Morning Must Reads — Ft. Hood killer's radical sympathies were no secret

Washington Post — Hasan e-mails to cleric didn't result in inquiry

Writers Phillip Rucker, Carrie Johnson, and Ellen Nakashima and their colleagues at the Post have been all over the Ft. Hood shootings. Tremendous coverage.

As we learn more about Nidal Hasan it becomes harder to imagine how his behavior in the years leading up to the shooting did not trigger an investigation or discharge – a lecture to colleagues about the need to allow Muslim soldiers to be excused from service, the online glorification of suicide bombers, and now, email exchanges with his former Imam, Anwar al-Aulaqi, a radical cleric who would later praise Hasan’s rampage as the model for any Muslim soldier.

As Examiner colleague Julie Mason points out, labeling the attack as terrorism or even discussing the killer’s motives have been awkward issues for President Obama.

As he heads to Ft. Hood today, all eyes will be on how the president categorizes the attack.

“A terrorism expert with access to information about the case cautioned against drawing any conclusions from Hasan's communications with Aulaqi. The expert said it appears that Hasan may have contacted the cleric for academic research he was conducting. The correspondence, he said, is ‘not a smoking gun, but communications that in hindsight raise some concern.’”

New York Times — At Fort Hood, Some Violence Is Too Familiar

The New York Times’ coverage of the Ft. Hood killings has been dreadful.

In today’s edition, the paper continues to turn an absolutely blind eye to the motivations of Nidal Hasan, even as the FBI and counterterrorism officials continue their probe into his connections with and sympathies toward radical Islam. His motives says the Times, “remain unknown.”

What makes today’s installment so bad, though, is that it draws a parallel to the suicides, murders, and domestic violence in the Ft. Hood community. Not only does the Times deny its readers an accurate picture of the attack and its perpetrator, but also tries to suggest that he is part of the mainstream of the U.S. military.

A really shameful performance.

Writers Michael Moss and Ray Rivera make no accounting for the different makeup of an Army base with a huge population of young males when comparing Ft. Hood’s crime rate to other communities in the country. Neither do they make any mention of the rise in domestic murders we’ve seen across the nation in non-military communities.

New York Times — Obama Seeks Revision of Plan’s Abortion Limits

The time and effort President Obama spends placating liberals in his party is time and effort not spent reaching out to uncertain moderates.

Liberals were stunned by the House amendment that might one day end the practice of insurance companies covering abortions – at least 100,000 of the more than 800,000 of the procedures in the country each year.

With liberal members of Congress feeling burned by Speaker Pelosi and the president, Obama hit the issue hard Monday, saying he would work to roll back the amendment. But without Rep. Bart Stupak’s addition, the bill would have failed the first time.

Talking about preserving abortion rights in a health care bill does not appeal to the Senate moderates on whose favor the next leg of this marathon relies.

Right now, centrists, like Sens. Susan Collins, Joe Lieberman, and Olympia Snowe, are heaping their fury on the Senate plan. Asking them accept abortion protections will not enhance chances for passage.

Writer Robert Pear looks at what has yet to be reconciled.

“The House and Senate bills differ in at least five ways: how to configure a new government insurance plan; whether to require employers to provide coverage to employees; whether to finance the legislation with a tax on high-income people or a tax on high-cost insurance plans; how strictly to limit coverage of abortion; and whether illegal immigrants should have access to new insurance marts, or exchanges.”

New York Times — Democrats Raise Alarms Over Costs of Health Bills

A debate in the Obama White House was whether to sell a health care overhaul as the fulfillment a moral obligation to provide care to all or an effort to control the cost of medical care, and by extension, insurance.

Because the president chose to push his plan during a recession/jobless recovery, the cost argument won out.

While that pleased his budget team and other unsentimental Democrats, what’s grinding forward in Congress is more about expanded coverage than controlling costs – Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden calls it “heavy on health and light on reform.”

Writer Sheryl Gay Stolberg looks at the conflict:

“Some experts would like to see such changes adopted more quickly, and senators of both parties say they will press for more aggressive cost-cutting measures when the bill comes up for debate. But drastic changes in the health care reimbursement system could cost the White House the support of doctors and hospital groups, who have signed onto the legislation and are lobbying hard to keep the current fee-for-service system from being phased out too quickly.”

New York Times — A Squeeze on Customers Ahead of New Rules

Writers Andrew Martin and Lowell Bergman examine the beating that credit card customers are taking these days as the industry prepares for new government regulations – huge spikes in interest rates and fees pump up short term profits and may also clear out bad credit risks before restrictive new rules take effect.

The net effect is that as the Obama administration needs Americans to go shopping in order to prevent a double dip recession, the plastic foundation for the nation’s consumerist dreams is getting much harder to come by.

“In the 12 months that ended in September, the number of Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover card accounts in the United States fell by 72 million, according to David Robertson, publisher of The Nilson Report, an industry newsletter. There are 555 million accounts still in the marketplace, he said.

In roughly the same time period, banks lowered credit limits by 26 percent, to $3.4 trillion, from $4.6 trillion, according to an analysis of government data by Foresight Analytics.

Interest on credit card accounts, meanwhile, has increased to an average of 13.71 percent, up from 11.94 percent a year ago, according to federal records.”

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