TPM News

At this morning's national prayer breakfast in Washington D.C., President Obama made a birther joke.

Calling once again for a return to civility in politics, the president declared that civility is "not a sign of weakness" and that he's "the first to confess I'm not always right."

"Surely you can question my policies without questioning my faith," the president said, pausing for a few seconds before adding, "or, for that matter, my citizenship."

The crowd laughed and applauded.

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President Obama has read it, and the detailed plan is the only thing the Republicans have so far, but it seems like Rep. Paul Ryan is out there on his own with a budget blueprint that cuts the deficit by slashing Social Security and Medicare benefits and by creating private accounts and a voucher system.

The talk about Social Security changes that would essentially amount to privatization of the entitlement plan raised eyebrows earlier this week - and even prompted some in the GOP to back away - but it's right there in black-and-white in Ryan's formal budget plan released last week.

The official line from House Republican leadership is that Ryan's budget is not the GOP alternative. Leadership aides pointed TPMDC to last year's far less specific budget proposal and stressed their plan will be presented during floor debate that is likely to happen this spring. Ryan, the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, will write that plan too.

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Daniel Pipes, whose previous interest in Barack Obama centered on his belief that the president was Muslim, is now offering free advice on "how to save the Obama presidency." To wit: bomb Iran.

"He needs a dramatic gesture to change the public perception of him as a light-weight, bumbling ideologue, preferably in an arena where the stakes are high, where he can take charge, and where he can trump expectations," writes Pipes in a piece for National Review.

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Scott Brown To Be Sworn In Today Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R-MA) is expected to be sworn in today, officially bringing the Senate Republican caucus to 41 members -- and thus enabling them to block Democratic legislation -- after his victory int he special election for the Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy. Brown had originally been scheduled to be sworn in on February 11, but demanded that this be moved up due to votes that had been scheduled to take place earlier than that.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and the First Lady attended the National Prayer Breakfast at 8 a.m. ET, with Obama delivering remarks. Obama will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:30 a.m. ET. Obama will meet at 10:40 a.m. ET with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. Obama will have lunch with business leaders at 12 p.m. ET. Obama and Vice President Biden will meet at 3 p.m. ET with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and at 3:30 p.m. ET with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Obama will deliver remarks and take questions at a Democratic National Committee fundraising reception at 5:45 p.m. ET, and will speak at a DNC fundraising dinner at 8 p.m. ET.

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A new public poll shows the freshly-minted nominees for Senate in Illinois are running a tight race as the general election campaign begins in earnest. Yesterday, GOP nominee Mark Kirk released an internal poll showing him with a double-digit lead over Democratic nominee Alexi Giannoulias. But today's public poll from Rasmussen shows the race is much closer than that, with Kirk leading Giannoulias 46-40 with a margin of error of 4.5%.

Internal polls are often released by candidates in an attempt to influence the storyline of a race. Yesterday, the Kirk campaign pushed its internal numbers on reporters yesterday in the hours after Kirk swept a crowded field to win his party's nomination. While today's poll still shows him ahead of Giannoulias in the race for President Obama's former Senate seat, the six-point lead suggests the race is basically up for grabs.

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Jon Stewart entered Bill O'Reilly's "No Spin Zone" last night, in the first night of a two-part interview with the Fox News host. Part two airs tonight.

The interview was largely pretty civil and friendly -- and Stewart and O'Reilly debated a number of issues, from President Obama's first-year performance to Republican obstructionism to Fox News' objectivity.

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Feb. 4, 2010: President Obama has announced a sweeping plan to freeze all non-security discretionary spending beginning in 2011. Administration officials have since worked hard to clarify the proposal, resurrecting the campaign language of the scalpel. But one of NASA's most famed programs received the full axe. As a part of the budget changes, the White House declared it would end NASA's $100 billion plans to send astronauts back to the moon. Constellation, the program on the chopping block, was the pet space project of President George W. Bush. The Obama Administration, which explained that it was not abandoning NASA, plans to redirect funds to rocket research. But some identified this measure as the end of our trips to the moon. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) lamented the move as the "death march for the future of U.S. human space flight," though Congress has yet to approve the cut.

In light of the recent news, TPM looks back at some of the landmark images of our long love affair with our moon. Above, a view of Earth from the Apollo 17 mission in December, 1972.

During the 1960s, Neil Armstrong worked on the X-15 program as a NASA test pilot. Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, is pictured here with the experimental rocket-powered aircraft, which was designed to reach high altitudes and speeds so that engineers could gather data on aircraft and spacecraft design.


January 1, 1961: Ham, the 3-year-old chimpanzee bound for for the Mecury Redstone suborbital test flight, tries on his spacesuit. The test flight was conducted before the NASA launched its first U.S. astronaut, Alan Shepard, in May, 1961.

May 25, 1961: Before the joint session of Congress, President John F. Kennedy delivers his famous speech challenging the country to touch down on the moon: "I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth."

October 15, 1965: Scientists at the NASA Langley Research Center test the Reduced Gravity Walking Simulator in preparation for the Apollo Project trip.

December 24, 1968: Astronauts from Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, show pictures of the Earth from a live broadcast in orbit. They end the broadcast reading passages from Genesis.

July 20, 1969: Launched on July 16th, the famous three man crew of Apollo 11 become the first of the planet's inhabitants to touch down on the lunar soil.

July 19, 2007: Neil Amstrong became the first man on the moon, delivering his famous line: "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Nearly 40 years later, he recreates the famed first landing, casting his footprint at the Marshall Space Flight Center.

July 24, 1969: After returning from their epic journey, the astronauts from Apollo 11 are visited by President Richard Nixon. The crew is (from left to right) Neil Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, lunar module pilot.

November 10, 1969: Charles Conrad Jr., the commander of Apollo 12, walks on the lunar surface.

April 14, 1970: Astronauts and flight controllers crowd around monitors in NASA's Mission Operations Control Room as the Apollo 13 crew attempted to return with their crippled spacecraft.

February, 1971: Astronaut Edgar Mitchell stands by the American flag, plotted down on the moon's soil during the Apollo 14 lunar landing.

July 16, 1971: During the Apollo 15 mission, astronaut James Irwin takes a lunar surface vehicle for a spin.

August 1, 1971: A vehicle driven by David Scott roams the moon during the Apollo 15 mission.

April 21, 1972: An astronaut examines the Lunar Roving Vehicle on the Apollo 16 mission.

December 16, 1972: Apollo 17 module pilot Harrison Schmitt (in suit) shares a laugh with fellow astronaut Alan Shepard during the mission's pre-launch training.

1972: A boulder on the moon dwarfs an Apollo 17 astronaut walking past.

July 22, 1989: Even as the Cold War space race withered, Americans remained fascinated with NASA's missions to the moon. On the 20th anniversary of the first moon landing, a float moves past in a parade outside the Johnson Space Center. You can see the TPM 40th anniversary tribute to the first moon landing here.

January 15, 2004: President George W. Bush waves goodbye after delivering a speech at the NASA headquarters outlining an ambitious plan for the agency. The Constellation program aimed to return Americans to the moon by 2020, utilizing the mission as a platform for future trips to Mars.


NASA has not been shy about their hopes to return to our lunar surface. The caption for this photo from their website reads: "Twelve people walked on the Moon in an era before cell phones, before hybrid cars, and before laptop computers. It's time to return."

March 24, 2009: Flanked by school children and Members of Congress, President Obama speaks with astronauts on the International Space Station from the Roosevelt Room.

April 5, 2004: Two elementary school students in Palm Beach, FL wait to greet Kennedy Space Center Director Jim Kennedy and astronaut Sam Durrance.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has long been a supporter of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the policy which prohibits openly gay men and women from serving in the military. But his support has been predicated on top military leaders supporting it, especially Colin Powell, the former chairman of the joint chiefs who helped institute the policy in 1993.

And now Powell, in a statement released today, has announced that he fully supports the efforts to repeal DADT.

Will McCain change his mind?

He hasn't spoken about the policy publicly since Powell announced his support, and his spokeswoman did not return a request for comment. So we'll have to wait and see.

After the current chairman of the joint chiefs, Adm. Michael Mullen, yesterday threw his support behind repealing DADT, a McCain spokeswoman brushed it aside. She said McCain's opposition to a repeal hadn't changed, because Mullen was speaking on his own behalf and not that of the military.

McCain was citing Powell's support for the policy as recently as last week (even though Powell has been saying for years that DADT should be reviewed).

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Dr. Dwight McKenna, candidate for New Orleans Parish Coroner, today defended his campaign ad that depicts the incumbent coroner as a Dr. Frankenstein who sells body parts, saying the ad is "fair."

He also said that as a result of the ad he has been unfairly depicted "as someone who doesn't appreciate organ donation."

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