Howard Dean Dismisses Criticism Of Work For Biotech, Accuses Media Of Devouring GOP Talking Points On Health Care

Speaking about health care on Tuesday, Gov. Howard Dean said the media "hate that they can't take down Obama, so they're using every Republican talking point to try." According to Dean, health reform is "doing very well."

Dean, a physician who is closely involved with the issue politically, emphasized the importance of a public health care option to compete with private insurers. A bill without such a provision is "not worth passing" as it would not control costs, he argued, at a conference hosted by Campus Progress in Washington, D.C.

"Let the American people choose" between private and public medical care, he said, claiming that a public option would force private insurers to get their act together.

Dean accused Republicans of being "enemies of reform" and didn't take kindly to Sen. Jim DeMint's admitted desire to kill the bill as a way of hurting Obama. On passing the bill, he said "if we have to do it through reconciliation, let's do it."

Private insurance is "not only expensive, it's killing the country," he said. "It's a job crusher and we're losing jobs to Canada -- let alone China and India -- because businesses are crippled by health care costs."

"We don't have a health care system in this country," Dean continued. "What we have is a shell game, much like Wall Street, so that businesses can make money." He supported the idea of businesses making money, but opposed their doing so while hurting the country.

Asked about James Love's allegation on HuffPost that Dean was a "shill" for biotech, Dean laughed it off, defending the importance of the industry but saying "I'm a shill for real health care reform."

In response to a question posed by the Huffington Post about what might help the bill get votes of on-the-fence lawmakers, Dean urged the youth to be active in pressuring their representatives to support solid reforms. "This is not Congress's bill," he said. "This is your bill. It's our bill."

"The only thing a politician cares more about than money is votes. So if a politician is in the pockets of special interests, it's because you're not speaking loud enough," he concluded.


David Hasselhoff: Obama Is “Kind Of Boring” (VIDEO)

"America's Got Talent" judge David Hasselhoff took his critical eye to President Obama Tuesday, suggesting the nation's leader would not be a strong contender on his show.

Saying on "The View" that he was glad Obama's primetime press conference was moved so as not to conflict with the show, a laid-back Hasselhoff argued that the president try dancing and singing a little more if he wants to compete.

Hasselhoff then offered a rap of sorts for Obama to use. "Socialized medicine for straights and gays is really the only way," he freestyled, before concluding more soberly, "He's doing a great job, but he needs to be a little more entertaining."

Watch:

Oddly enough, the Republican National Committee tied Obama to Hasselhoff during the election. Based on his comments today, he might feel slighted by the comparison.

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Maddow Revisits Buchanan Segment, Adds Corrections (VIDEO)

Rachel Maddow took some time last night to revisit last week's segment with Pat Buchanan, in which they argued over affirmative action policy in the context of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, whose appointment to the Supreme Court would be a major opportunity cost to white people everywhere. Lacking Buchanan's presence, Maddow averred that while it was "not cool to talk about guests after their segment was over," and that it would be unfair to "re-litigate" the argument in the absence of a litigant, she would be offering various factual corrections.

Said corrections included Buchanan's statement that "[Sotomayor has] never written anything that I've read in terms of a law review article or a major book or something like that on the law." As it happens, Sotomayor has written at least five law review articles, though Maddow was obviously unable to verify whether Buchanan had managed to read them. Additionally, his assertion that Sotomayor was admitted to the Yale Law Review via affirmative action was not factually accurate. A spokesman from Yale Law School said that students pick who is on the law journal, and that the affirmative action claim was simply, "A statement of opinion by Mr. Buchanan."

But, more to the point, there was this statement:

"White men were 100% of the people that wrote the Constitution, 100% of the people that signed the Declaration of Independence, 100% of the people who died at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, probably close to 100% of the people who died at Normandy. This has been a country built basically by white folks."

This was a matter that I was basically able to pick apart into something resembling oblivion in just a matter of minutes. Maddow was able to do much more:

MADDOW: Pat joined us for this discussion from a studio in Washington, DC, that is not far from the White House, which was of course built by slaves. Who were not white folks. The U.S. Capitol, the physical building was built by slaves. The city of Washington, DC, where Pat has spent his entire life was physically built, in part, by slave labor. It's not even possible to imagine how America could have competed in a place in the global economy in the 1800s without plantation cotton and tobacco and sugar and rice and the industries so thoroughly dependent on slave labor.


BUCHANAN: [TAPE] This has been a country built basically by white folks.

MADDOW: That statement is only true if you don't consider any one other than white folks to be folks. Even if you only consider slave labor, even if, for example, you reimagine the railroad somehow magically building themselves without Chinese laborers, the idea that only white people built America is a fantasy and it should not have been maintained on this show as fact. As for who has died for this country in combat? More than 200,000 Black Americans fought for the Union in the Civil War. Thousands even fought for the Confederacy. 1.2 million African-Americans served in World War II, and yes, they were among those who stormed the beaches at Normandy. The Defense Department says almost 10,000 Mexican-Americans fought for the Union during the Civil War. Hundreds of thousands of Hispanics served in the armed forces during World War II. 12 Hispanics awarded the Medal of Honor. 24 Asian Americans received the Medal of Honor. For heroism in World War II.

BUCHANAN: [TAPE] This has been a country built basically by white folks.

MADDOW: That's just not true. I love white folks. I'm white folks. Yay, white folks! It's just not factually true to generalize from white experience to explain how America came to be.

Now, this part sort of feels like a re-litigation of the previous segment! But what the heck: it's delish!

MADDOW: Also, a clarification. Pat said over and over again in our discussion that he is against affirmative action. Rick Perlstein, who wrote the book Nixonland, turned up a memo in 1971 which Pat actually suggested an affirmative action program to Richard Nixon's White House. It was an affirmative action program for Catholics.
"Instead of sending the orders out to all our agencies -- hire blacks and women -- the order should go out -- hire ethnic Catholics, preferable [sic] women for visible posts. One example: Italian Americans, unlike blacks, have never had a Supreme Court member...Give those fellows the 'Jewish seat' or 'black seat' on the Court when it becomes available."

In other words, choose a Supreme Court nominee in part on the basis of ethnicity and religion, said Pat to Nixon.

[WATCH]

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East Jerusalem Settlements: Mike Huckabee Joins The Fray, Will Broadcast From Disputed Site

The dispute over a highly controversial East Jerusalem Israeli settlement project came to a head Tuesday when direct, public statements from France, Russia, Sweden and Britain joined statements made by the United States demanding that all construction be halted. However, now helping to counter these demands, according to Haaretz, is former presidential hopeful and Arkansas governor, and now Fox News commentator, Mike Huckabee, who will broadcast his weekend show from the disputed site. Haaretz's source is a New York state assemblyman, Dov Hikind, who will also be participating in the "solidarity visit" to support the ongoing construction in Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian neighborhood.

Hikind, who is active in right-wing Jewish causes, told Haaretz that dozens of U.S. activists will participate in the mission, in order to express their support for the project and the man behind it, Irving Moskowitz.


Israeli media outlets reported Sunday that the United States is demanding a halt to the residential project. Later in the day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had been surprised by the U.S. demand and that he refused to "cave in" on the matter.

The disputed site is the the current location of the Shepherd Hotel, in Sheikh Jarrah, which was bought by American tycoon Irving Moskowitz in 1985 and is to be torn down to make way for 20 housing units. Huckabee and his cohorts this weekend will explicitly be taking the side against the Obama administration--which has repeatedly called for any and all settlement activity to cease--and will be filing behind Netanyahu. And as AFP points out:

Israel regards all of Jerusalem as its "eternal, undivided" capital and doesn't consider construction in east Jerusalem to be settlement activity.


The Palestinians want to make the east of the city - home to some 200,000 Jewish Israelis and 268,000 Palestinians--the capital of their future state.

However, despite the brouhaha in Jerusalem, the Guardian reports that 23 settlements elsewhere, in the West Bank, are to be forcibly evacuated by Israeli police. The difference between the two situations, according to the Guardian, is that Israel actually deems the West Bank settlements in question to be illegal, because they lack the the proper permits, while it considers anything within the limits of Jerusalem to be free game. This second position, however, is contrary to international law, which regards all construction on occupied land to be equally inpermissible. According to the Guardian:

The Israeli army later denied receiving any orders for a "lightning evacuation." Settler spokesmen warned of a furious response if any such move took place.


Israel has only twice evacuated Jewish settlements since the 1967 war: in 1981 when the Sinai desert was returned to Egypt, and in 2005, when Israel unilaterally withdrew troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip. Removing settlers from the West Bank will be far more controversial.


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Christine Huang: Advertising And Modern Minstrelsy: What’s Funny About Race Roleplaying? (VIDEO)

Last week we came across this music video/ advertisement for Taco Bell (created by DraftFCB), a riff on Diddy's 1990s anthem, "It's All About the Benjamins". The commercial, entitled "It's All About the Roosevelts", seems to have drawn inspiration from the popular "Lazy Sunday" skit featured on SNL four years ago, a self-parodizing rap video about the banal lives of Chris Parnell and Adam Samberg.

SNL's characters rap self-seriously (but in actuality, self-deprecatingly) about the boring details of their daily lives, from visiting cupcake bakeries to finding directions on the Internet. The comedic effect is a result of a combined dissonance; it's not funny because it's white people rapping, it's funny because it's dorky white people rapping about their very un-thug lives.

Taco Bell's ad is a half-baked attempt at the same humor, but lacking the cultural and self-awareness that makes the SNL skit so funny. "It's All About the Roosevelts" sits somewhere between ironic tribute and derisive parody, employing a bevy of hip hop video cliches -- ladies, cars, bling -- to highlight Taco Bell's new line of cheap eats. The video looks and feels like a typical Puff Daddy-era video, with one major 'comedic' tweak: everyone is white! Yep, that's the punchline: white people acting, dancing, and rapping like rap stars -- mocking this culture that so contrasts their own. What a hilariously clever twist.

Whether you perceive this ad as modern minstrelsy or harmless farce, it nevertheless raises some interesting questions: what is supposed to be funny about this video? White people posturing in (stereotypically) non-white scenarios? When is race roleplay and cultural appropriation okay? When is it acceptable, and when is it derogatory?

To push the debate even further, consider these even more blatantly racially charged ads for Chicago-Lake Liquors in Minneapolis (watch below). In this case, the raceplay is boldly farcical. Who is Chicago-Lake Liquors trying to appeal to here? Who are we supposed to be laughing at? Why?

Juxtaposing these ironic appropriations is Baskin Robbins' playful homage to the once-viral booty bass hit "Ice Cream and Cake" (below). The song by Buckwheat Boyz (of Peanut Butter Jelly Time fame) became a YouTube sensation in 2005, inspiring countless user-uploaded videos showcasing various renditions of the "Ice Cream and Cake" dance. Baskin Robbins pairs the song with a cute stop motion animation featuring colorful cake toppers dancing atop ice cream treats. Rather than making a joke of it, Baskin Robbins has resurrected the dance hit, making it relevant to its audience and brand. Baskin Robbins chose sincerity over mockery -- perhaps the less provocative approach of the two, but a far less divisive one as well.

This article was originally published on PSFK.com.


Ariane de Bonvoisin: Money, Meaning and a Little Motivation

There isn't a single person who hasn't been affected by the financial meltdown. Each of us is being asked to think differently about money, reflect on how much we have and need, why we need it, how we can make more in today's world.

Money is not only an actual "thing." Money is an emotion. Money's emotional best friend is fear. Money is supposed to be where we find our safety, and yet it has done the opposite effect. When we think about money, most of us feel unsafe.

We have been told to put our security outside of us, in something--a currency--that we can't actually control. We have been told to put our self-worth in something outside of us. We have been told that if we aren't being paid for something, then it's not considered work. If we don't keep accumulating stuff, then we aren't becoming more successful or getting ahead in life.

Our security needs to come from something else in these times of change, from something inside of us that is permanent. Our self-esteem, our character, our faith.

Money problems always magnify who someone is. So if someone is a generous person, they will continue to come from that place. If someone is an angry person, any change in her financial situation will make that anger come up even more.

So, with that said, how do you make a fresh start in the area of your finances? How do you feel safe again? How do you change your primary association of fear to something less traumatic? How do you even start taking control of this area of your life? Many of us have the feeling of being paralyzed, some of us are unlucky, while others have no idea where to start to get back on track! There are a few things we can all do, regardless of whether we have a dollar to our names, a million or if we're submerged in debt.

1) Stop avoiding the problem and start with getting honest. Open the envelopes, call--or even better--go visit your banker or broker. Be realistic. So many of us are living in the illusion of total scarcity. Look at what really did happen in the last few months. Get some help. You aren't supposed to be an expert in this area. Most of us feel ignorant when it comes to money, but the truth is we were never given a proper education about it. You're not alone. Everyone feels intimidated to some degree. Your money isn't something you can avoid, however. It would be like saying, "learning to walk is too difficult, so I'm not going to do it." Learn the basics. You will feel more grounded. And if your banker or accountant makes you feel worse, hire one you feel good about. They must make you feel comfortable no matter what.

2) Get organized. Know where your accounts, credit-card statements, insurance documents, will, etc. are. Most of us feel overwhelmed because we just don't know where all of this stands. It's not the lack of money sometimes, it's more the general level of uncertainty and messiness around this topic.

3) Look over your statements. Get a feel for what you are spending. Where is your money going really? You may often find some errors and double charges. Look at hidden fees from all the bills you pay. Confirm that some of your regular income is going to a savings account on a monthly basis. If you have an investment account, take a close look at what you have--stocks, funds, bonds, cash, gold. Know what you have and then ask yourself how it feels. You don't need an MBA or a finance background to know whether your money situation is letting you sleep at night. Trust your feelings. They are trying to get your attention. Maybe you don't want to be in the market. So you may just want to stay in cash for the time being. Everyone has different needs.

4) Get back to basics. This applies to every area of your life. Do you need to be spending so much on margaritas? Do you need another pair of jeans or shoes? Do you need to take a cab or can you take the subway? Do you have to go to a fancy restaurant? Do you need a gym membership in a hot club you never use? Everyone knows where they are "leaking" money. For some it's in clothes, for others it's food, and for others it's in personal beauty/appearance treatments. Ask yourself what changes you can make here, that no one else other than you will even notice.

5) Find another source of income, in addition to your regular job. Look around you. Can you find a way of creating something, consulting, writing, translating, editing, babysitting, taking care of an elderly person, promoting something, organizing something? The possibilities are endless. Here's a clue--look for a way to take away someone's pain, or problem. That's what people will pay money for. What are you really good at? What is easy for you? Stretch your identity of what else you might be able to do, other than your regular job. And if you are the creative type, which deep down we all are, maybe think of writing an ebook on a subject you know a lot about. There are plenty of sites to put it up on for free. You can then be making money while you sleep. That's the goal.

6) Ask for discounts and special offers on everything. Your cable and phone companies, clothes, restaurants, any work-related deals, negotiate from the heart. Come from a place of authenticity, kindness, ask sincerely. You will be amazed what you can receive.

7) Look around for things you own that you can sell. Clothes, products etc. Your cast-offs are worth something to someone else. You have thousands of dollars hidden in things you don't really want or use anymore. Yes, this takes a bit of time but the payoff in terms of money and also less clutter, freeing up space for something new to come into your life is well worth it.

8) Not that this is a must, but if you had to radically downsize your life, ask yourself already today, how would you do this? Would you move? Would you cook more or grow your own food? What would you do? Just knowing this will let you live differently, with a higher level of consciousness.

9) Take a look at your beliefs and emotions around money. Most of us picked these up from our parents. One of them was probably fearful or was always worried. Maybe one of them over-spent or was in debt. Think about it. You are now an adult and don't have to be loyal to their beliefs around money. If you do feel anxious around money, take a deep breath and ask yourself, where have I seen this before? At home? Most likely.

Commit to making a fresh start, starting with what you keep telling yourself about money. Whatever it is for you that that inner voice keeps telling you--"There isn't enough"; "I am a failure"; "I am ashamed"--choose to think differently. All of this self-talk is illusionary. None of it is true.

10) Be grateful for what you do have. We have so much more than 95% of the planet. We really do. Bless what you have. Find ways of giving. Something. If it's not money, give your time and your heart. The more you give, the more life finds ways to give back to you.

Ariane is an eternal change optimist, author of The First 30 Days; Your Guide to Making any Change Easier and founder of www.first30days.com, a site that helps people transition through dozens of life changes.
For specific information on handling your finances, check out the First30Days Finance channel.



Richard Laermer: Tell The Truth: You’re a Real Storyteller

Lost in the shuffle of what I guess is the more important news was the fact that Irish writer Frank McCourt passed away at the age of 78. McCourt's opus, Angela's Ashes, was an unlikely success: an autobiographical tale of one hell of an impoverished family in Limerick, Ireland.

Rest in Peace

There is nothing earth shattering about the book,and maybe that's why McCourt was awarded a Pulitzer for telling it like he did. It is written in the voice of a child who recounts sordid story after sordid story. For example: After little Frank's drunk father left the family, supposedly to work in a munitions factory, Frank was the sole breadwinner in the house by stealing milk and bread. The whole block shared a single outhouse. Frank's grandmother scrubbed him to within an inch of his life on the day of his first Communion. On and on these wonderful vignettes go.

These are anecdotes of no particular import that formed one of the best selling and most loved books of the 1990s, spawning a profitable and well-loved movie transformation in 2000.

The success of Angela's Ashes and other books like it (and there have been copycats!) did teach how the most popular stories that seem to resonate with readers and affectuate new and positive changes are often the true ones. Sound like a good blog? See, people want to hear how things actually do work and how they have worked. People want to share their experiences with others who might feel better (or touched) by them. We want to hear what has happened, not what may have happened.

During this deep recession, anyone telling tales -- customers, prospects, or friends -- is well advised to give it to them straight with no chaser. I try to do that and am told to be more subtle. (Like that'll ever happen.)

Work of the best storytellers are, like McCourt and Bukowski and others before and since, the type that make you go "Crap, I didn't think of that!"

Many moments within McCourt's tales of life in Limerick have given us a bit of hope for brightness. You know that is something we all can't wait to talk about.

.....For less wistful tweets, do the Twitter dance @laermer and don't forget to check out Bad Pitch Night School (During the Day)!