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STATEMENT FROM THE PRESIDENT ON THE PASSING OF EUNICE KENNEDY SHRIVER

Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Eunice was many things to many people: a mother who inspired her children to serve others; a wife who supported her husband Sargent in the Peace Corps and in politics; and a sister to her siblings, including brothers John, Robert, and Edward. But above all, she will be remembered as the founder of the Special Olympics, as a champion for people with intellectual disabilities, and as an extraordinary woman who, as much as anyone, taught our nation - and our world - that no physical or mental barrier can restrain the power of the human spirit. Her leadership greatly enriched the lives of Special Olympians throughout the world, who have experienced the pride and joy of competition and achievement thanks to her vision. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sargent; their children Robert, Maria, Timothy, Mark, and Anthony; and the entire Kennedy family.


The leaders of the United States, Canada, and Mexico met on Sunday and Monday in Guadalajara, Mexico, as part of an annual trilateral summit. Here, Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada, President Felipe Calderón of Mexico, and President Barack Obama stand in the Cabanas Cultural Institute, the neoclassical building in Guadalajara where the summit is taking place.

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President Obama and the new U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Carlos Pascual, disembark Air Force One in Guadalajara on Sunday.

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Demonstrators mark President Obama's visit with a sign that reads, "What virus are you bringing today?"

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"Obama, you haven't completed your campaign promises."

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The three leaders meet over dinner at the Cabanas Cultural Institute.

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After dinner on Sunday, a mariachi band performs.

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Regional dancers also put on a show.

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President Obama speaks with Mexico's President Felipe Calderón on Monday.

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The White House today attempted to distance President Obama from remarks by House leaders that town hall disrupters are "un-American," saying that the president believes "spirited debate" is part of the "American tradition."

White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton, when asked about the op-ed written by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said:

Well, I think there's actually a pretty long tradition of people shouting at politicians in America. The President thinks that if people want to come and have a spirited debate about health care, a real vigorous conversation about it, that's a part of the American tradition and he encourages that....

And so if people want to come and have their concerns and their questions answered, the President thinks that's important. Now, if you just want to come to a town hall so that you can disrupt and so that you can scream over another person, he doesn't think that that's productive. And as a country, we've been able to make progress when people actually talk out what our problems are, not try to shout each other down.


The president also seemed to address this when speaking at a press conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

"We are having a vigorous debate in the United States and I think that's a healthy thing," he said.

Earlier today we told you about the near-constant phone contact between then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and his successor as Goldman Sachs CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, during the height of the financial crisis last September.

Now, we've obtained from the Treasury Department Paulson's ethics agreement, in which he pledged not to participate in matters involving Goldman Sachs, and the waiver to that agreement granted by White House counsel Fred Fielding. You can read the agreement here and the waiver here.

Of the dozens of phone calls between Paulson and Blankfein, 26 occurred before Paulson requested and obtained a waiver to deal with matters relating to Goldman Sachs, the New York Times reported Sunday. The content of the calls is unknown. But two were the morning of Sept. 17, a day after the AIG bailout, which ultimately handed Goldman $13 billion of taxpayers' money -- before Paulson obtained the ethics waiver.

In Paulson's ethics agreement, written after President Bush plucked him from Goldman to be Treasury Secretary, all but two of eight pages mention Goldman. He concludes it by saying "these steps will ensure that I avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest."

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It's true -- Tea Partiers really do want to keep the government out of their Medicare!

Sound Politics, a conservative Seattle-area blog, went to a local town hall by Democratic Rep. Rick Larsen, and gave a somewhat bemused take of the demonstrators on both sides of the fence:



"'Keep the guvmint (sic) out of my medicare,'" our friendly narrator observes. "Not so sure about that one."

It seems that this sentiment from the right is not an urban legend, after all. Either that, or some really clever left-wing plants have infiltrated into the crowds.

Officer Marcus Gonzalez, the public relations representative for the police in Douglas, Arizona, has confirmed to TPM that police were indeed called out to an event last week by Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, where an attendee had dropped a gun.

Gonzalez does not know any further details at this time. But he could confirm to us that it was "not just media hype."

The Arizona Daily Star reports:

"Yelling and screaming is counterproductive," she told the Sierra Vista Herald at a Congress on Your Corner event last week. There, one visitor dropped a gun at the meet n' greet held in a Douglas Safeway, her staff says.

That has aides, who called police to the event, concerned for her safety.

"We have never felt the need before to notify law enforcement when we hold these events," said spokesman C.J. Karamargin.


A call to Giffords' office has not been returned.


Protesters expressing their opposition to health care reform efforts picket the offices of Rep. Harry Mitchell (D) in Scottsdale, AZ on Saturday.

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Police officers guard the offices of Rep. Harry Mitchell.

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Susan and James O'Nele, from Anthem, AZ.

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Dottie Kennard, from Peoria, AZ, attended Saturday's protest.

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A boy wears a breathing mask in protest of health care reform efforts.

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Barbara Medal, from Tempe, AZ.

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Richard Kubian, from Scottsdale, AZ.

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Protesters interrupt a town hall meeting held by Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) in Tampa, FL on Friday, August 7.

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People shove their way into the Tampa town hall meeting.

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Mike Sola, the protester who confronted Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) at a town hall in Michigan last week over health care for his handicapped son, appeared on Fox this morning with some interesting claims.

First, Sola told Fox that "thugs" from Democratic leadership came to his house "in the middle of the night." Then he claimed health care reform would "sentence our families to death."

"If you call my son un-American, your thugs already know where we live. They came to us in the middle of the night," Sola said, speaking directly to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.



Sola said this "visit" happened the night his tirade against Dingell aired on television. He then threatened to kill "the person" if he sees him on his property.

"All I'm gonna say to the person ... I will use every means available to me, lethal force if necessary," he said. "If I ever catch you on my property I will take the risk of going to prison, but you will never again threaten my family."

He said he reported the incident to the Michigan State Police, who did not immediately return a call for comment.

Later in the interview, he elaborated on why he's against President Obama's health care reform plan.

"What you are doing is sentencing our families to death. We lose the right to life. The old people are discarded. Those who cannot fend for themselves are discarded," he said. "We are American citizens who want one thing: to be heard before you put us down."

Check out this ad from a right-wing group called the 60 Plus Association, celebrating the Greatest Generation -- and warning that the health care bill could kill them:



"The government -- not doctors -- will decide if older patients are worth the cost," the announcer says, in an echo of Sarah Palin's "death panel" remarks.

A representative for the group told us that this is a national ad buy, and that the price for it is $1.5 million.

Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) appeared on MSNBC this afternoon, and talked about the death threat that we'd reported his office received last week over the health care bill. He expressed doubt that it would result in prosecution -- and said that other members of Congress have gotten similar calls:



We've gotten a lot of calls, and I think what I got is not different from what a lot of members of Congress have gotten. A caller said that if I voted for the health care plan, that it -- it could cost me my life. And my staff member was taken aback by that and asked him to repeat it, and he did. And then my staff member asked him point blank, 'is that a threat?' And the guy said, 'There are a lot of angry people out here.' And that's probably equivocal enough that it's not gonna result in a criminal prosecution. And I think a lot of members of Congress have gotten calls that are that creepy and that menacing. And sometimes it's gone beyond that -- the Longworth House Office Building was shut down for several hours a couple weeks ago, because of a bomb threat.

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