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Son of Texas Plane Crash Victim Vernon Hunter: Calls Attack an Act of Terror

Posted by: Audiegrl

Feb. 22: Ken Hunter, son of the sole IRS worker killed when Joseph Stack flew his plane into the building where he worked.

Ken Hunter, son of the sole IRS worker killed when Joseph Stack flew his plane into the building where he worked.

CNN/Associated Press~ The son of the IRS worker who was the sole person to be killed last week when a tax protester piloted his plane into a Texas office building says his father was an innocent bystander who died at the hands of a terrorist.

And Ken Hunter, whose father, Vernon, was killed in Thursday’s plane attack said it was “disgusting” that the pilot’s daughter had called her father a hero — a statement she later retracted.

Joe Stack, 53, set fire to his family home before plowing his single-engine plane into the office building, killing himself and Hunter, a tax service employee and two-tour veteran of the War in Vietnam.

How is it heroic to take upon acts that Al Qaeda used on September 11 of 2001? What makes that heroic?” Hunter said in an interview Monday.

He spoke after Stack’s adult daughter, Samantha Bell, told ABC News that her father’s beliefs were heroic, and “Now maybe people will listen.”

Stack targeted the building, where nearly 200 IRS workers were employed, after posting a ranting manifesto against the agency and the government.

He did not write the tax law,” Hunter said of his father. “No one in that building wrote the tax law.”

Vernon Hunter

Vernon Hunter ~ RIP

Are you telling me that an American citizen committing an attack of terrorism against the United States is heroic?” he continued.

Bell said she offered her deepest condolences to Hunter’s family, and she said her father’s last actions were “inappropriate.”

But if nobody comes out and speaks up on behalf of injustice, then nothing will ever be accomplished,” she said in the interview. “But I do not agree with his last action with what he did. But I do agree about the government.”

Bell later retracted her statement that her father was a hero, telling ABC that the only hero who died that day was her father’s victim. “I don’t want to hurt anybody,” she told ABC. “We are mourning for Vernon Hunter.”

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President Obama Sends Condolences To Austin

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Last week, tragedy befell public servants in Austin, Texas. Earlier today, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner met with IRS employees in Austin to express his sympathies and support, and he read this note from the President:

“To the men and women of the Internal Revenue Service at Austin:

I asked Secretary Geithner to carry this message to you.

It is with great sadness that I write to you on the tragic events of February 18th. You, your families and colleagues are in my thoughts and prayers.

Michelle and I extend our condolences to you on the death of your colleague, Mr. Vernon Hunter. Vernon dedicated his life to service to this great country, serving over 20 years in the military before joining the IRS. We mourn his death.

As we work with law-enforcement agencies to investigate the events leading up to this plane crash, I want the dedicated employees of the IRS to know that I am thankful for your dedication, courage and professionalism as we rebuild in Austin. And as you continue your work, we will do what is needed to ensure your safety.

We are grateful for your service to this country.

May God bless you and the United States of America.

President Barack Obama”

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President Obama Announces Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge

Posted by: Audiegrl


The White House and the Department of Education have announced a new Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge and are inviting public schools across the country to compete to have President Obama speak at their graduation. At the beginning of the school year, the President encouraged students across the country to take responsibility for their education, study hard and graduate from high school. The Race to the Top High School Commencement challenge encourages schools to show how they are making great strides on personal responsibility, academic excellence and college readiness.

Applications must be completed by students and submitted by a high school’s Principal using the Commencement Challenge Application Form no later than Monday, March 15th at 11:59 pm EST. Each school may submit only one application and high schools must be public to apply. Following the application deadline, six finalists will be selected by the White House and Department of Education. These schools will then be featured on the White House website and the public will have an opportunity to vote for the three schools they think best meet the President’s goal. The President will select a national winner from these three finalists and visit the winning high school to deliver the commencement address to the class of 2010.

The application’s four essay questions focus on demonstrating how the school is helping prepare students to meet the President’s 2020 goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. Applications will be judged based on the school’s performance and dedication to providing students an excellent education that will prepare them to graduate ready for college and career choices. Each question must be answered in full to qualify and data that substantiates each answer is strongly encouraged.

In addition to the required essay responses, applicants are invited to submit the following optional supplemental materials:

  • A video — no more than 2 minutes in length — showing the school’s culture and character and highlighting how it is a model of educational success for other high schools around the country.
  • Supplemental data on key indicators such as attendance, student achievement, graduation rates and where available, college enrollment rates. This data may be presented in the form of tables, graphs or spreadsheets and should be used to help the school make the most compelling arguments possible.

Please use the Commencement Challenge Application Form to apply.

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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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Dreaming of a White Christmas (President Obama Parody from Iman Crosson)

For those of you who don’t know what “public option” is, it is the viciously debated proposed health care insurance program that would be offered by the government. There’s tons of support for it …

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Ed Schultz v. Jonathan Alter: Schultz Ends Up in His Own Segment of Psycho Talk

Posted by Audiegrl

Jonathan Alter of Newsweek

Jonathan Alter of Newsweek

Newsweek‘s Jonathan Alter stepped forward to educate MSNBC’s Ed Shultz on the normal legislative process involving the health care bill. Alter accused Schultz of misrepresenting the totality of the billl, telling Schultz that, “You have to deal with the world as it is, not as we would like it to be.”

Schultz’s take on the process was what our friend Ogenec would call ‘neo-progressive‘, and lacked understanding of what Alter called ‘the sausage making‘ involved in getting a bill through Congress. It was easy to see the direction the show was heading, when Schultz opened with a phone poll asking “Are you disappointed in the way President Obama is handling health care reform?Hit 1 for yes, and 2 for no. BTW, I took Ed’s poll, and after selecting 2 for no, they wanted to transfer me to a operator to discuss a time-share property. 😉

Neo-progressive opinions are nothing new, but are often exasperated by the 24/7 news cycle. The pundits and reporters don’t take time to understand the developments and the facts. Instead, must make a quick assessment of the facts, and make up the rest with speculation or half-baked ideas and opinions. This is not doing their viewers any favors and often unnecessarily leads to voters getting riled up, before they even know the facts.

So for me, I’m with Alter on this one. Even though he tried to explain (from experience) the long legislative process to Schultz, and all of the benefits that were in the new bill… but it was no use… To Shultz, everything hinged on the bill passing with Public Option, and anything other than that, was just a pile of junk.

Sorry Ed, but when you talk like this, you belong in your own segment of Psycho Talk.

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US Envoy Jon Huntsman Criticizes Coverage of Obama China Visit

Posted by Audiegrl

AP/Christopher Bodeen—Washington’s ambassador to Beijing hit out Friday at negative U.S. media coverage of President Barack Obama’s visit to China, saying it failed to take into account important progress on many issues.

Although producing no breakthroughs on key issues, Obama’s first state visit to the Asian giant that ended Wednesday was heralded by both sides as a success.

The trip was the top news story in China, drawing strong interest from the Chinese public who, surveys suggest, are largely positive in their view of the American president.

However, much of the U.S. media coverage was strongly negative, accusing Obama of failing to gain concessions on key issues such as Iran’s nuclear program and climate change, as well as being weak on human rights.

Ambassador Jon Huntsman said the reports missed the fact that the visit had yielded important progress on cooperation in areas such as clean energy, military-to-military exchanges and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons.

I attended all those meetings that President Obama had with Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao,” Huntsman said, referring to the Chinese president and premier.

I’ve got to say some of the reporting I saw afterward was off the mark. I saw sweeping comments about things that apparently weren’t talked about, when they were discussed in great detail in the meetings,” he said.

Huntsman made the comments during a question-and-answer session with Chinese and American students attending an international relations program at elite Peking University.

He said criticism about limited Chinese exposure for Obama’s remarks at a town hall-style meeting with students in Shanghai failed to consider the ubiquity of the Internet and blogging in China, where 350 million people use the Web.

Go check some time and see how messages bounce around from Web site to Web site and blogger to blogger for a very long period of time and you’ll get a sense of what the communication revolution is all about,” Huntsman said.

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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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Citizens for Real Health Care Reform and a PUBLIC OPTION

Dear Supporters,

Moments ago, the Senate voted to begin its full debate on historic health care reform legislation instead of obstructing it with a filibuster.

Tonight’s vote marks the biggest victory to date for our grassroots effort to pass health care reform with a public option. We cannot give enough thanks to the over 100,000 signers of our petition at CitizensForAPublicOption.com for helping to fundamentally shift the momentum towards meaningful reform.

Not long ago, a few loud opponents of reform armed and organized by the insurance industry dominated this debate. Now the American people, the majority of whom support a public option, have spoken out and gained the upper hand.

Not long ago, the public option seemed like little more than a pipe dream. Now it’s part of health care bills in both the Senate and the House.

Not long ago, members of our own Democratic caucus weren’t sure they could even support an up-or-down vote on health care reform legislation. Tonight they voted to end the Republican filibuster.

But despite this good news, the fight for meaningful health care reform is not over. As we debate amendments to this legislation in the coming weeks, we will work with our colleagues to ensure it continues to address the “Three C’s” of meaningful reform: competition, choice, and cost reduction. And we will firmly oppose any effort to eliminate the public option.

Tonight we celebrate a milestone no one thought we could reach just months ago. Tomorrow the fight continues. We will not let up until the President signs a bill we can all be proud of.

Thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

Senator Dick Durban, Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Chuck Schumer

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Decision day for health care in the House +Obama States Strong Support For House Health Care Reform, Public Option

posted by GeoT

With the House of Representatives set to vote on health care reform during a session today, the White House announced its support for the legislation on Friday and singled out the public option as a laudable aspect of the reform effort

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is traveling to Capitol Hill on Saturday to try to close the sale on his signature health care overhaul, facing a make-or-break vote in the House certain to be seen as a test of his presidency.
Obama scheduled a late-morning visit with House Democrats convening a rare Saturday session on legislation to remake the U.S. health care system, extending coverage to tens of millions now uninsured and banning insurance company practices such as denial of coverage based on pre-existing medical problems.
Late Friday, House Democrats cleared an abortion-related impasse blocking a vote and officials expressed optimism they had finally lined up the support needed to pass Obama’s signature issue.
Cont’d Here:

Statement from Whitehouse

The Administration strongly supports House passage of H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, a bill that represents a critical milestone in the effort to reform our health care system. H.R. 3962 will provide needed insurance reforms for Americans with insurance, expand coverage for those who do not have insurance, lower costs for families and businesses, and begin to reduce the Nation’s deficit. It meets the President’s criteria for health insurance reform: it assures that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care that is there when they need it and does so without adding a dime to the deficit.

This legislation is the product of unprecedented cooperation and countless hours of hard work by Members of the House of Representatives who share the President’s conviction that the Nation cannot wait another year for health insurance reform. They have forged a strong consensus that represents an historic step forward.

The House legislation includes critical reforms to the insurance industry, so that Americans will no longer have to worry that they will be denied coverage, or that their coverage will be dropped or watered down when they need it most. It covers virtually all Americans and ensures that all Americans with health insurance are protected against high out-of-pocket spending.

The Administration is pleased that the bill includes a public health insurance option offered in an exchange. As the President has said throughout this process, a public option that competes with private insurers is one of the best ways to ensure the choice and competition that are so badly needed in today’s market.

Full Text of Statement: Click Here

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AP: AARP To Endorse House Health Care Bill

AP Sources: AARP to endorse House health care bill

(AP)
WASHINGTON — Officials are telling The Associated Press that AARP_the seniors’ lobby_will endorse the health care overhaul bill that House Democrats are preparing to take to the floor.
Officials with knowledge of the group’s decision told The Associate Press on Wednesday that the senior’s lobby has decided to give the $1.2 trillion measure its seal of approval. An announcement is expected Thursday. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement has not been made.
The endorsement, in advance of floor votes as early as this weekend, would be a major boost for President Barack Obama’s signature issue.

Source:

“We think we’ll have the votes”

Oct. 29 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled a $894 billion health care bill Thursday that would extend coverage to 36 million Americans through a mix of subsidies, tax incentives and penalties on individuals and small businesses, but the final package falls short of the more liberal vision of a public health insurance option.

Party leaders would like to start debate on the bill next week and hope to have a final vote before Veteran’s Day on Nov. 11.

The long-awaited introduction of a combined House health care bill produced few major surprises. After weeks of public hand-wringing, leaders – and party liberals – bowed to political reality by allowing doctors and hospitals to negotiate their rates with the government under the public plans.

Unveiling the bill at the Capitol, Pelosi said the bill would meet the goals of “affordability of the middle class, security for our seniors, responsibility to our children. It reduces the deficit, meets President Obama’s call to keep the costs under $900 billion over 10 years and it insures 36 million more Americans.”

“The bill is fiscally sound, will not add one dime to the deficit as it expands coverage, implements key insurance reforms and promotes prevention and wellness across the health system,” Pelosi said.

The bill would cut the deficit by about $30 billion over the next 10 years.

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States can opt out of the public option, but how many will?

The Public Option: Let’s Not Opt Out and Say We Did

By MICHAEL GRUNWALD – Insurers are furious that Senate majority leader Harry Reid’s health-care-reform bill will include a public option – even though it lets states opt out if they don’t want the government-run insurance alternative.
Liberals are ecstatic with Reid over that same public option – even though opt-out states would be able to keep their markets completely private, which would limit the public plan’s power to negotiate volume-based discounts in other states. (Read “Understanding the Health-Care Debate: Your Indispensable Guide.”)
It’s an impressive bipartisan consensus regarding the power of inertia. For all the disagreements over the public option, almost everyone agrees that making it the default is a big deal, and that the compromise allowing opt-outs is a pretty modest compromise. That’s because reams of studies have shown that default settings really, really matter. If Reid’s legislation had omitted a default public option but allowed states to opt in if they wanted one, insurers would be ecstatic and liberals would be furious.

The classic example of the power of the default is the opt-out 401(k) savings plan. In a 2001 study, only 36% of the participants signed up for a retirement savings plan when they had to opt in – even though their employers were matching their contributions. Free money, and only 36% took it! But when participants were automatically signed up for the same plan but given the chance to opt out, 86% of them stuck with it. Scholars have found similar status-quo results with organ donations. If we have to sign up, very few of us become organ donors. If we have to opt out, most of us remain organ donors. Similarly, when our electronic gadgets come with the energy-saving auto-power-down function enabled, we’re cool with that; if we have to enable it ourselves, we rarely bother.

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