As Karl Rove Targets Waivers, We Need to Protect Vermont’s Path to Single-Payer

At the end of May, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill that can put Vermont on the path to single-payer health care. As it stands, Vermont’s plan is to cover every resident of the state for actual health care they can use. But the Green Mountain State’s ambitious plan can only succeed if the Federal Government grants several critical waivers of existing health care laws.

Firedoglake and Physicians for a National Health Plan (PNHP) joined forces to ask Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, for favorable conditions for all of Vermont’s waivers to implement its plan. More than 26,000 people have signed our petition in just several short weeks – an incredible show of support.

Single-payer health care was pushed out of the health care debate long before Congress voted in 2010. We’re determined to make sure that doesn’t happen again…but Karl Rove is already on the move.

This week Karl Rove’s secretive, multi-million dollar front group filed its second lawsuit against HHS seeking information about waivers. Rove is putting up millions of dollars in undisclosed donations to attack waiver recipients by suing HHS. These lawsuits are part of Rove’s plan to set the narrative early by labeling any waiver request as tainted by political favoritism.

We must set the terms of the debate now, before Rove unleashes his inevitable attacks on Vermont. In order to build up our campaign for Vermont’s waivers early, we need to raise $15,000 before Rove turns his sights on Vermont.

Can you chip in $15 to protect against Rove’s coming attacks?

In order for any state to implement single-payer, they’re going to have to have the same kind of waivers from HHS that Vermont needs to implement its new health care bill. But Karl Rove is already filing lawsuits and attacking the White House for granting any waivers at all.

Everybody reading this post has seen what happens to the resolve of our political leaders when well-funded GOP groups go on the attack. It usually ends up with those leaders hiding under a table, waving a white flag.

That’s why it’s so critical we burst out the gate with a strong show of support. Obviously, $15,000 for our campaign won’t stack up against millions from Rove. But your donation now to our initial goal will help us expand our ranks, run micro-targeted advertisements to key decision makers, and ensure we have early momentum to carry our message of universal health care.

We need to raise $15,000 in early campaign investments to protect Vermont’s right to health care for all. Can you donate $15 to help reach our goal?

Thank you for your support on this issue; be sure to add your name to our petition, and chip in to our early campaign fund if you can.

As Karl Rove Targets Waivers, We Need to Protect Vermont’s Path to Single-Payer

At the end of May, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill that can put Vermont on the path to single-payer health care. As it stands, Vermont’s plan is to cover every resident of the state for actual health care they can use. But the Green Mountain State’s ambitious plan can only succeed if the Federal Government grants several critical waivers of existing health care laws.

Firedoglake and Physicians for a National Health Plan (PNHP) joined forces to ask Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, for favorable conditions for all of Vermont’s waivers to implement its plan. More than 26,000 people have signed our petition in just several short weeks – an incredible show of support.

Single-payer health care was pushed out of the health care debate long before Congress voted in 2010. We’re determined to make sure that doesn’t happen again…but Karl Rove is already on the move.

This week Karl Rove’s secretive, multi-million dollar front group filed its second lawsuit against HHS seeking information about waivers. Rove is putting up millions of dollars in undisclosed donations to attack waiver recipients by suing HHS. These lawsuits are part of Rove’s plan to set the narrative early by labeling any waiver request as tainted by political favoritism.

We must set the terms of the debate now, before Rove unleashes his inevitable attacks on Vermont. In order to build up our campaign for Vermont’s waivers early, we need to raise $15,000 before Rove turns his sights on Vermont.

Can you chip in $15 to protect against Rove’s coming attacks?

In order for any state to implement single-payer, they’re going to have to have the same kind of waivers from HHS that Vermont needs to implement its new health care bill. But Karl Rove is already filing lawsuits and attacking the White House for granting any waivers at all.

Everybody reading this post has seen what happens to the resolve of our political leaders when well-funded GOP groups go on the attack. It usually ends up with those leaders hiding under a table, waving a white flag.

That’s why it’s so critical we burst out the gate with a strong show of support. Obviously, $15,000 for our campaign won’t stack up against millions from Rove. But your donation now to our initial goal will help us expand our ranks, run micro-targeted advertisements to key decision makers, and ensure we have early momentum to carry our message of universal health care.

We need to raise $15,000 in early campaign investments to protect Vermont’s right to health care for all. Can you donate $15  to help reach our goal?

Thank you for your support on this issue; be sure to add your name to our petition, and chip in to our early campaign fund if you can.

2012 Election Planning: FDL Member Webinar Recap and Next Steps

More than 60 members of Firedoglake met for a webinar on May 11, 2011 to discuss what FDL should do for the 2011 election. The lively event showed the true depth of both the views of FDL’s members, as well as the great ideas for how we should proceed from both an organizing and journalism perspective for the election.

You can watch a replay of the member presentation in the above video. We want to show what it means to be an FDL Member, and invite you to join as a member to participate in our coming discussions. (Future recordings of webinars will be available to members only.)

The event was kicked off by FDL Senior Policy Analyst Jon Walker, who framed the night’s discussion with an historical perspective of the role of membership associations in elections and issue organizing. Walker also discussed the limitations of achieving change through both avenues: from structural impediments to third parties, the need for campaign finance reform, and the somewhat brighter possibilities for issue organizing within the electoral context.

After that, the floor was open to members. Jane Hamsher walked through dozens of suggestions submitted by FDL members in advance of the meeting that touched on several distinct themes: presidential and congressional elections, state and local elections, as well as bucking political candidates in favor of advancing issues with the wedge of the election. Progressive movement building was also a common thread of the discussion. For more than an hour, every FDL member who wanted to speak was able to share their thoughts about what FDL should do in the election.

This webinar was the first of an open series in which FDL members can help shape our course for 2012. Over the next several weeks, FDL members are organizing on their own for several projects, and will be able to participate in more interactive webinars based on the hot topics and most pressing issues as suggested by our members. FDL Members will also soon receive a survey about what ideas they want to hear next in our ongoing discussion for 2012.

It’s a new model for online organizing, and we’re so glad to have your support in making it a reality.

Join today – become a member of FDL and help shape our work for the 2012 elections.

Alan Simpson Doesn’t Like “The Catfood Commission People”

graphic by Twolf

Alan Simpson doesn’t like “the Catfood Commission people.”

In a testy interview with Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim, the chair of Obama’s deficit commission questioned Grim’s stated facts about Social Security, speculating that Grim’s information came from “the Catfood Commission people.” (It actually came from the Social Security Administration.)

“If that is the case — and I don’t think it is — then that means they put in peanuts,” said Simpson.

Simpson speculated that the data presented to him by HuffPost had been furnished by “the Catfood Commission people” — a reference to progressive critics of the deficit commission who gave president’s panel that label.

In the same interview, which came after he gave an “up yours” gesture to an AARP lobbyist, Simpson also said that Social Security was a Ponzi scheme.

You think we got to him much?

Alan Simpson Doesn’t Like “the Catfood Commission People”

graphic by Twolf

Alan Simpson doesn’t like “the Catfood Commission people.”

In a testy interview with Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim, the chair of Obama’s deficit commission questioned Grim’s stated facts about Social Security, speculating that Grim’s information came from “the Catfood Commission people.” (It actually came from the Social Security Administration.)

“If that is the case — and I don’t think it is — then that means they put in peanuts,” said Simpson.

Simpson speculated that the data presented to him by HuffPost had been furnished by “the Catfood Commission people” — a reference to progressive critics of the deficit commission who gave president’s panel that label.

In the same interview, which came after he gave an “up yours” gesture to an AARP lobbyist, Simpson also said that Social Security was a Ponzi scheme.

You think we got to him much?

Free Trade Flip Flop: Trade Package Goes from “Huge Mistake” to “Grand Bargain”

No New NAFTAThe Obama Administration intends to meet Congressional demands to move all three pending NAFTA-style “free trade” agreements with Colombia, Korea, and Panama. David Dayen previewed this news yesterday, explaining that at a minimum, a quarter million American jobs are at risk.

Since the announcement of the Korea deal in December to Panama’s late last month, the White House has accelerated the job-killing trade deals, culminating with Congress beginning technical work on the deals starting yesterday. In those six months, the Obama Administration did a 180 with how it wants to move the deals. US Trade Representative Ron Kirk cautioned against tying the deals together in January, pushing back against Boehner’s insistence that the deals move together by calling such a move a “huge mistake”:

“I know John Boehner has spoken to the president about timing … we are seeking a hard deadline, a tight sequence for all three,” Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said.

Brady said that “whether it’s all at once or a defined sequence and timetable, we just have to get them all done.”

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk made clear in a public appearance Thursday that the administration continues to resist tying the Korea free-trade agreement to the other two deals.

“We think as attractive as it might sound to some, it would be a huge mistake to force all of the trade agenda into one lump vote with Korea,” Kirk said. He added that the administration does not want to “short-circuit” the process of fixing the problems with the other two.

Fast forward to today. The Administration has not only agreed to meet Boehner’s arbitrary July 1 deadline, but is not discussing a “broader trade package” that will come to Congress this summer. While it looks likely there won’t be one vote on all 3 trade deals, you can smell Obama’s brand of compromise in the air.

“We are confident now that a free-trade agreement would be good for our country, would create jobs here in the United States, open up new markets with potential for billions of dollars of cross-border trades,” Obama told reporters in the Oval Office. “We think it would be also very good for Panama and allow additional economic exchanges between our two countries.”

“So my expectation is, is that as part of a broader trade package that we’re going to be presenting to Congress, that we’re going to be able to get this done,” he added, thanking Martinelli for “his leadership on this issue.”

The White House has made clear that Korea is its biggest priority, and has been pushing for its passage more than Colombia and Panama. Republicans and other corporate free trade Democrats have insisted that if Korea passes, Colombia and Panama must come right behind, if not with it.

So of course, Republicans see opportunity to get all three through so that Obama gets his Korea deal. Rep. Brady, a key trade leader in the House, has insisted from the beginning that they move together. And the US Chamber of Commerce is only happy to join that call for a “grand bargain.” [cont’d.] (more…)

Free Trade Flip Flop: Trade Package Goes From “Huge Mistake” to “Grand Bargain”?

No New NAFTAThe Obama Administration intends to meet Congressional demands to move all three pending NAFTA-style “free trade” agreements with Colombia, Korea, and Panama. David Dayen previewed this news yesterday, explaining that at a minimum, a quarter million American jobs are at risk.

Since the announcement of the Korea deal in December to Panama’s late last month, the White House has accelerated the job-killing trade deals, culminating with Congress beginning technical work on the deals starting yesterday. In those six months, the Obama Administration did a 180 with how it wants to move the deals. US Trade Representative Ron Kirk cautioned against tying the deals together in January, pushing back against Boehner’s insistence that the deals move together by calling such a move a “huge mistake”:

“I know John Boehner has spoken to the president about timing … we are seeking a hard deadline, a tight sequence for all three,” Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said.

Brady said that “whether it’s all at once or a defined sequence and timetable, we just have to get them all done.”

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk made clear in a public appearance Thursday that the administration continues to resist tying the Korea free-trade agreement to the other two deals.

“We think as attractive as it might sound to some, it would be a huge mistake to force all of the trade agenda into one lump vote with Korea,” Kirk said. He added that the administration does not want to “short-circuit” the process of fixing the problems with the other two.

Fast forward to today. The Administration has not only agreed to meet Boehner’s arbitrary July 1 deadline, but is not discussing a “broader trade package” that will come to Congress this summer. While it looks likely there won’t be one vote on all 3 trade deals, you can smell Obama’s brand of compromise in the air.

“We are confident now that a free-trade agreement would be good for our country, would create jobs here in the United States, open up new markets with potential for billions of dollars of cross-border trades,” Obama told reporters in the Oval Office. “We think it would be also very good for Panama and allow additional economic exchanges between our two countries.”

“So my expectation is, is that as part of a broader trade package that we’re going to be presenting to Congress, that we’re going to be able to get this done,” he added, thanking Martinelli for “his leadership on this issue.”

The White House has made clear that Korea is its biggest priority, and has been pushing for its passage more than Colombia and Panama. Republicans and other corporate free trade Democrats have insisted that if Korea passes, Colombia and Panama must come right behind, if not with it.

So of course, Republicans see opportunity to get all 3 through so that Obama gets his Korea deal. Rep. Brady, a key trade leader in the House, has insisted from the beginning that they move together. And the US Chamber of Commerce is only happy to join that call for a “grand bargain.”

An official at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said there could be a “grand bargain” on trade.

“In the weeks ahead, the United States has a chance to move forward in a bipartisan fashion to secure approval of the pending trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama,” John Murphy, vice president for international policy at the Chamber, said in a blog post.

The Chamber is even touring the country with the South Korean ambassador to support the trade deals, and promises an ad campaign to come.

The Chamber has also been traveling the country with the South Korean ambassador promoting the deals. Since the beginning of the year, the Chamber has organized grass-roots activities in at least 10 states, including New Mexico, Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and South Carolina, said Chamber trade lobbyist Scott Eckart.

“We are putting significant resources into this, and it’s still being determined. We are going to be doing ad campaigns,” said another Chamber trade lobbyist, Christopher Wenk. “We’re not shy about pouring resources into our top priorities.”

Politico wrote that this summer would be an “epic showdown” over trade deals in Congress. Is it just me, or am I missing who’s going to be on the other side of this fight? While some labor unions have come out in opposition to all 3 trade deals, it’s hard to imagine any sort of “showdown” happening with the Administration, members of Congress in both parties, and corporate groups all pushing for rapid approval of these deals.

Bradley Manning to be Removed from Solitary Confinement Tomorrow

Bradley Manning civilian clothesAccused Wikileaks whistleblower PFC. Bradley Manning will be removed from solitary confinement and placed in medium security at Fort Leavenworth prison, according to reports from journalists who took a tour of the Kansas facility today.

The first report of Manning’s move came from National Catholic Review reporter Joshua J. McElwee, who said that after the tour of the Leavenworth facility, military officials announced that Manning would be moved to medium security tomorrow morning.

Suspected WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning, whose treatment in custody has spurred protests from supporters and human rights groups, is now considered a “medium custody” prisoner and is allowed three hours of recreation a day, the U.S. Army announced this afternoon. […]

The commandant of the facility, Lt. Col. Dawn Hilton, said the suspected Army private will be classified as a medium custody prisoner “starting tomorrow morning.”

The new classification allows Manning to receive Army inspected mail freely, make phone calls, and meet with preapproved visitors, Hilton said.

Kevin Zeese from the Bradley Manning Support Network seemed to confirm that report with a tweet saying that Manning would be removed from solitary confinement. The AP also reports that Manning will be housed with about 10 other pre-trial detainees at Leavenworth, and will have access to common areas during the day.

The ease with which the Army decided to put Manning in medium security, and out of almost a year of solitary confinement, makes the unending excuses out of the Pentagon pathetic. All we heard about from December onward was how Bradley Manning was a threat to himself. DOD Flack Geoff Morrell said Manning was being held in maximum security because other prisoners could possibly harm him – or, because everybody at Quantico was in danger of self-harm. He was stripped naked every night because of a sarcastic quip. [cont’d.] (more…)

Bradley Manning to be Removed from Solitary Confinement Tomorrow

Bradley Manning civilian clothesAccused Wikileaks whistleblower PFC. Bradley Manning will be removed from solitary confinement and placed in medium security at Fort Leavenworth prison, according to reports from journalists who took a tour of the Kansas facility today.

The first report of Manning’s move came from National Catholic Review reporter Joshua J. McElwee, who said that after the tour of the Leavenworth facility, military officials announced that Manning would be moved to medium security tomorrow morning.

Suspected WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning, whose treatment in custody has spurred protests from supporters and human rights groups, is now considered a “medium custody” prisoner and is allowed three hours of recreation a day, the U.S. Army announced this afternoon. […]

The commandant of the facility, Lt. Col. Dawn Hilton, said the suspected Army private will be classified as a medium custody prisoner “starting tomorrow morning.”

The new classification allows Manning to receive Army inspected mail freely, make phone calls, and meet with preapproved visitors, Hilton said.

Kevin Zeese from the Bradley Manning Support Network seemed to confirm that report with a tweet saying that Manning would be removed from solitary confinement. The AP also reports that Manning will be housed with about 10 other pre-trial detainees at Leavenworth, and will have access to common areas during the day.

The ease with which the Army decided to put Manning in medium security, and out of almost a year of solitary confinement, makes the unending excuses out of the Pentagon pathetic. All we heard about from December onward was how Bradley Manning was a threat to himself. DOD Flack Geoff Morrell said Manning was being held in maximum security because other prisoners could possibly harm him – or, because everybody at Quantico was in danger of self-harm. He was stripped naked every night because of a sarcastic quip.

But now, Manning is in medium security. No prevention of injury order. No maximum custody. He’s like any other detainee (you can say that now without lying, Morrell).

Barack Obama said the Pentagon “reassured” him that Manning’s treatment at Quantico “met our basic standards.” Better get a second opinion on that. Either 7 days in Kansas did wonders for Manning, or the folks at the Pentagon and Quantico are a bunch of lying sadists who tortured Manning out of, what? Retaliation? Punishment? Sick enjoyment?

Dennis Kucinich sums up the high stakes that still surround Manning’s detention and the unquestionable abuse that Manning suffered:

Instead of responding to criticism from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, the Army will offer the media a scripted fantasy of Manning’s brand new facility. With this stunt, it is clear that the Department of Defense and the Army are more concerned with public relations than the rights and security of Pfc. Manning.

This fake transparency ignores the central question: How was Pfc. Manning treated during his long, solitary pretrial confinement at Quantico? What is his mental state after suffering the indignity of being left naked for an undetermined period of time, and after being continually disrupted in the manner of a continuous interrogation?

If it is determined that there has been a deliberate effort to break Pfc. Manning physically and/or mentally prior to his trial or subvert his rights in any way, then the news media, which is participating in the public relations exercise today at Ft Leavenworth, could become complicit in a cover up.

The Department of Defense must grant my legitimate request to meet with Pfc. Bradley Manning and fully answer serious questions about his treatment.

Make no mistake. This is not over. The Pentagon did today what it should have done, at a minimum, five months ago when allegations of Bradley Manning’s abuse first came to light. We don’t know what Manning has really endured under the abusive watch at Quantico. And Manning supporters won’t stop the campaign to ensure he’s still treated fairly, and that the truth about his abuse at Quantico is told. There’s also the little matter of the Commander in Chief exercising undue command influence in declaring Manning guilty.

There’s little doubt that Bradley Manning’s conditions wouldn’t be improving, starting tomorrow, if it weren’t for the tireless efforts of his supporters, including the more than 50,000 FDL activists who protested, donated, and wrote in support of his humane treatment. Thank you for all you’ve done. I’m looking forward to continuing our campaign to ensure Bradley Manning is treated fairly.

First FDL Members Event TONIGHT: Bradley Manning Discussion feat. David House, Ret. Col. Ann Wright, and Marcy Wheeler

We’re excited to announce the first virtual conference for the FDL Membership Program: tonight at 8pm EDT, we’ll have a discussion about Bradley Manning’s conditions and the latest news surrounding his detention. The event will feature the following special guests:

  • David House, a friend of Bradley Manning who has visited Manning at Quantico several times in the last several months;
  • Ret. Col Ann Wright, a former Army Colonel and State Department official who resigned in protest of the Iraq War in 2003, and who was arrested at Quantico last month with Daniel Ellsberg while protesting Manning’s treatment
  • Marcy Wheeler, Firedoglake’s emptywheel, who has been reporting on Wikileaks and Bradley Manning for the last year, will lead the discussion.

Our call on tonight will allow up to 100 registered FDL members the opportunity to hear the latest news and analyses about Manning’s detention, as well as give those members who attend the chance to ask questions of our guests who have been at the forefront of this incredible story.

It’s because of the incredible support of FDL Members that events like this are possible. Scarecrow explained a little more about what to expect from these with these virtual briefings for members:

We’re about to launch a new feature for FDL Members. Very soon, we’ll begin offering our members internet conference events featuring FDL and other experts on timely topics. We’re planning sessions on Bradley Manning, mortgage foreclosure issues and lots more, and members will be asked to help select and shape future topics. Members will be able to log on and watch live presentations and participate directly via Q&A sessions. We’ll send Members notices via e-mail on how and when to sign up, and we’ll also provide reminders on the FDL front page to encourage our readers to join. We hope to say more about this in a day or two, so watch for it.

So to all our new members, a big “Thank You!” from the FDL team. And to those who haven’t joined yet and want to make sure you don’t miss out on the internet conference events, this is a good time to sign up.

The first 100 people to register for the briefing will gain access, and we’re more than half-full already.  If you’re already a member of Firedoglake, you should have received an email on Saturday evening will registration instructions. If you’re not a member yet, join today – your support is critical to keeping Firedoglake independent and sustainable for just $45 a year. We’ll send you instructions shortly for how to register for tonight’s briefing if you join today and if space is still available.

Tonight’s discussion about Bradley Manning is just the first of many events to come – so stay tuned.