Archive for June 22nd, 2008

Dubya Doesn’t Care About The Constitution Or Terrorism

In case y’all needed any more proof that Dubya’s assertions of unilateral authority have absolutely nothing to do with fighting terrorism:

Ten months after Congress passed a law establishing a White House coordinator for preventing nuclear terrorism, President Bush has no plans to create the high-level post any time soon, according to the National Security Council.

The provision – suggested by leading members of the commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks – was contained in 2007 legislation designed to improve homeland defenses. Congress passed it by a wide margin, with bipartisan support.

Some congressional leaders said Bush’s failure to fill the job nearly a year later marks an outright evasion of the law, and called on the president to fill the position swiftly, even though his administration has only seven months left in office.

(…)

The White House opposed creating the position from the start. In a January 2007 letter to Congress – six months before the law was adopted – the Bush administration wrote that the appointment of a nuclear antiterrorism chief “is unnecessary given extensive coordination and synchronization mechanisms that now exist within the executive branch,” citing a 2006 strategy document that lays out the responsibilities of numerous government departments.

But in the past, Bush has tried to bypass provisions of laws he disagrees with by issuing “signing statements,” documents singling out those parts of statutes that White House lawyers advised would infringe on his constitutional powers as chief of the government’s executive branch. Bush has used this practice more than any prior president.

This time, however, the White House seems to be ignoring the nuclear terrorism coordinator requirement not for constitutional reasons but simply because the administration thinks it is a bad idea. It is a stance some legal scholars called an even more blatant disregard of the checks and balances on presidential power.

(…)

National security analysts have long advocated for a top presidential adviser focused solely on organizing the government to prevent terrorists from acquiring catastrophic weapons, such as a nuclear device, a radioactive “dirty bomb,” or biological agents. They contend that the current arrangement – in which that responsibility is spread across the Departments of Energy, Defense, State, and Homeland Security – is not fully integrated and has gaps in preparedness.

(…)

Advocates say the post is needed now more than ever, pointing to growing evidence – documented by international intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency – that terrorist groups are actively seeking nuclear or radiological weapons and the know-how to make them.

Meanwhile, a government-funded report released this month concluded that some of the current efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation and terrorism are not fully coordinated.

I’m amazed that President Strong Terrorist Fighter can’t even be bothered to appoint someone to guard against the very kind of attack that he spent his entire presidency scaremongering about.  Not only did he not appoint a Nukular Terror Czar of his own volition, he has ignored Congress’s legal directive to do so.

Does anyone still believe that he’s insisting on the need for carte blanche wiretapping to prevent terrorist attacks?  I wonder how many Arabic/Daro/Pashto translators he has working on all those wiretaps of supposed Muslim terrorists…

(h/t dakine)

June 22nd, 2008 at 02:35pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Terrorism,Wankers

The Joys Of Minimum Coverage

Well, this is vile but unsurprising:

Unlike the heavily regulated group insurance market, advocates say the individual insurance market is rife with “junk insurance” policies that provide minimum benefits, such as hospital-only coverage, and don’t set limits on out-of-pocket expenses.

Advocates say it’s often impossible to determine what a plan does or doesn’t cover, and some consumers – like Mary McCurnin and Ron Bednar of Rancho Cordova – find out too late after they run up thousands of dollars in medical costs.

Sen. Darrell Steinberg’s Senate Bill 1522, which is sponsored by the consumer advocacy coalition Health Access California, would standardize the individual insurance market and limit out-of-pocket expenses.

Health plans would be split into five tiers to allow consumers to compare prices and better understand what they were buying.

(…)

Health Access cites families like McCurnin and Bednar, self-employed graphic designers, who purchased a policy from Mid-West National Life Insurance Company of Tennessee.

McCurnin and Bednar said they paid a monthly premium of $600 for what they thought was comprehensive coverage. But in 2002, after she was diagnosed with breast cancer and he had open-heart surgery, they learned otherwise.

Their plan covered only 10 percent of his hospitalization, and the company rescinded her coverage because she didn’t disclose on her application that she was given a prescription for an anti-depressant years ago that she never filled.

With more than $250,000 in medical bills, the couple filed for bankruptcy protection and now face the loss of their home.

“Health insurance companies will do everything they can not to cover you,” McCurnin said. “Having good (individual) health insurance is a myth.”

Donna Ledbetter, a spokeswoman for Mid-West National Life Insurance, said federal law prohibits the company from commenting on the case.

“(But) we are confident that defined-benefit health plans have a place in the insurance market and provide value to those who would otherwise have no coverage at all,” Ledbetter said.

Nicole Kasabian Evans, a spokeswoman for the California Association of Health Plans, said SB 1522 will increase health care costs and the ranks of the uninsured.

“By making health plan products fit within narrow boxes with strict benefit requirements, this bill could take lower-cost options off the table for consumers,” Evans said.

Yes, because every American should be entitled to pay $600 for health insurance that doesn’t actually cover anything and can be summarily withdrawn for the merest technicality.  I don’t know what we would do if the government took that privilege away from us.

And here I thought that the point of health insurance was not for the sole purpose of allowing you to say that you have health insurance (i.e., those godawful “minimum coverage” car insurance commercials that seem to air every fifteen minutes), but so that you could actually get medical care without going bankrupt.  Silly me.

As a side note, one of my first thoughts when Hillary and Obama started talking about using “mandates” to impose universal healthcare rather than making it available through single-payer, was that it would create a huge market for just exactly this kind of bogus “junk insurance.”  Everyone can say that they’re insured, Democratic president gets to say that they’ve given us universal healthcare, insurance companies collect billions of additional dollars without having to provide any actual coverage – everybody wins!

(h/t Elliott)

1 comment June 22nd, 2008 at 01:36pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Healthcare

Don’t Hold Your Breath, Russ.

I love Russ Feingold.  He’s one of the few congresscritters out there that I have any faith in to consistently do the right thing, and he’s not afraid to call out politicians of either party when they thumb their noses at the Constitution.  Alas, I don’t think he’s going to get much satisfaction here:

Many Americans rightly expect that the new president will abide by the law. But we can’t take that for granted. Americans deserve a guarantee from the next president that the abuses we’ve witnessed over the past eight years won’t happen again. The 44th president of the United States, whoever he is, must renounce the Bush administration’s abuses of executive power and make clear that his administration will uphold the rule of law.

It’s possible that they might say it, but there doesn’t seem to be much evidence that either McCain or Obama will mean it.  McCain has consistently supported the Bush administration’s stance on both carte blanche wiretapping and the abolition of habeas corpus, while Obama just came out in favor of the latest FISA “compromise” which gives the telecoms retroactive immunity if they can jump over a matchbox, offering only a vague assurance that he will “work” to remove it from the Senate version.

It appears that President Bush has pulled off the unthinkable: By portraying the Constitution as the terrorist’s best friend, he has turned it into just as much of an enemy as al Qaeda – for both parties.  I guess the Constitution hates us for our freedoms.

June 22nd, 2008 at 12:32pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,McCain,Obama


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