Daily Archives: October 3, 2009

Taking Control of Our Energy Future by Senator John Kerry

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Op-Ed by Senator John Kerry

John Kerry, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts

John Kerry, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts

Huffington Post/John Kerry

It’s on.

Today, Senator Boxer and I introduced our “Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act” that aims to put Americans back in charge of our energy future and our security — doing nothing less than reinventing the way America produces and uses energy. At the same time, it will help to put millions of Americans back to work, protect our children’s health and our environment, invest in homegrown innovation, and create a true 21st century economy.

After decades of debate, years of avoiding the challenge, billions spent on the status quo keeping us stuck in the past, it’s time for us to seize control of our energy future, our planet’s future, our security future, and our economic future.

green_jobs_americaWe send a billion dollars a day overseas to feed our addiction to oil. Our economy is at the mercy of fluctuations in the price of a resource we don’t control. And scientists and generals warn that the climate change caused by carbon pollution threatens our health, our environment and our security.

Our bill sets carbon pollution reduction targets, creates powerful new incentives for companies to find ways to meet them, and makes historic new investments in technology and efficiency that will improve every sector of our energy economy.

More @ Huffington_Post_Logo

To read the bill, a bill summary, explanation of each section, etc, follow this link.

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Filed under Climate Change, Democrats, Energy, Green, Jobs, Law, Opinions, Politics, Uncategorized

President Obama’s Saturday Youtube Address 10/03/09

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WhiteHouse.gov—In this week’s address, President Barack Obama spoke of how the rising costs of health care are stifling America’s small businesses, and how reform will strengthen these businesses and the economy. Small businesses create roughly half of all new jobs, but they also pay up to 18 percent more for the very same insurance plans as larger businesses. Too many have been forced to cut benefits, drop coverage, shed jobs, or shut their doors entirely. Health insurance reform is integral to laying a new foundation for our economy so that small businesses can grow and create new jobs.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
October 3, 2009

When I took office eight months ago, our nation was in the midst of an economic crisis unlike any we’d seen in generations. While I was confident that our economy would recover, we know that employment is often the last thing to come back after a recession. Our task is to do everything we possibly can to accelerate that process.

And we’ve certainly made progress on this front since the period last winter when we were losing an average of 700,000 jobs each month. But yesterday’s report on September job losses was a sobering reminder that progress comes in fits and starts, and that we will need to grind out this recovery step by step.

That’s why I’m working closely with my economic team to explore additional options to promote job creation. And I won’t let up until those who seek jobs can find them; until businesses that seek capital and credit can thrive; and until all responsible homeowners can stay in their homes.

It won’t be easy. It will require us to lay a new foundation for our economy – one that gives our workers the skills and education they need to compete; that invests in renewable energy and the jobs of the future; and that makes health care affordable for families and businesses – particularly small businesses, many of which have been overwhelmed by rising health care costs.

This is something I hear about from entrepreneurs I meet – people who’ve got a good idea, and the expertise and determination to build it into a thriving business. But many can’t take that leap because they can’t afford to lose the health insurance they have at their current job.

I hear about it from small business owners who want to grow their companies and hire more people, but they can’t, because they can barely afford to insure the employees they have. One small business owner wrote to me that health care costs are – and I quote – “stifling my business growth.” He said that the money he wanted to use for research and development, and to expand his operations, has instead been “thrown into the pocket of healthcare insurance carriers.”

These small businesses are the mom and pop stores and restaurants, beauty shops and construction companies that support families and sustain communities. They’re the small startups with big ideas, hoping to be the next Google, or Apple, or HP. Altogether, they create roughly half of all new jobs.

And right now, they are paying up to 18 percent more for the very same insurance plans as larger businesses because they have higher administrative costs and less bargaining power. Many have been forced to cut benefits or drop coverage. Some have shed jobs or shut their doors entirely. And recent studies show that if we fail to act now, employers will pay six percent more to insure their employees next year – and more than twice as much over the next decade.

Rising health care costs are undermining our businesses, exploding our deficits, and costing our nation more jobs with each passing month.

So we know that reforming our health insurance system will be a critical step in rebuilding our economy so that our entrepreneurs can pursue the American Dream again, and our small businesses can grow and expand and create new jobs again.

That is precisely what the reform legislation before Congress right now will do. Under these proposals, small businesses will be able to purchase health insurance through an insurance exchange, a marketplace where they can compare the price, quality and services of a wide variety of plans, many of which will provide better coverage at lower costs than the plans they have now.

Small businesses won’t be required to cover their employees, but many that do will receive a tax credit to help them pay for it. If a small business chooses not to provide coverage, its employees will receive tax credits to help them purchase health insurance on their own through the insurance exchange.

And no matter how you get your insurance, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny your coverage because of a pre-existing condition. They won’t be able to drop your coverage if you get too sick, or lose your job, or change jobs. And we’ll limit the amount your insurance company can force you to pay out of your own pocket.

By now, the urgency of these reforms is abundantly clear. And after long hours of thoughtful deliberation and tough negotiation, the Senate Finance Committee – the final congressional committee involved in shaping health care legislation – has finished the process of crafting their reform proposal.

As we move forward in the coming weeks, I understand that members of Congress from both parties will want to engage in a vigorous debate and contribute their own ideas. And I welcome those contributions. I welcome any sincere attempts to improve legislation before it reaches my desk. But what I will not accept are attempts to stall, or drag our feet. I will not accept partisan efforts to block reform at any cost.

Instead, I expect us to move forward with a spirit of civility, a seriousness of purpose, and a willingness to compromise that characterizes our democratic process at its very best. If we do that, I am confident that we will pass reform this year, and help ensure that our entrepreneurs, our businesses, and our economy can thrive in the years ahead. Thank you.

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Filed under Democrats, Economy, Jobs, Media and Entertainment, Politics, Pres. Barack Obama, Uncategorized, Weekly YouTube Address

The Anger of the Festering Fringe by Roger Ebert

Op-Ed by Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert

Chicago Sun Times/Roger Ebert—I’ve had these thoughts for some time, but have been reluctant to express them. Now so many others have voiced them that it’s pointless to remain silent. I am frightened by the climate of insane anti-Obama hatred in this country. I’m not referring to traditional conservatives or Republicans. They’re part of the process. I’m speaking of the lunatic fringe, the frothers, the extremist rabble who are sweeping up the ignorant and credulous into a bewildering and fearsome tide of reckless rhetoric.

There have always been nuts. Remember when the John Birch society thought Kennedy was a communist? In those innocent days most of the American people were reasonable. They’d shake their heads in wonder at such a weird notion. Kennedy might be one of those liberals, but he wasn’t a commie. And when people said Johnson murdered Kennedy? Also ridiculous. But slowly, ominously, things began to change. After his death, it was said that Edward Kennedy was a Soviet agent. These theories have rabid subscribers.

Obama is a Muslim. Obama was born in Kenya. Obama was a terrorist. Obama will destroy Medicare. Obama will kill your grandmother. Obama is a racist. Obama wants atheism taught in the schools. Obama wants us to pay for the health care of illegal immigrants.

These beliefs are held by various segments of our population. They are absurd. Any intelligent person can see they are absurd. It is not my purpose here to debate them, because such debates are futile. With the zealous True Believers there is no debating. They feed upon loops within loops of paranoid surmises, inventions which are passed along as fact. Sometimes those citing them don’t even seem to care if you believe them. Sometimes they may not believe them themselves. The purpose is to fan irrational hatred against our president.

What are we to make of the recent suggestion on the “respected” right-wing site NewsMax, later withdrawn, that “it might not be such a bad thing” if the U. S. military rose up and overthrew Obama in a coup? That sort of talk belongs on a password-protected neo-Nazi or Klan site, not in a place where ostensibly intelligent people look for information. Where were the editors? What did they think? If they’re “conservatives,” do they support the overthrow of our government by a coup?

More @ chicagosuntimes_logo_red

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HBO Documentary Films: Outrage: Do Ask. Do Tell

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<i>Outrage: Do Ask. Do Tell</i>

Outrage: Do Ask. Do Tell

An official selection of the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival, OUTRAGE investigates the hidden lives of some of the country’s most powerful policymakers – from now-retired Idaho Senator Larry Craig, to former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevy – and examines how these and other politicians have inflicted damage on millions of Americans by opposing gay rights. Equally disturbing, the film explores the mainstream media’s complicity in keeping those secrets, despite the growing efforts to “out” them by gay rights organizations and bloggers.

Barney Frank, the best-known openly gay member of Congress

Congressman Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts)

Through a combination of archival news footage and exclusive interviews with politicians and members of the media, OUTRAGE probes the psychology of a double lifestyle, the ethics of outing closeted politicians, and the double standards that the media upholds in its coverage of the sex lives of gay public figures. As Barney Frank, perhaps the best-known openly gay member of Congress explains, “There is a right to privacy, but not a right to hypocrisy. It is very important that the people who make the law be subject to the law.”

The film also spotlights Michael Rogers, a gay activist and founder of blogACTIVE, a Washington, D.C.-based website dedicated to outing closeted public figures. Rogers feels it is necessary to expose the hypocrisy of those who may live one way in public and another way in private, explaining that his work is not about outing people who are gay, but rather about “reporting on individuals who are working against the community that they then expect to protect them.”

OUTRAGE was written and directed by Kirby Dick; producer, Amy Ziering; executive producers, Tom Quinn, Jason Janego, Ted Sarandos, Chad Griffin, Kimball Stroud, Bruce Brothers and Tectonic Theater Project; co-producer, Tanner Barklow; editors, Doug Blush and Matt Clarke; music, Peter Golub. For HBO: senior producer, Nancy Abraham; executive producer, Sheila Nevins.

Outrage: Do Ask. Do Tell is premiering Monday, October 5 at 9pm only on HBO. For more information, visit HBO.com.




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The Wizard of Beck by David Brooks

Op-Ed by David Brooks

David Brooks

David Brooks

New York Times/David Brooks—…So what is the theme of our history lesson? It is a story of remarkable volume and utter weakness. It is the story of media mavens who claim to represent a hidden majority but who in fact represent a mere niche — even in the Republican Party. It is a story as old as “The Wizard of Oz,” of grand illusions and small men behind the curtain…

In 2008, after McCain had won his nomination, Limbaugh turned his attention to the Democratic race. He commanded his followers to vote in the Democratic primaries for Hillary Clinton because “we need Barack Obama bloodied up politically.” Todd Donovan of Western Washington University has looked at data from 38 states and could find no strong evidence that significant numbers of people actually did what Limbaugh commanded. Rush blared the trumpets, but few of his Dittoheads advanced.

Over the years, I have asked many politicians what happens when Limbaugh and his colleagues attack. The story is always the same. Hundreds of calls come in. The receptionists are miserable. But the numbers back home do not move. There is no effect on the favorability rating or the re-election prospects. In the media world, he is a giant. In the real world, he’s not.

But this is not merely a story of weakness. It is a story of resilience. For no matter how often their hollowness is exposed, the jocks still reweave the myth of their own power. They still ride the airwaves claiming to speak for millions. They still confuse listeners with voters. And they are aided in this endeavor by their enablers. They are enabled by cynical Democrats, who love to claim that Rush Limbaugh controls the G.O.P. They are enabled by lazy pundits who find it easier to argue with showmen than with people whose opinions are based on knowledge. They are enabled by the slightly educated snobs who believe that Glenn Beck really is the voice of Middle America.

So the myth returns. Just months after the election and the humiliation, everyone is again convinced that Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity and the rest possess real power. And the saddest thing is that even Republican politicians come to believe it. They mistake media for reality. They pre-emptively surrender to armies that don’t exist.

They pay more attention to Rush’s imaginary millions than to the real voters down the street. The Republican Party is unpopular because it’s more interested in pleasing Rush’s ghosts than actual people. The party is leaderless right now because nobody has the guts to step outside the rigid parameters enforced by the radio jocks and create a new party identity. The party is losing because it has adopted a radio entertainer’s niche-building strategy, while abandoning the politician’s coalition-building strategy.

The rise of Beck, Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and the rest has correlated almost perfectly with the decline of the G.O.P. But it’s not because the talk jocks have real power. It’s because they have illusory power, because Republicans hear the media mythology and fall for it every time.

Read the entire article @ New York Times/Thomas Friedman

***Update***

Limbaugh, Levin Respond to Brooks Column

Source: Politico

Can you say JEALOUS?” Limbaugh told POLITICO in an email.

Limbaugh brushed off the Times columnist’s criticism by asking “how many Americans know who David Brooks is?”

Mark Levin, author of the best-selling “Liberty & Tyranny,” asked two questions in an email to POLTICO: “David Brooks? Does he run Brooks Brothers?

Here’s a little insight into conservatives, conservatism, and talk radio—we don’t care what David Brooks has to say,” Levin said. “He is irrelevant. He is incoherent. And you guys should rely less on the New York Times. Its circulation is plummeting for a reason.

Sounds like Levin and Limbaugh didn’t read Brooks’ column. Specifically the lines about: “They still ride the airwaves claiming to speak for millions. They still confuse listeners with voters.

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