TPM News

Last night on the South Lawn of the White House, Nerd-In-Chief President Obama held an astronomy event for about 150 middle-schoolers from Washington, DC. Watch video of Obama's speech below.

He was joined by key science advisor and physicist John Holdren, as well as astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Sally Ride and Mae Jemison, "Hubble Repairman" John Grunsfeld and NASA administrators. Obama also introduced Caroline Moore, who discovered a new kind of supernova when she was 14 years old, and Lucas Bolyard, who discovered a pulsar (a rare star) as a high school sophomore.

"Now, if they can discover something great, so can any of you other students who are here tonight," Obama said. "All you need is a passion for science."

The students there had the opportunity to look through 21 telescopes, touch a moon rock, see a meteorite up close and take a 3D tour through the universe in the inflatable NASA Geodome. The President himself was the first to look through one of the telescopes, at "a double-double-star in the Constellation Lyra, 160 light years away," as explained by Holdren. "A hundred and sixty light years -- that's far away," Obama said.

The President emphasized how important science education is -- "This morning, I awarded the National Medals of Science and Technology to individuals who've made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of human knowledge," he said. He then asked the assembled middle-schoolers: "Which one of you are going to come back here to claim your prize?" to which many of the students responded, "Me!"

See video and read the full remarks of the President on astronomy after the jump.

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House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) said on The Early Show that he's meeting with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer later today to try and narrow Republican and Democratic differences on health care reform.

"Today I'm going to sit down with Majority Leader Hoyer and try to look at the things we can agree upon," Cantor said. He then proceeded to slam several parts of the Democratic health care reform plan.

On the CBO report that the $829 billion Senate Finance Committee health care bill would actually reduce the deficit by $81 billion over 10 years, Cantor said, "The claims that we're saving $81 billion by spending $829 billion, you can say that if you wanna go ahead to really rob Peter to pay Paul."

Cantor also said the committee's bill would hurt seniors. "Seniors will have less opportunity, less benefit, less ability to choose the kind of health care they want."

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CBO: Budget Deficit Reaches Record $1.4 Trillion The federal budget deficit for the just-completed fiscal year 2009 reached $1.4 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. This record number was due to multiple factors, including falling tax revenues due to the recession, corporate bailouts and stimulus spending. This was triple the previous record of $459 billion, which was reached last year.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will have lunch at 12 p.m. ET with business leaders. At 2:30 p.m. ET, he will visit the National Naval Medical Center Marine Wounded Warrior basketball game. At 3:15 p.m. ET, Obama and Vice President Biden will meet with Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner, and they will meet at 3:30 p.m. ET with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. At 5 p.m. ET, Obama will play basketball with cabinet secretaries and members of Congress.

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And the first cable news personality to take on the story of a private security firm taking over an empty Montana jail is ... Glenn Beck!

Here's the surprisingly fact-based segment from last night, in which Beck approaches the American Private Police Force story with relative calm, interviewing a local reporter:

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On October 6, 2009, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay stepped down from Dancing With The Stars after a series of dance-related injuries to his feet. DeLay said Dancing "is everything I thought it would be." We agree. Here's a look back at The Hammer's short and sweet stint on the show. The cha-cha, tango, samba -- DeLay danced his way across the aisle and into our hearts. DeLay is pictured here in happier times on an August episode of Hardball, as he showed off his new dancing shoes.

DeLay began his training with Dancing partner Cheryl Burke back in August.

Tom DeLay and Cheryl Burke.

Tom DeLay busted a move in a September promo for the fall 2009 season of Dancing With The Stars.

September 21: Tom DeLay danced the cha-cha to "Wild Thing" on the Dancing season premiere.

September 25: DeLay iced his foot before a rehearsal.


September 28: DeLay almost dropped Burke at the end of their performance of the tango, due to his injured feet.

October 5: DeLay, clad in a red pinstriped shirt with a blue elephant on the back, danced the samba to "Why Can't We Be Friends."

A downtrodden DeLay announced that he will not continue on in the Dancing competition. In a subsequent interview with Good Morning America, DeLay said, "I'm really disappointed I can't go any further." He also told Newsweek that he has "no idea" if Obama is a U.S. citizen. That's our Hammer!

Over at the Huffington Post, Sam Stein reports on an interesting, potential health care compromise that would allow states to opt out of what would otherwise be a national public option.

TPMDC has learned that the idea was reportedly conceived by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), who also proposed a separate compromise that would allow states to opt in to a public option. A Carper aide confirms that he's taking a close look at the idea.

Interestingly, the nascent proposal also appears to have the backing of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) who's been shopping it around to colleagues, according to one Senate source.

Asked for comment, an aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, "Sen. Reid is open to any proposal that lowers cost and increases competition."

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The White House announced tonight President Obama will take to his basketball court tomorrow - twice.

He'll greet the National Naval Medical Center Marine Wounded Warrior basketball team in the afternoon, then will return tomorrow night for a game with some of his Cabinet secretaries and members of Congress.

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It's been a rough couple of weeks for Becky Shay, the spokeswoman for the American Private Police Force.

Amid it all -- the tearful press conference, the confrontations with a conspiracist shock jock who parachuted in from Texas, the media scrutiny of her abrupt career shift from Billings Gazette reporter covering APPF to the public face of APPF, and, above all, the persistent charges that her new company is a fraud -- Shay has kept her eye on the ball.

And, she told TPMmuckraker in an interview today, she's damn proud of it.

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