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President Obama’s Newsweek Haiti Essay: ‘Why Haiti Matters’

Posted by: Audiegrl

In the tragic aftermath of Haiti’s 7.0 earthquake, images of the disaster break our hearts and remind us of the fragility of life. What America must do now—and why

By President Barack Obama in
In the last week, we have been deeply moved by the heartbreaking images of the devastation in Haiti: parents searching through rubble for sons and daughters; children, frightened and alone, looking for their mothers and fathers. At this moment, entire parts of Port-au-Prince are in ruins, as families seek shelter in makeshift camps. It is a horrific scene of shattered lives in a poor nation that has already suffered so much.

In response, I have ordered a swift, coordinated, and aggressive effort to save lives in Haiti. We have launched one of the largest relief efforts in recent history. I have instructed the leaders of all agencies to make our response a top priority across the federal government. We are mobilizing every element of our national capacity: the resources of development agencies, the strength of our armed forces, and most important, the compassion of the American people. And we are working closely with the Haitian government, the United Nations, and the many international partners who are also aiding in this extraordinary effort.

We act for the sake of the thousands of American citizens who are in Haiti, and for their families back home; for the sake of the Haitian people who have been stricken with a tragic history, even as they have shown great resilience; and we act because of the close ties that we have with a neighbor that is only a few hundred miles to the south.

But above all, we act for a very simple reason: in times of tragedy, the United States of America steps forward and helps. That is who we are. That is what we do. For decades, America’s leadership has been founded in part on the fact that we do not use our power to subjugate others, we use it to lift them up—whether it was rebuilding our former adversaries after World War II, dropping food and water to the people of Berlin, or helping the people of Bosnia and Kosovo rebuild their lives and their nations.

At no time is that more true than in moments of great peril and human suffering. It is why we have acted to help people combat the scourge of HIV/AIDS in Africa, or to recover from a catastrophic tsunami in Asia. When we show not just our power, but also our compassion, the world looks to us with a mixture of awe and admiration. That advances our leadership. That shows the character of our country. And it is why every American can look at this relief effort with the pride of knowing that America is acting on behalf of our common humanity.

Right now, our search-and-rescue teams are on the ground, pulling people from the rubble. Americans from Virginia and California and Florida have worked round the clock to save people whom they’ve never met. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen quickly deployed to the scene. Hand in hand with our civilians, they’re laboring day and night to facilitate a massive logistical enterprise; to deliver and distribute food, water, and medicine to save lives; and to prevent an even larger humanitarian catastrophe.

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Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton Lands in Haiti, Pledges Cooperative Effort

Posted by: Audiegrl

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, third from right, meets with Haiti's President Rene Preval, third from left, to discuss conditions in the country

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, third from right, meets with Haiti's President Rene Preval, third from left, to discuss conditions in the country



U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met Saturday with Haitian President Rene Preval and promised that U.S. quake relief efforts would be closely coordinated with local officials.

Clinton’s remarks appeared designed to counter any notion of a too-intrusive American involvement in the aftermath of the quake, while also assuring Haitians the humanitarian mission would continue as long as it’s needed.

We are here at the invitation of your government to help you,” she said at a news conference at the Port-au-Prince airport. “As President Obama has said, we will be here today, tomorrow and for the time ahead. And speaking personally, I know of the great resilience and strength of the Haitian people. You have been severely tested. But I believe that Haiti can come back even stronger and better in the future.”

Haiti's President Rene Preval, right, answers questions from the press as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, center, looks on in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010

Haiti's President Rene Preval, right, answers questions from the press as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, center, looks on in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010

Clinton, the highest-ranking Obama administration official to visit since the magnitude-7.0 quake struck Tuesday, arrived in a Coast Guard C-130 transport that carried bottled water, packaged food, soap and other supplies. She was accompanied by Rajiv Shah, the U.S. Agency for International Development administrator who is acting as the top U.S. relief coordinator.

Clinton also met with U.N. officials and U.S. civilians and military personnel working on the relief effort. She said she and Preval discussed his government’s priorities: restoring communications, electricity and transportation.

And we agreed that we will be coordinating closely together to achieve these goals,” she said, adding that she and Preval would issue a communique on Sunday outlining cooperation between the two countries.

Preval said he was encouraged to see former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush together with President Barack Obama at the White House earlier Saturday in a joint plea for international assistance to Haiti.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton listens to Haiti President Rene Preval during her visit

He noted that U.S. aid has already arrived, and he told reporters he met a survivor who was pulled from the rubble Saturday and receiving care from American medical teams. He thanked Clinton for her visit and for Obama’s continued support of Haiti.

Mrs. Clinton’s visit really warms our heart today,” he said.

During the news conference, officials noted the clatter of military helicopters landing and taking off nearby.

That’s a good sound,” Clinton said. “That means that good things are going to the people of Haiti.”

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We had a very good meeting about all of the priorities of the Haitian government and the Haitian people,” Clinton said after a brief news conference following the meetings.

She said air efforts are focused on providing water, food and medical help. She also stressed the importance of restoring the country’s communications networks, electricity and transportation.

A man carries an elderly woman who needs medical attention in Port Au Prince

A man carries an elderly woman who needs medical attention in Port Au Prince

We agreed that we will be coordinating closely together to achieve these goals.”

In an interview with CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta, Clinton said “every day we are making progress and I expect that to continue.”

In addition to the immediate needs, Clinton said the focus will switch next week to long-term recovery and reconstruction, telling Gupta she believed that Haiti, with the help of the international community, could be a better place than it was before Tuesday’s quake.

Helicopters fly over the heavily damaged Port-au-Prince Cathedral

Helicopters fly over the heavily damaged Port-au-Prince Cathedral

The U.S. Coast Guard plane she arrived on was carrying 100 cases of water, 100 cases of meals-ready-to-eat, and food and toiletries for about 140 U.S. Embassy staff members. Fifty Americans, who have been waiting to be evacuated, will fly back to the United States when Clinton departs.

Clinton landed hours after President Obama announced Saturday that former Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush have agreed to lead an effort to raise funds for Haiti.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks to CNN’s Sanjay Gupta in Haiti about the relief efforts.

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AP Nails GOP for Hypocrisy on Health Care Reform

Posted by LibbyShaw

The Associated Press, Houston’s Channel 2 News and The Houston Chronicle reminded readers and viewers that the very same Republicans who oppose current health care reform had, in 2003, supported an expansion of Medicare. Unlike the Democrats today with HCR, Republicans in 2003 had no plan to pay for the Medicare expansion just like they had no plan to pay for the war in Iraq and tax cuts for the wealthy. All were charged to our, our childrens’, our grandchildrens’ and our great grandchildrens’ credit cards.

This is certainly a new twist with the mainstream media given its tactic sympathy and support of the GOP over the years. As we know, since at least 9/11, the media has given pass after pass to George W. Bush and his irresponsible and devastating crusade in Iraq, his Administration’s culture of corruption in Washington and the failure of the Department of Justice to meet some of its judicial responsibilities. The media failed to disclose that non-partisan federal agencies had been invaded by partisan hacks and had been turned into political arms for the RNC.

It is nice to see that the media has, hopefully, returned to the task of real reporting.

Democrats are troubled by the inconsistency of Republican lawmakers who approved a major Medicare expansion six years ago that has added tens of billions of dollars to federal deficits, but oppose current health overhaul plans.

All current GOP senators, including the 24 who voted for the 2003 Medicare expansion, oppose the health care bill that’s backed by President Barack Obama and most congressional Democrats.

The Democrats claim that their plan moving through Congress now will pay for itself with higher taxes and spending cuts and they cite the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office for support.

By contrast, when Republicans controlled the House, Senate and White House in 2003, they overcame Democratic opposition to add a deficit-financed prescription drug benefit to Medicare. The program will cost a half-trillion dollars over 10 years, or more by some estimates.

With no new taxes or spending offsets accompanying the Medicare drug program, the cost has been added to the federal debt.

That’s right you so-called fiscal conservatives. Just shove more debt on the backs of middle class taxpayers.

The irresponsible Republicans rationalize their behavior in 2003 as DOH! We didn’t know we would bust the nation’s piggy bank so quickly. And, Vice President Dick Cheney assured us deficits don’t matter because Ronald Reagan had said it was so.

Some Republicans say they don’t believe the CBO’s projections that the health care overhaul will pay for itself. As for their newfound worries about big government health expansions, they essentially say: That was then, this is now.

Six years ago, “it was standard practice not to pay for things,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. “We were concerned about it, because it certainly added to the deficit, no question.” His 2003 vote has been vindicated, Hatch said, because the prescription drug benefit “has done a lot of good.”

Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, said those who see hypocrisy “can legitimately raise that issue.” But he defended his positions in 2003 and now, saying the economy is in worse shape and Americans are more anxious.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said simply: “Dredging up history is not the way to move forward.” She noted that she fought unsuccessfully to offset some of President George W. Bush’s deep tax cuts at the time.

Apparently only Democratic deficits matter now.

Some Republicans and conservatives are not buying the Republican lawmaker’s lame excuses above.

From Bruce Bartlett of Forbes:

The human capacity for self-delusion never ceases to amaze me, so it shouldn’t surprise me that so many Republicans seem to genuinely believe that they are the party of fiscal responsibility. Perhaps at one time they were, but those days are long gone.

Republican fiscal irresponsibility according to a fiscal conservative:

This fact became blindingly obvious to me six years ago this month when a Republican president and a Republican Congress enacted the Medicare drug benefit, which former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker has called “the most fiscally irresponsible piece of legislation since the 1960s.”

Recall the situation in 2003. The Bush administration was already projecting the largest deficit in American history–$475 billion in fiscal year 2004, according to the July 2003 mid-session budget review. But a big election was coming up that Bush and his party were desperately fearful of losing. So they decided to win it by buying the votes of America’s seniors by giving them an expensive new program to pay for their prescription drugs.

Recall, too, that Medicare was already broke in every meaningful sense of the term. According to the 2003 Medicare trustees report, spending for Medicare was projected to rise much more rapidly than the payroll tax as the baby boomers retired. Consequently, the rational thing for Congress to do would have been to find ways of cutting its costs. Instead, Republicans voted to vastly increase them–and the federal deficit–by $395 billion between 2004 and 2013.

There is more. Check out this piece on the Hall of GOP Lying, Hypocrisy and Shame.

Today the Medicare prescription-drug debate is remembered mainly for the political shenanigans Republicans used to get their bill through. Bush officials lied about the numbers and threatened to fire Medicare’s chief actuary if he shared honest cost estimates with Congress. House Republicans cut off C-SPAN and kept the roll call open for three hours-as opposed to the requisite 15 minutes-while cajoling the last few votes they needed for passage. Former Majority Leader Tom DeLay was admonished by the House ethics committee for winning the eleventh-hour support of Nick Smith, a Michigan Republican, by threatening to vaporize Smith’s son in an upcoming election. It’s worth remembering these moments when Republicans criticize Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid for his hardball tactics.

The real significance of that episode, however, is not their bad manners, but what Republicans ordered the last time health care was on the menu. Their bill, which stands as the biggest expansion of government’s role in health care since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, created an entitlement for seniors to purchase low-cost drug coverage. Grassleycare, also known as Medicare Part D, employs a complicated structure of deductibles, co-pays, and coverage limits. Thanks to something called the “doughnut hole,” drug coverage disappears when out-of-pocket costs reach $2,400, returning only when they hit $3,850. Simply stated, the bill cost a fortune, wasn’t paid for, is complicated as hell, and doesn’t do all that much-though it does include coverage for end-of life-counseling, or what Grassley now calls “pulling the plug on grandma.”

In their 2009 report to Congress, the Medicare trustees estimate the 10-year cost of Medicare D as high as $1.2 trillion. That figure-just for prescription-drug coverage that people over 65 still have to pay a lot of money for-dwarfs the $848 billion cost of the Senate bill. The Medicare D price tag continues to escalate because the bill explicitly bars the government from using its market power to negotiate drug prices with manufacturers or establishing a formulary with approved medications.

And unlike the Democratic bills, which won’t add to the deficit, the bill George W. Bush signed was financed entirely through deficit spending. While Grassley and his colleagues accuse Democrats of harming Medicare through cost cuts, it is their bill that has done the most to hasten Medicare’s coming insolvency. Between now and 2083, Medicare D’s unfunded obligations amount to $7.2 trillion according to the trustees. Numbers like these prompted former Comptroller General David M. Walker to call it “… probably the most fiscally irresponsible piece of legislation since the 1960s.”

Grassley is not alone in his incoherence. Of 28 current Republican senators who were in the Senate back in 2003, 24 voted for the Medicare prescription-drug benefit. Of 122 Republicans still in the House, 108 voted for it. There is not space here to fully review this hall of shame, which includes Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, and Orrin Hatch of Utah, among many others. Here is Kansas Republican Sam Brownback in 2003: “The passage of the Medicare bill fulfills a promise that we made to my parents’ generation and keeps a promise to my kids’ generation.” Here is Brownback in 2009: “This hugely expensive bill will not lower costs and will not cover all uninsured.” Here is Jon Kyl of Arizona: “As a member of the bipartisan team that crafted the Part D legislation, I am committed to ensuring its successful implementation. I will fight attempts to erode Part D coverage.“* Kyl now calls Harry Reid’s legislation: “a trillion-dollar bill that raises premiums, increases taxes, and raids Medicare.” (Bold is mine)

As we can see the Republican lawmakers’ opposition to health care reform legislation is as usual, a boatload of garbage loaded down by lies, hypocrisy and self-serving agendas.

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44-D’s Book Diaries: Abe Lincoln Makes An Awesome Vampire Hunter

Posted by Audiegrl

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

The storyline…When Abraham Lincoln was nine years old, his mother died from an ailment called the “milk sickness.” Only later did he learn that his mother’s deadly affliction was actually the work of a local vampire, seeking to collect on Abe’s father’s unfortunate debts. When the truth became known to the young Abraham Lincoln, he wrote in his journal: “henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become learned in all things–a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose.” While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for reuniting the North with the South and abolishing slavery from our country, no one has ever understood his valiant fight for what it really was. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years. Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time–all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War, and uncovering the massive role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.

That’s a history re-write as seen by Seth Grahame-Smith. Whether it’s real or not, all I know is one thing. Grahame-Smith’s new book sold at auction on Wednesday. According to Publisher’s Weekly, he landed a two-book deal with Grand Central Press, with a $575,000 advance. Believe me, $575,000 is real as real as it gets.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

Claudia Ballard at William Morris handled the deal, which was for North American rights only. It’s rumored that a film proposal has already started circulating and that William Morris is also handling film rights. Seth Grahame-Smith’s current novel, Pride, Prejudice & Zombies has sold has more than 120,000 copies since April, and is in development into a 2011 movie starring Natalie Portman.

Like the cover? Vampire Hunter’s striking cover art shows the noble Lincoln, standing in bloody footprints, holding an ax behind his back. Spoiler alert: The back cover reveals what else he’s holding: the head of a vampire.

As Katey Rich of CinemaBlend puts it, “why not a vampire-hunting Abe Lincoln? Our 16th President is quite popular right now, given all the Obama comparisons. But how much more would we like Obama if he could help us eradicate the scourge of the undead?

Look for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter to drop on March 2, 2010.

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Remarks By First Lady Michelle Obama at Holiday Press Preview

The first lady speaks in the Grand Foyer of the White House alongside members of the US Marine Corps and Toys for Tots President Retired Lieutenant General H.P. Pete Osman (R) as she thanks volunteers who decorated the White House for the Christmas holidays

The first lady speaks in the Grand Foyer of the White House alongside members of the US Marine Corps and Toys for Tots President Retired Lieutenant General H.P. Pete Osman (R) as she thanks volunteers who decorated the White House for the Christmas holidays

Welcome to the White House and Happy Holidays! Thanks to all of you for joining us here today as we preview how we will mark the holidays here at the White House.

Now, like many years past, we’ve actually been planning this day, and the holiday season, since the summer. And our starting point was a very simple idea: that we include as many people, in as many places, in as many ways as we can.
So we decided to do something just a little different. We took about 800 ornaments left over from previous administrations, we sent them to 60 local community groups throughout the country, and asked them to decorate them to pay tribute to a favorite local landmark and then send them back to us for display here at the White House.

The Green Room of the White House, with Christmas decorations, is seen during a press tour of the holiday decorations in Washington, DC

The Green Room of the White House, with Christmas decorations, is seen during a press tour of the holiday decorations in Washington, DC

And today, thanks to the East Wing and Residence staff, and 92 volunteers from 24 states who spent more than 3,400 hours decorating over the last several days, we have ornaments hanging on the tree behind me throughout the White House and everywhere else that include the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, the Kennedy Center — Space Center, as well as some less known places like Davy Crockett Park in Tennessee, Pompey’s Pillar in Billings, Montana and one of my favorites, the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.

We also have one of the favorite traditions here at the White House on display -– it’s the gingerbread masterpiece by our brilliant chef Bill Yosses, and his team.

The official White House gingerbread house, designed by White House Pastry Chef Bill Yosses, is displayed in the State Dining Room of the White House during a press preview of holiday decorations in Washington, DC. The replica, made of white chocolate, features a miniature Bo (bottom-C), the Obama's dog, a miniature White House vegetable garden(L) and a view inside to a replica State Dining Room.

The official White House gingerbread house, designed by White House Pastry Chef Bill Yosses, is displayed in the State Dining Room of the White House during a press preview of holiday decorations

But this year we’ve included something a little bit different. In addition to the gingerbread White House we also have the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn, a shadow box that lets you look into the gingerbread White House and view the State Dining Room. And I just saw there’s also a little Bo replica. So that’s a new addition.

And we opened the doors last night to the first of more than 50,000 visitors who will come to the White House during this holiday season, and it’s safe to say that everyone was really impressed. And I heard you all partying last night. You had a great time.

For many people, a visit to the White House is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it has been made even more magical because of all of your hard work, all of our volunteers. So I want to take just a moment again to thank all of our volunteers who spent so much time making this White House such a special treat, and we hope you had as good a time as it sounded like you had last night. Your work has really transformed the White House, which is, as we always say, the people’s house, and we’re so grateful for everything that you’ve done to make this really a special treat for all of us.

A miniature Bo, the Obamas' dog, a part of the official White House gingerbread house

A miniature Bo, the Obamas' dog, a part of the official White House gingerbread house

And finally, I want to take a moment to talk about why we chose this year’s theme, which is “Reflect, Rejoice and Renew.”

And for the Obama family, Christmas and the New Year has always been a time to reflect on our many blessings, to rejoice in the pleasure of spending time with our family and our friends, and to renew our commitment to one another and to the causes that we believe in. And I wanted to continue that part of the tradition during our first holiday season here at the White House.

And this year has been filled with an infinite number of blessings for me and my family. And I say this all the time, but every day I am honored to be this nation’s First Lady. And from the day that my family arrived here, I have wanted the American people to share in our journey, to share in the history and the excitement that makes the White House such a special landmark in this nation.

A miniature White House vegetable garden sits alongside the official White House gingerbread house

A miniature White House vegetable garden sits alongside the official White House gingerbread house

That’s why we’ve worked so hard throughout this year to invite as many people as possible to events here at the White House. We’ve tried to showcase talents and contributions of our artists and our inventors, of students and masters, of exalted heroes and ordinary citizens of every age and every background. The idea has been to create an environment where every story and every voice is welcome in the White House, and for all of us to rejoice in their accomplishments and to celebrate their contributions to the life of this nation.

And in the new year, we all intend to renew this effort and continue this kind of outreach, so that everyone feels like they have a place here at the White House. And I know many people approach the holidays in the same way in their own lives, and that at this time of year for so many people, they are looking for opportunities to give thanks and to give back. And we’re doing the same thing here at the White House. We’re focusing our efforts this year on two very important causes — we’re supporting local food banks, and the Toys for Tots program.

An ornament with the Kennedy Space Center hangs on the official White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room of the White House during a press tour of the holiday decorations

An ornament with the Kennedy Space Center hangs on the official White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room of the White House during a press tour of the holiday decorations

Hunger is on the rise here in America, hitting its highest levels in nearly 15 years. A recent report released by the USDA reveals that in 2008, an estimated 1.1 million children were living in households that experienced hunger multiple times over this year. And, of course, no child in the United States of America should ever go to bed hungry, and no family in this country should have to worry that they won’t have food on the table, not just during the holidays, but every day.

So to combat hunger this winter, in coordination with the Corporation for National and Community Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we’re launching the United We Serve “Feed a Neighbor” initiative. And this is a program that will provide all Americans with resources to help combat hunger in their own communities. This initiative is a great way for you, for all Americans, along with their friends and families, to give back not just during the holidays, but throughout the year. By going to serve.gov, this program will connect Americans to opportunities like delivering meals to homebound seniors, offering professional skills at a food pantry, or planting a community garden and sharing produce with neighbors.

The official White House Christmas tree is displayed in the Blue Room of the White House during a press tour of the holiday decorations

The official White House Christmas tree is displayed in the Blue Room of the White House during a press tour of the holiday decorations

We’re also pleased to be supporting the Toys for Tots program. Over the past year, I’ve had the privilege of visiting servicemen and women, and their families, all across this country, and have spent much of my time in the White House working to ensure that we properly honor their service.

And each time I visit a base or meet with members of our Armed Forces and veterans, I’m struck not just by the extraordinary sacrifices they and their family make to serve our country, but by all they do to help others right here at home in their own communities.

And the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program is a great example of how servicemen and women are doing even more than just serving our country in uniform. For more than 62 years, Marines have distributed more than 400 million toys to more than 188 million needy children. And in 2008 alone, the program was active in 657 communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Marines and volunteers distributed more than 16.2 million toys that year to 7.6 million children. That was one of their best years ever.

Lights shine on the National Christmas Tree in front of the White House on December 1, 2009. Later in the week President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will officially light the tree that sits on the Ellipse.

Lights shine on the National Christmas Tree in front of the White House on December 1, 2009. Later in the week President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will officially light the tree that sits on the Ellipse.

So I’m thrilled this year that the White House staff is going to be supporting these efforts with a toy drive to help make the holidays a little brighter for children in the surrounding communities. The Toys for Tots headquarters is located outside of Marine Corps base Quantico, and I look forward to visiting there later this month to personally deliver the toys that we collect here at the White House.

So these are just two important ways that we’ll be marking the holidays here at the White House. So the President and I are urging everyone to join us in these efforts, or to find some way to give back some time during this holiday season.

So on behalf of the Obama family, I wish all of you a joyous and meaningful holiday season. And it is my pleasure to introduce Toys for Tots President and CEO, Lieutenant General Pete Osman, who will provide some additional information about this year’s program.

Thank you all very much.

Michelle Obama

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***UPDATED***Rachel Maddow Show Guest, Frank Schaeffer Discuss the Latest In Thinly-Veiled Evangelical Christian Obama Death Threats

HP—Apparently, the latest thing in “Debasing The Institutions You Pretend To Hold Dear In Order To Suggest That President Barack Obama Should Be Murdered Without Actually Coming Right Out And Saying So” goes by a shorter name: Psalm 109:8.

And Psalm 109:8 is just straight up memetastic, appearing on bumper stickers and T-shirts, all of which carry the benign sounding message, “Pray For Obama.” But, as Gawker’s John Cook points out, this is just one more in a “long line of cheekily coded Obama death threats.” The verse in question reads: “May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership.” That leads fairly naturally into the Psalm 109:9, “May his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.” You know, in case you miss the point.

Rachel Maddow took up this issue last night, inviting Patience With God author and Huffington Post blogger Frank Schaeffer to explain whether or not the citation of this Biblical text “means something less threatening to people hearing this in a Biblical context.”

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***UPDATE I From The Rachel Maddow*** Show

Statement by CafePress to TRMS
Regarding the appropriateness of Psalm 109:8 products

“Cafepress looks at content on a case by case basis, and makes decisions about what content is permissible based on our content usage policy.

Anti-presidential gear has been a mainstay at Cafepress since we were founded in 1999 and has become a key component of political discourse. Our site has become a cultural barometer of public opinion and as such designs often come into question. In managing our content we are trying to protect self expression, while making sure we are not advocating violence.

We initially pulled the Psalm 109:8 content from our products today because broader media dialog indicated that these designs potentially suggested violence towards the president. Based on current public discourse and further review of the actual content, we have determined that it is fair political commentary and we are in the process of reinstating this merchandise. As with all of our content, these designs will continue to be reviewed and if at any time their meaning is construed as advocating violence we will revisit our decision.
—Amy Maniatis, CafePress VP of Marketing

If you would like to contact CafePress, see below:

CafePress Email
CafePress Phone # 1-877-809-1659. International customers, please call 1-402-517-4480.

***UPDATE II From Thinkprogress.org***

Yesterday, Cafe Press announced that it was again reversing itself and removing all the merchandise in response to strong public pressure:

The public debate started with questioning if the design was simply intended to be criticism of the President or something much worse. The discourse was surprisingly civil online, given the heated nature of the topic. Given that, and the positions of groups like the ACLU and the Anti-Defamation League, we decided to let the dialogue play out publicly before making a final decision.

Last night we posted a poll on our blog, read through the emails we’ve received and weighed the nature of the calls we’ve received on the topic. In the process we also learned that many of the original designers of the Psalm 109:8 designs had already decided to remove them on their own.

General consensus has proven that the design does point to a broader interpretation of the Psalm and thus has been deemed inappropriate for sale at CafePress.

The results of the Cafe Press poll were 76 percent calling the slogan “overly inflammatory and inappropriate” and 22 percent saying it was fair.

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AP FACT CHECK: Palin’s book goes rogue on some facts

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PALIN-hugesAP/Calvin Woodward—Sarah Palin’s new book reprises familiar claims from the 2008 presidential campaign that haven’t become any truer over time. Ignoring substantial parts of her record if not the facts, she depicts herself as a frugal traveler on the taxpayer’s dime, a reformer without ties to powerful interests and a politician roguishly indifferent to high ambition.

Palin goes adrift, at times, on more contemporary issues, too. She criticizes President Barack Obama for pushing through a bailout package that actually was achieved by his Republican predecessor George W. Bush — a package she seemed to support at the time.

A look at some of her statements in “Going Rogue,” obtained by The Associated Press in advance of its release Tuesday:

PALIN: Says she made frugality a point when traveling on state business as Alaska governor, asking “only” for reasonably priced rooms and not “often” going for the “high-end, robe-and-slippers” hotels.

THE FACTS: Although travel records indicate she usually opted for less-pricey hotels while governor, Palin and daughter Bristol stayed five days and four nights at the $707.29-per-night Essex House luxury hotel (robes and slippers come standard) overlooking New York City’s Central Park for a five-hour women’s leadership conference in October 2007. With air fare, the cost to Alaska was well over $3,000. Event organizers said Palin asked if she could bring her daughter. The governor billed her state more than $20,000 for her children’s travel, including to events where they had not been invited, and in some cases later amended expense reports to specify that they had been on official business.

PALIN: Boasts that she ran her campaign for governor on small donations, mostly from first-time givers, and turned back large checks from big donors if her campaign perceived a conflict of interest.

THE FACTS: Of the roughly $1.3 million she raised for her primary and general election campaigns for governor, more than half came from people and political action committees giving at least $500, according to an AP analysis of her campaign finance reports. The maximum that individual donors could give was $1,000; $2,000 for a PAC. Of the rest, about $76,000 came from Republican Party committees. She accepted $1,000 each from a state senator and his wife and $30 from a state representative in the weeks after the two Republican lawmakers’ offices were raided by the FBI as part of an investigation into a powerful Alaska oilfield services company. After AP reported those donations during the presidential campaign, she gave a comparative sum to charity.

PALIN: Rails against taxpayer-financed bailouts, which she attributes to Obama. She recounts telling daughter Bristol that to succeed in business, “you’ll have to be brave enough to fail.

THE FACTS: Palin is blurring the lines between Obama’s stimulus plan — a $787 billion package of tax cuts, state aid, social programs and government contracts — and the federal bailout that Republican presidential candidate John McCain voted for and President George W. Bush signed.

Palin’s views on bailouts appeared to evolve as McCain’s vice presidential running mate. In September 2008, she said “taxpayers cannot be looked to as the bailout, as the solution, to the problems on Wall Street.” A week later, she said “ultimately what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy.”

During the vice presidential debate in October, Palin praised McCain for being “instrumental in bringing folks together” to pass the $700 billion bailout. After that, she said “it is a time of crisis and government did have to step in.”

PALIN: Writes about a city councilman in Wasilla, Alaska, who owned a garbage truck company and tried to push through an ordinance requiring residents of new subdivisions to pay for trash removal instead of taking it to the dump for free — this to illustrate conflicts of interest she stood against as a public servant.

THE FACTS: As Wasilla mayor, Palin pressed for a special zoning exception so she could sell her family’s $327,000 house, then did not keep a promise to remove a potential fire hazard on the property.

She asked the city council to loosen rules for snow machine races when she and her husband owned a snow machine store, and cast a tie-breaking vote to exempt taxes on aircraft when her father-in-law owned one. But she stepped away from the table in 1997 when the council considered a grant for the Iron Dog snow machine race in which her husband competes.

PALIN: Says she tried to talk about national security and energy independence in her interview with Vogue magazine but the interviewer wanted her to pivot from hydropower to high fashion.

THE FACTS are somewhat in dispute. Vogue contributing editor Rebecca Johnson said Palin did not go on about hydropower. “She just kept talking about drilling for oil.

___

PALIN: “Was it ambition? I didn’t think so. Ambition drives; purpose beckons.” Throughout the book, Palin cites altruistic reasons for running for office, and for leaving early as Alaska governor.

THE FACTS: Few politicians own up to wanting high office for the power and prestige of it, and in this respect, Palin fits the conventional mold. But “Going Rogue” has all the characteristics of a pre-campaign manifesto, the requisite autobiography of the future candidate.

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Go pop some popcorn folks, because there’s more…lots more @ Associated Press

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