Edwards Denies Reports of Calling Israel A Threat to World Peace

Where’s You Tube when you need them? Earlier in the week conservative blogs had a lot of buzz around about this report in Variety:

The aggressively photogenic John Edwards was cruising along, detailing his litany of liberal causes last week until, during question time, he invoked the “I” word — Israel. Perhaps the greatest short-term threat to world peace, Edwards remarked, was the possibility that Israel would bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. As a chill descended on the gathering, the Edwards event was brought to a polite close.

The Edwards campaign has responded with a denial:

John Edwards’ presidential campaign wants to make it clear that he doesn’t consider Israel a threat to world peace…

Edwards’ spokesman Jonathan Prince says the article is erroneous. He says Edwards says one of the greatest short-term threats to world peace is Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon.

I am curious as to why it took this long to get a response considering how Edwards has seen first hand the effects of allowing controversies to go without a response, both as John Kerry’s running mate and following the hiring of Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan. Fortunately for Edwards it doesn’t appear that this is doing any serious harm, possibly as he already has a reputation for strongly supporting Israel.

At moments like this it would be helpful if the moment was captured on You Tube so we could see the exact statements in context. My suspicion is that Edwards discussed the risks of world peace if Iran acquired a nuclear weapon, which could lead to an Israel attack and spread of war. This is a realistic scenario and plausible answer to a question regarding threats of war.

I wonder if the Variety reporter, not accustomed to the nuances of political discussion, gave an erroneous impression that Edwards was placing the blame on Israel. Regardless, it makes more sense to review his position on Israel based upon his multiple statements in support as opposed to relying too much on a single report. We all know how the right wing noise machine loves to repeat “quotations” to attack a candidate without regard to their accuracy.

Clinton Attacks Obama for Fundraiser’s Comments Quoted by Maureen Dowd

Maureen Dowd’s last two columns on Obama (quoted here and here) are causing the campaign to heat up. Hillary Clinton‘s campaign has called on Obama to cut his ties with David Geffen and return the money he raised. Clinton’s campaign incorrectly identifies Geffen as Obama’s “campaign finance chair.”

While the Clinton campaign is holding Obama responsible for attacks from one of his supporters, First Read notes that last week when they published “ill-judged comments made by Clinton campaign chair Terry McAuliffe about immigration, Clinton aides registered their unhappiness at being tied to those remarks.”

If Clinton is going to protest attacks, perhaps we should start with her recent comments insinuating that her opponents would be soft on fighting terrorism. We already get far too much of that claim from the Republicans, and I find this comment from Clinton far worse (and potentially damaging to her party) than anything Geffen said about her.

Media Matters has also reviewed last week’s column, arguing that Dowd’s comments on Obama were incorrect.

Employers Supporting Those Amazing Drugs, But Must They Prescribe Themselves?

The New York Times reports on a shift in attidude among several employers with regards to coverage of medications. Republicans have promoted Health Saving’s Accounts and other measures which force patients to pay more out of pocket, arguing that this will hold down prices. (I’ve discussed the problems with this approach here, here, and here.)

Now some employers are reversing course, convinced that their pennywise approach does not always reduce long-term costs. In the most radical of various moves, a number of employers are now giving away drugs to help workers manage chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and depression.

Major employers like Marriott International, Pitney Bowes, the carpet maker Mohawk Industries and Maine’s state government have introduced free drug programs to avoid paying for more expensive treatments down the road.

Companies now recognize that “if you get people’s obesity down, cholesterol down, asthma down, you save a lot of money,” said Uwe E. Reinhardt, a health economist at Princeton University.

Despite the Bush administration’s efforts to promote “consumer directed” health care, many companies are recognizing the limits to shifting too much of the cost of medical care to employees. Experience, Professor Reinhardt said, is contradicting the theory that “patients will be more prudent shoppers for health care if they ache financially when they ache physically.”

Reducing long term costs is one benefit. Others might be looking at the political ramifications. The report notes that, “Another motive for the business world could be to stave off a greater government involvement in health insurance, now that most presidential candidates and other politicians are promoting health care reform.”

Making prescription drugs affordable will improve the quality of care and reduce health care costs in the long run. As I noted earlier in the week, these drugs do not prescribe themselves. It takes physician exams to diagnose the problem, to determine which drugs would provide the best treatment, and to monitor the effects of the medications. Laboratory and sometimes other tests are needed to help diagnose the problems, and to monitor the course of the disease and the effects of the medications. Making medications more affordable helps, but it is also important that these employees also have affordable medical coverage beyond pharmaceutical coverage.

ACLU Issues Real ID “Scorecard,” Checklist Provides Framework For Evaluation of Upcoming Regulations

The American Civil Liberties Union has released the following statement on the Real ID Act:

The American Civil Liberties Union today released a “scorecard” for evaluating Real ID Act regulations that are expected to be released soon by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The rules will provide the states with precise instructions on how to implement the act, which seeks to create a backdoor national identity card system by federalizing state driver’s licenses.

“Real ID has given DHS the daunting task of creating a uniform national driver’s license with a set of instructions that are riddled with problems,” said Barry Steinhardt, Director of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Project. “The scorecard allows users to systematically measure whether they have been successfully addressed.”

Steinhardt said that when the regulations are released, the ACLU will fill in the scorecard and rate the degree to which the regulations succeed. DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff has indicated that the regulations would be released before the end of February. They will then be subject to a public comment period.

“The regulations will force DHS to get specific about what states have to do to comply with Real ID, and once that happens we believe even more states will make it clear to Congress that the Real ID Act is a failure,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “DHS gets a failing grade on civil liberties and privacy and Congress needs to act now.”

Nationwide, there is a growing rebellion against Real ID within the states. In January, the Maine legislature passed a resolution rejecting participation in the ID scheme, and similar legislation has been passed by one chamber in the legislatures of Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming. Bills rejecting Real ID have also been introduced in Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Washington and West Virginia.

The ACLU’s Real ID scorecard is available at: www.realnightmare.org/resources/106

Comprehensive and up-to-the-minute information on Real ID Act can be found at: www.realnightmare.org

AAAS Issues Consensus Statement on Global Warming

Yet another scientific organization has issued a consensus statement on global warming:

The board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the nation’s leading general science organization, yesterday issued a consensus statement declaring global climate change “a growing threat to society.”

The statement, released at a town hall meeting of school teachers in San Francisco, marked the first time that the board of the influential AAAS, publisher of the journal Science, has taken a stand on global warming. AAAS held its annual meeting there over the weekend and organized the town hall on climate change, along with the California Science Teachers Association, the National Science Teachers Association and the United Educators of San Francisco, a union group.

The board’s statement attributes Earth’s recent warming to human activity, noting: “The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, a critical greenhouse gas, is higher than it has been for at least 650,000 years. The average temperature of the Earth is heading for levels not experienced for millions of years.”

The board called for “rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” warning: “Delaying action to address climate change will increase the environmental and societal consequences as well as the costs.”

It was the second high-profile statement on the issue in recent weeks: Last month, the United States Climate Action Partnership, a coalition of major companies and environmental groups, called for a mandatory cap on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in order to curb further global warming. On Tuesday, the Global Roundtable on Climate Change, a coalition of European and U.S. firms such as Air France, Alcoa and Florida Power & Light, chaired by Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs, plans to announce a worldwide framework for addressing climate change.

For those in the reality based community this isn’t major news as global warming has already been accepted by the scientific community. On the other hand, conservatives will continue to disbelieve in global warming, as well as continuing to disbelieve in evolution and the theory that the earth is round and not flat.

More Trouble For Authors of Prayer Study

In 2001 a study published in The Journal of Reproductive Medicine reportedly showed that strangers’ prayers could double the chances that a woman would get pregnant using in-vitro fertilization. The results of the study have been questioned since its publication and now The Chronicle of Higher Education casts some doubt on the reliability of these findings:

In the years that followed, however, the lead author removed his name from the paper, saying that he had not contributed to the study, and a second author went to jail on unrelated fraud charges.

Meanwhile, many scientists and doctors have written to the journal criticizing the study, and at least one doctor has published papers debunking its findings.

Now the third author of the controversial paper, Kwang Y. Cha, has been accused of plagiarizing a paper published in the journal Fertility and Sterility in December 2005. Alan DeCherney, editor of Fertility and Sterility and director of the reproductive biology and medicine branch at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said on Monday that it was clear to him that Dr. Cha, who has since left Columbia, plagiarized the work of a South Korean doctoral student for a paper he published on detecting women who are at risk of premature menopause.

Fraud among those who advocate prayer. How shocking.

Blair to Announce Phased Withdrawal From Iraq

While Bush is escallating, Tony Blair plans to announce “a timetable for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq.” The Guardian reports that “All British troops will be pulled out of Iraq by the end of 2008.”

Josh Marshall quotes John Kerry on Britain’s phased withdrawal: “America’s leading ally in Iraq has decided that a timetable for the phased redeployment of troops is the only responsible policy to help force Iraqis to stand up for Iraq. After years of touting Prime Minister Blair’s resolve, the Administration should now pay attention to his new policy. This announcement makes it all the more inexplicable that the President and leading Republicans actually want to send more American troops into the middle of an Iraqi civil war.”

The Blogosphere: The Most Trusted Name in News

A survey reports that Americans trust the blogs more than the mainstream media:

A majority of Americans have more faith in bloggers as purveyors of news than traditional media which they say is out of touch with what the people want.

A majority of 55 per cent in an online survey said bloggers are important to the future of American journalism and 74 per cent believe that “citizen journalism” will play a vital role in future.

Around 74 per cent opine that Internet has had a positive impact on overall quality of journalism and 53 per cent consider Internet-based media provide the greatest opportunity to the future of professional journalism.

The survey conducted by the Mediav was released at a conference hosted by the School of Communications of Miami.

I do wonder about the quality of the survey. Even though the blogosphere is apparently more trusted, I’m not sure about anything labeled “an online survey.”

Hat tip to Secular Blasphemy, which is suspicious as to why this was only found in an Indian newspaper.)

Maureen Dowd on Obama vs. Clinton in Hollywood

Maureen Dowd writes about the Hollywood party given by David Geffen, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg which raised $1.3 million for Obama. Dowd provides some quotes which show how Hollywood support has shifted from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama:

“Whoever is the nominee is going to win, so the stakes are very high,” says Mr. Geffen, the Hollywood mogul and sultan of “Dreamgirls,” as he sits by a crackling fire beneath a Jasper Johns flag and a matched pair of de Koonings in the house that Jack Warner built (which old-time Hollywood stars joked was the house that God would have built). “Not since the Vietnam War has there been this level of disappointment in the behavior of America throughout the world, and I don’t think that another incredibly polarizing figure, no matter how smart she is and no matter how ambitious she is — and God knows, is there anybody more ambitious than Hillary Clinton? — can bring the country together.

“Obama is inspirational, and he’s not from the Bush royal family or the Clinton royal family. Americans are dying every day in Iraq. And I’m tired of hearing James Carville on television.”

Later in the column:

“I don’t think anybody believes that in the last six years, all of a sudden Bill Clinton has become a different person,” Mr. Geffen says, adding that if Republicans are digging up dirt, they’ll wait until Hillary’s the nominee to use it. “I think they believe she’s the easiest to defeat.”

She is overproduced and overscripted. “It’s not a very big thing to say, ‘I made a mistake’ on the war, and typical of Hillary Clinton that she can’t,” Mr. Geffen says. “She’s so advised by so many smart advisers who are covering every base. I think that America was better served when the candidates were chosen in smoke-filled rooms.”

Dowd concludes with some background information: (more…)