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Blue Cross pushing plan to declare health reform unconstitutional

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WASHINGTON — As the battle for health care reform rages on in the Senate, the powerful insurance consortium Blue Cross Blue Shield appears to have embraced some rather unorthodox methods for achieving its goals.

After months of fierce insurance industry opposition to the bill, Blue Cross is working secretively with conservative front group American Legislative Exchange Council to use the issue of states’ rights as a pretext to declaring health reform unconstitutional.

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ALEC has for months worked to spread the notion that all the proposals put forth by President Obama and Democrats — including industry regulations and a public option — violate states’ rights. The group wrote a resolution declaring as much this summer.

A senior executive at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBS’ lobbying group) has admitted to Think Progress she played a vital role in crafting ALEC’s resolution, and insurance lobbyists have since worked in tandem with the group to promote it.

According to the ALEC website, the resolution was developed by a three member task force of industry representatives. One of the of the members is Joan Gardner, who is executive director of state services with the BCBS Association’s Office of Policy and Representation. In an interview with ThinkProgress, Christie Herrera, the director of ALEC’s health task force, confirmed that Gardner played a pivotal role in crafting this anti-health reform states’ rights initiative. Herrera told us that Gardner’s unique position at the BCBS Association brought “great knowledge” to the issue, and that Gardner voted to press forward with the campaign.

Numerous Republican lawmakers, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry, have co-opted the resolution, and amendments in its spirit have been reportedly introduced in at least half a dozen states.

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The insurance industry has spoken with a largely singular voice of opposition to the current reform effort. It has released various studies and reports promising that insurance premiums will rise and that the legislation will hurt consumers. Their claims have been widely challenged or debunked, and the industry has been accused of pushing their financial agendas at the expense of regular people.

The Huffington Post reported on Friday that Aetna, a large and influential insurance firm, is preparing to rescind coverage for 650,000 customers by raising prices, in an effort to achieve higher profit margins.

Former insurance executive Wendell Porter, who now favors reform, declared that private insurers have become “consumed by rising profits, grotesque executive salaries, huge administrative expenses, the cost of weeding out people with pre-existing conditions and claims review designed to wear out patients with denials and disapprovals of the care they need the most.”

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Televised impeachment hearings mattered during Watergate — but they may not today: John Dean associate

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I started a continuing legal education program with John Dean in 2011. We have done over one-hundred-and-fifty programs across the nation since then.

Our first program was about obstruction of justice and how Dean, as Nixon’s White House Counsel, navigated the stormy waters when he turned on the president and became history’s most important whistleblower. Unlike the current whistleblower, Dean had been involved in the cover-up, but ultimately decided he had to end the criminal activity in the White House, with no assurance of anonymity and with the almost certain expectation that he was blowing himself up in the process.

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If you’ve given your DNA to a DNA database, the police may now have access to it

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In the past week, news has spread of a Florida judge’s decision to grant a warrant allowing police to search one of the world’s largest online DNA databases, for leads in a criminal case.

The warrant reportedly approved the search of open source genealogy database GEDMatch. An estimated 1.3 million users have uploaded their DNA data onto it, without knowing it would be accessible by law enforcement.

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Here’s why politicians who BS are more dangerous than those who lie

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Bullshit seems to be the new currency in politics. Around the world, a new breed of politicians is flourishing, for whom lying and bullshitting is part of their everyday routine. This is earning them both popular appeal and widespread revulsion. But what is bullshit and why is it so effective in our time?

Bullshitting is different from lying. The American philosopher Harry Frankfurt, who attempted to build a theory of bullshit, explains this clearly. He argues that whereas the liar cares about the truth – their aim is to prevent others from learning it – the bullshitter does not care about the difference between the truth and falsity of their assertions. They just pick ideas out, or make them up, to suit their purpose.

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