Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dear Rush

NORMAN LEAR: Dear Rush...
Norman Lear , January 30, 2010 | 12:37:10 PM (EST)

Yesterday, driving to work I listened to Rush Limbaugh read a letter he'd written to President Obama. I listen to Limbaugh because he reminds me of the carnival barkers of my youth, men who were selling elixirs, snake oil, or inviting you for an extra 50 cents to check out the half man/half woman in the secreted tent. They were quaint and harmless compared to the barking Limbaugh who yesterday would have us believe -- he actually said this! -- the President was seeking to destroy the country so that he might then save it.

The rest of the day, last night, and this morning I couldn't stop thinking about the ugly, vindictive, dispiriting and reprehensible things barker Limbaugh had to say about our President. I ached to answer him but couldn't find the words. And then I remembered a scene in an episode of All In The Family when Maude, who later starred in her own series, came to visit Archie. Archie was sitting in his chair. Maude was standing beside him and they were fighting about the legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Finally, Archie who was rewriting history in this argument said something so misguided and distasteful that Maude could not find the words to respond with. All but choking with frustration, her entire body seemingly ready to burst, all she could say was: "You're Fat!"

After a lifetime of trying to reach the El Rushbos of my life, all I can say is: "You're FAT!"

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Alex Brant-Zawadzki Neo-Nazis, Militants Eye Tea Party for Recruitment

Alex Brant-Zawadzki Neo-Nazis, Militants Eye Tea Party for Recruitment

Alex Brant-Zawadzki , January 28, 2010 | 7:01:22 PM (EST)

Produced by HuffPost's Eyes & Ears Citizen Journalism Unit

Tea parties are proving very attractive to both white supremacists and the militia movement. At 11:15 on Friday, in an online Patriot Caucus discussion forum, David E. Parsons wrote a post called "Militia Training Videos," with links to videos by Mark Koernke, a leading figure in the American militia movement, and his followers.

One video linked to from the Patriot Caucus forum (embedded below) features militiamen emerging from a smoke-screened forest, armed with assault rifles, with the instructions: "Train as you will fight... So that you will fight as you have trained!!!"

Militants such as Koernke have referred to their cause as the Patriot Movement for years. Meanwhile, multiple tea party groups are springing up which refer to themselves as "militias." Eric Odom, executive director of American Liberty Alliance, created the Patriot Caucus website on which the militia recruitment post was made. He has yet to respond to a January 22 email informing him of the post. At time of publication, the post was still up.

But militants are not the only ones infiltrating the Tea Party movement. The white power movement views Tea Parties as opportunities to recruit as well as incite violence, as is evidenced by postings on the white power website Stormfront:

Whites Forward: "Go where our people are starting to stand up around symptoms of the problem, and INTERVENE to guide them. Just because these started as an anti-tax protest doesn't mean that they must be limited and can't be developed upward toward an explicitly racial mass struggle."
Scottish: "I think the "tea party" is a good way to meet people with potential. Most people at this event will be white people who are fed up with the direction of things and they are ready to hear how we got into this mess."
On Jan. 22 the Council of Conservative Citizens attended a Florida Tea Party, where members distributed two boxes of their newsletter and 250 Council business cards. The CofCC is the political face of the white power movement. Their mission statement declares that they "oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people."

Last November, neo-Nazi J.T. Ready started a fight by unfurling a Hitler flag at an Arizona Tea Party. In the recent documentary, "White Power USA", Ready describes the Tea Party movement as "the beginning of a really good awakening." White supremacists believe that they are only the tip of an iceberg, the visible aspect of a more universal hatred. The documentary suggests that white supremacists sees Tea Parties as "the best chance in decades to cross over into mainstream American politics."

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Who is running this country?

Obama threatens fight with banks on new risk rules
06:07 PM EST

By Jeff Mason and Kevin Drawbaugh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama threatened to fight Wall Street banks on Thursday with a new proposal to limit financial risk taking, sending stocks and the dollar tumbling.

Obama, a Democrat who is struggling to advance his agenda after a key election loss this week, laid out rules to restrict some banks' most lucrative operations, which he blamed for helping to cause the financial crisis.

"If these folks want a fight, it's a fight I'm ready to have," Obama told reporters at the White House, flanked by his top economic advisers and lawmakers.

"We should no longer allow banks to stray too far from their central mission of serving their customers," he said.

Financial sources said Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner had hesitations about the proposals, concerned that good economic policy was being sacrificed for politics.

But a White House official said the plan had the unanimous backing of Obama's economic team.

"We should no longer allow banks to stray too far from their central mission of serving their customers," Obama said.

After a mixed first year as president, Obama took a tough, populist-tinged stance aimed at revving up his political base by exploiting anger over Wall Street excess.

The proposals, which require congressional approval, would prevent banks or financial institutions that own banks from investing in, owning or sponsoring a hedge fund or private equity fund.

They would also set a new limit on banks' size in relation to the overall financial sector that would take into account deposits -- which are already capped -- as well as liabilities and other non-deposit funding sources.

The proposed rules also would bar institutions from proprietary trading operations, unrelated to serving customers, for their own profit.

Proprietary trading involves firms making bets on financial markets with their own money rather than executing a trade for a client. These expert trading operations, which can bet on stocks and other financial instruments to rise or fall, have been enormously profitable for the banks but can hold huge risks for the financial system if the bets go wrong.

The White House blames the practice for helping to nearly bring down the U.S. financial system in 2008.

The White House said it wants to coordinate with international allies in its implementation of the measures.


Big financial institutions criticized Obama's move.

"Trading, proprietary or otherwise, did not lead to the financial crisis," said Rob Nichols, president of the Financial Services Forum, a lobbying group for CEOs of firms such as Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase.

He said the government should be focused on better risk management, corporate governance and other forms of regulatory oversight, "rather than arbitrarily banning certain activities, or setting arbitrary size limits."

Obama's move is the latest in a series to crack down on banks and follows a devastating political loss for his party in Massachusetts on Tuesday, when a Republican captured a U.S. Senate seat formerly held by the late Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy, potentially imperiling his domestic agenda.

Bank shares slid and the dollar fell against other currencies after Obama's announcement.

JPMorgan fell 6.59 percent, helping push the Dow Jones Industrial average down 2 percent.

Citigroup Inc fell 5.49 percent and Bank of America Corp fell 6.19 percent while Goldman dropped 4.12 percent despite posting strong earnings on Thursday.

Ralph Fogel, investment strategist at Fogel Neale Partners in New York, said the move would have a major impact on big-name brokerage firms like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan.

"If they stop prop trading, it will not only dry up liquidity in the market, but it will change the whole structure of Wall Street, of the whole trading community," he said.

Underscoring the high level of public anger at banks, a majority of 1,006 Americans surveyed in a Thomson Reuters/Ipsos poll said executive pay was too high.

White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee said the proposals were not designed to be punitive. He said they aimed to end the concept that some banks were "too big to fail" and to show that when such firms "mess up, they die."

Before his announcement, Obama met with Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman who heads his economic recovery advisory board and who favors putting curbs on big financial firms to limit their ability to do harm.

The House of Representatives approved a sweeping financial regulation reform bill on December 11 that included a provision that would empower regulators to restrict proprietary trading. The Senate has not yet acted on the matter.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Seeking G.O.P. Backing

Obama Weighs Shift in Health Plan, Seeking G.O.P. Backing
Published: January 21, 2010
WASHINGTON - With Democrats reeling from the Republican victory in the Massachusetts special Senate election, President Obama on Wednesday signaled that he might be willing to set aside his goal of achieving near-universal health coverage for all Americans in favor of a stripped-down measure with bipartisan support.

"It is very important to look at the substance of this package and for the American people to understand that a lot of the fear-mongering around this bill isn't true," Mr. Obama said in an interview on ABC News. "I would advise that we try to move quickly to coalesce around those elements of the package that people agree on."

He continued: "We know that we need insurance reform, that the health insurance companies are taking advantage of people. We know that we have to have some form of cost containment because if we don't, then our budgets are going to blow up and we know that small businesses are going to need help so that they can provide health insurance to their families. Those are the core, some of the core elements of, to this bill."

Mr. Obama's remarks came as the White House and Democratic congressional leaders fumbled for a way forward with their major health care overhaul, and struggled to digest the reality that their top legislative priority had been derailed by the outcome in Massachusetts.

The White House insisted that Mr. Obama still preferred passage of a far-reaching health care measure, and Democratic leaders said they were weighing their options. But some lawmakers in both parties began calling for a scaled-back bill that could be adopted quickly with bipartisan support.

As the full Congress returned to Washington to start a new legislative year - on the first anniversary of Mr. Obama's inauguration - their options were limited. House leaders signaled that they had effectively ruled out the idea of adopting the Senate bill, which would send it directly to the president for his signature.

The victory in Massachusetts on Tuesday, by the Republican candidate, Scott Brown, denies Democrats the 60th vote they need to surmount filibusters and advance a revised health measure. And Senate leaders said they would not risk antagonizing voters by trying to rush a bill through before Mr. Brown could be sworn in.

Democrats also grappled with the implications of losing their 60-vote majority for their wider legislative agenda, including efforts to tighten regulation of the financial system and to combat global warming, even as they sensed new urgency to turn their full attention to creating jobs and improving the economy.

At the White House and at the Capitol, high-level Democrats seemed stunned by the turn of events, though it had been clear for several days that they could lose in Massachusetts. "Bottom line," said one Democrat who is close to the White House, "In the first 24 hours there is literally no good option."

Democrats, from Mr. Obama on down, however, made a concerted effort to portray the results in Massachusetts as a reflection of long-simmering populist anger, and not a referendum on the health care legislation or on the year-old administration, which came into office facing steep challenges.

"Here's my assessment of not just the vote in Massachusetts, but the mood around the country: the same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office," Mr. Obama said in the interview on ABC. "People are angry, they are frustrated. Not just because of what's happened in the last year or two years, but what's happened over the last eight years."

The Massachusetts race and the ensuing unease among Democrats also threatened to complicate any chance the White House had of winning passage this year of legislation to curb global warming through an emissions trading system.

But the outcome might put further impetus behind efforts to bring down the budget deficit, a topic the White House has become more visibly active in addressing in recent days. On Tuesday, the administration and Congressional Democrats agreed on a plan to create a commission to recommend ways of attacking the deficit and the national debt.

At a news conference at the Capitol, the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, made a concerted effort to minimize the health care issue in relation to other concerns among the American public, particularly about jobs and the economy. But he made clear that Democrats did not see a clear path forward.

"The election in Massachusetts changes the math in the Senate," Mr. Reid said. "But it doesn't change the fact that people are hurting." Pressed about the health care legislation, Mr. Reid said, "The problems out there -- it's certainly more than health care." Pressed again, he said: "No decision has been made."

Several senior Democrats said they did not know if the health care legislation could be salvaged.

Republicans showed no new signs of willingness to work with the Democrats. Asked what he would be willing to work on with majority, the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, offered meek praise for Mr. Obama's strategy in Afghanistan but did not offer a single example on domestic policy.

Mr. McConnell was asked of the health care bill was dead. "I sure hope so," he said. "As we said through the month of December, as you know, we were here every day, we ought to stop and start over and go step-by-step to concentrate on fixing the problem."

Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, said she was eager to work with Democrats in devising an alternative to the health care bill passed four weeks ago by the Senate on a party-line vote.

"What I hope the White House will do is start from scratch and, instead of pushing this bill through the House, work with a bipartisan group of senators to achieve a consensus bill that would have widespread support," Ms. Collins said Wednesday. "There are many provisions of the bill that have bipartisan support. And I believe the president would be wise to draft a new bill that he could get through both the House and the Senate with super-majority votes."

She added: "Many members of our caucus believe that health care reform is needed, just not this particular bill," Ms. Collins said. "It is a mistake for the administration to try to constantly find the 60th vote. Instead, they should look at the message that was sent by Massachusetts, representing the views of many Americans that the people of this country want the administration to pursue a more moderate, inclusive agenda."

Senator Mark Pryor, Democrat of Arkansas, said it was too early to know if the health care legislation could be salvaged. Referring to the Massachusetts election, he said, "We need a few days to let this sink in and see what it means."

Mr. Pryor said Democrats should reach across the aisle. "We are a lot better off when we work in a bipartisan way," Mr. Pryor said. "Republicans have a lot of good ideas." But when he and other Democrats tried to work with Republicans last year, Mr. Pryor said, "we were flatly rejected."

Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, said he was skeptical of suggestions to scale back health care legislation and pass some incremental changes as part of a stripped-down bill.

"That's probably not so wise," Mr. Rockefeller said. "That could become another long process."

One idea is to pass a bill that focuses on tough federal regulation of health insurance markets. But Mr. Rockefeller asked, "Does that cover 35 million Americans?" The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the House and Senate bills would eventually cover more than 30 million people who are uninsured.

Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa and chairman of the Senate health committee, said he had six words of advice for colleagues searching for a health care strategy: "Don't panic. Be strong. Be positive."

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, said the message from Massachusetts was that voters "want us to work together and not do too much at once."

Mr. Lieberman said that at the weekly caucus lunch, Democrats on Wednesday had discussed the need to "let things settle down. let people think a little bit about what happened."

Social Security Changes

Social Security Changes

Claim: List details changes made to the Social Security system over the years.


Examples: [Collected via e-mail, October 2005]


Franklin Roosevelt, a Democrat, introduced the Social Security (FICA) Program. He promised:

1.) That participation in the Program would be completely voluntary,

2.) That the participants would only have to pay 1% of the first $1,400 of their annual incomes into the Program,

3.) That the money the participants elected to put into the Program would be deductible from their income for tax purposes each year,

4.) That the money the participants put into the independent "Trust Fund" rather than into the General operating fund, and therefore, would only be used to fund the Social Security Retirement Program, and no other Government program, and,

5.) That the annuity payments to the retirees would never be taxed as income.

Since many of us have paid into FICA for years and are now receiving a Social Security check every month — and then finding that we are getting taxed on 85% of the money we paid to the Federal government to "put away," you may be interested in the following:

Q: Which Political Party took Social Security from the independent "Trust" fund and put it into the General fund so that Congress could spend it?

A: It was Lyndon Johnson and the Democratically-controlled House and Senate.

Q: Which Political Party eliminated the income tax deduction for Social Security (FICA) withholding?

A: The Democratic Party.

Q: Which Political Party started taxing Social Security annuities?

A: The Democratic Party, with Al Gore casting the "tie-breaking" deciding vote as President of the Senate, while he was Vice President of the U.S.

Q: Which Political Party decided to start giving annuity payments to immigrants?

A: That's right! Jimmy Carter and the Democratic Party. Immigrants moved into this country, and at age 65, began to receive SSI Social Security payments! The Democratic Party gave these payments to them, even though they never paid a dime into it!

Then, after doing all this lying and thieving and violation of the original contract (FICA), the Democrats turn around and tell you that the Republicans want to take your Social Security away!

And the worst part about it is, uninformed citizens believe it!

Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions during this 2004 election year!

Variations: A version of this piece circulated via e-mail in 2005 opened with the following introduction:
Dear Friends:

Many years ago in Seattle, two wonderful neighbors, Elliott and Patty Roosevelt came to my home to swim on a regular basis. They were a great couple full of laughter and stories that today I continue to marvel at. Both are now deceased, but their stories remain. During the years of our friendship we had many, many discussions about his parents (President Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt) and how his father and mother never intended for the Social Security and Welfare programs to turn out the way they are today. Elliott used to say that if his mother returned to earth and saw what the politicians had done to their programs she would have burned all of them in hell.

Here is a story I received today regarding the Social Security Program and I immediately thought of Elliott's comments. Hope you will read this and think about it.
Origins: The Social Security system has been a contentious political issue ever since it was proposed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and implemented in 1935. Arguments regarding how the system should be used, administered, and funded — and even whether it should exist at all — have been the subject of debate for many decades now. In this vein, the above-quoted item seeks to enumerate (and assign blame for) alterations to Social Security that have supposedly betrayed the intent of the system as originally conceived back in the 1930s. Most of the entries contained therein, however, are inaccurate regarding what changes were made and/or who was responsible for making them:
. . . participation in the Program would be completely voluntary
There was no provision in the Social Security Act of 1935 (nor has there ever been any provision) for the payment of Social Security payroll taxes (now commonly

known as FICA, from an acronym for the Federal Insurance Contributions Act) to be voluntary. Since the inception of the Social Security program, the law has required that payroll taxes for persons working at jobs covered by Social Security "shall be collected by the employer of the taxpayer by deducting the amount of the tax from the wages as and when paid."

It is true that Social Security provisions originally applied only to "workers in commerce and industry (except railroads) under age 65 in the continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii, and on American vessels," and thus those who worked in fields not designated as "commerce and industry" (e.g., government workers, farm workers, doctors, lawyers) neither paid into the Social Security fund nor received benefits from it. Nearly all of those exemptions have been since phased out.
. . . participants would only have to pay 1% of the first $1,400 of their annual incomes into the Program
Social Security taxes were never limited to the first $1,400 of annual income, nor was there any provision in the Social Security Act of 1935 to permanently fix the tax rate at 1%. The Social Security Act of 1935 set the original rate at 1% of the first $3,000 of annual income, with provisions to gradually increase that rate to 3% over the next twelve years:
1) With respect to employment during the calendar years 1937, 1938, and 1939, the rate shall be 1 per centum.
(2) With respect to employment during the calendar years 1940, 1941, and 1942, the rate shall 1 1/2 per centum.
(3) With respect to employment during the calendar years 1943, 1944, and 1945, the rate shall be 2 per centum.
(4) With respect to employment during the calendar years 1946, 1947, and 1948, the rate shall be 2 1/2 per centum.
(5) With respect to employment after December 31, 1948, the rate shall be 3 per centum.
These figures have been adjusted many times over the years. Under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act, as of 2005 participants pay 6.2% of the first $90,000 of their income (with their employers contributing a like sum) into what is commonly known as OASDI (from an acronym for Old Age Survivors and Disability Insurance, the official name of the basic retirement benefits portion of the Social Security program).
. . . the money the participants elected to put into the Program would be deductible from their income for tax purposes each year
The original Social Security Act of 1935 specifically stated that Social Security payroll taxes were not to be allowed as income tax deductions:
For the purposes of the income tax imposed by Title I of the Revenue Act of 1934 or by any Act of Congress in substitution therefor, the tax imposed by section 801 shall not be allowed as a deduction to the taxpayer in computing his net income for the year in which such tax is deducted from his wages.
Social Security payroll taxes have never been deductible from income for tax purposes, either when the program was originally instituted or at any time since.
. . . the money the participants put into the independent "Trust Fund" rather than into the General operating fund, and therefore, would only be used to fund the Social Security Retirement Program, and no other Government program
The Social Security Trust Fund was established in 1939 to receive monies collected for Social Security through payroll taxes. The monies in this fund are managed by the Department of the Treasury; they are not, nor have they ever been, put into the "general operating fund."

However, whether the Social Security Trust Fund can truly be said to be "independent" is problematic. The Social Security Act specifies that the monies in the fund may only "be invested in securities backed by the full faith and credit of the Federal government," such as treasury bills, treasury notes, and treasury bonds, as well as special issue bonds. So, essentially, the government can "invest" Social Security funds by lending them to itself, then spending that money on programs not related to Social Security (e.g., defense, foreign aid, education). The government "pays back" this money when the Social Security program redeems the bonds, but critics of the program contend Social Security will eventually fall into deficit by 2018, and the Treasury won't have the necessary cash on hand to redeem the bonds and pay back the fund. As the Social Security and Medicare Trustees themselves noted in their 2005 Annual Report:
In 2005 the Social Security tax income surplus is estimated to be more than offset by the shortfall in tax and premium income for Medicare, resulting in a small overall cash shortfall that must be covered by transfers from general fund revenues. The combined shortfall is projected to grow each year such that by 2017 net revenue flows from the general fund to the trust funds will total $515 billion, or 2.3 percent of GDP. Since neither the interest paid on the Treasury bonds held in the HI [Hospital Insurance] and OASDI Trust Funds, nor their redemption, provides any net new income to the Treasury, the full amount of the required Treasury payments to these trust funds must be financed by some combination of increased taxation, increased Federal borrowing and debt, or a reduction in other government expenditures. Thus, these payments along with the 75 percent general fund revenue contributions to SMI will add greatly to pressures on Federal general fund revenues much sooner than is generally appreciated.
A somewhat dated but detailed article about how the Social Security trust funds are invested can be found here.
. . . the annuity payments to the retirees would never be taxed as income
It is true that Social Security benefits were not originally considered taxable income. However, that status was not due to any promise or act on the part of President Roosevelt, nor was it specified in the Social Security Act (or any other law); it was the result of a series of rulings by the Treasury Department in 1938 and 1941 that excluded Social Security benefits from federal income taxation. Those rulings were overriden by amendments to the Social Security act enacted in 1983.
Q: Which Political Party took Social Security from the independent "Trust" fund and put it into the General fund so that Congress could spend it?

A: It was Lyndon Johnson and the Democratically-controlled House and Senate.
As noted above, the monies paid into the Social Security trust have never been "put into the general fund." The requirements for how the Social Security Trust Fund is to be financed and invested have not changed since the fund's inception in 1939. The reference to Lyndon Johnson indicates that someone was probably confused by a change implemented at the end of the Johnson administration (1969) that altered how the fund was accounted for in the federal budget but did not change the actual operations of the fund itself:
Beginning in fiscal year 1969, Social Security and other Federal programs that operate through trust funds were counted officially in the budget. This was done administratively by President Johnson. At the time Congress did not have a budget-making process. In 1974 Congress adopted procedures for setting budget goals through passage of annual budget resolutions. Like the budgets prepared by the President, these resolutions were to reflect a "unified" budget that included trust fund programs such as Social Security in the budget totals.

Beginning in the late 1970s, Social Security faced financial problems, and over a period of time legislation was enacted to restore the financial health of the program. However, because the Federal budget deficit remained large, interest in reducing Social Security spending continued. This routine consideration of Social Security constraints led to concerns that cuts in Social Security were being proposed for budgetary purposes rather than programmatic ones.

In response to this concern, a series of measures were enacted in 1983, 1985, and 1987 making the program a more distinct part of the budget and permitting Congressional floor objections (points of order) to be raised against budget bills containing Social Security changes.
This method of accounting for the Social Security Trust Fund in the federal budget was reversed in 1990.
Q: Which Political Party eliminated the income tax deduction for Social Security (FICA) withholding?

A: The Democratic Party.
As noted above, Social Security withholding has never been deductible from income for tax purposes. The original Social Security Act of 1935 specifically stated that monies paid into Social Security via payroll taxes were not to be allowed as income tax deductions.
Q: Which Political Party started taxing Social Security annuities?

A: The Democratic Party.
Prior to 1984, income derived from Social Security benefits was exempt from taxation. Amendments to the Social Security Act passed by Congress in 1983 allowed for 50% of Social Security benefits to be considered taxable income for taxpayers whose total income exceeded specified thresholds.

Responsibility for this change cannot fairly be assigned to either political party. The idea originated with a proposal issued by the Greenspan Commission, which had been appointed by President Ronald Reagan, a Republican. The amendments were passed by a House of Representatives in which the Democrats held a clear majority of the seats (296-166), but the proposed amendments received "Yea" votes from members of both parties, and they were signed into law by President Reagan.
Q: Which political party increased the taxes on Social Security annuities?

A: The Democratic Party, with Al Gore casting the "tie-breaking" deciding vote as President of the Senate, while he was Vice President of the U.S.
In 1993, Congress passed legislation that increased the percentage of Social Security benefits subject to taxation from 50% to 85%. As with the 1983 amendments to the Social Security Act, this increase applied only to taxpayers whose total income exceeded specified thresholds.

This change to Social Security was but one element of the massive Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) introduced in Congress in 1993. OBRA was barely passed by a 218-216 vote in the House of Representatives, with not a single Republican voting in favor of it (although 41 Democrats voted against it). Likewise, the Senate vote on OBRA was deadlocked at 50-50 (again, with not a single Republican voting in favor of it, although 6 Democrats voted against it) until Vice-President Al Gore (a Democrat) cast the deciding "Yea" vote. The bill was signed into law by President Bill Clinton (also a Democrat).
Q: Which Political Party decided to start giving annuity payments to immigrants?

A: That's right! Jimmy Carter and the Democratic Party. Immigrants moved into this country, and at age 65, began to receive SSI Social Security payments! The Democratic Party gave these payments to them, even though they never paid a dime into it!
No one — whether he be a citizen, immigrant, or illegal alien — is eligible to collect Social Security benefits unless he (or someone else, such as a parent or spouse) has paid into the system. Someone has confused Social Security itself with Supplemental Security Income (SSI) — the latter is a federal welfare program "designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people, who have little or no income" by providing "cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter." Immigrants can qualify for SSI benefits under certain conditions, but SSI is financed by general revenues and not Social Security taxes. SSI was not enacted by the administration of President Jimmy Carter (a Democrat); it was created and signed into law in 1972, during the administration of President Richard Nixon (a Republican).

Additional information:
Myths and Misinformation About Social Security
(Social Security Administration)
Myths and Misinformation About Social Security, Part 2
(Social Security Administration)
Last updated: 24 February 2009

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Riedl, Brian and David John. "Social Security's Fictitious Trust Fund."
Knight-Ridder Tribune. 10 November 2004.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hoyer: Dems Could Pass Health Care Before Brown Takes Office

January 19, 2010 | 12:41:23 PM (EST)

Should Republican Scott Brown win Tuesday's Senate race in Massachusetts and break the Democrats' supermajority in the Senate, Congressional Dems could pass a final health care reform bill before Brown is seated, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters at his weekly press briefing Tuesday.

And if that means the House has to rubber-stamp the weaker reform bill that came out of the Senate, he said, "the Senate bill clearly is better than nothing."

Under procedural statutes, Massachusetts officials could buy some time for Congress to pass health care by delaying the certification of a Brown victory. If everything drags out as long as possible, Democrats would have about two weeks to get the final bill to President Obama's desk.

Though he said he is "hopeful" that Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley will win the Senate seat formerly occupied by Ted Kennedy, Hoyer uttered a terse "Yes" when asked whether Democrats could pass legislation of health reform's magnitude in that window. And he said a bill is better than no bill, though earlier in the briefing he took a jab at the weaker Senate package.

"The House passed, as you know, a very significant piece of legislation," Hoyer said, pausing before drawing a contrast. "The Senate passed a piece of legislation." Later, he declined to speculate on the likelihood of House Democrats having enough votes to secure passage of the Senate bill; back in November, the House only passed its own bill by a 220-215 margin.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

U.S. Military Weapons Inscribed With Secret 'Jesus' Bible Codes

U.S. Military Weapons Inscribed With Secret 'Jesus' Bible Codes

Supplier for rifle sights says it has 'always' added New Testament references.
Coded references to New Testament Bible passages about Jesus Christ are inscribed on high-powered rifle sights provided to the United States military by a Michigan company, an ABC News investigation has found.

The sights are used by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the training of Iraqi and Afghan soldiers. The maker of the sights, Trijicon, has a $660 million multi-year contract to provide up to 800,000 sights to the Marine Corps, and additional contracts to provide sights to the U.S. Army.

U.S. military rules specifically prohibit the proselytizing of any religion in Iraq or Afghanistan and were drawn up in order to prevent criticism that the U.S. was embarked on a religious "Crusade" in its war against al Qaeda and Iraqi insurgents.

One of the citations on the gun sights, 2COR4:6, is an apparent reference to Second Corinthians 4:6 of the New Testament, which reads: "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

Other references include citations from the books of Revelation, Matthew and John dealing with Jesus as "the light of the world." John 8:12, referred to on the gun sights as JN8:12, reads, "Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Trijicon confirmed to that it adds the biblical codes to the sights sold to the U.S. military. Tom Munson, director of sales and marketing for Trijicon, which is based in Wixom, Michigan, said the inscriptions "have always been there" and said there was nothing wrong or illegal with adding them. Munson said the issue was being raised by a group that is "not Christian." The company has said the practice began under its founder, Glyn Bindon, a devout Christian from South Africa who was killed in a 2003 plane crash.

'It violates the Constitution'

The company's vision is described on its Web site: "Guided by our values, we endeavor to have our products used wherever precision aiming solutions are required to protect individual freedom."
"We believe that America is great when its people are good," says the Web site. "This goodness has been based on Biblical standards throughout our history, and we will strive to follow those morals."

Spokespeople for the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps both said their services were unaware of the biblical markings. They said officials were discussing what steps, if any, to take in the wake of the report. It is not known how many Trijicon sights are currently in use by the U.S. military.

The biblical references appear in the same type font and size as the model numbers on the company's Advanced Combat Optical Guides, called the ACOG.

A photo on a Department of Defense Web site shows Iraqi soldiers being trained by U.S. troops with a rifle equipped with the bible-coded sights.

"It's wrong, it violates the Constitution, it violates a number of federal laws," said Michael "Mikey" Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group that seeks to preserve the separation of church and state in the military.

'Firearms of Jesus Christ'

"It allows the Mujahedeen, the Taliban, al Qaeda and the insurrectionists and jihadists to claim they're being shot by Jesus rifles," he said.
Weinstein, an attorney and former Air Force officer, said many members of his group who currently serve in the military have complained about the markings on the sights. He also claims they've told him that commanders have referred to weapons with the sights as "spiritually transformed firearm[s] of Jesus Christ."

He said coded biblical inscriptions play into the hands of "those who are calling this a Crusade."

According to a government contracting watchdog group,, Trijicon had more than $100 million in government contracts in fiscal year 2008. The Michigan company won a $33 million Pentagon contract in July, 2009 for a new machine gun optic, according to Defense Industry Daily. The company's earnings from the U.S. military jumped significantly after 2005, when it won a $660 million long-term contract to supply the Marine Corps with sights.

"This is probably the best example of violation of the separation of church and state in this country," said Weinstein. "It's literally pushing fundamentalist Christianity at the point of a gun against the people that we're fighting. We're emboldening an enemy."

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

What's Still Hidden In AIG's Files?

What's Still Hidden In AIG's Files?
Huffington Post Investigative Fund , January 15, 2010 | 5:08:55 PM (EST)

As federal hearings into the cause of the financial crisis got underway this week, attention has focused on one key outstanding question: Whether the giant insurer American International Group committed fraud in the run-up to its $182 billion bailout.

The records of AIG's actions presumably are contained in company documents and e-mails. Some of those records have been obtained and published by news organizations and congressional investigators. But some lawmakers and former financial prosecutors argue that most details remain unknown and should be made public--an idea resisted so far by congressional Democrats and AIG's regulators.

The little the public knows about AIG's bailout pertains to the company's use of $25 billion in government money to buy back toxic securities from Wall Street's big banks.

Last week, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), ranking member of the Committee on House Oversight and Government Reform, released e-mails showing that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, AIG's regulator, kept details of these payouts secret while now-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was in charge of the New York Fed. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission scrutinized the payouts--specifically to Goldman Sachs-- at a hearing Wednesday. Then Rep. Ed Towns (D-N.Y.), chairman of the oversight committee, subpoenaed the New York Fed this week for all documents related to the payouts, including Geithner's e-mail and phone logs.

AIG was a pioneer and the world's top player in the trade of credit default swaps - exotic instruments blamed for fueling the cascade of financial disasters in 2007 and 2008. The company ultimately received four separate federal bailouts and, unlike big banks, is unlikely to pay it all back to taxpayers.

AIG's financial products division, which handled the swaps, is a "black box, the epicenter" of the financial crisis, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer said in an interview. Given that taxpayers own nearly 80 percent of the company, Spitzer said, the public is entitled to see a decade's worth of AIG's e-mail, internal accounting documents and financial models. This information will help prosecutors determine whether AIG employees broke the law, he said.

"It's the best use of our money," said Spitzer, who as New York's attorney general was known as the Sheriff of Wall Street for prosecuting financial titans. Spitzer leveraged his performance as attorney general into the governor's mansion before resigning in a prostitution scandal in 2008.

Spitzer's call for AIG records has gained traction among some congressional Republicans.

Issa, according to a spokesman, would support expanding the subpoena. "In our pursuit to fully understand what risks led to the financial meltdown, we should access and release as much information as we possibly can," said the spokesman, Kurt Bardella.

But Issa lacks the power to issue subpoenas. And those who can compel AIG to turn over the documents are so far balking at the idea.

Towns' staff, for instance, has said the congressman is limiting his investigation to AIG's payments to banks. This inquiry likely will produce documents from the last year or two.

"The subpoena Chairman Towns will issue to the Federal Reserve Board of New York is a responsible and targeted effort to uncover important facts about important issues," said Jenny Thalheimer Rosenberg, communications director for Towns' committee.

If Congress won't act, Spitzer said, the AIG Credit Facility Trust should. The New York Fed created the Trust last year to hold and oversee the taxpayers' investment in the company. Although the Trust's three members are not allowed to interfere in the day-to-day affairs of the company, they have authority to oust AIG's current board. If the trustees wanted, Spitzer said, this implicit threat could compel the board to release the documents.

The trustees "have the opportunity to be among the most effective and influential investor advocates in history," Spitzer and two other experienced fraud investigators said in a recent op-ed article in the New York Times. "Before A.I.G. escapes, they should demand the evidence," wrote Spitzer; Frank Partnoy, a former investment banker; and William K. Black, a former banking regulator who led investigations of fraud during the savings-and-loan scandal.

But the Investigative Fund found that the trustees, who each receive an annual $100,000 salary, are steering clear of the controversy. "The trustees have no comment regarding the suggestion that AIG's board release the e-mails of the company, nor will they comment on any views they might have on that issue," Peter Bakstansky, the Trust's adviser, said in an e-mail.

Although the New York Fed says the trustees are independent, each is either a current or former Federal Reserve official.

One trustee, Jill M. Considine, chairs a firm that administers hedge fund portfolios and is a former board member of the New York Fed. Another trustee, Chester B. Feldberg, was an employee of the New York Fed for 36 years. Douglas L. Foshee, chief executive of the El Paso Corporation and former chief operating officer of Halliburton, is the current board chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas' Houston branch.

Without the trust's cooperation, another potential route for obtaining AIG's documents is the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. When Congress created the bipartisan commission, lawmakers gave it subpoena power.

A spokeswoman was unsure whether the commission planned to apply its subpoena power to AIG.

But at the commission's first hearing on Wednesday, its chairman, Phil Angelidies, probed AIG's government-subsidized payments to Goldman Sachs and other big banks.

Goldman was one of several banks that bought AIG's credit default swaps, which insured the banks against losses on their risky mortgage-backed investments. When the investments collapsed, AIG owed billions to Goldman, Bank of America and Citigroup, among others. Instead of honoring the insurance agreements, AIG used $24 billion in taxpayer funds to buy the mortgage investments from the banks at 100 cents on the dollar.

But many of the investments were worth substantially less than their face value, according to a report last year by the special inspector general for the bailout.

At the hearing, Angelides asked Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman's chair and chief executive officer, whether government regulators ever asked him personally to accept a discount from AIG.
Blankfein's answer: "Never."

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Put a Major Oil Company Out Of Business Alec Baldwin

ALEC BALDWIN: Put a Major Oil Company Out Of Business
Alec Baldwin , January 12, 2010 | 8:45:39 PM (EST)
I am disappointed that the Obama administration, and this government in general, has chosen to push so hard on the current health care plan. I'm in favor of much of the proposal in general and favor a public option, but not now. There is no health insurance plan, government funded or otherwise, that will help us if we don't address other more pressing issues first. The most important of those is energy.

What do Americans believe will have to happen before we become more long-term in our policy making? Do you really want to keep fighting wars for oil when an Apollo-like project in alternative energy would likely reduce US energy consumption by at least ten percent in the next ten to fifteen years? It might reduce our consumption by twenty percent in twenty to twenty-five years.

Don't Americans want that? And all of the economic benefits that would come with that?

The goal of this country's energy policy, long-term, should be to trigger a series of events that would lead to one clear measurement of our progress. That is the collapse of a major oil company. If a major oil company went out of business, we would be on the right track.

Do you honestly think that oil executives get together and talk about what a great product they are providing for America and how proud they are of the great services they provide?

Do you think oil executives want Americans to drive fuel efficient cars, burn less heating oil, and want to switch our economy to renewables anytime soon?

My father told me when I was a child that the major oil companies would one day introduce (and ultimately control the market for) renewable energy the moment they pumped the last drop of oil out of the ground.

Are you in the market for a new car? Is it an American car? Are you buying it from a car company that has taken billions from tax payers? Do you think it helps or hurts our economy for any of us to continue to buy cars that are inferior (and I do not suggest that American means inferior) just out of sentiment?

Energy policy is the lynch pin of nearly all of our other economic problems. And our dependence on oil is the tragic path that we are are still on, two wars in the Middle East in twenty years later, in order to deliver oil. Oil that costs so much more than what you read at the pump. You factor in both of those wars, the deaths of our brave soldiers, and the looming bill that our society will have to pay for our lack of maturity, foresight and courage on this front, the costs are incalculable.

Putting a major oil company out of business. That's a war worth fighting.

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Republican Fear has Given the Terrorists an Easy Victory

Bob Cesca

Bob Cesca

Posted: January 13, 2010 05:52 PM

For much of the last decade, the Republican line about liberals has been that whenever we downplayed the urgency of the so-called terrorist threat (or dared to criticize then-President Bush for that matter) we were somehow emboldening the terrorists.
For example, during the 2004 campaign, John Kerry was annihilated by the Dick Cheney wingnut right when he said, "We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance."
Oh holy hell! Kerry said what?!
He was exactly right, of course, both strategically and rhetorically. The senator was outlining how we ought to be simultaneously destroying al-Qaeda and, in the "home of the brave," we ought to be acting like grown-ups rather than a nation of scared little pee-pants infants frightened of unseen toe monsters lurking under the bed.
Cheney and others, in response to Kerry, were very clearly implying that terrorism was always going to be a serious and existential threat to America -- that we have every right to be both terrified and terrorized -- therefore we absolutely have to torture people, undermine the rule of law, preemptively invade sovereign nations and, naturally, elect Republicans in order to be safe.
What the far-right has never grasped, however, is that the whole point of a terrorist attack isn't necessarily to kill people. The point is to terrorize. Scott Shanes in the New York Timesquoted a former Homeland Security and CIA official:
"We give comfort to our enemies," said Charles E. Allen, a 40-year C.I.A. veteran who served as the top intelligence official at the Department of Homeland Security from 2007 to early last year. Exaggerated news coverage and commentary, he said, "creates an atmosphere of tension and fear, and to me that's exactly the wrong way to go."
Fareed Zakaria spelled it out even further this week:
The purpose of terrorism is to provoke an overreaction. Its real aim is not to kill the hundreds of people directly targeted but to sow fear in the rest of the population. Terrorism is an unusual military tactic in that it depends on the response of the onlookers. If we are not terrorized, then the attack didn't work. Alas, this one worked very well.
In the case of the Underpants Bomber, by collectively losing our shit and inflating a minor fracas out of proportion -- by acting as though this was a major bloody attack and subsequently acquiescing to full body scans and further violations of our civil liberties, we're handing al-Qaeda a victory. The attempt was a failure, but the overreaction in its aftermath turned it into an easy win for al-Qaeda.
Good job, Republicans. Good job, Fox News.
Speaking of which, it didn't take long for Fox Nation to run a banner headline equating the failed Underpants Bomber incident with the earthquake in Haiti.
"Pres. Obama Reacts to Haiti Earthquake Faster Than Christmas Bomber"
Not surprisingly, Rush Limbaugh said the same thing on his Wednesday radio broadcast.
The implication of Limbaugh and the Fox Nation headline was that the President should have reacted more quickly to the relatively very minor Underpants Bomber than to the catastrophic earthquake that might've killed upwards of 500,000 people. In this case, they're amplifying a failed incendiary device to a level more significant than a massive loss of life in one of the world's most destructive natural disasters.
Of course the President is going to react more quickly to a disaster like the earthquake in Haiti than he is to a Junior Qaeda with an exploding taint (who, by the way, didn't kill anyone). Any rational observer can see that the President's reactions have been proportional to the gravity of the events.
Nevertheless, Limbaugh and Fox Nation continue to illustrate how the far-right invariably overreacts to terrorism, blowing it way out of proportion and elevating a scattered network of radicals to a fighting status equaling the mighty United States. It's been this way since September 11. "The response of the onlookers," as Zakaria wrote, has been obscene.
Rewind a few years. Limbaugh once told his audience, "Civil liberties are worthless if we are dead." In late 2005, Senator "Big John" Cornyn said, "None of your civil liberties matter much after you're dead." Predictably enough, in a 2006 poll, Gallup reported that Republicans were more willing to give up basic liberties for the sake of preventing terrorism. This is precisely the overreaction that terrorists seek, and it's precisely what the Republicans are giving them.
Today, it's Liz Cheney and her fear-mongering commercials. It's Peter King, who's been all over cable news hyperventilating into a paper sack since Christmas. It never ceases to amaze me how a faction of allegedly tough-talking conservatives can be so easily frightened by a kid with exploding underpants who couldn't even do it right. Listening to Republicans for the last several weeks, you'd think Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was a steroid-pumped, 12-foot-tall transforming robot with ICBMs strapped to his gigantic unit. In reality, this guy was the Steve-O of terrorists -- only, Steve-O was usually successful when attempting to blow up his jockeys.
But, by now, the damage is done. The Republican fear-mongering and overreaction to the Underpants Bomber has signaled that we're all too willing to give "comfort to our enemies" by handing them exactly what they seek: a national panic attack and an increased willingness to give up our liberties for the illusion of security.
Like John Kerry, I want terrorism to be nothing more than nuisance. Like President Obama, I'm not interested in knee-jerking or selling out our values, liberties and dignity whenever a terrorist tries something stupid. Ultimately, it's okay to be afraid when something awful happens, but our character as a nation is defined by how we react. I can't imagine anything more self-defeating -- anything that emboldens a terrorist more -- than allowing ourselves to acquiesce and succumb to our fears.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sarah Palin Joining Fox News

AP , January 11, 2010 | 8:15:29 PM (EST)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, will return to her broadcast roots and take her conservative message to Fox News as a regular commentator, the cable channel announced Monday.

"I am thrilled to be joining the great talent and management team at Fox News," Palin said in a statement posted on the network's Web site. "It's wonderful to be part of a place that so values fair and balanced news."

Fox said that according to the multiyear deal, Palin will offer political commentary and analysis on the cable channel, as well as Fox's Web site, radio network and business cable channel.

She also will host occasional episodes of Fox News' "Real American Stories," a series debuting this year that the network said will feature true inspirational stories about Americans who have overcome adversity.

"Governor Palin has captivated everyone on both sides of the political spectrum and we are excited to add her dynamic voice to the FOX News lineup," Bill Shine, executive vice president of programming, said in a statement.

Palin, 45, is hugely popular with conservatives and has more than 1.1 million Facebook followers.

She stepped down as Alaska governor in July, 17 months before the end of her first term in office and less than a year after she vaulted to overnight fame as John McCain's running mate.

The bombshell resignation stunned even supporters and fueled widespread speculation on her next career step – with predictions ranging from seeking the presidency in 2012 to hosting a conservative talk show. She told Barbara Walters in November that a 2012 presidential bid was not on her radar but added she wouldn't rule out playing some kind of role in the next presidential election.

Since resigning, Palin has had colossal success with her best-selling memoir "Going Rogue," released four months after she left office. She finished a nationwide tour in December after hitting some of the political battleground states from the 2008 election and drawing thousands of fans.

If she were to seek the presidency, her new job would provide yet another stage from which to advance her conservative platform. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who sought the presidency in 2008, also hosts a talk show on Fox News and hasn't ruled out another run for president.

Palin majored in journalism with an emphasis on broadcasting at the University of Idaho and worked part-time as a weekend sportscaster in 1988 for KTUU-TV in Anchorage, using her then-maiden name Heath. The station's sports director, John Carpenter, said the young broadcaster left after a few months because of the low pay.

Carpenter said he was sorry to see her go. She was a hard worker who enjoyed the entire process, not just being in front of the cameras, he said.

"She knew sports, she could talk sports, she looked OK on TV," Carpenter said. "She had the aptitude, no question."

Palin's upcoming commentary career had her Facebook fans giddy with excitement Monday.

"Tell 'em like it is girl!!!!!!," one person wrote on a post.

"I look forward to seeing you on Fox....but I hope it doesn't prevent you from running in '12!," another wrote.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pailn's run for White House "God's Plan"

WASHINGTON -- Sarah Palin believed that Sen. John McCain chose her to be his running mate in 2008 because of "God's plan," according to a top political strategist in the Arizona Republican's campaign.

In an interview with the CBS news magazine "60 Minutes," Steve Schmidt described Palin as "very calm -- nonplussed" after McCain met with her at his Arizona ranch just before putting her on the Republican ticket. McCain had planned to name Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., as his vice presidential choice until word leaked, sparking what Schmidt called political blowback over picking the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee.

Schmidt said he asked Palin about her serenity in the face of becoming "one of the most famous people in the world." He quoted her as saying, "It's God's plan."

Palin has not ruled out a run for the presidency.

Schmidt was interviewed by "60 Minutes" for a segment about a new book about the 2008 presidential race, "Game Change," by John Heilemann of New York magazine and Mark Halperin of Time magazine.

Schmidt credited Palin with being a quick study and for giving a great speech at the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn., but he said it soon became clear that she often was not accurate in her remarks.

"There were numerous instances that she said things that were -- that were not accurate that, ultimately, the campaign had to deal with. And that opened the door to criticism that she was being untruthful and inaccurate. And I think that that is something that continues to this day," he said.

Palin's spokeswoman, Meg Stapleton, has disputed the version of events presented in the reporters' book.

"The governor's descriptions of these events are found in her book, 'Going Rogue.' Her descriptions are accurate," Stapleton said in a statement to "60 Minutes." Stapleton added: "She was there. These reporters were not."

Schmidt conceded that had Palin not been on the ticket, "our margin of defeat would've been greater than it would've been otherwise."

Schmidt said he asked Palin about her serenity in the face of becoming "one of the most famous people in the world." He quoted her as saying, "It's God's plan."

Palin has not ruled out a run for the presidency.

Schmidt was interviewed by "60 Minutes" for a segment about a new book about the 2008 presidential race, "Game Change," by John Heilemann of New York magazine and Mark Halperin of Time magazine.

Schmidt credited Palin with being a quick study and for giving a great speech at the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn., but he said it soon became clear that she often was not accurate in her remarks.

"There were numerous instances that she said things that were – that were not accurate that, ultimately, the campaign had to deal with. And that opened the door to criticism that she was being untruthful and inaccurate. And I think that that is something that continues to this day," he said.

Palin's spokeswoman, Meg Stapleton, has disputed the version of events presented in the reporters' book.

"The governor's descriptions of these events are found in her book, 'Going Rogue.' Her descriptions are accurate," Stapleton said in a statement to "60 Minutes." Stapleton added: "She was there. These reporters were not."

Schmidt conceded that had Palin not been on the ticket, "our margin of defeat would've been greater than it would've been otherwise."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Palin: I'm "Not Gonna Back Off" Death Panel Claim

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First Posted: 01- 6-10 11:16 PM   |   Updated: 01- 7-10 12:54 AM
Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin is standing by her claim that Democratic-authored health care legislation includes the infamous "death panels" - even after the assertion was labeled the "lie of the year" by a prize-winning fact checking organization.
The former Alaska governor told Sean Hannity, in a taping of the conservative firebrand's radio program on Wednesday, that she was "not gonna back off" the criticism that the health care bill would pursue cost saving measures by rationing end of life care.
"If the health care bill goes the way Obama wants it, we're gonna have something very much like foreign countries' systems of health care like the British, and it's the American people -- if we have our health care paid for by the bureaucracy, by government -- depending on our health condition, depending on our age -- we're gonna be subject to bureaucrats deciding, panels and commissions deciding -- just like they do overseas -- who will be worthy of receiving the health care that government is going to provide."
"So that is the death panel that I referred to, and I won't back off on criticizing that aspect of the health care bill."

The remarks come roughly two weeks after Palin took to her Facebook page to re-assert the validity of the much-criticized (and thoroughly debunked) death panel. That entry from the former vice presidential candidate, in turn, was in response to post that dubbed the argument the "lie of the year."
Palin scoffed at that critique. But there was one hitch to her re-assertion. She changed the definition about what actually constituted the death panel. In her first go-around, the former governor referenced end-of-life counseling in the health care legislation. In the post-Politifact Facebook entry she insisted that the death panel was coming in the form of a Medicare Advisory Board -- a panel that a large number of well-respected economist have deemed important to reign in costs in Medicare (not, say, cut the plug on granny).
(Hat tip: GOP12)