Sunday, February 28, 2010

Obama's Disgust

This is funny video. CNN shows only Obama's face in reaction to republican comments at the health care summit. Obama looks sincerely disgusted and frustrated.

Boehner Praises Tea Party

John Boehner and others like him must be oblivious to the hateful undercurrent of the tea party. He must not realize that white supremacists have tagged on to the tea party. He must not realize that many tea partiers are simple bigots worried about "white culture," who've latched on for cover.
Either that, or he doesn't care.

"The Tea Party movement has reminded us who’s really in charge of this country, and that’s the American people," Boehner said in a statement. "These great patriots have been at the forefront of a growing political rebellion born from the American people’s opposition to greater government control over our economy and our lives." Read it all at the Hill.

McCain on Meet the Press Feb. 28 Video

John McCain reiterates his let's "start over" on healthcare. That's just ridiculous, even if the republicans were serious about starting over. Right now, they're just biding their time, sitting on everything because republicans don't believe government should do anything except take care of national security. Makes me wonder why they bother to run for office.

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Nancy Pelosi on This Week Feb. 28

Watch part 1 here and part 2 here. Nancy Pelosi seems to be the only democrat that republicans are afraid of, given how virulent their attacks are and how much time they spend cutting her down. On the second part of the show, Lamar Alexander says Congress is uniquely UNQUALIFIED to pass healthcare. At the roundtable, George Will, Sam Donaldson, Cokie Roberts and Paul Krugman discuss Charlie Rangel and David Paterson. Politicians need to know that Americans are sick and tired of ethical lapses. Both of them ought to get out of the way.

Obama Physically Fit For Duty

Obama gets a physical and gets a clean bill of health and a recommendation that he continue his smoking cessation programs. He also visited wounded soldiers today.

The following is a report from the President’s routine physical examination performed this morning at Bethesda Naval Medical Center.

The physical examination was performed by Dr. Jeff Kuhlman, a Navy captain and Physician to the President, Chief White House Physician and Director of the White House Medical Unit. Other specialists assisted in their areas of expertise. Some preliminary testing took place prior to today.

Dr. Kulhman recommends his next physical take place when he turns 50 in August 2011.

At no time was it necessary to temporarily transfer Presidential authority under Section 3 of the 25th Amendment.

Read the memo here.
Here are some of his vitals, which are good:
BMI: 23.7
Resting heart rate: 56
Resting blood pressure: 105/62
Weight: 179.9

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Standing in the Way of Health Reform: Democrats

People have wondered why Obama has sought bipartisan support for healthcare. Liberals lament about it all the time. They use "bipartisanship" like it's a bad word. Obama's sought bipartisanship because he has needed it to pass a bill. He wouldn't have had to seek republican support if the democrats were together on healthcare.

The future of President Obama’s health care overhaul now rests largely with two blocs of swing Democrats in the House of Representatives — abortion opponents and fiscal conservatives — whose indecision signals the difficulties Speaker Nancy Pelosi faces in securing the votes necessary to pass the bill.

With Republicans unified in their opposition, Democrats are drafting plans to try on their own to pass a bill based on one Mr. Obama unveiled before his bipartisan health forum last week. His measure hews closely to the one passed by the Senate in December, but differs markedly from the one passed by the House.

That leaves Ms. Pelosi in the tough spot of trying to keep wavering members of her caucus on board, while persuading some who voted no to switch their votes to yes — all at a time when Democrats are worried about their prospects for re-election. NYT

Department of Defense Approves Social Media

The DoD released its new policy on social media:

The Department of Defense released its official policy on new/social media today. The policy (Directive-Type Memorandum 09-026), which is effective immediately, states that the default for the DoD non-classified network (the NIPRNET) is for open access so that all of DoD can use new media. This is DoD’s first official policy on new media. Prior to today, the Services and other DoD components developed and implemented their own ad hoc policies — some banning it all together. Under this new policy, there will be open and consistent access across the board, but prohibited content sites (gambling, pornography, hate-crime activities) will still be blocked. Also, Commanders at all levels and heads of DoD components will continue to keep networks safe from malicious activity and take actions, as required, to safeguard missions. DoD

Obama Speaks on Chile's Earthquake and Tsunami Warnings Video

Hundreds may have died in Chile, following an 8.8 earthquake, which has also triggered tsunami warnings. Obama says the U.S. is ready to help. For more information on tsunami warnings and preparedness resources, visit here. Two to three foot high waves and strange currents are making their way through Southern California. Hawaii is clearing the coast. Search for tsunami information by zip code here. @iDeskCNN has some good coverage on Twitter. Online coverage from Hawaii at CNN here.

Live stream from Hawaii. It looks really calm right now. A list of live streaming here.

Latest tsunami warnings from NOAA here:
TSUNAMI BULLETIN NUMBER 015
PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER/NOAA/NWS
ISSUED AT 2028Z 27 FEB 2010

THIS BULLETIN APPLIES TO AREAS WITHIN AND BORDERING THE PACIFIC
OCEAN AND ADJACENT SEAS...EXCEPT ALASKA...BRITISH COLUMBIA...
WASHINGTON...OREGON AND CALIFORNIA.

... A WIDESPREAD TSUNAMI WARNING IS IN EFFECT ...

A TSUNAMI WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR

CHILE / PERU / ECUADOR / COLOMBIA / ANTARCTICA / PANAMA /
COSTA RICA / NICARAGUA / PITCAIRN / HONDURAS / EL SALVADOR /
GUATEMALA / FR. POLYNESIA / MEXICO / COOK ISLANDS / KIRIBATI /
KERMADEC IS / NIUE / NEW ZEALAND / TONGA / AMERICAN SAMOA /
SAMOA / JARVIS IS. / WALLIS-FUTUNA / TOKELAU / FIJI /
AUSTRALIA / HAWAII / PALMYRA IS. / TUVALU / VANUATU /
HOWLAND-BAKER / NEW CALEDONIA / JOHNSTON IS. / SOLOMON IS. /
NAURU / MARSHALL IS. / MIDWAY IS. / KOSRAE / PAPUA NEW GUINEA /
POHNPEI / WAKE IS. / CHUUK / RUSSIA / MARCUS IS. / INDONESIA /
N. MARIANAS / GUAM / YAP / BELAU / JAPAN / PHILIPPINES /
CHINESE TAIPEI

Obama Congratulates Olympians in Weekly Address Video

Watch how Obama transitions from the Olympics to bipartisanship. Obama points out agreements and disagreements between republicans and democrats on healthcare.

Some of these disagreements we may be able to resolve. Some we may not. And no final bill will include everything that everyone wants. That’s what compromise is. I said at the end of Thursday’s summit that I am eager and willing to move forward with members of both parties on health care if the other side is serious about coming together to resolve our differences and get this done. But I also believe that we cannot lose the opportunity to meet this challenge.

Friday, February 26, 2010

White House Press Briefing Feb. 26

Robert Gibbs makes a few announcements:
April 12-13, Obama will host nuclear security summit at the Washington Convention Center.
Obama spoke to Angela Merkel and Gordon Brown today on nukes.
On Sunday, Feb. 28, Obama will go get a routine physical at the National Naval Medical Center and then visit wounded warriors. The doctor will report on Obama's health in the afternoon.
On Monday, March 1 Obama will make an education announcement at an America's Promise Alliance event hosted by Colin Powell and his wife.
On Tuesday, March 2, Obama will travel to Savannah, Georgia, where he'll meet with workers and small businesses. Jobs will be the topic.

Gibbs says Obama will announce the way forward on healthcare next week. He's not sure which day yet.
Lastly, Obama called Cheney to wish him well.

Drumline in the White House Video

The drumline is from Virginia State University:

Memo to Republicans: Americans Want Health Reform

At least, a media outlet makes an attempt to get other points of view besides the tea partier opinion. The way the media has been portraying the healthcare debate, this nation is just a nation full of tea baggers.

Obama Speaks on Importance of Black Colleges and Universities - Video

It's because of these schools that a young broadcaster with a funny name could make that name into an empire. Name that broadcaster! Obama signed an executive order to strengthen the nation's HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities). Apparently, Obama reduced HBCU funding for the 2010 budget, but this move boosts HBCU funding in the 2011 budget.

The Nation's 105 HBCUs are located in 20 States, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands and serve more than 300,000 undergraduate and graduate students. These institutions continue to be important engines of economic growth and community service, and they are proven ladders of intergenerational advancement for men and women of all ethnic, racial, and economic backgrounds, especially African Americans. These institutions also produce a high number of baccalaureate recipients who go on to assume leadership and service roles in their communities and who successfully complete graduate and professional degree programs.

Jim Bunning Blocks Extension of Unemployment Benefits

If you're out of work and counting on unemployment (5.4 million are), you can thank Kentucky's Jim Bunning, a republican, for not getting an extension of your unemployment benefits. They expire Sunday. Watch Bunning here. He's pretty weird. Why did he vote against extending benefits?

The senator, who is not running for reelection, wants to quit running up the national debt.

"We have run up $5 trillion in debt. There has to be a time to stop that," he said on the floor of the Senate Friday. CSM

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The Senate failed Friday to extend programs for laid-off workers, jeopardizing unemployment benefits scheduled to expire over the weekend.

The benefits are part of a larger package of government programs, from highway funding to loans for small businesses, set to expire Sunday because senators couldn't agree on how to pay to keep them going.

The House passed a bill Thursday extending the programs for one month while lawmakers consider how to address the issues long-term. Senate Democrats repeatedly tried to follow suit Thursday night and Friday morning, but they couldn't overcome the objections of a single lawmaker, Republican Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky, that the $10 billion bill would add to the budget deficit. WaPo
Gibbs on Bunning:
Gibbs called the legislation "a very common-sense proposal" and criticized Bunning for having supported the short-term extensions in the past. He also had little tolerance for Bunning's use of the phrase "tough s---" during Senate debate on the issue and complaining that because of it he was missing the Kentucky-South Carolina basketball game.

"These are the type of games that the American people fail to understand," Gibbs said, adding that he hopes Bunning has "more encouraging words" than "tough s---" for those who will be impacted when these benefits expire. Politico

Obama Announces What's Next for Health Reform Next Week

Yesterday's health reform meeting


Obama will announce next week the plan going forward. It sounds like it's going to be reconciliation, the process that would block a republican filibuster and require only 51 votes. Steny Hoyer on reconciliation:
"Since 1980, I think reconciliation has been used 22 times; 16 by Republicans; more than two-thirds of the time; that's probably 70 percent of the time. For their tax bills, welfare reform, other pieces of legislation. And they act as if somehow this is a process that should not be used." NPR
Today, Nancy Pelosi is pushing reconciliation. Sometimes Pelosi appears flimsy, eccentric and just plain weird, but when she wants to get something done, she can be very effective. But democrats are still noodling around.

Reconciliation isn't for the entire healthcare bill. It looks like the House needs to pass the Senate bill and then certain fixes are made through reconciliation:

Desiree Rogers Resigns

Update: Julianna Smoot, pictured, will replace Rogers


Social Secretary Desiree Rogers was not a well liked by people outside of the White House. Politico reports that Julianna Smoot, the chief of staff for U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, could replace Rogers. Obama met with Kirk this week:
Desiree Rogers, the White House social secretary who announced Friday she was stepping down, was not pushed out, White House press secretary Gibbs said in his daily briefing.

Asked if last year’s state dinner breach played a factor in her decision, Gibbs said, “I don’t think it did, no.”

Rogers also must abide by the White House’s rules on lobbying practices if she enters the private sector, he said.

Rogers announced Friday she would resign from her post after a little more than a year on the job. Politico
Obama's statement:
“We are enormously grateful to Desiree Rogers for the terrific job she’s done as the White House Social Secretary. When she took this position, we asked Desiree to help make sure that the White House truly is the People’s House, and she did that by welcoming scores of everyday Americans through its doors, from wounded warriors to local schoolchildren to NASCAR drivers. She organized hundreds of fun and creative events during her time here, and we will miss her. We thank her again for her service and wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”
Smoot's bio from Smith College:
Julianna Smoot ’89 joined the Office of the United States Trade Representative in February 2009 as the Chief of Staff. Prior to joining the USTR, Ms. Smoot served as Senior Advisor to President Obama and served as Co-Chair of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. In January 2007, Ms. Smoot joined President Obama’s Presidential Campaign as the National Finance Director. Prior to working for President Obama, Ms. Smoot served as National Finance Director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, chaired by Senator Charles Schumer.

Previously, Ms. Smoot served as Senior Advisor to former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and as Finance Director for Senator John Edwards’ race for U.S. Senate. Ms. Smoot has also held positions with Senator Richard Durbin and Senator Chris Dodd.

Julianna Smoot, a North Carolina native, received her Bachelor’s Degree in Government from Smith College in Northampton, MA.

Obama's Final Picks for Deficit Commission

Obama already appointed Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson to head up the commission, which will have 18 members, including republican and democrat picks. Here are Obama's latest:

• Dave Cote, the chief executive of technology firm Honeywell.

• Ann Fudge, a former chief executive of Young & Rubicam Brands.

• Alice Rivlin, a former official with the Federal Reserve and the Office of Management and Budget.

• Andy Stern, the president of the Service Employees International Union.

Reconciliation for Filibusters

Yesterday's meeting was worth every minute of its 7 hours (I watched the whole thing) because it illustrated the differences between the republicans and the democrats on healthcare.
Republicans simply believe that healthcare is unaffordable. They haven't put much time into thinking about it.

Democrats think that health reform is the right thing to do and the necessary thing to do, economically speaking, to save Medicare/Medicaid and bring down the cost of health insurance premiums. Republicans are truly thinking conservatively. Democrats are leaning toward bold, but I'm not sure they have the backbone to get it done. It's also uncertain whether the democrats agree among themselves. After all, we wouldn't be here if they hadn't spent so much time arguing about the public option. After yesterday though, democrats seem to be thinking more cohesively. The meeting may have been the kick in the pants that they needed.
I'll believe it when I see it.
The only path left is reconciliation, which would block a filibuster. The republicans are calling foul. I'd agree except for the fact that the republicans have challenged just about every piece of legislation with a filibuster, also foul. So to be fair, reconciliation is a good end.
This is a pretty good summary:

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There's still Anthony Weiner, who still thinks there are enough votes for a public option. This guy has way too much time on his hands because he's always on TV:

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Obama Gives Arts and Humanities Awards Video

After the healthcare meeting, Obama ran off to present medals in arts and humanities to Elie Wiesel, Rita Moreno, Bob Dylan, Clint Eastwood (Dylan and Eastwood skipped the ceremony) and others:

Bipartisan Healthcare Meeting Feb. 25 Video

Update: Session over. Obama sums up by saying that there are some major philosophical differences between the republicans and democrats. He says the democrats will NOT start over and that reform CAN'T happen incrementally. He said much of what the republicans talked about were already in the bills.

Essentially, he made it clear that republicans have to choose if they're in or they're out. If they're out, it's up to the democrats. This meeting was a good exercise because the dems got to oppose the republicans rather than themselves. I feel somewhat optimistic that reform can happen, unless the democrats start arguing over the public option again.
For the republicans' part, they made it perfectly clear that they're not interested in health reform. Eric Cantor said it early on: It's a money thing. Republicans think it costs too much.
This is part one of the six-hour meetup:

Part 2:

Video Clips From the Healthcare Meeting Feb. 25

Obama's opening remarks and hope for more than political theater. But theater came by way of republicans and democrats. Eric Cantor wasted trees and printed out the health care plan, to which Obama called him on his prop and informed Cantor that healthcare is complex. Cantor did get to the crux of the problem, which is republicans say we can't afford health reform and democrats say we can't afford not to reform healthcare. How to reconcile those two differing philosophies?
Watch the live stream here, which resumes at 1:45 pm eastern.

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Lamar Alexander introduces the republican talking point: Let's start over

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Obama points out areas of agreement and disagreement. It's clear that if Obama's not the smartest person in the room, he's certainly one of them. Obama takes on the role as moderator and mediator:

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Obama sets McConnell straight on polling:

McCain Campaigns During Healthcare Meeting

This clip doesn't show all of McCain's remarks, but he was getting hot under the collar, so much so that I could feel it right here. He really was campaigning. He didn't offer anything meaningful to the discussion. But few have. It's been interesting though and in the end, I think it will be worthwhile. Watch the live stream here. They'll be back at 1:45 pm eastern.

Better clip:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Obama Addresses Business Roundtable Feb. 24 Video

Healthcare Meeting Feb. 25, 10 am Eastern Live Stream

Update Feb. 25, 1 pm eastern: Taking a break for a House vote. They'll be back streaming live below at 1:45 pm.

The republicans have been hyperventilating and stomping their feet, saying they want to start over on healthcare. The democrats are still arguing among themselves. Ideologue Dennis Kucinich won't vote for the healthcare plan. The media has already pronounced health reform dead. Obama has a lot of egos to overcome at tomorrow's meeting. Too bad they can't just put on jeans, sit in a circle on the floor, eat PB&J and apple slices and hammer out a plan.

Apparently, the meeting could run six hours. They should just agree to stay in the room until a bill is produced. Watch live here at 10 am eastern or go to WhiteHouse.gov. There's also a live stream at MSNBC and at CSPAN:

Until then, we're No. 37!:

Michelle Obama on Eliminating Food Deserts

Some communities don't have a single supermarket. Michelle Obama calls them "food deserts."

The Colbert Report with Shaun White

This whole episode is funny. Colbert is in Vancouver:

Senate Passes Jobs Bill With More Republicans

The Senate passes the jobs bill. What's weird about that? Only five republicans voted a day ago to move the bill ahead, blocking a republican filibuster, but even more republicans voted to pass the bill. It doesn't make any logical sense. If they wanted to vote for the bill, why did they filibuster? Did the bill change that much in a day? Is Scott Brown that much of a magnet? Perhaps he is. Chuck Todd says the bill passed because it was small.

The Senate easily passed a $15 billion jobs bill on Wednesday morning amid hope that the measure could provide a blueprint for other items on President Obama's agenda.

The measure passed 70 to 28, with 13 Republicans joining 57 Democrats in support of the package. One Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, voted against it.
....
The next stop is the House, where Democratic leaders are weighing whether to pass the Senate version or go to conference to reconcile it with the $154 billion jobs bill the House passed in December.WaPo
Foolish tea partiers got Obama wrong and Brown wrong:
One leader of the "tea party" movement has taken to calling the freshman "Benedict Brown," and disillusioned conservatives filled Brown's Facebook page with accusations that he was a "Judas" and a "sellout."
John Cornyn, ever a ray of sunshine, says don't read too much into the bipartisan bill:
"I think it's going to depend on the nature of the bill and on whether he's going to try to freeze out the minority party," Cornyn said, adding that he would advise against reading too much into Monday's vote: "Frankly, I just don't think it was all that big of a deal."
Read it all at WaPo

Obama Campaign Team Working on 2012


The biggest signal that Obama has plans for a second term came from Michelle Obama's interview yesterday. But I suppose this says it all:

President Obama’s top advisers are quietly laying the groundwork for the 2012 reelection campaign, which is likely to be run out of Chicago and managed by White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, according to Democrats familiar with the discussions.

The sources said Obama has given every sign of planning to run again and wants the next campaign to resemble the highly successful 2008 effort. Politico

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sarkozy Visiting White House March 30

Robert Gibbs made two announcements today: Sarkozy is visiting the White House March 30, and Obama is backing a bid to repeal an antitrust exemption for health insurers. The exemption has been protecting insurers over the consumer:

Who's Going to Be at the Healthcare Meeting?

Via The Hill: Temperamental Judd Gregg is not going, though he apparently wanted to.

McConnell instead tapped Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), ranking Finance Committee member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee member John McCain (R-Ariz.), and the Senate’s only two physicians — Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).
GOP Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.) and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) are also attending and were previously invited. Enzi is the ranking Republican on the HELP Committee, of which Coburn is also a member.
McConnell spokesman Don Stewart had no immediate comment on Gregg’s exclusion, but did say that dozens of GOP senators had lobbied to be invited.

Asked about McConnell's choice not to invite him, Gregg declined to comment. “You'd have to ask Sen. McConnell,” he said.
Democrats:
The Senate’s Democratic attendees to the summit include Reid, Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Conference Secretary Patty Murray (Wash.), Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (Mont.), Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (Conn.), HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (Iowa), Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care Chairman Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.) and Conrad.

The White House originally invited 21 members of Congress — 12 Democrats and nine Republicans — along with aides and representatives from the Office of Management and Budget, the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Congressional Budget Office, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Office of Health Reform Director Nancy DeParle.
The meeting is Thursday at 10 am eastern.

Reid Names Durbin, Baucus, Conrad to Deficit Commission

Via Politico:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Tuesday night that he has appointed Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill), Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) to President Barack Obama's deficit commission.
There will be 18 commission members in all, 4 of those will be appointed by Obama and 6 by republicans, 6 by democrats. Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson are heading the commission, which aims to come up with a plan to solve our deficit woes by Dec. 1.

Biden Wishes Cheney Well

It was good of Joe to call on Dick, who had a mild heart attack. I was under the impression that Dick didn't have a heart.

Vice President Biden called former Vice President Cheney on Tuesday to wish him well and to “get better soon,” according to a Biden aide. via Politico
In other Joe news, he talked to mayors today about the stimulus. Mayors on the conference call:
Mayor Ron V. Dellums (D-Oakland, CA)
Mayor Bob Foster (D-Long Beach, CA)
Mayor Tom Martin (R-Lubbock, TX)
Mayor Raul G. Salinas (D-Laredo, TX)
County Commissioner David Ferdinand (R-Canyon County, ID)

Din Din With Obama

Some of the business leaders sitting down, right about now (3:45 pm eastern), chowing down with Obama:

Ivan Seidenberg – Chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications
David Cote – Chairman and CEO of Honeywell International
Antonio Perez – Chairman and CEO of Eastman Kodak Company
Michael Duke – President and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores

Plus two other key Business Roundtable members:

Ursula Burns – CEO of Xerox
Indra Nooyi – Chairwoman and CEO of PepsiCo
Via Politico

Michelle Obama Talks About Critics

Michelle Obama is hopeful for a second term so more can be done. She also said that no matter how angry people are at Obama, they've laid off Malia and Sasha.

Chamber of Commerce Urges Start Over on Healthcare

Surprise! The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sides with republicans. At 6:45 pm eastern, Obama will meet with business leaders. Obama is also meeting with trade representative Ron Kirk:

We strongly urge you to avoid the punitive approach taken by the House and Senate-passed bills and instead focus on a fresh approach that places top priority on immediately reducing the cost of care and coverage for all.

We hope that the summit creates a foundation for the development of an authentic bipartisan approach which reflects the strategies discussed above. Health care reform which gets it right is vital to job creation and long term economic growth.

Sincerely,

Geoffrey Burr, Vice President-Government Affairs
Associated Builders and Contractors

Stephen E. Sandherr, Chief Executive Officer
Associated General Contractors

Brian Worth, Vice President for Government & Public Affairs
Independent Electrical Contractors

Jon Eisen, Senior Vice President-Government Relations
International Foodservice Distributors Association

David French, Vice President-Government Relations
International Franchise Association

Jay Timmons, Executive Vice President
National Association of Manufacturers

Jade West, Senior Vice President-Government Relations
National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors

E. Neil Trautwein, Vice President-Employee Benefits Policy Counsel
National Retail Federation

Karen Kerrigan, President & CEO
Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

R. Bruce Josten, Executive Vice President-Government Affairs
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Read the whole letter at Politico

Newt: Of Course Obama is a Socialist

What's funny about this video is Newt Gingrich is arguing with Bill O'Reilly. Newt it so far out there on his opinion of Obama, but I guess that's what it takes to win over conservatives. That and turning Catholic.
Newt is usually more tempered on regular TV shows, like Meet the Press or the networks. He usually plays to his Fox audience when he's on Fox. Newt is an old-time politician.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Obama's Letter to IRS in Support of Murdered Worker

Timothy Geithner delivered this message from Obama:

To the men and women of the Internal Revenue Service at Austin:
I asked Secretary Geithner to carry this message to you.
It is with great sadness that I write to you on the tragic events of February 18th. You, your families and colleagues are in my thoughts and prayers.
Michelle and I extend our condolences to you on the death of your colleague, Mr. Vernon Hunter. Vernon dedicated his life to service to this great country, serving over 20 years in the military before joining the IRS. We mourn his death.
As we work with law-enforcement agencies to investigate the events leading up to this plane crash, I want the dedicated employees of the IRS to know that I am thankful for your dedication, courage and professionalism as we rebuild in Austin. And as you continue your work, we will do what is needed to ensure your safety.
We are grateful for your service to this country.
May God bless you and the United States of America.
At first I thought describing Joe Stack (the guy who crashed his plane into the IRS building killing Vernon) as a terrorist was a little extreme. But now that his daughter calls her father a hero, he perfectly fits the definition of a terrorist. His daughter confirms he was trying to make a point by terrorizing the general population through violence. She says: "Yes. Because now maybe people will listen." She called her father's actions "inappropriate." What??????
Stack is not a hero in any regard. He's the definition of a coward. His actions were immoral and despicable on all grounds and what's more---he didn't make a point. Stack is merely dead and he murdered someone else with the intent of murdering maybe hundreds.
Stack seemed to have a problem with entitlement and an ego that's out of whack with reason.

Orszag's Interview With Politico Feb. 22 Video


Watch part 2 and 3 here.

Goolsbee Answers Credit Card Reform Questions

New credit card rules go into effect today:

Brown and Snowe Break From Republicans on Jobs Bill

It doesn't mean they'll vote for the jobs bill. It just means it can move forward. It's also a promising sign that Brown really is independent. We already knew that about Snowe. Three other republicans, Susan Collins, Kit Bond and George Voinovich, have also voted to move the jobs bill to debate. Ben Nelson was the only democrat to break ranks. He's probably pouting about his disappeared deal in the healthcare bill.

Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) broke with his party and voted with the Democrats. So did Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), Kit Bond (R-MO) and George Voinovich (R-OH).

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) was the only Democrat to break with his party.

The final vote tally was 62-30. TPM.
Brown's statement:
“I came to Washington to be an independent voice, to put politics aside, and to do everything in my power to help create jobs for Massachusetts families. This Senate jobs bill is not perfect. I wish the tax cuts were deeper and broader, but I voted for it because it contains measures that will help put people back to work.

“I was disappointed with the continuation of politics-as-usual in the drafting of this bill, as it was crafted behind closed doors, without transparency and accountability. I hope for improvements in that process going forward. All of us, Republicans and Democrats, have to work together to get our economy back on track. I hope my vote today is a strong step toward restoring bipartisanship in Washington."
Obama's statement:
“The American people want to see Washington put aside partisan differences and make progress on jobs, and today the Senate took one important step forward in doing that. I’m grateful to the Democratic and Republican Senators who voted to support these investments in infrastructure and small businesses. This is one of many efforts we need to tackle our economic challenges, and we will continue to work with Congress on additional job creation measures. Jobs remain our top priority, and I look forward to working with members from both parties to get legislation signed, and the American people back to work.

Schwarzenegger on his Meeting with Obama

Obama met with the governors today and later met privately with Schwarzenegger. The California governor says the republican call to start from scratch on healthcare is partisan talk:

While Republican leaders in Washington are urging President Barack Obama to start from scratch on a health care bill, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday dismissed the idea as "bogus talk."

It marked the second day in a row that Schwarzenegger strayed from his party's positions.

On Sunday, he defended Obama's economic stimulus plan and chided elected officials, most of them Republicans, who oppose the overall stimulus but are quick to trumpet individual projects in their states that are paid for by the stimulus. Read more at Sacbee

White House Press Briefing Feb. 22

Obama Speaks to Governors on Education Feb. 22 Video

Many governors have been supportive of Obama because they know first hand that the stimulus was needed. After Obama spoke to the governors, he met with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger later called on republicans to help pass health reform.

Dalai Lama Talks Obama to Larry King



Watch it here.

Obama's Remarks at the Governors' Ball 2010 Video

Obama's Healthcare Proposal Now Online

Obama's healthcare proposal is rather genius. Check it out here. I like the way it's broken out. If you want to see the simple version, just look under the "what reform means to you" tab. There is even a tab that has the republican ideas. Note that it also gets rid of the special deals that were arranged for states, including Ben Nelson's deal. Hip Hooray for that. This proposal simply leaves the republicans without an excuse. They have to show up Thursday in good form.
The bipartisan healthcare meeting is scheduled for Thursday, 10 am eastern and will be live streamed at WhiteHouse.gov.

If you're reading this at around 10:30 am eastern, Obama is speaking to governors here.

Linda Douglass, White House spokeswoman for health reform:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Obama's Plan to Save the Great Lakes

March 10: Update for all of the gullible people who believed Obama was banning fishing, he's not. ESPN's editor admitted an error in the original story that proposed that Obama could ban fishing.
The Obama administration's $2.2 billion, five-year plan for rescuing our five Great Lakes, plagued by pollution:

At the end of last year, Congress authorized $475 million to be spent on improving the ecosystem that contains 21 percent of the world's fresh water. Obama proposed in his budget earlier this month putting an additional $300 million into the program for the fiscal year that starts in October.

Some $60 million will go to fighting Asian carp, a non-native species threatening to disrupt the fishing industry in Lake Michigan.

Jackson said that in future years -- the plan covers 2010 through 2014 -- funding will return to the $475 million. Read more at Reuters

Rendell and Schwarzenegger on This Week Feb. 21

Both governors agree that the stimulus worked. The problem for states is what happens when the stimulus dries up. Will there be enough private sector jobs to boost local and state economies?
Both agree that the worst is over.
Both governors agree that more infrastructure spending is needed.

Schwarzenegger says the tea party is an expression of dissatisfaction and anger, but he says tea party is not going anywhere.

Watch the roundtable here. George Will says that CPAC was the "hour of the entertainer." Arianna and George Will, two peas in a pod as far as representing the extremes, agree that all the talk about partisanship is a joke. That's because they don't believe in bipartisanship, they don't believe in compromise. PARTISAN PEOPLE DON'T BELIEVE IN BIPARTISANSHIP. Arianna uses a lame example of freeing half the slaves. I'm so sick of Arianna, who uses poor partisan logic.

Harry Connick Jr. Speaks to Students at the White House Live Stream


Ahead of the Governors' ball tonight, Harry Connick Jr. speaks to students at 3 pm eastern. He'll also perform. Obama will speak at the ball at 7:10 pm eastern.

Flight 253 Passengers Contemplative

This gives me faith that we are better than our politics:

But what if the passengers could be part of that conversation? What would they want to know or say to AbdulMutallab, the government, the world? CNN reached out by phone and e-mail to find out.
More than anything, if they could sit down with AbdulMutallab they would simply ask: Why? How did a young man who grew up with privilege, education and exposure to the greater world end up accused of attempting a terrorist attack?
"For me, these are the burning questions," said Roey Rosenblith, 27, who co-founded Village Energy, a company in Uganda that hopes to help bring solar electricity to the 80 percent of Africans who have no electrical power. "I've never had someone try to murder me, much less someone I didn't even know. So I'm very interested in finding out more about [his] motives so that we might possibly figure out how to avert others from traveling down the same path." Read more at CNN

Bayh Calls For Reformation of Congress

Evan Bayh, who recently announced he's had enough, has an op-ed in the NYT today:

Challenges of historic import threaten America’s future. Action on the deficit, economy, energy, health care and much more is imperative, yet our legislative institutions fail to act. Congress must be reformed.

There are many causes for the dysfunction: strident partisanship, unyielding ideology, a corrosive system of campaign financing, gerrymandering of House districts, endless filibusters, holds on executive appointees in the Senate, dwindling social interaction between senators of opposing parties and a caucus system that promotes party unity at the expense of bipartisan consensus.

Many good people serve in Congress. They are patriotic, hard-working and devoted to the public good as they see it, but the institutional and cultural impediments to change frustrate the intentions of these well-meaning people as rarely before. It was not always thus. Read it all

Sean Hannity Tries to Get Huckabee to Slam Michelle Obama

Sean Hannity is such a mediocre nobody, which is apparently all it takes these days to be on TV these days. There is a rebellion against intelligence in this nation.

Michelle Obama recently appeared on Mike Huckabee's show (it will be posted here when it's available). The rightwing has such misperceptions about Michelle Obama because they view her through their own tainted world view. They don't have the ability to reason.
Hannity thinks he has a chance for a sit down with Obama. Ha! Dream on. Hannity is low life. I'd be shocked if Obama ever went on his show. O'Reilly, yes. Hannity, never.
Huckabee says he doesn't believe that Obama's motive is to destroy this country. It's kind of weird that he has to say that but Hannity puts him in that position:

Here is a preview of Michelle Obama on Huckabee's show:

David Petraeus on Meet the Press Feb. 21 Video

Wannabe president Tim Pawlenty is also on the show. Pawlenty says republicans are reformed and ready to govern. Anyone who falls for that is out of their mind.

Pawlenty criticizes the stimulus, saying government doesn't grow the economy. Well, he and Obama agree. Obama never says government grows the economy. He ALWAYS says it's small business, the private sector that grows the economy. Obama says government can help create an environment where business grows.
Pawlenty will never win the republican nomination. He's too much of a follower. That can be gleaned from his answers about climate change and god being in charge.
Mike Pence is part of the roundtable. He's just a liar. Peggy Noonan is a fine writer, but please, get her off the roundtable.
Interesting point by E. J. Dionne: Ron Paul won CPAC straw poll but who got the most press?
This is the full episdode:

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No Orphans in Baptist Group

At the very least, this sounds like a situation in which a self-righteous church group thought it was doing the Haitian parents a favor.

Media Mockery of Healthcare Meetup

The headlines and the stories are trying to create drama, tension. This is a serious matter, but you'd never know it given the media coverage. I wish we could fire the media along with Congress. The headline on this MSNBC story:

Obama health care drama headed to live TV
The lead:
Coming soon to daytime television: America's long-running civic drama over how to provide better health care to more of its people without breaking the bank.

President Barack Obama summons anxious Democrats and aloof Republicans to a White House summit Thursday — live on C-SPAN and perhaps cable — and gambles that he can save his embattled health care overhaul by the power of persuasion. Adversaries and allies alike were surprised by Obama's invitation to reason together at an open forum, as risky as it is unusual.

Colin Powell on Face the Nation Feb. 21

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Most at CPAC Want Ron Paul in 2012

This makes me feel a little bit better. At the CPAC convention, Ron Paul beat out Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and others.
Ron Paul doesn't engage in all the hate speech. He opposes war. He's a no nonsense guy who, relative to the other republican possibilities, I like. He's a little extreme regarding the dollar and the Federal Reserve. He's a little extreme overall. But he could be right. I wouldn't vote for him against Obama. But it's good to know that others aren't falling for the likes of Sarah Palin or used car salesman, Mitt. But then again, I don't know how telling these straw polls are. I'd like to see what Ron Paul would do once he had to govern. These guys talk a good talk but once they take the reins of the government, it's a whole new story.
See Ron Paul's speech at CPAC here.
From WaPo

2010 CPAC Straw Poll Results
Ron Paul 31%
Mitt Romney 22%
Sarah Palin 7%
Tim Pawlenty 6%
Mike Pence 5%
Newt Gingrich 4%
Mike Huckabee 4%
Mitch Daniels 2%
John Thune 2%
Rick Santorum 2%
Haley Barbour 1%
Here is part of his speech:

Michelle Obama Speaks to Governors' Association - Video

Michelle talks about Let's Move. Yesterday, she visited Pennsylvania, which started with $30 million to fund healthy eating initiatives. See that video here. Michelle also talks about her appearance on Mike Huckabee's TV show. I'll post full video when it's available.

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Obama to Speak at High School Commencement

Obama is challenging high schools in a competition. Obama will speak at the winning school's graduation.

Republicans Have a Great Attitude Going into Healthcare Meetup

Michigan Representative Dave Camp uses the phrase "government takeover," which is beyond irksome, in the GOP's weekly address. (See Obama's here). He then goes on to say the healthcare meeting will probably be a charade. That's hopeful! What a bunch of whiners the republicans have been. What have they done besides stand in the way of everything? That's not working. That slacking. If these guys were within a business, they'd be fired.

The Obamas Host Governors' Ball Feb. 21

Obama family at White House concert that featured Bob Dylan, Joan Baez


Obama will speak at the Governors' Ball at 7:10 pm eastern. Live stream at WhiteHouse.gov.
WH press release via Sweet

WEEKEND GUIDANCE AND PRESS SCHEDULE FOR
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 20 AND SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

The President has no scheduled public events on Saturday.

On Sunday, the President and First Lady will welcome the National Governors Association to the White House for the 2010 Governors' Ball. The President will deliver toast remarks. The Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden will also attend. The evening will feature a performance by Harry Connick Jr. There will be a pool spray of the President's remarks.

Also on Sunday, the First Lady will give a group of Washington, DC music students a special preview of the talent performing at the White House's annual Governors' Ball. The 3:00PMEST event will feature Mrs. Obama giving welcoming remarks and turning the program over to Grammy Award Winning artist, Harry Connick Jr. who will discuss with students his visit to the White House and his career advice for them. Harry Connick Jr. and a few residents from the New Orleans Musicians' Village will close out the event by performing a song. The Musician's Village was conceived by New Orleans native Harry Connick, Jr. in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to rebuild homes for many of New Orleans cherished but displaced artists, those who have defined the city's culture and created the sounds that have shaped the musical vernacular of the world.
For the week ahead:
Schedule for Week of February 22, 2010

On Monday, the President will meet with members of the National Governors Association at the White House.

On Tuesday, the President will attend meetings at the White House.

On Wednesday, the President will address the Business Roundtable at the St. Regis in Washington, DC. Later, he will participate in a credentialing ceremony for foreign ambassadors at the White House.

On Thursday, the President will host a bipartisan meeting at the Blair House to discuss health reform legislation. The session will begin at 10:00AM EST. President is inviting the most senior House and Senate bipartisan leadership, as well as the chairmen and ranking members of the committees that oversee health insurance reform legislation in both chambers. The President also has invited the Republican and Democratic Congressional leadership to designate an additional four Members to attend the meeting and be available to participate. In addition to the President, attending and participating on behalf of the Administration will be the Vice President, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and Nancy-Ann DeParle, Director of the Office of Health Reform. The meeting will be pooled for TV in its entirety with pool sprays throughout the day. It will also be streamed live on www.WhiteHouse.gov.

On Friday, the President will attend meetings at the White House.
Also ahead, Obama is expected to post the healthcare plan going forward. Not sure if it's going to be pieces he wants included or pieces up for conversation on Thursday, but something's going to be posted at WhiteHouse.gov