Author’s note: This blog contains more metaphors than considered healthy.
CNN Senior National Editor
I confess to not having read the entire 1,000 pages-plus that make up the bill at the base of the current debate, a proposal being torn apart and rebuilt by three committees in the House and two in the Senate in a time-honored and time-consuming process often derisively referred to as “sausage-making.”
Not to mention the debate ongoing in often raucous online and public forums.
As Dr. Bernadine Healey cautioned in U.S. News & World Report, “Reading H.R. 3200 is not like curling up with Harry Potter. “ It certainly is not, though for some people the current debate seems to pit good vs. evil (which is left to the individual). If you’ve never read a piece of legislation, take a gander at this heavyweight.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/08/14/typhoon.wrap/art.taiwan.friday.jpg caption="Luo Shou Luan (left) is comforted as she looks at what is left of her home village, Shiao Lin."]
Program Note: For the latest on Typhoon Morakot, including information about the thousands of people still stranded from the typhoon last weekend, tune in to AC360° tonight at 10p ET. Below is a link to CNN's special section 'Impact Your World' with information about how to get involved.
Impact Your World
Typhoon Morakot unleashed its fury in Taiwan and mainland China and caused some of the worst flooding in a half-century. Dozens have died or are missing, with scores displaced or stranded.
Take action on the news you consume! These resources include some of the highest-rated charities by CharityNavigator.org (an independent and non-profit organization that evaluates and rates thousands of charity groups based on effectiveness and financial stability) and are vetted by CNN journalists for credibility. CNN does not endorse any organization and information is provided as an inspiration for you to explore the best ways for you to impact your world.
Program Note: For more ways to make a difference, visit Impact Your World.
Pres. Obama held a town hall meeting on health care reform in Montana today. Are more Americans getting on board the plan? Or will he have to "water down" his proposal? Plus, the presidential exclusive. Meet the 11 year old who got to interview Mr. Obama. And, legendary singer Bob Dylan has a run in with cops.
Want to know what else we're covering? Read EVENING BUZZ
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Octavia Nasr | BIO
CNN Senior Editor, Mideast Affairs
Have you had a Falafel sandwich lately? I have had at least five in the past month alone. You see, Falafel is my favorite food and I won’t miss an opportunity to enjoy the vegetarian sandwich. From Beirut to Singapore, I’ve tried all kinds of local twists and turns on the richly spicy chick pea and fava bean-based deep fried ball patties.
There is something wild about Falafel. I’m not the only one devoted enough to admit my love of this spicy vegetarian food; there are people all over the world posting silly videos of themselves idolizing the Middle Eastern specialty.
Falafel is comfort food for Arabs and Israelis alike. Each group claims to have the best and tastiest mix of ingredients. On both sides you can find the Kings of Falafel; and if this weren’t enough, I did eat once at a shop called “King of all kings of Falafel.”
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/14/obama.health.care/art.obama.montana.afp.gi.jpg caption="President Obama discusses his health care plans Friday at a meeting in Belgrade, Montana."]
President Obama made another attempt today to push for a health care overhaul. And he chose to do so in Montana, a traditionally conservative state. Speaking to a mostly supportive crowd, Mr. Obama emphasized the fact that the health care system requires improving insurance practices and reducing the costs of treatment.
There are critics who believe that health care reform could become Pres. Obama's Iraq. Also, there is skepticism among members from his own party that this bill will eventually be so watered down that they're starting to call it the "health care lite."
Is this health care debate going to have a lasting effect on this presidency? Tonight, we will dig deeper with former Bush 43 speechwriter David Frum, Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page and Nia-Malika Henderson from Politico.
Meanwhile, Sen. Charles Grassley got into a Twitter tussle with Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pennsylvania over the notion that health care reform might lead to pulling the plug on grandma or denying her care. We will keep the politics aside and let 360° MD Sanjay Gupta give us the raw facts.
Also tonight, the death toll from the typhoon in Taiwan is expected to reach more than 500. Roads are blocked and hundreds of people are trapped and many are badly injured. There is anger and frustration over the government's sluggish response. But rescue workers seem to be trying their best. Senior international correspondent John Vause will join us live from Taiwan with the latest on rescue operations.
[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/12/art.healthcare.bill.jpg" caption="CNN answers your questions about the health care reform bill."]
CNN Truth Squad
The statement: Questions about whether those in the United States illegally would be covered by the health-care bill now before the House of Representatives have been a staple of the raucous public meetings some members of Congress have been hosting during their August break. At least two people raised the issue at a forum held by Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, on Wednesday, and Cardin's insistence that "Illegal aliens will not be in this bill — period — the end" was met with a round of jeers.
The facts: The bill, HR 3200, specifically bars coverage for illegal immigrants. Section 246, which is included in the part of the bill that sets up a health insurance exchange, forbids payments "on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States." But critics say there is no way to enforce that provision, and the Democratic majority in the House has turned back at least one Republican effort to stiffen citizenship checks.
Henrie Treadwell, a professor of community health and preventative medicine at Atlanta's Morehouse School of Medicine, calls the issue a "red herring." The existing health-care programs Medicare and Medicaid already require those enrolled to provide "a substantial number of documents" to show they're U.S. citizens or legal residents, she said.
[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/12/health.industry.whistleblower/art.potter.2.cnn.jpg" caption="Wendell Potter once was a vice president in the public relations department for insurance giant Cigna."]
Ed Hornick and Elaine Quijano
Wendell Potter knows a little something about the health care industry's practices and is not afraid of to speak out as the health care reform debate heats up around the country.
The former vice president of corporate communications at insurance giant Cigna, who left his post, says the industry is playing "dirty tricks" in an effort to manipulate public opinion.
"Words matter, and the insurance industry is a master at linguistics and using the hot words, buzzwords, buzz expressions that they know will get people upset," he told CNN Wednesday.
Now a senior fellow on health care for the watchdog group Center for Media and Democracy, Potter writes a blog on health care reform. He is focusing on efforts to defeat legislation supporting a government health care plan - something he supports.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/14/henry.obama.health.care/art.dentist.cnn.jpg caption="Sonja McDonald wants health care reform, but she doesn't want the government to be more involved."]
CNN Senior White House Correspondent
Spend a day in this tiny town about 23 miles or so from where President Obama will be holding a town hall meeting on Friday, and it's easy to see why his health-care push is facing big problems in Big Sky country - even from the people he's trying to help.
I arrived here a couple of days ahead of the president in order to get a better read on his reform effort by talking to people like Sonja McDonald, who told me her husband's job as a diesel mechanic doesn't provide health insurance for them and their two children.
So I found McDonald at a remarkable local clinic getting a low-cost tooth extraction because she has not been able to afford a trip to the dentist in a couple of years. She voted for Obama and agrees with him that reform is needed, but said she's worried about the details.
"I believe that there is a health care crisis, I really do," she told me from a dentist chair in the clinic. "Do I believe that the government needs to be more involved? No! Because I think that they just - whenever they get their fingers in the pot it just kind of turns black."
Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture – and you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
White House Butler Von Everett pumps up a basketball for President Barack Obama in the Outer Oval Office of the White House, June 30, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.
UPDATE BEAT 360º WINNERS
Hey, it could be worse. Reagan rode horses.
Jason Kelling Dallas, TX
Republicans got guns; Democrats got balls.