December 27th, 2011
Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska announced his retirement from the Senate Tuesday, delivering a serious blow to Democratic efforts to hold on to the majority in the chamber next November.
“There’s much more that needs to be done to keep America strong. And while I relish the opportunity to undertake the work that lies ahead, I also think it’s time for me to step away from elected office, spend more time with my family, look for new ways to serve our state and nation. Therefore, I am announcing today that I will not seek reelection,” Nelson said in a video posted on YouTube, titled “What’s Next.” “Simply put, it’s time to move on.”
Nelson apologized to his aides during a conference call that word of his retirement had leaked to POLITICO before he had a chance to personally inform them of his decision. Nelson began calling top Senate Democrats early Tuesday to tell them he was not running for reelection.
Nelson wavered in whether to retire, according to sources close to the Nebraska Democrat, telling aides that “some days it was yes, some days it was no.”
He also said on the call that the “tea party must be stopped.”
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who also faces a tough reelection battle next year, sent a note to Nelson saying how sad she was over his decision to step down next year. McCaskill jokingly added to her note: “Nebraska still sucks.”
The 70-year-old Nelson was considered one of the most endangered Democratic incumbents this cycle. GOP-affiliated outside groups have already dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into TV ads bashing Nelson, while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spent over $1 million on its own ad blitz to bolster his image.
The White House and top Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Chuck Schumer of New York, had quietly mounted a pressure campaign to keep Nelson from retiring. Nelson has more than $3 million in his campaign war chest, and his approval rating solidified after falling over the past several years. Nelson can give unlimited amounts to the DSCC from his reelection fund, Democratic sources noted.
December 27th, 2011
By Barry Secrest
As I watched this delightful film of what a group of industrious farmers can do with willing sheep, I was reminded of what the American people were promised during Obama's inaugural campaign, his willing herders within the media, and what we currently are seeing at present.
I would urge each person watching this particular video, above, to then listen to Obama's 2009 address below, and compare his words of then-- to his actions of now.
After comparing each of these videos, it becomes almost striking in the similarities, between the machinations of just a few technologically sound herders over a large number of sheep, and what we have now, in how the media herds cetain members of the Civil Society with news that's spun for a desired manipulative effect.
So, from now on, when you see analyst and pundits and huge cadres of malleable leftists, who seem to just go with the Left-Wing flow without asking any of the pointed questions, just remember the sheep with LED's harnessed to their backs entertainingly made to run around in directions that only fit someone else's purpose.
This seems to be the current state of political affairs in the United States and much of the world at present.
December 27th, 2011
By Barbara Loe Fisher
- When healthy people suffer complications from vaccination, they are oftentimes not treated compassionately. Instead, they’re frequently victimized all over again by those who deny the reality of what happened or use a utilitarian rationale to dismiss them as acceptable losses in the War on Infectious Disease. Even doctors, who are shielded from liability, are increasingly unwilling to treat vaccine injured children and their families with compassion, and callously disregard people’s desire to have the freedom to protect themselves and their loved ones from vaccine injury.
- The free press, which has historically served as a check and balance on inequality and injustice in America, is failing miserably when it comes to doing what it can to protect the health and lives of the vaccine injured or defend freedom of speech for citizens calling for inclusion of vaccine safety and informed consent protections in public health policies and laws.
- The Institute of Medicine recently issued an historic report that acknowledged that the quality of vaccine science in the medical literature is insufficient to determine whether or not many of the vaccines routinely given to children and adults may be causing more than 100 different types of brain and immune system dysfunction.
- Loss of compassion and, then, freedom in any society always begins with people looking the other way when those in power justify exploiting a vulnerable minority for what they say is the benefit of the majority.
America was founded by immigrants who had personally suffered oppression and adversity, and knew how important it is to treat individuals with respect and compassion.
There is a ringing endorsement in the U.S. Declaration of Independence for the individual's right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,11 and in the Constitution for the right to freedom of speech and personal religious beliefs.12
Perhaps it is that fundamental appreciation for the value of the individual, which is part of our history and culture that has taught us to value conscience and compassion.
Vaccine Injured Not Treated with Compassion
So it is sad to see what happens in America today when babies, children and adults react to vaccines and become permanently injured or even die.13 14 15 16 When healthy people suffer complications from infectious diseases, they are treated with compassion.17 18 19 20 But when healthy people suffer complications from vaccination, often they are not treated with compassion.21 22 Many times, vaccine victims 23 24 25 are victimized all over again by those who deny the reality of what happened 26 27 28 or use a utilitarian 29 30 31 rationale to dismiss them as acceptable losses in the War on Infectious Disease.32 33 34 35
Media Failing to Protect Vaccine Injured and Safety Advocates
In the past decade, this persecution of a growing minority of vaccine-injured citizens has been facilitated by the fourth estate,36 the free press, which has historically served as a check and balance on inequality and injustice in America.37 The vital function of a free press, ensured in the U.S. Constitution, is failing to do what it could do to protect the health and lives of the vaccine injured38 39 or defend freedom of speech for citizens calling for inclusion of vaccine safety and informed consent protections40 in public health policies and laws,41 42 43 while the chronic disease and disability epidemic destroys the health and economic stability of our nation44 45 46 47 48 and the public health community has no answers, so the band plays on.
Institute of Medicine Acknowledges Vaccine Safety Science Gaps
The Institute of Medicine issued an historic report this year that acknowledged there is not enough quality vaccine science in the medical literature to determine whether or not many of the vaccines routinely given to children and adults cause more than 100 different types of brain and immune system dysfunction.49
These are serious inflammatory brain and immune system disorders, which are part of the exploding chronic disease epidemic in America, and range from heart and blood disorders to strokes, sudden infant death syndrome, asthma, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, GBS, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, diabetes and encephalitis that can lead to seizures, learning disabilities and autism.
Institute of Medicine Acknowledges Individual Biological Susceptibility
In that historic report, the Institute of Medicine also acknowledged there are pre-existing biological susceptibilities that can make some individuals more vulnerable than others for suffering harm from vaccination, such as genetic variations; age or developmental stage at the time of vaccination; coinciding illness or other environmental exposures.50
If one-size-fits-all vaccine policies and mandates are putting an unknown number of biologically susceptible individuals at risk for injury and death, why do so few doctors care or want to do something about it?
Doctors Denying Medical Care to Families
It is disturbing to watch doctors, who we have always believed to be the most compassionate among us, coldly turn away families questioning the government policy of giving children 69 doses of 16 vaccines.51 52 Families wanting to choose or delay vaccines, are being denied medical care even if children have experienced previous vaccine reactions or have become chronically ill and disabled after vaccination and could be made sicker if more vaccines are given.53
Doctors Tell Employees: Get Vaccinated or Be Fired
It is shocking that health care professionals are being threatened by doctors running hospitals and medical facilities that, if they do not obey orders to get an annual flu shot, they will be fired 54 55 56 - even if they are pregnant; have had previous vaccine reactions or have medical conditions that could be made a lot worse if they get more vaccines.57
Doctors Strip Parents of Legal Right to Make Vaccine Decisions for Minor Children
December 27th, 2011
By Jim Angle
Three House Republican lawmakers are asking the IRS to explain how nonprofit seniors group AARP is able to shield hundreds of millions of dollars from tax levies even though, they say, the group is effectively in “day-to-day control” of products offered by private firms with the AARP stamp of approval.
Rep. David Reichert, R-Wash., said companies that use AARP’s brand to sell everything from health insurance to hearing aids are helping the seniors’ group make huge profits. All the while AARP’s profits gain tax-exempt status.
“They're really trying to manage these companies to increase their revenue," said Reichert, one of the House Ways and Means Committee GOP members to sign onto a letter sent to the IRS.
Republican critics note AARP's income from United HealthCare alone skyrocketed from 2007 to 2009, even as the recession was hitting, leaping from $284 million to $427 million during that time, a 50 percent jump. In 2010, those revenues soared even higher -- to $670 million.
“Those increases, I think, are dramatic," Reichert told Fox News.
A longtime Democratic tax lawyer says “royalties,” or “passive income” are a common tool for nonprofit groups to earn revenues, and pointed to the Sierra Club as another beneficiary of “arms-length” arrangements.
"That is the classic royalty situation where the Sierra Club in effect simply makes its mailing lists available to other charities in return for royalty," said attorney Bill Josephson. "I don't have any problem with that, nor does anybody else."
But Republicans say AARP's deal with United HealthCare is different, and in the letter to the IRS, they point to what they say are several examples of AARP’s daily influence over the business, including its “authority over United's ‘operating plan’” and its ability to "approve, modify on a line-by-line basis, or provide specific direction to United."
Josephson said if that’s indeed the case, "the kinds of hands-on relationships (AARP) has with its supposedly arms-length insurance companies are hardly passive."
And if it’s not passive, lawmakers contend, the income is taxable.
AARP did not make anyone available for an interview, but did send a letter to Fox News from Kevin Donnellan, AARP executive vice president and chief communications officer, who wrote that AARP’s chief aim is upholding its standards, and its actions are a detailed commitment to quality control on products offered in its name.
"We have spent more than five decades proving our commitment to helping older Americans obtain quality, affordable health so, of course, we take seriously how others use our name," Donnellan wrote. “We are disappointed that this work should be the subject of congressional criticism.”
AARP makes the majority of its revenues from United's supplemental insurance policies to seniors, including what is known as Medigap, which covers things for which Medicare does not pay. One of AARP's many ads tells seniors that the insurance can help them protect themselves “from some of what Medicare doesn't pay.”
“Save up to thousands of dollars in potential out-of-pocket expenses with an AARP Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan," the ad says.
Donnellan wrote that the group’s supplemental plans "help many of the sickest and most disadvantaged seniors who would otherwise be denied insurance by accepting more than 99 percent of applicants, which is far higher than the market standard."
But AARP’s support for the Obama administration’s new health care law, which calls for $500 billion in cuts to Medicare, critics say, makes it all the more likely people would need supplemental insurance, something AARP stands ready to provide.
"That move alone, as seniors began to go to Medigap insurance, increases AARP's revenue over a 10-year period by $1 billion. And we think that's just a little bit suspicious," Reichert said.
More From Fox
December 26th, 2011
BUTLER, Pa. — One day after his shift at the steel mill, Gary Myers drove home in his 10-year-old Pontiac and told his wife he was going to run for Congress.
The odds were long. At 34, Myers was the shift foreman at the “hot mill” of the Armco plant here. He had no political experience and little or no money, and he was a Republican in a district that tilted Democratic.
But standing in the dining room, still in his work clothes, he said he felt voters deserved a better choice.
Three years later, he won.
When Myers entered Congress, in 1975, it wasn’t nearly so unusual for a person with few assets besides a home to win and serve in Congress. Though lawmakers on Capitol Hill have long been more prosperous than other Americans, others of that time included a barber, a pipe fitter and a house painter. A handful had even organized into what was called the “Blue Collar Caucus.”
But the financial gap between Americans and their representatives in Congress has widened considerably since then, according to an analysis of financial disclosures by The Washington Post.
Between 1984 and 2009, the median net worth of a member of the House more than doubled, according to the analysis of financial disclosures, from $280,000 to $725,000 in inflation-adjusted 2009 dollars, excluding home equity.
Over the same period, the wealth of an American family has declined slightly, with the comparable median figure sliding from $20,600 to $20,500, according to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics from the University of Michigan.
The comparisons exclude home equity because it is not included in congressional reporting, and 1984 was chosen because it is the earliest year for which consistent wealth statistics are available.
The growing disparity between the representatives and the represented means that there is a greater distance between the economic experience of Americans and those of lawmakers.
“My mother and I used to joke we were like the Beverly Hillbillies when we rolled into McLean, and we really were,” said Michele Myers, the congressman’s daughter, now 46. “My dad was driving this awful lime-green Ford Maverick, and I bought my clothes at Kmart.”
Today, this area of Pennsylvania just north of Pittsburgh is represented in Congress by another Republican, Mike Kelly, a wealthy car dealer elected for the first time in 2010. Kelly, as it happens, grew up just a few houses down the street from the Myers family, in a larger brick home.
Kelly’s dad owned the local Chevrolet-Cadillac dealership in Butler, and Kelly, an affable former football recruit to Notre Dame, had worked there since he was a kid. Three years after graduating from college, he married Victoria Phillips, an heir to the Phillips oil fortune. He eventually bought and took control of the family car business, and today, the net worth of Kelly and his wife runs in the millions of dollars, according to financial disclosure forms.
Both men refer to their personal life experiences in explaining their political outlook.
Myers, the son of a bricklayer, had worked his way through college to a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, and he looked at issues of work and security at least partly through the lens of his own experience. For example, he bucked other Republicans to vote to raise the minimum wage and favored expanding a program to aid workers affected by foreign imports. He said he understood the need for what was then called “the safety net.”
“It would be hard to argue that the work in the steel mill didn’t give me a different perspective,” said Myers, now 74 and retired in Florida. “I think everybody’s history has an impact on them.”
Kelly, on the other hand, focuses on the hard work he and his family have done to build the dealership. He thinks that the government should be run more like a business, and that laws must be fair to people who strive and succeed. He opposes the estate tax, the inheritance tax levied on the wealthy, because, among other things, he feels he has been overtaxed already. He says unemployment checks make some less willing to go back to work. And asked about tax breaks for oil companies, he notes that when corporations profit, people with pensions and portfolios do, too.
Moreover, he favors the budget plan advanced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), which seeks to eliminate tax loopholes and lowers the income tax on the highest earners from 35 percent to 25 percent.
In explaining his outlook, Kelly often refers to his father. One of nine kids who started the car business almost from scratch, his father was skeptical of the ideas for social programs and education that his son brought home from college in the late 1960s.
“He’d say, ‘Oh, I love your ideas, I love your ideas,’ ” Kelly recalled. “But he’d say, ‘You know why it’s a great country, don’t you? We worked our a---- off. That’s why it’s a great country.’ ”
High cost of campaigning
The growing financial comfort of Congress relative to most Americans is consistent with the general trends in the United States toward inequality of wealth: Members of Congress have long been wealthier than average Americans, and in recent decades the wealth of the wealthiest Americans has outpaced that of the average.
In 1984, the 90th percentile of U.S. families had holdings worth six times the median family’s; by 2009, the 90th percentile was worth 12 times the median family, according to the University of Michigan study, a longitudinal panel survey. These figures include home equity.
This growing inequality, not surprisingly, is seen in Congress. Not only has the median wealth increased, but the proportion of representatives who have little besides a home has shrunk. In 1984, one in five House members had zero or negative net worth excluding home equity, according to the disclosures; by 2009, that number had dropped to one in 12.
Another possible reason for the growing wealth of Congress is that running a campaign has become much, much more expensive, making it more likely that wealthy people, who can donate substantially to their own campaigns, gain office.
Since 1976, the average amount spent by winning House candidates quadrupled in inflation-adjusted dollars, to $1.4 million, according to the Federal Election Commission.
For example, Myers’s first winning campaign, in 1974, cost $33,000, according to federal election records. That’s about $146,000 in current dollars, or one-tenth the current average. To make do, his wife held coffee klatches and improvised brochures with markers and index cards.