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Weekly Pulse: Pro-Choice Cabinet Picks Boon to Health at Home and Abroad

by LindsayBeyerstein, The Media Consortium: Wed., Nov 26, 2008
Filed under: transitionHealth Care NewsletterNewsLadderUncategorized

Clinton and Obama

It’s finally official: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will be Barack Obama’s Secretary of State.

Some observers thought Clinton was a curious pick because she made a point of differentiating her foreign policy views from Obama’s during the Democratic primary.

However, optimism is running high in the reproductive health community that Clinton will use her new office to champion women’s health issues worldwide. They expect that Clinton will push for changes in foreign aid criteria to make it easier to provide comprehensive sex ed and reproductive health services to the world’s neediest girls and women.

Back in the U.S., Clinton and Sen. Patty Murray introduced legislation to block the finalization of the rules changes at Health and Human Services that would have given employees the right to refuse to administer any birth control or abortion-related services that offended their religious beliefs. These changes would have restricted access to reproductive health services nationwide.

Emily Gould of RH Reality notes the deadline for submitting rules changes is 60 days before the inauguration, but the HHS has classified these “conscience clause” changes as “non-major,” thereby giving themselves a 30-day extension. It’s a sneaky procedural move, but the stalling won’t circumvent the Clinton/Murray bill.

Additional presidential appointments are starting to give shape to President-elect Obama’s health care agenda. Melody Barnes has been named Obama’s Senior Domestic Policy Adviser. Barnes is one of the few cabinet appointees so far who can be regarded as an unequivocally progressive choice. Barnes is a former executive policy director for the Center for American Progress and well-known in the progressive community.

“By appointing policy leaders like Barnes who see the connections between health and the economy, Obama appears to have pulled together an economic team that reflects many of the goals he set out during his campaign,” wrote Todd Heywood in RH Reality Check.

Ezra Klein of the American Prospect compares satisfaction ratings across several countries, and between Americans on Medicare vs. private insurance: “Medicare has much higher satisfaction ratings than private insurance. Americans are much less satisfied with their health system than they are in other countries.”

Healthcare reform is gathering momentum in Congress and the White House. The health insurance industry can’t help but take notice and offer a few preemptive reassurances, in the hopes of forestalling more fundamental change.

As part of his ongoing coverage of the health insurance industry: Ezra Klein of the American Prospect phones Robert Zirkelbach, America’s Health Insurance Plans’ director of strategic communications to discuss the trade organization’s recent pledge “[…] too guarantee that health plans provide coverage for preexisting conditions in conjunction with mandate that individuals keep and maintain healthcare coverage.” Zirkelbach admits that the insurance companies have not pledged to make this coverage affordable. He also says that the Association resists competition from public plans as a strategy to drive down costs.

Here’s a fun fact courtesy of Mother Jones to bring up around the Thanksgiving dinner table: Scientists have shown that obesity in mice is linked to the diets of their grandmothers. If pregnant mice were fed a high-fat diet, their offspring were more likely to be obese and insulin insensitive. The surprising result was that the next generation were predisposed to the same problems.

To close this Thanksgiving edition, we offer you a list of 10 things science says will make you happy, courtesy of YES! Magazine. Unaccountably, tryptophan didn’t make the list, but gratitude did.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care. Visit for a complete list of articles on healthcare affordability, healthcare laws, and healthcare controversy. And for the best progressive reporting on the ECONOMY, and IMMIGRATION, check out, and

This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and created by NewsLadder.

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Arranging Mr. Geithner’s priorities

by ZachCarter, The Media Consortium: Tue., Nov 25, 2008
Filed under: NewsLadderEconomyUncategorized

President-elect Barack Obama announced his economic transition team yesterday–and we’ll get to that–but first let’s take a look at the top economic stories from the week that you might not have heard–but need to know.

With so many recent headlines detailing the government’s policy position on some of the nation’s largest corporations, it’s important to remember that economic policy ought to include people living at the other end of the economic spectrum.

Obama was charged with being a “redistributionist” by conservatives within and without the McCain campaign during the final weeks leading up to the Nov. 4 election. Funny what happened. It turns out people actually find that drastic inequality thing offensive, particularly when they are losing their homes while the nation’s largest banks are getting billions in speedy federal assistance.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson still refuses to allocate one dime of his financial bailout funds to help struggling homeowners, while giving lip service to the idea that the housing market “correction” is at the heart of our current economic woes. Even the modest anti-foreclosure bill Congress passed in July is slow-going. In addition to about $1.7 billion to help underwater homeowners refinance into affordable mortgages, the bill directed an additional $4 billion local governments to help communities rehabilitate foreclosed homes. That sum will barely make a dent in the deepening foreclosure crisis, as Garland McLaurin of American News Project and Mary Kane of the Washington Independent detail in this video, but many cities and counties are yet to see their share of the $4 billion kitty. By contrast, hundreds of billions of dollars have been injected into banks in recent weeks.

At this point in the economic cycle, mortgages are not the only loans causing major problems. Credit card delinquencies are at their highest rate in six years, and many banking industry experts expect them to go higher as laid-off consumers move basic expenses from checkbooks to plastic. What’s worse, credit card companies currently have legal leeway to alter contracts in almost any way they wish, even if borrowers are current on their payments, as Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., details in a blog for The Huffington Post. The Federal Reserve took a step in the right direction earlier this year by addressing some of the most egregious policies in the subprime credit card market, but it is time for Congress to rein in the rest of the predatory consumer lending industry.

Of course, wide swaths of the U.S. population do not worry about debt, but food. Writing for The Progressive, Brian Gilmore makes an impassioned case for swift public action to end poverty, noting that one in eight Americans did not have access to sufficient food in 2007.

When people are going hungry, the Bush administration appears to believe that eight years is an appropriate amount of time to wait for substantive public policy. But when the world’s largest financial institution is up against the wall, it gets what it wants, when it wants it. The Bush team granted Citigroup another $20 billion in bailout funds over the weekend, just days after ponying up $25 billion for company. The best part? The company’s management is still in place, and the government exacted no guarantees concerning how taxpayer money will be used.

Over at the American Prospect, Ezra Klein highlights former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin’s role in bringing the Wall Street titan to the verge of collapse. During the Clinton administration, Rubin resisted placing government oversight on the credit derivatives market, which after a decade of unregulated growth is wreaking havoc on the U.S. economy. But Citi is one of the biggest losers in the credit market fallout, thanks in part to Rubin’s own advice as a member of the company’s board of directors.

Speaking of Rubin, Obama just named one of his protégés at the Clinton Treasury to succeed Paulson at the Department’s the top spot. Timothy Geithner, who has managed some of the most harrowing moments of the meltdown, including the Bear Stearns rescue in March, will move from the Fed’s New York office to the Treasury Department in January. Unlike Rubin, however, Geithner has spent the last few years sounding the alarm on the very risks to the financial system that have taken such a heavy toll of late, as Andrew Leonard notes at

The Citi debacle reveals that Paulson’s gambit to restore investor confidence in the U.S. financial sector has generated mixed results, at best. Citi shares closed at $3.77 on Friday, down from $18.35 on Oct. 3, the day Congress passed the bailout bill. The sad fact is that without some magical, and probably irrational, restoration of that elusive confidence, the $700 billion allocated by the financial rescue package will not be nearly enough to shore up the American banking sector, much less the auto manufacturing companies and retail stores that have been showing signs of extreme strain of late. William Greider details the state of affairs for The Nation, arguing that it is time to shut down the financial giants that are no longer viable and establish a new order based on smaller companies.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the economy. Visit for a complete list of articles on the economy. And for the best progressive reporting on critical immigration and healthcare issues, check out and

This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and created by NewsLadder.

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The Secretary and the Czar: Obama Bets Big on Daschle

by LindsayBeyerstein, The Media Consortium: Thu., Nov 20, 2008
Filed under: transitionHealth Care NewsletterNewsLadder


It’s official, former Sen. Tom Daschle will be Barack Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services. Daschle will also serve as Health Czar, which means he will be in charge of developing Obama’s healthcare program in addition to running HHS.

Ezra Klein writes in the Prospect: “This is huge news, and the clearest evidence yet that Obama means to pursue comprehensive health reform. You don’t tap the former Senate Majority Leader to run your health care bureaucracy. That’s not his skill set. You tap him to get your health care plan through Congress.

Ezra argues that Obama has learned the lessons of Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful attempt to reform healthcare in 1994. Ezra’s view, the Clinton plan failed because its architects were so focused on crafting the perfect policy that they neglected to figure out how they were going to sell there plan politically.

The hope is that Daschle has the political skills to actually get a healthcare plan passed.

Greg Sargent agrees that the Daschle pick is a sign that Obama intends to act quickly on healthcare.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care. Visit for a complete list of articles on healthcare affordability, healthcare laws, and healthcare controversy. And for the best progressive reporting on the ECONOMY, and IMMIGRATION, check out, and

This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and created by NewsLadder.

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Healthcare: Out with the Old, In with the New

by LindsayBeyerstein, The Media Consortium: Wed., Nov 19, 2008
Filed under: Health Care NewsletterNewsLadder


Because if it bleeds, it leads… Sarah van Schagen rates the environmental impact of feminine hygiene products for Grist.

In all seriousness, this has been a very exciting week in healthcare news. The Bush administration is racing to take away as many reproductive rights as it can before leaving office. The Democrats in Congress are taking the lead on healthcare reform by writing up their own proposal before president Obama takes the Oath of Office.

Last week, Sen. Max Baucus unveiled a detailed proposal to provide health insurance for all Americans. Brian Cook has a roundup of reactions.

Note that the Baucus plan is by no means a call for radical change.  The blueprint proposes to fix the healthcare system with the same piecemeal strategies that  get trotted out every time Americans talk about healthcare reform. The stated goal is to enable more people to buy “affordable” private health insurance while expanding Medicare and Medicaid for the poor and the elderly.

Why such timidity? As Josh Marshall argues at TPM, Obama’s election is a mandate for fundamental structural change in the healthcare system.

The fact is, majority of Americans support single-payer health insurance, even if they’d have to pay higher taxes. Daina Saib reports in YES! that even Republicans are getting on board. Saib introduces us to an unlikely champion of single-payer, Dr. Rocky White, conservative Christian and former Republican who started advocating for single payer when the system made his own practice unmanageable.

As we talk about the dire state of the Big Three automakers, remember that the Canadian auto industry stays competitive because the government takes care of health care, unlike in the ‘States where automakers and unions are struggling to pay for it.

Ezra Klein gives us a crash course two strategic approaches to healthcare reform. He explains that there are two basic schools of thought: delivery system reform and financing reform. Delivery reformers hope to make the system work better by bringing down costs and delivering better value for money. Financing reformers focus on how we’re going to pay for it all. The Baucus blueprint is financing reform. Repealing Medicare Plan D would be delivery reform.

These two approaches are complementary. Ezra writes: “[T]he two agendas fit neatly in a comprehensive reform package. Coverage expansion isn’t sustainable unless cost growth is slowed. Cost growth can’t be slowed without delivery system reform.”  He notes that The Center for American Progress has a new, free, book on healthcare reform, available for download, here.

The Bush administration is weighing an eleventh hour rules change that could prevent women on Medicaid from receiving birth control, deny rape victims emergency contraception, and push the country one step closer to theocracy with a single stroke of the pen.

The proposed rule would prevent any entity that receives federal funds (e.g., hospitals, universities, etc.) from requiring employees to “assist in the performance of any part of a health service program or research activity” financed by the Department of Health and Human Services” or “participate in abortions or sterilizations” if these activities offend their religious or moral convictions.

President-elect Obama has already spoken out against the proposed rules change.

Jonathan Stein of Mother Jones notes that civil rights law already protects employees from discrimination on the basis of religion. In fact, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency that enforces the federal employment discrimination law, is strenuously objecting to the new rules because they would create an absolute right to religious accommodation, as opposed to the balance between employer and employee that exists under current law.

With Sarah Palin back in Wasilla, we thought we’d heard the last about victims paying for their own rape kits. Not so fast. While the Violence Against Women Act forbids victim-pay rape kits for civilians, women in the armed services may not enjoy the same protections.

Penny Coleman, writing in AlterNet, explains: “TRICARE, the United States Department of Defense Military Health System that covers active duty members, will only pay for rape kits if the victim is seen in a military or a VA facility.” However, service women are being seen in a non-VA facility in the USA, they shouldn’t be paying for their rape kits, thanks to VAWA.  This shouldn’t be happening.

Another sobering statistic: The US military loses the equivalent of a brigade of veterans to suicide each year–yet more evidence that mental health parity should be a priority in health care reform.

Finally, Stephanie Losee interviews Valerie Frankel, the author of Thin is the New Happy, a memoir about coming to terms with weight and body image in an appearance-obsessed society.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care. Visit for a complete list of articles on healthcare affordability, healthcare laws, and healthcare controversy. And for the best progressive reporting on the ECONOMY, and IMMIGRATION, check out, and

This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and created by NewsLadder.

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Botching the Bailout

by ZachCarter, The Media Consortium: Tue., Nov 18, 2008
Filed under: NewsLadderEconomyGreenCongressional OversightUncategorized

The Bush administration is squandering hundreds of billions of dollars on incompetence, again.

In a House Domestic Policy Subcommittee hearing on Friday, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, took Interim Assistant Treasury Secretary for Fianancial Stability Neel Kashkari (read: bailout chief) to task over the Treasury’s decision to spend every cent of the first $350 billion in bailout funds buying up preferred stock in Wall Street icons and other banks, while allowing troubled borrowers to fend for themselves.

Kashkari did his best to deflect the outrage, but his task would have been easier had the Treasury’s position been defensible. In a Senate Banking Committee hearing the day before, both consumer-protection advocates and banking executives endorsed an anti-foreclosure initiative devised by FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair that would create strong incentives for the private sector to cut borrowers some slack. Despite the plan’s broad appeal, both Paulson and Kashkari refused to devote any Treasury funds to the program, making the bailout chief sound like, well, a chump, when he insisted that Treasury is doing everything in its power to keep people in their homes.

The whole thing is beginning to look a little too much like Iraq. Bush administration officials steamroll both chambers of Congress with warnings of a dire emergency and are rewarded for their efforts with unprecedented authority and funding. Shortly afterwards, it becomes clear that the initiative has been squandered on meaningless giveaways to huge corporations without any corresponding social benefits. Naomi Klein of The Nation details the corruption parallels in an illuminating piece for Rolling Stone.

Laissez-faire lunacy

Most depressing is the bailout’s complete impotence with regard to providing broader economic support. Paulson and Kashkari have succeeded in keeping the U.S. financial sector afloat for the time being, but despite an enormous injection of taxpayer funds, banks are not lending money out into the broader economy. One part of the problem is the fact that President Bush & Co. took years to acknowledge that the country was in fact facing disaster (remember Paulson’s 2007 talking point that the subprime mortgage crisis was “contained”?). Now that the Treasury is finally taking action, it is doing so in an environment where there simply are not many good loans to be made. The other roadblock is Paulson’s refusal to require banks who accept public money to put it to use for the public good, as Joshua Holland explains for Alternet.

That desperate attempt to adhere to some kind of free-market principle—not forcing companies to do anything with billions of dollars allocated to partially nationalize them—was on display Friday at a speech Bush gave in New York. It sounds like a sick joke. After demanding $700 billion to save Wall Street, Bush is still warning against the evils of government intervention, claiming that free-market systems have a monopoly on “social justice and human dignity.”

“The greater threat to economic prosperity is not too little government involvement in the market,” he said. “It is too much government involvement in the market.”

Matthew Rothschild skewers this absurdity over at The Progressive.

“You can’t have social justice and human dignity with mass unemployment, rampant foreclosures, high rates of poverty and food insecurity, and a health care system that leaves almost 50 million people uninsured,” Rothschild writes.
Bush did make a few nods to sanity during his speech, arguing that markets need to be “more transparent,” but the claim was a little perplexing amid reports that the Federal Reserve is refusing to disclose who it is granting about $2 trillion in emergency loans.

“Where is the ridicule?” Dean Baker asks in a blog for the American Prospect, arguing that Paulson and Bernanke are looking more like “crony capitalists” every day.

Going green, going global

Bush’s speech was designed to frame the debate surrounding the meeting of leaders from the world’s 20 largest economies to address problems in the global financial architecture. Fortunately, President Bush does not have final authority to sign an agreement for the U.S., that task will be left to Barack Obama in April of next year. Over at, Gary Gardner and Michael Renner note the opportunity not just for a New Deal to refashion the U.S. economy, but to ink a Green Deal that does away with global dependence on fossil fuels and provides for a fairer distribution of wealth across the globe.

At the moment, U.S. economic policy remains dominated by how to handle the bailout. How Democrats seek to proceed with lashing Detroit automakers to that $700 billion debacle will say a great deal about the majority party’s governing intentions heading into the next Congress.

“It’s time to think big,” Andrew Leonard writes for “A Manhattan Project-scale plan to move the U.S. into an energy-sustainable future should start with a complete restructuring of the automotive industry,” according to Leonard.

The sagas of the financial and automobile industries have more in common than meets the eye. Both have lobbied heavily against new regulations for decades, and the lax oversight has left both in dire straits. While conservatives are quick to point to labor union contracts that make workforces at GM, Ford and Chrysler pricier than for foreign manufacturers, the fact is that the Big Three have drastically lost market share in recent years by failing to make cars people actually want to buy. In a video produced for American News Project, Garland McLaurin details how Detroit spent millions lobbying Congress against raising fuel economy standards while failing to develop cars that achieve high gas mileage.

Millions of people could be out of a job if the Big Three go under, but if Democrats hurl money at the companies with no strings attached, they’re no better than the current administration’s set of bailouteers.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the economy. Visit for a complete list of articles on the economy. And for the best progressive reporting on critical immigration and healthcare issues, check out and

This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and created by NewsLadder.

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Kicking the Wall Street Habit

by ZachCarter, The Media Consortium: Tue., Nov 11, 2008
Filed under: NewsLadderEconomyUncategorized

As Barack Obama readies himself to lead the United States through what appears to be a scathing recession, he faces a choice between feeding the political sphere’s Wall Street addiction and investing in economic progress. Two key former Clinton cabinet officials could determine which course he takes.

It was more than a little startling to hear a U.S. leader who sounded like (gasp!) an economist at the president-elect’s first press conference last week, after years of Bush speeches that treated economic policy as a realm defined exclusively by tax cuts and bailouts. But without policy specifics, we still do not know which voices of the many men and women flanking Obama at the event will impact the next administration’s economic platform. Mother Jones notes that several of the names included on the list of Obama’s economic advisers represent schools of thought that brought us directly to the current crisis. Two of the alleged experts, former Clinton Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers, signed off on major financial deregulatory moves in the latter half of the Clinton years. The two sided often with former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan on policies that included a refusal to place government oversight on the credit derivatives market, which eventually ballooned into the $60 trillion quagmire that destroyed AIG in September (who got another $40 billion from taxpayers on Monday).

Summers has successfully sparked controversy on several occasions, and while some of the scandals haven’t received a fair hearing in the court of public opinion, others are of genuine concern. In 2005, Summers said he believed innate inferiorities were more responsible for the under-representation of women in science and engineering fields than either discrimination or socialization. Writing for the Women’s Media Center, Veronica Arreola demonstrates how advancing gender equality would improve the broader U.S. economy, and expresses well-founded doubts about Summers’ commitment to Obama’s campaign pledge to implement equal pay for equal work legislation.

But not all Clinton cabinet officials are of the same stripe, and hopes for serious economic progress under Obama may rest largely on what position he gives former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich. Reich feuded frequently with Rubin during Clinton’s first term, urging that more energy be spent addressing inequality than balancing the budget. Sadly, Reich lost that battle and left the administration in 1997, but he remains one of the most impressive economic voices of the day. John Nichols writes in The Nation that it was “reassuring” to see Reich and organized labor ally David Bonior on stage with the president-elect last week.

Reich himself penned a piece that ran in Talking Points Memo this weekend, placing emphasis on one side of the economic equation that has all but disappeared from public discourse amid the Wall Street meltdown: demand. Stretched to their limits by decades of deepening inequality, consumers are cutting back on everything except basic necessities amid a mountain of high-interest debt and the increasing likelihood of losing their jobs. With consumers reeling, Reich says the government needs to step in as the spender of last resort.

There are still people who oppose increasing government spending in a recession. They are called Republicans, because one has to turn to backward political ideology to oppose a measure that has been understood as a basic economic fact for more than 70 years. There simply are no serious economists who disagree. Reich notes that even former Reagan advisor Martin Feldstein now favors adopting government infrastructure projects to stimulate the economy.

But a glance at the Friday edition of The Washington Post reveals that the anti-spending mythology remains popular. House Republican Leader John Boehner charged that “Democrats are proposing hundreds of billions of dollars in new government spending masquerading as ‘economic stimulus.’”

There is no masquerading involved. Reich is quite explicit that it will take hundreds of billions of government dollars to fend off a “Mini Depression.” By singling out socially important projects– a health care overhaul, green energy investments and and new child care programs– that spending can help make the economy even stronger once it rebounds. But consumers simply are not capable of shouldering the burden alone.

Dean Baker hammers the point home for The American Prospect. The housing bubble’s aftermath has hampered the supply of credit, Baker argues, but the more severe economic problem is the massive loss of housing wealth for consumers, who now have less money to spend and invest. The U.S. has encouraged homeownership as means of forced saving for decades. Those savings have now evaporated.

Housing woes are far from over. Mary Kane lays out the mortgage landscape for a piece in the Washington Independent, noting that while the economy has paid a price for the subprime debacle, the Alt-A nightmare is just beginning. Alt-A loans are exotic mortgages that do not require borrowers to document their income or employment information. Many Alt-A loans are adjustable-rate mortgages that allow borrowers to pay nothing but the interest on the loan for a few years before the monthly payments “reset” up to 63% higher, Kane writes. Banks pushed the most reckless of these “option-ARM” loans in the years leading right up to the housing market’s implosion, 2006 and 2007, and the lion’s share of unaffordable rate resets are scheduled for 2009. It’s a dire situation—just check out the stock price of option-ARM lenders in hard-hit housing markets like California.

Obama’s fiscal stimulus package should provide a window into his governing philosophy. After eight years of squandered opportunities, let’s hope he gets us moving in the right direction.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the economy. Visit for a complete list of articles on the economy. And for the best progressive reporting on critical immigration and healthcare issues, check out and

This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and created by NewsLadder.

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Yes We Can (Be Healthy): Obama’s Healthcare Agenda

by LindsayBeyerstein, The Media Consortium: Thu., Nov 6, 2008
Filed under: Health Care NewsletterNewsLadderPresidential campaign 2008Religious right

Before a cheering crowd in Chicago, Barack Obama thanked his supporters, his campaign staffers, his running mate, and his family for his historic victory.

I hope he also sends a nice note to Sarah Palin. He couldn’t have done it without her.

Palin was chosen for her impeccable culture war credentials in the hopes of galvanizing the Republican base. Ironically, Palin energized the conservative base and the progressive base, in equal but opposite measure.

Palin’s candidacy, as the running mate of a 72-year-old cancer survivor, forced us to imagine a young earth creationist, anti-abortion zealot in the White House. To their great credit, Americans said, “Thanks but no thanks.”

The Obama victory can be seen as a mandate for science and rationality across the board, especially in health care policy. The economic crisis has become an excuse to ignore health care, but nothing could be more shortsighted.

Election night also saw anti-choice ballot initiatives defeated in Colorado, California, and South Dakota. RH Reality recaps the ballot battles: Colorado voters overwhelmingly rejected a ballot initiative that would have given human rights to fertilized eggs, South Dakota’s notorious Measure 11 was defeated, and the latest California parental notification bill stalled out.

Had it passed, Measure 11 would have been the most sweeping abortion ban in the post-Roe era. Measure 11 was billed as a kinder, gentler, saner version of the old South Dakota abortion ban, but the anti-choicers weren’t fooling anyone. The bill’s so-called health exemption only applied to women facing organ failure.

William Smith hopes that the Obama administration will put an end to the boondoggle of abstinence only indoctrination. Obama pledged to take a scalpel to the budget and excise programs that don’t work. Abstinence only education should be the first to go. It doesn’t work. It devalues gays and women while misleads about science. And to top it all off, it’s a $200 million/year wingnut welfare program. It’s time to cut it out.

So, does an Obama victory mean the end of the culture wars? Not likely. Although, according to Mike Madden, the mood at New Life Church, ground zero of American fundamentalism, was uncharacteristically subdued in the week before the election.

Yet, the religious right is nothing if not resilient. After getting trounced 3 to 1 in Colorado, champions of egg personhood reacted by forming a nationwide organization, Personhood USA, to fight for ovo-Americans nationwide.
Lest our own victories make us complacent, we should remember that gay rights are under siege nationwide. Voters in California, Arizona, Florida, and Arkansas approved ballot measures restricting the rights of gay couples to marry. In Mother Jones, Richard Kim discusses California’s notorious Proposition 8, which revokes same sex marriage in California.

The pundits are already wagging their fingers at San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and gay rights activists for overplaying their hand and demanding too much, too fast. They’re thinking small.

The culture warriors have never been afraid to seize the initiative or press their advantage. Maybe progressives should take a page from the right wing playbook. The Defense of Equal Marriage Act has a nice ring to it. How about it, President Obama?

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care. Visit for a complete list of articles on healthcare affordability, healthcare laws, and healthcare controversy. And for the best progressive reporting on the economy, and immigration, check out, and

This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and created by NewsLadder.

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Electing the New Economy

by ZachCarter, The Media Consortium: Tue., Nov 4, 2008
Filed under: NewsLadderEconomyUncategorized

Welcome to the Media Consortium’s Economy MediaWire project! Check this space every Tuesday for a discussion of the best economic coverage available on the information superhighway.

This Tuesday, of course, is no ordinary Tuesday, but the day of the most important U.S. election in generations. Poll after poll has shown the economy to be the top concern for voters this year, as an epic financial crisis and the bursting of the housing bubble have ensured that the next president will have his hands full come January.

But while there is plenty of bad news to go around of late, Ezra Klein notes for the American Prospect that economic downturns can be extraordinary opportunities to overhaul national infrastructure, as the government steps in to fund projects that support what the private sector can no longer afford.

“Right now, there’s something damn close to political consensus for a transformational investment package,” Klein writes, arguing that, “the next president should be thinking hard indeed about how to make the most of the opportunity.”

During Congressional hearings over the last two weeks, two influential economists have urged the government to embark on major infrastructure projects as a means to stimulate the economy. Both Nobel Prize-winner Joseph Stiglitz and NYU Professor Nouriel Roubini, who accurately predicted nearly every development in the recent Wall Street implosion, argued that the best way to ease economic malaise is to pour money into green energy projects. Preventing a recession appears out of the question, but why not set our sights on something “transformational,” in Klein’s words, that could fend off ecological destruction even more comprehensive than the recent financial hemorrhaging?

David Morris emphasizes the potential for environmentally friendly infrastructure development for Alternet, suggesting that a President Barack Obama may “institute a massive public works program focusing on infrastructure that lends itself to a green orientation.”

Morris notes several frightening parallels between today’s green energy movement and that of the early 1980s, when environmentalist momentum from the Carter administration collapsed under the weight of the most wrenching recession since the Great Depression. We have witnessed a similar drop-off in green interest this fall, according to Morris, as the financial crisis has deepened and gas prices have declined dramatically. But renewable energy industries are a much stronger political force today than they were in the early Reagan years, and Morris believes the sheer efficiency of green projects will give the next president more bang for his outlay bucks than other programs. Environmentally conscious investments can sharply reduce operating costs, while creating armies of new jobs.

Writing for The Nation, James S. Henry and Jim Manzi claim that it is time not only for the government to boost research and development, but to “nurture a national culture that reminds young people of their country’s innovation heritage and encourages them to become engineers, designers and scientists, rather than just lawyers, accountants and bankers.”

Beyond infrastructure, The Progressive’s Matthew Rothschild discusses research from Mark Zandi of Moody’, which reveals that many traditional lefty priorities are also among the most efficient methods for stimulating economic growth. Expanding food stamps programs and unemployment benefits puts money in the hands of people who will actually spend it, instead of making long-term investments that keep the funds out of the general economy, Rothschild writes. Priorities touted by conservatives this election cycle, like slashing the capital gains tax and lowering income tax rates for the wealthiest corporations, are much less effective.

Speaking of throwing money at big corporations, the Treasury Department is currently funneling hundreds of billions of dollars to banks in an effort to boost lending so other firms can borrow money buy supplies, pay workers and fund research. It’s not a terrible concept, except, as Robert Kuttner notes back at the Prospect, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson isn’t actually requiring banks to lend the money out, and the banks would rather use the cash to finance acquisitions and pay dividends.

This is, of course, an outrage, but it is far from inevitable. Kuttner cites Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “yardstick competition” programs, where a public entity would compete with the private sector and provide products oriented toward the general social good, creating incentives for industries to offer better products.

Under Roosevelt, the government invented the long-term fixed-rate mortgage, which was so effective that it quickly came to dominate the private marketplace. Taxpayers would get better results from their present bailout burden if the government would actually takeover one institution outright and have it make new loans without wasting money on dividends, Kuttner argues. Other banks would have to boost their own lending activities in order to keep from losing market share to the government, and billions of taxpayer dollars wouldn’t be squandered.

Jim Hightower has an excellent breakdown of the five greatest villains of the current financial crisis here.

With President George W. Bush set to host an economic summit with international leaders on the financial meltdown this month, carries an excellent story by Jim Lobe on a call from almost 600 non-governmental organizations for fundamental economic reforms aimed at protecting the most vulnerable members of the global economy. Bush is widely expected to oppose reforms to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which many NGOs claim have imposed policies that have benefited Western companies at the expense of the international poor.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the economy. Visit for a complete list of articles on the economy. And for the best progressive reporting on critical immigration and healthcare issues, check out and

This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and created by NewsLadder.

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Toil and Trouble
McCain NewsLadder

by addiestan, The Media Consortium: Sat., Nov 1, 2008
Filed under: NewsLadderPresidential campaign 2008John McCainReligious rightEconomy

NOTE: After you click a link, click the title of the item to get the full text or video.

This week finds our war hero, on Old Hallow’s Eve, having finished yet another very difficult stretch of his presidential campaign, as it draws to a close. As if it wasn’t tough enough to find himself having to defend his home state of Arizona from that one’s blithely effortless incursion onto desert turf — never mind the continuing parade of defectors and detractors among high-powered Republicans — G.O.P. presidential nominee Sen. John McCain learned, via the press, that his senior advisers think his vice presidential pick, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a “diva” and “a wack job” who was bent not just on “going rogue,” but going even “more rogue” than her campaign has already gone. Which would be pretty far, since her remarks this week indicated that she may have already set her sights on 2012 presidential race, reportedly having written off the top-of-the-ticket’s chances in 2008.

Not just a river in Egypt

In a Halloween morning interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America”, McCain called his running mate, Sarah Palin, the new face of the G.O.P., adding, “She’s united the party.” Which left The Nation’s Ari Berman scratching his head:

Um, tell that to Colin Powell, Christopher Buckley or Ken Adelman, all lifelong Republicans who’ve cited the Palin pick as a chief reason they’ve endorsed Obama. Or to conservatives like David Brooks, David Frum, Kathleen Parker, Ross Douthat–all past or present McCain supporters–who’ve strongly criticized Palin.

Or, TAPPED’s Tim Fernholz reminds us, former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, who served under Bush 41, — or former Reagan chief of staff, Ken Duberstein. Not to mention that hard-core conservative, Stephen Colbert.

All about her

Palin kicked up a bit of dust earlier this week when, in an interview with ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas, she challenged Vargas’ suggestion that she might want to go back to Alaska for good if McCain lost the presidential race to Barack Obama. “Absolutely not,” Palin replied. “I think that, if I were to give up and wave a white flag of surrender against some of the political shots that we’ve taken, that … that would … bring this whole … I’m not doin’ this for naught.”

Then CNN’s Dana Bash rather breathlessly reported that when she read Palin’s comments back to a senior McCain aide, the aide was “speechless.”

Coming on the heels of her rogue comments last weekend in Iowa, touting the beauties of ethanol — anathema to John McCain’s anti-earmark crusade but dear to the hearts of Iowans, who set the course in their caucuses for the presidential primaries to follow — it’s not surprising that Palin’s comments to Vargas were seen and evidence that she had thrown McCain under the wheels of the Hate Talk Express. Notes The Nation’s Ari Melber, in the third presidential debate, McCain condemned ethanol subsidies as market distorters, wagging his finger at Obama for supporting them. But by the time I caught up with Palin at a Halloween Day rally in York, Penn. (having hitched a ride with The American Prospect’s Sarah Posner), Palin was back on message. Asked if she was running for president in 2012, she responded to my shouted question by walking over to where I was standing behind a barricade, , saying, “I’ll be campaigning for John McCain’s re-election in 2012.”I’ll be campaigning for John McCain’s re-election in 2012.”

From Posner’s TAPPED report on the Halloween Day York, Penn., Sarah Palin rally.
photo (c) 2008 Sarah Posner

The Colorado Independent looked at what it calls the fight for the soul of the Republican Party, which many believe are evident in the fissures exposed by the Palin pick. Writes Jeff Bridges:

Palin’s popularity with [a conservative] group meeting in Virginia [the day after the election], though, does signal the strategy Republicans will likely pursue following what looks to be the second consecutive election with strong Democratic gains. The Politico story argues the party will not pursue a moderate agenda, but instead return to the core conservative values of “small government, a robust national security and unapologetic social conservatism.”

This could lead to a colossal struggle within the Republican Party between the moderate wing and conservatives. Tuesday the Colorado Independent broke a story on former Colorado Republican U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis’ blaming his party’s move to the right for their expected losses in November. “Most of the races we’ve lost in the last six years are two reasons: one, money, and two, the candidates we put up,” McInnis said. “Generally, people in Colorado don’t like somebody who’s radically to the right or radically to the left.”

While she has no doubt that conservatives are looking to their moment in 2012, The American Prospect’s Sarah Posner is less than certain that Sarah Palin will become the right’s standard bearer, at least within the G.O.P.’s ranks:

According to a recent Newsweek poll, only 20 percent of Republicans favored Palin as their party’s nominee in 2012, if McCain loses next week, with 35 percent favoring Romney and 26 percent favoring Huckabee. Among “traditional” (taxes, economy, national security) Republicans, Palin, and Huckabee’s numbers were worse (19 percent for Palin, 23 percent for Huckabee) than Romney’s (42 percent), but among what the poll termed “social issue” (abortion, immigration, guns, and “family values”) Republicans, Palin drew 23 percent, Romney 30 percent, and Huckabee 31 percent.

The invisible man in that poll is Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, who next month is headlining the Iowa Family Policy Center’s big fundraising dinner, widely seen as his first step in building a base of religious-right support for the 2012 Iowa caucuses.

Along the campaign trail, however, Salon’s Rebecca Traister found conservative women entralled with Palin:

“I’m a strong woman, and I really relate to strong women,” explained 67-year-old Gloria Stere, who wore a bright blue Palin Power T-shirt. Stere said she had just retired from running her own sewing machine business, and though a “dyed-in-the-wool Republican,” she had considered — just thought about — voting for Hillary Clinton. But, she was quick to add, “Palin is the one that absolutely made my mind up about supporting John McCain. I took one look at her, heard her speak, and thought, ‘Oh my god,’ she is the one.”

Pro-American parts of the Constitution

In weeks past, Palin wowed politicos with her expansive view of the powers of the office of the vice presidency, as she contends it is laid out in the U.S. Constitution. This week saw another novel constitutional interpretation, this time of the First Amendment, whose 45 words guarantee freedom of speech, religion and peaceable assembly. In her complaint about media coverage of her remarks and campaign, Palin alleged that her First Amendment rights were being abridged, ostensibly by media criticism. At Salon’s War Room, Alex Koppelman reported Palin’s comments from a Friday morning radio interview:

“If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations,” Palin said, “then I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.”

In a commentary on his radio program, the Hightower Lowdown, Jim Hightower takes on Palin’s remarks about who lives in the “pro-American parts of America” and who doesn’t:

It hurts me deeply to say this, but here goes: I’m not a real American.

Oh, I’m proud to live in America and grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given in this great country. Also, I would probably seem pretty American to you: I was born and raised in Texas, I came up through public schools, I drive a made-in-America 1997 Ford, I own a modest house, I have a small business, I pay taxes and meet a payroll, I work hard, I’m a beer drinker, I love baseball… and so on.

But here’s where I fall down: I don’t live in a place that Sarah Palin likes.

Rachel Maddow, writing with Jill McDonnough for the Women’s Media Center, examines the provenance of some Palin’s remarks, in particular a quote from Ronald Reagan used by Palin in her debate with Democratic rival Sen. Joe Biden that turns out to have a purpose far less noble than its burnished glow might suggest:

“It was Ronald Reagan who said that freedom is always just one generation away from extinction. We don’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. We have to fight for it and protect it and then hand it to them, so that they shall do the same, or we’re going to find ourselves spending our sunset years telling our children, and our children’s children, about a time in America, back in the day, when men and women were free.”

…It could be talking about loose nukes, or civil liberties, or national defense or some competing ideology seeking global dominance. Except this was Reagan–so of course the creepy truth is that he was predicting what would happen if we got Medicare.

The issues

Like Ronald Reagan, John McCain is apparently no fan of Medicare, having concocted a health care plan the relies on cutting Medicare and Medicaid funding. According to the Economists’ Policy Group for Women’s Issues, he doesn’t do so well on other family-friendly and women-friendly policies either. Writes Amie Newman at RH Reality Check:

Today, the Economists’ Policy Group for Women’s Issues (EPGWI)…released a report card for each of the presidential candidates, evaluating them on ten key, critical areas of concern for women and with an overall grade of “D”, Senator McCain barely passed. Senator Obama received an overall grade of “B.”

Speaking of economists, you’d be hard-pressed, according to economist Matthew Rothschild, writing in The Progressive, to find one who thinks that McCain’s proposed capital gains tax cut is a good idea in this ailing economy. In fact, he says, it will as to the economy, for every dollar spent a mere 37 cents. Best returns on the dollar come from ideas McCain opposes or fails to consider:

Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s, has put out a chart showing that the biggest bang for the buck would be to boost food stamps. For every $1 the government spends on this, $1.73 returns to the economy as the benefits ripple through the economy.

Next best is extending unemployment benefits, which returns $1.64 for every dollar spent.

Next is spending on infrastructure, which returns $1.59.

And aid to states is right behind, returning $1.36.

But McCain is not advocating any of these.

AlterNet’s Joshua Holland finds irony in the McCain campaign’s description of Barack Obama as the candidate scarily seeking to redistribute wealth, when McCain’s redistributionist tendencies, as he sees it, are far more radical:

McCain … takes money from poor people and sends it upward.

[He] is a firm believer in a philosophy of governance that’s been responsible for the most dramatic redistribution of American income and wealth since the New Deal. For the past 30 years, the conservative movement has focused relentlessly on redistributing income, but always upward, toward the top. It’s a great irony of the 2008 campaign: Nobody is more dedicated to redistributing wealth than adherents of the ideology that McCain represents.

And yet, writes Mother Jones‘ David Corn, during the 2000 presidential campaign, it was McCain who was seen as the champion of regular people when it came to taxes:

[E]ight years ago, in January and February 2000, McCain was on the receiving end of similar criticism, as conservatives and Republicans accused him of engaging in class warfare by opposing tax breaks for the rich while advocating tax cuts for middle- and low-income Americans. That is, McCain was denounced in much the same way as he is now denouncing Obama.

The numbers

Polling numbers in what should be McCain strongholds continue to afflict him — like, for instance, his home state of Arizona. There, he’s resorting to a fear-mongering robo-call, writes Greg Sargent at TPM Election Central. Here’s part of the script:

If Democrats win full control of government, they will want to give civil rights to terrorists and talk unconditionally to dictators and state sponsors of terror. Barack Obama and his Democratic allies lack the experience and judgment to lead America. This call was paid for by the Republican National Committee and authorized by McCain-Palin 2008.

Ohio is also looking bad for McCain, though Democrats may which to touch wood before uttering those words, given the results of the 2004 election, in which the late polls — after reports of widespread voting irregularties — from Ohio ultimately gave the race to Bush.

The numbers are looking good, too, for Obama’s 30-minute advertisement, which ran on seven networks — including the broadcast networks CBS, NBC and FOX — on Wednesday. Writes Ernest Luning of the Colorado Independent, but McCain campaign officials were not amused:

One in five Denver households watching TV tuned in the half-hour Barack Obama campaign commercial broadcast Wednesday night on seven networks, according to overnight Nielsen ratings, slightly below the nationwide average…”As anyone who has bought anything from an infomercial knows, the sales-job is always better than the product,” McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said in a statement. “Buyer beware.”

As a sort of counterpoint, Air America Radio’s “Maron v. Seder” show offers a satire of what the writers read as the subtext of the McCain message, which they offer in the form of a mock ad.

And in the context of that subtext, there’s more bad news for McCain, according to Chris Rabb of Afro-Netizen: lots and lots of African-Americans are voting early:

Hat tip to the addictive for numbers-jockeys, political addicts and graph-whores.

This graph shows how highly correlated early voting rates this year are tied to states with large populations of Blackfolk.

No doubt, the RNC and Fox News will contend that these aren’t genuine people, but fictitious voters brought to life by the magic ink of crafty ACORN workers.

The Vietnam legacy

Like John Kerry, John McCain intially wrapped his campaign around his personal story of heroism in the Vietnam war. Unlike John Kerry in 2004, John McCain has endured virtually no scrutiny of his personal account of his life in the military, and in Vietnam. While no credible critic contests the fact that McCain suffered terribly in his captivity at the hands of the North Vietnamese, official accounts of some of McCain’s military history differ from his own. Why, wonders historian Mary Hershberger at the Women’ Media Center, do most mainstream media shy from examining discrepancies in the McCain story, when they seemed all too eager to air the largely false claims of the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth:

McCain’s war record is a legitimate topic of investigation precisely because he cites it as evidence that he should be president, as proof that he is tested and ready to lead from day one. As such, it ought to be more thoroughly examined than anything else. The few investigations that have been carried out are not reassuring.

On the single issue of his plane crashes, for example, the Los Angeles Times has concluded that “though standards were looser and crashes more frequent in the 1960s, McCain’s record stands out.” A pilot whose performance included two plane crashes and a collision with power lines usually underwent official review to determine his fitness to fly. McCain refuses to allow his military records to be released so that the voting public can see whether his record matches his claims.

At AlterNet, Norman Stockwell examines the story of McCain’s plane crash in Hanoi — the one that landed him in captivity — and tracks down the tale of McCain’s rescuer, Mai Van On, with whom McCain was reunited in 1996, but who McCain failed to mention in his 1999 book, Faith of My Fathers. Mai Van On, Stockwell learned, not only pulled McCain out of the lake while the pilot was sinking to the bottom, but also intervened when the crowd on the shore began beating McCain, who was badly injured by his ejection from the plane.

One bright spot for McCain, writes Andrew Lam of New America Media, is the support McCain enjoys in the U.S. Vietnamese community:

If Ho Chi Minh, the father of Vietnamese communism, is idolized in Hanoi and hated in Little Saigon, Orange County, it is to be expected. Hanoi, the stronghold of the Vietnamese Communist Party, and Little Saigon, formed by those it forced into exile, have never seen eye to eye on any modern political figure or issue.

That is, until now. As the U.S. presidential election date draws near, both sides have suddenly found common ground and enthusiasm in one man: Sen. John McCain.

The 2008 National Asian American Survey recently found that among Asian groups, Vietnamese Americans are by far the most conservative: two out of three said they would vote for McCain.


In 2001 and 2004 [John Kerry and John McCain] collaborated to block the Vietnam Human Rights Act in the Senate, though in 2004 it passed 410-to-1 in the House. The bill, had it become law, would have tied U.S. humanitarian aid to Vietnam’s human rights record. For his efforts, John Kerry, who fought to defend South Vietnam from communism, became a hated man in Little Saigon, and they showed it in the 2004 election by voting overwhelmingly for Bush, who managed to avoid the Vietnam War by serving in the National Guard. Oddly enough, John McCain remained their hero.

Osama who?

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo had a warm and fuzzy feeling on Wednesday. He wrote: “My favorite campaign moment of the day: Wolf Blitzer asking Ed Rollins whether McCain needs an assist from Laden to win on Tuesday …”

At The American Prospect Online, Paul Waldman considers the likely result of just such an “assist”:

[T]he American people may just be getting the picture. The sight of Osama bin Laden could make them rush to George Bush’s arms four years ago, but would it have the same effect today? Would voters react to a new bin Laden tape — or even a terrorist attack — by saying, “We need someone who’ll get tough on terrorism”? Or might they say, “Why the hell haven’t we caught this guy yet? What are we doing wrong?”

More McCainiacs

Prof. Todd Gitlin of Columbia University recently encountered a media-neglected category of McCainiac: the occasional pro-Israel suburban Jew who’s convinced that Obama means death to Israel. Gitlin writes at TPM Cafe of his encounter with a McCain partisan during a talk the professor gave at at Temple Emmanuel in Great Neck, on Long Island:

During the Q-and-A, a man halfway back in the audience started shouting: “You have no business here! Shut up! Get out! Obama hates Israel! You hate Israel! You’re anti-American! You’re a Communist!” And so on. (I think there was something about terrorists, too, though I’m not sure, the acoustics not having been designed for enraged disruptions.) The shouter had to be, as they say, escorted away. Among the one-fifth or one-quarter of American Jews who’ll vote for McCain are a number — a small number, but small numbers make history — who have worked themselves into an apocalyptic furor. They know that the devil stalks the gate to the temple. This won’t be the first time that the prospect of a Democratic president drives their sort around the bend. They’ll be back.

According to Josh Marshall, a McCainiac mob appeared to be reading from a similar script, minus the stuff about Israel, when they surrounded two Obama supporters who entered a McCain rally wearing Obama tee shirts and holding Obama signs:

McCain mob surrounds two Cuban-American Obama supporters in Miami before police intervene to hustle the two away to safety. “People were screaming, ‘Terrorist!’ ‘Communist!’ ‘Socialist!’”, said Raul Sorando, [one] of the two Obama supporters. “I had a guy tell me he was gonna kill me.”

At an Obama rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, McCain supporter Charles David Ficken arrived with a 10-foot tall picture of Barack Obama in East African attire, shouting the United States doesn’t need a “Muslim-leaning” person for president, according to the American News Project’s Davin Hutchins, who has the video.

Speaking of McCainiacs and video, you won’t want to miss the latest music video, “Hounds,” from our own Max and the Marginalized.

Now, don’t forget to vote, y’all. And before you do, check out Yes! magazine’s Checklist for a Fair Election: 12 Ways to Safeguard Your Vote.

Adele M. Stan

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting
about John McCain. Visit
for a complete list of articles on McCain. And for the best progressive reporting on two
critical issues, check out and is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and created by NewsLadder. Adele M. Stan is executive editor of The Media Consortium’s syndicated reporting project.

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Palin Wows ‘Em in PA

by addiestan, The Media Consortium: Fri., Oct 31, 2008
Filed under: NewsLadderPresidential campaign 2008John McCain

cross posted from The Huffington Post

YORK, PENN.–It’s easy to make fun of a vice presidential candidate who can’t seem to tell you what periodicals she reads, what Supreme Court cases she disagrees with, or who thinks the First Amendment to the Constitution assures her the right to not be criticized. But today, after seeing Sarah Palin address a rally in famously conservative York, Pennsylvania, I’m not laughing.

Palin was completely impressive, even when calling Obama a socialist.

At the end of the event, she spent at least a half hour shaking hands, walking the rope line. I asked her whether she’d be running for president in 2012.

She smiled sweetly and said, “I’ll be campaigning for John McCain’s re-election in 2012.”

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