The term "bully pulpit" stems from President Theodore Roosevelt's reference to the White House as a "bully pulpit," meaning a terrific platform from which to persuasively advocate an agenda. Roosevelt often used the word "bully" as an adjective meaning superb/wonderful.
The Bully Pulpit features news, reasoned discourse, opinion and some humor.
(Politico) - Five years after he put his money behind the Swift Boat ads that helped tanked John Kerry’s presidential campaign, Senate Democrats gave T. Boone Pickens a warm welcome at their weekly policy lunch Thursday.
Or at least most of them did.
Kerry skipped the regularly scheduled lunch; his staff said the Massachusetts Democrat “was unable to attend because he had a long scheduled lunch with his interns and pages.”
Sen. Al Franken managed to make time for the lunch – but then let Pickens have it afterward.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday ramped up her criticism of insurance companies, accusing them of unethical behavior and working to kill a plan to create a new government-run health plan.
"It's almost immoral what they are doing," Pelosi said to reporters, referring to insurance companies. "Of course they've been immoral all along in how they have treated the people that they insure," she said, adding, "They are the villains. They have been part of the problem in a major way. They are doing everything in their power to stop a public option from happening."
(AP) - The Transportation Department called congressional offices late Thursday to alert them to the decision to halt the program, which offered owners of old cars and trucks $3,500 or $4,500 toward a new, more fuel-efficient vehicle.
(Politico) - Four of the most powerful business leaders in America arrived at the White House one day last month for lunch with President Barack Obama, sitting down in his private dining room just steps from the Oval Office.
But even for powerful CEOs, there’s no such thing as a free lunch: White House staffers collected credit card numbers for each executive and carefully billed them for the cost of the meal with the president.
The White House defended the unusual move as a way to avoid conflicts of interest. But the Bush administration didn’t charge presidential guests for meals, one former official said, and at least one etiquette expert found the whole thing unseemly – suggesting it was a serious breach of protocol.
(By Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post) - Yesterday, Barack Obama was God. Today, he's fallen from grace, the magic gone, his health-care reform dead. If you believed the first idiocy -- and half the mainstream media did -- you'll believe the second. Don't believe either.
Conventional wisdom always makes straight-line projections. They are always wrong. Yes, Obama's aura has diminished, in part because of overweening overexposure. But by year's end he will emerge with something he can call health-care reform. The Democrats in Congress will pass it because they must. Otherwise, they'll have slain their own savior in his first year in office.
But that bill will look nothing like the massive reform Obama originally intended. The beginning of the retreat was signaled by Obama's curious reference -- made five times -- to "health-insurance reform" during his July 22 news conference.
Reforming the health-care system is dead. Cause of death? Blunt trauma administered not by Republicans, not even by Blue Dog Democrats, but by the green eyeshades at the Congressional Budget Office.
(By Leslie Bray Evans, The Stokes News) - The Stokes County Board of Commissioners is considering allowing the Stokes County Tax Department to use a collection service to collect taxes that have remained unpaid for a decade. At their regular meeting on Monday, the commissioners heard a presentation on this subject by Stokes County Tax Administrator Jake Oakley.
The proposed system would allow the county to use Interstate Credit Collections to deal with those whose delinquent tax bills, particularly vehicle and personal property taxes, are at least 10 years old. Oakley clarified that real property taxes would still be handled in the tax office.
The biggest advantage to using ICC to collect, according to Oakley, is that the company, unlike the county tax collectors, can use the Credit Bureau.
(By Leslie Bray Evans, The Stokes News) - Stokes County’s Board of Commissioners held a lively debate on the subject of zero or low interest bonds for the school system before they voted 3-2 to table the issue at Monday night’s regular meeting. Commissioner Ernest Lankford made the initial motion to table it and was joined in yes votes from Chairman of the Board Leon Inman and Vice-Chair Jimmy Walker. Commissioners Dr. Ron Carroll and Stanley Smith voted against the tabling.
The issue of zero/low interest bonds had come up at the last meeting of the commissioners on July 13, with a quickly approaching July 31 deadline for the school system to make application. Chairman of the Board of Education Bill Hart had told the commissioners that the money, if approved, would be a perfect fit for the needed renovations at Southeastern Middle School.
The final decision at the July 13 meeting was for the school system to prepare to make application for the possible $5 million in bonds and the commissioners to get a recommendation from their financial consultant.
Andrea Mitchell on Resistance to Obamacare: People ‘May Not Know What’s Good For Them’
"You've got 47% of the people in our NBC/Wall Street Journal opinion poll who have health insurance who don't like what the president is doing. The problem he's got -- 47% of the people who've got coverage don't want change. They don't like what they're hearing. Now, they may not know what's good for them, but the problem is that he always knew he was going to have to persuade people with insurance, that's the largest number, not the people without insurance, for expanded coverage. So they've got a real problem."
(CNSNews.com) – At a time when it was popular among environmentalists to talk about capping pollutants, John Holdren was writing about placing “caps” on the U.S. economy itself--and working toward “zero economic growth.”
Holdren, who is now President Obama’s top adviser on science and technology policy, wrote in the 1970s that it would be “entirely logical” to cap the Gross National Product--the total productivity of the American economy.
“It is by now abundantly clear that the GNP cannot grow forever. Why should it?” Holdren asked in a 1977 college science textbook he co-wrote with Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich, titled “Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment.”
“Why should we not strive for zero economic growth (ZEG) as well as zero population growth?”
Washington (CNSNews.com) – A bipartisan group of senators announced Thursday that they plan to introduce legislation to revive the District of Columbia’s recently terminated D.C. Opportunity Scholarship school-voucher program.
“It’s not a liberal or conservative program, it’s a program that puts children first,” said Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) Thursday at a Capitol Hill press conference announcing the effort.
“I’m happy to say it’s a program that’s working to give D.C. children, every one of them, a chance at a better education.”
Washington (CNSNews.com) - President Obama is promoting a “big government-run” health care plan that is going to choke out private sector insurance companies, and will empower the government to eventually design insurance policies for consumers, House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) told CNSNews.com on Thursday.
“I think it’s pretty clear that the government-run program that they want is going to eventually crowd out the private sector, and secondly, in their bill it says that after five years, you can’t go out and buy a health insurance policy on your own,” Boehner said.
“You have to go to one of their government exchanges to buy a plan that was designed by the government,” he added. “So it’s pretty clear that we’re going to have a big government-run system that will eventually drive out the private sector plans we have today.”
WASHINGTON (Yahoo News) – Tens of thousands of unsafe or decaying bridges carrying 100 million drivers a day must wait for repairs because states are spending stimulus money on spans that are already in good shape or on easier projects like repaving roads, an Associated Press analysis shows.
President Barack Obama urged Congress last winter to pass his $787 billion stimulus package so some of the economic recovery money could be used to rebuild what he called America's "crumbling bridges." Lawmakers said it was a historic chance to chip away at the $65 billion backlog of deficient structures, often neglected until a catastrophe like the Minneapolis bridge that collapsed two years ago this Saturday.
States, however, have other plans. Of the 2,476 bridges scheduled to receive stimulus money so far, nearly half have passed inspections with high marks, according to federal data. Those 1,123 sound bridges received such high inspection ratings that they normally would not qualify for federal bridge money, yet they will share in more than $1.2 billion in stimulus money.
Compromise tweaks income-tax penalty opposed by Perdue
RALEIGH (AP) - North Carolina legislative leaders completed a retooled $1 billion tax plan yesterday that includes an income-tax surcharge for higher wage earners to secure a state budget deal and to allay concerns of Gov. Bev Perdue.
House and Senate Democrats reached a tentative agreement on a package that's largely similar to one that fizzled last week when Perdue said she wouldn't accept a provision that required a surcharge of 2 percent on everyone who owed income taxes.
That piece has been adjusted so that low- and some middle-income residents and families would avoid paying the 2 percent surcharge. But the wealthiest taxpayers -- couples whose taxable income is above $250,000, for example -- would face a 3 percent increase on income-tax bills.
‘The Black Sergeant’: Leon Lashley’s Letter Challenges Gates to ‘Deeply Reflect’
"Please convey my concerns to the President that Mr. Gates' actions may have caused grave and potentially irreparable harm to the struggle for racial harmony in this country and perhaps throughout the world."
From Rush Limbaugh: My friends, today's update may be difficult -- not only for you, but for me, too. Especially if you have fond memories of the 1960s television series "Flipper." We humans have a special affection for our friends of the sea, the Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. They're smart, kind, and tolerant. Some believe they're even smarter than humans. So when dolphins are sick, we try to help them... even if they don't have health insurance.
The good people at Clearwater Florida's Marine Aquarium spent the last eight months compassionately caring for Dunham, the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. Rumor had it, Dunham was the grandson of the late TV star Flipper. The male juvenile was suffering from a bad case of pneumonia. However, thanks to modern medicine, he was returned to good health, with no unnecessary tests or procedures. Dunham was recently released into the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Florida.
Dolphin experts were monitoring young Dunham by radio transmitter when the unthinkable happened. Two sharks spotted Dunham, and decided he was fine dining material. They attacked. And when sharks attack... well, it isn't pretty. Poor Dunham couldn't jump the sharks. Sadly, when the experts rushed to Dunham and found him, they had to put him out of his misery; his injuries were not recoverable.
In this great tragedy of the sea, there is no happy ending -- only sad lessons to remember. Tigers are tigers; sharks are sharks. And with even the best health care coverage in the world, free of charge, you still take your chances. Very sad.
From John Stossel: The media are never better at displaying their economic illiteracy than when they report on the minimum wage.
"Workers got a raise on Friday when the federal minimum wage was hiked 70 cents to $7.25 an hour," the Christian Science Monitor reported last week. "They'll be shouting, "Olé!".
They assume that if politicians declare that workers should get a raise, they will actually get it. But the idea that government can increase wages by decree with only good consequences rests on a serious economic fallacy: that employers set wages arbitrarily. If wages are very low, it must be that employers are stingy.
Actually, employers are stingy; they want to pay workers as little as possible, just as workers want to be paid as much as possible. But in a market -- even a government-hampered market like ours -- employers' wishes are tempered by the reality of competition. So even if an employer wants to pay workers who produce, say, $4 worth of value an hour only $2 an hour, he won't be able to. Someone else will hire them away for $3 or more.
Conyers to Introduce Constitutional Amendment Making Health Care a ‘Right’
(CNSNews.com) - During his speech at a recent National Press Club luncheon, House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) said he is introducing a constitutional amendment that would establish health care as “a right” for all Americans.
“We need a real serious bill and, by the way, the fundamental question, ‘Is health care a constitutional right?’” he said. “I mean, do you have a right to health care in the American system of government or not?”
“Well, we believe that people do and we’re introducing a constitutional amendment just to make it real clear so that you don’t have to infer or assume that that’s a given and all that.”
(CNSNews.com) - The House health-care reform bill proposes to decrease hospital visits by establishing a “medical home pilot program” for elderly and disabled Americans.
Such a medical home would not require a physician to be on the staff, and therefore could be run solely by nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Medical homes also would practice “evidence-based” medicine, which advocates only the use of medical treatments that are supported by effectiveness research.
But physicians’ groups say the legislation could lead to restrictions on which treatments may be used for certain conditions, despite the fact that some patients might require a unique or unconventional approach. It also may lead to dumping Medicare/Medicaid patients in facilities that are not required to have physicians on staff.
DANBURY (Winston-Salem Journal) - Authorities are investigating the death of a King man who was beaten on July 17 in a neighborhood near the town.
Jeffery Alan Barton, 53, of 1025 Laine Road died Monday in Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. An autopsy showed that Barton died of severe head injuries, said Maj. Durwood Bennett of the Stokes County Sheriff's Office.
Neighbors told FOX8/WGHP that Barton was beaten with a baseball bat by several men after he complained to a neighbor about his dog being bitten by another dog. A deputy found Barton injured and lying on Cathy Lane.
Investigators are working with the Stokes County District Attorney's office to bring charges against the people who assaulted Barton, Bennett said.
(By Ann Coulter, TownHall.com) - You could not ask for a more perfect illustration of the thesis of my latest book, "Guilty: Liberal Victims and Their Assault on America," than the black president of the United States attacking a powerless white cop for arresting a black Harvard professor -- in a city with a black mayor and a state with a black governor -- as the professor vacations in Martha's Vineyard.
In modern America, the alleged "victim" is always really the aggressor, and the alleged "aggressor" is always the true victim.
President Barack Obama planted the question during a health care press conference, hoping he could satisfy the Chicago Sun-Times, which has been accusing him of not being black enough. He somehow imagined that the rest of the country might not notice the president of the United States gratuitously attacking a cop in a case of alleged "racial profiling."
(By Joseph Abrams, Fox News) - Talk about a stimulus package.
The National Endowment for the Arts may be spending some of the money it received from the Recovery and Reinvestment Act to fund nude simulated-sex dances, Saturday night "pervert" revues and the airing of pornographic horror films at art houses in San Francisco.
The NEA was given $80 million of the government's $787 billion economic stimulus bill to spread around to needy artists nationwide, and most of the money is being spent to help preserve jobs in museums, orchestras, theaters and dance troupes that have been hit hard by the recession.
In Washington, House members moving forward with alternative plan
RALEIGH, N.C. (By LIZ SIDOTI, AP) - Congress reported progress on legislation to overhaul the nation's health care Wednesday as President Barack Obama introduced a retooled message asserting his plan would protect Americans and limit insurers' power.
"We have a system today that works well for the insurance industry, but it doesn't always work well for you," Obama told more than 2,000 people at Broughton High School gymnasium in Raleigh.
"What we need, and what we will have when we pass these reforms, are health insurance consumer protections to make sure that those who have insurance are treated fairly and insurance companies are held accountable."
(Winston-Salem Journal) - U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-5th, caused a stir this week with her comments in the U.S. House.
During debate over health-care overhaul plans, Foxx said Tuesday that the Republican version of the bill "is pro-life because it will not put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government."
The statement reflects Foxx's wish to keep the current House health-care bill free of tax money for end-of-life counseling and abortion, said her spokesman, Aaron Groen.
RALEIGH (AP) - N.C. House and Senate Democrats inched closer again yesterday to a tax agreement that they hope will satisfy Gov. Bev Perdue and break a month-long logjam over getting a permanent state-government budget approved.
Tax negotiators said after a series of closed-door meetings that they have reworked a proposal that Democrats at the General Assembly accepted last week. However, Perdue balked at an income-tax surcharge because middle-class families would have to pay it, too.
"We've had very good discussions with the Senate," said Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham, the House's chief tax negotiator. "We're looking at changes that move in the direction of the governor's concerns."
Sotomayor will receive yes from Hagan, no from Burr
Senate expected to vote on nomination next week
WASHINGTON (Winston-Salem Journal) - U.S. Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina says he will vote against the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.
Burr, a Republican, says he is troubled by Sotomayor's decisions in cases where she "appears to have relied on something other than well-settled law" to make her decision.
He says he is afraid that she cannot separate her personal beliefs from the law. He added that he believes that she has clearly ignored precedent in several cases, saying he finds "little predictability in her decisions and the implications they may have."
Burr, who is up for re-election next year, compared his decision with that of President Obama in 2005, when Obama, who was then a senator, voted against Chief Justice John Roberts.
North Carolina's other senator, Kay Hagan, a Democrat, said she will vote for Sotomayor. "She has an established record as a moderate judge whose decisions show a respect for precedent," Hagan said in a statement.
The statement said that in 1998 the late U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., voted for Sotomayor's confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, which is based in New York.
The Senate is expected to vote on the nomination next week.
ASHEVILLE (AP) - Former game show host and longtime animal rights activist Bob Barker predicted that tourists will avoid Cherokee Indian attractions in North Carolina until the tribe stops three local zoos from displaying bears in cramped enclosures.
Barker met with leaders of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians on Tuesday to urge them to stop the privately owned zoos on the reservation from displaying bears in pit-like enclosures and small cages.
"Things are going to change on the Cherokee reservation, I promise," Barker said at a news conference yesterday. "This is going to be a blight on tourism. Americans love animals, and all they have to know is that animals are being abused."
WASHINGTON (AP) - After weeks of turmoil, House Democrats reached a shaky peace with the party's rebellious rank-and-file conservatives yesterday to clear the way for a vote in September on sweeping health-care legislation.
Bipartisan Senate negotiators reported progress, too, on a bill said to extend coverage to 95 percent of all Americans without raising federal deficits.
"We're on the edge. We're almost there," said Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican involved in the secretive talks, although a fellow GOP participant, Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming, dissented strongly.
RALEIGH (Winston-Salem Journal) - Construction on North Carolina's first toll road in modern history will begin next month after a state panel awarded contracts to build the Triangle Expressway.
The North Carolina Turnpike Authority said yesterday that it awarded a combined $584 million in contracts to build two of the expressway's three segments. The 19-mile highway will cut 20 minutes off travel time between southern Wake County and Research Triangle Park.
The panel reached the deals after securing $1 billion in toll revenue and state bonds and federal loans.
The expressway should be completely open to traffic in 2012 and have no tollbooths. Drivers will be charged through an electronic transponder in a car or cameras that will bill drivers using license-plate information.
RALEIGH (By Karen McMahan, Carolina Journal Online) - One of the centerpieces of the Obama administration’s agenda is H.R. 2998, the so-called cap-and-trade legislation, which passed the House of Representatives June 26 by a narrow 219-212 margin.
Supporters believe that the bill’s objective -- slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050 -- can spur energy independence, cut pollution, and create green jobs, all at a minimal cost, pegged by President Obama at about a postage stamp a day for the average American household.
Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat representing North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, voted for the bill. Spokesman Ken Willis told Carolina Journal Butterfield “feels there is empirical evidence that humans affect global climate change and the cost of inaction would be higher socially, financially, and environmentally than would taking action.” Willis added that “the bill will have a net positive economic effect on low-income Americans, because 60 percent of greenhouse gas allowances will be used to offset the higher cost of energy.”
Critics, however, say the bill is in fact a national energy tax that will transfer trillions of dollars from consumers to big business over time, and control American lifestyles and behaviors in unprecedented ways while having a negligible impact on global climate change.
(INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY) - Lawyers are responsible for more unneeded procedures than "greedy" doctors. But instead of capping malpractice awards, bureaucrats will soon decide which treatments are OK and whether you're worth it.
From Rush Limbaugh: Suddenly, two very powerful Democrat senators are finding their Very Important Person status a nuisance.
When word leaked that senators Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Chris Dodd of Connecticut were the recipients of "sweetheart" mortgage deals from Countrywide, both issued denials. Conrad, who heads the Senate Budget Committee, and Dodd, who heads Banking, claimed not to know the mortgage company gave them special rates. Neither could imagine why the company -- with lots of business before their committees -- would grant them VIP status.
Well, AP has acquired transcripts of secret testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. According to Robert Feinberg, who worked in Countrywide's VIP section, both Conrad and Dodd were told "from the start they were getting VIP mortgage discounts." By the way, not just for one home. Dodd got sweetheart deals on homes in Washington, DC and Connecticut; Conrad's got his swag on an eight-unit apartment building in Bismarck and a beach house in Delaware.
Both Democrat senators were in the "friends of Angelo" program, named after former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo -- who's now charged with civil fraud and insider trading by the SEC. Robert Feinberg said he told both senators directly they were getting special treatment. "You don't say 'no' to the VIP," he told investigators.
Countrywide was up to its neck in the subprime mortgage foreclosure crisis created by Democrats, and Democrats were up to their necks in sweetheart mortgage deals. Somehow, it all makes sense. It's silly for these people to even deny it.
(The Heritage Foundation) - "All parts of government are growing," especially the federal budget, argues Heritage Foundation economist Brian Reidl in a new Heritage report on runaway government spending.
Reidl explains that bailouts, the “stimulus” package, and expansions of entitlement programs have caused federal spending to increase at a pace not seen since World War II.
Under GOP plan, government would pay to lease back most of the sites
(The Arizona Republic) - Call it a sign of desperate times: Legislators are considering selling the House and Senate buildings where they've conducted state business for more than 50 years.
Dozens of other state properties also may be sold as the state government faces its worst financial crisis in a generation, if not ever. The plan isn't to liquidate state assets, though.
Instead, officials hope to sell the properties and then lease them back over several years before assuming ownership again. The complex financial transaction would allow government services to continue without interruption while giving the state a fast infusion of as much as $735 million, according to Capitol projections.
For investors, the arrangement means long-term lease payments from a stable source.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - How much are politicians straining to convince people that the government is stimulating the economy? In Oregon, where lawmakers are spending $176 million to supplement the federal stimulus, Democrats are taking credit for a remarkable feat: creating 3,236 new jobs in the program's first three months.
But those jobs lasted on average only 35 hours, or about one work week. After that, those workers were effectively back unemployed, according to an Associated Press analysis of state spending and hiring data. By the state's accounting, a job is a job, whether it lasts three hours, three days, three months, or a lifetime.
"Sometimes some work for an individual is better than no work," said Oregon's Senate president, Peter Courtney.
(The Washington Times) - Facing the first real rough patch of his presidency, President Obama and his supporters are once again resorting to a tried-and-true tactic: attacking George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
In his White House press conference last week, Mr. Obama referred to the Bush era at least nine times, three times lamenting that he "inherited" a $1.3 trillion debt that has set back his administration's efforts to fix the economy.
With the former president lying low in Dallas, largely focused on crafting his memoirs, Mr. Obama has increasingly attempted to exploit Mr. Bush when discussing the weak economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the difficulty closing the military prison at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
As he took power, Mr. Obama promised a "new era of responsibility" that would transcend partisan politics.
Obama Error at AARP? ‘Nobody Is Talking About Reducing Medicare Benefits’
(Breitbart TV) - President Obama's comments during the AARP townhall on Tuesday seem to be at odds with the plan put forward by the White House last month.
Reuters report on June 13th: President Barack Obama Saturday proposed an additional $313 billion in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other programs to pay for health care reforms expected to cost about $1 trillion over the next decade.
The moderate "Blue Dog" Democrats are calling for provisions to ensure that the government's plan is affordable for small businesses and are insisting on a negotiated rate for any government-run health plan that would compete with private insurance.
(Fox News) - A pack of dogs has emerged in the House of Representatives, and they are demonstrating just how "alpha" they can be.
The "Blue Dog" Democrats -- a group of fiscally conservative representatives who account for 52 seats in the House -- are demanding that the massive bill to revise existing health insurance plans will provide an affordable government option for small businesses and competitive pricing to keep private insurers in business.
The group met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in closed-door meetings for more than seven hours Tuesday night, but a compromise between the Blue Dogs and party leaders was not struck.
RALEIGH (Winston-Salem Journal) - North Carolina legislators may repeal the state's required annual motor-vehicle safety inspections.
Yesterday, the N.C. Senate Commerce Committee debated a bill that its sponsor, Sen. Charlie Albertson of Duplin County, said would save owners more than $12 a year on each vehicle.
Albertson said that a report by the General Assembly's Program Evaluation Division found no proof that inspections improve road safety and no increase in wrecks after South Carolina and Nebraska repealed their inspection laws.
Brain Food: Bill Clinton Chows on Double Burger, Onion Rings, French Fries, Milkshake on Eve of Obesity Conference
(ABC News) - Former President Bill Clinton is one of the featured speakers at today’s inaugural “Weight of the Nation” conference in Washington, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control to focus on obesity prevention and control.
Clinton’s battles with his own weight, of course, are famous -- punctuated by fast-food runs during the early days of his presidency, and the heart bypass operation he needed to undergo in 2004.
How to fuel up for an appearance like today’s conference?
According to The Washington Post’s “Reliable Source” column (which has the photo to prove it), the former president waited in line Saturday night at Z Burger in Washington’s Tenleytown neighborhood, posing for photos and signing autographs as his take-out order was readied.
His order: double burger (hold the mayo), onion rings, French fries, and an apple-pie milkshake.
(CNSNews.com) - President Obama’s top science adviser said in a book he co-authored in 1973 that a newborn child “will ultimately develop into a human being” if he or she is properly fed and socialized.
“The fetus, given the opportunity to develop properly before birth, and given the essential early socializing experiences and sufficient nourishing food during the crucial early years after birth, will ultimately develop into a human being,” John P. Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, wrote in “Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions.”
Holdren co-authored the book with Stanford professors Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich. The book was published by W.H. Freeman and Company.
ASHEVILLE (AP) - Former game show host and longtime animal rights activist Bob Barker asked the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to stop using bear pits as tourist attractions and turn the animals over to a sanctuary in California.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reported that Barker met Tuesday with Principal Chief Michell Hicks and five members of the Tribal Council. He called the bears' conditions inhumane in a public meeting moderated by Hicks and attended by some business owners.
"To think that with as advanced as our civilization is now that there is any place in the United States were bears are kept in pits is just unbelievable," said Barker, who is part American Indian and grew up on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. "Just picture yourself, if your life, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, month after month, was in a pit."
From Rush Limbaugh: Those who studied mythology recall Hercules' war with the nine-headed hydra. When Hercules smashed one head, two more popped out. One head was immortal; it had to be severed and buried under a boulder before the battle was won.
The modern hydra is being battled in Congress. Yet another health care "reform" plan is popping out, this one from the Senate Finance Committee. Led by Montana Democrat Max Baucus, three Democrats and three Republicans have been holding secret meetings to come up with a bipartisan plan. Either by accident or design, word of their proposals are filtering out.
Reportedly, the "group of six" ditched the idea that business should be required to insure all employees. They'd just pay a surcharge to the government for the health-welfare subsides those workers get from the government. Instead of massive government bureaucracies, we'd have massive nonprofit "cooperatives" providing coverage. Think: Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac -- for health care.
On top of that, the plan adds massive taxes on those who now have great health care plans. The idea is that taxing these so-called premium or "Cadillac" health plans up to 35 percent would force costs down -- somehow. It's just another attack on wealth, designed to lower the standards of health care for high earners.
This battle is far from over, my friends. Democrats are determined to ruin our health care delivery system no matter what, and it will take a sustained, Herculean effort to defeat their health care hydra. Don't doubt me.
(By Byron York, Washington Examiner) - Pick your average member of the House of Representatives, one who has a lot of work to do but hasn't been deeply involved in crafting the massive health care makeover bill. Who knows more about what's in that bill -- Mr. Average Democrat, or Mr. Average Republican?
Bet on the Republican. For weeks now, GOP lawmakers have been studying the Democratic health care bill, and for months before that, they studied preliminary Democratic plans. Many rank-and-file Democrats, on the other hand, have been so ill-informed about what their leadership has been doing that it was only last week, when the party offered a five-hour class on the bill's contents, that some members began to grasp the details.
That means the Republicans hold an advantage going into the health care ground war that will unfold during the August recess, when lawmakers go home to visit with voters. "We learned from the stimulus, and the other side didn't," says one savvy GOP aide. "They pushed through a bill as fast as possible so that no one knew what was in it. Very early on, there was a clear goal that Republican members of Congress would know what was in this [health care] bill and what its impact would be."
GOP Senator Blames 'Southerners' for Party's Problems
Voinovich slams DeMint and Coburn for GOP downfall; blames 'the southerners'
(The Hill) - Too many conservative senators like Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) are to blame for the GOP's downfall, one of their retiring Republican colleagues complained Monday.
"We got too many Jim DeMints and Tom Coburns," Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) told the Columbus Dispatch. "It's the southerners."
Voinovich, a native Clevelander who retires after the 2010 election, continued after the southern elements of the GOP.
"They get on TV and go 'errrr, errrrr,'" he said. "People hear them and say, 'These people, they're southerners. The party's being taken over by southerners. What the hell they got to do with Ohio?'"
Voinovich has broken with his party at several significant points during his two terms in the Senate. He bucked leaders to vote against a dividend tax cut pushed by President George W. Bush earlier this decade, for instance, and only last week voted against an amendment sponsored by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) to expand Americans' ability to carry concealed weapons.
Voinovich, along with Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), voted against Thune's amendment, providing the key swing votes preventing it from passing.
Senior House Democrat wants to toughen Obama's new restrictions on Wall Street pay by banning salaries and bonuses that encourage what the government considers "inappropriate risk."
WASHINGTON (Fox News) - A senior House Democrat wants to toughen President Barack Obama's new restrictions on Wall Street pay by banning salaries and bonuses that encourage what the government considers "inappropriate risk."
The proposal by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., which will be considered Tuesday by the House Financial Services Committee, would give the government unprecedented power in how financial executives are rewarded.
Obama has shied away from such direct intervention, even as administration officials argued that excessive compensation in the private sector contributed to the financial crisis.
(Politico) - Sean Hannity believes it. So does House Minority Leader John Boehner. Talk show host Fred Thompson calls it “the dirty little secret” of the health care reform debate.
The focus of their ire is a provision tucked deep inside the House bill that would provide Medicare coverage for an end-of-life consultation once every five years. If a person falls ill with a life-threatening disease, more frequent sessions would be allowed.
Republicans are now using this language as a wedge between senior citizens and Democrats. Boehner and Republican Policy Committee Chairman Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) issued a statement last week saying it “may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia” — even though the concept behind the provision has been embodied in federal law since 1990 and has been promoted by Republicans and Democrats for years.
(Israel National News) - “Not since the days of [U.S. Secretary of State Henry] Kissinger has there been such a protest against American policies,” said MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh), chairman of the National Union party. “The pressure that Barack Hussein Obama is exerting against us to simply stop growing and stop living will not work.”
(Washington Post) - The current system is untenable and getting worse, with employers dropping insurance and premiums rising for those who still have it. Reform is essential. But Mr. Obama does the public a disservice by acting as if it will not require anything from them in return.
RALEIGH (Winston-Salem Journal) - House Democrats want to get their Senate counterparts back to the bargaining table on taxes even though Gov. Bev Perdue balked at a deal last week.
Speaker Joe Hackney said last night that Democratic leaders in his chamber want to work out a tax agreement that's based largely on a $982 million tax package hammered out with the Senate.
But Perdue said she wouldn't accept it because it contained an across-the-board income tax surcharge on those she called working families.
Senate Democrats said they plan to revive their own plan to overhaul the tax system by expanding services subject to the sales tax and reducing tax rates. Sen. Dan Clodfelter of Mecklenburg County said that the Senate Finance Committee will discuss the idea at a meeting today.
(U.K. Times Online) - It might have been the golf tee that swung it for President Obama as he looked for a summer holiday retreat — but the 28 acres on Martha’s Vineyard, the swimming pool, private beach and basketball court may just have clinched it too.
Mr Obama and the First Family are planning to spend their summer break on a $20 million retreat on the wealthy playground island off Cape Cod and even seem undeterred that the property is owned by a Republican.
The choice of such an exclusive location will inevitably be fodder for the President’s Republican critics who decried his recent “date night” to New York with his wife, Michelle — an excursion that cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars at a time of deep recession and soaring unemployment.
WASHINGTON (By Robert Samuelson, Real Clear Politics) - The most misused word in the health care debate is "reform." Everyone wants "reform," but what constitutes "reform" is another matter. If you listen to President Obama, his "reform" will satisfy almost everyone. It will insure the uninsured, control runaway health spending, subdue future budget deficits, preserve choice for patients and improve quality of care. These claims are self-serving exaggerations and political fantasies. They have destroyed what should be a serious national discussion of health care.
The health care conundrum involves a contradiction that the administration steadfastly obscures: In the short run -- meaning four to eight years -- government cannot both insure the uninsured and rein in health spending. Here's why. The notion that the uninsured get little or no care is a myth: They now receive about 50 percent to 70 percent of the health care of the insured. If they become insured, their health care would rise toward 100 percent; that would increase both government and private health spending, depending on how the insurance is provided.
Until health costs are better controlled, expanding insurance coverage will be expensive. The president talks endlessly about the need to limit spending and eliminate waste. These are worthy goals. But changing the way medical care is delivered and paid for would take years and involve disruptive and unpopular measures. Patient co-payments might increase; networks of doctors and hospitals might displace individual practices; the tax exclusion for employer-paid health insurance might be curbed. Obama downplays the obstacles. Any "reform" isn't likely to compel needed changes, partly because it's not clear what will work.
"Governments that set out to regiment their people with the stated objective of providing security and liberty have ended up losing both. Those which put freedom as the first priority find they have also provided security and economic progress."
From Rush Limbaugh: My friends, a South Florida jury delivered a huge dose of health care reform. The case involved the tragedy of Luis Jimenez -- a day laborer and illegal immigrant from Guatemala. Jimenez was in a van struck by a drunk driver nine years ago. The accident left him a paraplegic with the cognitive abilities of a fourth grader. Like all who require emergency medical help, he was treated -- no questions asked -- at Martin Memorial in Stuart, Florida. He would spend three years there at tremendous cost because no other facility would take him in given his illegal status, inability to pay, and federal regulations.
After receiving backing from the Guatemalan government and a court order from a Florida judge (which was later overturned), the hospital chartered a plane and returned Jimenez to his home country. Then came the lawsuit. A family member here sued the hospital, seeking a million dollars for Jimenez's future medical expenses -- in Guatemala. And they wanted punitive damages for "unlawfully detaining" him on the flight home in order to discourage other hospitals from "deporting" illegal immigrants who can't pay but rack up millions in bills.
The jury found, unanimously, that Martin Memorial did not act unreasonably. For obvious reasons, this case was watched closely by the health care industry. But not one part of the Democrats' health care takeover addresses the impact of illegal aliens on our health care system... and for very obvious reasons: they will someday vote.
(By Gerald Warner, U.K. Telegraph) - Are the people rejecting their saviour? Barack Obama’s approval rating has slipped to below that of George “Dubya” Bush at the same stage in his presidency and this is causing some concern among right-thinking (by which, of course, I mean left-thinking) people. This is by no means the death of the dream that began in January – approval ratings slide up and down erratically – but it is at least an early intimation of mortality.
For this is no ordinary presidency, this is the reign on earth of The One: his approval rating was intended to break the mould by rising inexorably to 100 per cent and beyond. The problem about a mega-hype like the Obama scam is that when it goes pear-shaped it will crash and burn like nothing we have seen since that other hot-air powered marvel, the Hindenburg. Here we are, six months into the great adventure and already our hero is in deep doo-doo.
How is it with the economic rescue package? Terrific – if you are a Wall Street banker. But if you happen to belong to that uncovenanted majority of the population, the lumpen salariat, you may be coming to the conclusion that crossing FDR’s depression-prolonging New Deal with LBJ’s Great Society is not the answer to your problems. This one will run and run; and so, eventually, will its instigators if they want to stay ahead of the mob with tar and feathers.
(By BETSY MCCAUGHEY, New York Post) - PRESIDENT Obama promises that "if you like your health plan, you can keep it," even after he reforms our health-care system. That's untrue. The bills now before Congress would force you to switch to a managed-care plan with limits on your access to specialists and tests.
Two main bills are being rushed through Congress with the goal of combining them into a finished product by August. Under either, a new government bureaucracy will select health plans that it considers in your best interest, and you will have to enroll in one of these "qualified plans." If you now get your plan through work, your employer has a five-year "grace period" to switch you into a qualified plan. If you buy your own insurance, you'll have less time.
And as soon as anything changes in your contract -- such as a change in copays or deductibles, which many insurers change every year -- you'll have to move into a qualified plan instead (House bill, p. 16-17).
(The Washington Prowler) - It wasn't out of a need for racial healing that President Barack Obama reached out to his old friend, Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley.
"We were looking at House hearings on the matter moving fairly quickly, and that wasn't going to be good for us or for Gates," says a White House source. "We needed this thing to go away and go away fast."
Early Friday, the White House got wind of Rep. Edolphus Towns' interest in holding hearings into the matter of Gates' arrest, and more broadly looking into the issue of racial profiling by law enforcement. Towns is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, as well as the senior House Democratic Member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Adding to the desire to get the story buried was the media's seeming refusal to let the story drop. By noon Friday, House press secretary Robert Gibbs, along with other senior White House officials, recommended that Obama either walk back his statement further than he did on Thursday, or take proactive action.
"The President chose action, in part because we saw this story eclipsing other issues and narratives that we needed front and center for August," says the White House source. "We didn't need House hearings keeping the story alive into August and then into the fall, when the hearings most likely would have been held. We have more important issues to deal with than this."
(Politico) - For the second time this month, congressional budget analysts have dealt a blow to the Democrat's health reform efforts, this time by saying a plan touted by the White House as crucial to paying for the bill would actually save almost no money over 10 years.
A key House chairman and moderate House Democrats on Tuesday agreed to a White House-backed proposal that would give an outside panel the power to make cuts to government-financed health care programs. White House budget director Peter Orszag declared the plan "probably the most important piece that can be added" to the House's health care reform legislation.
But on Saturday, the Congressional Budget Office said the proposal to give an independent panel the power to keep Medicare spending in check would only save about $2 billion over 10 years- a drop in the bucket compared to the bill's $1 trillion price tag.
Fiscally conservative Democrats known as Blue Dogs delayed the work of a key committee last week over cost concerns and other issues, and after talks broke down Friday pledged to restart discussions this week.
(Fox News) - House Democrats will enter a critical negotiating session Monday afternoon as party leaders try to prevent internal tensions from indefinitely delaying action on a heath care overhaul.
As the Senate takes a slow-and-steady approach to its version of the package, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to speak of progress in her chamber with pep and vigor.
"When I take this bill to the floor, it will win," she said Sunday. "We will move forward, it will happen."
(CNSNews.com) – Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told Congress that the administration planned to fix the “basic regulatory flaws” that it thinks caused the financial crisis by instituting more regulations and creating a new regulatory agency to oversee all financial products.
Geithner, testifying before the House Financial Services Committee on Friday, told lawmakers that Obama’s proposal would address the “core causes” of the nation’s financial collapse as well as any problems in the future.
“The president’s plan focuses on the essential reforms,” Geithner said. “It addresses the core causes of the economic crisis. It addresses the areas critical to confronting future vulnerabilities.
RALEIGH (By John Hood, Carolina Journal Online) - After Gov. Beverly Perdue’s sudden, clumsy sabotage of the emerging tax-hike deal in the General Assembly late last week, there was a wave of predictions that legislative leaders would have to start all over, that the Senate might return to its sales-tax-on-services position and refuse to budge, and that budget negotiations might last well into August or even September.
Count me as unconvinced.
The broad outlines of the state budget Perdue and the legislature are going to pass this year have been evident for weeks. They will spend a little over $20 billion in General Fund and federal-bailout dollars. They will raise taxes primarily by hiking the retail sales taxes by a penny, gouging cigarette and alcohol users some more, and applying a surcharge to state income-tax bills.
CONCORD (MCCLATCHY-TRIBUNE EXCHANGE) - While protesters rallied in his support, the owner of a Concord Mills kiosk that sells conservative merchandise said he met with the mall's manager Sunday to see what arrangements can be made for him to remain after his lease expires Friday, The Charlotte Observer reported.
Nothing was agreed to, except that the two would meet again today, said Loren Spivack, owner of Free Market Warrior.
Spivack has contended that he's being kicked out of the mall for political reasons. He's traced his exile to a letter to the editor in the Observer criticizing his business, saying it promotes "ideas such as racism, sexism and even slavery."
RALEIGH (AP) - Logs recording Mary Easley's everyday activities showed that the former first lady rarely spent a full day on the college campus where she held a job that she is now fighting to regain, according to a published report.
The newly discovered, time-stamped records, which were kept by a detail of the N.C. Highway Patrol that guarded the Easley family, indicate that Mary Easley was on the N.C. State University campus for an average of about three days a week during the months that she was working full time.
The records also show her doing other things during workdays, such as running errands, getting a haircut or visiting the N.C. Museum of Art, where she was active in fundraising.
RALEIGH (AP) - Drivers' license offices in eastern North Carolina will close for part of a day so they can prepare for a new process where applicants receive a temporary driving permit before their license.
WRAL-TV reported that 16 offices will close for half a day this week, then reopen the following day to prepare for central issuance.
Under that process, people renewing their licenses receive a temporary driving permit that's valid for 20 days while their personal information is verified. Their license or identification card is then mailed to them.
The state Division of Motor Vehicles began phasing in the program statewide earlier this month in Wake County, followed by 15 counties in western North Carolina. All 114 DMV offices are expected to have the program by the fall.
(By Laura Graff, Winston-Salem Journal) - A public-private partnership. It sounded simple two years ago when the city of Winston-Salem approved spending $12 million to help build a baseball stadium downtown.
Taxpayers and businesses would join together to add a critical element to the core of the city. Nearby neighborhoods and restaurants would thrive. Fireworks would explode, mascots would race children around bases, and hot dogs, Cracker Jack and Thirsty Thursdays would bring a partylike atmosphere to the city.
But the execution has been anything but simple, and the party is a long way from starting.
Ex-state representative's cooperation cited by judge
(Winston-Salem Journal) - A federal judge has reduced former state representative Michael Decker's prison sentence from 48 to 36 months, which could result in him being sent to a halfway house.
In an order signed Friday, Judge James C. Dever III of U.S. District Court cited Decker's help in the federal prosecution and conviction of Jim Black, the former speaker of the N.C. House of Representatives.
"Indeed, but for Decker's cooperation, Black might still be in office," Dever, wrote in the order.
1996: Professor Gates Bashes ‘Racist’ White Institutions, Clarence Thomas & Newt Gingrich
"For me, for someone who has benefited so much from the opportunities of affirmative action, to stand at the gate and try to keep other black people out would be to be as hypocritical as Clarence Thomas."