Strong Arming Health Care

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Ahh, politics.  Darned people, they don’t understand what we’re doing is good for them, so we’ll just have to show them.  What?  We’ve got a Senator holding it up…well, it’s gonna get bad for him then.  I’m telling you, this is my moment and you people better pass this….

Here’s hoping his moment goes down in flames…way to go Joe!

from the Politico…

Obama: ‘Last chance’ for health reform
By: Carrie Budoff Brown and Mike Allen
December 14, 2009 08:26 PM EST

In a provocative argument designed to rescue his foundering health care plan, President Barack Obama will warn Senate Democrats in a White House meeting Tuesday that this is the “last chance” to pass comprehensive reform.

Obama will contend that if it fails now, no other president will attempt it, aides said.

White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer told POLITICO: “If President Obama doesn’t pass health reform, it’s hard to imagine another president ever taking on this Herculean task. For those whose life’s work is reforming health care, this may be the last train leaving the station.”

Previewing the message, Vice President Joe Biden said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”: “If health care does not pass in this Congress … it’s going to be kicked back for a generation.”

The new argument comes as the Senate races to pass the measure by Christmas, in the face of a costly setback this week. Senate Democrats say they are prepared to drop a plan to expand Medicare coverage after Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said he could not support it.

That could keep the bill alive but would infuriate the party’s liberals, who feel the moderate Lieberman has thwarted them once again.

Biden said on MSNBC: “”Say it ain’t so. … Joe is a great guy. … I think Joe’s judgment is wrong on this.”

Senate strategists say the current impasse will have to be resolved in the next couple of days in order to allow passage by year’s end.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) declined to say whether the Medicare expansion would be dropped and was waiting for congressional scorekeepers to put a price tag on the plan before making a final decision.

But several senators — including Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) — said it appeared Democrats faced with the reality of needing Lieberman’s vote to get to the 60 needed for passage, would drop the Medicare expansion.

“The general consensus was, we shouldn’t make the perfect the enemy of the good,” Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) said after leaving a caucus meeting. “And if in order to get all the insurance reforms accomplished, a number of the other good things in the bill, dropping the Medicare expansion was necessary, then that’s what should be done. And it appeared that would be necessary to get the 60 votes.”

Asked if Reid explicitly dropped the Medicare plan, Bayh said, “That’s what it sounded like to me.”

For his part, Lieberman said he had not received a promise that the Medicare buy-in idea would be dropped from the bill. “Not an explicit assurance, no,” Lieberman said.

“This is a classic case where you have to bring 60 people together. There are more than me that had concerns about different parts of this bill, but I think we’re making progress,” he said. “I think we’re in the reach of a very significant accomplishment. … It will change the lives of people forever.”

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) also said it appeared Democrats were moving toward a bill without the Medicare option. “It looks that way,” Harkin said.

Added Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), a big supporter of the public option and the Medicare idea, “Things are not moving in the right direction.”

The move came after two days of high drama over health care, with Lieberman saying he’d fight the Medicare plan and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel urging Reid to cut a deal with Lieberman on reform, according to a source close to the negotiations.

Reid has no margin for error and needs Lieberman’s support to get the 60 votes needed to pass reform. So Democrats, after a late-afternoon caucus meeting, sounded resigned to giving up on the idea of allowing Americans ages 55 to 64 to buy into the popular insurance plan for seniors — which Lieberman and other moderates worried was too much like the “public option” that they had long opposed.

But talk of dropping the Medicare expansion angered the party’s liberals, who can’t believe a senator who no longer considers himself a Democrat is in the position of effectively vetoing a key part of the health reform bill. Liberals supported the Medicare expansion as a way to cover more of the uninsured in a government plan.Already, there was talk of retaliating against Lieberman, much as some Democrats sought to strip him of his Senate Homeland Security Committee chairmanship after he campaigned for Republican Sen. John McCain for president in 2008.

“The anger toward him right now is white hot,” said one senior Democratic aide.

President Barack Obama has called the Democratic Caucus to the White House for a meeting Tuesday.

Lieberman threw health care reform into doubt Sunday when he told Reid that he would join a filibuster of the bill if it allowed older Americans to purchase coverage in Medicare. That came just days after Reid had announced “broad agreement” on a bill that included the Medicare buy-in and plans to create a national health plan with private insurers.

That plan was itself a compromise from Reid’s original bill, which included a public health insurance option with a chance for states to opt out of the plan. Reid dropped that measure because of objections from moderates, including Lieberman, who threatened to filibuster that plan too.

Earlier Monday, Reid was described as so frustrated with Lieberman that he was not ready to sacrifice a key element of the health care bill and first wanted to see the Congressional Budget Office cost analysis of the Medicare buy-in. The analysis is expected early this week.

Democrats shared the majority leader’s frustration. In interviews with POLITICO, senior Democratic aides and senators laid out a range of emotions toward Lieberman — from outrage over what they believed was Lieberman’s blatant attempt to kill the bill to surprise over Lieberman’s apparent reversal on the Medicare buy-in, which he has supported in the past.

“It was a surprise to us because we felt that he was favorably inclined toward the package that came out of the negotiations, and we were working from that premise,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

On whether punishment should be levied, Durbin said: “That has not been discussed, and it won’t be. We’re going to get this bill passed.”

Among liberal activists, the anger grew as well. Adam Green, spokesman for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said going through the budget reconciliation process is the way to make Lieberman “irrelevant. … Taking away Lieberman’s chairmanship is the way to teach a lesson to others.”

And some of Lieberman’s moderate colleagues seemed perplexed as well.

“Sen. Lieberman, it’s my understanding, proposed a similar measure [a] few years ago,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) . “So I’m not sure why he’s having a hard time with it today.”

Lieberman comments against the Medicare plan Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” set off a series of private meetings between the Senate leadership and top White House aides, including Emanuel, who recommended that Reid cut a deal, the official close to the negotiations said.

The White House issued a statement saying it is on the same page as Reid, working with him to find the best way to move forward with reform — not pushing him to do something he doesn’t want to do.

“The White House is not pushing Sen. Reid in any direction,” Pfeiffer said in a statement. “We are working hand in hand with the Senate leadership to work through the various issues and pass health reform as soon as possible.”

Democrats had only limited options to move a bill ahead:

• Reach an agreement with Lieberman, which would mean stripping out the provisions that have kept progressives on board. This would very likely cause problems on the left — maybe even defections — unless the White House steps in to persuade senators such as Feingold and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

• Win over Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), but she has also voiced serious reservations about the Medicare expansion and has resisted Democratic pressure to speed up the bill.

• Use reconciliation, a procedural maneuver to get around a filibuster and the need for Lieberman’s vote. It remains on the table, but it’s not a viable option at the moment, the official said.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a liberal who voted to strip Lieberman of his chairmanship after the 2008 election, when Lieberman supported McCain, said he’s not “giving up” on wooing Lieberman. “I don’t want to make threats [against] anybody; it’s not my place to make them,” he said.

But Sen. Kent Conrad, a fellow centrist, said Lieberman has “every right” to take that position, should “absolutely not” be punished and wasn’t the only one worried about the Medicare buy-in. “It’s very clear — he vocalized concerns many were having,” Conrad said.

Still, within top offices of the Senate, there was clear concern that Lieberman seemed to be moving the goal posts. Lieberman has voiced support for a Medicare buy-in in previous campaigns, as well as in September, when he told the Connecticut Post that he supported the idea of expanding the entitlement program to people age 50 and older.

Marshall Wittmann, a Lieberman spokesman, said the senator voiced support for the Medicare buy-in before the Finance Committee approved a bill with subsidies for people across the board, including those ages 55 to 64. “The buy-in is completely unnecessary because of the strong subsidies in the core legislation,” Wittmann said.

hahaha…I love this one…do they thing there’s not enough ammo already?

What Democrats are particularly concerned about is waiting until next year to pass a bill, fearing that a laundry list of unfinished items will continue to pile up and give opponents ammunition to paint Reid and the Democratic leadership as having had an ineffectual year.

They’re Coming to America…Illinois to be Specific

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Well, the folks in Illinois should be really proud of their hometown boy now…

US to transfer Guantanamo detainees to Illinois

Detainees at the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba will be transferred to a prison the federal government will acquire in the state of Illinois, an administration official said on Tuesday.”Today, the administration will announce that the President has directed that the federal government proceed with the acquisition of the Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson, Illinois to house federal inmates and a limited number of detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,” the official said.

“Closing the detention center at Guantanamo is essential to protecting our national security and helping our troops by removing a deadly recruiting tool from the hands of al Qaeda,” the same official added, noting: “Today’s announcement is an important step forward as we work to achieve our national security objectives.”

A Green Pope Now?

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OK, enough.  While I’m not a Catholic, I have friends who are.  The Pope is now going green and supporting global warming?  Please, don’t be political in religion.  This Pope is now cultivating aliens too.  The Catholic church has it’s share of problems like the rest of organized religion, and the concern needs to be saving souls, not more materialism.  That’s just my two cents….

Rich nations must assume environmental duties: pope

By Philip Pullella, Reuters UK

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Industrialized nations must recognize their responsibility for the environmental crisis, shed their consumerism and embrace more sober lifestyles, Pope Benedict said on Tuesday.

The pope’s call for more environmental commitments came in his message for the Roman Catholic Church’s annual World Day of Peace, to be marked on Jan 1 and whose theme is “If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation.”

The message is traditionally sent to heads of state, government and international organizations and its importance this year is more significant because its release coincided with the U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen.

“It is important to acknowledge that among the causes of the present ecological crisis is the historical responsibility of the industrialized countries,” he said in the message.

While saying that developing countries “are not exempt from their own responsibilities with regard to creation,” and had a duty to gradually adopt effective environmental measures, the bulk of his criticism was aimed at rich nations.

Speaking of the need for all nations to address the issue of energy resources, he said:

“This means that technologically advanced societies must be prepared to encourage more sober lifestyles, while reducing their energy consumption and improving its efficiency.”

He said no nation or people can remain indifferent to problems such as climate change, desertification, pollution, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions.

Environmental concerns too often took a back seat to what he called “myopic economic interests,” adding the international community and governments had a moral duty to “send the right signals” to effectively combat misuse of the environment.

“Humanity needs a profound cultural renewal; it needs to rediscover those values which can serve as the solid basis for building a brighter future for all,” he said.

“Our present crises — be they economic, food-related, environmental or social — are ultimately also moral crises, and all of them are interrelated.”

He called on all people to “move beyond a purely consumerist mentality” so that they could “rethink the path which we are traveling together” and adapt “a lifestyle marked by sobriety and solidarity” between the haves and the have nots.

Environmental issues deserved the attention of the world community because the were human rights issues that could influence the right to life, food, health and development.

“Sad to say, it is all too evident that large numbers of people in different countries and areas of our planet are experiencing increased hardship because of the negligence or refusal of many others to exercise responsible stewardship over the over the environment,” he said.

Crap, That Was Inconvienient!

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Hahahaha…don’t ya love it.  When stupidity unraveled…

Inconvenient truth for Al Gore as his North Pole sums don’t add up

Al Gore

Al Gore’s office admitted that the percentage he quoted in his speech was from an old, ballpark figure.

Richard Lindzen, a climate scientist at the Massachusets Institute of Technology who does not believe that global warming is largely caused by man, said: “He’s just extrapolated from 2007, when there was a big retreat, and got zero.”

There are many kinds of truth. Al Gore was poleaxed by an inconvenient one yesterday.

The former US Vice-President, who became an unlikely figurehead for the green movement after narrating the Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, became entangled in a new climate change “spin” row.

Mr Gore, speaking at the Copenhagen climate change summit, stated the latest research showed that the Arctic could be completely ice-free in five years.

In his speech, Mr Gore told the conference: “These figures are fresh. Some of the models suggest to Dr [Wieslav] Maslowski that there is a 75 per cent chance that the entire north polar ice cap, during the summer months, could be completely ice-free within five to seven years.”

// However, the climatologist whose work Mr Gore was relying upon dropped the former Vice-President in the water with an icy blast.

“It’s unclear to me how this figure was arrived at,” Dr Maslowski said. “I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this.”

Mr Gore’s office later admitted that the 75 per cent figure was one used by Dr Maslowksi as a “ballpark figure” several years ago in a conversation with Mr Gore.

The embarrassing error cast another shadow over the conference after the controversy over the hacked e-mails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, which appeared to suggest that scientists had manipulated data to strengthen their argument that human activities were causing global warming.

Mr Gore is not the only titan of the world stage finding Copenhagen to be a tricky deal.

World leaders — with Gordon Brown arriving tonight in the vanguard — are facing the humiliating prospect of having little of substance to sign on Friday, when they are supposed to be clinching an historic deal.

Meanwhile, five hours of negotiating time were lost yesterday when developing countries walked out in protest over the lack of progress on their demand for legally binding emissions targets from rich nations. The move underlined the distrust between rich and poor countries over the proposed legal framework for the deal.

Last night key elements of the proposed deal were unravelling. British officials said they were no longer confident that it would contain specific commitments from individual countries on payments to a global fund to help poor nations to adapt to climate change while the draft text on protecting rainforests has also been weakened.

Even the long-term target of ending net deforestation by 2030 has been placed in square brackets, meaning that the date could be deferred. An international monitoring system to identify illegal logging is now described in the text as optional, where before it was compulsory. Negotiators are also unable to agree on a date for a global peak in greenhouse emissions.

Perhaps Mr Gore had felt the need to gild the lily to buttress resolve. But his speech was roundly criticised by members of the climate science community. “This is an exaggeration that opens the science up to criticism from sceptics,” Professor Jim Overland, a leading oceanographer at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

“You really don’t need to exaggerate the changes in the Arctic.”

Others said that, even if quoted correctly, Dr Maslowski’s six-year projection for near-ice-free conditions is at the extreme end of the scale. Most climate scientists agree that a 20 to 30-year timescale is more likely for the near-disappearance of sea ice.

“Maslowski’s work is very well respected, but he’s a bit out on a limb,” said Professor Peter Wadhams, a specialist in ocean physics at the University of Cambridge.

Dr Maslowki, who works at the US Naval Postgraduate School in California, said that his latest results give a six-year projection for the melting of 80 per cent of the ice, but he said he expects some ice to remain beyond 2020.

He added: “I was very explicit that we were talking about near-ice-free conditions and not completely ice-free conditions in the northern ocean. I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this,” he said. “It’s unclear to me how this figure was arrived at, based on the information I provided to Al Gore’s office.”