February 23rd, 2009

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The 10 most influential D.C. Twitterers

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When you talk about Twitter, you might as well be talking about the Snuggie: People around you swear that it’s actually useful, but you can’t help thinking it silly and declaring, “I just don’t get what all the buzz is about.”

But in Washington, the social networking and microblogging service is quickly becoming part of the daily media diet — and a powerful tool in the hands of those who are adept at making their points in 140 characters or fewer.

Here are the new maestros of the tweet — Washington’s 10 Most Influential Twitterers.

1. Karl Rove: www.twitter.com/karlrove

The Architect opened a Twitter account in January and quickly amassed more than 11,000 followers. If you’ve ever wanted a peek inside Bush’s Brain, Rove provides one, with updates on the GOP’s future (“How do we hold back the tide? We must make a case that turns public opinion”) and humorous quips about his former colleague Dick Cheney (“I look forward to my next hunt with him”).

This more transparent, funny side of Rove has taken many Bush bashers by surprise, prompting Daily Beast contributor Rachel Sklar to ask: “Can one of the most divisive men in America actually change his image — 140 characters at a time?”

Commenters scoffed. But as the GOP settles into life as an opposition party, Rove’s quick and dirty dispatches could prove useful to Republicans looking for a way back.

2. Sen. Claire McCaskill: www.twitter.com/clairecmc

Although more than 60 members of Congress tweet, no one else does so with the regularity and honesty of this Missouri Democrat.

She’ll open up about her political views (“I’m mad about these yahoos on Wall Street taking bonuses and trying to buy fancy jets on the taypayers dime”) and her personal life (“Brought work home. My sister is here who is a huge dog person. That means one thing tonight. Westminister Dog Show on TV”).

McCaskill’s embrace of Twitter has worked: With more than 5,700 followers, she is one of the most popular Twitterers on Capitol Hill.

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Forget change: GOP eyes retro strategy

Forget change: GOP eyes retro strategy

By JEANNE CUMMINGS | 2/23/09 4:31 AM EST

Republicans are hatching a political comeback by dusting off a strategic playbook written nearly two decades ago.


Its themes: Unite against Democrats’ economic policy, block and counter health care reform and tar them with spending scandals.

Those represent the political trifecta that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich bet on in 1994 to produce a historic Republican takeover of Congress.

Now, some Republicans believe President Barack Obama’s one-two push on the economy and health care reform is setting the stage for a new round of significant gains, if not a total takeover.

“There are two models that Republicans are looking at,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

“One is 1990, [President George H.W.] Bush gets together with the Democrats at Andrews Air Force Base, raises taxes and loses the next election,” he explained. “The other is 1993, Democrats have a series of proposals to spend and tax. Republicans vote no and regain the House and Senate.”

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Jake G -  Moving beauty

"Dear President Obama": The President Reads 10 Letters a Day from the Public


The letter to President Obama came from a woman in Arizona whose husband lost his job. He was able to find work, but the new gig came with one-third the pay; the family is struggling to make their mortgage payments.

The letter from the Arizona woman illustrated a policy conundrum, recalled senior adviser David Axelrod. President Obama read it, and absorbed the lesson.

"She said they had made all their mortgage payments, but were running out of money," Axelrod said. "And they were told they could not renegotiate unless they were delinquent in their payments."

Before President Obama's housing speech last week, he'd made copies of his letter and "sent it to his financial team and said, 'This is the kind of person our housing plan should help," Axelrod recalled.

The president had other copies made of that letter. He had it distributed to staff on Air Force One.

"He had been struck by how powerful the story was," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. "He wanted us as we were creating policy to make sure that we were listening and hearing these examples as well."

Ht_letter03_090222_blogEvery day President Barack Obama is handed a special purple folder. The folder contains ten letters, and every day President Obama takes time to read them.

Are they from world leaders? From members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff? Members of the intelligence community?

No, these letters have been culled from the thousands the White House Correspondence Office receives each day from Americans who have taken the time to sit down and write to their president.

"They help him focus on the real problems people are facing," says Axelrod. "He really a absorbs these letters, and often shares then with us." 

In his first week in office, President Obama requested that he see 10 letters a day "representative of people's concerns, from people writing into the president," recalls Gibbs, "to help get him outside of the bubble, to get more than just the information you get as an elected official."

Says Axelrod, "he did it because his greatest concern is getting isolated in the White House, away from the experiences of the American people...The letters impact him greatly."

Some recent examples, according to aides, include a letter from a businessman who owns a manufacturing company and says he finds it very difficult to lay off employees who have done nothing wrong.  If things don't improve, the correspondent wrote, he'll have to lay off 10% of his workforce. 

Another letter came from a divorced senior citizen raising a grandchild on a fixed income, including Social Security.  She confessed to being depressed and scared.

A third came from a realtor who urged the president to do something about the large number of foreclosed properties. A fourth was a plea for help from an unemployed truck driver.

Monday through Friday the head of White House Correspondence delivers ten letters to be read by the President, choosing among letters that are broadly representative of the day’s news and issues; ones that are broadly representative of President’s intake of current mail, phone calls to the comment line, and faxes from citizens; and messages that are particularly compelling.

Ht_letter02_090222_blogSome of these, maybe two or three each day, the President responds to in his own hand.

Gibbs says that before two different economic speeches, the President "pulled letters he has gotten and distributed them to staff, to understand what people were going through."

The vast majority of the calls coming into the White House, and over a third of the faxes have been on the stimulus package and the economy, so up to half of the letters the President sees are on that broad subject. Aides say that many of these correspondents also have other complications: bankruptcy due to health care, lost job, lost opportunities for their children.

A smaller number of the letters address other issues, such as the environment, health care, education, foreign affairs, or nuclear proliferation.

And a handful, usually no more than five a week, are from people who have a simple supportive message or inspirational story to tell.

The head of correspondence also includes letters to the President from smaller children who ask questions or give advice.

Ht_letter01_090222_blogSometimes the letters are include in the president's overnight briefing book.

As the President addresses the immense issues the nation and world face -- today the President will announce he's appointing an inspector general to head the transparency and accountability board to supervise the stimulus spending, and will host an fiscal responsibly summit; Tuesday he will address the economy before a joint sessions of Congress; Thursday he will present his budget -- the President's aides say these letters help the president stay in touch with real people and ignore the chatter here inside the DC bubble.




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*Heart* our President.

Buffy

GA Gov'nr Might Turn Down Stimulus Funds



Perdue: Ga. might turn down some stimulus funds
Governor says his office is still reviewing the plans
By BOB KEEFE

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Sunday, February 22, 2009

WASHINGTON — Georgia may end up turning down hundreds of millions of dollars in federal economic stimulus money because it might not be in the state’s long-term interest to accept it, Gov. Sonny Perdue said Sunday.

Perdue said his office is still reviewing the funding requirements behind the billions of dollars in federal aid Georgia is expected to get out of the plan.

“Some of it is very helpful, and some of it we’re still analyzing,” Perdue said in an interview at the National Governors Association meeting here. “We’re going to be doing due diligence on each one of these components and deciding what’s in the best long-term interest of Georgians.”

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-_- I literally picked the paper up on my way to lunch after reading here about all the gov'nrs meeting with Obama last night. I was like, "Gee, I'm glad Perdue is accepting -- oh look an article about schools and...o_O."
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Bush turns down greeter position at a Dallas hardware store.

Earlier this month, Elliott’s Hardware store in Dallas offered former President Bush a job as a part-time greeter. “We think it would be a great fit for him as he settles back into life in Dallas,” the store’s owner said. Bush showed up at the store on Friday “lookin’ for a job,” he said to some of Elliott’s employees. Bush ended up turning down the offer but continued on his quest for “flashlights and batteries.” Watch a local Dallas news report:
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Rahm Goes to the Movies, Saves a Life, And Curses While Doing So

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A surprised fellow moviegoer passes on word that Rahm Emanuel took time out Saturday night to see The Wrestler at the E Street Cinema last night with a Secret Service Agent.

It was not a quiet night out.

"The guy sitting next to Rahm -- literally sharing an armrest with him -- had a seizure of some kind," the moviegoer tells me. "Rahm used some vulgarities to impress upon the movie theater staff -- who wanted to move the guy out of the movie theater so they could restart the film -- that they should wait until EMS got there."

Emanuel stayed and helped, I'm told, until EMS arrived.
source: Ben Smith
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Guv. Mark Sanford is Living on a Prayer

Following the lead of a number of his fellow Republican governors, Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) has given some indication that he will not accept some of the money slated for South Carolina in the $787 billion economic recovery bill President Obama signed into law last week. “At times it sounds like the Soviet grain quotas of Stalin’s time,” Sanford said yesterday on Fox News.

On C-SPAN’s Washington Journal this morning, Sanford received a call from a Charleston resident who said he lost his job because he has been taking care of mother and sister, both of whom have serious illnesses. The caller told Sanford he is “wrong” to decline the money. “A lot of people in South Carolina are hurting. And if this money can come and help us out we need it.” In response, Sanford could offer him only his prayers:

CALLER: I hope you all are not playing politics with this. People in South Carolina are hurting. You know how unemployment rates are high right now and going up higher. We are running out of money in the unemployment bank — we need money for that, the people that need help. And I’m one of them, I can’t get no help. […]

SANFORD: Well I’d say hello to Charleston because its home and I’d say hello to this fellow this morning and say that my prayers are going to be with him and his family because it sounds like he is in an awfully tough spot.

Watch it:

Sanford offered no other alternative solution for his constituent and instead argued that the state could not accept money to extend unemployment benefits because “increasing the tax on unemployment insurance” would negatively “impact the caller’s family” (although he didn’t say how).

Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) — who sponsored an amendment to the stimulus bill that would allow state legislatures to “accept stimulus funding over the objections of conservative governors” — chastised Sanford on MSNBC this morning. “This program is an opportunity for Governor Sanford to target” the “chronically unemployed” and “chronically sick” communities in South Carolina. “I have got to believe that he is willing…to help these communities,” Clyburn said, asking,”Why won’t he?”
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' jules
  • schmiss

blast from the ~pre-9/11~ past

Arrest Said to Be Near in Killing of Chandra Levy



Police officials here are close to making an arrest in the killing of Chandra Levy, the former federal government intern whose disappearance in 2001 ended Gary A. Condit’s Congressional career after his relationship with her was revealed, several law enforcement officials familiar with the investigation said on Saturday.

Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier contacted Ms. Levy’s family on Friday to inform them that officials would be pressing charges, probably in the next several days.

Law enforcement officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because charges had not been filed, identified the suspect as Ingmar Guandique, 27, who has previously denied any involvement in Ms. Levy’s disappearance and killing.

Ms. Levy’s killing is one of Washington’s most sensational unsolved crimes and has brought intense pressure on the Police Department. She disappeared on May 1, 2001, and more than a year passed before her body was found in Rock Creek Park.

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I wonder when people like Connie Chung will apologize for treating Condit like a murderer? Especially when an intern died in a Republican congressman's office at the same time and got virtually NO press attention (that congressman being, of course, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough). ~nevar forget~
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What was that about gay marriage being less important than the economy?

Gay Marriage Worth $60M For Maine

 

A just-released study predicts that same-sex marriage would bolster Maine's economy by $60M over its first three years.
Supporters of a bill to allow gay marriage in the state released the study this week from the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. Opponents say the study has come out at a time when people are worried about the economy but that, even still, it's not likely to change anyone's opinion about the subject. The institute, which has done similar analyses for other states considering gay marriage, based its conclusions on a calculation of how many Maine gay and lesbian couples would get married in the first three years, and how many same-sex couples from out of state would travel to Maine to get married. They estimated 2,316 gay or lesbian couples, about half of the estimated number of couples living in the state, would get married if state law allowed it. Also, they believe more than 15,000 couples from out of state would come here to wed if they could. To come up with the economic impact, they estimated that Maine couples would spend $4,641 on a wedding, while those from out of state would spend $3,143. Also, they calculated that tax revenues and fees would generate $3.6 million, also over three years. Those revenues would come from state and local sales taxes, lodging and prepared-food taxes and marriage-license fees, according to the study.
A spokesperson for Maine Freedom To Marry said she finds the average-per-wedding figure to be "extraordinarily conservative." Maine's marriage equality bill get its first hearing in the state senate in a few weeks.

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Thanks, and have a wonderful day.



Bree Gun

Pathetic.

Killer of Gay Teen Michael Causer Acquitted; Family, Friends Protest

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After 13 hours of deliberation late last week, a jury in Liverpool acquitted Gavin Alker for the murder of teenager Michael Causer, who was attacked by three other youths while he slept last July and remained in a coma for a week before dying in the hospital. Causer's lethal injuries were reportedly caused by blunt trauma from a hardback book:

Causeer "Michael, 18, died eight days after he was attacked at a house in Biglands Drive, Huyton. Paramedics found him dying in Tarbock Road at around 11am on July 25. It was alleged Gavin Alker had punched, kicked and thrown a hardback book at Mr Causer in a homophobic attack following a drinking session at a house in Biglands Drive, Huyton. But Alker denied making homophobic comments and insisted he had only hit Mr Causer in self-defence. James O’Connor, 19, has admitted murder without homophobic intent."

The verdict shocked Liverpool's gay community and a protest was held yesterday outside the court.

Said Causer's mother at the protest: "We were so shocked at Friday’s judgement. “Michael was made out to be a thug in that trial. Gavin Alker claimed he acted in self defence. Michael weighed seven and a half stone. He couldn’t have hurt a fly. If anyone acted in self defence that night it was Michael. I want someone to explain to me how a lad who worked in an old people’s home for free to try to bring some joy into their lives, who called bingo numbers, who volunteered for the British Lung Foundation’s Breathe Easy scheme can be a thug. How can we be betrayed by the justice system in such a manner? All we have now are memories. I am determined to fight this, to find a way to bring about a private prosecution. In my mind that verdict was incorrect and what Judge King said about Michael was wrong. I am determined to fight this for him. I don’t care what the cost is."

Watch a clip of the protest:

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Mother Jones: America on $195 a Week

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"I'll take a sandwich to work and that's about it," says Aubretia Edick, who is 58 and works in the pharmacy department of a Wal-Mart in Hudson, New York. "I drink a lot of tea. Once in a blue moon I'll go into Save-A-Lot and I'll get some meat. Eggs is kinda like a luxury kind of thing."

Edick first landed a $6.40-an-hour gig at Wal-Mart back in 2001, and over time her wages inched upward, reaching $10.50 last year. But with inflation factored in, it isn't that much better than when she first started. To make matters worse, while Edick was technically full time, her manager often slashed her hours due to the slowing economy. In mid-2008, she was grossing roughly $297 a week—$195 after taxes and deductions.

It's not just the unemployed who are hurting. Across the country, unskilled, nonunionized workers like Edick are barely scraping by on stagnant or declining wages. Bob Pollin, codirector of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, calculates that a single person needs about $400 a week, pretax, to achieve even a semblance of economic security—the ability to pay bills on time, eat three square meals a day, and set aside a small rainy-day fund. By Pollin's calculation, tens of millions of American workers fall short of that minimum.

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fruchick - Jon Stewart/Girlfriend

Economy Bad? DRINK MOAR.

Will the Recession Doom the Last Sunday Blue Laws?

A handful of state legislatures have declared it's closing time for Sunday alcohol sales restrictions, saying an extra day of sales could give their foundering budgets a much-needed shot of revenue. Those states - Georgia, Connecticut, Texas, Alabama and Minnesota - enjoy overwhelming voter support for an extra day of sales, but face opposition from members of the Christian right, who say that selling on Sunday undermines safety and tears apart families. "During times of economic stress, our families are under enough pressure," says Jim Beck, the president of the Georgia Christian Coalition. "I don't think we need to add even more pressure to those families by passing this law."

But proponents of Sunday sales argue that state budgets are under plenty of pressure too and that by allowing people to buy beer, wine or liquor on Sunday at grocery or package stores, states could reap millions of dollars in tax revenue. Besides, as President Roosevelt learned in the 1930s when he successfully repealed Prohibition, drinks have a way of keeping hopes high when things look bleak. In Johnathan Alter's The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope, the President recognized that legally-procured cocktails were the way to keep spirits high when Americans were trying to get used to putting their trust into the nation's crumbling banking system again. And, it could be argued, the sales also helped stimulate the economy in the middle of the Great Depression.

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Lay off the sauce, k?
' jules
  • schmiss

DON'T TELL ME WHAT I CAN'T DO!

Obama likely to name Locke to Commerce



A senior administration official says that President Barack Obama's likely third pick for Commerce secretary is former Washington Gov. Gary Locke.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement has not yet been made.

Locke was the nation's first Chinese-American governor when he served two terms in the Washington statehouse from 1997 to 2005.

Obama's expected choice of Locke arose less than two weeks after his most recent pick, Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, backed out.

Just over a week after Obama named him and he accepted, Gregg cited "irresolvable conflicts" with the policies of the Democratic president.

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I was just reading up on this guy the other day, good choice imo, let's hope he did his taxes right.
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Republican Gov. Huntsman call GOP leaders for ‘gratuitous political griping'

Gov. John Huntsman (R-UT) has broken with his GOP colleagues and will accept all of the federal recovery funds for his state. In an interview with MSNBC today, Huntsman took a swipe at his colleagues who oppose the recovery, saying they were simply engaging in “gratuitous political griping”:

Q: So why don’t you do what Gov. Jindal is doing and refuse the money that has to do with unemployment benefits? […]

HUNTSMAN: As far as I’m concerned, the debate has been had, the vote has been taken, the money is being sent. … It’s about bold solutions and pragmatic approaches that make us [Republicans] pre-eminent as opposed to kind of gratuitous political griping. We’re taking it because we have some holes to fill in our budget.

When pressed by Norah O’Donnell, Huntsman tried to walk back his statement. “Bobby Jindal is great,” he said, claiming he was trying to “refer generally to Republican responses to issues of the day.” Watch it:

Republican Govs. Bobby Jindal (LA), Mark Sanford (SC), Butch Otter (ID), Sarah Palin (AK), Sonny Perdue (GA), Rick Perry (TX), and Bob Riley (AL) have also suggested they may turn down some recovery funds.
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Pfft. I take the bus.

http://cache.virtualtourist.com/2184510-Subway-New_York_City.jpg

1.6 Billion Subway Rides In 2008

 

Even though NYC's MTA is facing service cutbacks due to a $1.2B budget shortfall, ridership in 2008 exceeded levels not seen since 1950.
Ridership on New York City’s subways was the most in almost six decades in 2008, even as growth began to slow because of the economic slump, according to statistics released today. Bus and subway ridership combined increased 3.1 percent to 2.37 billion, the highest since 1965, continuing a trend in the biggest U.S. city that started in 2004. At the same time, “growth slowed considerably toward the end of the year due to the declining economy,” New York City Transit said in a statement. Average weekday bus and subway ridership was up 3.6 percent for the first nine months of the year from the same period in 2007, and then rose 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter, the statement said. Subway ridership rose 3.9 percent to 1.62 billion, the highest since 1950, with the number of weekday passengers on the L train -- the so-called “Hipster Express” between Manhattan and Brooklyn’s artsy enclaves -- increasing 8.5 percent, the most of any line.
Two major subway construction projects are underway in Manhattan - an extension of the 7 train to 11th Avenue and the long-overdue Second Avenue line, which will have much of the UES torn up for the next five years or so.

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There goes that renewed faith some people had in Utah.

Anti-Gay Utah Senator Chris Buttars Stands Behind His Bigotry

Chris Buttars, the Utah state senator who was removed from two committees last week for his remarks comparing gays to radical Muslim extremists and saying they are America's "greatest threat," posted a message on the GOP senate blog on Friday,

Buttars "I was disappointed to learn of the Utah State Senate’s censure on Feb. 20, 2009. However, this action will not discourage me from defending marriage from an increasingly vocal and radical segment of the homosexual community. In recent years, registering opposition to the homosexual agenda has become almost impossible. Political correctness has replaced open and energetic debate. Those who dare to disagree with the homosexual agenda are labeled 'haters,' and 'bigots,' and are censured by their peers. The media contributes to the problem. Increasingly, individuals with conservative beliefs are targeted by a left-leaning media that uses their position of public trust as a bully pulpit. This pattern of intimidation suppresses free speech. For the record, I do not agree with the censure I see it as an attempt to shy away from controversy. In particular, I disagree with my removal as Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, since my work there is entirely unrelated to my opposition to the homosexual agenda. Still, I’m a grown man and I can take my knocks. When it comes right down to it, I would rather be censured for doing what I think is right, than be honored by my colleagues for bowing to the pressure of a special interest group that has been allowed to act with impunity. Thanks to the many citizens who have written and called to express their support. Please know that I’ll live through this to fight another day. In years to come, we’ll all look back at this point in history and see it as a crossroads. I have no intention of resigning."

And according to one senator who says he agrees with Buttars' views, Buttars was removed from the committees not for the content of his remarks, but because he violated an agreement that he not speak publicly about gay issues because of his leadership position on the committees.

Said Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper: "Most of what Senator Buttars said, I agree with. We as a Senate caucus had an agreement that because Sen. Buttars had become such a lightning rod on this issue, he would not be the spokesman on this issue, and basically he violated that agreement."

The Utah senate stands behind him, according to Senate President Michael Waddoups.

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Drink up baby doll

McCain questions Obama about helicopter at summit



WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama never had a helicopter, which he says might explain why he's perfectly happy with the current White House fleet and doesn't need a more costly one. At the conclusion of a fiscal summit Monday, Obama faced questions from Republican and Democratic lawmakers, including his former presidential rival, Sen. John McCain.

McCain bemoaned cost overruns in military procurement. The new fleet of 28 Marine One helicopters being built by Lockheed Martin Corp. — now over budget at $11.2 billion — will cost more than Air Force One.

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[Kiki/Tombo] I Found

(no subject)

 

Perry

Obama says Texas may lose out on stimulus funding

By HAILEY R. BRANSON
Houston Chronicle


WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama singled out Texas on Friday as a state that could lose out under the newly enacted $797 billion economic stimulus package because Gov. Rick Perry hasn’t totally ruled out rejecting some funds.
Speaking to a gathering of about 80 of the nation’s mayors at a White House meeting, Obama specifically mentioned Houston’s need for transit dollars but said Texas could lose money if Perry does not apply for all the federal aid for which the state is eligible.
The president spelled out not only that he wants the money spent, he wants it spent in such a way he doesn’t consider wasteful.
Invoking his own name-and-shame policy, Obama warned the mayors that he will "call them out" if they waste the money from the stimulus plan.
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It's times like this I wish my governor knew how to keep his mouth shut and learn to identify a good thing when it kicks him in the shins.
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Conservative vs. Conservative Violence: How Radio Wrecks the Right

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Limbaugh and company certainly entertain. But a steady diet of ideological comfort food is no substitute for hearty intellectual fare.

You can’t help but admire Rush Limbaugh’s talent for publicity. His radio talk show is probably—reliable figures only go back to 1991—in its third decade as the number-one rated radio show in the country. And here he is in the news again, trading verbal punches with the president of the United States.

Limbaugh remarked on Jan. 16 that to the degree that Obama’s program is one of state socialism, he hopes it will fail. (If only he had said the same about George W. Bush.) The president riposted at a session with congressional leaders a week later, telling them, “You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done.” Outsiders weighed in: Limbaugh should not have wished failure on a president trying to cope with a national crisis; Obama should not have stooped to insult a mere media artiste, the kind of task traditionally delegated to presidential subordinates while the chief stands loftily mute. Citizens picked sides and sat back to enjoy the circus.

For Limbaugh to remain a player at this level after 20-odd years bespeaks powers far beyond the ordinary. Most conservatives—even those who do not listen to his show—regard him as a good thing. His 14 million listeners are a key component of the conservative base. When he first emerged nationally, soon after the FCC dropped the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, conservatives for the first time in decades had something worth listening to on their radios other than country music and bland news programs read off the AP wire. In the early Clinton years, when Republicans were regrouping, Limbaugh was perhaps the most prominent conservative in the United States. National Review ran a cover story on him as “The Leader of the Opposition.”

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"When Obama talks about raising taxes on the rich....He's wearing a Kenny Chesney T-shirt."

kc
Kenny Chesney, the Country star who was married to Renee Zellweger for 2.5 seconds, admits he voted for John McCain. But not necessarily because all Country Stars are Repubilcans. He dished to Playboy his rationale:

*"I'm liberal in some ways" - he's Pro-Choice for example - "and then I'm very conservative in others. I once asked my grandpa, 'Are you a Republican or a Democrat?' He said, "I'm a Democrat, but I'm saving up to be a Republican."

*"I voted for McCain. I voted to keep my taxes lower. When Obama talks about raising taxes on the rich, he's looking at me. He's wearing a Kenny Chesney T-shirt."

*"I was asked to do stuff by both candidates, and I didn't. My fans get enough politics on TV everyday. I want them to think for themselves. I dont wan't them to listen to me."
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biggie aretha
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Clooney and Obama Together Again: Prez to Name Darfur Envoy

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George Clooney met with President Obama and Vice President Biden separately tonight at the White House and they told him they would appoint a full-time, high-level envoy on Darfur that would report directly to the White House, he said.

“They assured me and wanted to assure the rest, whoever else is listening, this is high on their agenda,” the Academy Award-winning actor told reporters following the meetings. “This is a huge policy step for us.”

Clooney said that Obama and Biden told him that before the White House can send an envoy, there needs to be a full policy in place on Darfur.

Clooney has been an outspoken advocate on the issue of Darfur for several years and has traveled to the region a half dozen times. He was appointed last year as a United Nations Messenger of Peace and is a founder of “Not on Our Watch,” an organization that was started to bring awareness and resources to the conflict in Darfur.

Clooney came to the White House tonight to meet with Biden to discuss his trip this month to Eastern Chad, where he visited Darfurian refugee camps with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, and to lobby the Obama administration to make Darfur one of its top foreign policy priorities.

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amélie: gnome

PM aims to keep Canada in U.S. spotlight with New York City trip



Prime Minister Stephen Harper highlighted Canada's important role in the U.S. economy in media interviews on Monday during his visit to New York, which also included meetings with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. business leaders.

The prime minister's trip is largely intended to take advantage of Canada being in the spotlight in the wake of U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Ottawa last week and to push Canada's position as America's friend and key trading partner, the CBC's Keith Boag reported from New York.

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you could cut ties with all the lies

No Surgeon General? Who will tell us what peanut butter product will kill us next??

Still Paging Dr. Gupta? What's the Holdup?


It has been more than six weeks since ABC News first learned that President Obama was paging CNN journalist Dr. Sanjay Gupta to become the nation's next surgeon general. But what is taking so long for the message to go through, and has the celebrity doctor answered the call?

Despite some concerns about Gupta's qualifications, the reason the surgeon general selection has not been formally announced since Gupta's name leaked on Jan. 6 may have nothing to do with Gupta himself.

One month into the Obama presidency, there are still several high-level positions empty in the new president's administration -- including a spot for the incoming secretary of Health and Human Services. HHS is the umbrella agency that encompasses the office of the surgeon general.

Given the Feb. 3 withdrawal of Tom Daschle, Obama's initial pick for the HHS secretary's post, several medical experts said Obama's team may now be reassessing the balance.

"Whether or not a new HHS secretary would want him or how this works out, I think this is all up in the air," ABC News medical contributor Dr. Timothy Johnson told ABCNews.com Thursday.

The White House, too, said it is waiting to fill the top post at HHS before making an announcement. Coupled with efforts to make the vetting process more stringent after the withdrawal of three Cabinet nominees, the Obama team may take its sweet time in bringing Gupta to Washington.

Of course, it's possible that logistical and financial concerns, as well as hiccups in the vetting process, could be playing a part, too.

 

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From Urbaniak, always funny as hell

Selwyn Duke: Total Douche

Insert nozzle and pour in gently.

Tennis pro turned pundit Selwyn Duke has set a lofty goal: to be the biggest douche in the entire right-wing blogosphere. Women, minorities and gays get Mr. Duke's tennis shorts into a massive bunch; he's convinced that anyone who isn't exactly like him is out to get him. Mr. Duke's star is rising amongst conservatives and he's been approvingly quoted and/or featured by the likes of Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage, who presumably believe that the sentiments excerpted below will help the Republican Party win back America. And now, the first installment of a Voucher Ankles Special Feature: Selwyn Duke: Total Douche. Today's edition: Selwyn Duke on Women.

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