think that's unsettling to a lot of people."

Freshman Rep. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.), whose event at a Syracuse middle school was disrupted, said that he still planned to hold additional town halls but that he was also thinking about other options.

"I think you've got to communicate through a variety of different ways. You should do the telephone town hall meetings. You should do the town hall meetings. You should do the smaller group meetings," said Maffei. "It's important to do things in a variety of ways, so you don't have one mode of communication."

"You're going to have people of varying views, and in this case, you've got the two extremes who were the most vocal," Maffei said of the flare-up at his July 12 event.

The targets in most cases are House Democrats, who over the past few months have tackled controversial legislation including a $787 billion economic stimulus package, a landmark energy proposal and an overhaul of the nation's health care system.

Democrats, acknowledging the increasing unruliness of the town-hall-style events, say the hot-button issues they are taking on have a lot to do with it.

"I think it's just the fact that we are dealing with some of the most important public policy issues in a generation," said Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), who was confronted by a protester angry about his position on health care reform at a town hall event several weeks ago.

"I think in general what is going on is we are tackling issues that have been ignored for a long time, and I think that is disruptive to a lot of people," said Bishop, a four-term congressman. "We are trying, one by one, to deal with a set of issues that can't be ignored, and I think that's unsettling to a lot of people."

Freshman Rep. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.), whose event at a Syracuse middle school was disrupted, said that he still planned to hold additional town halls but that he was also thinking about other options.

"I think you've got to communicate through a variety of different ways. You should do the telephone town hall meetings. You should do the town hall meetings. You should do the smaller group meetings," said Maffei. "It's important to do things in a variety of ways, so you don't have one mode of communication."

"You're going to have people of varying views, and in this case, you've got the two extremes who were the most vocal," Maffei said of the flare-up at his July 12 event.

These disruptions, these unholy poisoning of our national conservative, are the latest tactics of the conservative tea party that aims to impose a tyranny of the minority. From Think Progress:
This growing phenomenon is often marked by violence and absurdity. Recently, right-wing demonstrators hung Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-MD) in effigy outside of his office. Missing from the reporting of these stories is the fact that much of these protests are coordinated by public relations firms and lobbyists who have a stake in opposing President Obama’s reforms. The lobbyist-run groups Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, which orchestrated the anti-Obama tea parties earlier this year, are now pursuing an aggressive strategy to create an image of mass public opposition to health care and clean energy reform. A leaked memo from Bob MacGuffie, a volunteer with the FreedomWorks website Tea Party Patriots, details how members should be infiltrating town halls and harassing Democratic members of Congress:
– Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: “Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half. The objective is to put the Rep on the defensive with your questions and follow-up. The Rep should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington.”

– Be Disruptive Early And Often: “You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep’s presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early.”

– Try To “Rattle Him,” Not Have An Intelligent Debate: “The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions.”
The memo above also resembles the talking points being distributed by FreedomWorks for pushing an anti-health reform assault all summer. Patients United, a front group maintained by Americans for Prosperity, is currently busing people all over the country for more protests against Democratic members. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), chairman of the NRCC, has endorsed the strategy, telling the Politico the days of civil town halls are now “over.” Meanwhile, AHIP, the trade group and lobbying juggernaut representing the health insurance industry is sending staffers to monitor town halls and other right-wing front groups are stepping up their ad campaign to smear reform efforts. The strategy for defeating reform — recently outlined by an influential lobbyist to the Hill newspaper as “delay” then “kill” — is becoming apparent. By delaying a vote until after the August recess, lobbyists are now seizing upon recess town halls as opportunities to ambush lawmakers and fool them into believing there is wide opposition to reform.
It should come as no surprise that FreedomWorks is chaired by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey. That FreedomWorks is involved with Tea Party Patriots dispels any notion that these are some sort of citizen activist grassroots organizations. These groups and these disruptions are orchestrated by the leadership of the Republican Party and it is time to expose them and their tactics of mob rule.