McCain tries to deal with Hagee endorsement

He doesn’t agree with him, but he won’t reject or denounce him. Read some of Hagee’s comments and you’ll see just how crazy this guy can get.

McCain embraces John Hagee, right wing nut

John McCain appeard onstage with John Hagee in order to pick up his endorsement. John Hagee is known for his controversial statements about the Catholic Church.

On the right, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League is objecting Hagee’s extremist writings, particularly his denunciations of the Catholic Church. For example, Donohue pointed to instances in which Hagee has referred to the Catholic Church as, “The Great Whore,” an “apostate church,” the “anti-Christ,” and a “false cult system.” Is Tim Russert going to repeat any of that to McCain, in the same way he read out Farrakhan’s “gutter religion” line about Jews?

“Senator Obama has repudiated the endorsement of Louis Farrakhan, another bigot,” Donohue wrote. “McCain should follow suit and retract his embrace of Hagee.”

Obama never sought the endorsement of Farrakhan and has repeatedly repudiated him. McCain, on the other hand, has embraced Hagee, just like he pandered to Jerry Falwell last year.

TPM might be the most influential blog on the net, having pushed the attorney purge story last year and then receiving a Polk award for their excellent work. It will be interesting to see if their coverage of this endorsement leads the national press to pick it up.

Turning the tables on Tim Russert

After Tim Russert’s ridiculous attempt at guilt by association against Obama in last night’s debate regarding Farrakhan, Attytood has some interesting questions for Tim Russert on whether he will “denounce and reject” Don Imus. Since he recently went back on his show, we shouldn’t hold our breath.

Of course, the whole issue is absurd. There’s nothing wrong with Russert asking Obama about this issue, but his “holier than thow” attitude was disgraceful, and his attempt to read Farrakhan’s outrageous statements AFTER Obama denouced them was a lame attempt to add some soundbites to the MSNBC-sponsored debate. Good taste and fairness be damned when you can get a controversial clip that will be played over and over again on all the networks.

A pro like Russert should know better, but he’s turning into a caricature of himself. Catching politicians in contradictions is important, but it’s not the ONLY thing that matters. At the Cleveland debate, issues like education, forclosures and poverty were not addressed.

It’s not just about Obama. Russert was extremely rude when he cut off Hillary numerous times during the debate. He repeated several times his assertion that she changed her position on NAFTA. As an Obama supporter I’m glad he brought up the point, but he showed little class in the way he asked the questions.

One wonders whether his ego has gotten the best of him.

For the fall, let’s hope all the network anchors are excluded from the debates and we rely on PBS and print journalists to moderate the debates.

Dollar hits new low

The Bush economy continues, and they still want to keep spending billions in Iraq.

McCain playing games on public financing

Howard Dean and the Democrats are not going to let McCain get away with his attempt to game the campaign finance laws. McCain is bound by the public finance limits unless he gets a letter from the FEC releasing him from that obligation. That might not happen since he decided to accept public funds and gained the advantage of having his name automatically placed on state ballots.

McCain has been making an issue of public financing with Obama, but McCain’s current problems with compliance will make it difficult for him to press that point.

Hillary at her worst

Dick Morris lets her have it.

We are watching a grim re-enactment of all of the character traits that led Hillary to decompose in the healthcare debate of her husband’s first term. The blind reliance on a guru-delivered strategy, the religious insistence on following the same rhetorical line even when it obviously isn’t working, the inflexibility in adapting to one’s opposition, and the inability to formulate new strategies or to improvise tactics when her pre-conceptions are found to be so obviously faulty — this is Hillary at her worst.

As citizens, we are entitled to watch Obama’s skill, leadership style, and savvy sophistication and contrast it with Hillary’s doctrinaire insistence on approaches that aren’t working and to conclude that Hillary would be a disaster as president and that Obama would be pretty good. We can, at least, conclude that the same tenacity that led Johnson into Vietnam and may be inducing Bush to risk his party, his reputation and the attitudes of a generation in Iraq may be abundantly present in Hillary.

Another win for Obama

Clinton was terrible tonight and Obama won another clear victory. Clinton was angry and petty throughout the debate, even complaining about the order of the questions.

Her lowest moment was her attempt to take advantage of the Farrakhan exchange. She had an opportunity to be gracious and accept Obama’s denunciation of Farrakhan. Instead, she tried to scores some cheap political points, and she actually gave Obama another chance to explain his rejection of Farrakhan.

Obama looked more presidential again. He used humor to deflect many of her attacks, and his “driving the bus into the ditch” comment in response to her Iraq War arguments was brilliant.

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Robert Reich on Obama

He gets it, and he eloquently explains the importance of idealism “in the service of realism.”

Yet the striking thing about Obama, and the enthusiasm he has stirred up, has little to do with the specifics of the policies he advances. It is rather his almost pitch-perfect echo of the John F. Kennedy we heard in 1960 and the Robert Kennedy last heard in 1968. It is a call for national unity and national sacrifice — not in the interest of military prowess but in the cause of social justice, both in the nation and around the world. His appeal is for more civic engagement, not necessarily more government. He has the voice and wields the techniques of a community organizer (which he was on the streets of Chicago), asking people to join together, calling the nation to form a more perfect union. Not since the sixties has America been so starkly summoned to its ideals. Not since then has America– including, especially, the nation’s youth –been so inspired.

It is easy for cynics to write off Obamania as a passing fad, as lofty rhetoric that can’t and won’t hold up on close inspection — another bout of the kind of naive and romantic enthrallment that occasionally claims American voters until common sense sets in. This is surely what Hillary Clinton and my friend from forty years ago are counting on. But if the Clintons stop to think back to what they felt and understood in those years leading up to 1968, they may come to a different conclusion, as have I.

Neither John F. Kennedy nor his brother Robert were idealists. They were realists who understood the importance of idealism in the service of realism. They grasped the central political fact that little can be achieved in Washington unless or until the public is energized and mobilized to push for it; the status quo is simply too powerful. The ideals they enunciated helped mobilized the nation politically. That mobilization contributed to the subsequent passage of civil rights and voting rights laws, Medicare, and environmental protection. For purposes of practical electoral strategy as well as high-minded moral aspiration, they never tired of reminding the nation of its founding principles — most fundamentally, that all men are created equal.

McCain on the war

Andrew tries to make sense of McCain’s latest statement.

Health care cancellations

One of the disturbing practices highlighted in Michael Moore’s “Sicko” involved insurance companies paying bonuses to employees who were able to find ways to cancel the policies of patients who became sick. The practice was simple and brutal – if a policy holder became sick with something like cancer, the insurance company would look for ways to cancel the policy and not cover the person’s medical expenses.

Fortunately, the courts are getting involved.

A woman who had her medical coverage canceled as she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer has been awarded more than $9 million in a case against one of California’s largest health insurers.

Patsy Bates, 52, a hairdresser from Lakewood, had been left with more than $129,000 in unpaid medical bills when Health Net Inc. canceled her policy in 2004.

On Friday, arbitration judge Sam Cianchetti ordered Health Net to repay that amount while providing $8.4 million in punitive damages and $750,000 for emotional distress.

“It’s hard to imagine a situation more trying than the one Bates has had to endure,” Cianchetti wrote in the decision. “The rug was pulled out from underneath, and that occurred at a time when she is diagnosed with breast cancer, one of the leading causes of death for women.”

It’s hard to imagine a more disgusting policy. The insurance company has admitted to the practice of cancelling policies, but claims it has ceased the practice. Who knows how many more Americans have suffered the same fate.

The award came a day after the Los Angeles city attorney sued Health Net, claiming it illegally canceled the coverage of about 1,600 patients. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo also said the company illegally ran an incentive program in which it paid bonuses to an administrator for meeting targets of policy cancelations.

Health Net acknowledged that such a program existed in 2002 and 2003 but was subsequently scrapped.

“It’s hard to imagine a policy more reprehensible than tying bonuses to encourage the recision of health insurance that helps keep the public well and alive,” Cianchetti wrote in the Bates decision.

Those defending our current health care system must address these terrible practices. Is this the kind of health care they want in ths country?

This is one of the many reasons Americans are clamoring for health care reform.

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