December 22nd, 2009
09:48 PM ET

'Twas the night before Christmas

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/22/art.caphealth.gi.jpg]

Matt Latimer
Author, Speech-less: Tales of a White House Survivor
Former White House Speechwriter

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the Congress,
Every creature was frantic,
from insurers to lobbyists.

While Americans worried about higher taxes and spending,
The liberals, they promised
big government unending.

From Mama Nancy in one chamber to
Papa Harry in the other,
A chorus rang out
And Ben Nelson was smothered.

"Let bureaucrats run health care,"
the leaders urged with a grin.
"Don't worry about details,
Obama just needs a win."

On Franken! On Landrieu!
On Lincoln and Schumer!
Dismiss all the facts,
Deny every rumor.

Forget about burdens on business.
Ignore the red tape.
We must pass a bill,
any size, any shape.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Raw Politics
December 22nd, 2009
09:39 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 12/22/09

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/02/liveblogfinal.copy.jpg]

Tonight on 360°, all the angles on the Senate health care reform frenzy. We're tracking the cash. What lobbyists have spent pushing for reform and what it could cost you and your family. Plus, some of Anderson's most awkward moments on-air in 2009.

Want to know what else we're covering? Read EVENING BUZZ

Scroll down to join the live chat during the program. It's your chance to share your thoughts on tonight's headlines. Keep in mind, you have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules.

Here are some of them:

1) Keep it short (we don't have time to read a "book")
2) Don't write in ALL CAPS (there's no need to yell)
3) Use your real name (first name only is fine)
4) No links
5) Watch your language (keep it G-rated; PG at worst - and that includes $#&*)

Filed under: Live Blog • T1
December 22nd, 2009
09:26 PM ET

Surviving loneliness on the road

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/21/t1.gibraltar.jpg caption="Chris' picture of Gibraltar Rock from a recent trip." width=300 height=169]

Chris Guillebeau
AC360° Contributor

When I venture out in to the world by myself, as I am prone to do from time to time, people sometimes ask, “Don’t you get lonely?”

There are two answers to this question, both of which are true.

1. My Community Is Worldwide

The success of this writing project has caused me to redefine how I think about friendship. I used to take what I now realize is a highly conventional view of online relationships – I thought they were narrow or shallow by default.

I now believe exactly the opposite. On any given day I download at least 100 emails from friends old and new. I can sit in the Hong Kong airport lounge and connect with a wide network of cool people. I can log on to Twitter and see what’s happening with hundreds of people I care about.

If I want to, I can take the online friendships offline and meet up with people almost anywhere I go. Here in Thailand, where I’m writing these notes, I’ve met with six people in a few days. Even when I head out to real off-the-grid spots like Brunei or Bangladesh, there is almost always someone interested in meeting up.


December 22nd, 2009
09:02 PM ET

Health care reform and personal responsibility

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/22/health.responsability.jpg width=292 height=320]

Dr. Sanjay Gupta | BIO
AC360° Contributor
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

As we continue this discussion, there are a few emerging themes. So, to keep the direction focused, I will try and take on one at a time.

The topic I would like to explore today is “personal responsibility.”

In many different ways, it seems you have questions about this topic. So, let me attempt to summarize it this way.

Will increasing access to health insurance make people more responsible about their health? Should it? And, will it improve their health overall? It is an important question to me as a doctor, because the measure I care most about is a healthier society, and the corresponding health of individuals.

There is no question that people who have unlimited resources, in terms of money and insurance, are often the unhealthiest of all. So, it would seem that access to health insurance alone does not equate to good health. On the other hand of course, over 40 million people don’t currently get a chance to test that theory.

Personal Responsibility.

How would you define the current obligation of any individual for their own health? And, if you would believe in the power of personal responsibility, how do we get better at it as a nation?

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Health Care • Sanjay Gupta
December 22nd, 2009
07:42 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Tracking the Cash on Capitol Hill

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/12/22/health.care.senate.vote/story.senate.floor.pool.jpg caption="Senators gather in the Capitol early Tuesday for a vote related to the health care overhaul bill." width=300 height=169]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Mark your calendar. The vote for final passage of the Senate health care reform plan is now set for Christmas Eve morning.

Republicans aren't happy with the timetable.

Sen. Tom Corburn, who is also a physician, said tonight on CNN the reason we've seen these "crazy votes" is because Democrats want the bill passed before Christmas for political reasons, to say they got it done - "not because it's in the best long-term interest in doing the best right thing for America."

Do you agree? Share your thoughts below.

Tonight, we're tracking how lobbyists are playing a big part in the battle for health care reform.

According to the non- partisan Center for Responsive Politics, there are more than 3,000 lobbyists working on the health care issue versus 535 members of Congress.

The CRC reports over the past two years, lobbyists have spent $635 million shaping health care policy. That works out to be $870,000 a day.

Tonight, we'll show you which organizations are spending the most dollars lobbying Congress.

We'll also break down what the Senate version would cost you and your family.

There's also the surprising holiday twist to the debate. Sen. Roland Burris (D-Illinois) decided to take the drama to a new level by reciting his own version of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' on the Senate floor. We'll play you the tape. We also have a GOP version for you with a little help from our floor crew. You'll want to stay up to see the wild mix of raw politics and holiday cheer.

We're also tracking new developments in the custody battle over a 9-year-old New Jersey boy. Just hours ago, Brazil's chief justice ruled that Sean Goldman should be reunited with his father. The boy was taken by his mother to Brazil five years ago. She remarried and died last year in childbirth. Tonight, in a 360° exclusive interview, you'll hear from Sean's grandfather in the U.S. Hear why he's still worried about the fate of Sean.

Join us for these stories and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET on CNN. See you then!

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
December 22nd, 2009
05:08 PM ET

The battle for Sean Goldman: The view from Brazil

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/12/17/goldman.brazil.custody/story.goldman.cnn.jpg caption="David Goldman has been locked in a legal battle over custody of his 9-year-old son, Sean." width=300 height=169]

Andrew Downie

There are few winners in the case of Sean Goldman, the 9-year old boy at the center of a custody battle between his American father and Brazilian stepfather. But the losers are easy to spot, starting with common sense. More worryingly for Brazil, a growing nation desperate to be taken seriously on the world stage, is the damage being done to its image.

One of the reasons foreign investment in Brazil has risen so significantly over the last few years is that Brazilian law is relatively solid. Unlike neighbors Venezuela or Bolivia, for example, foreign companies in Brazil do not fear that the goalposts will be moved in the middle of the game or that powerful interests will tear up agreements. Brazilian lawyers said Sean Goldman's stepfather, João Lins e Silva, has diligently followed due process in his attempt to retain custody of his late wife's son. (She died in childbirth earlier this year.) But there is still a sense that the already slow legal system is being swayed, in part, by money and influence. Sean's stepfather's family, the Lins e Silvas, is well known in Brazilian legal circles and they have so far used the system skillfully to retain custody of the child.

"The Brazilian family are respected lawyers and they understand the situation and they know what steps they can legitimately take within the system here," said a U.S. official familiar with the case. "But what we need to make clear is that the Government of Brazil is in agreement for his return [to his biological father]. We need to work through the legal system so the Brazilian government can enforce the return." Indeed, David Goldman had flown to Rio de Janeiro to pick up his son after a federal court in Brazil ruled he had legal custody of the boy, only to be greeted by news that a Supreme Court judge had decided to halt the procedure, declaring that the boy himself had to testify about where he preferred to live.


Filed under: Parenting
December 22nd, 2009
04:40 PM ET

Forgetting Tiger

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/18/art.victor.clementis.jpg]

Michael Schulder
CNN Senior Executive Producer

The Tiger Woods story has triggered a memory that led me to two old photos. One photo is real. One is doctored.

The Book of Laughter & Forgetting Tiger

I read about the photos 30 years ago in the Czech author Milan Kundera’s “The Book of Laughter and Forgetting.”

The original photo, on the left, was taken in February of 1948.

In Kundera’s account, this moment represented the birth of communism in Czechoslovakia.

The Czech Communist leader, Klement Gottwald, [the man on the right of the photo] had just stepped out on the balcony of a Baroque palace in Prague, before “hundreds of thousands of citizens massed in the Old Town Square. Gottwald was flanked by his comrades, with (Vladimir) Clementis [two faces to the left] standing close to him. It was snowing and cold, and Gottwald was bearheaded.”

Kundera continues:

“Bursting with solicitude, Clementis took off his fur hat and set it on Gottwald’s head.”

So, that fur hat you see on Gottwald’s head was given to him by comrade Clementis, who sacrificed his own warmth for his comrade’s.

That gesture of communist solidarity caught the attention of the Communist Party propaganda machine.

They “made hundreds of thousands of copies of the photograph taken on the balcony, where Gottwald, in a fur hat and surrounded by his comrades, spoke to the people.

Every child knew that photograph, from seeing it on posters and in schoolbooks and museums.

Four years later, Clementis was charged with treason and hanged.

The propaganda section immediately made him vanish from history and, of course, from all photographs.

Ever since, Gottwald has been alone on the balcony. Where Clementis stood, there is only the bare palace wall.

Nothing remains of Clementis but the fur hat on Gottwald’s head."

The doctored photo on the right is all that remained – until the age of the internet brought back the original.

Those photos make me think of Tiger.

Airbrushing Tiger

Tiger Woods’ acknowledgment of “transgressions,” has spurred a similar reaction to his omnipresent images from some free enterprise business comrades.

The huge consulting firm Accenture has treated Tiger the way so many felt: as if he’d committed treason against the brand. It dropped its sponsorship of Woods, saying he “just wasn’t a metaphor for high performance anymore.”

The New York Times describes how, “hours after Accenture ended its sponsorship deal, the golfer’s face was replaced by an anonymous skier on the company’s home page. His name was scrubbed almost completely from the rest of the web site.”

But images of Tiger endorsing the Accenture brand survive. So many airport terminals. So many corporate tchotchkes. So many web sites. It’s harder to make people disappear in the age of the internet than it was back in the 20th Century.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/22/art.vert.golfdigestcover.jpg width=292 height=320]

Tiger on Newsstands Today

I just picked up the Golf Digest January 2010 cover story headlined “10 Tips Obama Can Take From Tiger” (pre disclosure.) The issue is irresistible.

And Tiger’s words in that issue before his transgressions were acknowledged, are extremely valuable lessons for a large segment of the population. His advice in that piece convinces me that Tiger Woods will never be out of the picture. Here’s a brief excerpt.

(Editor’s note: please resist the urge to read double meanings into every sentence that follows.)

“AS a result of recent swing changes, it’s easier for me to shape tee shots, even my natural draw. I’m letting the club release along the line of my setup instead of muscling the ball with my upper body, which I did at times when my bad knee prevented a good shift into impact.”

Tiger continues:

“At the tour level you have to be able to hit different sand shots, because the bunkers are so varied and a stroke saved can make all the difference.” (please! You weren’t paying attention to the editor’s note on that last phrase.) “To hit a longer bunker shot, I rotate my body faster to the finish.”

OK – enough.

The point is this.

If you’re serious about golfing, you’ll want to see and hear from Tiger again.

Closeup shots of his back swing. And his short game. And his putts. And his body alignments.

Even if you’re not a golfer, you’ll probably want to hear from him. Golf is a mind game. And who’s not rightfully curious about whether he’ll get his mind back in the game.

Tiger Woods’ each individual twist and turn is not of great consequence.

But the universally fascinating question, in his tragic fall, is this.

Will Tiger be back in the picture again?

I think the answer is this.

Tiger Woods will be back in the picture if Tiger Woods chooses to be back in the picture.

But I don’t expect we’ll ever see the same image.

December 22nd, 2009
04:27 PM ET

Beat 360° 12/22/09

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:

President Barack Obama greets actor Robert DeNiro and rock musician Bruce Springsteen at a reception for the Kennedy Center Honors recipients in the Blue Room of the White House, Dec. 6, 2009.

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.


Candy Crowley

"All together now “Born in the USA. I was Born in the USA”


Colleen Bonneville, Bloomington, Minnesota

"No Bruce I am the boss, and No, Robert; I am NOT talking to you."

_________________________________________________________________________________ Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
December 22nd, 2009
04:04 PM ET

Interactive: How health lobbyists influenced the reform bill

Medill News Service and the Center for Responsive Politics
For the Chicago Tribune

Behind Congress' overhaul of the $2 trillion health care system is an army of lobbyists with a heavy complement of insiders, former staffers who had either worked for Congressional leaders or for congressmen who worked on committees that had a hand in shaping the legislation. This database details more than 200 of these former staffers who lobbied health care issues in 2008 and 2009. There are 14 former chiefs of staff and four former deputy chiefs of staff among them.

Go here to view the study.

Filed under: Health Care
December 22nd, 2009
03:56 PM ET

Denied coverage? Not anymore, I hope

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/09/16/health.medical.bills/art.bills.gi.jpg]

Ismael Estrada
AC360° Producer

It was 6 a.m. on September 1, 1991. I was 20 and in a deep sleep in my childhood bedroom. I had come home for a few months and found that there was no comfort like the familiar bed where you've slept your entire life. My sister tapped me on the shoulder gently to wake me up. She whispered in my ear and I jumped out of bed. It was the worst day of my life.

Thousands of memories were flashing through my head, but none as vivid as the day, many years earlier, when I was called out of class in the 6th grade.

I was told by my history teacher to head my counselor's office. He wanted to have a chat. Earlier that week, my mother had told me she had some bad news from the doctor's office. She just received some test results she had been waiting for and learned what she says she already knew. She had breast cancer.


Filed under: Health Care • Ismael Estrada
« older posts