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White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs today took a shot at opposition to President Obama's planned speech to students next week. "We've reached a little bit of the silly season when the president of the United States can't tell kids to study hard and stay in school," Gibbs said.

Obama is scheduled to address students across the country on Tuesday, urging them to stay in school and emphasizing the importance of personal responsibility. This week, conservative pundits such as Michelle Malkin began drumming up opposition to the address, saying Obama is trying to push liberal propaganda on school children.

The White House will release the text of the speech on Monday for parents to read. But some parents have said their children will be staying home from school that day, and some school districts have said they won't show the address to students.

Gibbs brushed off the opposition when talking to reporters today.

"Look, there are some school districts that won't let you read 'Huckleberry Finn,' " Gibbs said.

"If staying in school is a political message, then somebody should tell the NBA," he said.

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After nearly 48 hours of trial balloons and kabuki theater, it seems pretty clear that the White House is focusing its attentions on a couple different potential paths forward for health care reform.

The first, and seemingly preferred, idea is to court Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), give her tremendous say in the shape of legislation, and then, if that's good enough to get 60 votes in the Senate, pressure House progressives to hold their noses and go along with it. It wouldn't be pretty though. Snowe's preferred approach appears to be a 'trigger' for a public option -- implementing a public option only if insurance companies are unable to rein in costs and expand coverage by a certain fixed date. And House progressives have really put themselves on the line for a public option free from any trigger mechanism.

If that strategy fails at any point along the road, the White House could still turn to the Democrat-only strategy of passing reform (or at least, many elements of reform) through the filibuster-proof budget reconciliation process. Just yesterday, former Senate Majority Leader and current White House ally Tom Daschle wrote in the Wall Street Journal "should Republican intransigence continue, [Democrats] must focus on the budgetary implications of health reform and use the Senate rules of budget reconciliation to allow a health-care bill [to] move with majority support. The choice between complete legislative failure and majority rule should not pose a dilemma for any Democratic senator."

That's an important tell.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) finally explained yesterday why Democrats don't want her in office: They're scared she'll become the first female president.

"They want to make sure no women, no woman becomes president before a Democrat woman," Bachmann said, "and so they're doing everything they can to, I think, sabotage women like Sarah Palin, perhaps women like myself, or similarly situated women, to make sure that we don't have a prominent national voice."

Bachmann was speaking on Mike Gallagher's radio show.

Bachmann recently said she would run for president, but only if God told her to.

A representative for Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) took out nomination papers today to run for the Senate seat vacated by Ted Kennedy.

A spokesman for the Massachusetts secretary of state confirmed to the that someone from Lynch's office picked up the papers.

Lynch's spokeswoman wasn't immediately available for comment.

If Lynch runs, he'll be campaigning against Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, who announced yesterday she's running for Kennedy's seat. The primary is scheduled for Dec. 8, and the election for Jan. 19.

The secretary of state's office told the Globe several other lesser-known people have taken out papers.

So as you may have heard, the Tea Partiers are set to get back in the news next weekend with a big "March on Washington" to protest health-care reform, the bailout, climate-change legislation, and all those other intolerable encroachments on freedom that the Obama administration is planning.

The Tea Party Patriots -- which, along with the corporate-backed FreedomWorks, is the prime organizer of the march -- have worked hard to portray their movement as a reasonable, principled, non-violent opposition. Among the confirmed speakers for the rally are GOP lawmakers who are leaders of the conservative movement like Jim DeMint, Mike Pence, and Marsha Blackburn.

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Vice President Biden today responded to the newest jobless numbers, which show unemployment jumping to a 26-year high of 9.7 percent, with 216,000 jobs lost in August.

"There would have been another half million jobs lost without the recovery act," he said. Biden was speaking via satellite at Solyndra, a solar panel company in California. Biden and Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu were announcing a $535 million loan guarantee to the company through the recovery act.

He said the country is losing jobs at a slower rate than in January, which is an improvement.

"Less bad is not good," he said.

"We won't be satisfied until we're adding jobs," Biden said. "Jobs you can raise a family on. Green jobs."

NBC News correspondent Chuck Todd said today that President Obama "is not going to throw away the public option," but will likely turn to the "trigger" option that's been proposed by Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe.

"This president loves to find the middle ground," Todd said. "The middle ground to keep the Democrats together appears to be this trigger idea."

Todd said it would be a way for Obama to keep the public option alive and bring in the "left flank" of his party.

With the apparent departure of Sens. Chuck Grassley and Mike Enzi from the negotiating table, Snowe has become the major GOP negotiator in the Senate. She supports a "trigger" option, in which a government corporation would offer a public plan in any state where fewer than 95 percent of people have access to affordable coverage.

Yesterday, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) said that, although he didn't support such an option, it might be able to pass the House.

Did the Abramoff scandal extend into the highest reaches of the Justice Department?

John Ashcroft's chief of staff at DOJ may plead the fifth in the trial of Kevin Ring, the Team Abramoff operative accused of bribing lawmakers and public officials, according to court documents.

A motion filed this week by Ring's lawyers and examined by TPMmuckraker states:

Counsel for Mr. Ayres and counsel for Ms. Ayres [Ayres's wife] have indicated that each would invoke their Fifth Amendment privilege if subpoeaned.

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