Representative hung in effigy over health care reform

In today’s edition: The health care debate keeps stepping toward the surreal, diplomacy is a neat tool, and the CEO of Blackwater has been implicated in a murder investigation.

Rep. Kratovil (D-MD) is hung in effigy at a health care 'protest'

Rep. Kratovil (D-MD) is hung in effigy at a health care 'protest'

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The health care debate seems to continue to take turns for the progressively more and more surreal with each passing day – and it’s only August 4th.  Today’s latest way that was cooked up by someone somewhere to really wow them came from an unidentified protester in Maryland, who hung Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil in effigy to support killing current efforts to reform the health care system.  Suggesting the death of someone voting for a bill that will more than likely save lives is quite the interesting touch, and at the very least it’s a great way to get attention of passing media.  The noose was a nice addition, too – the vague suggestion of lynching surely not lost on people of this ilk.

This unidentified man decided he was doing the Tea Party-anti-reform effort a real solid by hanging freshman Maryland Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil in effigy … with a placard “Congress Traitors The American [and a word that looks like "idol"].

The event — a rally in Salisbury, Md. on the Eastern Shore — was attended by members of the business-funded Americans for Prosperity, a group that includes James Miller, a Federal Trade Commission chairman and budget director during the Reagan administration.

Of course the spin on this sort of thing is supposed to suggest that there is a wide ranging, grassroots type of movement against health care reform, and we are to look away from suggestions that it is being bankrolled by very wealthy individuals who have a vested interest in maintining the status quo.  That status quo is quite profitable, by the way.

Stock price change since ~December, 2008:

Cigna: +249%
Wellpoint: +89%
Aetna: +88%
United Health Care: +85%

S&P 500: +25%

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Diplomacy, noun: the art and practice of conducting negotiations between nations.  Example, today:

Bill Clinton’s spokesman says the former president has left North Korea with two American journalists who had been held hostage.

Matt McKenna said late Tuesday that Clinton has “safely left North Korea with Laura Ling and Euna Lee.” He said they’re flying to Los Angeles, where the journalists will be reunited with their families.

The White House is not commenting the trip.

No bombs dropped, no bullets fired, no wars waged, no unneeded death, no unneeded suffering, just good old fasioned diplomacy.  It almost feels like the 1990′s, again (save for the economy).  Kudos to Mr. Clinton for getting the safe return of these two journalists.  Up next are the Iranian hostages.

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The Nation is currently running a story that, if true, would be a huge blockbuster and would also probably shed a hell of a lot of light over the Iraq war, how it was waged, and why America was never able to win those hearts and minds.  The founder of Blackwater has been implicated in murder:

A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two men claim that the company’s owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” and that Prince’s companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.”

In their testimony, both men also allege that Blackwater was smuggling weapons into Iraq. One of the men alleges that Prince turned a profit by transporting “illegal” or “unlawful” weapons into the country on Prince’s private planes. They also charge that Prince and other Blackwater executives destroyed incriminating videos, emails and other documents and have intentionally deceived the US State Department and other federal agencies. The identities of the two individuals were sealed out of concerns for their safety.

Mind you, this is all 100% under oath.  This is not on some talk radio show, not on some forum, website, or blog, not in front of a crowd of people, and not said publicly to get a reaction out of people.  This is sworn testimony from two individuals who know what could become of them if they were lying about the whole ordeal.  The allegations go on to say that Mr. Prince believed that he was on a mission from God to rid the world of Muslim people, and that this belief drove him to suggest and sanction the murder of innocent Iraqis that would help lead to this conclusion.  If true, this would completely undermine the attempt by the U.S. military to stabalize the country of Iraq after the war, and probably led to the extreme resentment of Americans in that country by the general Iraqi populace.  When the faces of the outsiders look the same, even though they do two entirely different things, how can you trust that those outsiders have your best interests, or any interests, at all?

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