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First Lady Michelle Meets with Members of Congress and Cabinet Secretaries

Posted by: Audiegrl

US First Lady Michelle Obama (C) seated alongside Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (L) and Democratic Senator Tom Harkin (R) of Iowa

US First Lady Michelle Obama (C) seated alongside Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (L) and Democratic Senator Tom Harkin (R) of Iowa

First Lady Michelle Obama met today with Members of Congress and Cabinet Secretaries in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House. Discussing her childhood obesity initiative and steps that families, schools and communities can take to fight it.


First Lady Michelle Obama: “I want to begin just by thanking you all for taking the time to come and join us today.

As you are probably now more than aware, we’re in the process of launching a nationwide effort to dealing with the obesity epidemic in this country. And as you’ve seen, as I’ve been out there, as a parent, this is an issue that I care deeply about and I’ve spoken about in a very personal level. But I’ve learned that there are many parents around this country who are struggling with this issue, who are concerned about it and are looking for ways to help.

But one of the good news — pieces about this challenge is that this problem is imminently solvable, and that’s the good news. But it’s going to require us working together — not just the administration, but Congress, governors, mayors, parents, teachers. Anyone who has access to children in their lives is going to have to work together. And one of the things that’s also very clear is that this problem won’t be solved by any single federal solution. This is going to require national action.

So I’m very excited about the conversation that we’re going to have. The initiative that’s going to launch is really going to look at four key areas. And I talked about these before, but we’re going to try to increase the number of healthy schools in this country. We’re going to work hard to increase the level of regular physical activity that kids are getting in this country. One of the tougher challenges that we need to look at is improving the accessibility and affordability of foods because there are many food deserts in this nation, which makes it difficult for families trying to access good options. And we also want to do more to empower consumers to make better choices in their own lives.

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Democrats Cast Blame At Each Other Over Senate Campaign

Posted by: Audiegrl

U.S. Senate Democratic nominee Martha Coakley gives a concession speech January 19, 2010 at the Sheraton Boston

Associated Press/Laura Kellman~The buck stops … Well, it was hard to tell just where the buck stopped Tuesday when it came to the Democratic party’s loss of the Massachusetts Senate seat that had been held by Edward M. Kennedy for nearly half a century.

Days before Republican state Sen. Scott Brown officially captured the seat over Democrat Martha Coakley, Washington to Boston began dodging blame and pointing fingers at each other.

Cool-headed analysis of what was driving independents from Coakley to Brown? No. The issue was who botched Democrat Martha Coakley’s Senate campaign more: her state people or national Democrats.

Most spoke the classic Washington way, under the cloak of anonymity. But President Barack Obama’s senior adviser took precise, public aim at Coakley’s camp as Brown closed in on the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s seat.

I think the White House did everything we were asked to do,” David Axelrod told reporters. “Had we been asked earlier, we would have responded earlier.”

But the signs had been there. In the bluest of blue states, the election was seen, at least in part, as a referendum on Obama, on health care reform, on the Democratic majority that had controlled two of three branches of government for a year.

And the Republican candidate was surging.

What of Obama himself?

Surprised and frustrated,” reported White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, promising more presidential reaction Wednesday. “Not pleased.”

Democrats could agree on the obvious: Somebody had taken the seat for granted, had underestimated the public’s anger over the economy, over the Democrats’ health care overhaul, over plain old arrogance in Washington.

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The Moment Ted Kennedy Would Not Want To Lose by Victoria Reggie Kennedy

Senator Ted Kennedy and Victoria Reggie KennedyWashington Post—My late husband, Ted Kennedy, was passionate about health-care reform. It was the cause of his life. He believed that health care for all our citizens was a fundamental right, not a privilege, and that this year the stars — and competing interests — were finally aligned to allow our nation to move forward with fundamental reform. He believed that health-care reform was essential to the financial stability of our nation’s working families and of our economy as a whole.

Still, Ted knew that accomplishing reform would be difficult. If it were easy, he told me, it would have been done a long time ago. He predicted that as the Senate got closer to a vote, compromises would be necessary, coalitions would falter and many ardent supporters of reform would want to walk away. He hoped that they wouldn’t do so. He knew from experience, he told me, that this kind of opportunity to enact health-care reform wouldn’t arise again for a generation.

A supporter of health-care legislation holds a portrait of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy at a Times Square rally shortly after Kennedy's funeral.

A supporter of health-care legislation holds a portrait of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy at a Times Square rally shortly after Kennedy's funeral.

In the early 1970s, Ted worked with the Nixon administration to find consensus on health-care reform. Those efforts broke down in part because the compromise wasn’t ideologically pure enough for some constituency groups. More than 20 years passed before there was another real opportunity for reform, years during which human suffering only increased. Even with the committed leadership of then-President Bill Clinton and his wife, reform was thwarted in the 1990s. As Ted wrote in his memoir, he was deeply disappointed that the Clinton health-care bill did not come to a vote in the full Senate. He believed that senators should have gone on the record, up or down.

Ted often said that we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. He also said that it was better to get half a loaf than no loaf at all, especially with so many lives at stake. That’s why, even as he never stopped fighting for comprehensive health-care reform, he also championed incremental but effective reforms such as a Patients’ Bill of Rights, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and COBRA continuation of health coverage.

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Opinion: Why the Greg Craig debacle matters

posted by Ogenec

A critical mass of influential people who once held big hopes for his presidency began to wonder whether they had misjudged the man. Most significant, these doubters now find themselves with a new reluctance to defend Obama at a phase of his presidency when he needs defenders more urgently than ever.

By ELIZABETH DREW

President Barack Obama is returning from his trek to Asia Thursday to a capital that is a considerably more dangerous place for him than when he departed.

While he was abroad, there was a palpable sense at home of something gone wrong

A critical mass of influential people who once held big hopes for his presidency began to wonder whether they had misjudged the man. Most significant, these doubters now find themselves with a new reluctance to defend Obama at a phase of his presidency when he needs defenders more urgently than ever.

This is the price Obama has paid with his complicity and most likely his active participation, in the shabbiest episode of his presidency: The firing by leaks of White House counsel Gregory Craig, a well-respected Washington veteran and influential early supporter of Obama.

The people who are most aghast by the handling of the Craig departure can’t be dismissed by the White House as Republican partisans, or still-embittered Hillary Clinton supporters. They are not naïve activists who don’t understand that the exercise of power can be a rough business and that trade-offs and personal disappointments are inevitable. Instead, they are people, either in politics or close observers, who once held an unromantically high opinion of Obama. They were important to his rise, and are likely more important to the success or failure of his presidency than Obama or his distressingly insular and small-minded West Wing team appreciate.

The Craig embarrassment gives these people a new reason – not the first or only reason – to conclude that he wasn’t the person of integrity and even classiness they had thought, and, more fundamentally, that his ability to move people and actually lead a fractured and troubled country (the reason many preferred him over Hillary Clinton) is not what had been promised in the campaign.

Craig’s ouster did not occur in a vacuum. It served as a focal point to concerns that have been building for months that Obama wasn’t pressing for all that might be possible within the existing political constraints (all that one could ask of a president); that his presidential voice hadn’t fulfilled the hopes raised by his campaign voice (which had also taken him a while to find); that he hadn’t created a movement, as he had raised expectations that he would; that would be there to back him up and help him fulfill his promises.

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GOP Activist Resigns Over “Debbie Wasserman Schultz” Target Practice

Posted by Audiegrl

Congresswoman’s initials on target at gun range prompts Republican activist’s resignation

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Sun Sentinel/Anthony Man—Republican activist Ed Napolitano has apologized to U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, and resigned from all his Republican Party positions, over the actions of a Wasserman Schultz political opponent at an event sponsored by the club Napolitano used to lead.

Napolitano’s resignation and apology were prompted by what happened at the Southeast Republican Club on Oct. 6. Instead of the usual community center meeting room, the Napolitano-led club met at a gun range.

Among the approximately 40 people at the event was Robert Lowry, a Republican seeking his party’s nomination to run against Wasserman Schultz next year.

Lowry shot at a target bearing the letters “DWS” next to the silhouette head.

Lowry said he didn’t know who wrote Wasserman Schultz’ initials on his target, but said he knew they were there before he started shooting. He initially described it as a “joke,” but after answering several questions he said it “was a mistake” to use a target labeled “DWS.”

After the event was reported on in the Oct. 9 Sun Sentinel, it was picked up, reported, and commented on by national news outlets, generated a fury in the blogosphere, and drew critical reactions from Democrats.

Napolitano said he wasn’t aware of the target with Wasserman Schultz’ initials on the night of the event.

But in a letter to the congresswoman dated Oct. 12, he apologized.

I would like to sincerely apologize to you and your family for an incident that occurred at a function we sponsored recently…. Let me say that this action was wrong and should never have happened. It was stupid and irresponsible to do such a thing.”

Read the letter here.

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South Carolina Needs to Stop the Stupidity by Brian Hicks

Posted by Audiegrl

Op-ed by Brian Hicks

michelle-obama-white-house-portraitPost and Courier/Brian Hicks—Let’s get this straight: The White House has allowed first lady Michelle Obama to tool around Moscow, the Czech Republic and even Ghana in the past year, but officials are a little worried about her coming to South Carolina.

They consider the atmosphere here too dangerous.

Just when it seemed the summer of shame was over, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn dropped this bombshell on The Post and Courier’s Yvonne Wenger on Friday. Clyburn says the White House is wary of bringing the first lady to the state because of the attitude of some of its residents.

Even if they are overreacting, or if Clyburn is overstating the case, it’s embarrassing.

If security professionals, who apparently have reservations, actually believe it is too dangerous for the first family to visit a U.S. state, then we have dropped below the status of a Third World country.

It makes us look like buffoons, racists and backwater morons.

A loudmouthed minority of Neanderthals and sore losers have so poisoned the national discourse with their racist rantings, crude jokes and veiled threats that they have sullied South Carolina’s reputation more than any governor, congressman or senator could ever imagine.

So, thanks for that.

If unemployment holds at its current rates, you can thank these same idiots. Think any international company, any major business, will locate to a state where the president’s own wife might not be safe?

This is not about politics or that socialism baloney cooked up by politicians and insurance companies. It is about respect for the office.

This is the bottom of the barrel.

U.S. House Majority Whip James Clyburn

U.S. House Majority Whip James Clyburn

This all came about when Clyburn, who has close ties to the White House, asked that the first lady attend an event at South Carolina State University. There have been more than 100 requests for the first lady to visit.

Clyburn quoted Valerie Jarrett, adviser to the president and a friend of the Obamas, as saying, “It’s not always our decision to make.” The implication is that the Secret Service has concerns about the state. A lot of it, Clyburn said, has to do with the climate in South Carolina.

He wasn’t talking about the humidity, just the stupidity.

Clyburn was talking about Rusty DePass, a South Carolina Republican activist, who earlier this year said a gorilla that escaped from the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia was an ancestor of Michelle Obama. Some rubes thought that was hilarious.

Clyburn was talking about the reaction to U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson’s rude outburst of “You lie!” to President Barack Obama. Wilson has been hailed as a conquering hero by some for doing little more than embarrassing many of this state’s residents.

He was talking about the knucklehead cowards who anonymously post vitriolic comments online.

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Note: Neither the first lady’s press office nor the Secret Service provided comment for the original The Post and Courier story.

Brian Hicks

Brian Hicks

Brian Hicks is a senior writer with The Post and Courier. In his 10 years with the paper, he has covered a wide variety of subjects, including politics and news of the weird (also known as politics). His reporting has won 20 S.C. Press Association Awards, including Journalist of the Year in 1998. He is also the author or co-author of four books, including the local history yarn “Raising the Hunley,” which was so popular it was even translated into Czechoslovakian. Really.

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Debbie Wasserman Schultz for President/Vice-President in 2016?

Written by Guest Contributor 2morrowknight

Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz

It almost happened in 2008. It could happen in 2016. At some point, and some point soon, we’ll see a woman in the White House. And her name might not necessarily be Hillary or Sarah. How’s Debbie Wasserman Schultz sound? I know, I know, you’re saying, “I’ve never heard of her. She doesn’t have the name recognition of Sarah Palin or the major public policy buzz of Kathleen Sebelius. And while she doesn’t have the baggage of a Michelle Bachman, she’s not a Governor or U.S. Senator.” All true. But listen up: Wasserman Schultz is riding a wave that will only get bigger, and she’s got a few advantages that few others in the field — woman or man — can match.

Here are five reasons she could be on the Democratic ticket in 2016:

Democratic Unifier
Throughout the 2007 and 2008 primary season, Wasserman Schultz was resolute in her support for Hillary Clinton. Whether on TV, radio, or in the blogosphere, Wasserman Schultz was unflappable. But when Barack Obama won the nomination, Wasserman Schultz quickly endorsed him and campaigned vigorously. None of this has been lost on Democratic leaders. Her tireless efforts to unify the Obama and Clinton camps won her kudos from the party faithful, and instantly made her a power player in national politics.

Florida. Florida. Florida.
Rep. Wasserman Schultz at a April town hall with her constituents.

Rep. Wasserman Schultz at a April town hall with her constituents.

Wasserman Schultz represents the Sunshine State in the U.S. Congress; having her on the ticket would give the Democrats the upper hand in the infamous I-4 corridor connecting Daytona Beach, Orlando and Tampa. Grab the middle and you win the state — Wasserman Schultz could be the Dems’ surest bet.

Her Jewish Heritage
Before last fall, nobody thought a Jewish-American would ever have a legitimate chance at the White House. But with the tolerant views of 80 million politically involved millennials who helped elect President Obama, Wasserman Schultz’s Jewish heritage won’t be a liability. How she weighs in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict between now and then will have a real impact on her standing in the Jewish community, but if she can find a way to please those folks while maintaining cred with younger voters, she could bring far more voters to the polls than Joe Lieberman did for Al Gore in 2000.

She’s Tough … Seriously!
Rep. Wasserman Schultz testifies during the nomination hearings for Judge Alito in January 2006.

Rep. Wasserman Schultz testifies during the nomination hearings for Judge Alito in January 2006.

By all accounts, she’s funny, engaging and benevolent. But if you’ve seen her on cable and network shows, you’ll know she’s also very skilled at dismantling nonsensical arguments, and, leaving unprepared opponents picking their faces up off the ground. And she has used her tenacity, and tirelessness, to fight for the rights of families, women and children.

The 2016 and 2020 Anniversaries
2016 isn’t just a presidential election year, it’s also the 100th anniversary of Jeannette Rankin being the first woman elected to the Congress. Her victory was all the more remarkable because women couldn’t vote — that didn’t come until four years later. The 2016 and 2020 elections promise to be reflective, euphoric and celebratory periods — and with her considerable political gifts, Wasserman Schultz could take full advantage of the great national mood.

And yes, I know, it’s still very, very early. A day in politics is like an eternity, and one day’s worth of political earthquakes could shake up or diminish any predictions. I know. But don’t tell me that a woman won’t be either president of vice-president seven years from now. I just wouldn’t bet against it. And I wouldn’t bet against Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz being that woman.

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Meet 2morrowknight…

2morrowknightlrgHe’s a author, blogger, and community activist whose work has been published in the Huffington Post, The Stimulist, Womentality Magazine and Essence.com. He has lectured at leading colleges and universities, including Morehouse, Spelman, and Emory University. As a volunteer internet strategist for the Obama Presidential Campaign, he created an effective, “50 State” email list that helped increase traffic to the campaign website and helped neutralize the falsehoods and misconceptions about then candidate Obama. 2morrowknight’s first children’s book is scheduled to be released in early 2010. Follow 2morrowknight on Twitter

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