Saturday, October 31, 2009

Stress and Cheeseburgers Kill Stem Cells and You

Stress kills stem cells, which are needed for life.
Every tissue in our body has stem cells in it. Aging is the process of losing stem cells, according to Doris Taylor, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Repair at the University of Minnesota.
As we age, the number of stem cells decrease and their function decreases. When cancer patients get bone marrow transplants, they're not getting just new blood, as scientists used to think, they're getting stem cells, which are regenerative.
Taylor talks to Krista Tippett of Speaking of Faith about cutting-edge research on stem cells and their awesomeness, how they can save people's lives, even reverse aging.
And no, stem cells don't come from aborted fetuses. They come from donated fertilized (usually called embryonic) eggs that were going to be thrown away.
Stem cells have gotten a bad rap and research has been slowed, thanks to conservatives.
Taylor addresses the religious, moral and ethical concerns of stem cell research.
Obama's March stem cell research speech marked the return of science to the White House.


Holding a pigs heart:

SoundSeen: Surprising Beauty, Holding A Pig's Heart from Speaking of Faith on Vimeo.

Is Public Option Worth the Fuss?

The House public option would only cover 2% of Americans.
It has long been my humble opinion that the public option became nothing more than a political football. It became THE topic of discussion and nothing else would do. What about fee for service?
Meanwhile, the public option doesn't even do what it's supposed to do. It doesn't drive down costs. It drives up everyone's premiums and it doesn't give nearly enough people affordable coverage. Olympia Snowe may be right. Democrats MUST get this right. If there's going to be a public option it better be a good one. Health reform can't just be a lame bill. It has to be a bill that offers Americans affordable coverage. That's the whole point.

Some experts are wondering if lawmakers have wasted too much time arguing about the public plan, giving short shrift to basics such as ensuring that new coverage will be affordable.

"The public option is a significant issue, but its place in the debate is completely out of proportion to its actual importance to consumers," said Drew Altman, president of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. "It has sucked all the oxygen out of the room and diverted attention from bread-and-butter consumer issues, such as affordable coverage and comprehensive benefits." MSNBC
Bingo.

Skeleton Band, Fairies Part of White House Trick or Treating


Trick or treating starts at 6:35 at the White House. The Obamas will hand out treats. See the Halloween treats and recipes here.


The loot is just part of the treat for the kids, ages 6 to 14. The White House said that set to roam the North Lawn were fairies, bubble makers, wandering trees, Star Wars characters, theater actors and artists and a "skeleton band."

The president and the first lady weren't planning to wear costumes. But don't rule out the chance that some youngsters might dress up as the Obamas.
Other presidents celebrated Halloween:
The Obamas are not the first, though, to show Halloween spirit.

President George H.W. Bush and first lady Barbara Bush hosted 500 children on Halloween in 1989, loading them up with fun loot but also teaching them about the dangers of drugs. The kids came decked out in costumes; some Secret Service agents came dressed as clowns.

In the Clintons' first year in the White House, the Great Pumpkin returned. A huge orange jack-o'-lantern formed around the front entrance to the White House, with the front door to the mansion serving as the middle tooth. The first couple's daughter, Chelsea, was 13 at the time and the house was stuffed with pumpkins.

During the Nixon administration, first daughter Tricia hosted parties for underprivileged children, according to the White House Historical Association. And plenty of other first families got festive for Halloween. Read more at MSNBC
Shortbread cookies made from White House garden honey:



Updated Nov. 1: love the fairy dancer. Obama speaks to the military families and White House staff. Obama calls Michelle "a very nice looking cat woman." Obama: "Can people please not take a picture of my ambassador to the United Nations" (Susan Rice is dressed as Goofy).

NPR's Interview With David Axelrod Oct. 31

David Axelrod talks troops, H1N1, Chicago Cubs, and DNC promising access to White House:

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON: On Friday, the president talked about his frustration that H1N1 vaccine hasn't gotten out to more Americans. In August, the Centers for Disease Control said that a 120 million doses would be available. They later scaled that back to 45 million. We're speaking today, on the last day of October, 25 million doses reportedly are ready. Did the government overpromise?

DAVID AXELROD: Well, I think the manufacturers over-promised, and what was reported was the representations that were made to us. The fact is that this is a problem that's abating every day. And yes, we thought we would have 40,000 now, we have 26 —

SS: — Forty million —

DA: — I'm sorry, 40 million. Now we have 26 million. We believe that that is improving on a daily basis, and we're going to have an ample supply in very short order. So yes, we probably did overpromise and we overpromised on the basis of what was represented to us.

SS: Does it give you any sensation about, is it harder to get things accomplished from, this place than maybe you thought it was during the campaign?

DA: Well, I don't know that I had an expectation about how hard or easy it would be to get things done. The fact is that in terms of the H1N1 virus, we've mobilized pretty rapidly, and I think effectively, starting the spring, I was in [with] the president after the first briefing and there was a time, frankly, when people were suggesting that maybe we were overreacting. But he set the wheels in motion and I think that that will have averted an even larger public health crisis. On the vaccine, by the way, Scott, I should mention that the other important element to this is Tamiflu to deal with the flu once it occurs. And there [are] ample supplies of those. So those who are affected ought to be able to get those treatments, and we're particularly interested in the children.
DNC's White House access promises:
DA: You know, Scott, let me say a few things. First of all, there was one offering, or one brochure, or one communication from the Democratic National Committee, in the beginning of the year and they had a line in there about access to senior policy makers. No one was more furious about that, when he learned about that, than the president himself. And he learned about it from a press clipping. And he's made it very clear to everyone that that's unacceptable to him. I would say that there's never been an administration that's been more assiduous than ours. For the first time ever, anyone who comes into the White House is now a matter of public record. You can see who comes into the White House; you can see who has visited. Part of this reporting is based on our own disclosures. No administration has been tougher on lobbying and ethics. We have strict rules against lobbyists participating in government. People who have been active in lobbying in recent years; strict rules about whether you can lobby the administration after you leave, after you leave government. In many ways, we've revolutionized the ethics regimen here in this building, and they'll never be the same again. So I think, yes, you're right, you can't fully eliminate politics from the process. But I think in terms of reform, we've set a very high standard, and one that this town hasn't seen before.

SS: But to circle back a bit: The president was furious when he read about this?

DA: Yeah, this is not something he embraces. He doesn't want his advisers being offered as part of a fundraising appeal and that was made clear. It was done once. It was done early in the year, it wasn't repeated. So someone else obviously thought it was inappropriate. But when he heard about it, which was just when it was reported, he was very unhappy.

Fall Harvest With Michelle Obama

The kids are amazed at the giant sweet potatoes:

This was the March planting:

Obama Considering a Counterterrorism Counterinsurgency Blend

Obama at the Naval Air Station Jacksonville

The Washington Post expects Obama to announce his decision around Nov. 20. I know he's intent on not rushing, but I'm thinking the announcement will come before that, despite Obama's travels to Asia starting Nov. 11:
President Obama has asked the Pentagon's top generals to provide him with more options for troop levels in Afghanistan, two U.S. officials said late Friday, with one adding that some of the alternatives would allow Obama to send fewer new troops than the roughly 40,000 requested by his top commander.

Obama met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the White House on Friday, holding a 90-minute discussion that centered on the strain on the force after eight years of war in two countries. The meeting -- the first of its kind with the chiefs of the Navy, Army, Marine Corps and Air Force, who were not part of the president's war council meetings on Afghanistan in recent weeks -- prompted Obama to request another such meeting before he announces a decision on sending additional troops, the officials said. WaPo
Counterinsurgency (John McCain's preference) or counterterrorism (Biden's recommendation)?
Obama is expected to receive several options from the Pentagon about troop levels next week, according to the two officials, who discussed the deliberations on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly.

Before he can determine troop levels, his advisers have said, he must decide whether to embrace a strategy focused heavily on counterinsurgency, which would require additional forces to protect population centers, or one that makes counterterrorism the main focus of U.S. efforts in the country, which would rely on relatively fewer American troops.

One option under review involves a blend of the two approaches, featuring an emphasis on counterterrorism in the north and some parts of western Afghanistan as well as an expanded counterinsurgency effort in the south and east, one of the officials said. Obama has also asked for a province-by-province review of the country to determine which areas can by managed effectively by local leaders.

The president appears committed to adding at least 10,000 to 15,000 troops in Afghanistan in an effort to bolster the training of Afghan army and police officers in the country. Current plans call for the United States to double the size of the Afghan army and police forces to about 400,000 in the hope that they can take over security responsibilities. WaPo

Obama: Jobs Can't Grow Unless the Economy is Grows

Here's a treat on this Halloween. In Obama's weekly address he says while economic growth isn't job growth, jobs can't grow unless the economy grows:

Transcript
Here's your trick, the orangey and frightening John Boehner:

Friday, October 30, 2009

Wingnuts Go Wild With White House Guest List

Legitimate journalists went out of their way today to write that White House visitors Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, Michael Jordan and Michael Moore weren't THE ones that we all know. But that didn't stop the wingnuts from raising a fuss. They know fellow wingnuts don't care about truth. What's that? They'll simply say the White House is covering up. Paranoid minds. The price of transparency.

The White House warns that many names that may appear familiar — and controversial — do not in fact refer to the most famous people to carry those names. Jeremiah Wright is on the list, but it's not the president's former pastor. This Michael Jordan is not the basketball player. This Michael Moore is not a filmmaker. The William Ayers who took a group tour of the White House isn't the former radical from Chicago who figured so prominently in the 2008 campaign. And the Angela Davis on the list has a different middle initial than the activist and former fugitive. First Read.
See the White House visitor log here.

Obama Mad About DNC Promises of Access


As the Obama administration begins an unprecedented publication of lists of people who have visited the White House on its Web-site -- yes, philanthropist George Soros has dropped in -- a senior adviser says President Barack Obama was "furious" ito learn that the Democratic Party had offered big donors a chance to meet with senior policy makers.

"There was one offering, or one brochure, or one communication from the Democratic National Committee, in the beginning of the year, and they had a line in there about access to senior policy makers,'' senior adviser David Axelrod says in an interview that National Public Radio's Weekend Edition is airing Saturday morning. "No one was more furious about that, when he learned about that, than the president himself. And he learned about it from a press clipping." More at the Swamp
Update 10-31: Listen to NPR-David Axelrod clip here.

White House Press Briefing Oct. 30

Trick or treating for military families and others at the White House tomorrow!
Gibbs gives the week ahead. Some of the highlights:
Obama will attend rallies for Jon Corzine on Sunday.
Obama will meet with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday.
Thursday is the tribal nations conference. Obama will make remarks.

Laura Ingraham Press Guests to Criticize Obama

Ah, Fox. Ingraham is so biased that H-A-T-E is written on her face.

O'Reilly Appears on The View as a Vampire

Bill O'Reilly says he doesn't have a point of view. Ha! O'Reilly says he sent Obama a fruit basket because Fox's ratings are up. Who cares. O'Reilly: "He's fighting us harder than the taliban." Hardly, but makes for good TV. When you think about it, what does the White House lose in opposing Fox? Nada. The White House isn't just aiming at Fox. They're aiming at bad journalism. Today, it took aim at the AP.

Lieberman Isn't a Centrist He's an Odd Man Out

Paul Krugman considers Joe Lieberman a centrist. From someone who considers herself a centrist (that would be me, although I don't like the term "centrist" because it's most often use to slam people. I prefer non ideological, independent thinker, open minded. But those phrases take too long to say), Lieberman is not a centrist. He's self-important. He gets off on being the odd man out:

The people who really have to make up their minds, then, are those in between, the self-proclaimed centrists.

The odd thing about this group is that while its members are clearly uncomfortable with the idea of passing health care reform, they’re having a hard time explaining exactly what their problem is. Or to be more precise and less polite, they have been attacking proposed legislation for doing things it doesn’t and for not doing things it does.

Thus, Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut says, “I want to be able to vote for a health bill, but my top concern is the deficit.” That would be a serious objection to the proposals currently on the table if they would, in fact, increase the deficit. But they wouldn’t, at least according to the Congressional Budget Office, which estimates that the House bill, in particular, would actually reduce the deficit by $100 billion over the next decade. Krugman

Obama Not Determined Enough?


I used to think David Brooks was head and shoulders above other journalists in understanding Obama. But not according to today's column. He writes that he doesn't think Obama is determined enough to fight in Afghanistan:

The experts I spoke with describe a vacuum at the heart of the war effort — a determination vacuum. And if these experts do not know the state of President Obama’s resolve, neither do the Afghan villagers. They are now hedging their bets, refusing to inform on Taliban force movements because they are aware that these Taliban fighters would be their masters if the U.S. withdraws. Nor does President Hamid Karzai know. He’s cutting deals with the Afghan warlords he would need if NATO leaves his country.

Nor do the Pakistanis or the Iranians or the Russians know. They are maintaining ties with the Taliban elements that would represent their interests in the event of a U.S. withdrawal.

The determination vacuum affects the debate in this country, too. Every argument about troop levels is really a proxy argument for whether the U.S. should stay or go. The administration is so divided because the fundamental issue of commitment has not been settled.

Some of the experts asked what I thought of Obama’s commitment level. I had to confess I’m not sure either. NYT
That doesn't make any sense. If there is one thing that Obama is, it's determined. Set a goal, follow it through.

Whatever plan Obama comes up for the region is going to be highly detailed. It will likely have benchmarks and an end strategy. There will be macro and micro level detail. Whatever plan he comes up with, he'll announce it with folks standing behind him. Perhaps Colin Powell will be there. John Kerry will probably be there.

These meetings aren't just for hee haws. When these meetings conclude, Obama will have a buy-in because everyone has been involved. Everyone has offered up advice. Everyone played a part. To date, rethinking Afghanistan is the single most impressive--and courageous-- thing that Obama has done.

I don't know what Brooks is thinking -- that Obama is too analytical to be determined? Hmmm. Is "determined" a code word meaning Obama is reluctant to face a huge number of troop deaths? No one wants to say that out loud. But there's going to be a lot of blood shed. Obama takes human life seriously, unlike Cheney, for example, who's a robot of sorts.
Conservatives don't seem to be bothered as much by troop deaths. I guess that's the war monger in them. They believe war is noble.
I wish more than anything that we could pull out of Afghanistan.

Haunted White House Tricked Out for Halloween

Photos from last year's Halloween

The Obamas will greet trick or treaters at 6:35 pm. For photos and details visit ObFo:
From the looks of Friday's preparations, the weekend's Halloween events at the White House should be quite a bash.

Crews spent hours Friday unloading decorations from trucks parked on the north driveway. They carried cobwebs and pumpkins, fake trees and stacks of skulls into the front door.


Some 2,000 D.C.-area kids are expected to pass through the White House to collect candy and other treats. Politico

Returning Soldier Wanted to Meet Obama

Ian Walz wanted to meet Obama, his fiance said. Sadly, Ian came home in one of those flag-draped caskets.

Hillary Clinton's Interview With Andrea Mitchell

Hillary Clinton differentiates between strategy and tactics. The strategy of defeating Al Qaeda is still the same, she said. The way that happens is what the Obama administration is hammering out. Today, Obama held another meeting with military officials. Hillary is leaving Pakistan and headed to the Middle East to jumpstart peace talks.

The Pakistanis don't appear to be very warm to the U.S. They say that the war in Afghanistan is our war and they want money to fight our war. Hillary, who says she wants more honest relations with Pakistan, seemed to have offended them by saying that someone has got to know where Al Qaeda is hanging out (watch video):
During her three-day trip Mrs Clinton hoped to strengthen ties between the US and Pakistan and tried to address a rising tide of anti-American feeling.
In an interview with the BBC she urged Pakistanis to "realise the connection" between al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
But her arrival was overshadowed by a deadly bombing in the city of Peshawar.
More than 100 people died when a car bomb exploded in a busy market on Wednesday.
The BBC's Jill McGivering says that a great deal of anger in Pakistan is focused on the US - widely seen as interfering and destabilising Pakistan for its own ends.
....
Mrs Clinton acknowledged there was what she called a trust deficit towards the United States in Pakistan because of past policies.
But she said she was working to change that by reaching out to ordinary Pakistanis.
Mrs Clinton is due in the Middle East at the weekend to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
BBC


Susan Collins gives kudos to Hillary for calling out Pakistan on Al Qaeda:

John Lewis Unites With Former KKK Member Who Attacked Him

Obama Signs Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009

Obama says HIV/AIDS was originally dubbed a "gay disease" and the perception among many was that the people who got AIDS deserved it (there are people who still believe that today).

In the 1980s, 13-year-old Ryan White got AIDS from a transfusion, but ignorance was still widespread and he was tormented. The White family had to move to another town. In 1990, Ryan died. Obama reauthorizes the CARE (Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency) act. Henry Waxman led the House in passing CARE legislation in 1990.

22 years ago, the U.S. banned people from entering the country with HIV/AIDS. Who knew? Obama is eliminating the travel ban after the New Year.

Where are the Jobs?


Full reporting on jobs at Recovery.gov


The NYT reports that it was teacher jobs that were saved:
The best symbol of the $787 billion federal stimulus program turns out not to be of a construction worker in a hard hat, but rather of a classroom teacher saved from a layoff.

On Friday, the Obama administration released the most detailed information yet on the jobs created by the stimulus. Preliminary data showed that of the 640,239 jobs created or saved, 325,000, or more than half, were jobs in education that school districts claimed were saved when stimulus money averted the need for layoffs. While the stimulus was initially sold in large part as a public works program, only about 80,000 of the jobs that were claimed Friday were in construction.
Joe Biden speaks on the stimulus and jobs:

Levi Vs. Palin

Levi posing nude for Playgirl? I didn't even know Playgirl magazine still existed. Can you imagine if this reality show nonsense was going on as Palin was trying to assist John McCain in leading the nation? Scary stuff. How can anyone possibly consider Palin a candidate for president? Apparently, people are thinking less of her. Her approval ratings, 27%, might be lower than Cheney's.
But it's wrong for the media to exploit Levi Johnston because they can. Johnston is immature right now and the media ought to consider that.

47% Of Americans Say Fox is Mostly Conservative


It's good to know that at least people are aware of Fox's slant. I'd really love to hear more from the 14% of people who think Fox is liberal. Yikers:

Nearly half of Americans (47%) say they think of Fox News as “mostly conservative,” 14% say it is “mostly liberal,” and 24% say it is “neither in particular.” Opinion about the ideological orientation of other TV news outlets is more mixed: while many view CNN and the three broadcast networks as mostly liberal, about the same percentages say they are neither in particular. However, somewhat more say MSNBC is mostly liberal than say it is neither in particular, by 36% to 27%. Pew
Fox viewers see other networks as liberal:
By contrast, regular Fox News viewers are more likely than those who tune into other news networks to see those networks as mostly liberal. For instance, 50% of regular Fox News viewers say NBC News is mostly liberal, compared with only about third of regular viewers of CNN (35%), MSNBC (31%) and the nightly network news (34%). There are comparable differences between how Fox News viewers and other news audiences see the ideologies of CBS News and ABC News.

Tea Party: The Documentary

This gave me the giggles. I'm not sure if it's real, though, because the movie guy with the booming voice is narrating and it has lines such as "Lady Liberty faces her newest challenge." But you can order it now in time for Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Obama Meets With Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew

Republicans Blocking Surgeon General Nominee

Another obstruction from the Party of No!
Obama's nominee for Surgeon General Regina Benjamin is being blocked by the usual suspects: John Cornyn, Chuck Grassley, Jon Kyl, Mike Enzi, Mitch McConnell, Lisa Murkowski, John Thune, Lamar Alexander. They are blocking her because the White House called out Humana for scaring seniors with mailers warning them against health reform.
Meanwhile, health insurance execs are lobbying to keep their pay. They're concerned health reform will lower their salaries.

End of Life Counseling (Death Panels) Stays in Reform

Obama works as people go on a tour of the White House gardens

Take that tea baggers!
This is great news because it's such a benefit that was so horribly distorted:
The provision allows Medicare to pay for voluntary counseling to help beneficiaries deal with the complex and painful decisions families face when a loved one is approaching death.
...

"There is nothing more basic than giving someone the option of speaking with their doctor about how they want to be treated in the case of an emergency," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore. "I think the outrageous and vindictive attacks may have backfired to help raise awareness about this problem, which is why it's been kept in the bill." AP

South Carolina Republican Caught in Cemetery With 18-Year-Old Stripper

Introducing... Roland Corning:

I've never heard of Corning, but my theory about these odd behaviors coming from South Carolinian republicans is that they stem from self righteousness, which causes repressed feelings.

Wines wrote in his report that two people were in the car - Corning and an unnamed 18-year-old female, an "employee of Platinum Plus Gentlemen's Club."
Earlier, Wines had witnessed the Ford Explorer that Corning was driving pull into a secluded portion of Elmwood Cemetery that Wines had "received past complaints in ref. to illegal activity, i.e. sex acts and drug abuse," Wines wrote in the report.
Once the occupants of the Explorer saw Wines' patrol car, the driver "attempted to make a hasty retreat, spinning the tires in the driveway and accelerating rapidly," according to the report. The State

Obama Visits Madison Wisconsin Nov. 4

Obama at Viers Mill school in Maryland

Update Nov. 4: See Obama's speech here.
Update Nov. 3: Obama will speak at 2:30 pm eastern. It should be live streamed at cnn.com or whitehouse.gov. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is also traveling with Obama. They will meet with students at 2 pm.
President Barack Obama's scheduled visit to Madison Wednesday will be a chance for the president and state officials to talk about how incentives in the federal stimulus bill are spurring education reforms in the state, Gov. Jim Doyle said Thursday.
Doyle is pushing bills to allow schools to use student learning to help evaluate teachers and transfer control of the Milwaukee schools to the city's mayor rather than its school board. Doyle has said those reforms could improve the state's chances of winning a portion of $4.5 billion in "Race to the Top" stimulus funds from the U.S. Department of Education. WSJ

Snowe Says Trigger Gives Insurers Incentive to Drive Down Costs

Snowe prefers the trigger because she says it will make the industry perform and therefore, lower premium costs. She says the public option opt-out doesn't guarantee affordability. But she says she's worked too hard on health reform to drop out (like Chuck Grassley did). Democrats should be happy about that. No one should be deriding her. Joe Lieberman on the other hand is just full of himself.

Obama Thinks of Troops and Families Every Day

Last night, in a chapel, Obama met with families of fallen soldiers. He also honored the soldiers who came home to Dover AFB in flag-draped caskets.

On a clear fall night, the president zipped to Dover in about 40 minutes. He immediately spoke privately in a chapel with all the family members.

The solemn process of transferring remains of 15 soldiers and three Drug Enforcement Agency agents unfolded in four separate movements. Obama took part in all of them. A chaplain offered prayers for the fallen, the crews that brought them home, the families who lost a loved one, and a nation embroiled in war.

By 4:45 a.m., the president had touched back down on the South Lawn, where even an active White House was sleepy.

He walked inside, alone. NPR
This can't be underestimated. Obama's presence with the grieving families gives him more empathy and more perspective as Commander in Chief.
I really admire what Obama's done in regards to rethinking Afghanistan.

Michelle Obama, Jill Biden, Yogi Berra, Vets at World Series Video


First lady Michelle Obama received a warm welcome from Yankees fans and a kiss from the captain before Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night.

Mrs. Obama and Jill Biden, wife of the vice president, escorted Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra to the mound for the pregame ceremony honoring the nation's veterans. Earlier in the day, the two visited a Bronx veterans hospital and handed out goody bags stocked with Yankees caps and teddy bears.

Wearing a maroon World Series jacket, Mrs. Obama smiled as the crowd cheered. Mrs. Obama and Biden each got a peck from Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter on their way off the field, and the first lady high-fived a fan before disappearing into a Yankee Stadium tunnel.

Mrs. Obama has been a vocal advocate for veterans and military families in the nine months since her husband became president.

"I'm happy with every minute that I spend time with our men and women in uniform and our veterans," Mrs. Obama told a crowd of veterans and hospital staff at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center, who responded with three standing ovations. "Each and every day, they selflessly and courageously serve this nation."

She called on all Americans to "take the time to be more aware of these heroes in our midst, and honor them by doing more service not just for them, but for all our communities." AP

Republicans Blah Blah Government Takeover Blah Blah 1990 Pages Blah Blah Bankrupt Blah Blah

Republican response to the House healthcare reform bill. These guys live in a bubble. Americans want reform. Republicans have been paying too much attention to the tea partiers, who aren't the majority, but rather the fringe. They keep talking about their solutions but they were supposed to be working WITH the democrats for A solution. Buggers.

Cantor adds his two cents:

By The People Documentary on Obama's Election Debuts Nov. 3

Edward Norton's documentary on Obama's election By the People premiers on HBO Nov. 3. See trailer and clips here.
Norton had been filming Obama since 2006.
The filmmakers saw something in Obama early on. The film isn't meant to make any political statements. Rather, it's intended to be a documentation of the inner workings of the Obama campaign. But for anyone who made calls or did anything on behalf of the Obama campaign, I'm sure it will bring back warm fuzzies.
The synopsis:

Nearly a year before Barack Obama announced his candidacy for the presidency on Feb. 10, 2007, filmmakers Amy Rice and Alicia Sams began to roll cameras on the young senator. Over the next 19 months, they found themselves travelling all across the country, chronicling the daily ups and downs of the campaign trail as experienced by Obama, his family, his staff and volunteers. While Obama's meteoric rise to the White House has been well documented in the press, few have witnessed the behind-the- scenes story of the passionate campaigners who helped a young African-American freshman senator attain the nation's highest office.

Rice conceived the idea of making a documentary about Obama long before the Illinois Senator announced his decision to run for president. Inspired by his oratorical skills and star appeal at the 2004 Democratic Convention, she set out to film his political career in 2006. Rice approached documentary producer Sams, who joined to co-direct and actor Edward Norton's production company, Class 5, agreed to produce the project. After Norton approached Obama's team with the idea, the senator agreed to grant the filmmakers what turned out to be unprecedented and exclusive access.

"Initially, it wasn't even about a presidential campaign; the idea was simply to examine the political experience of a promising young politician of our generation," says Norton, a two-time Oscar® nominee.

For Rice, the project had an even more personal dimension. She lost her older brother in the Sept. 11 attacks on the Twin Towers - an event that galvanized her political awakening. Then she saw Obama's 2004 convention speech on TV. Rice recalls, "That's when the idea of making a political documentary came into my mind."

Notes Sams, "It was clear that Obama was inspiring people to think differently about politics. We wanted to explore his impact and see where it would take both him and the country."

From this unique vantage point, BY THE PEOPLE captures the boundless fervor of the campaign's volunteers, as well as the extraordinary skill and technical sophistication of its organizers. "I think people will look back on this campaign as one that was conducted with a real understanding of communication and organizing tools that were singular to that moment," says Norton. "It was an historic new read on how you could do an end run around conventional political methodology and strategies."

BY THE PEOPLE tracks Obama's halting progress from long-odds candidate to front-runner in the 2008 presidential race. It's a roller-coaster ride that includes all the victories and upsets that were followed by millions in the media, seen from within the Obama campaign: from thrilling wins and disappointing losses in key states, to controversies stemming from Obama's associations with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and domestic terrorist Bill Ayers; from the high of receiving his party's nomination over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, to the low of losing his beloved grandmother the day before his final victory over Sen. John McCain on Election Day. Read the rest

Obamas Open Up About Their Marriage in Sunday's NYT's Magazine


This Sunday's New York Time magazine features the Obamas' marriage. This story will be a reason to grab the NYT this weekend:

Another Washington dusk, another motorcade, another intimate evening played out in public view. On Oct. 3, just a day after their failed Olympics bid in Copenhagen, Barack and Michelle Obama slipped into a Georgetown restaurant for one of their now-familiar date nights: this time, to toast their 17th wedding anniversary. As with their previous outings, even the dark photographs taken by passers-by and posted on the Web looked glamorous: the president tieless, in a suit; the first lady in a backless sheath.

The Obama date-night tradition stretches back to the days when the president spent half his time in Springfield, Ill., reuniting at week’s close with his wife, who kept a regular Friday manicure and hair appointment for the occasion. But five days before he ventured out for his anniversary dinner, the president lamented what has happened to his nights out with his wife.

Obama Speaks to Small Business on Economic Growth

GDP growth progress but jobs need to grow, Obama said:

The economy is growing again, thanks to the stimulus. To see what that growth looks like, check this out.

The U.S. economy, propelled by stimulus-driven gains in consumer spending and home building, grew at a 3.5 percent pace from July through September, the first expansion in more than a year. Bloomberg
Kathleen Stephansen, chief economist at Aladdin Capital Management LLC, warns that the growth is mostly due to the stimulus. People still aren't spending and there hasn't been any increases in wages. Amen. That means jobs will take longer to recover.
Obama speaking in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building:
"I am gratified that our economy grew in the third quarter of this year. We've come a long way since the first three months of 2009, when our economy shrunk by an alarming 6.4 percent. In fact, the 3.5 percent growth in the third quarter is the largest three-month gain we have seen in two years. This is obviously welcome news and an affirmation that this recession is abating and the steps we’ve taken have made a difference," he said. "But I also know that we've got a long way to go to fully restore our economy, and recover from what has been the longest and deepest downturn since the Great Depression."
In opening remarks to the group - which included members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce - the president acknowledged Karen Mills, the administrator of the Small Business Administration, and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, who was running late and Obama said would arrive "in a hot second." Politico
Christina Romer on the GDP growth:

Hoyer Touts House Healthcare Bill

Chuck Todd's tweet on Obama's response to the House bill:

Obama on House health care bill: "clearly meets two of the fundamental criteria I have set out" fully paid for; "will reduce the deficit."
The bill will be posted online:
The House Democratic leadership is working to post the text of the final bill online early next week and has agreed to give members 72 hours to read it before a vote. Under that timetable, the House would begin debating the bill at the end of next week.
Any bill passed by the House of Representatives will eventually have to be merged with legislation passed by the Senate. Both chambers would then have to pass a revised measure before sending it to President Obama to be signed into law. CNN


Nancy Pelosi:

The nearly 2,000 page bill -- a combination of three different versions passed by House committees -- would cost $894 billion over 10 years and extend insurance coverage to 36 million uncovered Americans, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
It guarantees that 96 percent of Americans have coverage, Pelosi said. The figure is based on an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Among other things, the bill would subsidize insurance for poorer Americans and create health insurance exchanges to make it easier for small groups and individuals to purchase coverage. It would also cap annual out-of-pocket expenses and prevent insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Pelosi's office said the bill would cut the federal deficit by roughly $30 billion over the next decade. The measure is financed through a combination of a tax surcharge on wealthy Americans and spending constraints in Medicare and Medicaid. CNN

How We Got Employer Based Healthcare

This Planet Money story says our healthcare system was a series of accidents, spurred on by the Great Depression, WWII and a new IRS rule. Nothing was planned:

Soon, Blue Cross coverage was available in almost every state, though not many people bought in. The modern system of getting benefits through a job required another catalyst: World War II. Thomasson says that if the Great Depression inadvertently inspired the spread of employer-based health insurance, World War II accidentally spread the idea everywhere.

"The war economy is an entirely different ballgame," Thomasson says. The government rationed goods even as factories ramped up production and needed to attract workers. Factory owners needed a way to lure employees. She explains that the owners turned to fringe benefits, offering more and more generous health plans.

The next big step in the evolution of health care was also an accident. In 1943, the Internal Revenue Service ruled that employer-based health care should be tax free. A second law, in 1954, made the tax advantages even more attractive.

Thomasson cites the huge impact of those measures on plan participation. "You start from 9 percent of the population in 1940 to 63 percent in 1953," she says. "Everybody starts getting in on it. It just grows by gangbusters. By the 1960s, 70 percent [of the population] is covered by some kind of private, voluntary health insurance plan."
.....

Thus employer-based insurance, which started with Blue Cross selling coverage to Texas teachers and spread because of government price controls and tax breaks, became our system. By the mid-1960s, Thomasson says, Americans started to see that system — in which people with good jobs get health care through work and almost everyone else looks to government — as if it were the natural order of things.
NPR

Obama's Victory Over Military Lobby

If there's a lobby that's worse than the insurance companies, it's the military lobby. That's where our money really gets sucked up.

But as the president signed a $680 billion military policy bill on Wednesday, it was clear that he had succeeded in paring back nearly all of the programs and setting a tone of greater restraint than the Pentagon had seen in many years.

Now the question is whether Mr. Obama can sustain that push next year, when the midterm elections are likely to make Congress more resistant to further cuts and job losses.

White House officials say Mr. Obama took advantage of a rare political moment to break through one of Washington’s most powerful lobbies and trim more weapons systems than any president had in decades.

Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, said Wednesday that the plan was to threaten a veto over a prominent program — in this case, the F-22 fighter jet — “to show we were willing to expend political capital and could win on something that people thought we could not.”

Once the Senate voted in July to stop buying F-22s, Mr. Emanuel said in an interview, that success “reverberated down” to help sustain billions of dollars of cuts in Army modernization, missile defense and other programs.

Mr. Emanuel said the strategy emerged when the defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, told Mr. Obama they needed to “shake up sacred cows and be seen as taking on fights.” More at NYT

David Plouffe on Meet the Press Nov. 1

Update Nov. 1: Watch video of Plouffe on MTP here


Plouffe's new book. I'll always have fond memories of the 2008 campaign. It was my foray into politics, government and history. Plouffe hand-delivered a copy of his new book to Obama aboard Air Force One:
This Sunday on “Meet the Press,” David Gregory will interview Obama campaign David Plouffe regarding his new book, “The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama’s Historic Victory.” Time magazine has some excerpts from Plouffe’s book. On weighing Hillary as Obama’s VP: “Barack continued to be intrigued by Hillary. ‘I still think Hillary has a lot of what I am looking for in a VP,’ he said to us ‘... I think Bill may be too big a complication. If I picked her, my concern is that there would be more than two of us in the relationship.’ Neither Ax nor I were fans of the Hillary option.” And on Palin: “I also thought it was a downright bizarre, ill-considered and deeply puzzling choice ... [Obama] said, “... when voters step back and analyze how he made this decision, I think he’s going to be in big trouble. You just can’t wing something like this — it’s too important.” First Read

Forget About Fox - White House Fires Back at AP

The White House is pushing reporters to up their game. If they're going to criticize the White House, they better have solid reporting to back it up. It all began with Fox News because its the sloppiest, mostly because of its straight-up bias.

The White House fired back Wednesday night at an AP story questioning administration claims on job creation spurred by the Recovery Act.

In a story titled "Stimulus jobs overstated by thousands," AP highlighted discrepancies between reported job creation and actual hiring, pointing in one instance to a company that reported adding 4,231 jobs through stimulus spending that actually only hired 1,000 people. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/top/all/6692063.html

Ed DeSeve, a senior adviser to the president for Recovery Act implementation, said in a statement that nearly all the errors AP identified had already been spotted and fixed by the administration.
.....
"This story draws misleading conclusions from a handful of examples. It looks at only a small portion of the data – an initial upload of data representing just two percent of Recovery Act spending – that was made publicly available before a full review of its accuracy could be done. Virtually all of the errors found by the AP had already been found by our review, and were already corrected in an update to be loaded onto Recovery.gov this week," DeSeve said.
Politico
The AP story:
The AP review found some counts were more than 10 times as high as the actual number of jobs; some jobs credited to the stimulus program were counted two and sometimes more than four times; and other jobs were credited to stimulus spending when none was produced.

For example:

_ A company working with the Federal Communications Commission reported that stimulus money paid for 4,231 jobs, when about 1,000 were produced.

_ A Georgia community college reported creating 280 jobs with recovery money, but none was created from stimulus spending.

_ A Florida child care center said its stimulus money saved 129 jobs but used the money on raises for existing employees.

There's no evidence the White House sought to inflate job numbers in the report. But administration officials seized on the 30,000 figure as evidence that the stimulus program was on its way toward fulfilling the president's promise of creating or saving 3.5 million jobs by the end of next year. AP

Obama Meets Flag Draped Caskets in the Night

President Obama traveled overnight to meet the flag-draped caskets of 18 Americans killed in military service this week, the height of the bloodiest month for the U.S. in the war in Afghanistan.

In an unannounced trip in the middle of the night, the president went to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware by Marine helicopter to be present for the arrival of the bodies of the fallen troops.

The solemn visit was the first of its kind for Obama, and comes as he is withdrawing troops from Iraq but contemplating a troop increase in Afghanistan. Earlier this week, Obama spoke to sailors and aviators at Jacksonville Naval Air Station in Florida, where he promised that he would count the full cost of war before deciding to send more military into harm's way. Swamp

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Obama Signs National Defense Authorization Act

Obama signs the $680 billion budget for fiscal 2010, which funds conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Given the budget, some smart person could probably figure out how many troops Obama is considering sending to Afghanistan.
The hate crimes amendment that Obama also signed into law today was part of the defense bill.

Transcript

White House Press Briefing Oct. 28

Robert Gibbs deferred questions on Hamid Karzai's brother to the CIA.

Obama Signs Hate Crimes Prevention Legislation

If you can believe it, republicans were against the Matthew Shepard and James Bryd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Schwarzenegger's Coded Profane Veto Message

Schwarzenegger vetoes in style:

Obama Announces New National Security Members

Chuck Hagel and David Boren will co-chair the President's Intelligence Advisory Board:

Republicans Concerned About White House Bowlers

The fun never stops:

Tea Party Express Brings on the Hate

Do these people (in the video below) realize that they look like idiots? I'm tired of these people claiming to be "real Americans" as if the rest of us aren't real. If being a real American means being ignorant, then they fit the bill.

What they are is a fearful bunch of people, afraid of progress, trying to hold on to days gone by.

I'm still not buying this argument that they're opposed to taxes. Uh-uh. Otherwise, what's with all the hate signs, the hateful rhetoric? There's something deeper and all one needs to do is visit freerepublic, one of the tea party express sponsors, to find out. Not accessible on freerepublic's main page anymore is the "obamatruthfile," where they discuss Obama's Kenyan birth. One of today's choice comments:

Obama’s Granny raised him while his Mother went whoring around with other men.
They're talking about the president.

I don't believe the tea partiers would be up in arms if we had a white democrat for president. I've seen too much evidence to the contrary. If I was afraid of paying more taxes, I certainly wouldn't associate with a hate group to get my point across. After all, who's going to listen to idiots with idiot signs and idiot language? Now, if someone speaks in a mature manner about the cost of high taxes, then people are going to listen.
The tea partiers are merely a hate group in disguise.
Llyod Marcus? What a wacko. He's a tea party entertainer.

Check out his website. He's selling ringtones, CDs... Here's his letter to Rush:
Dear Rush,
We are so very sorry about what the scruple-less liberal bias conservative hating media have done and are continuing to do to you. While we realize you are a big boy and can handle it, you are still a human being. This international personal attack on your character based on such absurd charges has to be extremely painful.
We, your 20 million plus loyal fans are outraged. You have our total support.
The tea partiers are back on board with "countdown to judgement day." I'm glad the reporter asked about the children. They are being harmed at these events. I like to think that children are resilient and smart but how else does hate breed if it's not taught?

Apparently, there is some friction in the tea party movement. There are the tea party patriots and the tea party express. Rachel Maddow says the difference between the two are that the patriots are more supportive of the republicans. But I think what's happening is that the people who want to talk about taxes are separating themselves from the haters. The tea party express, promoted by Fox, are the haters.

Hillary Arrives in Pakistan to Bombing

Terrorists in Pakistan bomb a women's market. That makes me especially sick. Leave women and children out of it.
Why is it that I've never seen a woman terrorist?

Mrs. Clinton was in closed-door meetings with senior government officials in Islamabad at the time of the explosion in Peshawar. “These attacks on innocent people are cowardly; they are not courageous; they are cowardly,” she declared later.

“If the people behind these attacks were so sure of their beliefs, let them join the political process,” she told reporters. “They know they are on the losing side of history. But they are determined to take as many lives with them as their movement is finally exposed for the nihilistic, empty effort it is.”

While there was no immediate claim of responsibility, the bombing was likely to be seen as a response by Pakistani militants to a campaign against them by the Pakistani military in their stronghold of South Waziristan along the Afghan border. NYT

McCain Says Lieberman Could be Swayed

Did people really think Lieberman was going to change his stripes because Harry Reid said so?
John McCain suggests to Sean Hannity that Joe Lieberman could be bribed to vote for the public option. I thought they were best buddies?
This time I'm with Hannity. There's a fine line between a bribe and negotiations. If Lieberman gets a special project for being a jerk, then that's pretty lame.
It's good that Reid at least started with the public option.

One other thing, Lieberman ought to keep his mouth shut. He already said he isn't going to support the public option, so get out of the way:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Republicans: Blah Blah Government Takeover Blah Blah High Costs Blah Blah Bad for Seniors Blah Blah Blah

It's Halloween. Time for the Senior Scare! Mwaaaaahhaaaa!

Lieberman Won't Vote for Reid's Public Option

60 minus one and counting. It only gets nastier from here folks:

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said Tuesday that he’d back a GOP filibuster of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s health care reform bill.

Lieberman, who caucuses with Democrats and is positioning himself as a fiscal hawk on the issue, said he opposes any health care bill that includes a government-run insurance program — even if it includes a provision allowing states to opt out of the program, as Reid’s has said the Senate bill will.

"We're trying to do too much at once," Lieberman said. “To put this government-created insurance company on top of everything else is just asking for trouble for the taxpayers, for the premium payers and for the national debt. I don’t think we need it now." Politico