fresh voices from the front lines of change







Left, RIght and Center Attack Far Right Smearmongers

Speaker Pelosi and House Maj. Leader Hoyer slam right-wing mob in USA Today oped: "These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades."

USA Today and LA Times debunk right-wing lies. LA Times cites AMA and AARP support for advance care planning consultation that right-wingers smear as forced euthanasia. USA Today: "It's hard not to smile when critics warn darkly that health care reform means 'socialism' or a 'government takeover' of health care, since these same critics are usually staunch supporters of government-run Medicare..."

White House launches online "Reality Check" debunking charges of rationing, forced euthanasia, hurting small biz, harming veterans care and Medicare.

The Atlantic's James Fallows returns from China, sees health care time warp: "Nearly fifteen years ago, after the collapse of the Clinton health-reform effort, I spent a lot of time working on ... how, exactly, the discussion of the bill had become so unmoored from reality and finally determined by slogans, stereotypes, and flat-out lies ... I have to say that it is striking to come back -- from the world of controlled media and not-always-accurate 'official truth' in China -- and see the world's most mature democracy, informed by the world's dominant media system, at a time of perceived economic crisis and under brand new political leadership, getting tied up by manufactured misinformation. No matter what party you belong to, you can't think this is a sign of health for the Republic." (via Brad DeLong)

Speaking of lies, Newt Gingrich doubles down on Sarah Palin's "death panels" charge on ABC's This Week. Digby responds: "Why the Democrats haven't found a way to use the Schiavo mess to their advantage on this, I don't know. ... It's despicable that these people are using demagoguery on a matter such as living wills. Nothing is more difficult and important when you are dealing with a dying loved one and its despicable that they are actually going out of their way to make this more difficult than it should be for purely political reasons. They are actually trying to get old people to be scared of having a living will and it is going to result in horrifying suffering among them and their families."

ThinkProgress: "GOP Rep. Kingston Separates Himself From Palin: There Are ‘No Death Panels’"

Andrew Sullivan and David Frum criticize their fellow conservatives for lack of seriousness. Sullivan: "There's no way to get from spiraling debt to stable public finances without tackling the exponentially rising costs of healthcare. So this is a fiscally conservative issue ... If you have guaranteed emergency room care for the uninsured at public expense, you have already effectively socialized medicine. It makes no sense not to bring these people into the insurance system, and to offer less expensive, long-term preventive healthcare ... What do you want, GOP? A permanent populist culture-war? Or actual solutions to pressing problems? Let us know when you've matured enough to answer that question."

Progressive Grassroots Steps Up

W. Post looks at grassroots battle in Blue Dog Dem Rep. Baron Hill's Indiana district: "Allison Luthe, the Indiana coordinator for Health Care for America Now, which supports the Obama plan, said pro-reform labor unions have assigned 22 organizers to the state ... On a warm evening in New Albany, a gritty Ohio River town in far southern Indiana, 25 volunteers showed up at the Floyd County Democratic Party headquarters. They picked up packets with maps and literature and set out to persuade voters to telephone Hill and centrist Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.). Presbyterian Church researcher Perry Chang and social worker Bruce Behney -- both from across the river in Kentucky -- teamed up. When answering the door, more people than not said the country needs health-care reform and agreed to listen to the pitch."

LA Times on Organizing For America's difficulties in energizing 13 million members on specific policy: "The network is powered by local volunteers who often have left-leaning goals. But the president, now that he is in office, has in many cases adopted a centrist approach that accommodates Republicans and business groups. That means some activists are being asked to devote evenings and weekends to build support for policies they may feel only lukewarm about ... But [officials] say Organizing for America, which was known as Obama for America during the presidential campaign, is quietly and deliberately building a system of professional field organizers and trained volunteers that has already inspired thousands of community events and reached millions of people."

Politico on latest OFA effort: "Organizing for America, President Obama's political organization, is urging supporters to visit the district offices of their local member of Congress to urge support for healthcare reform -- another move by Democrats to counter the loud opposition being voiced by conservatives at town halls ... Organizing for America has created a sign-up where supporters pledge to visit their House member. Democrats have compiled the address, phone number and office hours for the members and tailored it to each email depending on where their supporter lives."

Pharma Deal Still Unsettling Progressives

Robert Reich worries about impact on democracy: "Perhaps the White House deal with Big Pharma is a necessary step to get anything resembling universal health insurance. But if that's the case, our democracy is in terrible shape. How soon until big industries and their Washington lobbyists have become so politically powerful that secret White House-industry deals like this are prerequisites to any important legislation?"

Huffington Post highlights campaign videos where Obama promised government negotiations to lower drug prices.

Durbin Will Take Bill Without Public Option, For Now

On CNN, Sen. Dick Durbin reiterates earlier comment accepting Senate bill without public option, at least before House-Senate conference: "I support a public option, but, yes, I am open. Just understand that, after we pass this bill -- and I hope we do -- in the Senate, it will go to conference committee. We'll have a chance to work out all of our differences."

Media Matters slaps CNN for falsely asserting public option is "unpopular."

GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley starts talking up long buried Wyden-Bennett bill, which also lacks public option. The Hill: "Grassley took to Twitter on Sunday to suggest an entirely different way forward on healthcare reform. The Iowa Republican said his chamber should give the bipartisan Wyden-Bennett bill a 'LookSe.' ... Grassley's comments may raise some eyebrows since he has been the lead Republican healthcare negotiator on the Senate Finance Committee."

Can Military Focus Propel Climate Bill?

Climate Progress' Joe Romm responds to Sunday NYT piece on forthcoming ominous national security assessments from military intelligence: "The NYT notes, 'The conflict in southern Sudan, which has killed and displaced tens of thousands of people, is partly a result of drought in Darfur.' A 2007 Atlantic Monthly piece ... went further ... 'The violence in Darfur is usually attributed to ethnic hatred. But global warming may be primarily to blame.' And we haven’t even warmed 1°C yet! ... I do think this is an important argument to make to Senators, many of whom see themselves as historical figures playing on the world stage. Indeed, this is part of the even bigger message that Senators who vote to block the national action — and hence vote to kill any chance of a global deal — will be remembered for condemning the next 50 generations to unimaginable misery and strife."

TreeHugger's Daniel Kessler calls for Pentagon brass to take lead: "The time might be right for a national security message, delivered by the right spokespeople--the military. Imagine if General David Petraeus addressed the Congress on climate change. As the commander of the United States Central Command, he has the authority and position to bring great weight to the fact that we need action now. Think Limbaugh has the guts to shout him down? Think Glenn Beck would dismiss him as a loon? I doubt it. Business has come over to the side of climate action. Maybe it's time some smart green group start to work with the national security crowd to amplify a message that must be heard now."

Economic Breakfast Sides

WH nearing decision on guaranteed bonuses, regardless of performance, for Wall Street traders. NYT "The resurrection of the guaranteed bonus is sure to become a hot-button issue for the Obama administration’s pay czar, Kenneth Feinberg, who is preparing this week to review how compensation should be structured at seven companies that received two or more federal bailouts. The companies must each submit 2009 compensation plans for their top 25 earners by Thursday, and Mr. Feinberg has 60 days to rule on them. He has the authority to single out any of those employees and adjust their pay packages. In the next phase, he is to review the packages of the next 75 highest earners in each company. For them, he can set pay formulas to be applied broadly. Mr. Feinberg has met privately with executives at the companies and urged them to voluntarily rework any guarantees for big earners in advance of the submission deadline, according to two executives briefed on the discussions, with the goal of holding out these pay packages as examples for the industry. "

Krugman credits government action for averting Great Depression: "I’m still very worried about the economy. There’s still, I fear, a substantial chance that unemployment will remain high for a very long time. But we appear to have averted the worst: utter catastrophe no longer seems likely. And Big Government, run by people who understand its virtues, is the reason why."

Commercial real estate continues to drag down financial markets. Bloomberg: "The collapse in commercial real estate is preventing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke from declaring the economy and financial markets are healed. Property values have fallen 35 percent since October 2007, according to Moody’s Investors Service. That’s making it tough for owners to refinance almost $165 billion of mortgages for skyscrapers, shopping malls and hotels this year, pressuring companies such as Maguire Properties Inc., the largest office landlord in downtown Los Angeles, to put buildings up for sale. The industry is likely to be high on the agenda when Bernanke and his colleagues sit down in Washington tomorrow for the Federal Open Market Committee meeting on monetary policy"

Obama wants to reconcile Mexican truck dispute. Bloomberg: "President Barack Obama told his Mexican counterpart Felipe Calderon that he is committed to resolving a dispute over truck access to U.S. highways. Obama said he will also address safety concerns about the trucks raised by the U.S. Congress..."

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