TPM News

Ben Smith points out some interesting numbers from a new poll (PDF) commissioned by the New America Foundation: 39 percent of Israelis think President Obama is a Muslim.

Respondents were asked how well different words describe Obama. Of the 39 percent who said "Muslim" describes him well, 15 percent said "very well" and 24 percent said "somewhat well." Forty-nine percent said "Muslim" does not describe Obama well.

In another question, 52 percent said they thought Obama's election is "good" "for addressing the problems facing the world."

For decades, the Republican party has been the scourge of Medicare, hostile to it as a wasteful government program, and happy to see it, in the words of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, "wither and die on the vine." Over the past several months, as Democrats propose paying for health care reform with savings wrung from waste in Medicare, Republicans have tried to position themselves as Medicare saviors. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) took to the Senate floor recently to warn that health care reform will make seniors "die sooner."

Now, though, Democrats are pondering a Medicare expansion of sorts. They want to let people between the ages of 55 and 64 buy insurance through Medicare. And suddenly, Republicans are stuck in a booby-trapped rhetorical space, defending Medicare from all attackers--real and perceived--and also lashing out at the idea of letting more people benefit from it.

Read More →

Last night, Stephen Colbert presented 'Grand Old Purity' for his 'The Word' segment. With predictions swirling (among Republicans) of a 2010 midterm takeover of both houses of congress by the GOP, Colbert remarked, "Folks, Republicans have not been this excited since Häagen-Dazs released vanilla vanilla swirl. But here's the problem: In order to win, the GOP may have to make a deal with the Devil -- moderates!"

Read More →

Obama Accepts Nobel Prize President Obama accepted his Nobel Peace Prize earlier today -- and explained that while peace must be pursued, war is sometimes necessary. "For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies," said Obama. "Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism - it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason."

Obama's Day In Norway: The Nobel Peace Prize President Obama and the First Lady arrived in Oslo, Norway, at about 8:45 a.m. Central European Time (2:45 a.m. ET), and attended a Nobel Peace Prize signing ceremony at 9:30 a.m. Obama met with Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg at 10:10 a.m., and they held a joint press availability at 10:45 a.m. The Obamas took an official photo with King Harald V and Queen Sonja at 12:10 p.m, had a private audience with the king and queen at 12:15 p.m., and attended a Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony at 1 p.m. Later on, the Obamas will attend a Nobel Banquet at 7:30 p.m.

Read More →

The AFL-CIO is ratcheting up its opposition to excise taxes found in the Senate health care reform bill this week. As Democrats huddle together in Senate meeting rooms trying to hash out a bill that can get 60 votes, organized labor is joining the chorus of opposition to aspects of the Senate reform package on Capitol Hill today with a rally outside the Senate and a print advertising blitz in Capitol Hill newspapers.

The AFL-CIO is among the strongest proponents of health care reform, but the Democratic proposal to impose an excise tax on "cadillac" health care plans to help pay for the reform bill has divided organized labor from its traditional allies in the Democratic leadership for a while now. As Senate negotiations seem to near an end, the unions are to making their case against the excise taxes -- which they say could apply to some health care plans enjoyed by union workers -- yet again.

Read More →

The White House released President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. Here's the full text:

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, distinguished members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, citizens of America, and citizens of the world:

I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations -- that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.

Read More →

Republicans say Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) let the cat out of the bag on the Senate health care reform compromise today. After the ardent public option supporter extolled the virtues of the Senate compromise plan that expands Medicare coverage, Republicans seized on his comments as evidence that the plan was a backdoor to government-run, single-payer coverage.

Weiner told the New York Daily News that the Medicare buy-in plan under discussion in the Senate "would perhaps get us on the path to a single payer model."

"[T]his is one idea I like a lot," he told the paper.

Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and John McCain (R-AZ) seized on Weiner's comments when they stopped by the Senate press gallery to talk Medicare with reporters this evening. They clearly enjoyed attacking the fragile Democratic compromise with the words of one of the party's own.

Read More →

House Democrats now have another open swing seat to defend in 2010, with Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) announcing his retirement.

Baird's district could have a close race. It voted twice for George W. Bush by narrow margins -- 48%-46% in 2000, and 50%-48% in 2004 -- before switching to Barack Obama in 2008 by a 53%-45% margin.

The SEIU fired back at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell after he and other prominent Republicans dismissed the Democratic health care reform package in the Senate as a "job killer bill." McConnell joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in calling on Democrats to scrap the bill and start over.

SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger said the coalition "desperate to throw a monkey wrench into the system and kill the bill entirely" now that the Senate is "on the verge of passing real reform."

Read More →

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) appeared on Hardball this evening, and dispensed some of his signature wit against the Republicans: Telling former Vice President Dick Cheney to "STFU," speculating that gasoline would only cost a dollar per gallon if former President George W. Bush had let Saudi Prince Abdullah "get to second base," and regretting that it's too late to impeach Cheney.

Chris Matthews asked Grayson about Cheney's recent condemnations of President Obama, for giving what Cheney called "aid and comfort to the enemy" -- which is the Constitution's definition of treason -- by putting Khalid Sheikh Mohammed on trial in civilian courts.

Grayson: I don't know. You know, on the Internet there's an acronym that's used to apply to situations like this. It's called "STFU." I don't think I can say that on the air, but I think you know what that means.

Matthews: Well, give me the first part.

Grayson: "Shut."

Matthews: Oh! I got you. Stop talking, in crude language. Well, I don't think you're gonna get him to do that.

Read More →