Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sarah Palin tell-all written by ex-aide Frank Bailey promises 'revelations and insights' into ex-gov

Do you think a former staffer who was fired amid scandal would be a reliable source for a tell-all?

Yes, a person like that would be in a position to know things.
No, someone like that is only interested in revenge.

A one-time aide and friend is telling all about his soured relationship with Sarah Palin.

Frank Bailey's nearly 500-page opus, tentatively called "Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin: A Memoir of our Tumultuous Years," is based on 60,000 e-mails he exchanged with the then-governor of Alaska, the Anchorage Daily News reported Saturday.

Once a part of Palin's inner circle, Bailey joined her campaign for governor in 2006 as a campaign worker. He soon became an administration official and a close confidant before losing his position after the "Troopergate" scandal in 2008.

Among the claims made in the book, Bailey writes Palin told him in an e-mail that "I hate this damn job," referring to being governor of Alaska -- a job she held for less than two years before resigning in 2009.

Bailey, who worked on the book with two other writers, also claims the politician turned Fox News commentator's vindictiveness spoiled his once lofty view Palin.

"Sarah Palin had God's blessing and people's love and faith," he wrote, according to the Anchorage Daily News. But she had a dark side, "including the compulsion to attack enemies, deny truth, play victim and employ outright deception."

Bailey also claims to have been a close confidant to Palin’s husband, Todd, and writes that the two worked together to orchestrate "Troopergate," a scandal involving the effort to get Palin's ex-brother-in-law fired from his job as a state trooper.

Copies of Bailey's manuscript were leaked to reporters late last week, although it is unclear who sent them. Ken Morris, a California-based writer who worked with Bailey on the manuscript, said in an e-mail that the material is preliminary, subject to copyright protections and not authorized for use.

Morris, who told The Associated Press that he, Bailey and co-writer Jeanne Devon did "tons of research," said the book still has no publisher. Devon is a frequent critic of Palin who writes a blog in Alaska.

"Since leaving the Governor's office, Frank has been forced to reconsider his actions on Palin's behalf in terms of his deep Christian faith and his allegiance to her as the standard-bearer for the conservative causes he still champions," said the New York-based Carol Mann Agency, in an e-mail promoting the manuscript.

Mann also describes the manuscript as "the story of one man's slow drift from his most cherished beliefs and his ultimate redemption."

Michael Sheridan

Birtherism: Worst. Trap. Ever. By Adam Serwer

For the past couple of weeks, I've been writing about Republican politicians' birther problem.

Whether or not the issue is one of mere symbolic belief or genuine agreement among large segments of the Republican base, GOP leaders feel obligated to mollify those among their base who believe the outlandish conspiracy theory that president wasn't born in the United States or that he's secretly a Muslim.
But now former President George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove has come up with a new conspiracy theory that is less dumb than the original one, but not by much. According to Rove, the White House wants Republicans to continue raising doubts about Obama's citizenship in order to make the GOP look kooky:

"We need the leaders of our party to say, 'Look, stop falling into the trap of the White House and focus on the real issues,'" he said. Spending time and energy on -- and getting media attention for -- comments about where the president was born is a distraction that discredits the lawmakers and candidates making the remarks, he said.

Rove said he thinks that the Obama administration relishes the continued existence of the birther movement because it distracts from how the president is handling policy issues. "Look, these guys may be lousy at governing ... but they're damn good at politics," he said. "It fits into the White House theme line."

The problem, of course, is that at least one recent poll showed that a majority of Republicans have doubts about the president's citizenship, which explains the rise of "post-birtherism." Republican leaders don't want to anger a large section of their base by flatly calling this stuff what it is, which is nuts. So the new approach is to joke about it or to carefully avoid denouncing the idea completely.

The White House didn't force GOP Presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty to make a birther joke at CPAC. It's also worth noting that three Republican congressional leaders recently gave the same exact answer to questions about the President's faith and citizenship:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Meet The Press last August: "The president says he's a Christian. I take him at his word. I don't think that's in dispute."

House Speaker John Boehner on Meet the Press last Sunday: "[I]t's not my job to tell the American people what to think. Our job in Washington is to listen to the American people. Having said that, the state of Hawaii has said that he was born there. That's good enough for me. The president says he's a Christian. I accept him at his word."

Tea Party Caucus Chair Michele Bachmann told Good Morning America, "We should take the president at his word" that he was born in the U.S.

It's a very scripted answer, one obviously designed to dodge the question by leaving open the possibility that the president might simply be lying. It prevents the speaker from sounding paranoid about the president's background without suggesting that there's something weird about thinking otherwise.

The idea that the issue is a "trap" is belied by the ease with which Republican leaders could shut the entire matter down. All they have to do is say it's silly. Yesterday, Arizona Republican Congressman Jeff Flake showed how easy this is by simply telling CNN, "Barack Obama is a citizen of the country. We ought to get off this kick."

If birtherism is a "trap," it's the worst trap ever.

Who rules America? AARP. by Robert J. Samuelson

The great question haunting Washington's budget debate is whether our elected politicians will take back government from AARP, the 40 million-member organization that represents retirees and near-retirees. For all the partisan bluster surrounding last week's release of President Obama's proposed 2012 budget, it reflects a long-standing bipartisan consensus not to threaten seniors. Programs for the elderly, mainly Social Security and Medicare, are left untouched. With an aging population, putting so much spending off-limits inevitably means raising taxes, shrinking defense and squeezing other domestic spending - everything from the FBI to college aid.

Power is the ability to get what you want. It suggests that you control events. By these standards, AARP runs government budgetary policy, not presidents or congressional leaders. Obama says we must "win the future," but his budget (and, so far, the Republicans', too) would win the past and lose the future. The massive federal debt would continue to grow because, without restraining retiree spending, there's no path to a balanced budget. The aging infrastructure (roads, airports) wouldn't get needed repairs. The already-stressed social safety net for the poor would be further strained. We would cut defense while China's military expands. All this is insane. It's not the agenda of a country interested in its future.

But it's our agenda. Look at Obama's budget. Under his proposals, annual federal spending rises from $3.7 trillion in 2012 to $5.7 trillion in 2021. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid (the three major entitlements) account for 60 percent of the projected $2 trillion increase. Higher interest payments on the debt - mainly reflecting our inability to control big entitlements - account for 31 percent. Altogether, that's 91 percent of the increase; the rest of government accounts for 9 percent.

Indeed, when corrected for expected inflation and population growth, the rest of government shrinks. A table in Obama's budget shows this clearly. From 2012 to 2021, annual "security" spending (defense and homeland security) would drop 21 percent after inflation and population adjustments. Non-security discretionary spending (a catchall including air traffic control, space, regulation and much more) would fall 24 percent. Other "entitlements" (food stamps and the like) would decline 4 percent. Meanwhile, Social Security would rise 27 percent and Medicare, 32 percent.

AARP sends its representatives to Capitol Hill and think-tank seminars, where they pretend to be "reasonable" while frustrating needed Social Security and Medicare changes. Higher life expectancy and private savings mean that eligibility ages could have been gradually raised and benefits curbed for wealthier retirees. Congress, heeding a 1983 commission proposal, slowly raised the age for full Social Security benefits from 65 to 66 (and to 67, much later). Little else of significance has been done. The result is that any effort to control spending must focus on a small part of the budget (from a seventh to slightly more than a third, including defense). House Republicans have cut many programs sharply - some sensibly, others not. Obama is doing the same, though less dramatically.

But AARP sets overall priorities. Its power derives from the fear it inspires in senators, representatives, presidents and political candidates. They worry that they'll be assaulted and rejected by hordes of angry seniors infuriated by any possible loss of benefits and mobilized by AARP. The question of whether all these benefits are needed or deserved can't be asked, let alone answered. It's impossible to enact a major overhaul of Medicare that might check its uncontrolled spending.

The trouble is that this self-serving inattention won't work. The budgetary math doesn't compute; too much is left out. Obama's projected budget for 2021 is instructive. Despite higher taxes - about 10 percent above the 1971-2010 average - and the budget's deep cuts in defense and domestic discretionary spending, the deficit would remains at an estimated $774 billion, about 3 percent of the economy. And that assumes "full employment," a 5.3 percent jobless rate. By 2021, continuous annual deficits would boost the publicly held federal debt to almost $19 trillion, up from $9 trillion in 2010. So the possibility of a financial crisis, triggered by unmanageable debt levels, would survive even if Obama's budget were adopted.

No one wants to strip needy seniors of essential benefits. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid provide crucial protections for millions of poorer and older households. But for many relatively healthy and economically secure Americans, these programs constitute middle-class welfare. As a society, we need to redefine what's in the public interest and what's not. That's the job of our political leaders.

Obama repeatedly says he'll deal with "entitlements" - and does nothing. He made the promise again last week. Congressional Republicans also committed last week to proposing entitlement changes. We'll see if these pledges are honored or if power continues to be outsourced to AARP.

Washington Post

MAUREEN DOWD Stars and Sewers (Middle East & Lara Logan)

Rarely have we seen such epic clashes between the forces of light and darkness.

We watch in awe as revolutions somersault through the Middle East. We see instantaneous digital communication as a weapon against oppression and, in the hands of tyrants who tap into its power, as a weapon for oppression.

While the cloud spurs some people to reach for the stars, delighting in freedom of expression, it seduces others to sprawl in the gutter, abusing freedom of expression.

When CBS’s Lara Logan was dragged off, beaten and sexually assaulted by a mob of Egyptian men in Tahrir Square the giddy night that Hosni Mubarak stepped down, most of us were aghast. But some vile bodies online began beating up on the brave war correspondent.

Nir Rosen, a journalist published in The Nation, The New Yorker and The Atlantic who had a fellowship at New York University’s Center on Law and Security, likes to be a provocateur. He has urged America to “get over” 9/11, called Israel an “abomination” to be eliminated, and sympathized with Hezbollah, Hamas and the Taliban. Invited to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2008 about the Iraq surge, he told Joe Biden, the committee chairman then, that he was uncomfortable “advising an imperialist power about how to be a more efficient imperialist power.”

Rosen must now wish Twitter had a 10-second delay. On Tuesday, he merrily tweeted about the sexual assault of Logan: “Jesus Christ, at a moment when she is going to become a martyr and glorified we should at least remember her role as a major war monger.”

He suggested she was trying to “outdo Anderson” Cooper (roughed up in Cairo earlier), adding that “it would have been funny if it happened to Anderson too.”

Rosen lost his fellowship. He apologized in a whiny way, explaining that he “resented” Logan because she “defended American imperial adventures,” and that she got so much attention for the assault because she’s white and famous. He explained in Salon that “Twitter is no place for nuance,” as though there’s any nuance in his suggestion that Logan wanted to be sexually assaulted for ratings.

He professed to be baffled by the fact that he had 1,000 new Twitter followers, noting: “It’s a bizarre, voyeuristic Internet culture and everybody in the mob is looking to get in on the next fight.” It’s been Lord of the Flies for a while now, dude, and you’re part of it.

The conservative blogger Debbie Schlussel smacked Logan from the right: “Lara Logan was among the chief cheerleaders of this ‘revolution’ by animals. Now she knows what the Islamic revolution is really all about.”

On her LA Weekly blog, Simone Wilson dredged up Logan’s romantic exploits and quoted a Feb. 3 snipe from the conservative blog Mofo Politics, after Logan was detained by the Egyptian police: “OMG if I were her captors and there were no sanctions for doing so, I would totally rape her.”

Online anonymity has created what the computer scientist Jaron Lanier calls a “culture of sadism.” Some Yahoo comments were disgusting. “She got what she deserved,” one said. “This is what happens when dumb sexy female reporters want to make it about them.” Hillbilly Nation chimed in: “Should have been Katie.”

The “60 Minutes” story about Senator Scott Brown’s revelation that a camp counselor sexually abused him as a child drew harsh comments on the show’s Web site, many politically motivated.

Acupuncturegirl advised: “Scott, shut the hell up. You are gross.” Dutra1 noted: “OK, Scott, you get your free pity pills. Now examine the image you see in the mirror; is it a man?”

Evgeny Morozov, author of “The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom,” told me Twitter creates a false intimacy and can “bring out the worst in people. You’re straining after eyeballs, not big thoughts. So you go for the shallow, funny, contrarian or cynical.”

Nicholas Carr, author of “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains,” says technology amplifies everything, good instincts and base. While technology is amoral, he said, our brains may be rewired in disturbing ways.

“Researchers say that we need to be quiet and attentive if we want to tap into our deeper emotions,” he said. “If we’re constantly interrupted and distracted, we kind of short-circuit our empathy. If you dampen empathy and you encourage the immediate expression of whatever is in your mind, you get a lot of nastiness that wouldn’t have occurred before.”

Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic, recalled that when he started his online book review he forbade comments, wary of high-tech sociopaths.

“I’m not interested in having the sewer appear on my site,” he said. “Why would I engage with people digitally whom I would never engage with actually? Why does the technology exonerate the kind of foul expression that you would not tolerate anywhere else?”

Why indeed?

Top 10 Must-Have Apps for the iPhone

I’m always surprised when I come across people who have yet to fill their iPhone with apps. The most often cited excuse? Not enough time to sift through 300,000 apps to find the good ones.

True, it can be a slog. (But that’s what I do for you every week.) In this column, I’ve compiled 10 must-have apps that will save you time, make your life easier and make you smile.

You won’t see Twitter, Slacker or Facebook, among others, on this list. Although I find them indispensable, the services aren’t unique to a mobile phone. To make my Top 10, an app must deliver an experience you couldn’t find on your computer — something, in other words, that exemplifies the smartphone at its best.

What qualifies?

GOOGLE (FREE) You can find Google through your mobile browser, but the app is a major time-saver. The voice search function is seamless. Ask it for specific Wikipedia entries, for instance, and it complies. Or just say "Starbucks" and the app uses the phone’s GPS to find the nearest location. A recent update put the "Goggles" service within the app, so you can snap a photo and let Google search for information on that object. And given Google’s emphasis on mobile, the app will continue to improve.

SOUNDHOUND (FREE AND $5) You’ve probably heard of Shazam, the app that identifies songs. SoundHound is faster, and it offers a broader range of ancillary features. You can hum a tune into the phone and it’ll find the song, look up lyrics and run YouTube videos of song performances. The $5 version lets you identify an unlimited number of songs. Users of the free version get five tags monthly.

HIPSTAMATIC ($2) Scores of photography titles are in the App Store. Many are terrific, but not one matches Hipstamatic’s blend of simplicity, serendipity and art. At heart, the app is a filter that will unpredictably saturate, blur or discolor your images, among other things. The results are always surprising and often stunning. Add packs of lenses and film effects for $1 apiece.

EVERNOTE (FREE) The company advertises this as a personal digital assistant, and it’s an apt description. Evernote is a traveling notepad that synchronizes with desktop and browser software (also free). Use your iPhone to copy an image, take a photo, record a voice memo or jot down a note, and it appears on your computer (and vice versa). It also recognizes your written text, within limits. The free version stores a fair amount of information, but for $45 a year, you needn’t sweat the data limits.

ANGRY BIRDS ($1) A runaway favorite among the iPhone crowd, the app tests your ability to break down the barricades that protect green pigs. The weapon: flightless birds, launched by catapult. No wonder they’re angry. The game is easy to learn, yet challenging to play, with witty touches throughout. You can try a limited free version, but if you do, good luck resisting the paid version, with more than 800 possible scenes.

URBANSPOON (FREE) Not sure what to eat, or where? Spin Urbanspoon’s slot machine and it will dial up a suggestion. You can also select certain attributes — Japanese food, for instance, or inexpensive food — and local eateries appear. The app includes user reviews and contact information, and you can press a button for a map and directions.

STAR WALK ($3) Point your phone toward the heavens and this app identifies all you see — constellations, planets, individual stars — in brilliant clarity. If you pivot in another direction, the app follows. It’s an astonishing app that’s great to pull out during dinner parties, beach walks or sleepless nights in bed. You needn’t have a clear view of the sky to experience the starry night.

FIREFOX HOME (FREE) In the same vein as Evernote, Firefox Home is a way to synchronize your desktop and mobile lives. Once you load the app and register, Firefox Home will show your browsing history and bookmarks. If you’re reading an important document online when you leave the office, you can start the app later and pick up where you left off.

QUICKOFFICE MOBILE SUITE ($5) The next time someone e-mails you a Word, Excel or Powerpoint document, Quickoffice will open it and allow you to make quick edits from your iPhone. (Otherwise, you can open, but not edit, Microsoft Office files.) You can also create documents with the app, but it is far less useful for that purpose. Rather, Quickoffice offers a way to complete small work tasks easily while you are on the move.

REDLASER (FREE) It may not tell you if a clothing item makes you look fat, but otherwise RedLaser is a perfect shopping companion. Scan a bar code and it retrieves product information, including prices at online merchants and local stores (in case you are in the mood to haggle). Or follow a spouse or child around a store, scan what they like and you have an instant gift list. The app’s scans sometimes fail, but more often than not RedLaser works smoothly.

Quick Calls

No Top 10 list is fully useful without an “honorable mention” list. The following apps should not be overlooked:
Instapaper (free, with $5 “Pro” version; for saving and reading Web pages after you’ve moved offline);
CraigsPro+ ($2; search classifieds on Craigslist more easily than on the Web site);
The Weather Channel (free; great forecasts at a glance);
Yelp (free; find local services, restaurants and bars, including reviews);
Layar (free; see customized information about your surroundings);
Ocarina ($1; turns your phone into a musical instrument); and
Glympse (free; let friends track your location temporarily and easily).

New Hacking Tools Pose Bigger Threats to Wi-Fi Users

New Hacking Tools Pose Bigger Threats to Wi-Fi UsersBy KATE MURPHY
You may think the only people capable of snooping on your Internet activity are government intelligence agents or possibly a talented teenage hacker holed up in his parents’ basement. But some simple software lets just about anyone sitting next to you at your local coffee shop watch you browse the Web and even assume your identity online.

“Like it or not, we are now living in a cyberpunk novel,” said Darren Kitchen, a systems administrator for an aerospace company in Richmond, Calif., and the host of Hak5, a video podcast about computer hacking and security. “When people find out how trivial and easy it is to see and even modify what you do online, they are shocked.”

Until recently, only determined and knowledgeable hackers with fancy tools and lots of time on their hands could spy while you used your laptop or smartphone at Wi-Fi hot spots. But a free program called Firesheep, released in October, has made it simple to see what other users of an unsecured Wi-Fi network are doing and then log on as them at the sites they visited.

Without issuing any warnings of the possible threat, Web site administrators have since been scrambling to provide added protections.

“I released Firesheep to show that a core and widespread issue in Web site security is being ignored,” said Eric Butler, a freelance software developer in Seattle who created the program. “It points out the lack of end-to-end encryption.”

What he means is that while the password you initially enter on Web sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Amazon, eBay and The New York Times is encrypted, the Web browser’s cookie, a bit of code that that identifies your computer, your settings on the site or other private information, is often not encrypted. Firesheep grabs that cookie, allowing nosy or malicious users to, in essence, be you on the site and have full access to your account.

More than a million people have downloaded the program in the last three months (including this reporter, who is not exactly a computer genius). And it is easy to use.

The only sites that are safe from snoopers are those that employ the cryptographic protocol transport layer security or its predecessor, secure sockets layer, throughout your session. PayPal and many banks do this, but a startling number of sites that people trust to safeguard their privacy do not. You know you are shielded from prying eyes if a little lock appears in the corner of your browser or the Web address starts with “https” rather than “http.”

“The usual reason Web sites give for not encrypting all communication is that it will slow down the site and would be a huge engineering expense,” said Chris Palmer, technology director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an electronic rights advocacy group based in San Francisco. “Yes, there are operational hurdles, but they are solvable.”

Indeed, Gmail made end-to-end encryption its default mode in January 2010. Facebook began to offer the same protection as an opt-in security feature last month, though it is so far available only to a small percentage of users and has limitations. For example, it doesn’t work with many third-party applications.

“It’s worth noting that Facebook took this step, but it’s too early to congratulate them,” said Mr. Butler, who is frustrated that “https” is not the site’s default setting. “Most people aren’t going to know about it or won’t think it’s important or won’t want to use it when they find out that it disables major applications.”

Joe Sullivan, chief security officer at Facebook, said the company was engaged in a “deliberative rollout process,” to access and address any unforeseen difficulties. “We hope to have it available for all users in the next several weeks,” he said, adding that the company was also working to address problems with third-party applications and to make “https” the default setting.

Many Web sites offer some support for encryption via “https,” but they make it difficult to use. To address these problems, the Electronic Frontier Foundation in collaboration with the Tor Project, another group concerned with Internet privacy, released in June an add-on to the browser Firefox, called Https Everywhere. The extension, which can be downloaded at, makes “https” the stubbornly unchangeable default on all sites that support it.

Since not all Web sites have “https” capability, Bill Pennington, chief strategy officer with the Web site risk management firm WhiteHat Security in Santa Clara, Calif., said: “I tell people that if you’re doing things with sensitive data, don’t do it at a Wi-Fi hot spot. Do it at home.”

But home wireless networks may not be all that safe either, because of free and widely available Wi-Fi cracking programs like Gerix WiFi Cracker, Aircrack-ng and Wifite. The programs work by faking legitimate user activity to collect a series of so-called weak keys or clues to the password. The process is wholly automated, said Mr. Kitchen at Hak5, allowing even techno-ignoramuses to recover a wireless router’s password in a matter of seconds. “I’ve yet to find a WEP-protected network not susceptible to this kind of attack,” Mr. Kitchen said.

A WEP-encrypted password (for wired equivalent privacy) is not as strong as a WPA (or Wi-Fi protected access) password, so it’s best to use a WPA password instead. Even so, hackers can use the same free software programs to get on WPA password-protected networks as well. It just takes much longer (think weeks) and more computer expertise.

Using such programs along with high-powered Wi-Fi antennas that cost less than $90, hackers can pull in signals from home networks two to three miles away. There are also some computerized cracking devices with built-in antennas on the market, like WifiRobin ($156). But experts said they were not as fast or effective as the latest free cracking programs, because the devices worked only on WEP-protected networks.

To protect yourself, changing the Service Set Identifier or SSID of your wireless network from the default name of your router (like Linksys or Netgear) to something less predictable helps, as does choosing a lengthy and complicated alphanumeric password.

Setting up a virtual private network, or V.P.N., which encrypts all communications you transmit wirelessly whether on your home network or at a hot spot, is even more secure. The data looks like gibberish to a snooper as it travels from your computer to a secure server before it is blasted onto the Internet.

Popular V.P.N. providers include VyperVPN, HotSpotVPN and LogMeIn Hamachi. Some are free; others are as much as $18 a month, depending on how much data is encrypted. Free versions tend to encrypt only Web activity and not e-mail exchanges.

However, Mr. Palmer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation blames poorly designed Web sites, not vulnerable Wi-Fi connections, for security lapses. “Many popular sites were not designed for security from the beginning, and now we are suffering the consequences,” he said. “People need to demand ‘https’ so Web sites will do the painful integration work that needs to be done.”

AP News

DOG LOVERS here is one for you!

Sacramento-area dog is reunited with owners after a myserious 700-mile journey

A dog that vanished from a Sacramento suburb Tuesday afternoon was reunited with its owner Saturday after turning up more than 700 miles away, unharmed, in Washington state.

The dog, a 2-year-old Patterdale terrier named Bear, was last seen playing around the family construction business where its owner, 32-year-old Bryan Rapozo, works with his father.

“Bryan is with Bear every day,” said his father, Bret Rapozo, 51. “It’s like his son. Everywhere Bryan goes, Bear’s with him.” He added, “He was very upset. He told me it’s like someone snatching up one of his kids.”

Bear is “an itty bitty guy,” Rapozo said -– black with a white chest, 20 pounds and 15 inches tall -- and they weren't sure they'd ever see him again.

On Thursday, they received a call from the Humane Society in Tacoma, Wash. Bear had turned up in a local neighborhood and someone had brought him in. A microchip confirmed his identity.

“He was just overwhelmed,” Bret Rapozo said of his son. “I got goose bumps.”

The Rapozos hopped in the car for the 740-mile drive to Tacoma. On Saturday night they were on their way back home, driving south on the 101 with the dog curled comfortably in his favorite jacket, asleep.

How the dog traveled more than 700 miles in two days is a mystery. The Rapozos think someone snatched him, because his collar and tag were missing.

“Somebody wanted him and was planning on keeping him,” Rapozo said. “There’s no way he got from there to here on his own. He had to have help. I know he didn’t walk up here.”

-- Christopher Goffard LATimes

WHO WOULD BE A BETTER PRESIDENT? Michelle Obama or Sarah Palin? Still time to vote in our blog's poll.Currently MO 75% SP 25%

Former aide rips Palin in leaked book manuscript - Former governor broke election law, Bailey alleges.

A leaked manuscript by one of Sarah Palin's closest aides from her time as governor charges that Palin broke state election law in her 2006 gubernatorial campaign and was consumed by petty grievances up until she resigned.

The unpublished book by Frank Bailey was leaked to the media and widely circulated on Friday.

The manuscript opens with an account of Palin sending Bailey a message saying "I hate this damn job" shortly before she resigned as Alaska's governor in July 2009, less than three years into her four-year term. The manuscript goes on for nearly 500 pages, a mixture of analysis, gossip and allegation.

Copies of the manuscript were forwarded around Alaska political circles on Friday. The Daily News received copies from multiple sources, the first from author Joe McGinniss, who is working on his own Palin book. McGinniss didn't respond to a message asking where he obtained the manuscript and the reason he circulated it.

Bailey, a political insider who joined Palin's 2006 campaign for governor and became part of her inner circle, has never before told his version of the Palin story. Bailey has consistently refused requests for interviews and did so again Friday. The book was co-written with California author Ken Morris and Jeanne Devon of Anchorage, who publishes the popular anti-Palin website Mudflats.

Devon wrote on her website that the "draft manuscript" was leaked without the knowledge or permission of the authors. She said they are shocked and horrified.

Bailey wrote in the book that he and his co-authors put together the manuscript with the help of more than 60,000 e-mails he sent or received while working for Palin.

Pam Pryor, a spokeswoman for Palin's political action committee, said she didn't expect Palin to react. "Doubt she will respond to this kind of untruth," Pryor said in an e-mail.

The manuscript was leaked along with an e-mail from an agent touting the book, possibly to a prospective publisher. The agent, Carol Mann of the Mann Agency in New York, said none of it was supposed to be released. "It is not a finished draft and there isn't a pub date yet!" Mann said in an e-mail to the Daily News.


The manuscript is titled, "In Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin: A Memoir of our Tumultuous Years." Bailey is a former Alaska Airlines supervisor who joined Palin's campaign team at the beginning of her successful run for governor in 2006. He writes in the manuscript how he was charmed and inspired by Palin.

Bailey recounts how he was impressed when she blew the whistle on Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich for doing political work at his state job. Bailey calls himself a Fox News conservative and said he became convinced she had the principles and courage to take on the Alaska Republican political machine.

"Sarah Palin had God's blessing and people's love and faith," he wrote.

But, in Bailey's telling, the reality was nasty. Minor slights became obsessions, according to Bailey, demanding revenge and if possible, destruction of the opponent's reputation.

"We set our sights and went after opponents in coordinated attacks, utilizing what we called "Fox News surrogates," friendly blogs, ghost-written op-eds, media opinion polls (that we often rigged), letters to editors, and carefully edited speeches," Bailey wrote.


One chapter asserts Palin broke election law by coordinating with the Republican Governors Association during her 2006 campaign for governor. State candidates can't team up with soft-money groups such as the Republican Governors Association, which paid for TV commercials and mailers in Alaska during the election in a purported "independent" effort.

At the time, the Alaska Democratic Party had accused the RGA and Palin of working together on an ad that included Palin striding from the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage.

In his book, Bailey says the allegation was true. Palin and her aides marched along the block in front of the hotel again and again in order to allow a camera operator to capture footage for the ad, he said. "(Palin aide) Kris Perry, when orchestrating that nutty- parade at the hotel, was following the directions of the RGA cameraman and/or whomever he was working for," Bailey wrote.

"Far worse, Sarah conducted multiple takes and knew exactly what was happening. She had, I suddenly believed, broken the law," Bailey wrote.


Bailey remained a member of Palin's inner circle after she was elected governor. At one point Bailey was the subject of an ethics investigation into whether improper influence was used to win a state job for a Palin campaign supporter. Bailey had an "improper motivation" to get the supporter a job, concluded investigator Tim Petumenos, who recommended Bailey get ethics training.

Bailey was Palin's director of boards and commissions and, according to the manuscript, was a particularly close confidant of the governor's husband, Todd.

Bailey was best known publicly as a central figure in the "Troopergate" affair. Troopergate was the Legislature's investigation into why Palin dismissed Walt Monegan as public safety commissioner, and if she abused her power and pushed for Monegan to fire trooper Mike Wooten. Palin's sister and Wooten had divorced in 2006 and fought over child custody and visitation issues.

The Palin family had complained that Wooten once used a Taser on his stepson, among other things.

Bailey wrote in his book that Todd Palin recruited him to go after Wooten, saying 'it's time to get s--t, done, and it's us, Frank. You and me." Todd Palin kept feeding him information on Wooten, Bailey writes, which he passed on to troopers.

Bailey at one point called a trooper lieutenant, outlining various complaints against Wooten and saying the governor and her husband were wondering why the trooper still had a job. Bailey wrote in the book that he subsequently told Todd Palin about the call, and the reaction was that it was "great stuff."

Bailey wrote that Todd Palin showed his gratitude by asking him if he'd consider becoming Palin's chief of staff.

In August of 2008, after the Legislature had started its investigation, Sarah Palin released a recording of the phone call Bailey made to the lieutenant and said Bailey had acted out of bounds. The governor said the call was wrong and that she never asked it to be made.


Bailey suggests in the book that one of Palin's picks for the Supreme Court was colored by her animosity against Wooten. He wrote that Superior Court Judge Morgan Christen ruled in favor of Palin's sister in her custody dispute with Wooten, and that Todd Palin raved about how Christen raked Wooten over the coals.

Christen later applied for the state Supreme Court and was picked by the Alaska Judicial Council as one of the two candidates for Palin to consider appointing. Bailey wrote that he warned Palin it would be a conflict of interest, but she wasn't interested.

But a spokeswoman for the Alaska Court System said Bailey got his facts wrong. Christen was never the assigned judge in the Wooten custody case, didn't make any rulings in favor of either party, and played a "very limited role," according to Christine Johnson, administrative director for the court system.

Johnson said prior to applying for the Supreme Court Christen conducted a conference in the case, where both sides agreed to a settlement. Wooten and Palin's sister later had a dispute over what they'd agreed upon in the settlement and asked Christen to resolve it, Johnson said. But Christen sent it to another judge because she'd applied to the Supreme Court and had a conflict.

Bailey was sympathetic to the Alaska Family Council, an anti-abortion group fighting Christen's appointment. Bailey wrote that Palin turned on Alaska Family Council head Jim Minnery, and later backed out of an event with him to promote a ballot measure aimed at making it illegal for teens to get an abortion. Bailey speculated that Palin didn't come because she was working on her book.

"When Sarah turned on Jim Minnery and his/their cause, for the sole purposes of making money and causing him embarrassment, I saw how blind I'd become. Finally, Sarah Louise Palin's petty ways and butchered priorities would set me free," Bailey wrote.

Anchorage Daily News


Hiding Details of Dubious Deal, U.S. Invokes National Security

WASHINGTON — For eight years, government officials turned to Dennis Montgomery, a California computer programmer, for eye-popping technology that he said could catch terrorists. Now, federal officials want nothing to do with him and are going to extraordinary lengths to ensure that his dealings with Washington stay secret.

The Justice Department, which in the last few months has gotten protective orders from two federal judges keeping details of the technology out of court, says it is guarding state secrets that would threaten national security if disclosed. But others involved in the case say that what the government is trying to avoid is public embarrassment over evidence that Mr. Montgomery bamboozled federal officials.

A onetime biomedical technician with a penchant for gambling, Mr. Montgomery is at the center of a tale that features terrorism scares, secret White House briefings, backing from prominent Republicans, backdoor deal-making and fantastic-sounding computer technology.

Interviews with more than two dozen current and former officials and business associates and a review of documents show that Mr. Montgomery and his associates received more than $20 million in government contracts by claiming that software he had developed could help stop Al Qaeda’s next attack on the United States. But the technology appears to have been a hoax, and a series of government agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency and the Air Force, repeatedly missed the warning signs, the records and interviews show.

Mr. Montgomery’s former lawyer, Michael Flynn — who now describes Mr. Montgomery as a “con man” — says he believes that the administration has been shutting off scrutiny of Mr. Montgomery’s business for fear of revealing that the government has been duped.

“The Justice Department is trying to cover this up,” Mr. Flynn said. “If this unravels, all of the evidence, all of the phony terror alerts and all the embarrassment comes up publicly, too. The government knew this technology was bogus, but these guys got paid millions for it.”

Justice Department officials declined to discuss the government’s dealings with Mr. Montgomery, 57, who is in bankruptcy and living outside Palm Springs, Calif. Mr. Montgomery is about to go on trial in Las Vegas on unrelated charges of trying to pass $1.8 million in bad checks at casinos, but he has not been charged with wrongdoing in the federal contracts, nor has the government tried to get back any of the money it paid. He and his current lawyer declined to comment.

The software he patented — which he claimed, among other things, could find terrorist plots hidden in broadcasts of the Arab network Al Jazeera; identify terrorists from Predator drone videos; and detect noise from hostile submarines — prompted an international false alarm that led President George W. Bush to order airliners to turn around over the Atlantic Ocean in 2003.

The software led to dead ends in connection with a 2006 terrorism plot in Britain. And they were used by counterterrorism officials to respond to a bogus Somali terrorism plot on the day of President Obama’s inauguration, according to previously undisclosed documents.

‘It Wasn’t Real’

“Dennis would always say, ‘My technology is real, and it’s worth a fortune,’ ” recounted Steve Crisman, a filmmaker who oversaw business operations for Mr. Montgomery and a partner until a few years ago. “In the end, I’m convinced it wasn’t real.”

Government officials, with billions of dollars in new counterterrorism financing after Sept. 11, eagerly embraced the promise of new tools against militants.

C.I.A. officials, though, came to believe that Mr. Montgomery’s technology was fake in 2003, but their conclusions apparently were not relayed to the military’s Special Operations Command, which had contracted with his firm. In 2006, F.B.I. investigators were told by co-workers of Mr. Montgomery that he had repeatedly doctored test results at presentations for government officials. But Mr. Montgomery still landed more business.

In 2009, the Air Force approved a $3 million deal for his technology, even though a contracting officer acknowledged that other agencies were skeptical about the software, according to e-mails obtained by The New York Times.

Hints of fraud by Mr. Montgomery, previously raised by Bloomberg Markets and Playboy, provide a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of government contracting. A Pentagon study in January found that it had paid $285 billion in three years to more than 120 contractors accused of fraud or wrongdoing.

“We’ve seen so many folks with a really great idea, who truly believe their technology is a breakthrough, but it turns out not to be,” said Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr. of the Air Force, who retired last year as the commander of the military’s Northern Command. Mr. Montgomery described himself a few years ago in a sworn court statement as a patriotic scientist who gave the government his software “to stop terrorist attacks and save American lives.” His alliance with the government, at least, would prove a boon to a small company, eTreppidTechnologies, that he helped found in 1998.

He and his partner — a Nevada investor, Warren Trepp, who had been a top trader for the junk-bond king Michael Milken — hoped to colorize movies by using a technology Mr. Montgomery claimed he had invented that identified patterns and isolated images. Hollywood had little interest, but in 2002, the company found other customers.

With the help of Representative Jim Gibbons, a Republican who would become Nevada’s governor and was a longtime friend of Mr. Trepp’s, the company won the attention of intelligence officials in Washington. It did so with a remarkable claim: Mr. Montgomery had found coded messages hidden in broadcasts by Al Jazeera, and his technology could decipher them to identify specific threats.

The software so excited C.I.A. officials that, for a few months at least, it was considered “the most important, most sensitive” intelligence tool the agency had, according to a former agency official, who like several others would speak only on the condition of anonymity because the technology was classified. ETreppid was soon awarded almost $10 million in contracts with the military’s Special Operations Command and the Air Force, which were interested in software that Mr. Montgomery promised could identify human and other targets from videos on Predator drones.

In December 2003, Mr. Montgomery reported alarming news: hidden in the crawl bars broadcast by Al Jazeera, someone had planted information about specific American-bound flights from Britain, France and Mexico that were hijacking targets.

C.I.A. officials rushed the information to Mr. Bush, who ordered those flights to be turned around or grounded before they could enter American airspace.

“The intelligence people were telling us this was real and credible, and we had to do something to act on it,” recalled Asa Hutchinson, who oversaw federal aviation safety at the time. Senior administration officials even talked about shooting down planes identified as targets because they feared that supposed hijackers would use the planes to attack the United States, according to a former senior intelligence official who was at a meeting where the idea was discussed. The official later called the idea of firing on the planes “crazy.”

French officials, upset that their planes were being grounded, commissioned a secret study concluding that the technology was a fabrication. Presented with the findings soon after the 2003 episode, Bush administration officials began to suspect that “we got played,” a former counterterrorism official said.

The C.I.A. never did an assessment to determine how a ruse had turned into a full-blown international incident, officials said, nor was anyone held accountable. In fact, agency officials who oversaw the technology directorate — including Donald Kerr, who helped persuade George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, that the software was credible — were promoted, former officials said. “Nobody was blamed,” a former C.I.A. official said. “They acted like it never happened.”

After a bitter falling out between Mr. Montgomery and Mr. Trepp in 2006 led to a series of lawsuits, the F.B.I. and the Air Force sent investigators to eTreppid to look into accusations that Mr. Montgomery had stolen digital data from the company’s systems. In interviews, several employees claimed that Mr. Montgomery had manipulated tests in demonstrations with military officials to make it appear that his video recognition software had worked, according to government memorandums. The investigation collapsed, though, when a judge ruled that the F.B.I. had conducted an improper search of his home.

Software and Secrets

The litigation worried intelligence officials. The Bush administration declared that some classified details about the use of Mr. Montgomery’s software were a “state secret” that could cause grave harm if disclosed in court. In 2008, the government spent three days “scrubbing” the home computers of Mr. Montgomery’s lawyer of all references to the technology. And this past fall, federal judges in Montana and Nevada who are overseeing several of the lawsuits issued protective orders shielding certain classified material.

The secrecy was so great that at a deposition Mr. Montgomery gave in November, two government officials showed up to monitor the questioning but refused to give their full names or the agencies they worked for.

Years of legal wrangling did not deter Mr. Montgomery from passing supposed intelligence to the government, according to intelligence officials, including an assertion in 2006 that his software was able to identify some of the men suspected of trying to plant liquid bombs on planes in Britain — a claim immediately disputed by United States intelligence officials. And he soon found a new backer: Edra Blixseth, a onetime billionaire who with her former husband had run the Yellowstone Club in Montana.

Hoping to win more government money, Ms. Blixseth turned to some influential friends, like Jack Kemp, the former New York congressman and Republican vice-presidential nominee, and Conrad Burns, then a Republican senator from Montana. They became minority stakeholders in the venture, called Blxware.

New Pitches

In an interview, Mr. Burns recalled how impressed he was by a video presentation that Mr. Montgomery gave to a cable company. “He talked a hell of a game,” the former senator said.

Mr. Kemp, meanwhile, used his friendship with Vice President Dick Cheney to set up a meeting in 2006 at which Mr. Kemp, Mr. Montgomery and Ms. Blixseth met with a top Cheney adviser, Samantha Ravich, to talk about expanding the government’s use of the Blxware software, officials said. She was noncommittal.

Mr. Flynn, who was still Mr. Montgomery’s lawyer, sent an angry letter to Mr. Cheney in May 2007. He accused the White House of abandoning a tool shown to “save lives.” (After a falling out with Mr. Montgomery, Mr. Flynn represents another party in one of the lawsuits.)

But Mr. Montgomery’s company still had an ally at the Air Force, which in late 2008 began negotiating a $3 million contract with Blxware.

In e-mails to Mr. Montgomery and other company officials, an Air Force contracting officer, Joseph Liberatore, described himself as one of the “believers,” despite skepticism from the C.I.A. and problems with the no-bid contract.

If other agencies examined the deal, he said in a December 2008 e-mail, “we are all toast.”

“Honestly I do not care about being fired,” Mr. Liberatore wrote, but he said he did care about “moving the effort forward — we are too close.” (The Air Force declined to make Mr. Liberatore available for comment.)

The day after Mr. Obama’s inauguration, Mr. Liberatore wrote that government officials were thanking Mr. Montgomery’s company for its support. The Air Force appears to have used his technology to try to identify the Somalis it believed were plotting to disrupt the inauguration, but within days, intelligence officials publicly stated that the threat had never existed. In May 2009, the Air Force canceled the company’s contract because it had failed to meet its expectations.

Mr. Montgomery is not saying much these days. At his deposition in November, when he was asked if his software was a “complete fraud,” he answered, “I’m going to assert my right under the Fifth Amendment.”




Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R): 'We're willing to take this as long as it takes'
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who is the subject of protests in the state capital of Madison, said he is willing to hold out on his budget proposal.

"For us, we're willing to take this as long as it takes," Walker said. "In the end, we're doing the right thing."

Wisconsin Senate Democrats are in hiding in order to avoid a vote on Walker's proposal, which would make union employees pay more for health and retirement benefits and strip them of collective bargaining rights. The Democrats have offered to concede on the money issues if unions can keep collective bargaining rights, but Walker on Sunday said "no."

"Those Senate Democrats should realize that, if you want to participate in democracy, you've got to be in the arena," Walker said. "Democracy means you show up and participate."

Meanwhile, on the federal budget, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) suggested that some of the cuts from a spending bill House Republicans passed last week could find their way into the Senate's bill, but she said Republicans must be willing to compromise. And Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said he doesn't believe the government is headed for shutdown.

Sec. of State Hillary Clinton on human rights: 'Hold everyone to a similar standard'
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Obama Administration tries "to hold everyone to a similar standard" when it comes to human rights, but she stressed that every case is different. "If there were one template that could be imposed on every situation, then I wouldn't need to have this job and nobody else would have to either," Clinton said.

Ambassador Susan Rice: 'We are not pushing people out or dictating that they stay'
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice pushed back on the notion that the Obama administration has treated two allies - Egypt and Bahrain - differently in the face of protests. "We are not pushing people out or dictating that they stay," Rice said. Rice also said the administration is "very concerned" about reports of Libyan security forces shooting at protesters.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) predicted that Congress will vote to continue funding the government with a temporary continuing resolution, which would allow the government to avoid a potential shutdown while the two sides debate spending cuts. The current resolution is set to expire in two weeks.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said everything but Social Security should be on the table for spending cuts, since Social Security doesn't add anything to the deficit.

Sen. Charles Schumer: 'We are saying negotiate; they are saying do it my way.'
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) discussed Democrats' and Republicans' attempts to come to a budget agreement before the March 4 deadline to continue funding the federal government through fiscal year 2011. Schumer went on to describe House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) as "being on a course" that would lead to a government shutdown. Schumer countered the assertion that, should the government shut down, both Democrats and Republicans would share the blame. "We have said shutdown is off the table," said Schumer, adding that Republicans have not taken the same position. "We are saying negotiate; they are saying do it my way," Schumer said, repeatedly calling Republicans' proposals "wrong."

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) also was asked to comment on the increasingly heated budget debate. "I would not support the entirety of the House bill," he said, imploring the president to call together the leadership of both parties, stress the gravity of the situation and release a formula to achieve a bipartisan agreement. "The president sort of backed away from all of this," Lugar said. "This is a time for presidential leadership." Lugar also discussed the White House's reportedly having engaged in talks with the Taliban and the continued unrest in Egypt.

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld also joined Crowley to discuss his new memoir, "Known and Unknown." Rumsfeld discussed what keeps him up at night, whether the United States would be in Afghanistan another 10 years and his assessment of the Obama administration's approach to counterterrorism.

Rep. Jim Jordan: 'I think the Democrats will see things our way'
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the Republican Study Committee was joined by Jonathan Allen of Politico and Russell Berman of The Hill. "I think you saw this thing play out the way it was supposed to," Jordan said of Republican members' having challenged party leadership to increase the amount of cuts in the continuing resolution. He said the RSC would continue to advocate for the open legislative process, and he praised freshman members who had brought their amendments forward.

"I think the Democrats will see things our way," said Jordan when asked if Democrats would go to the wall, leading to government shutdown. Jordan also said the nation would see changes to Medicare and Medicaid that would affect younger Americans more so than older Americans, but not Social Security, calling the latter a "sacred contract."

Jordan called Obama's proposed government spending rate "crazy," saying that the government could not continue to fund otherwise popular programs such as funding for firefighters. Jordan said that the GOP would be pushing heavily for increased budget cuts. He also insisted that Republicans would win the battle over whether to cut or continue funding for public broadcasting.

Rep. Paul Ryan: 'This president has punted.'
"We're not looking for a government shutdown," said Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc), chair of the House Budget Committee. "We want some real spending cuts," he said.

"We'll probably have some short-term extension" during the negotiation process he continued. "I'm not going to go through negotiation through the media, with all due respect."

Asked if Wisconsin was the Tunisia of America in terms of the budget battle, Ryan cited other states that were facing fiscal crises, and defended fellow Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. "All levels of government have been making empty promises to people and these governors have been telling people the truth," Ryan said.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) was also asked to comment on the budget debate and the potential for a government shutdown. "I hope they won't push it to that," he said, defending the president's budget proposal against the claim that his budget proposal all but ignored the recommendations of the president-appointed Fiscal Responsibility Commission.

"His plan disavows the commission's recommendations," said Ryan, countering Van Hollen's claim that the president's budget proposal was in agreement with the recommendations. "He actually has failed to lead on these issues," Ryan said. "This president has punted. ... He has chose not to lead. ... We are going to lead."

Money Won’t Buy You Health Insurance (Still think USA has the best health care in the world?)

THIS isn’t the story of a poor family with a mother who has a dreadful disease that bankrupts them, or with a child who has to go without vital medicines. Unlike many others, my family can afford medical care, with or without insurance.

Instead, this is a story about how broken the market for health insurance is, even for those who are healthy and who are willing and able to pay for it.

Most employees assume that if they lose their job and the health coverage that comes along with it, they’ll be able to purchase insurance somewhere. The members of Congress who want to repeal the provision of last year’s health insurance law that makes it easier for individuals to buy coverage must assume that uninsured people do not want to buy it, or are just too cheap or too poor to do so.

The truth is that individual health insurance is not easy to get.

I found this out the hard way. Six years ago, my company was acquired. Since my husband had retired a few years earlier, we found ourselves without an employer and thus without health insurance.

My husband, teenage daughter and I were all active and healthy, and I naïvely thought getting health insurance would be simple.

Why did we even need insurance?
First, we wanted to know that, if we had a medical catastrophe, we would not exhaust our savings. Second, uninsured patients are billed more than the rates that insurers negotiate with doctors and hospitals, and we wanted to pay those lower rates. The difference is significant: my recent M.R.I. cost $1,300 at the “retail” rate, while the rate negotiated by the insurance company was $700.

An insurance broker helped me sort through the options. I settled on a high-deductible plan, and filled out the long application. I diligently listed the various minor complaints for which we had been seen over the years, knowing that these might turn up later and be a basis for revoking coverage if they were not disclosed.

Then the first letter arrived — denied. It never occurred to me that we would be denied! Yes, we had listed a bunch of minor ailments, but nothing serious. No cancer, no chronic diseases like asthma or diabetes, no hospital stays.

Why were we denied? What were these pre-existing conditions that put us into high-risk categories? For me, it was a corn on my toe for which my podiatrist had recommended an in-office procedure. My daughter was denied because she takes regular medication for a common teenage issue. My husband was denied because his ophthalmologist had identified a slow-growing cataract. Basically, if there is any possible procedure in your future, insurers will deny you.

The broker then proposed that the three of us make individual applications. Perhaps one or two of us might be accepted, rather than the family as a group.

As I filled out more applications, I discovered a critical error in my strategy. The first question was “Have you ever been denied health insurance”? Now my answer was yes, giving the new companies reason to be wary of my application. I learned too late that the best tactic is to apply simultaneously to as many companies as possible, so that you don’t have to admit to a denial.

I completed four applications for each of the three of us, using reams of paper. I learned to read the questions carefully. I mulled over the difference between a “condition” and “something for which you have sought treatment.” I was precise and succinct. I felt as if I was doing a deposition: Give the minimum true information, and not a word more. I was accepted by exactly one insurance company. So was my daughter, although at a 50 percent premium over the standard charge for a girl her age. My husband was also accepted by one insurer but was denied by the company that approved me.

Our premiums, which were reasonable at first, have increased substantially over the last six years; the average annual increase has been 20 percent. I now am paying premiums that are more than double what they were initially. And because these are high-deductible policies, we still are paying most of the medical bills ourselves.

The new health care reform legislation is not perfect. Nothing that complex could be. But I have no doubt that the system is broken and reform is absolutely essential. If we are not going to have universal coverage but are going to rely on employer plans, then we must offer individuals, self-employed people and small businesses a place to purchase insurance at a reasonable price.

If members of Congress feel so strongly about undoing this important legislation, perhaps we should stop providing them with health insurance. Let’s credit their pay for the amount that has been paid by the taxpayers, and let them try to buy health insurance in the individual market. My bet is that they all would be denied. Health insurance reform might suddenly not seem to them like such a bad idea.

Donna Dubinsky, a co-founder of Palm Computer and Handspring, is the chief executive of a computer software company. NYTimes