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Member since: Thu Mar 16, 2006, 02:07 PM
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Supreme Court rules women can be discriminated against in health decisions

Mon Jun 30, 2014 at 07:47 AM PDT
Supreme Court rules women can be discriminated against in health decisions
by Joan McCarter

Protesters hold signs at the steps of the Supreme Court as arguments begin today to challenge the Affordable Care Act's requirement that employers provide coverage for contraception as part of an employee's health care, in Washington March 25, 2014.

The U.S. Supreme Court convened on Tuesday to consider whether business owners can object on religious grounds to a provision of President Barack Obama's healthcare law requiring employers to provide health insurance that covers birth control.     REUTERS/Larry Downing   (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS HEALTH BUSINESS RELIGION) - RTR3IJ5S
The U.S. Supreme Court has given corporations even more personhood by deciding that they can have religious beliefs in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores. They ruled that closely held companies are exempt from the contraceptive coverage mandate for their employees' health insurance, and are exempt from that provision of the Affordable Care Act. The decision, 5-4 and the majority opinion written by Alito, is being described as "narrow." It is narrow, in that basically only applies to women.

The Court says:

This decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to mean that all insurance mandates, that is for blood transfusions or vaccinations, necessarily fail if they conflict with an employer's religious beliefs.

Men could need blood transfusions or vaccinations, so of course they can't allow the exemption from Obamacare to extend to them. The Court then says that this ruling is preventing discrimination. That would be discrimination against who really matters to the majority of the Roberts Court—corporations.

The decision also only applies to "closely held" corporations, which the IRS defines as having more than 50 percent of its stock owned by 5 or fewer individuals. It says that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act requires that the "government provide closely-held corporate objectors the same accommodation it already provides nonprofit organization objectors."

So religious belief trumps medical science and women's ability to make their own health care decisions, and corporations get to dictate that, according to the majority of the Supreme Court.


OT: Hmm... And what's that I see behind those peaceful protesters exercising their First Amendment right? Is that a barrier? Oh, that's right, the supreme Court isn't a woman's healthcare facility! Silly me!

TOM TOMORROW: The Droney memo

Mon Jun 30, 2014 at 07:00 AM PDT
Cartoon: The Droney memo
by Tom Tomorrow


His father's eyes

Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 01:10 PM PDT
His father's eyes
by SteelerGrrl

He was a rising senior and standout scholar-athlete at his high school. I was the cardiac sonographer on weekend call at the regional trauma center. Answering a mid-afternoon page, I was promptly connected to ICU. "GSW," the charge nurse said flatly. "Harvest."
"I'll be right there."

GSW. Gun shot wound. Someone has been declared clinically brain dead, and the next of kin has consented to donate his or her heart. Organ donation is a tightly choreographed process and every minute counts. My job was to do an ultrasound study of the donor's heart and deliver it stat to my cardiologist, who would assess its viability for transplant.

Guiding my unwieldy machine out of the elevator and into the normally-sterile corridor, I found it teeming with humanity. Mostly teenagers, they were huddled in small groups. Shaking, sobbing, praying.

This was going to be bad.

His cramped room is already packed with family and life support machinery. I introduce myself, scanning their faces. They part silently as I set up my equipment. I know instantly which is his father. I will never forget the look in his father's eyes.

He doesn't look dead. His chest rises and falls with the ventilator; the monitor displays normal vital signs. As I lay my probe on his chest, his skin is warm beneath my glove. His heart springs to life for all to see. Strong. Steady. So much living left to do.

I complete my study methodically, efficiently, as X-ray and lab line up for their turn. His heart function is within normal limits, but I can't tell the family that. Instead, I nod awkwardly and them them I'm so sorry. Mindful of the vigil in the hall, I pause at the door to dab away the rising well in my eyes with a washcloth. It turns out the washcloth is covered with ultrasound gel.

The cold and indignity shock me back into clinical mode. Page the cardiologist. Drive home. The brilliant sun suddenly seems cruel, illuminating a world that doesn't feel beautiful anymore. It feels broken, bleeding about the jagged edges of a piece senselessly and irrevocably ripped from its very flesh.

There was a gun in his home, and there was an accident. It doesn't matter where, or when, or how it happened. In a more perfect world, stories like his would be rare. Instead, he succumbed to the second most common cause of death among children and young people. From the New England Journal of Medicine: (word cloud above)

In 2010, gun-related injuries accounted for 6570 deaths of children and young people (1 to 24 years of age). That includes 7 deaths per day among people 1 to 19 years of age. Gun injuries cause twice as many deaths as cancer, 5 times as many as heart disease, and 15 times as many as infections.

Emphasis mine. Seven gun-related deaths per day, age 1 to 19. Seven bedside vigils, seven devastated families, seven fathers and mothers with a look in their eyes that stays with you forever. My nursing textbooks tell me to work with measurable quantities. How do you measure heartbreak? How do you quantify the carnage of a single bullet, when its wake is measured in decades and generations?

A year after that unforgettable call, I received a card at work. It was signed by the recipient of that young man's heart. He was doing wonderfully, back at work, and able to play with his kids again.

Only then, far removed from the clinical detachment of the moment, did I comprehend the great gift that young man's family had bestowed in a moment of unspeakable tragedy. Only then did I let myself cry.


Tom Tomorrow: In a just world

Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 07:00 AM PDT
Cartoon: In a just world
by Tom Tomorrow


Tragically, all we’ve fought for in Iraq, all that 4,500 American lives were shed to gain, is on the cusp, potentially, of vanishing.
- Mitt Romney, “Ideas Summit,” 6/13/2014

All we fought for in Iraq.

All we fought for in Iraq is on the cusp of vanishing.

That’s what Mitt Romney says.

We fought for. We fought for. We.

Oh, so it’s we now, is it, Mitt?


I must have missed you over there, but it was a busy place. We. The guy who helped set up “pro-draft” rallies and yet somehow managed to avoid service in Vietnam is upset about losing what “we” fought for? We.

Yeah, fuck you, Mitt...

READ IT ALL HERE: http://www.stonekettle.com/2014/06/absolutely-nothing.html

Five things I learned about conservatives these past two weeks

Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 07:45 AM PDT
Five things I learned about conservatives these past two weeks
by kos

Duck Dynasty cast photo alongside photo of Bob Bergdahl showing them sporting similar beards.

Some of these beards are patriotic, others are just like the Taliban. Can you spot which is which?
Conservatives have kindly given us an illuminating inside look into their world view these past few weeks. Things I've learned:

* Reality is a mere inconvenience. Remember when Obamacare would destroy the world? How many of them are talking about the ACA today? The number is pretty much zero. The law proved its worth, and they moved on. There was Cliven Bundy, but that flamed out, so forget he ever existed. So they moved on to Benghazi select committee, but how much are you hearing about that these days? No, now it's BERGDAHL who will finally prove Obama's undoing. Except he won't.

* "Leave no one behind" is not a conservative value. The Solider's Creed says, "I will never leave a fallen comrade." The Airman's Creed says, "I will never leave an airman behind." It's a foundational military and American value. For conservatives, it's "leave no one behind, unless Sarah Palin has something to say about it, then it depends." That's simply un-American.

* Forget about supporting the troops. It's not just leaving our troops prisoner in the hands of our enemies. Conservatives filibustered increased spending on veterans health care. And let's not forget, they'll boo our troops if they happen to be of the wrong sexual persuasion. In other words, support for the troops is now lip service, and even then, situational. It really depends.

* Beards say "I love America!" except the Taliban ones. Long beards are okay when they're on the face of Duck Dynasty pretend hillbillies, but not okay on the face of Bowe Bergdahl's father. Just because.

* Keeping schoolchildren alive is not a priority. Given the choice between unfettered access to weapons of mass killing or keeping our school children safe, conservatives have made their choice very clear. For them, dead school children are preferable.

Alright, I admit it. I didn't learn most of those things these past two weeks. The "leave no one behind, maybe" was new, as was the crazy beard thing. But the rest? It merely confirmed what we already knew. None of it very pretty.



Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 01:57 AM PDT
by lynn47


Fox Coverage of this Breaking Story will be Ongoing through the Day!!!!!

On Hannity tonight, his Guest Col. Oliver North will talk in detail about the Iran Contra Affair in Detail for the first time...Per Col. North," President Reagan and I worked hand in hand to keep America Safe. We would never have let a Hero like Sgt. Bergdahl end up this way. We never left a soldier behind. Obama is the weakest President in my lifetime, this is a National Disgrace."

Also on Hannity, members of Sgt. Berdahl's Company speak for the first time on TV!!

Said one member of his platoon,"Sgt. Bergdahl was a deep thinking man but a great soldier, sometimes he would walk at night just to clear his head. I will never forgive myself for letting him get captured. To a man, anyone of us would have given our life to get him back. Why didn't the Military do more to free this American Hero is something I will never understand. We never leave a soldier behind is what I was taught."

After that on the Kelly Files!!!

Kelly will be interviewing some of the people from Sgt. Bergdahl's hometown. Said on of his close neighbors," This kid was an American Hero that Obama left to die. The town is going to have a huge celebration of his life this week. It will help us heal our wounds as we grieve for this Great American who was left behind."

Also on the Kelly Files, a Retired General who has connections at the highest levels will give his opinion!! He has documents that show the Administration knew the Sgt. Bergdahl would lose his life but did nothing!! Only on the Kelly Files, do not miss this breaking story.

This just in, Senators McCain and Graham make a joint statement!!

"We do not want to talk impeachment just yet as he left this brave soldier behind, we need to form a commission to look into this further. There are already 20 Republican Senators lined up to be on the committee " Sen. McCain went on," Why the United States did not go to the lengths it did for me to ascertain my release is beyond me. Just this January I advised the Administration to do whatever it takes to get this Hero Home. The US unequivocally never leaves a man behind!!"

To finish the coverage tonight will be Bill O'Reilly. On Bills show tonight!!

Bill O'Reilly states,"Vladimir Putin would have never let this happen. He is a tough man who takes action and would never let the Taliban torture one of his own. Obama is weak and the whole world knows it now more than ever."

On Bill's Talking Point Memo, he will talk about the tearful Parents as they made a brief statement today, from Bill,"Due to Obama's weakness these Parents grieve tonight. Much like Phil Robertson, Bob Bergdahl is the Patriarch of his family who stands on principal and would do anything to get his son back. Look he even grew a Freedom beard and learned to speak Arabic. Just in the hopes he could talk to the Taliban in their language. Possibly to get his son home. We should have more Father's like him out there!!"

There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to – The Outer Limits.

We now return control of your television set to you.


Best Damn Thing I've Read All Day -- A personal narrative about Bowe Bergdahl

Sun Jun 08, 2014 at 08:03 AM PDT
Why I haven't (and after today, won't) commented on the Bergdahl affair
by BoiseBlue

My cousin, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, lost his life unexpectedly several years ago. He was not on active duty when he died and that somehow made his death even more confounding. His older brother was stationed in Iraq when it happened, fuming at the contractors who did a terrible job of the same work that he did for a lot more money and quite a bit less skill, and his younger brother, who was stationed in Afghanistan at the same time but remained tight-lipped about any of his feelings regarding anything related to his duty, were granted leave to attend the funeral.

My late cousin and I were never particularly close, but his oldest brother and I were for many years because I was only a year older than him and that's how cousins roll. We used to spend many summer days at grandma and grandpa's house playing "army" in their backyard. I don't attach any special significance to that in this context: that's what kids did when I was a little girl. Maybe they still do, I don't know.

What I do know is that when we were pretending to be soldiers way back when, war was not something that had any special meaning to it. It was something that happened in the past, not something that happens today. It was something we don't do because it's not a good thing.

But the myth of the soldier, the bravado and sheer toughness, is too much to not mimic and want to become when one is young and impressionable. Hell, I carried a Commando doll with me for a few years, dreaming of one day becoming as awesome as Arnold Schwarzenegger, confident that by the time I grew up women would be just as studly as men were allowed to be.

Anyway, before my cousin's death I was a faithful reader and recommender of the IGTNT series, but I haven't clicked on one of those diaries since that day.

Now, I want to be clear that I admire and respect the writers of that series and I know that it was borne of and has been continued for noble reasons.

But what happened the day that I got the news was a gut-wrenching experience. There was a WYFP diary posted later that night, and I commented that my fucking problem was that my cousin had died.

I posted the comment, shed a few more tears, and then stopped.

It immediately felt wrong to me that I had posted about it here, on this site, a specifically partisan/political site. I asked for the comment to be hidden and, to this day, that is (to my knowledge) the only comment I've ever made that was hidden.

I didn't want to exploit to his death and I immediately regretted that I had spoken of it here.

I have shared a lot of my inner life on this site, but that was a line I could not cross. Or rather, it was a line I DID cross and then wanted to take it back. So I did.

Kind of.

Since that day many years ago I have not clicked on a single IGTNT diary. It just feels wrong to me even though I know that every person writing those tributes is doing it for noble reasons.

The Wood River Valley, Bowe Bergdahl's home, is a beautiful place. I can't describe it to anyone who has never been in a high-elevation Idaho valley - it's just beautiful.

I spend a great deal of time there. It's my home away from home.... Actually, it's my home away from my NOT home. Since leaving Boise I don't want to be an Idahoan and when that feeling zaps my soul, I go to Ketchum, which is just a ten minute drive from Hailey, which is Bergdahl's hometown.

Where Bowe is concerned, time stood still there. The yellow ribbons have not moved since the day he was captured. The signs have not come down. The people have not become less passionate. A drive down the main road shows many pictures of Bowe and they have for over five years.

No one around here forgot Bowe.

The rest of the US seemed to have amnesia.

Not just about Bowe, but about the war. The sacrifice. The loss.

The price we pay for sending our young men and women to foreign countries and telling them to do something that they can never accomplish with the resources we give them.

None of these things are abstract here. They are all very real, and they are all embodied in the form of one young man who has been held captive for five very long years.

As you might expect, the media is swarming. Everyone who is anyone in "journalism" is there or has been there, and they are shoving a camera and/or microphone in every local's face about Bowe.

But no one cares about the political football it has become. One local woman, with a camera in her face, said bluntly that we're not going to worry or fight about the politics. We're just going to celebrate that Bowe is finally coming home.

And that woman speaks for me, and for every Idahoan that I know.


There is a weird, bipolar dichotomy that Americans have when it comes to our solders. On the one hand, we revere them and consider them sacred.

On the other, (or more likely because of that), we expect them to be perfect. Strong, determined. Unwavering in the face of adversity, strife, or fucking bullets shooting towards them.

I like to think that I don't understand that mentality, but the truth is that I understand it so well that I am beyond words.

Bowe grew frustrated with the war; he sent an email to his parents expressing frustration to which his father replied, "OBEY YOUR CONSCIENCE."

No one knows what happened after that, and beware anyone who tells you that they do.

I am not getting into the nitty gritty about it because there are some things I know to be true:

The world is always a better place when we trust people to follow their own conscience.

We send men and women off to war and expect them to be perfect and then have a meltdown when they're not.

Guess what? They can't be, they never were prepared to be, and if you demand that of someone else then you need to be in a perfect, stone-free house when you insist that they should be.

Why don't we simply trust the young men and women that we send off to war?

We trust them to defend our freedom, yet don't trust them to make a conscience decision about what they feel is right and wrong.

Some gleefully send them off to war and slap a magnet on their car and call themselves patriots, yet the moment one of our supposed heroes shows any inkling of a conscience they back off and say, "He's not worthy to wear the uniform."

Fuck that.

Bowe was worthy of the uniform when he was willing to die for you, so he fucking A is worthy of it now.

The fact is that there is a REAL flesh and blood American that was held captive for a very long time.

This is the reality. This is the truth.

A young man spent five years held captive and he's not a hero, he's not a turncoat, he's not a demon, he's not a hashtag, AND HE'S NOT A POLITICAL FOOTBALL.

He's a young man that went off to war thinking that he'd be able to make the world a better place by doing so.

He was captured, then he was freed. All the rest of it is just noise.

And all that matters is that he is coming home.

That's it. That's all.

After all these years, Bowe is finally coming home.

Everyone would do well to let him fucking adjust before casting him as a hero or villain.

All of it will come out in due time.

For many of us, this is not political.

We've been carrying him with us for a long time while the rest of the world moved on, and it's incredibly frustrating to watch everyone else play politics with it when, until just recently, it seemed no one even knew his name.


FBI investigating threats against Bergdahl's parents

Sun Jun 08, 2014 at 06:05 AM PDT
FBI investigating threats against Bergdahl's parents
by Christian Dem in NC

Bowe Bergdahl's parents haven't been seen in public since the Rose Garden ceremony announcing that he had been freed. Now we know why. Apparently Bob and Jani Bergdahl have received death threats--and they've been serious enough to trigger an FBI investigation.

The FBI is investigating threats against the parents of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the latest development in a case that has put the spotlight on the circumstances surrounding his capture in Afghanistan and release by the Taliban.

"We are working jointly with our state and local partners and taking each threat seriously," FBI Special Agent William Facer told CNN in an e-mail on Saturday.

Facer declined to detail the nature and severity of the threats, and a military spokesperson for the Bergdahls declined to comment.

That may also explain why Bergdahl's hometown of Hailey, Idaho canceled a planned welcome-home parade.

I'm shaking with anger as I write this. At this point, it is grossly irresponsible to say Bergdahl is a deserter. But even if he was a deserter, death threats--whether against him or his parents--are completely unacceptable. Whoever is responsible for this is a bleepity-bleeping coward who needs to go to jail for a long, long time.


What you haven't read about Benghazi

Sat Jun 07, 2014 at 12:14 PM PDT
What you haven't read about Benghazi
by tmaertens

On April 18, 1983, a suicide truck bomber attacked the U.S. Embassy in Beirut killing sixty-three people including 17 Americans; on Oct. 23, 1983, a second suicide bomber struck in Beirut, killing 241 U.S. Marines. The congressional investigation ordered by Speaker “Tip” O’Neill recommended major security improvements.

Eighteen months later, on Sept. 20, 1984, a third attack occurred in Beirut, killing 24 people at the U.S. Embassy.

It turned out that the security measures Congress directed had not been completed. Ronald Reagan’s explanation was a version of, well, stuff happens: “Anyone who’s ever had their kitchen done over knows that it never gets done as soon as you wish it would.”

In the interim, five more people were killed in the Dec. 12, 1983, attack on the American Embassy in Kuwait.

Under George W. Bush, sixty people died at U.S. missions overseas, including 16 U.S. diplomats, from attacks at Kolkata (Calcutta), Islamabad, Istanbul, Tashkent, Damascus, Saudi Arabia, and two each in Sana’a and Karachi. There were no Congressional investigations.

There have been 521 attacks on U.S. missions abroad since 1970 — roughly one per month — according to State Department figures. Of the 500 Americans who died in dangerous parts of the world in recent decades — plus 4,500 Americans who died in Bush’s Iraq fiasco — Republicans seem obsessed only about the four victims who died in Benghazi, Libya: eight congressional committees have already conducted thirteen hearings.

House Speaker John Boehner has convened yet another investigation — a “trial” the chairman called it — to determine whether violent protests were “rooted in an Internet video, not a failure of policy,” as administration talking points declared. The video in question was “The Innocence of Muslims,” made by an Egyptian Christian extremist in California. One Republican after another has declared the explanation a lie.

An Internet search shows photos of riots or demonstrations in Cairo, Gaza City, Kashmir, Kuwait, Istanbul, Mombasa, Jakarta, Doha, Khartoum, Dhaka, Yemen, Iraq, India, Tunisia, Teheran, Kabul, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Lebanon, Jordan, and many other cities around 9/11. Maps posted by the Atlantic and others show dozens of protests around the world that night.

The New York Daily News said “The Muslim-mocking clip caused violent protests across the Arab world and may have been the impetus for the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi;” the International Business Times reported that “As many as 19 people have been killed in Pakistan amid violent protests over anti-Muslim film ‘Innocence of Muslims’”; Sky News reported that 60 were injured in Peshawar and over a hundred in Karachi; France shut down its embassies in 20 countries because of protests; over a dozen were injured in Bangladesh; the BBC reported over 100 people were injured in Cairo due to “protests against an anti-Islam film.”

Reuters reported that seven Egyptian Christians were sentenced to death in absentia for their role in “The Innocence of Muslims;” and, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri urged Muslims to wage holy war against the U.S. and Israel over the “The Innocence of Muslims.”

A January 2014 report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) also suggested that the attacks were influenced by violent protests against an inflammatory video, and cited demonstrations in Cairo and approximately 40 other cities that night. Besides Benghazi, there were attacks on U.S. missions in Yemen, Egypt and Tunisia.

Adding to the frenzy about Benghazi was Fox News’ bogus claim that the military was told to “stand down” during the attack. That and other conspiracy theories were broadcast in more than 1,100 segments by Fox about Benghazi last year, according to Nexis.

The Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Buck McKeon, concluded there is “no evidence that Department of State officials delayed the decision to deploy what few resources DoD had available to respond.” Separately, a Pentagon statement said that “U.S. military forces could not have arrived in time to mount a rescue of those Americans who were killed and injured.”

The Benghazi hysteria is being stirred up by Republicans for political purposes. The National Republican Congressional Committee has boasted that its Clinton/Benghazi fundraising page was the most successful in its history.

Several Republicans claim they have enough votes to impeach Obama, except they can’t find any evidence of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” despite their scandal-mongering over “Fast and Furious” and the IRS. Now they are betting on Benghazi.

But Benghazi was a tragedy perpetrated by jihadists in Libya, not by Obama, Clinton or diplomats in the State Department.

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