Friday, July 29, 2011

Charting the Debit Crisis

Bruce Bartlett was on Hardball today. If you missed his appearance it was simply amazing.
He destroyed every Republican fiscal talking point in 5 minutes.
He then ended the interview with this when Chris asked him how to end the debt issue.
CM: I feel like sanity has just walked into the door. Bruce, so great, now that I realize you’re smart and have the numbers, give me two seconds. Any way to solve this kerfuffle?
BB: I think at this point, there’s nothing that can pass the House of Representatives.
CM: Because it’s too much of a zoo?
BB: Yeah, i think a good chunk of the Republican caucus is either stupid, crazy, ignorant or craven cowards, who are desperately afraid of the tea party people, and rightly so.
CM: Bruce Bartlett is former Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary under the first George Bush and a policy adviser to Ronald Reagan. Bottom line, let’s look at the numbers right now. We’ve got a chart coming up. This shows the Bush tax cuts were responsible for increasing the debts. Now, we have about a $14 trillion debt right now, half came out since the turn of the century, and more than 40% of that has been from tax cuts.

Readers Nominate Third Party Presidential Candidates

Yesterday, The Fix asked readers for their third-party picks — a candidate that could actually have a shot at winning the presidency in 2012. (For the record, I'm not impressed, but third party talk is always expected.)
Here are the top picks. While a number of readers named New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and mogul Donald Trump, The Fix explained in its post yesterday why neither of them are likely to make serious bids.
On to the list!
* Bill Ackman, founder of the hedge fund Pershing Square and an investor in many major corporations. He drew up his own plan to save the banks in 2009, and he was welcomed to the White House by then-National Economic Council director Larry Summers for a talk.
* Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island governor. A Republican senator turned independent after his 2006 loss, Chafee has praised the idea of a centrist third party presidential candidate and frequently criticized both parties.

Rep. Joe Walsh: Deadbeat Dad

The ex-wife of the attention-seeking freshman Joe Walsh (R-IL) has been suing him for the last nine years for $117,437 in child support for his three children.

Laura Walsh, who filed for divorce from the congressman in 2002, asked a judge in December to suspend Rep. Walsh’s driver’s license until he paid the amount. His ex-wife’s efforts to collect child support have dragged on for years. In 2004, Laura Walsh alleged in court documents that despite his inability to pay child support he had taken vacations with a girlfriend to Mexico and Italy.

In 2005 a judge ordered Walsh to pay child support within seven days or have his wages garnished.
According to the Sun-Times, Walsh had his driver’s license suspended twice for failure to appear in court in 2008 — he was busted in 2009 for driving on a suspended license.

Walsh’s lawyer R. Steven Polachek told the Sun-Times that the congressman has “had no more problems with child support than any other average guy.”

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14 Million Unemployed Americans Remain Invisible

Mr. Boehner, where are the jobs?  Get off this phony issue of raising the debt ceiling and get to the much needed conversation of reducing the nation's unemployment crisis. Stop protecting the top 2 per cent of America's richest folks and address the plight of the 9.2 per cent of Americans who can't get a job.

Fourteen million, in round numbers — that is how many Americans are now unemployed.

The United States is in the grips of its gravest jobs crisis since Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the White House. Lose your job, and it will take roughly nine months to find a new one. That is off the charts. Many Americans have simply given up.

But unless you’re one of those unhappy 14 million, you might not even notice the problem. The budget deficit, not jobs, has been dominating the conversation in Washington. Unlike the hard-pressed in, say, Greece or Spain, the jobless in America seem, well, subdued. The old fire has gone out.
In some ways, this boils down to math, both economic and political. Yes, 9.2 percent of the American work force is unemployed — but 90.8 percent of it is working. To elected officials, the unemployed are a relatively small constituency. And with apologies to Karl Marx, the workers of the world, particularly the unemployed, are also no longer uniting.
Nor are they voting — or at least not as much as people with jobs. In 2010, some 46 percent of working Americans who were eligible to vote did so, compared with 35 percent of the unemployed, according to Michael McDonald, a political scientist at George Mason University. There was a similar turnout gap in the 2008 election.

No wonder policy makers don’t fear unemployed Americans. The jobless are, politically speaking, more or less invisible.

Source: NYTimes
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Smiley and West Take Obama Critique on Road

Cornell West

Fox News Report:
Black activists Cornel West and Tavis Smiley are planning a 15-city "Poverty Tour" to bring attention to the needy and to what they say are the failings of President Barack Obama.
West, a Princeton University professor, and Smiley, host of a PBS talk show, expect to begin the bus trip Aug. 5 at a Native American reservation in Wisconsin. With visits to soup kitchens, housing projects, farms, families and low-wage workers, they say they hope to create momentum for large-scale job creation programs and put poverty on the 2012 election agenda.
Smiley said that as budgets are cut in Washington, "poor people are being rendered invisible." Obama and Congress must pay more attention, he said.
"It's not just about the president," Smiley said. "Having said this, it would be nice to hear the president say the word 'poor.' To say the word 'poverty.' We get conversations about the middle class. Well, the new poor are the former middle class. But we can't get this president or any leaders to say the words 'poor' or 'poverty,' much less do anything about it."
Although their tour does not have a specific racial focus, "you can't ignore that black people are catching the most hell in this recession," Smiley said.

Isn't it interesting how a personal agenda motives an individual's action? West and Smiley are riding the white horse posing as knights on a crusade for poor folks trying to veil the real reasons for their anti-Obama stance.  It's the old "crabs in the barrel" syndrone.  Will we never learn? Note a word about the Republicans efforts to preserve tax breaks for the rich or their attack on the middle class and social programs.  Let's just compalin about President Obama.  Thanks brothers, a job well done.

Read more:

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

California "Dream Act" Approved For Illegal Immigrants

California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law on Monday a bill allowing illegal immigrants to receive privately funded scholarships to attend the state's public colleges and universities.

The bill, dubbed the California Dream Act, passed the state Legislature earlier this month and aims at helping illegal immigrants who earned a diploma after attending at least three years of high school in the state.

Enactment of the California measure came three days after opponents of a similar law in Maryland collected enough signatures to force a state referendum seeking its repeal.
"At the end of the day, if we're going to continue as a powerful, equal-opportunity society, we're going to have to invest in our people," Brown, a Democrat, said at the signing ceremony in the library of a Los Angeles community college.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Obama's Arrogance

Whether you agree or not, this shared email is worth the read.

Arrogance of being President while being Black

I don't think anyone was under some real illusion that the election of Barack Obama actually means the end of racism in America . I'm pretty sure that the president-elect knew it better than anyone. After all, he saw it every day, from the moment he announced his candidacy. To some degree, he saw it within his own party during the primaries. And he saw it in all ugliness during the general election. For half of this country, he was "That One". No matter how big and clear his victory was. No matter how smart he is. No matter how decent he is. No matter what a true patriot he is. No matter how optimistic and positive his vision for America was. All that didn't matter. Because at the end of the day, he was still black.

I'm quite old. I remember, vaguely, where my parents were on November 22, 1963. I've seen so many presidents. Some were feared, some were hated, some were adored, some popular and some not. But all of them, without exception, were treated with the highest respect deserving the office of the president of the United States .

Congress Fails to Fund FAA

In case you didn't know, the FAA was forced to partially shutdown at midnight on Friday after Congress failed to resolve a dispute over the agency's funding.

It's been estimated that the shutdown will cost the government $200 million per week in lost revenue from airline ticket taxes. CBS News reports that the uncollected tax will come out to roughly $61 per domestic ticket.

The Daily Beast reports the following:
Here's a novel budget-cutting strategy: Ask people to work free of charge. Congress failed to approve a stop-gap funding measure for the FAA when House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL.) tacked a budget cut onto the normally straightforward bill. He proposed ending federal subsidies for air service to small airports in rural areas. The Senate refused to pass the bill and then Congress adjourned. More than 4,000 FAA workers and tens of thousands of airport construction workers face immediate furlough or work without pay. The FAA says the furlough won't affect the safety of air travel, but that many of the agency's functions and its ability to collect tax revenue will grind to a halt. “This is no way to run the best aviation system in the world.” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
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Friday, July 22, 2011

Second Palin Grandchild Announced

Sarah Palin reportedly has another grandchild on the horizon. The former Alaska governor's eldest son Track's recent bride, the erstwhile Britta Hanson, is pregnant with the couple's first baby, according to the gossip website Gawker.

The two were married earlier this year on a ski slope in Alaska.
The couple's wedding was reported in May, though the date of the wedding was not made clear. It is also not clear when the baby is due.

Gawker cited a picture of pregnant-looking Britta, posted on a friend's Facebook page, as its confirmation of her new maternal status.

Track, 22, and Britta, 21, had been dating since high school. Army reservist Track was deployed to Iraq during the 2008 campaign and Britta is reportedly a nursing student at the University of Alaska.

Remember folks, Bristol says "just say no". That makes Sarah two and zero.
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Grover Norquist: Powerful Republican Wizard

Grover Glenn Norquist (born October 19, 1956) is president of taxpayer advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform. He has been described as "the driving force in pushing the Republican Party toward an ever-more rigid position of opposing any tax increase, of any kind, at any time, under any circumstances."

The Republican Party has long been beholden to Americans for Tax Reform, which is headed by Norquist. The "Taxpayer Protection Pledge," which nearly all Republican members of Congress have signed, says signatories will never vote to raise taxes. According to Norquist, the pledge has also ruled out voting to end certain tax breaks and subsidies without using the resulting money to lower rates elsewhere.

But ending the Bush-era tax cuts, which were extended last December by President Barack Obama, could now offer a way to raise revenue for a debt limit deal -- without Republicans breaking their pledge against voting to raise taxes.

Norquist said he still opposes ending the Bush tax cuts, but his shift on whether they would be interpreted as a violation of the pledge gives more leeway in negotiations for raising the debt limit.

Americans for Tax Reform quickly issued a clarification to Norquist's remarks.

"ATR opposes all tax increases on the American people. Any failure to extend or make permanent the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, in whole or in part, would clearly increase taxes on the American people," the statement said. "It is a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to trade temporary tax reductions for permanent tax hikes."

So, my question is "how powerful is this one man who is able to tell legislators how they may vote on matters that are critical to the American economy and to the American people"? And I thought Harry Potter ws a great Wizard...shame on me.
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Cenk Uygur out at MSNBC

I did know Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks until I saw him on an early afternoon MSNBC show. Turns out he was too hot for them to handle since he actually sees journalism as an important exercise in accountability for those in power. Apparently, the mainstream media has no stomach for that these days. Transparency, questions, analysis, fact-checking, confrontation: all of these are hopelessly unfashionable and uncomfortable for the elite, even as Cenk demonstrates clearly, it draws ratings and is good for business. MSNBC executives don’t want to win their time slot and cultivate real audiences at the cost of making any well-placed friends hot under the collar.

According to Glenn Greenwald over at Salon, wha’ ha’ happen was:

Uygur often refused to treat members of the political and media establishment with deference and respect. He didn’t politely imply with disguised subtleties when he thought a politician or media figure was lying or corrupt, but instead said it outright. In interviews, he was sometimes unusually aggressive with leading Washington figures, subjecting them to civil though hostile treatment to which they were plainly unaccustomed.

Senate Rejects Republican's "Cut, Cap, and Balance"Bill

The U.S. Senate it voted to table the Republican bill, known as "Cut, Cap, and Balance," in a 51-46 vote. The rejection had been expected even before the House passed it earlier this week. The proposal would cut $100 billion from the next budget and cap federal spending at 20 percent of national GDP, as well as require passing a Balanced Budget Amendment before raising the debt ceiling.

On a recent edition of MSNBC's The Last Word, Lawrence O'Donnell gave an excelent break down of "Cut,Cap and Balance".  If you understand the bill, you'll rejoice with me that the Senate rejected it.  Of course it will give Republican's a line in their campaign rhetoric about their efforts on fiscal matters. Naturally, it will only be party propaganda designed to satisfy the Tea Party wing of the GOP at the expense of real government action that would benefit the American people.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Kendrick Meek Nominated to UN by President

Former South Florida Congressman Kendrick Meek has been nominated by President Barack Obama as a public delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. Meek's role will be to support U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Dr. Susan Rice, in her mission to foster world peace.

"There's a lot going on the world. Turn on the news. You can go forever with what's going on in Afghanistan, with what's going on in Haiti," Meek said.

Meek, a Democrat who represented the 17th Congressional District of Florida from 2002 to 2010, was defeated in last year's Senate race by Republican Marco Rubio. After the election day loss, Meek became president of consulting firm KBM Solutions and Chairman of the editorial board of

Meek is one of three people nominated to the UN by Obama Monday, joining Mary B. DeRosa and Frank E. Loy. The nominations will have to be confirmed by the Senate.
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West and Wasserman Schultz Square Off in Verbal Battle

He's Alan West. Republican Representative from South Florida and Tea Party hero. West, a former Army officer and freshman GOP lawmaker, has made a name for himself with inflamatory remarks and combative rhetoric which quickly made him a You Tube favorite.

She's Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DNC Chair, Democratic Representative from South Florida, breast cancer survivor, wife and mother.

In her remarks on the House floor, Wasserman Schultz said: "The gentleman from Florida, who represents thousands of Medicare beneficiaries, as do I, is supportive of this plan that would increase costs for Medicare beneficiaries. Unbelievable from a member from south Florida."

West fired off an angry, widely circulated email to Wasserman Schultz for criticizing his stance on Medicare during a spending debate. West called her "vile, unprofessional and despicable" and told her to "shut the heck up."

FEC: John Edwards Owes $2.3 Million in Campaign Funds

On June 09, 2011, Steve Chapman reported the following in the Chicago Tribune:
John Edwards is a vain, lying skunk who cheated on his wife while she was dying of cancer. But one thing far worse than his contemptible conduct is the government's effort to put him in jail for it.
In this case, prosecutors are exploiting a vague, confusing law to criminalize conduct that has not been treated as a crime before. The only good news is that its prosecution is so ill-founded and over the top that it is likely to fail.

Sources say that Chapman was wrong about the prosecution failing. It is reported that John Edwards will be required to pay $2.3 million to the U. S. Treasury for understating his campaign's revenues and overstating the expenses. The FEC ruled that he received $2.1 million more than he should have from the government. and $141,000 for "stale dated checks".

And yes, Edwards is a vain, lying skunk who cheated on his wife while she was dying of cancer.
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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Meet the "Gang of Six"

The so-called Gang of Six is a bipartisan group of three Democrats and three Republican senators tasked with drafting a realistic proposal to reduce the nation's debt and rein in the deficit that can pass the Congress and avoid President Obama's veto pen. Here's a breakdown of the gang members.
• North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.
• Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, Senate Majority Whip
• Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, member of the Senate Budget Committee.
• Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss, member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.
• Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo, member of the Senate Budget Committee.
• Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, member of the Senate Finance Committee.

Their Proposal
The group has outlined a plan to cut spending by $3.7 trillion over the next decade that includes a major overhaul of the tax code and alterations to the way the federal government pays for Social Security and Medicare. By eliminating loopholes and write-offs in the tax code, the proposal would beef up the Treasury's coffers by more than $1 trillion, gang members say.
Also, the plan would immediately reduce the marginal income tax rate, abolish the alternative minimum tax, create an entirely new set of tax brackets and slash $80 billion from defense.
The group unveiled the plan's details for the first time this week.
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House Approves "Cut, Cap, and Balance Act"

Rep. Michele Bachmann

The House on Tuesday approved the "Cut, Cap and Balance Act", a bill that would require that any move to raise the country’s debt ceiling be accompanied by sweeping spending cuts, statutory caps on spending as a share of GDP and congressional passage of a balanced budget amendment.
The largely symbolic measure, which passed the House, 234 to 190, has little chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Here’s a closer look at how Tuesday night’s vote broke down:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Shutting Down Minnesota-What Will It Cost?

Minnesota State Capitol building in Saint Paul...Image via Wikipedia
Minnesota State Capital
With the State of Minnesota shut down some think calculating the cost of the shutdown is not exactly pressing business.
However, there are some statistics we can use to help gauge the cost of the crisis. Due to lack of compliance officers, for instance, the Department of Revenue loses $52 million in taxes for every month the government is closed. The state is also losing $1.25 million a day in lottery sales. The Department of Transportation is forfeiting between $40,000 and $50,000 a week from uncollected MnPass tolls. In the first week, the state will lose $80,000 from the closure of Giants Ridge golf course and convention center. State park closures are costing the state an estimated $200,000 a day.

Bi Partisian Compromise on Debt Ceiling Emerges

With just two weeks to avert a catastrophic debt default, top US senators forged ahead Monday with a bipartisan compromise effort as the White House's Republican foes set up symbolic votes on an austerity plan.

The blueprint, described last week by aides who warned it was still in flux, would effectively let Obama raise the debt ceiling with just Democratic votes while letting Republicans oppose the move with political but few practical consequences.

Obama Selects Corday to Head Consumer Agency

President Barack Obama on Sunday chose former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray as his nomination to head the new agency charged with protecting U.S. consumers from abusive mortgage lending practices and hidden credit card fees. The announcement means Obama has passed over Elizabeth Warren, the firebrand law professor who envisioned the bureau.

The pick allows Obama to sidestep some of the controversy he would have faced had he nominated Warren, who is credited with conceiving the idea for the new consumer agency but is viewed by many on Wall Street as a foe.  Corday is a strong ally of Warren and she supports his nomination. The president is still likely to face a big fight with Republicans on the pick of Cordray, who has a record of cracking down on the financial industry. His selection requires Senate confirmation.

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Brother of Afgan President Karzai Assassinated

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (June 13, 2010) — The Af...Image via Wikipedia
The powerful half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai was shot dead in his home on Tuesday by a close family associate, according to officials.

Initial reports suggested that Ahmed Wali Karzai, the provincial council chairman for Kandahar, was killed by one of his bodyguards, but witnesses now say that he was shot at close range by Sardar Mohammed, a commander of security posts at a town just south of Kandahar who was said to be a regular visitor to Karzai's residence in city.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Book Claims Obama Lied About Mother's Health Coverage

Barack ObamaImage by jamesomalley via Flickr
 The subject of an Obama campaign ad in 2008 is facing critical scrutiny in a new biography of Obama's mother, which reports Dunham actually did have health coverage for most of her bills when she died of cancer in 1995.

In "A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mother," author Janny Scott writes that an employer-sponsored health insurance plan paid for all of Dunham's medical bills, except for her deductible and some "uncovered" medical expenses that added up to "several hundred dollars a month." According to Scott,

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Obama Raises $86 Million for 2012 Campaign

Barack Obama presidential campaign, 2008Image via Wikipedia
President Obama’s campaign announced early Wednesday that it has raised $86 million for its reelection campaign and the Democratic National Committee in the second quarter, setting a new record for off-year fundraising by a president.

Obama’s huge haul looks even bigger next to his GOP opponents, none of whom managed to crack even $20 million in the second quarter, and only one of whom broke $5 million (though Rep. Michele Bachmann, who has not yet announced her totals, could still exceed that amount).

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Raising the Debt Ceiling: Mitch McConnell's Plan

WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 16:  Senate Minority Lea...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Yesterday Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered a new plan for dealing with the debt ceiling.

What kind of solution can we expect from this Republican "leader" whose stated goal is making Barack Obama a one term president?

For those who have not had time to untangle it, here is what Sen. McConnell is proposing as explained by Bill Egnor , FireDogLake. Over the next two years the president can raise the debt ceiling on his own but he has to see if Congress likes it or not.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Carly Fiorina's New Job- NRSC Vice Chair

Carly Fiorina (MBA 1980), former CEO of Hewlet...Image via Wikipedia
National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas) announced Tuesday that former Hewlett Packard CEO and 2010 California GOP Senate candidate Carly Fiorina will be the committee’s new vice chair.

The Fix, Washington Post Blog The Fix reported Cornyn's statement:
“I’m pleased to welcome my friend Carly Fiorina to the NRSC team, where her many business and civic achievements will make her an invaluable leader and fundraiser during this critical election cycle,”

Fiorina  raised nearly $16 million before losing to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) by 10 points.

Republicans are hoping to retake the majority in the Senate this cycle, which would require them to win four Democratic seats if President Obama is reelected and three seats if a Republican wins the White House.
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Ron Paul, member of the United States House of...Image via Wikipedia
Rep. Ron Paul will not seek reelection to his Texas congressional seat next year, regardless of his fate in the Republican presidential race. Paul, who is currently serving his 12th term in Congress, will instead spend the bulk of his time on the 2012 Republican contest.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., hasn’t made a definitive decision yet on whether she will seek to return to the House if her presidential bid fails. The conservative Republican presidential candidate has said she is not "actively seeking re-election".  However, she has not ruled it out entirely. Minnesota has a late Congressional filing deadline so she’s got plenty of time before she has to make a go-no-go decision.
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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Republicans Undermine Financial Overhaul Law

Seal of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commi...Image via Wikipedia
President Barack Obama’s financial overhaul law is nearly a year old. For congressional Republicans, the fight to weaken it is just starting.
Wary of trying to repeal the entire statute and being portrayed as Wall Street’s protectors — banks rank among the country’s least popular institutions — GOP lawmakers are trying to nibble away at the behemoth measure. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, a leader of the House Financial Services Committee says “So Republicans in the House will be examining each and every one of the 2,000-plus pages” of the law..." It’s a crusade they’re waging despite lacking the White House and Senate control they need to prevail.

“It’s mostly setting a marker for the election. And it helps with their campaign contributions,” said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who chaired the Financial Services Committee last year and was a chief author of the law. “But it also tells people in the financial community that if they win the next election, they’ll be able to undo it all.”

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fox Twitter Feed Falsely Reports President Obama Assassinated

President Barack Obama and Vice President Jose...Image via Wikipedia
Tweets posted by hackers on a Twitter feed operated by Fox News falsely claimed that President Obama had been assassinated.

Reports of Barack Obama’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Fox News said that on Monday morning its Twitter feed covering political news was hacked, with tweets posted reporting the death of the president. The tweets stated that Obama had been shot in a restaurant in Iowa while on the campaign trail.

On its website, Fox News said that “hackers sent out several malicious and false tweets claiming that President Obama had been assassinated.”

The news organization was keen to point out that the president is, in fact, alive and well and enjoying the Fourth of July holiday together with his family at the White House.

Senate Finally Confirms DOJ Nominees

Seal of the United States Department of JusticeImage via Wikipedia
The Justice Department’s top leadership, some of which had been in flux because of partisan battles over nominees, has stabilized with the Senate’s confirmation of three high-level officials.
The Senate last week gave final approval to James M. Cole as deputy attorney general, Lisa Monaco as assistant attorney general for national security and Virginia Seitz as assistant attorney general of the Office of Legal Counsel. Cole’s confirmation ended a year-long battle with congressional Republicans, while Seitz’s position was at the center of a standoff lasting more than two years.