• Hillary Election 2016

  • Obamacare Now Welcome to the official source for everything to show your support
  • Interview

    A dark political satire film set in the future in the fictional desert country of Turaqistan.

    It stars John Cusack, Hilary Duff, Marisa Tomei, Joan Cusack, Ben Kingsley, and Dan Aykroyd.
    107 min., Rated R, 2008.
  • Movie Review

    Choices of the Heart: the Margaret Sanger Story (True Stories Collection)
    Starring Dana Delany and Henry Czerny, Directed by Paul Shapiro
    Rated: NR

    The movie tells the story of Margaret Sanger (Dana Delany, China Beach) fight for women’s health through family planning and sex education in the early 1900s. The story takes place in New York City where despairing, women are forced mainly by economics to end unwanted pregnancies themselves.

    Outraged and saddened by what she sees, Sanger takes on her life work to fight against the moral zealots that have created chaos in women’s lives.

  • Book Review

    Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion
    Trained as a nurse and midwife in New York’s Lower East Side gritty slums, Margaret Sanger grew aware of the dangers of unplanned pregnancy—both physical and psychological. Sanger ignited a movement that has shaped our society to this day. Her views on reproductive rights have made her a frequent target of conservatives and moral zealots.

    In this captivating new biography, the renowned feminist historian Jean H. Baker rescues Sanger from such critiques and restores her to the vaunted place in history she once held.

  • Book Reviewed

    An American Prophecy: What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America's Next Rendezvous with Destiny By William Strauss and Neil Howe
    400 pages. Broadway 1997.
  • Book Reviewed

    The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court

    By Jan Crawford Greenburg
    368 pages. Penguin Press HC. 2007.
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Health insurance company denies life-saving treatment – girl dies

Health insurance company denies life-saving treatment – girl dies

Or happy Christmas, the compassionate conservative Republican style


Brother Grim Reaper December 21, 2007
By Brother Grim Reaper
  (Nataline Sarkisyan, 17) + (need for liver transplant) + (CIGNA health insurer) = death
Example of:
  There are real life consequences, including death, for being denied treatment.
  Health insurer overriding treatment diagnosis by patient’s doctor.
  Corporate elite: H. Edward Hanway, Chairman and CEO CIGNA Corporation.

East China News Agency
H. Edward Hanway
Nataline SarkisyanOff Site Link [1] was diagnosed with leukemia at 14. She received a bone marrow transplant on Nov. 21. Complications cause her liver to fail. After initially giving the OK for the liver transplant, CIGNA changed its mind and withdrew approval for the medical procedure her doctors said she needed to live.

CIGNA Corporation earned $1.2 billionOff Site Link [2] on revenues of $16.5 billion in 2006. CIGNA’s Chairman and CEO H. Edward Hanway received $28.8 million compensationOff Site Link [3] for this result. One might think this would be enough money. Nope. The more claims they can deny, the more money they get to keep. So the Nataline Sarkisyan case should come as no surprise.

Nataline Sarkisyan

Family Photograph
Nataline Sarkisyan, 17
  So what was the reason CIGNA gave for denying the claim?

Were the doctors medical quacks? Nope. Dr. Robert VenickOff Site Link [4] and the other staff are well respected.

Was the hospital a badly manage, run down dump? Nope. U.S. News & World Report ranks the UCLA Medical Center, Los AngelesOff Site Link [5] as the third best in the nation.

Robert Venick, MD
Dr. Robert Venick
UCLA Medical Center
Photo by Nikhil Kulkarni
UCLA Medical Plaza
  Was the insurance company broke? Hardly, not with $1.2 billion of revenues.[2]

The answer was – The treatment was experimental.[1] The second favorite excuse of the health insurance business.

Ching. Ching.

  Molly Hennessy-Fiske; Tough calls in transplant case; Los Angeles Times; December 22, 2007; (Accessed December 23, 2007). (print)
  CIGNA Corporation; Investor Relations; CIGNA Corporation; no date; (Accessed December 21, 2007).
  Forbes; H Edward Hanway; no date; Forbes; (Accessed December 21, 2007).
  U.S. News & World Report; America’s Best Hospitals 2007: Honor Roll; U.S. News & World Report; no date; (Accessed December 23, 2007).
  UCLA Health System Transplant Services; Robert Venick; UCLA Health System Transplant Services; no date (Accessed December 23, 2007).
Further Reading:
  Read a discussion about the Nataline Sarkisyan case on the Daily Kos site.
  The California Nurses Association released a statement about Nataline Sarkisyan’ death.

Introducing Brother Grim Reaper

Introducing Brother Grim Reaper

Brother Grim Reaper has joined the Ministry of Enlightenment

Brother Grim Reaper comes to our monastery from the Eleusinian Mysteries. Demeter, the goddess of agriculture and fertility, promise her daughter, Persephone, to him as his bride. The scythe was given to him by Demeter as a symbol of her promise. However, Persephone’s father Zeus intervened and gave Hades, the god of death and the underworld, consent to seize her. Broken hearted, he left and wandered the world. As they say, the rest is history.His interest include all thing macabre. Auxiliary interests include medicine, health care, and the forensic sciences. He’ll be covering these and more for us.
To unwind he likes nothing better than to lie-down in the snow and read a good book. Currently he’s reading a biography about a friend of his, Prince Vlad III the Impaler.

He is single and looking for a bride. Any perspective women considering him can’t be afraid of death. Interested women need to realize he is high maintenance and often spends long hours working and traveling to far away places. We have also notice that when he’s gone, news of plagues and famines seem to occur. Couldn’t be, could it? Anyway age shouldn’t present a problem for while he won’t tell anyone his age, he appears to be very very old, perhaps even ancient.

Brother Grim Reaper

Brother Grim Reaper
Image by Image Editor.
Brother Grim Reaper crossing the monastery’s graveyard during a full moon.

Is this why the Democrats are Complicit?

Is this why the Democrats are Complicit?

Complicit Democrats

The Washington Post reported that four members of Congress were brief on CIA interrorgation technques.

"Yet long before "waterboarding" entered the public discourse, the CIA gave key legislative overseers about 30 private briefings, some of which included descriptions of that technique and other harsh interrogation methods, according to interviews with multiple U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge."

"For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA’s overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk."

"The lawmakers who held oversight roles during the period included Pelosi and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and Sens. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), as well as Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan)."

Offsite LinkWashington Post Hill Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002 (print version)


Secret Legal DOJ Memos on Presidential Powers

Secret Legal DOJ Memos on Presidential Powers

Senator  Whitehouse

December 7, 2007 – Today Senator Sheldon Whitehouse delivered remarks on a set of Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice legal opinions on Presidential powers.

The three declassified legal propositions are:

  1. An executive order cannot limit a President. There is no constitutional requirement for a President to issue a new executive order whenever he wishes to depart from the terms of a previous executive order. Rather than violate an executive order, the President has instead modified or waived it.
  2. The President, exercising his constitutional authority under Article II, can determine whether an action is a lawful exercise of the President’s authority under Article II.
  3. The Department of Justice is bound by the President’s legal determinations.
Read more at Harper’s MagazineOff Site Link Symbol
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s Senate siteOff Site Link Symbol

Book Review: Supreme Conflict by Jan Greenburg

The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court

By Jan Crawford Greenburg

368 pages. Penguin Press HC. 2007.
Jan Crawford Greenburg has written in Supreme Conflict a fast-moving account about the fight for control of the Supreme Court.

Beginning in the 1950s civil rights groups increasingly turned to the courts to protect the rights of the minority against the tyranny of the majority. The court responded by attempting to solve the most vexing social problems.

While liberals believed this was a proper role for the Supreme Court, conservatives saw an arrogant power grab by the court.

The book is more than an academic treatise on the court based on collections of notes, documents and papers. Greenburg spent hours interviewing not only many current and former administration officials but also more than a dozen federal appeals court judges and nine Supreme Court justices.

She takes a fresh approach at looking at the court. The book is more about the justices as individuals than the court as a whole.

She writes that Justice Clarence Thomas, rather than being Justice Antonin Scaliss intellectual understudy as the conventional wisdom would have you believe, is instead forceful in voicing his views in conference. Its more likely for Scalia to change his opinion to Thomass, rather than the other way around.

The underlying theme that runs throughout the book is the Republicans 4-decade long campaign to move the Supreme Court toward the right.

Beginning with President Nixon appointment of four justices, including Justice Harry Blackmun who moved left and wrote Roe v. Wade, 1973, a decision that would outrage conservatives for decades to come and change forever the tenor of confirmation hearings, Greenburg highlights the Rights enormous exasperation over the Supreme Court, often caused by their own missteps.

She opens up a door to allow the reader a look behind the nomination process. When Chief Justice Warren Burger retired in 1986, President Ronald Reagan was at the height of his popularity. He would have been successful in appointing anyone he wanted to the Supreme Court.

President Reagan choose to nominate Justice William Rehnquist for chief justice. To replace Rehnquist as associate justice the choice was between Scalia and Robert Bork. Reagan choose Scalia because of political consideration. He would be the first Italian-America justice. During the hearings Rehnquist nomination was contentious but the charming Scalia sailed through the process.

A year later Reagan had his chance to nominate the very conservative Bork. But now Reagan was a weakened president because of the Iran-Contra scandal. Adding to Borks troubles, was his personality.

Greenburg explains: He came across as arrogant and dismissive, playing into the hands of his opponents, who effectively portrayed him as cold, uncaring, and unsympathetic to the problems of ordinary Americans.

The full Senate turned down his nomination causing the conservatives to lose another chance to redirect the court. Greenburg argues Reagan should have reversed the nomination order for Scalia and Bork.

The planned nomination of Kenneth Starr by President George H.W. Bush ended when he was convinced not to do it by his Attorney General Richard Thornburgh.
Thornburgh was troubled by disputes between Starr and two of his closest advisors. Both Bill Barr and J. Michael Luttig had sparred with Star the previously summer over issues involving presidential powers. Thornburgh, Barr and Luttig all agreed that Star wouldnt be a reliable conservative.

Bush only backed down after Thornburgh threatened to resign over the nomination. Bush then nominated David Souter, then a New Hampshire judge. Souter with little experience in the big issues that the Supreme Court decides moved toward the left as he gained experience on the Supreme Court.

She writes about the political nature of the nomination process. The nomination of Harriet Miers caused such an outrage not from the Democrats as one would expect but from the far Right who wanted to see a paper trail.

Greenburg paints a portrait of the ever-changing dynamics of the court. With Thomass arrival at the court, for instance, the brash and politically unskilled Thomas caused an unexpected shift in the courts power balance to the left.

Greenburg explains: By the end of Thomass first year, [Sandra Day] OConnor and Souter and to a lesser extent [Anthony] Kennedy had moved left, a shift that would ultimately prevent conservatives from undoing the liberal legacy of the Warren Court under Rehnquists leadership.

The court again was push to the left after the 2000 presidential elections because as she writes, that decision opened the court to withering criticism for deciding the case on politics, not law. True or not, justices OConnor and Kennedy, Greenburg writes, became wary of being cast as predictable conservatives.

The book flows smoothly from chapter to chapter. This is an easy, fast read. When the books needs to explain legal jargon, Greenburg weaves the explanation into the story without breaking the storys continuity.

She writes of Chief Justice Rehnquist assigning an opinion to Justice Thomas about a robbery case that came out of conference with a 90 agreement. This should have been an easy short opinion saying there was enough evidence for a conviction. Thomass draft opinion instead went into a lengthy historical analysis of earlier cases and habeas corpus. All but Scalia and Rehnquist backed away from this opinion and wrote concurring opinions.

Greenburg explains the consequences of having a plurality opinion instead of an unanimous opinion is that a decision now doesnt have precedent-setting value or bind the lower courts.

She tells of the sparks that flew between Thomas and OConnor in this case. Greenburg writes: in a separate concurrence she eviscerated Thomas, mentioning him by name eighteen timesbut OConnor was brutal, paragraph after paragraph. OConnors opinion was a stinging lecture on the law.

Justices Thomas and Scalia meanwhile were quickly finding common ground.

Not until the successful nominations of John Roberts, Jr. and Samuel Alito, Jr. has the conservatives seen the light at the end of the tunnel. Roberts and Alito are collegial and savvy. Their people skills will allow them to keep the moderate Kennedy in check. Along with the more conservative Scalia and Thomas, the conservatives may have completed their goal. A conservative Supreme Court ready to give up power and role back civil rights.