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      Profits on Medicare Advantage plans are at least double what insurers earn from other kinds of policies. Gee, I wonder why? There is tons of evidence that insurers in the program have been manipulating a program that pays them extra fees for enrolling customers with more illnesses. The change took away payments for some of … Continue reading Cheaters
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      Water. As I’ve said for many years. The world is facing an imminent water crisis, with demand expected to outstrip the supply of fresh water by 40 percent by the end of this decade, experts have said on the eve of a crucial UN water summit. I’ll use the US as an example, though this going to effect almost all countries, some much worse than others, and it wi […]
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Abandon the last vestiges of Hope™ all ye who enter here?

“Nobody” could have predicted “the first wired president” would seek to wiretap the internet. From that last link (via the Gray Lady):

WASHINGTON — Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is “going dark” as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone.

Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications — including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct “peer to peer” messaging like Skype to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.

The bill, which the Obama administration plans to submit to lawmakers next year, raises fresh questions about how to balance security needs with protecting privacy and fostering innovation. And because security services around the world face the same problem, it could set an example that is copied globally.

From the CNN “first wired president” article I linked to above (this story was published back in January 2009):

As the first president-elect with a Facebook page and a YouTube channel, Barack Obama is poised to use the Internet to communicate directly with Americans in a way unknown to previous presidents.

Judging by Obama’s savvy use of social-networking sites during his campaign and the interactive nature of his transition team’s Web site, Americans can expect a president who bypasses the traditional media’s filters while reaching out to citizens for input, observers say.

“The rebooting of our democracy has begun,” said Andrew Rasiej, founder of Personal Democracy Forum and the techPresident blog. “[Obama] has the potential to transform the relationship between the American public and their democracy.”

Our democracy has been rebooted? Well, as a matter of fact it has. Just in the opposite direction of what Rasiej and others who pushed the “first wired president” meme had in mind.

If anyone really couldn’t have seen this coming by now, here’s a little refresher from May:

Donna continues:

If a single move could restore civility to politics, that is it. Get rid of the left-vs.-right commentators who are just out scoring points for their team. This sort of opinion-mongering is not only boring and predictable, it is destructive of the truth. If your only credentials are “GOP shill” or “Democratic hack,” you’ve no business cluttering up the airwaves or the op-ed pages. My momma always told me that if you don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s best to keep your mouth shut. That’s good advice.


Timing is everything. Brazile’s commentary bears an uncanny resemblance to remarks made by President Obama in his commencement speech to Hampton University graduates this past Sunday:

“With so many voices clamoring for attention on blogs, on cable, on talk radio, it can be difficult, at times, to sift through it all; to know what to believe; to figure out who’s telling the truth and who’s not,” Obama said. “Let’s face it, even some of the craziest claims can quickly gain traction. I’ve had some experience with that myself. Fortunately, you’ll be well positioned to navigate this terrain.

“You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t rank all that high on the truth meter,” Obama said. “With iPods and iPads; Xboxes and PlayStations; information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment.


“All of this is not only putting new pressures on you; it is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy.”

Point being, there have been red flags up the wazoo. So anyone at this point who is surprised, that Obama isn’t exactly the natural ally to internet freedom and other first amendment issues that he was pitched as, isn’t paying enough or proper attention to what has continued to be telegraphed over the last few years by Obama and his allies.

The part that saddens and troubles me most about the latest developments is not that the Obama Administration is going to submit a plan to wiretap the internet.

As much as I admire and respect Hillary and as strong and forceful an advocate as she is with her Clinton Doctrine on Internet Freedom on the global front, I have to say point blank that I would not have been surprised to see anyone else’s Administration–including a potential Hillary Administration–make some sort of request to Congress about the internet and wiretaps.

The cynic in me would frankly have been surprised not to see anyone who won in 2008 lobby for something like this at some point in their Administration. (Even the Kooch himself. Or actually especially the Kooch himself. But, that’s a topic for another post. It’s in my drafts folder.)

So, to reiterate, what I find disturbing about the Obama Admin seeking to wiretap the internet is not that development itself–it’s that I do not have confidence that the left will be holding Obama as accountable as they should be throughout the process of his Administration making such a request. If a Hillary Clinton Administration or a McCain Administration were doing this, I can’t imagine the left would be anything other than rightly holding their feet to the fire. I think that would have been a force for pulling the conversation to the left and served as at least some kind of check on the process.

The Obama Admin’s plans to wiretap the internet probably won’t do much to change anything as far as the 23 percenters who will always be Obama’s true believers. But, for the rest of the Obama Left wavering in and out of states of consciousness and clarity, if this doesn’t shock them out of their Hope-coma for good, I’m not sure how much more has to happen for them to understand that Obama is a politician and a president. He has his own agenda. The left’s role is not to coddle and apologize and make excuses for him but to hold him accountable from the left.

If Bush were doing this, I can just imagine the level of outrage and the types of commentary that would be pouring out of left blogistan and other progressive media right now. If their complaints about Bush were sincere and they were not just made as a means to achieving progressive power and relevance, then Obama must be held to the same standards as Bush would be on this. Otherwise the left just looks disingenuous and blindly partisan (I am actually in favor of partisanship grounded in reason, but I’m not fond of blind-anything.)

Oh, and remember the “Vote Different” ad? (this isn’t the end of the post, so keep reading after the video.)

Yep. The Obama netroots sure voted “different” in 2008. We really avoided an Orwellian nightmare there.

The netroots powered Obama’s candidacy and had great hopes that he would “reboot” our democracy. And, reboot he has. He has rendered the left irrelevant where the left had been alive and well in challenging the oligarchy during the Bush years. Just goes to show that old saying, “be careful what you wish for,” is as relevant as ever.

Too bad the left has yet to strategize differently.

A profile in self-reflective journalism: Michael Ware (Updated)

This post has been updated; please see the update below on the video links from mickware.info. (If you are reading this on the frontpage, the update is after the Continue Reading jump.)

In my last post, I took a look at the progressive netroots and how they have turned into the blogospheric equivalent of the media Village they have long railed against.

I want to shift gears somewhat and focus on one of the journalists out there who is worth watching:

War correspondent Michael Ware.

Here’s the header of an article previewing the first part of a two part special on Ware that aired recently in Australia, from ABC News in Australia, September 10, 2010:

After a decade of working in war zones, and being kidnapped and almost executed by Al Qaeda, Australian journalist Michael Ware has plenty of personal demons to confront.

The article begins:

In an interview to air on Monday night’s Australian Story, Ware says he is coming to grips with his ordeal at the hands of Al Qaeda.

“No matter how many times I’ve told the story of me being kidnapped by Al Qaeda, every time I’ve told that story it just rolls off my tongue. I thought I was talking about someone else. I never stopped to go back and contemplate how it felt,” he said.

While working in Afghanistan, Ware says he went from being a bumbling Aussie journo to being completely immersed in the conflict.

Adopting local guise and speaking the language of the Taliban, he gained trust on both sides of the war.

“We would go into these Taliban-controlled areas and stop for a bite to eat and the Taliban would be absolutely unaware that a foreigner had just been among them,” he said.

“If they had known I would have been executed instantly, as would my team.

“I was going to their first training camps in the dead of night, having been blindfolded or shoved in trunks of cars and taken by circuitous routes to arrive at these places where men were training other men in how to conduct guerrilla warfare.”

The write-up goes on to discuss Ware’s prisoner of war experience:

Ware is the only Westerner to be captured and later released by Al Qaeda in Iraq.

He says the time of his kidnapping was a particularly violent chapter in the country.

“The blood-letting was at a horrific rate. There was a day in September when there was a particularly furious battle on Haifa Street, when the Americans went in,” he said.

“After that battle, the Iraqi guerrilla commander who controlled Haifa Street sent one of his mid-ranking commanders to my house.

“That commander came to my house and he said ‘Al Qaeda has taken over Haifa Street… the boss said to come and bring you in and show you’.

“Whilst we were driving I clearly saw the multitude of Al Qaeda fighters… A member of Al Qaeda stepping out from the median strip pulling a pin on a grenade – that’s the only film I have of my kidnapping.”

And, this is just amazing:

His actions have often rankled authorities, but former US Army Staff Sergeant David Bellaviva cannot help but notice his physical courage.

“Michael Ware has completed the equivalent of eight to nine combat tours – there is no soldier in our military that has done that… Michael Ware has done that,” he said.

Even though I had been aware of Michael Ware’s extensive war correspondence, that quote just left me somewhat stunned and speechless when I read it.

But life at war gave Ware little time to deal with the psychological effects of the things he had seen, and so he says he locked away many memories to deal with another day.

Shell-shocked and back in Australia, that day has come.

The first episode in this two-part Australian Story will air on Monday, September 13 at 8:00pm on ABC1.

In the second part of the special, Michael Ware comes forward with the revelation that in 2007 he witnessed and filmed a war crime which he says CNN censored. The story broke in the Brisbane Times last Sunday, before the rest of the special aired in Australia the following night:

Continue reading

This American Life walks into a bar…

What's mine is mine and what's yours is mine too. See how that works? Wahhh!

…on Wall Street. What they hear and record there will make you so angry you’ll want to march to lower Manhattan and have it out with the most arrogant assholes in the country, possibly the world.

The podcast version, titled Crybabies, is a must listen. The good stuff is in the introduction and the first act. To summarize the WATB’s lament on Wall Street: they are soooo put upon, they get blamed for everything they do. But the truth is, as THEY see it,  they are simply smarter than you. They’re smarter than 95% of Americans who were too stupid to not suck off the taxpayer teat when they had a chance.

Yup, that’s really what they think. If you are a hard working American, no matter what your education level is, and you were laid off as a result of the high rolling ways of these selfish jerks, well it’s because you had the DNA to encode for a conscience and they didn’t and the environmental stress called for cold blooded killers and they won. They WON, you suckers. So don’t pick on them for being greedy. Their feelings will get hurt.

You have to listen to it to really experience the contempt these bastards have for the rest of us. Get your whetstone ready and sharpen your pitchforks.

By the way, the Wall Street bar scene was narrated by Adam Davidson.  Yes, THAT Adam Davidson who couldn’t understand why Elizabeth Warren was obsessed with struggling middle class Americans when the *serious* people were trying to save the only thing that really counted- the banks.  Do you get it now, Adam?  You’re not in their league.  They think you’re a stupid sucker.  You work for Public Radio, fergawdsakes.

Host Ira Glass analyzes the Delaware Senate campaign of Christine O’Donnell and explains why the Democrats self-pitying whining about the mean Republicans isn’t working.  We seem to be on he same wavelength.  Democrats are pathetic.

One of the best podcasts I’ve heard in a long while.  Don’t miss it.