Sarah B.

Last active
8 hours, 5 minutes ago
  • This development was all too predictable:

    Massive West Bank clashes reportedly leave 2 Palestinians dead

    Violence broke out Thursday night near the Kalandia checkpoint, located in the West Bank between Jerusalem and Ramallah, as residents of the West Bank village clashed with police in protests against the IDF′s operation in the Gaza Strip.

    Some 10,000 Palestinians protested near the checkpoint, throwing rocks, firebombs and fireworks at Israeli security forces, and setting tires ablaze. The IDF forces and Border Police were using crowd dispersal means on the masses.

    According to the Palestinian reports, two demonstrators were killed by Israeli security forces and dozens wounded.

    The IDF Spokesperson′s Office did not confirm the Palestinian casualties. The military was checking reports of live fire targeting Israeli forces at the checkpoint.

    The protest erupted after allies of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas′s Fatah movement marched from the West Bank city of Ramallah to the edges of Jerusalem in protest against Israel′s 17-day-old campaign against Hamas militants in Gaza.

    Firday prayers will no doubt give rise to heightened tensions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as Israel′s third barbaric assault on Gaza in five plus years enters its third bloody week.

    The IDF could soon find itself fighting on a second front — the West Bank and East Jerusalem — which, in addition to Gaza, which would engulf all of the occupied territories.

  • This must be the new paradigm moving forward:

    (1) Palestine has the right to exist.
    (2) Palestinians have the right to defend themselves.

    Fighting the darkness and the hasbara with the light of truth and political activism:

    Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC)

    The International Solidarity Movement (ISM)

    B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories

    There can be no turning back now — Never Again!

  • David

    Thank you. You’re too kind. But I love it!


    PS — Good to “see” you back.

  • Judge Edwards’ dissent in Halbig

    Dissenting opinions make for interesting reading, if only for insights into the ways in which one or more judges wish to express disagreement with the majority opinion of the court, but dissenting opinions neither create binding precedent nor do they become a part of case law.

    A dissenting opinion can be influential inasmuch as it can be cited as a persuasive authority when arguing that a particular ruling should be limited or overturned or should be used to spur a change in an existing law, but that is about the extent of its value.

    I have not suggested that bmaz is biased in favor of the ACA, only that his view differs from that of Jonathan Turley, who is more invested in the rule of law and the constitutional separation of powers — specifically, the ways in which this president has exceeded his authority in his effort to “go it alone” in ordering such changes to federal laws — than in any particular affection for or negative animus against the ACA one way or the other.

    By the same token, I agree with fiver — there is nothing the least bit “absurd” about the majority opinion in Halbig — it is perfectly rational and reasonable and clear on its face, notwithstanding the deferential dissent by Judge Edwards. But, for those self-described “strict constructionists” on the U.S. Supreme Court, the opportunity to resolve any differences, however nuanced or broad, between or among the lower circuits might prove to be irresistible.

    As Turley points out, the Administration suffered a significant loss on precisely the issue of legislative language and deference to agency rule-making in the EPA case, when Justice Kagan concluded by declaring that “We will not rewrite Congress’s handiwork.”

    Of course, Team Obama suffered a major loss in Hobby Lobby on similar grounds when the court overturned the exemption system designed for HHS in the rules-making process in favor of closely-held corporations with religious objections to paying for certain brands of contraception drugs under the provisions of the ACA.

    We shall see.

  • Only someone who is invested in the ACA and staked their public reputation to its architects being reasonably well-intended would claim that.

    The notion that Obamacare’s “architects” — AHIP, PhRMA, and Backroom Obama and the Bait-and Switch Democrats — might have been “reasonably well-intended” in the creation of their byzantine, neoliberal, “signature” monstrosity gave me the only good laugh I’ve had all day.

    Thank you so much, because really good laughs are few and far between these days.

  • Sometimes great minds don’t think alike.

    Jonathan Turley wrote a brief post about King vs. Burwell, and he totally disagrees with bmaz about a likely outcome in which King will prevail over Halbig without a trip to the U.S. Supreme Court to resolve the discrepancy between the D.C. and Fourth Circuit Courts.

    July 22, 2014

    Fourth Circuit Rules For Obama Administration On ACA Interpretation

    Turley provides a brief synopsis and analysis of the arguments and Fourth Circut Judge Roger Gregory’s opinion, but he doesn’t take a position on King in the way that he does on Halbig, an opinion with which he concurs.

    Turley disagrees with bmaz that King will stand without a trip to the U.S. Supreme Court — he believes that the “tale of two circuits only increases the likelihood of a Supreme Court review and perhaps the case for expedited appeals.”

    Here is a link to the King Opinion:

    Certainly, Halbig and King are exactly the types of constitutional separation-of-powers cases that the Roberts court seems to relish, for good or for ill.

    But, we shall see what the en banc panel has to say about Halbig, because that decision will determine where the case goes from there.

    Turley never predicts what the courts will do — he considers such predictions to be fool’s errand.

    I agree with Turley on trying to second-guess the courts. They’re just too unpredictable.

  • Sarah B. commented on the diary post Israel Tries New Rationale for War by Siun.

    2014-07-22 14:09:21View | Delete

    Siun — superb diary! When the hasbara just isn’t selling: • The impotent rockets — not working given that they are mostly large-scale fireworks and homemade pipe bombs (that usually land in the empty desert, or cause falling plaster and damaged rooftops on houses and broken windshields on cars) plus a few longer-range Iranian, Syrian, [...]

  • fiver:

    Allow me to say: BRAVO!

    I didn’t see your comment until now — too busy composing my own response to Jon Walker’s post — but it’s great to see that great minds think alike…yours, mine, and Jonathan Turley’s.

    Clearly, I am in very good company.


  • For what it’s worth:

    Jonathan Turley, distinguished legal scholar, law professor, and genuine expert on the U.S. Constitution, disagrees with the Obama administration and sides with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in this case, Halbig vs. Burwell.

    By Jonathan Turley — July 22, 2014

    “Congress is Supreme in Matters of Policy”: D.C. Circuit Rules Against Obama Administration In Halbig

    As I have written about in columns and testimony, the most significant challenge to Obamacare was never Hobby Lobby but Halbig vs. Burwell that has been pending in the D.C. Circuit. I described Halbig in my testimony as a live torpedo in the water for Obamacare. Well, that torpedo just hit. The D.C. Circuit has found that the Obama Administration effectively rewrote the law on a critical provision dealing with tax credits and state exchanges. It is another major blow against the Administration and more importantly another judicial finding that President Obama exceeded his authority in his effort to “go it alone” in ordering such changes to federal laws.
    (Emphasis added)

    Turley goes deeply into the weeds to examine the facts and the law in this case, and, for that reason, the piece is well worth the effort.

    Here is a link to the Halbig Opinion:

    Turley concludes:

    In any case, this will be fascinating to watch both legal and politically as the impact of this ruling takes hold.

    Indeed. That said, Turley also notes that United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has delivered an equally important victory for Team Obama on the very same issue in King vs. Burwell:

    This tale of two circuits only increases the likelihood of a Supreme Court review and perhaps the case for expedited appeals.

    In order words…stay tuned.

    PS — Is it really such a good thing that the en banc panel of 11 D.C. Circuit Court judges are “more Democratic leaning than this three judge panel” when we might like to imagine that the court could actually retain at least some vestige of impartiality when ruling on cases of such importance, especially, given the fact that the outcome will impact the lives of the entire population of the United States for better or for worse?

    When the nation’s courts become so nakedly political — causing one to question the integrity of our entire judicial system — the inference can be drawn that yet another branch of government, the Judicial Branch, has become as hopelessly corrupt and unreliable as the utterly corrupt, bought-and-paid-for, charlatans who comprise the Executive and Legislative Branches. This is a development that we really ought not to celebrate.

  • For what it’s worth….

    I understood exactly what you meant — you are not suggesting that low-cost birth control pills at zero copay is problematic in any way — but that it’s those “other” medications that cost way too much with increased cost-shifting onto the patients and their families through higher out-of-pocket copays with each passing year.

    Here is a great piece that appeared in the NYT last October, which exemplifies the travesty by focusing like a laser on the insane prices of asthma medications in the U.S. compared to other countries like Greece and France.

    It will make your blood boil when you see how many inhalers of QVAR, a commonly prescribed drug for chronic asthma, you can buy for $250 in the U.S. versus Greece — U.S. (2 inhalers); Greece (37 inhalers) — and Advair, another extremely popular asthma medication, in the U.S. versus France — U.S. (1 inhaler and France (7 inhalers).

    By Elizabeth Rosenthal — October 12, 2013

    Paying Till It Hurts — No Room to Negotiate

    The Soaring Cost of a Simple Breath

    I am reminded of this price-gouging every time I pick up a prescription for QVAR at my local pharmacy. The other inhaler, Ventolin, which I use right before the onset of an asthma attack, is not included in the narrow and stingy prescription drug formulary offered by my drug plan, so I the retail price of $56.

    Ventolin is nothing more than albuterol sulfate, which was on the market for decades for between $20 and $25 (retail) per inhaler, but the anti-CFC legislation forced the drug companies to go to an air-pump housing versus an aerosol delivery system, and they took that opportunity to change the patent and rebrand and now charge top dollar for the identical medication in a new (and probably cheaper to manufacture) package. Go figure.

    I know an older adult who had cataract surgery, which requires an extensive post-operative protocol for eye drops, and two of the prescriptions — which contained 3 ml (3/5 of a teaspoon) — required a copay of $50 (with a Medicare Rx Plan), and the bottle was so tiny that it required two refills to get through the prescribed sequence of applications. Hence, she paid $100 for 1.5 teaspoons of medication. The same medication in Canada costs a tiny fraction of what it costs in the U.S.

    I have but one thing to say about Obamacare — We was robbed!

    PS — The passage of the Dorgan Amendment (2009) would have helped enormously to begin to lower the cost of prescription drugs through genuine competition and would have opened the door to negotiated drug prices for Medicare, but Obama and the Democrats made sure that it died on the floor vote in what was tantamount to a filibuster by the Democrats on a great piece of legislation — introduced and sponsored by a Democrat! — that resulted in a 51/48 (with 1 not voting) final outcome. To add insult to injury, an amazing number of very conservative GOPers crossed over and voted for the amendment.

    Here are the culprits by name:

    By their Senate Roll Call votes ye shall know them.

  • State Department Responds to Israel’s Bombing of Children Playing on Gaza Beach by Blaming Hamas

    Just for the record.

    This is what a real television journalist looks like when actually doing his job according to the highest stardards of the profession — to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable — without fear or favor.

    Veteraan award-winning journalist, Jon Snow, from the Britain’s Channel 4 News, grills Israeli spokesman and hasbara specialist Mark Regev within an inch of his life:

    GAZA 2014 | Jon Snow ’annihilates’ Israeli spokesperson Mark Regev [8:52]

    One can only imagine what might happen if one (or more) members of our own pusillanimous and sycophantic press corps decided to go after Jen Psaki with the same degree of pre-interview preparation, coupled with the same degree of dogged determination, to tear the mask from the smug, patronizing, evasive, lying liar’s face to demand the truth.

    To be fair to Matt Lee of the Associated Press and Rosalind Jordan of Al Jazeera English, they do a better job generally in questioning Jen Psaki — in the referenced clip and many other examples — than the vast majority of their colleagues in the State Department briefing room, but they would have to go a long way to rise to the level of Jon Snow. Of course, I recognize that these State Department briefings take place in a different type of setting and are rarely televised for the wider audience, but that’s still no excuse for allowing such evasions to occur repeatedly without a fight.

    Especially disappointing was the way in which Ros Jordan had Psaki on the hook regarding the sham “ceasefire” — actually, a diktat to Hamas to surrender on Israel’s terms — and then she neglected to drive home the fact that the Hamas leaders were never contacted or notified about the arrangement cooked up in Cairo by Bibi Natanyahu, war criminal Tony Blair, and military junta leader President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and that they learned about it in the media.

    Clearly, the calculation behind the phony “ceasefire” was the faint hope that Israel might gain a slight advantage in the public relations war, which backfired and Israel lost, except for the reflexive uncritical support from Barack Obama and his stable of tail-wagging toadies, in particular, David Cameron (spaniel), Angela Merkel (dachshund), and François Hollande (poodle).

    Perhaps the latest request by the U.N. to broker a five-hour cease-fire on Thursday — to which Israel and Hamas have agreed — might be a start, but then a senior Israeli military official has already muddied the water with a cynical mixed message emphasizing that the likelihood of a ground invasion of Gaza remains “very high” regardless of the temporary humanitarian pause in the violence.

    PS — Thursday, July 18, will be Day 10 of Israel’s latest assault on Gaza and its beleaguered population of almost two million people, and, apparently, the best effort the world community could muster was a fucking five-hour humanitarian pause in the bombing raids by on civilian targets by the IDF — pathetic!

  • Jane

    A questionnaire with 30 additional questions to answer would probably not have helped very much and might very well have hindered your decision by adding even more layers of obfuscation and confusion. You are, after all, dealing with the private for-profit health insurance cartel, and they are out to screw you, not to help you.

    The answer to everyone’s healthcare needs still remains H.R. 676, introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. John Conyers with 88 cosponsors in 2009 — health care that includes all medically necessary care, including primary care and prevention, prescription drugs, emergency care, long-term care, mental health services, dental services, and vision care — plus re-importation to lower drug costs and negotiated prices for Medicare via the Dorgan Amendment (2009).

    With H.R. 676 and the Dorgan Amendment, you would require no special help or consultation or lengthy questionnaires — indeed, the application would be so simple that it would require no more than 15 or 20 minutes for you alone, or for you and your spouse and family members, to sign up and to become established in the system. Basic personal information and a Social Security number should be sufficient as the port of entry.

    Moreover, there would be no gate-keeping and access-denying structures like high premiums and copays and insane deductibles and narrow networks of providers to limit your care and to make your life miserable. Whether a person is seeking routine prevention, chronic care management, or is facing illness and possible surgery and rehab, a health care system should help to ease the burden and facilitate the healing process, not exacerbate fear, confusion, anxiety, and pain.

    Alas, Conyers’ bill was never even debated, let alone allowed to come to the floor for a vote, and the Dorgan Amendment was defeated by the Democrats on orders from Barack Obama, who didn’t want anything to fuck up his secret backroom deals AHIP, PhRMA, and the private for-profit Big Hospital Cartel.

    Obamacare is the Democrats’ Greatest Betrayal (thus far) — and there ain’t no fixin’ that mess…no way, no how! The cynically-named “ACA” and its fucked up exchanges need to die.

    The answer to Jon Walker’s question is a resounding “No!” — Wait! — Make that “Fuck no!”

  • ceasefire=surrender on Israel’s terms.

    As I said, that surrender diktat disguised as a “ceasefire” was simply Netanyahu taking a piss!

    But what was German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier doing standing next to Bibi Netanyahu in Israel in yesterday — at side-by-side lecterns no less — in a show of solidarity?

    PM Netanyahu’s Statement at the Start of his Meeting with German Foreign Minister [6:26]

    Natanyahu starts out speaking in Hebrew but then switches to English to introduce Steinmeier, who then delivers his remarks in German. You have to see it to believe it!

    A few media reports, which provided some translation, demonstrated that Steinmeier had his boilerplate talking points ready, blathering that “Hamas’ rocket terror against Israeli cities and villages has to finally stop” and that “the region now needs a coalition of sanity to find ways out of the escalation.”

    Steinmeier warned that “the violence is leading to more and innocent victims on both sides. The fear of rocket attacks is horrible; the number of deaths unbearable, the suffering of the injured civilians (…) is heartbreaking.” Blah, blah, blah.

    Barack Obama couldn’t have said it better himself. In fact, Steinmeier actually sounded as if he had received his talking points directly from the White House.

    The false equivalence is classic — violence and innocent victims on both sides! — with more than 200 Palestinians killed thus far (and counting), nearly 80% of the dead are civilians, and over 20% of them are children. One Israeli has died, a twenty-something male volunteer, who was hit by shrapnel while delivering food to Israeli soldiers.

    If a twenty-something Palestinian volunteer was caught delivering food to Hamas resistance fighters, the Israelis would call him a legitimate target — a terrorist giving aid and comfort to the terrorists — and then blast him into a collection of human fragments.

    You might think that Merkel and Steinmeier would have their hands full these days giving their unqualified support to the neo-Nazi coup government in Kiev, but now they decided to throw their support behind Israel’s Fascist government, which has maintained the world’s largest outdoor concentration camp, also known as Gaza, for the past 47 years and a draconian land, air, and sea blockade on the Gaza Strip (with the willing collaboration of Egypt’s dictators) since 2007.

    The irony almost bites itself.

  • Israel offers ceasefire to Hamas, which is unacceptable….

    That was no ceasefire — that was Bibi Netanyahu taking a piss!

    The Israeli press now confirms the conspiracy and reveals the collaborators who concocted that phony hasbara ceasefire designed strictly for the public relations war, which Israel has already lost:

    Secret call between Netanyahu, al-Sissi led to abortive cease-fire

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi on Saturday in a telephone call that has been kept secret until now, after Quartet special envoy Tony Blair urged the Egyptian leader to become more actively involved in promoting a cease-fire, diplomatic sources told Haaretz.

    So, it was war criminal Tony Blair and Egypt’s junta leader Sisi who conspired with Netanyahu to arrange the scam ceasefire, which Hamas rejected when they learned about it in the media, in accordance with the co-conspirators’ plan.

    Again, neither Hamas nor anyone else in Gaza was ever consulted about the phony “ceasefire” — they learned of it only through the media — and Twitter is no way to handle a serious ceasefire between the parties to a conflict.

    Any genuine ceasefire between two parties — let alone negotiations for a longer peace settlement — cannot be achieved by only talking to one party, and, in particular, the party conducting the illegal occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the illegal and diabolical blockade of Gaza.

    Clearly, Netanyahu hasn’t yet reached his quota of Palestinian death and destruction and needs a little more time to drive up the numbers. Plus, popcorn sales are brisk in Israel these days as some Israelis set up deck chairs on the hillsides at night to watch the “fireworks” and cheer at the sight and sound of large explosions.

  • Sarah B. commented on the blog post Report Finds There Are 9.5 Million Fewer Uninsured Adults

    2014-07-12 12:29:26View | Delete


    Thank you for sharing your personal experiences with Obamacare — I believe such anecdotes are extremely important contributions to the discourse and to document the atrocities caused by this costly and wholly inadequate bait-and-switch monstrosity.

    I wish you and your wife the best.

  • Sarah B. commented on the blog post Report Finds There Are 9.5 Million Fewer Uninsured Adults

    2014-07-12 12:22:54View | Delete

    Before the comments close on this thread:

    Thank you so much for the link to that great piece by Emily Dalton, M.D., of PNHP, because I probably would have missed it entirely but for your timely heads-up.

    Like all of the wonderful work done by PNHP to advance the cause of single-payer health care for every American without fear or favor, it really is very good stuff.


  • Sarah B. commented on the blog post Report Finds There Are 9.5 Million Fewer Uninsured Adults

    2014-07-11 00:30:13View | Delete

    Now that many of the major provisions have been implemented for several months, a new Commonwealth Fund report looks at the impact.

    Be skeptical…be very skeptical!

    The Commonwealth Fund has a distinctly corporatist agenda and uses its nonprofit status to act as cheerleader and advocate for a healthcare system predicated on the private for-profit health insurance model, which is the signature failure of Obamacare and the sinister public/private partnerships which it represents — check out the Mission Statement, Board of Directors, Press Releases, etc., on the website:

    The Commonwealth Fund played a direct and critical role in the research and development and framing of the debate leading up to the passage of Obamacare and subsequently in selling the market-based “reform” via continued public relations projects in the form of research and polling designed to influence the public toward adopting a positive view of the legislation with positive spin.

    For that reason any research and polling published by The Commonwealth Fund on Obamacare should be approached with skepticism given the positive selective bias inherent in the research.

    Foundation History

    The foundation underwrote a considerable part of the research underlying the development of the reforms in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, and reports of its Commission on a High Performance Health System (1995–2013) helped inform the debate leading up to this landmark legislation.
    (Emphasis added)

    Since 1995, the Fund also has been a leading philanthropic voice promoting modernization of Medicare, developing new payment methods encouraging better and more efficient health care delivery, and delivery models featuring better primary care and care coordination. In all of this work, the foundation has placed a particular emphasis on meeting the needs of vulnerable populations.

    Familiar neoliberal buzz phrases like “modernization of Medicare” and “developing new payment methods to encourage more efficient heath care delivery” and “delivery models featuring better primary care and care coordination” are code for privatization and herding vulnerable populations into limited HMOs with increased cost-shifting onto the patients and their families.

    For example, here is an excerpt from a recent Press Release:

    Kathleen Regan to Join The Commonwealth Fund as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer — Bringing 30 Years of Investment Banking and Private Equity Experience in Health Care, New Executive Succeeds John E. Craig, Jr.

    Kathleen Regan will become The Commonwealth Fund’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer on January 1, 2015, succeeding John E. Craig, Jr. She will join the foundation on November 3, 2014, in order to facilitate a smooth transition.

    Regan has three decades of experience in health care–related investment banking, private equity, and finance. Since 2010, she has been a venture partner at Radius Ventures, a health care–focused venture capital firm. [...] (Emphasis added)

    Earlier, she developed and directed the health care investment banking group at Robinson-Humphrey, a division of Citigroup, and led the health care practice at Tucker Anthony (1992–99), where she was involved in more than 30 merger-and-acquisition transactions and substantial public and private capital raising in the small-to-mid-cap health care market for innovative medical technology and biopharma companies. She began her finance career in Chase Manhattan Bank’s international division. (Emphasis added)

    The Commonwealth Fund is a powerful and influential Anti-Single Payer advocacy group which uses its tax-exempt nonprofit status to better serve the corporate agenda by manipulating public opinion to encourage uncritical acceptance of the status quo and to believe that a better, more genuinely affordable, and equitable health care system is not possible.

    Consequently, the publication of research and polling from The Commonwealth Fund to produce Happy-Talk public relations data about Obamacare for public consumption is about as reliable as research and spin coming directly from America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).

    PS — When reviewing this report, applying some large grains of salt would be advisable.

  • Obama is now actually drafting language of his long-promised (since 2008) executive orders protecting federal jobs from LGBTQ discrimination…

    Honestly, I just don’t think I can withstand the suspense.

    Alas, ENDA was always classic Obama campaign legerdemain, not unlike closing the Guantánamo concentration camp and the public option and the Dorgan Amendment and DACA and the restoration of habeas corpus — excluded by design from the neofascist NDAA — and being the most transparent administration in history.

    ENDA = Dead-ENDA

  • Sarah B. commented on the diary post Industry Data: Oil-By-Rail in North America Moving at Record Levels by Steve Horn.

    2014-07-08 16:40:36View | Delete

    “Bomb trains”

    That term caught my eye, too, and for an instant caused me to wonder if it might not be an imperative:

    Bomb trains!

    PS — I’m not advocating anything of the sort, you understand, just reflecting on the syntax.

  • Fuck Rahm Emanuel and the Trojan Horse he rode to the Major’s Office.

    Karen Lewis, President of the Chicago Teachers Union, has announced that she is exploring a serious challenge to Emanuel for his job in the next mayoral election in 2015.

    Lewis made her decision to explore a run for mayor in the wake of the latest round of teacher layoffs and school closures by “Layoff King” Emanuel as part of a well-orchestrated scheme to decimate Chicago’s public schools to pave the way for union-busting charter schools.

    Run, Karen, Run!

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